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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Coffee Break at the Book View Cafe: Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, Pati Nagle, Sherwood Smith


Poe often pauses for refreshment at the Book View Café, where (as of this writing) 38 authors offer a varied, and ever-expanding, menu of e-books they cooperatively edit and publish. You'll find new e-titles as well as e-prints of out-of-print favorites (often served with side dishes: spin-offs, prequels, or additional chapters). Samples are generous, and conveniently offered on-site.

BVC's shelving system doesn't clearly differentiate between MG and teen offerings, and Poe suspects that many more of its offerings (particularly in Sci Fi and Fantasy) could and should include Young Adult tags.

Meanwhile, here's a sampling from BVC's "official" Young Adult page:

By Pati Nagle
Book View Café, 2011
Poe thinks this is YA paranormal

First sentence: He came up to my station at the university library desk, eyes green and earnest, and a bolt of lightning shot through me and settled in my abdomen.

The blurb asks, what do you do if the most gorgeous guy you've ever seen walks up and asks for help? In this case, all Caeran's asking for is admittance to the Rare Books Room. But Lenore-the-librarian finds herself offering so much more: a cup of latte, the use of her cell phone, a drive to a remote New Mexico village where someone may possess the "special skills" needed to heal Caeran's ailing cousin Mirali. And that's only in the sample.

This offering promises to be a well-crafted book in the Twilight mode. (The blurb describes Caeran as an aelven—locked in an ancient struggle with a vampire who's now got his sights on Len.)

NOTE: Though book two, Eternal, appears on BVC's YA list, Poe had to dig around the Café site to locate this title, the series opener.

Rated: If you like paranormals with a long, exquisitely drawn-out unfolding of the romance and the mystery, then you may want to join Team Caeran.

By Sherwood Smith
Harcourt, 1997; reissued by BVC, 2010
Poe thinks this is YA high fantasy

First sentence: The broken shutter in the window creaked a warning.

A countess wearing a horse blanket and a count who hates fighting, leading a war against a wicked king who has the largest army the kingdom has ever known. This is how Branaric and his sister Meliara describe themselves. Poverty, illiteracy, theft, and and an overdue tax bill are just a few of the challenges they must overcome to carry out the last wishes of the father who dies in a touching first scene.

First published by Jane Yolen at Harcourt, and then by Penguin, this novel is now e-bundled with its sequel, Court Duel, a related short story, and six episodes written from another character's POV.

The story is set in Sartorias-delas, an otherworld Smith began to chronicle at the age of 8. The S-d adventures now form a large oeuvre of novels and short stories. Many titles are already available at the Café.

Rated: If you love a long wander through a well-imagined otherworld, then Sartorias-delas might be the perfect vacation destination.

By Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Book View Press, 2009
Poe thinks this is YA humorous fantasy

First sentences: Lord E Lordy wanted the Wiz. That’s where the Last Little War got started.

Taco's a teen-aged merlin who stores his fortune-telling runes in an old coffee can, and the fabled tree is called Doug (short for Douglas fir, naturally). Their adventure is set in a fantasy world where Lords and smeagols, and pretty knighties in armor, and Day of the Dead celebrations all jostle in a mashed-up version of San Francisco's Embarcadero district.

Bohnhoff builds this world primarily with vivid, dancing language; sentences skim somewhere between normal and crazy; the wordplay and cultureplay never let up. It's like Terry Pratchett in Spanglish. Underneath the mad surface, the sample suggests a solid quest adventure with a touch of romance.

Rated: If you enjoy Pratchett and Doug Adams, then take a look at Taco Del.

Book View Café offers too much rich fare to sample at once. An upcoming column will browse titles from Linda Nagata, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Judith Tarr.

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