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Karen Ostertag's blog

New Speculative Fiction for October 2011

New to our shelves:

Those Across the River by Christopher Buehlman H
Spellbound by Blake Charlton (2, Spellwright) F, M
Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense by Jack Dann & Nick Gevers, eds.
       H, SF, A (Horror SS Ghosts)
Forbidden by Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee (1, The Books of Mortals) SF, A, M (SF Dekker)
When the Great Days Come by Gardner Dozois SF, F, H, A
Into the Hinterlands by David Drake & John Lambshead (1, Allen Allenson) SF, M (SF Drake)
My Soul To Take by Tananarive Due (4, African Immortals) H
Knight's Curse by Karen Duvall F, M, R

Love and Other Sports

It's officially autumn, and the minds of women across America are turning to... football?!  (Or post-season baseball... or ice hockey... or even basketball, though that doesn't start until November.)  Whether you're a sports fan or a sports widow, there's no avoiding professional athletics at this time of year.  So why fight it? 

After all, from a romance perspective, there's a lot to be said about athletes in their physical prime competing with one another, working up a sweat... (and don't get me started on the tight ends!).  Rather than attempting an end run around the season, why not go for the full court press this month?  Try out a sports romance!  There are all kinds of sexy athletes warming up the pages of our romance section, and these aren't the kinds of guys who play the field.  Whether you're looking for a running back to tackle, a baseball player to steal your heart, or a stock car driver who'll make your pulse race, you're sure to find a sports hero here for you.

Who says that sports kills romance?  After all, even tennis is all about keeping your opponent at love.

Reading Your Mind

No other country in the world matches the scope of America's freedom of speech.  The free and open exchange of ideas, the ability to make up your own mind and then speak it, and to publish without fear of government reprisal or censorship, sustains the very foundation of our democracy.  Librarians have long been ardent advocates of free speech (though sometimes we frown on REALLY LOUD free speech).

Over the coming week, New City Library will be joining with other libraries and booksellers across America to take part in the 30th annual celebration of Banned Books Week.  This last week in September is set aside every year to promote the benefits of free and open access to information, and to underscore the dangers of censorship.  Banned Books Week honors a right we never, ever want to lose-- our Constitutionally guaranteed freedom to read.

Space Opera: Or, It's Not Over 'Til the Fat Venusian Sings

Astounding Science Fiction, May 1947Okay, so I'm kidding about the Venusian-- the term "space opera" doesn't actually have anything to do with singing (though it could).  It's a subgenre of science fiction that originally gained its name from a similarity to the melodrama of soap operas and "horse operas" (westerns). 

The phrase has had something of a mixed history.   Space opera as we define it today was once the meat and drink of the science fiction pulps-- magazines such as Planet Stories, Weird Tales, and Astounding Science Fiction.  In the late 1920s and early 1930s, they began publishing exciting tales of space-going derring-do like E. E. "Doc" Smith's Skylark of Space, Edmond Hamilton's The Star Stealers, and Jack Williamson's Legion series that were an immediate hit with the public.

New Romance Fiction for September 2011

In paperback:

The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley (3, Highland Pleasures) H
In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks (1, Highlander) H, M
Blood Hunt by Shannon K. Butcher (5, Sentinel Wars) C, S
The Vampire Next Door by Ashlyn Chase (3, Strange Neighbors) C, S
It's Always Been You by Victoria Dahl (2, York familiy) H
The Landlord's Black-Eyed Daughter by Mary Ellen Dennis H, S
Secrets of Bella Terra by Christina Dodd (1, Scarlet Deception) C, M
How to Seduce a Scoundrel by Vicky Dreiling (2, How To books) H
Making Waves by Tawna Fenske C

New Speculative Fiction for September 2011

New to our shelves:

The Urban Fantasy Anthology by Peter S. Beagle and Joe R. Lansdale, eds. F, H (Fantasy Urban)
With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan (4, Onyx Court) F
Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks (2, Legends of Shannara) F
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline A, SF, M
Songs of the Earth by Elspeth Cooper (1, Wild Hunt trilogy) F
The Magdalena Curse by F. G. Cottam H
Ascension by Christie Golden (8, Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi) SF
The Omen Machine by Terry Goodkind (12, Sword of Truth) F
Home Improvement: Undead Edition by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, eds. H, R (Horror Home)

Keeping It under Our Caps: Bonnet Fiction

I was very tempted to do an entry on "tempest-tossed romance" today, but I suspect you'll be getting enough of that on your own this weekend.  Instead, I thought I'd offer something more in the way of a comfort read.  There's a category of romance that's been steadily growing in popularity as our own lives have gotten more stressful and technologically complex: "bonnet" fiction.

"Bonnet fiction" refers to romances set in Amish or Mennonite communities; the term comes from the depiction of characters in their ever-present "kapps" on the front cover.  (If you don't see a bonnet, the character is probably an "English," or outsider).  Sometimes, you'll see the term expanded to include pioneer and prairie romances also, or other "simple living" groups like the Shakers.  Beverly Lewis, herself the granddaughter of an "Old Order" Mennonite woman, is often credited with founding the genre with the first of her Heritage of Lancaster County series, The Shunning, based loosely on her grandmother's life.

New Romance Fiction for August 2011

In paperback:

Deeper than Midnight by Lara Adrian (9, Midnight Breed) C, S
By His Majesty's Grace by Jennifer Blake (1, The Three Graces) H
Baby, Come Home by Stephanie Bond (2, Southern Roads) C
Heiress in Love by Christina Brooke (1, Ministry of Marriage) H, A
Rapture Becomes Her by Shirlee Busbee (5, Becomes Her) H, M
Hush by Nancy Bush C, M
The Bride Wore Scarlet by Liz Carlyle (2, Fraternitas Aurea Crucis) H, M, S
Mystical Warrior by Janet Chapman (3, Midnight Bay) H, A, F
Silk is for Seduction by Loretta Chase (1, Dressmakers) H

New Speculative Fiction for August 2011

New to our shelves:

The Key to Creation by Kevin J. Anderson (3, Terra Incognita) F
Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong (12, Women of the Otherworld) H, R
Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (13, Dresden Files) F, H
Overbite by Meg Cabot (2, Insatiable) H, R
The Best Horror of the Year by Ellen Datlow, ed. (3, Best Horror of the Year) H (Horror Best)
Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy by Ellen Datlow, ed. F (Fantasy Naked)
Undead and Undermined by MaryJanice Davidson (10, Queen Betsy) H, R
The Year's Best Science Fiction 28 by Gardner Dozois, ed. (28, Year's Best Science Fiction) SF (SF Year's)

Fabled Cities

Stories live where we do.  When people lived in cottages and castles, travelling from village to farm to walled town through remote mountain passes and deep, dark woods, that's where our stories went, also.  They hid in the margins: dwarves and goblins and dragons dwelt deep in the mountains.  Elves and other fey folk populated the far green spaces.  Witches kept remote cottages deep in the ancient forest, and enchanted princesses slept in abandoned castles walled in by briars.

Now we live in cities and suburbs, in high ranches and apartments and skyscrapers, and our stories have moved in right along with us.  The Wild Hunt rides Harleys through the city streets at midnight, while wizards sell two-bit charms in back alleys.  Vampires hunt in night clubs, and forgotten, eldritch gods lurk in the sewers.  The magic of old has gotten a little glitzier, a little grungier, but it's still there, existing side-by-side with our digital toys. 

This is urban fantasy-- think of it as a faerie tale coming soon to a city near you. 

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