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Karen Ostertag's blog

HIGHLAND GAMES

Do you dream of the misty Highlands of Scotland?  Is tartan a turn-on?  Do you long for a hero who's earthy, untamed, and perhaps a wee bit stubborn?  Have you ever wondered if it's true what Scots don't wear beneath their kilts?*  If your answer to any of these questions is "yes," it's time to prep your armchair for a literary visit to Scotland!

Why Scotland in August?  The Cowal Highland Gathering, known worldwide as the largest, grandest Highland Games in the world, kicks off today.  I suppose you could cook yourself a nice haggis or try your hand at caber tossing to commemorate the event (though for your own safety, don't try either of these at home), but for me, this is the perfect opportunity to talk about Scottish romances.

New Romance Fiction for August 2010

In paperback:

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley (2, Highland Pleasures) H
Unchained by Sharon Ashwood (3, Dark Forgotten) C, S
Courtesan's Kiss by Mary Blayney (4, The Pennistans) H
My Way to Hell by Dakota Cassidy (2, Kiss and Hell) C, S
Daring a Duke by Claudia Dain (5, Courtesan) H
Chains of Ice by Christina Dodd (3, Chosen Ones) C, S
My Dangerous Duke by Gaelen Foley (2, Inferno Club) H
Reilly's Return by Tami Hoag (3, Rainbow Chasers) C
I Kissed an Earl by Julie Anne Long (4, Pennyroyal Green) H

New Speculative Fiction for August 2010

New to our shelves:

Masked by Lou Anders, ed. SF, CB
The Map of All Things by Kevin J. Anderson (2, Terra Incognita) F
Waking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong (11, Women of the Otherworld) H, R, M
The Bird of the River by Kage Baker (3, Anvil of the World) F
Occultation by Laird Barron H
The Ambassador's Mission by Trudi Canavan (1, Traitor Spy trilogy) F, M
Naamah's Curse by Jacqueline Carey (2, Kushiel's Legacy: Quest) F, R
Digital Domains by Ellen Datlow, ed. SF (shelved at SF Digital)
Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson (9, Queen Betsy) H, R
The Unit by Terry DeHart SF, A

The World Will Be Saved by Steam! (Steampunk, That Is)

Symphony in mahogany, brass and polished steelLast month I surveyed predictive fiction from the past.  This month, we're turning that concept upside-down with a look at contemporary SF set in a past that never quite was: the genre-bending category known as "steampunk."  Steampunk (the word is modelled after "cyberpunk") got its start in the 1980s, but its roots lie firmly in the Victorian era, harkening back to the scientific fiction and world-spanning adventure novels of the likes of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and H. Rider Haggard (of Allan Quatermain fame). 

WEDDING JITTERS

I know what you're thinking: June is the classic month for weddings.  Why am I writing about them in July?

Well, marriages don't always go quite as scheduled.  The bride turns out to have been married before... and never quite got around to the divorce.  The groom gets cold feet and breaks it off at the last moment (by text message.  At the altar.).  A well-meaning mobster sends a far-too-sexy hit man to keep a protective eye on the bride.  The fiance fakes his own death to get out of marrying a bridezilla.  One's betrothed pretends to elope with a completely fictional lover the day after the engagement.  

Alright, perhaps these aren't the usual  reasons a wedding doesn't come off as planned, but they make for some very entertaining beach reads.  Be warned: for the would-be brides (and grooms) in these romances, there may not be a happily-ever-after in the offing... at least, not with the mates they expected!

New Romance Fiction for July 2010

In paperback:

Close Contact by Katherine Allred (2, Alien Affairs) SF
Close Encounters by Katherine Allred (1, Alien Affairs) SF
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne H, M
Stroke of Genius by Emily Bryan H
Assassin's Honor by Monica Burns (1, Order of the Sicari) C, S, M
A Gentleman Always Remembers by Candace Camp (2, Willowmere) H
My Reckless Surrender by Anna Campbell H
Strange Neighbors by Ashlyn Chase C, S
Mystery Lover by Lisa Childs (Harlequin Intrigue: Shivers) C, M
Shut Up and Kiss Me by Christie Craig C, M, W
Tall, Dark and Wolfish by Lydia Dare (2, Regency Wolves) H, S

New Speculative Fiction for July 2010

New to our shelves:

Darkling Fields of Arvon by James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc (2, Legacy of the Stone Harp) F
Insatiable by Meg Cabot H, R
The Best Horror of the Year by Ellen Datlow, ed. (2, Best Horror of the Year) H
Speak to the Devil by Dave Duncan (1, The Brothers Magnus) F
Principles of Angels by Janie Fenn SF, F, M, R
Threshold by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor SF
Stealing Fire by Jo Graham (3, Numinous World) F
From Hell with Love by Simon R.Green (4, Secret Histories) F, H
Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton (19, Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter) H, F, R
Shakespeare Undead by Lori Handeland H

FUTURE PERFECT: A LOOK AT PREDICTIVE FICTION FROM THE PAST

Paris in the Twentieth Century sounds like an historical travelogue, doesn't it?  But consider when it was written: Jules Verne wrote his "scientific fiction" novel in 1863, setting it a hundred years into his future.  At the time, his publisher considered Verne's descriptions of complex underground railway systems, rampant commercialism, and electronic calculators too implausible.  The manuscript lived in a safe until his great-grandson had it published in 1996.  As a story, it's not one of Verne's better works, but it holds its own as a marvel of prophetic fiction.  The book also serves as a brilliant example of what science fiction is : unlike fantasy, which is the stuff of dreams, science fiction is all about possibilities

WHERE THE DEER AND THE ANTELOPE PLAY: HISTORICAL WESTERN ROMANCE

It's summer!  Are you ready?  (Me neither.)  But the 4th of July is nearly upon us, and luckily, the romance collection stands ready to get us into a patriotic mood.  This month, I thought we'd return to our survey of historical romances with a look at the American Old West.  After all, what says "independence" better than a cowboy? 

The period of westward expansion during latter 19th and early 20th centuries has captured the romantic imagination more than any other period in American history.  It's not surprising; from a Romance perspective, the West has got it all: tall tales, rugged men, and strong women.  Majestic mountains, sweeping vistas, and skies glittering with stars.  The promise of riches, cultures in conflict, and men in black hats.  The pioneer spirit, taming a wild land with nothing but human strength and wits.  Civilization overcoming lawlessness.  The shining promise of the Industrial Age. 

So... are you ready for a taste of independence?  Saddle up, ladies, we're headed for the frontier!  HYAH!

New Speculative Fiction for June 2010

New to our shelves:

Ark by Stephen Baxter (2, Flood) SF, A
Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear F, H
Brains: A Zombie Memoir by Robin Becker H
A Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury SF
Play Dead by Ryan Brown H
Deceiver by C. J. Cherryh (2, Foreigner 4) SF
Neverland by Douglas Clegg H
One Bloody Thing after Another by Joey Comeau H
The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas (1, The Memory of Flames) F
Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth (1, The President’s Vampire) H, M
Allies by Christie Golden (5, Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi) SF

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