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Karen Ostertag's blog

New Speculative Fiction for June 2012

New to our shelves:

The King's Blood by Daniel Abraham (2, Dagger and the Coin) F
The Croning by Laird Barron H
Xeelee: An Omnibus by Stephen Baxter (1-4, Xeelee) SF
      (contains Raft, Timelike Infinity, Flux, and Ring)
Powers by James A. Burton F, M
Invincible by Jack Campbell (2, The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier) SF
Jack of Ravens by Mark Chadbourn (1, Kingdom of the Serpent) F, A
The Burning Man by Mark Chadbourn (2, Kingdom of the Serpent) F, A
Nocturnes by John Connolly H, M

By Any Other Name: Pseudonyms in SF

Have you ever had this experience?  You settle in for a couple chapters of a debut author's work.  Maybe it's a little different from what you ordinarily read, but the jacket looked kind of interesting.  Several hours later you sit in the near-dark (wait-- wasn't it light outside when you started reading?) gaping at the last page of the book, utterly blown away by the quality of the writing.  (Why are you suddenly so hungry?  Did you read straight through dinner?)  You scramble to find the author bio, desperate to know more about the creator of this fantastic work that has so captivated you.  This can't possibly be the author's first book, you think, it's just too good.  And there, in the author's bio, you find those three fateful letters: A.K.A.  A-HA!   You feel vindicated and... maybe just a little bit "had."  Debut author, my foot!  This is a well-known, established writer.  They're not even trying to hide it, it's right there in the author bio.  But... why? Why would a beloved author desert you and sneak off to write under another name?

Beyond "Fifty Shades"

If all the buzz about E.L. James' Fifty Shades series has made you curious to read it, there are three things you should know first.  One: yes, our library owns the whole trilogy (regular print only!).  Two: it's very popular, which means the reserve list is pretty long.  (Not as long as for James Patterson's latest, but you'll probably be waiting awhile.)  Three: it's got a lot of sex in it that many people would describe as "kinky."  (Don't laugh-- a surprising number of people have requested the first book without knowing anything about it beyond its popularity.)  This month I'm going to talk a little about the subgenre this series belongs to, and offer some suggestions for what to read while you're waiting for the next book (or, if you've already enjoyed the whole trilogy, what else you might like).  This means I'll be talking about books with similar content-- consider yourself warned, if this isn't your cup of tea.

Rooting for the Bad Guys: Villain Protagonists

"Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness?" -The Wicked Witch of the West

Okay, who out there has never rooted for the bad guy?  (You in the back, put your hand down.  I've seen your Loki desktop wallpaper, you so-called goody-goody!)  Much as we say we want the good guys to win in the end, let's face it: good can be boring.  Good has to follow the rules.  Good is hard-working.  Modest.  Clean-cut.  Strait-laced.  Narrow.  Predictable.  Like I said... BORING.  The really interesting characters are the ones who are willing to step outside the lines... or draw their own.

New Romance Fiction for May 2012

In paperback:

Magic Unchained by Jessica Andersen (7, Nightkeepers) C, S
Temptation Rising by A. C. Arthur (1, The Shadow Shifters) C, S, M, O
The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley (4, Highland Pleasures) H
The Fireman Who Loved Me by Jennifer Bernard (1, Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel) C
Sunrise Point by Robyn Carr (19, Virgin River) C
Lessons after Dark by Isabel Cooper H, S (retitled from "No Honest Woman")
The Wolf Who Loved Me by Lydia Dare (1, Hadley Wolves) H, S
Deadly Dance by Dee Davis (5, A-Tac) C, M
A Lady's Revenge by Tracey Devlyn H, M

New Speculative Fiction for May 2012

New to our shelves:

White Horse by Alex Adams SF, A, M, R
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (3, Graceling/Seven Kingdoms trilogy) F, M, R
Apocalypse by Troy Denning (9, Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi) SF
Darkest Knight by Karen Duvall (2, Knight's Curse) F, R
Immobility by Brian Evenson H, SF, A, M
Red, White and Blood by Christopher Farnsworth (3, The President's Vampire) H, M
Siege by Rhiannon Frater (3, As the World Dies) H, A
Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris (12, Sookie Stackhouse) H, R
Vengeance by Ian Irvine (1, Tainted Realm) F, M

Royal Romances

Royal Wedding of Prince William & Kate Middleton - from The Daily MailCan you believe it's been a year already?  Yesterday marked the first anniversary of Britain's Prince William and his bride Kate (now known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus).  America may not have celebrated with a bank holiday (though you're welcome to pretend, since our banks were closed on Sunday anyway), but I'm certain there were plenty of royal-watching Americans who raised a glass in their honor yesterday.

New Romance Fiction for April 2012

In paperback:

Afterglow by Cherry Adair (2, Lodestone trilogy) C, M, S
Run from Fear by Jami Alden (3, Beg for Mercy) C, M
Passion Wears Pearls by Renee Bernard (4, Jaded Gentlemen) H
Perilous Pleasures by Jenny Brown (3, Lords of the Seventh House) H, S
Dying Wish by Shannon K. Butcher (6, Sentinel Wars) C, S
Darkness Bound by Stella Cameron C, S, M
Waltz This Way by Dakota Cassidy C
In the Flesh by Portia Da Costa (1, The Ladies' Sewing Circle) H
Saving Hope by Margaret Daley (1, Men of the Texas Rangers) C, I, W
A Week To Be Wicked by Tessa Dare (2, Spindle Cove) H

New Speculative Fiction for April 2012

New to our shelves:

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear (1, Eternal Sky) F, H
The Master of Heathcrest Hall by Galen Beckett (3, Mrs. Quent) F, A, M
Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop (3, Ephemera) F, H, R
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (3, Alpha and Omega) F, H, R
The Steel Seraglio by Mike, Linda, and Louise Carey F, H
Intruder by C. J. Cherryh (4, Foreigner 4) SF
Wide Open by Deborah Coates F, H, M, R
The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow by Cory Doctorow SF
A Crown Imperiled by Raymond E. Feist (2, Riftwar: Chaoswar) F
Body, Inc. by Alan Dean Foster (2, Tipping Point trilogy) SF, M

Inner Space: Philosophical SF

In contrast to last month's best and bloodiest, this month I'm offering something completely different: philosophical science fiction.  While philosophical SF doesn't necessarily stint on the action and suspense-- witness the ratcheting tension of Charles Stross's Glasshouse or the action-laced intrigue of Elizabeth Bear's Carnival-- action isn't the primary focus.  Instead, concept is key.  It's part of a literary genre known as the "novel of ideas," wherein fiction is used as a tool to examine some of the big questions: what it means to be human, how we should treat one another, what our purpose should be-- the answers to life, the universe, and everything.*

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