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

marjorie-liu

Dear Author

Avon Backlist Titles for June

Avon is another of those publishers that is releasing the backlist titles in digital. The hardworking publicists provided me an awesome summary of the books to share with you. I’ll also keep a searchable/sortable list under the “easy resources” tab that will be updated once a month. Happy shopping.

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HOT & HEAVYbook link by Sandra Hill (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013422 | $6.99 | Lieutenant Ian MacLean leads a team of highly trained Navy SEALs, the toughest, buffest fighting men in the world. But nothing prepares him for Madrene Olgadottir, a woman from a thousand years in the past…   (this book I could not find at Amazon but it does appear to be on sale at Diesel books).

TRULY, MADLY VIKINGbook link by Sandra Hill (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013729 | $6.99 | Maggie McBride is the lucky psychologist who gets to ʺtreatʺ Jorund Ericsson, a man who claims to be a tenth century Viking warrior.

VERY VIRILE VIKINGbook link by Sandra Hill (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013736 | $6.99 | Magnus is a 10th century Viking farmer who, with eleven bothersome children, has taken a vow of celibacy. Angela is a modern-day vineyard owner who yearns for just one child.

WET & WILDbook link by Sandra Hill (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013750 | $6.99 | What happens when a Viking suddenly finds himself in the middle of a Navy SEAL training camp? Trying to woo his superior office the old fashioned way…

DARK CHALLENGEbook link by Christine Feehan (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013309 | $6.99| Julian Savage is always alone, far from his Carpathian kind, alien to even his twin. Until he meets the woman he has sworn to protect….

DARK FIREbook link by Christine Feehan (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013323 | $6.99| Tempest has always been different, but from the moment Darius’ arms closed around her, enveloping her in a sorcerer’s spell, everything changed.

DARK GUARDIANbook link by Christine Feehan (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013330 | $6.99| Jaxon Montgomery is a woman hunted. Trained by the Special Forces, honed by a traumatic childhood, she meets her match in a mysterious stranger who seems more dangerous than any other she has ever known.

DARK LEGENDbook link by Christine Feehan (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013347 | $6.99| He woke with an overwhelming hunger for blood that demanded satisfaction. Francesca Del Ponce was a healer, and though he knew she would be like hot silk in his arms, he feared for her life…andhis soul.

DARK MAGICbook link by Christine Feehan (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013354 | $6.99| Savannah Dubrinsky was a mistress of illusion, but it is Gregori who held her in terrifying thrall. With a dark magic all his own, Gregori-the implacable hunter, the legendary healer, the most powerful of Carpathian males, was her destiny.

TASTE OF CRIMSONbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013286 | $6.99| Los Angeles is no longer the City of Angels; dark things haunt its streets, and the tentative peace between humans, vampires and werewolves teeters on the brink of collapse. If Keeli Maddox is to survive, she must trust a slayer, a betrayer, an enemy.

EYE OF HEAVENbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013378 | $6.99| When Blue, an electrokinetic and a member of the Dirk & Steele detective agency, is sent to Las Vegas to track down his half- brother, he finds himself embroiled in a smuggling plot – and protecting a young beauty who is more than she appears.

THE FIRE KINGbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013392 | $6.99| Like all members of Dirk & Steele, Soria has a gift, and she has been chosen to communicate with Karr, a shape-shifter resurrected after thousands of years.

THE LAST TWILIGHTbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013484 | $6.99| Doctor Rikki Kinn is a virus hunter working in the Congo for the CDC. But when mercenaries attempt to kidnap her, her boss calls in a favor from the men at Dirk & Steele…

THE RED HEART OF JADEbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013576 | $6.99| The grisly murders are just the beginning. Dean Campbell of the Dirk & Steele Detective Agency never suspected that his investigation would lead him to Mirabelle Lee, the childhood sweetheart he'd thought dead.

SHADOW TOUCHbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013620 | $6.99| Elena Baxter, a psychic with a healing touch, has been kidnapped. So has Artur Loginov, an agent for Dirk & Steele who can see into a person’s soul. With help from a pair of shape-shifters, they escape…only to discover a far more sinister plot.

SOUL SONGbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013651 | $6.99| From the ocean's depths rises a creature whose voice is seduction incarnate. He is a prince of the sea, and his survival will depend Kitala, a woman blessed with the gift of music, as well as the ability to forsee the violent deaths of others…

TIGER EYEbook link by Majorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013712 | $6.99| He looks completely out of place in Dela Reese's Beijing hotel room-’like the tragic hero of some epic tale. Yet Dela has danced through the echo of his soul, and she knows this warrior will fullfill her every fantasy.

THE WILD ROADbook link by Marjorie M. Liu (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013781 | $6.99|Lannes is one of a dying race born to protect mankind. And while most see a beautiful man, this illusion is nothing but a prison. But when he finds a woman covered in blood, he will be drawn into a mystery that makes him question all he knows.

A GIRL’S GUIDE TO VAMPIRESbook link by Katie MacAlister (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013408 | $6.99| When Joy is suddenly thrown into a dangerous world where vampires stalk the night, she must untangle the threads involving a serial killer, vampires (both real and pretend), and the handsome, mysterious man who may or may not be what he appears.

SEX AND THE SINGLE VAMPIREbook link by Katie MacAlister (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013606 | $6.99| Dating is hard when you’re nine hundred years old and you’ve used every pick-up line in the book. Forming a lasting relationship is even more difficult when the woman who makes your heart sing sees dead people and likes to play with demons.

SEX, LIES AND VAMPIRESbook link by Katie MacAlister (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013613 | $6.99| Take a charmer named Nell, add a cursed Dark One, and throw them together while unentangling themselves from a knocker who runs a house of ill repute for poltergeists, avoiding death by a vampire, and trying to convince mummies that dead really does mean forever.

LOVE BITES bybook link Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013491 | $6.99| Etienne Argeneau’s three hundred years of bachelorhood were at an end. Rachel Garrett, the beautiful coroner had saved his life. To save hers he would make her immortal.

LOVE IS BLINDbook link by Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013507 | $6.99| He'd been warned that Lady Clarissa Crambray was dangerous. Stomping on toes and burning piffles, the beauty was clearly a force with which to be reckoned. But for Adrian Montfort, Earl of Mowbray, this was just the challenge he needed.

THE PERFECT WIFEbook link by Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013545 | $6.99| Paen Gerville longed for a lively, well-rounded woman, one whose plump breast would cushion his head after the lonely life of a fighting knight. At first his wife-to-be promised no such delights, but one split bridal gown later, her assets were eye- poppingly apparent and Paen could only anticipated the surprises yet to come on his wedding night

THE RELUCTANT REFORMERbook link by Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013583 | $6.99| Everyone knew Lady X. The masked courtesan was reputedly a noblewoman fallen on hard times. What Lord James had not known was that she was Lady Margaret Wentworth – the feisty sister of his best friend, a woman with whom he dare not fall in love.

SINGLE WHITE VAMPIREbook link by Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013644 | $6.99| Lucern: Successful biographer of family, books recently categorized as ʺparanormal romance.ʺ Doesn’t like sunbathing, garlicky dinners or religious symbols. Likes old-fashioned values; warm, nice-smelling neck; and plump red lips. Currently unaware he’s seeking a woman to share eternity.

TALL, DARK & HUNGRYbook link by Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013705 | $6.99| Terri had flown from England to help plan her cousin’s wedding. The new in-laws offered lodging, but they were a weird bunch. Especially Bastien. Just looking into his eyes, Terri had to admit she was falling for him.

WHAT SHE WANTSbook link by Lynsay Sands (Avon e-book) | On Sale: 6/8/2010 | ISBN 13: 9780062013767 | $6.99| Earl Hugh Dulonget of Hillcrest must marry. But he just insulted his would – be – bride by calling her a peasant! How could he win back her esteem – and her hand?

Dear Author

REVIEW: Never After by Laurell K. Hamilton

0515147281.01.LZZZZZZZOkay. So before I begin reviewing the anthology NEVER AFTER I have two warnings. #1: YE OLDE SPOILERS AHOY. Seriously. I am incapable of talking about stories without-talking about stories. #2: This will be disjointed as hell. There are plenty of reviewers who are capable of smooth, cohesive, intelligent reviews. I am not one of them.

First off, I have a bone to pick with marketing. This anthology (featuring stories by Laurell K. Hamilton, Yasmine Galenorn, Marjorie M. Liu, and Sharon Shinn) is clearly marked on the spine as Urban Fantasy. And yet? Only one out of the four stories has an actual urban fantasy setting. All of the others are traditional fantasies. I mean like trolls, ogres, elves, and magician-type fantasies. MISLEADING.

The tagline on the cover reveals the common thread of all the stories: “All-new tales of magic revealed-’and matrimony refused-’from four of today’s most provocative authors”. Okay, so all the stories feature heroines who are trying to get out of unwanted betrothals. And yet this whole “four of today’s most provocative authors” thing? What do they mean by that? Are they implying these stories are super smexy and feature kink? Because they don’t. In fact, these stories would pretty much be comfortable on the shelf with inspirational romances. Barely any smooching to be found. So what’s so provocative about that? Honestly, out of these 4 authors, only Laurell K. Hamilton probably fits the provocative label, and only then if you mean “writes crazily complicated orgies in her other books”.

1. Can He Bake a Cherry Pie by Laurell K Hamilton

Anyway, on to the actual story critiques. Laurell K. Hamilton leads off the anthology with “Can He Bake a Cherry Pie?”

You guys.

This story is c-c-crazy. At it’s core, it is a pretty basic fairy tale featuring a heroine who wants to escape an unwanted betrothal. In order to do so, she announces that she is going to rescue Prince True -’ a sort of male Sleeping Beauty figure in their kingdom. True was captured by a sorceress 50-odd years ago after being a douche.

Seriously.

Actually, he basically announced that men were waaay more important than women and that women’s work was useless in comparison. That’s it? Why aren’t 75% of the men prisoners in her lair, then? So anyway, the sorceress, in a fit of girl power, challenged him, won, and has kept him prisoner in her lair, forever beautiful and ageless. According to legend only a girl well versed in the womanly arts can free him. All righty then.

So our guileless (and virtually brainless) heroine makes her way to the cave of the sorceress, fully anticipating her own death. But dying in the act of rescue is so much better than marrying an oaf. So whatevs. Heroine makes her way to the rope and board bridge stretching over the chasm leading the cave and is greeted by a rabid troll. She basically squeaks and closes her eyes waiting for the death blow, and BECAUSE SHE IS TOTALLY WEAK AND DOES NOT FIGHT BACK OR EVEN MAKE EYE CONTACT, she passes the first test.

The second test finds her facing an Ogre just inside the mouth of the cave. Said ogre threatens to chop her up into pieces and eat her and heroine agains squeaks in distress and closes her eyes. Because ew. Then the ogre NOTICES HER SHOES. Which are impractical party shoes. Because the heroine left in a hurry, yo. And she likes sparkly things? So the beauty and impracticality of her shoes lets her pass the second test.

The third test is the most bunk-ass sphinx you would ever hope to meet. This sphinx doesn’t even ask questions in the form of obscure riddles. WTF? This sphinx is interested in fabric dying techniques, dessert recipes, and gardening. The heroine’s housekeeping skills enable her to pass. Good thing, too, as she would have been eaten alive.

Ultimately, at the end of this gantlet, the sorceress is met, challenges are posed, and the asstacular Prince True is found. After a bit more craziness, involving -’ you guessed it -’ baking cherry pies, the heroine lives happily ever after.

I just. I mean. What is the message in this story? I know what the message is supposed to be. I.E. Womanly skills (aka cooking, gardening, and housekeeping) are important and have meaning -’ but that is really not what the story shows. The heroine is supremely stupid and wins the day by being cowardly, impractical, and good at trivia. GIRL POWER!

As an added bonus, this story is a mere 35 pages. I think the true miracle here is that I kept reading the anthology after I finished this story. I give this a D-.

2.   The Shadow of Mist by Yasmine Galenorn

Next up is Yasmine Galenorn’s “The Shadow of Mist”. First off, kudos for being the lone urban fantasy story in this “urban fantasy anthology”. This novella is set in her “Otherworld” universe, and I have to be honest, I haven’t read any of the other books in the series. To be perfectly frank, plot-wise, this wasn’t a great introduction to it.

Siobhan, the heroine, is a selkie who has been on the run from her fiance for over 100 years. The last few decades, she’s relaxed her guard somewhat, and has found happiness and love in the Pacific Northwest with her boyfriend Mitch. The story opens with her long lost fiance Terry calling her on the phone to helpfully inform her that he knows where she is and is coming for her. Why? Because he will not be denied, yo! This is the equivalent of villain monologueing -’ he has no earthly reason to warn her of his arrival, and without his helpful information she would have been a sitting duck for his kidnapping attempt. Of course, that would have completely eliminated the plot as well.

IMO, this is a lazy plot device that serves no other purpose than to allow the heroine to call in ye olde cast of characters from many previous novels to assist her in her fight against the villain. To her credit, I must say that Galenorn does a great job with said characters. The problem is, I was more intrigued with them than I was with the heroine of the story, who was totally weak and wimpy in comparison. In fact, the heroine spends the entire story having events happen to her, rather than trying to become the master of her fate.

She refuses police assistance because she’s pretty sure her family will still force her to marry Terry. Even though she’s pregnant with Mitch’s baby and knows Terry will totally force her to miscarry if he catches her on her own. Oookay. She is repeatedly almost dragged off with Terry and his henchmen, and is repeatedly rescued by characters from previous books. And then? In the big showdown? (Which is totally not big at all and really sort of anticlimactic.) Siobhan saves the day by complete and total accident. It’s honestly the equivalent of someone tossing something out a high rise window and killing a wanted criminal who just happens to be walking by below.

Deus ex sucksalot.

For all my complaints, I will say that Galenorn succeeded in making me interested in her world and the characters that occupy it. I will most likely be picking up the first book in her Otherworld series, and hoping the plotting goes better in a full length novel. My grade for this story is a C-.

3.   The Tangleroot Palace by Marjorie M. Liu

The third story in this anthology is Marjorie M. Liu’s “The Tangleroot Palace. This was an ethereal, dreamy story with a strong fairy tale feel to it. It was also my favorite of the bunch. Sally, our intrepid heroine, is a princess who is being forced to wed a Warlord from a neighboring kingdom. Their mothers were childhood friends, and though they ended up in different countries, it was their dream that their children would meet and marry someday. But Sally ain’t havin’ it. Even though her father’s kingdom is being tormented on all sides by mercenaries and squabbling lords, Sally wants the right to choose her own destiny. This leads her to the stories titular location -’ the Tangleroot Forest.

A place of magic and legend, the forest draws people in, but rarely lets them out. On her journey to the forest, Sally meets a traveling circus trio whose members are more than meets the eye.

As I mentioned, this was my favorite of all the stories, and although the identity of the hero was easily guessed -’ heck, I wouldn’t even call it a guess, it was blatantly obvious -’ that wasn’t the true point of the story. The secret at the heart of Tanglewood is the true mystery to be solved here. My grade is a A-.

4.   The Wrong Bridegroom by Sharon Shinn

Lastly, was the most lengthy of the stories, “The Wrong Bridegroom” by Sharon Shinn. I really wanted to love this story from the get-go. I love 90% of Sharon Shinn’s books, and while I ultimately ended up really liking this story, I found that I had to power through a big chunk of it to get to that point.

Told from the 1st person POV of the heroine, Princess Olivia, the story starts out with a royal challenge to find the person worthy of receiving her hand in marriage. Although there has long been an understanding between her and the oh so perfectly stuffy Sir Harwin Brenley, Olivia would rather die than marry that hugemongous boor. Because she is spoiled and stubborn and young and foolish and petty. And young. Young. YOUNG. So the King, a ruthless and selfish man, has arranged a series of challenges to find the Princess a husband.

I guess it is to Shinn’s credit that she writes the heroine so well. She perfectly encapsulates the spoiled attitude of a 21 year old princess with a horrible, neglectful father, a surprisingly wise stepmother she refuses to listen to, and a lifetime of getting her own way. And because she so perfectly captures her character, I spent 75% of the story wanting to kill Olivia. Or at least bitchslap her.

After a tie occurs between two competitors for her hand, Olivia makes the tie-breaking decision and immediately sets out on a trip with her new betrothed to visit his family. As they journey along at a snail’s pace, in a not-very-princess-like horse and cart, they add unexpected members to their party along the way and start to see people, places, and things that the sheltered Olivia has never experienced before. Not much time passes before Olivia begins questioning what makes a good husband, a good ruler, and a happy life.

Although this heroine was grating and immature (which I think may have been exacerbated by the 1st person narration), when it got good, it got reeeeal good. In fact, it made me miss my stop in the morning, necessitating a 5 block hike to work. For that reason, I have to give this story a solid B+.

So overall, though this anthology was seriously mislabeled, the bulk of the book was entertaining. The Liu story and the Shinn story comprise over 2/3ds of the length, thanks to the super short Hamilton tale. If you are a fan of romantic fantasy with a fairy tale feel, you’ll enjoy this. Weighing the letter grade in terms of story length, I would give this a B-.

LOVE,

NONNIE

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