A Tale of Two Evanoviches

evanovich These days, the shelves are full of children (and sometimes nieces and nephews) of famous writers carrying on the torches for their famous parents. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s booming. Dick Francis’ son Felix started collaborating with his father on novels, and after his father died in 2010, Felix carried on — he is now listed as the sole author rather than the co-author on more recent books. Clive Cussler’s son Dirk Cussler is now the co-author on the more recent Dirk Pitt novels. Fans who avoid books with a “Dreaded Co-author” seem more likely to pick up books co-authored by a relative. My father is a big Clive Cussler fan, but he isn’t crazy with the series written with less well-known co-authors. However, he has no problem with the Dirk Pitt novels co-written by Dirk Cussler. I’m sure many other fans feel the same way when the co-author has the same last name.

Like Dirk Cussler, Todd McCaffrey has also carried on the family torch. He collaborated with his mother, Anne McCaffrey, on Pern books, starting from about 2003, and he has been listed as both sole author and co-author on Pern books since, with the latest collaboration coming out in 2012. Before this, Todd published SF on his own, as both Todd Johnson and Todd McCaffrey. Like Todd, Brian Herbert was writing before the death of his famous father, Frank Herbert, in 1986. Now, Brian is best known for co-authoring Dune sequels and prequels with Kevin J. Anderson. And in October of this year, Anne Hillerman (Tony Hillerman’s daughter) will be coming out with a new Leaphorn and Chee novel. Continue reading

Sometimes It’s Hard to be a Fan of Romance AND Sci-Fi

A_wanderer_dancing_the_dance_of_stars_and_space The romance community certainly has its kerfuffles, and some of it – such as the pointing of fingers at reviewers and calling them bullies – can get frustrating. Yet in the past few weeks, I’ve been grateful for romance. That’s because the science fiction and fantasy field has started to look really screwed up recently.

It all started when the SFWA Bulletin, the official publication of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), came out with a Red Sonja cover — complete with warrior woman in illogical armor and, of all things, high heels. (You can see it in this post. Who in their right mind would wear that armor in a snowy environment?) There were other problems as well, and when writers complained, they were shot down, accused of being fascists, “anonymous” complainers, and so forth. All this resulted in a rebuttal column that created huge firestorm resulting in the president of SFWA posting an apology and too much backlash to go over in a paragraph. The whole picture is complicated, and you can read more here. The long and short of it is that some SF/fantasy writers revealed themselves to be jerks (not really a shock in some cases). The only thing that kept it from being a complete cesspool was that so many writers fought against the misogyny and racists. Yet the jerks still left a smudge all over SF and fantasy. Continue reading

AAR Staff Top 10 Favorites – Anne’s Picks

defynottheheart My first thought when I heard about this was “Eek! Only ten?” These picks are in no particular order, and some make no sense when I look at them. But these were the books I often think of when I try to pick favorites — often because they influenced me so much. Sadly, some of the romances I loved the most have titles like “That old Silhouette where the hero helped the heroine recover from an abusive childhood. Or something. I think it was blue.”

If I left your book off the list, don’t feel bad. It might be one of dozens of runner-ups. Or maybe it was one of those books I’ve been trying to remember for years. Was your book blue?

1) Defy Not the Heart by Johanna Lindsey

This book broke rules and yet still managed to be classic Lindsey, without being classic Lindsey that involved Viking slave collars and the like. Even the sex was mediocre at first, until the hero found out how to make it better for the heroine. That was a great touch. But I’ll always remember this book for the gay lady’s maid Theo. An unexpected find in a Medieval. Sure, the hero and heroine fought a lot. This is a Lindsey, right? Was it PC? Come on! This is a Lindsey! Continue reading

Random Penguins, Part Deux

penguin-random-house Last November, I blogged about the possible Random House and Penguin Books merger. Or rather, the merger between German conglomerate Bertelsmann (the owner of Random House) and the parent company of Penguin (the British company Pearson). At the time, the merger had not yet been approved by the regulatory agencies. As controversial as the merger was for some, most experts thought it would be approved and that the newly named Penguin Random House would become reality.

Sure enough, it seems they might be right. One major step has made this huge merger possible. As reported by the New York Times and Publishers Weekly, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has approved the upcoming merger. Continue reading

Cheap EBooks: Bane, Boon, or Bust for Readers?

If you follow eBook news, you know it’s often all about pricing. From complaints about high prices and allegations of collusion on prices to concerns about cheap eBooks, customers are always keeping their eye on the price. It’s annoying to find that the new eBook you want is $14.99, while the hardback often costs less (including shipping).

To avoid paying too much for eBooks, I check out bargains on the MobileRead Deals, Freebies, and Resources forum every day. The eBook Bargains thread is also hugely popular on AAR’s own Potpourri board. It’s great to find free and bargain eBooks from authors I love, or from authors I’ve been wanting to read. Not long ago, I got nostalgic and gladly bought some Newberry Award winners for $1.99 each because the books reminded me of those great trips to the school library. Of course, I also wound up buying some higher priced titles because I just had to get a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond again. Continue reading

Random Penguins? Some Thoughts on the Possible Random House Penguin Merger

Random House was the first publisher’s name I learned to recognize. I didn’t know what a Random was, but I knew what a house was, and I knew Random House was the name on some of my favorite joke books — the Bennett Cerf ones. Of course, I didn’t know Bennett Cerf was one of the founders of Random House, way back in 1927. Now the Bennett Cerf riddle books are considered vintage kids’ books, and last week, we learned that the parent companies of Penguin and Random House were discussing a merger. As if that weren’t enough, there were also reports that News Corp. was trying to bid on the Penguin part of Pearson (stay that three times fast). Yes, that News Corp. — Rupert Murdoch’s company, owner of Fox News as well as Harper Collins. This would have thrown a wrench in the merger plans.
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Amazon to Bid on Dorchester Assets

auction Just when you think you’ve learned the latest news about Amazon acquiring another company, something new will pop up on-line. In June, we learned that Amazon was acquiring Avalon Books, a “clean” publisher that mostly sells to libraries. The latest news is that Amazon is bidding on the assets of Dorchester Publishing. By assets, this means books. Lots and lots of books. The Digital Book World post includes this wording from Amazon: Continue reading

Amazon Acquires Avalon Books – What Next?

avalon Unless you’re a librarian, or a reader who checks out lots of genre fiction from your library, Avalon Books has probably flown under your radar. Avalon is a niche publisher specializing in the library market, selling hardcover genre fiction to libraries. Founded in 1950, they publish 60 books a year — romances, mysteries, and Westerns. The books range from 50,000 to 70,000 words, so they’re quite short — about the length of a category romance, although shorter than the average Harlequin Historical. In today’s world of publishing conglomerates, Avalon is — or was — a rarity, a family-owned publishing house. Also, until now, Avalon’s titles have not been available in eBook format, not even though libraries with digital lending system.
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Dark Shadows

darkBefore we had the tormented Carpathians, and the Black Dagger Brotherhood, not to mention Edward of the Twilight series, many people grew up watching Barnabas Collins on Dark Shadows. No doubt the show paved the way for the acceptance of romantic vampires today. Yet many of today’s tormented vampires can’t hold a candle to Barnabas. In fact, Barnabas was all about the candles. Candles,  eerie music, cobwebs, fierce storms, crypts and graveyards. And unlike many vampires today, he was a true anti-hero.

Unlike many people from my generation, I didn’t grow up watching Dark Shadows all the time. I never seemed to get home at the right time, so I watched Captain Chesapeake instead. Still, although I was a scaredy-cat, I managed to sneak in a few episodes now and then.

When I heard that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp were working together on a Dark Shadows movie, my first reaction was “Perfect!” I couldn’t wait to see it. Then I realized that many fans were upset with the trailer because the movie comes across as a send-up. They are not amused. Or as my sister-in-law pointed out to be, fans took the show very seriously.

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Was I a “Big Ass” Reader?

mike-hammer-collection1 Heroes making big assumptions… They’re so common in romance. So much so that they were labeled “Big Ass” heroes” in an ATBF column several years ago. Readers often use shortcut terms like “the Big Miss.”

But what about readers making big assumptions? Whoops. Guilty as charged. I finally figured out something I hadn’t wanted to face. I have been a Big Ass reader.

The book that shook me up wasn’t a romance. Far from it. It was a collection of Mickey Spillane’s first three Mike Hammer books. Sure I was familiar with Spillane. I had enjoyed his beer commercials. I had fun watching him get interviewed on TV. I watched the Mike Hammer show on TV.
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