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Karen Ostertag's blog

ONCE UPON A TIME: FAIRY TALES RETOLD

There are certain stories that we never forget.  Fairy tales sleep inside of us, waiting to be rediscovered like flowers that have been dried and pressed between the pages of a book.  No matter how long it's been since we left our childhood behind, these stories lie ready to live and bloom again in our imaginations.  With the smallest reminder, we are magically transported back to a place out of time where anything is possible: serving girls can become princesses, princes can become monsters, animals can speak, true love can break any curse, and one always, always gets exactly what one deserves.  Is it any wonder, then, that the "fairy tale retold" is such a popular motif in fantasy fiction? 

OH, THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL...

Alright, let's face it: unless you've gone the way of the snowbirds for your winter vacation, it's COLD out there!  As much as I love skiing and skating, there's something about deep-freeze cold that just makes me want to curl up with a fuzzy blanket, a hot cup of tea, and a nice, cozy read. 

It's a bit chilly between the covers of this month's titles, too, and the characters are-- well, they're with me on the fuzzy blanket part, at least.  (I'm sure they're only sharing to conserve warmth.)  If you're looking for a good book for your own winter snuggle, I recommend one from the list below.  Whether they warm your heart or heat your cheeks, these winter romances will help keep you toasty!

THE HEAT IS ON: SF LOOKS AT OUR (POSSIBLE) FUTURE

Science fiction is not all alien planets and galaxies far, far away.  Often, the strange new world at the heart of the plot is this one-- Earth.  What unknown terrain could be more fascinating to us than what our own home might look like in the distant (or not-so-distant) future?  What species could be more compelling than the one we might become?  Through science fiction, we can explore how humanity might affect its own future and how that future could in turn affect us. 

But it's not always about looking forward; future-Earth sci fi is often as much a commentary on our present as it is an exploration of our future.  A popular plot concept is to take a current trend or issue, project a future in which it has become commonplace (or has run amok!), and examine how humanity might adapt to the changes it brings about.  Looking at an issue in this way can sometimes offer us a bit of perspective when otherwise we might be too close to examine it objectively.  (Of course, it can also be sheer escapist entertainment, but hey, that's fun, too.) 

New Romance Fiction for December 2009

SPECIAL: Look for books marked with a star (*) for seasonal reads!

In paperback:

The One That Got Away by Victoria Alexander, et al. H (shelved at Pbk Romance One)
Crazy for You by Kate Angell C, S
The Heart of Christmas by Mary Balogh, et al. H, * (shelved at Pbk Romance Heart)
Sand, Sun… Seduction! by Stephanie Bond, et al. C (shelved at Pbk Romance Sand)
Have Glass Slippers, Will Travel by Lisa Cach C
Never Lie to a Lady by Liz Carlyle (1, Neville Family) H
Goddess of the Sea by P. C. Cast (1, Goddess Summoning) C, A, F

New Speculative Fiction for December 2009

New to our shelves:

Frostbitten by Kelley Armstrong (10, Women of the Otherworld) H, R
The Sword-Edged Blonde by Alex Bledsoe (1, Eddie LaCrosse) F, M
Burn Me Deadly by Alex Bledsoe (2, Eddie LaCrosse) F, M
Servant of a Dark God by John Brown (1, Dark Gods) F
Child of Fire by Harry Connolly F, H
An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat by Glen Cook (Chronicles of the Dread Empire) F, H
At Empire’s Edge by William C. Dietz (1, Empire duology) SF
Crystal Nights and Other Stories by Greg Egan SF
Chaosbound by David Farland (8, The Runelords) F
High Bloods by John Farris H, SF

'Tis the season... for romance!

Glowing lights and cozy fires, sleigh rides and cold-pinked cheeks, evergreens and mistletoe and gifts under the tree... as soon as the last Thanksgiving float goes by, people's thoughts are already turning to the next holiday season.  Christmas holds a strong romantic appeal for many, regardless of religious inclination.  In Japan, for example, Christmas is not celebrated as a family holiday-- it's traditionally the season for lovers!  Since the Christmas season is all about anticipation, I thought I'd start early with a list of books full of the Christmas spirit.  As always, romance authors stand ready to get you in the mood!

New Romance Fiction for November 2009

In paperback:

Sliding Home by Kate Angell C
Twilight Magic by Shari Anton (2, Magic trilogy) H, S
Immortal Sins by Amanda Ashley C, S
Christmas Ball by Jennifer Ashley, Emily Bryan and Alissa Johnson H
Duke of Sin by Adele Ashworth (1, Duke trilogy) H
The Infamous Rogue by Alexandra Benedict H
Beloved Highlander by Sara Bennett H
A Rogue’s Game by Renee Bernard (3, Mistress trilogy) H
St. Raven by Jo Beverley (7, Company of Rogues) H
Stranger’s Kiss by Mary Blayney (3, The Pennistans) H
Something about Emmaline by Elizabeth Boyle (1, Bachelor Chronicles) H

New Speculative Fiction for November 2009

New to our shelves:

The Stoneholding by James Anderson and Marc Sebanc (1, Legacy of the Stone Harp) F
The Mammoth Book of Mindblowing SF by Mike Ashley, ed.  (shelved at SF Mammoth) SF
The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi SF
Transition by Iain M. Banks SF, A, M
Snakeskin Road by James Braziel (2, Birmingham, 35 Miles) SF, A
The Child Thief by Brom F, H
Fire by Kristin Cashore F
Always Forever by Mark Chadbourn (3, Age of Misrule) F
Vengeance Child by Simon Clark H
And Another Thing… by Eoin Colfer & Douglas Adams (Part 6 of 3, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) SF

BENEATH OUR FEET

We often look to speculative fiction to take us on journeys to distant galaxies, to transport us to far, fey kingdoms or realms of nightmare.  But there's a strange, lost land hiding much closer than we might suspect-- every day, in cities all around the world, humanity treads unthinkingly over it.  Those seemingly solid streets we drive on every day?  Hollow.  Buildings, sidewalks, even parks stretch over spacious caverns of air.  Although this sounds fantastical, I haven't even gotten to the "fiction" part yet-- read on! 

HAUNTING ROMANCE

Looking for something to stir your spirits on a dark and chilly October night?  You might think that supernatural romances aren't your cup of tea, but ghosts can turn up in almost any type of romance-- from sweets to Gothics to hard-boiled romantic suspense.  As phantom lovers, spectral matchmakers, or the ultimate in unearthly villains, ghosts can add something a little out of the usual way.  If the idea of a haunting romance intrigues you, check out one of these titles!

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