Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Five Reasons to Read Kristin Landon's Hidden Worlds Trilogy

I have been a follower/fan of The Galaxy Express for a while now, and can’t tell you how happy I am that the site exists. Heather Massey does an amazing job promoting Science Fiction Romance. Interviews, reviews, discussions, you get it all at TGE. And giveaways. I have benefited three times from such promotions and have always imagined one of my books being the prize at TGE someday. After this third win, Heather gently reminded me that what I SHOULD do (my emphasis, not hers. Heather is very kind to knuckleheads like me) is give back for my great luck by talking about the books.

Oy. Ever feel like a complete tool? Yeah, that would be me.

I should have done this long ago, and I apologize to Heather at The Galaxy Express and Kristin Landon for being so…well, the only word for it is negligent…lazy…oblivious. I guess that’s three words, but they all apply. (I will run another self-flagellating apology when I post about Nathalie Gray’s Agent Provocateur : )

So let me stash the wet noodle for a moment and tell you why you need to read this series.

After the Earth was destroyed by ruthless machine intelligences known as the Cold Minds, the remnants of the human race sought refuge on the Hidden Worlds. For 600 years, the worlds have been protected by Pilot Masters, men who have been bred and trained for this sole purpose. But from a small, insignificant world comes a woman looking to secure her planet’s economic health. A woman who holds the key to a secret the Pilot Masters don’t want revealed.

Can you guess what is eventually going to happen? Well, maybe you can, to a degree, but there’s more to these books than a bunch of evil machines and haughty pilots. Much, much more.

Granted, I’ve only just finished Book Two, The Cold Minds, but I have more than enough to back up a recommendation. I stink at “reviews” and decided to take Heather’s suggestion to make a list. It is a tad vague, but that’s to avoid spoilers : )

1. Stellar writing. And I don’t use “stellar” in the “it’s about other worlds” sense. I mean the writing is AMAZING. Ms. Landon has some mad skills in this department. Intricate plotting, incredible detail, well-rounded characters. I’ve read more seasoned authors who can’t weave a story nearly as well as she. Brava, madam.

2. Delicious villains. No, not the machines; they are creepy. Not all the humans are the good guys here. The characters are multidimensional and the villains, like all good villains, are heroes of their own stories. You can totally see that, considering the situation they are in. Well, *mostly* see that. There are some real jerks, but jerks you’ll love to hate : )

3. Super hero. No, not the Batman or Superman variety. The hero is Iain sen Paolo, one of those haughty pilots. At first, he comes across as a bit over-privileged and self-involved (sorry, Ms. Landon, but he does : ) . But he comes around soon enough. Iain isn’t perfect, and he has some issues to deal with, but he’s trying hard to be loyal to his brother pilots (even after they treat him like dirt because—oops! That would be telling ; ), save his people, and love the heroine when she is pushing him away.

4. A heroine you can love. Linnea Kiaho is one brave young woman, and tougher than she first appears. She is more than a little naïve about the ways of the rest of the worlds, and unfortunately she gets a harsh lesson all too soon. But saving humanity—and her family back home--is more important to her than dwelling on her own problems. You just want to sit her down and say, “Linnea, honey, sometimes it’s okay to be selfish.” I don’t think she’d listen, though. It’s not that she is a martyr or does silly things in the name of love and self sacrifice. Linnea is smart, and that, along with her vulnerability and her determination to save her people, makes her a heroine you can root for.

5. Mind boggling world-building. Along with Ms. Landon’s incredible writing talent, you get one of the most complex and detailed universes in SF. Six hundred plus years of history and subsequent human cultures. I would have to put her universe up there with the one in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. Yes, it’s that well thought out.

Go get this series. Go now. Get all three books and start reading. Then come back here and tell me what you thought. Better yet, tell the author. I hear they love getting fan mail : )

I am about to start Book Three, The Dark Reaches, so my next post might take a bit.

ETA: Finished The Dark Reaches. My take: Whoa and damn! Read this trilogy!

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing

Oh, I am so very ashamed!

I have been lucky enough to win not one, not two, but THREE giveaways from the amazing SFR site The Galaxy Express in the past year and I have yet to remark on the books. (OK, I just won the third one and I haven't read it yet, but still, my flagellation is deserved.)

What kind of terrible person/promoter of SFR goodness am I?!?!!?

Very. With a capital "V" that rhymes with "T" that stands for "Terrible"!

So to remedy that sad situation (Thanks for the kick in the butt, Heather!) I will dedicate myself to getting a couple of bang-up reviews out soonest. I've read Nathalie Gray's Agent Provocateur a while ago and may need to go back to re-read it. No skin off my nose there : ) I recently finished Kristin Landon's first book of her Hidden Worlds trilogy, so that one is fresher. I'm in the middle of the second book and totally enjoying it. The most recent win is Gini Koch's Touched by an Alien. Thanks, Heather and Gini. I will not fail you this time!

It's not that I wouldn't recommend these great books by these amazing authors. I just stink at remembering to do stuff like that : P

But change is upon me, my friends. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Game of Your Life

Like much of America, pretty much the only time I watch/follow college basketball (now that we aren't in a college basketball town) is during March Madness--the NCAA Championship games. We'll catch a game or two during the season, especially if a PAC-10 team is playing, but our viewing time dramatically increases as the teams begin their push to the championship.

This year, Butler and Duke squared off for the men's final game. The Butler Bulldogs were not expected to beat the perennial favorite Duke Blue Devils, but damn was that a nail-biter of a game. The Butler team, to paraphrase a line in "Galaxy Quest," never gave up and never surrendered. They challenged the Blue Devils literally to the last second, when a lob across the court bounced off the rim and failed to go in. Heartbreaking for a team that played with so much heart, so much poise. At the end, as Duke was celebrating yet another championship, those young Butler men and their coach held their heads high--and rightfully so--as they shook hands with their opponents, stunned and disappointed yet offering congratulations and "Good game." They had earned the right to be there, deserved the championship just as much as their foes, but the ball just didn't fall the right way that final shot. So close. So very, very close.

The women's game between Stanford (yay! PAC-10!) and the University of Connecticut (another perennial participant in the Final Four) saw play a little slow and disjointed at the start, but again, all those young women showed had the right to be on that floor. Both teams played hard, fought for every point, every rebound, every chance. Players fell hard going after the ball, but for all the physicalness, there was no aggression, not a glimmer of loss of control. These young women, like their male counterparts, are fierce competitors. But the maturity and poise they showed was amazing. When UConn had won, and another round of congratulations and "Good game" was exchanged between teams, I was happy for the winners, but my heart broke for Stanford as it did for Butler.

I'd have to agree with those who might see college basketball (or any collegiate sport) as an allegory for life. Years of practice, of learning from people who know what they're doing, of weeding out the advice of people who think they know what they're doing, of getting up early to work out and staying up late to finish homework assignments. Of treating yourself right and sacrificing some things you want to do but can't because there's a game the next day or a bus or plane to catch. Tired of doing the same drills over and over and over again. But knowing, in your heart, that it's worth it. That there are people in your life, on your team, counting on you to give your hundred percent. Who you can count on to give their hundred percent. That makes you want to give even more, and you're happy to do it.

And in the end, after doing everything you can to be in the game of your life, maybe you'll be the one cutting down the net. If not, there is always next year.

Congratulations to all the teams in this year's games.