Tag Archives: Janet Evanovich

A Bit of Everything

I’m starting to realise I actually read a lot last October, despite doing what I thought were 15-hour working days.  Here’s what else ended up on my Goodreads shelves (as always, additional commentary in italics).

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Angels of DarknessAngels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ANGELS was an anthology that was worth the money for me. Usually anthologies tend to have at least one author I’m indifferent to, but this one had the bonus of me liking (if not loving) all four contributors.

I loved the peek into Ilona Andrews’ new Alpha world – more please? It was definitely darker and scarier compared to their Kate/Curran books, more reminiscent of their The Edge universe somehow. Sharon Shinn’s Samaria novella – well, I’m a total Samaria fangirl and while this was not the strongest story ever, just being able to revisit the world made the story worth it for me. And I liked Meljean Brook’s Guardian contribution despite me having stalled out early in her series (I suspect I would have gotten a whole lot more out of this story if I had known the full backstory), while Nalini Singh’s novella was enjoyable even though I haven’t loved her latest Guild Hunter books.

I think this was one of the anthologies I was most excited about last year, especially as it had a Samaria story.  I didn’t regret splashing out on the trade paperback edition.

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Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18)Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It used to be I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Stephanie Plum book. Nowadays, I put in a library request and it sits unread until close to the due date.

I didn’t care for Smokin’ Seventeen but EIGHTEEN surprised me – and in a good way. Alongside the usual zany antics from Lula et al plus the usual Morelli-or-Ranger dilemma, there was actually a plot that made sense. Yes, the usual suspects turn up, but Stephanie has actually developed some skills – both in bounty-hunting and self-defense AND she may – just may – be taking responsibility for her own actions.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the next book (but I’m still getting it from the library).

Ha.  I have just put in my library reservation for NOTORIOUS NINETEEN, as it happens.  I will keep you posted on whether the slight upwards trend continues (probably in a year’s time at the rate I’m going).

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Shadow Kin (The Half-Light City, #1)Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott (fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t quite sure if this was urban fantasy or not when I picked it up – answer: it’s not, despite the very UF-like cover. Which was a bonus, because I was in the mood for something different.

And this was different – to an extent. I liked the magic system, especially sunmages, but struggled with the incorporation of vampires and beastkin (i.e. shapeshifters/werewolves). I think the world-building suffered somewhat from the too-many-paranormal-creatures syndrome. The story is told in alternating POVs, which was slightly confusing as I really couldn’t tell the difference between the voices. I finally figured out that the symbols at the start of each section indicated the narrator, which helped – but I shouldn’t really need visual cues to tell POV.

However, good ending and I ended up liking this story well enough. I would probably get the next book to see how the writing and story develops.

I’ve not picked up the sequel actually.  I saw BLOOD KIN in the bookstore and was considering it, then I remembered the lack of distinct voices in the POV shifts in this book, and decided I didn’t really need to know what happens next.  Unless of course, one of you has read it and think it’s worth picking up?  

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Canyons of Night (The Arcane Society,#12, Looking Glass Trilogy,#3,  Harmony, #8)Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle (paranormal romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jayne Ann Krentz (and her various pseudonyms) used to be an autobuy for me – however, the only books of hers I regularly read nowadays are the Jayne Castle ones. I suspect it’s because the paranormal aspects that so annoy me when they appear in her historicals and contemporaries fit in nicely with her futuristic romances.

If you’ve read other Harmony books, you know exactly what to expect from CANYONS OF NIGHT. Hero meets heroine, they argue, then realise their talents dovetail perfectly together, and have a HEA (after getting rid of the bad guys). Having said that, I liked how Slade and Charlotte had a bit of a history, the chemistry between the two, and the small-town atmosphere. The suspense angle? Didn’t work for me.

And Rex the dust-bunny (for a change, belonging to the hero, not the heroine) and his fondness for sparkly objects? Love. Yep, I may be just reading this series for the dust-bunnies.

I know, I know.  This is futuristic romance-LITE, but I can’t help myself.  

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What Happened To GoodbyeWhat Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (YA romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish. Sarah Dessen can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, and if you read too many in one go, her plots can start to feel slightly recycled. But WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE was complicated in the way the best YAs are. The beginning chapters hinted at hidden mysteries in Mclean’s life – the different names, the must-orders from the restaurant’s menu… they all promised a good story and I wasn’t disappointed. Mclean’s relationship with her parents came across as realistic – love mixed in with resentment and confusion – and at the end, I admit to a few sniffles. This book left me with warm fuzzy feelings.

I slightly overdosed on Sarah Dessen when I first stumbled over her books and did a Dessen glom, but this reminded me of how good her books can be.

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Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A really long book that could have possibly done with some additional editing as it dragged in places. I’m glad to have Beka’s story completed (and the linkage between her family and Alanna’s explained!), though I would have liked to have spent more time with Beka’s friends and family who we met in the first book. [Slight spoiler - highlight to read: The twist at the end left me slightly bemused and sad - I suppose it was part of Beka's growing up but, well.] All in all, I’ve liked this glimpse into Tortall’s history, but I’ll probably wouldn’t re-read the trilogy.

I tend to be a diehard Tortall fangirl, but this was not my favourite of the books, unfortunately.  On the other hand, the Mark Reads chapter-by-chapter reviews for her Alanna books are reminding me what a fantastic series that was.

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Quarter Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, #1)Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell (SF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this following a suggestion when I asked for space opera recs, with the caveat this wasn’t exactly space opera with big battles etc, but focusing on the trading side of things.

And it’s a easy read – a coming-of-age academy-type story, but this time, the academy being a merchant spaceship. Interesting world, and I can see myself getting the next to follow Ishmael on his adventures.

I did buy the next book, but have stalled a couple of chapters in.

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Slow Ride (Fast Track, #5)Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked SLOW RIDE more than the previous book The Chase, which perhaps isn’t saying too much.

What I liked about this one? Tuesday and Kendall’s interactions – having female friendships amidst the testosterone-fueled atmosphere is always a nice contrast. And you felt that they were real friends. I also liked how Tuesday’s journalistic background was incorporated through the articles and gossip columns inserts – they were fun. And (not that I’m saying I have first-hand experience or anything – ahem), the drunken scenes came across as being spot on… [Slight spoiler - highlight to read: Although was alcoholism an actual problem for Tuesday? I'm not quite sure - and while I did think that Erin McCarthy was trying to tackle a serious issue, I'm not quite sure if it worked. Which probably means it didn't.]

What I didn’t really care for: I did wonder why Kendall and Elec’s storyline had pivotal scenes in this book – this isn’t their story and really, it should have been wrapped up in the previous book. And while this series has a reputation for having some really steamy sex scenes (and I have loved the first few books), I felt this book had too many sex scenes scattered throughout that didn’t really advance the plot. However, it was interesting to see (very light) BDSM in a mainstream contemporary romance – a sign of the times?

Tuesday came across as a bit of a caricature at times, and too much on the laddish side – does anyone really ever describe themselves as “looking like ass”? Eh. And finally, the final argument was a bit OTT and I admit I lost respect for Tuesday at that point – drunk or not, she should have known better. I think it just came off as Diesel/Daniel being too nice for her.

So the jury’s still out on this series – I’ll still be reading the next, but not rushing out to buy.

I bought the next book FAST TRACK, but again stalled in the first couple of chapters – the hero came across as being incredibly condescending and the heroine had zero self-esteem.  Though I have seen relatively good reviews around, so I may return to the book at some point… 

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Very Short Thoughts

These July 2011 reads are a bit of a downer.  It was partly self-inflicted though.

Reviews cross-posted from Goodreads as always, additional comments in italics.

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Hit List (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #20)Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton (paranormal romance)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ummm… not much to say here. Lots of repetition. I skimmed. I borrowed this from the library, which shows that at least I am learning. Slowly.

I know.  Serves me right, huh?

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Smokin' SeventeenSmokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A bit of a forgettable read, this one – I’m glad I borrowed it from the library.

I am so glad I’ve managed to stop myself from buying the hardcover.  I think this book was sitting on the New Releases shelf as well – no reservations for this one. 

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A Double DeceptionA Double Deception by Joan Wolf (regency romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve a soft spot for Joan Wolf’s regencies – I liked this sweet romance, though it’s not one of her best. Familiar plot and familiar characters with an OTT villain – a quick and enjoyable read.

I liked this well enough when I read it, but am struggling to remember the plot now.  Good to know I’m showing some consistency with my ratings… I think this one is only if you’re a Joan Wolf fan.  Or like sweet regency romances.

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Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had low expectations coming into this book, having not really got on with the previous couple of books, and was pleasantly surprised – this was actually entertaining with a plot! I liked that Sookie wasn’t so much of a doormat in this book when her “friends” did stupid things. I’m hoping the next book shows us consequences of events in this. I’m also starting to wonder how Charlaine Harris will end this series – will there be an HEA, and if so, how…

The more we get in this series, the more doubtful I feel about everyone getting a happy ending in the end.  I’ve read Ms Harris’s other (mystery) series, and well, I don’t think she feels the need to give a HEA.  

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Mind Games (The Disillusionists Trilogy, #1)

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover is very much standard UF – the story is not. It’s UF with an unusual twist – I liked and will be picking up the other two in this trilogy.

Disclaimer: I’ve been reading Carolyn Crane’s blog (and have been a very occasional commenter) since her pre-publication days, and so may have been slightly biased here. I did buy MIND GAMES back when it was first released in 2010, but only got around to reading it last year (and mentioning it here another year later – good thing no one’s dependent on me for publicity!).

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Books for June

Yes, a woefully late post.  But there were so many good books coming out in the first half of June and only so much time… so well, reading won out over blogging.

So here are this month’s new releases that have been taking up my time:

Suzanne Brockmann‘s “When Tony Met Adam” (m/m romance): The final (short) story in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters universe (unless she chooses to return to this series in the future) – I believe this was first provided as a freebie for the “Breaking the Rules” virtual signing earlier this year, and now has been released in ebook format.

Blurb:

Tony Vlachic, a ruggedly handsome Navy SEAL, has kept his sexuality a secret for years under the threat of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. That is, until he meets Adam Wyndham, a charismatic yet troubled film star. Tony knows that by approaching Adam in front of his teammates he’s jeopardizing his military career. And Adam, nursing a broken heart, has no interest in a relationship. Still, neither man can deny their instant attraction.

Tony didn’t become a SEAL by accepting rejection, and his pursuit of Adam leads to one unforgettable night. But the next morning, Tony is ordered to ship out to Afghanistan, and he’s forced to leave Adam with too much left unsaid. As Tony enters a dangerous war zone, Adam, back in Los Angeles, struggles with the demons of his past, while dealing with the very real possibility that Tony could be killed in action. Half a world apart, both men must face their feelings for each other—and decide if what they’ve found is worth risking everything in the name of love.

Out now (book page on author’s website)

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Karen Chance‘s “Hunt the Moon” (urban fantasy): Karen Chance is an autobuy author for me, and it has been way too long since she’s had a new book out (18 months, not that I’m counting or anything).  This is book #5 in her Cassie Palmer series, so probably not a good place to jump in, but if you can make it past the breakneck speed of her first couple of books, this world of clairvoyants, vampires, and mages, with a time-travelling twist is a good one.

Blurb:

Cassandra Palmer recently defeated a god, which you’d think would buy a girl a little time off. But it doesn’t work that way when your job description is Pythia-the world’s chief clairvoyant. Cassie is busier than ever, trying to learn about her power, preparing for her upcoming coronation, and figuring out her relationship with the enigmatic sexy master vampire, Mircea.

But someone doesn’t want Cassie to become Pythia, and is willing to go to any lengths to make sure the coronation ceremony never happens- including attacking her mother before Cassie is even born.

Out now (excerpt)

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Sarah Rees Brennan‘s “The Demon’s Surrender” (YA urban fantasy): Now I was going to save my commentary on each of these books for a separate post, because this post is going to be long enough as it is, but I’m going to have to say that (a) I stayed up until 3am reading this book (b) this is possibly the BEST book I’ve read this year.  When I think back to how lukewarm I was about the first book, I am so glad I picked up the second book and SURRENDER  just wraps up the trilogy in the most perfect way.  Sarah Rees Brennan is not afraid of taking her characters to very dark places, which just makes it all the more satisfying when they triumph – a heart-wrenchingly wonderful sort of book.  I loved.

Blurb (with SPOILERS for the previous books):

The Goblin Market has always been the center of Sin’s world. But now the Market is at war with the magicians, and Sin’s place is in danger. Thrown out of the Market she loves, Sin is thrown together with brothers Nick and Alan – whom she’s always despised.

Alan has been marked by a magician and is being tortured so that the magicians can get to Nick. As Sin watches Alan struggle to protect the demon brother he loves, she begins to see him in a new light – but she and Mae are locked in a fierce rivalry over who will inherit the leadership of the Goblin Market, and a decisive battle with the Aventurine Circle is looming. Mae’s brother, Jamie, is holed up with the magicians, his loyalties in question. And Nick – well, who knows what a demon might do to save his brother? How far will Nick go to save Alan – and what will it cost them all?

Out now (excerpt)

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Josh Lanyon‘s “Come Unto These Yellow Sands” (m/m romance): Another autobuy author for me (I did say it was a good month).  I open a Josh Lanyon book expecting a good read, and am rarely disappointed.

Blurb:

Sometimes the adventure chooses you.

Lover of fine poetry and lousy choose-your-own-adventure novels, Professor Sebastian Swift was once the bad-boy darling of the literati. The only lines he does these days are Browning, Frost and Cummings. Even his relationship with the hot, handsome Wolfe Neck Police Chief Max Prescott is healthy.

When one of his most talented students comes to him bruised and begging for help, Swift hands over the keys to his Orson Island cabin—only to find out that the boy’s father is dead and the police are suspicious. In an instant, the stable life Swift has built for himself hangs on finding the boy and convincing him to give himself up before Max figures out Swift’s involvement in the case.

Max enjoys splitting an infinitive or two with his favorite nutty professor, but he’s not much for sonnets or Shakespeare. He likes being lied to even less. Yet his instincts—and his heart—tell him his lover is being played. Max can forgive lies and deception, but a dangerous enemy may not stop until Swift is heading up his own dead poet’s society.

Out now (excerpt)

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Deanna Raybourn‘s “The Dark Enquiry” (historical mystery): I’m looking forward to returning to this Victorian-era mystery series, even though the last book left me slightly unsettled.

Blurb:

Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane’s private enquiry business.

Among the more unlikely clients: Julia’s very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved—if eccentric—family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Ghost Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont’s sake and more, they’ll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep….

Out June 21 (excerpt)

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Jacqueline Carey‘s “Naamah’s Blessing” (fantasy): This book wraps up Jacqueline Carey’s third D’Angeline trilogy.  I have to admit that Moirin’s story hasn’t grabbed me as much as the previous two trilogies, but I’ll be getting this just to see how her story ends.

Blurb:

Returning to Terre d’Ange, Moirin finds the royal family broken. Wracked by unrelenting grief at the loss of his wife, Queen Jehanne, King Daniel is unable to rule. Prince Thierry, leading an expedition to explore the deadly jungles of Terra Nova, is halfway across the world. And three year old Desirée is a vision of her mother: tempestuous, intelligent, and fiery, but desperately lonely, and a vulnerable pawn in a game of shifting political allegiances.

As tensions mount, King Daniel asks that Moirin become Desirée’s oath-sworn protector. Navigating the intricate political landscape of the Court proves a difficult challenge, and when dire news arrives from overseas, the spirit of Queen Jehanne visits Moirin in a dream and bids her undertake an impossible quest.

Another specter from the past also haunts Moirin. Travelling with Thierry in the New World is Raphael de Mereliot, her manipulative former lover. Years ago, Raphael forced her to help him summon fallen angels in the hopes of acquiring mystical gifts and knowledge. It was a disastrous effort that nearly killed them, and Moirin must finally bear the costs of those bitter mistakes.

Out June 29 (excerpt)

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And the maybes: Janet Evanovich‘s “Sizzling Seventeen” (out June 21) will probably be a library borrow – I can’t convince myself to pay hardcover prices for the Stephanie Plum books anymore and I no longer have the must-read-immediately urge.  And two urban fantasy anthologies I want: “Hexed” (out now) purely because of the Ilona Andrews story, and “Chicks Kick Butt” (also out now), this one mainly because of the Karen Chance contribution, but there are a few other familiar names.

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Books for June

Here’s a much more timely post than I’ve managed for the past two months running.  However, is it just me or are June releases thin on the ground?

 

41JHNOwcdqL._SL160_The only book I have on my must-get list is Jacqueline Carey’s “Naamah’s Curse” (fantasy) – the second book of her latest Kushiel trilogy, this is an auto-buy for me. 

51Ezx8npQML._SL160_I thought the first book, “Naamah’s Kiss”, had a slightly different feel to Ms Carey’s previous Kushiel books, maybe because the narrator was Alban-born and had a more pragmatic worldview than the previous two narrators, but I was still pretty much swept along from the first page, and can’t wait to read the follow-up. 

I’m delighted the UK edition (cover on the left) is being released in the same month as the US one, else I’d be very tempted to shell out the cash for the US version. 

Out now US, June 24 UK (excerpt here)

 

51AQMVcQmPL._SL160_ I’ve already bought Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Mouse & Dragon”, which officially hits the (physical) shelves June 1.  I’ve also seen their “The Dragon Variation” in-store – it’s an omnibus edition collecting “Local Custom”, “Scout’s Progress”, and “Conflict of Honors” into one volume.  I was tempted, but I do have slightly beaten-up paper copies of the three already, so decided to pass.  Though I have just noticed the ebook version is $6, which is really too good to pass up…

 

I grabbed Lynn Flewelling’s “The White Road” yesterday while browsing in the bookstore, and really, that was the last of the June releases on my list.

51sEN7yeML._SL160_ Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum, “Sizzling Sixteen”, is out June 22 but I’m hesitant to buy hardcover because the recent books have been, well, lacking, shall we say?  Same with Laurell K Hamilton’s latest Anita Blake book, “Bullet”, which I’ve also seen out on shelves now, in its bright-red glory.  I’m holding out on both of these until I see more reviews.

I must be missing some June releases surely – what other books are you planning on getting this month?

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Books for June

There isn’t a massive number of new releases that I’m looking forward to this month, but there are still a few I’m very excited about:

51xUYWmKjvL._SL160_ Jacqueline Carey’s “Naamah’s Kiss” (dark fantasy):  I adore Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books, and I’m excited that “Kushiel’s Mercy” isn’t the last time we get to visit that world.  She does say on her website though:

One word of warning: Readers hoping to find out what befell the cast of Kushiel’s Legacy may be disappointed. There are some scattered hints, but ultimately, I chose not to go into a lot of detail. For one thing, I didn’t want to burden the narrative with unnecessary backstory.  For another… I didn’t really want to know. I prefer to imagine them all frozen in time at the end of Kushiel’s Mercy, living eternally in the happily-ever-after moment.

And this is Moirin’s story; my impulsive heroine with a generous heart, a great capacity for delight, and a tendency to throw herself headlong into any situation, no matter how complicated or ill-advised it may be. Naamah’s child, unwittingly sultry, compelled by desire; a child of the Maghuin Dhonn, possessor of subtle magic, unable to understand why the rest of the world finds it so strange that she worships a bear.

I’m okay with that – new heroine, new story.

Excerpt here (out June 24)

 

1107 Josh Lanyon’s “Somebody Killed His Editor” (m/m romantic suspense):  Josh Lanyon was one of my favourite new-to-me authors of last year (am totally addicted to his Adrien English books), and this is the first book of a new series.

Blurb from his website:

For sixteen years Christopher (Kit) Holmes has enjoyed a successful career as a mystery writer, thanks to the popularity of elderly spinster sleuth, Miss Butterwith and her ingenious cat, Mr. Pinkerton.  But sales are down in everything but chick lit and Christopher’s new editor doesn’t like geriatric gumshoes.  It’s a pink, pink world for Kit.

Reluctantly the reclusive Christopher agrees to attend a mystery writer’s conference at a remote Northern California winery.  But no sooner does he arrive then the bridge to the outside world washes out. On his trek to the Blue Heron Lodge, Christopher discovers the body of a woman in the woods.  If nearly two decades of mystery-writing are anything to go by, the woman doesn’t appear to have died a natural death.

Thanks to the ongoing storm and washed-out bridge, local law enforcement is not able to come to the rescue. Déjà vu!  It’s practically like all those classic murder mysteries in isolated country manors that Christopher has been penning for sixteen years!  If only Miss Butterwith was on hand. Or even Mr. Pinkerton….

Excerpt here (out June 16)

 

51ExyI1mOxL._SL160_ Tanya Huff’s “The Enchantment Emporium” (urban fantasy"): Tanya Huff is one of those authors who appear to seamlessly switch between writing SF, high fantasy, and urban fantasy as the mood takes them.  I’ve loved her last few books, and am looking forward to this standalone book.

Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms they cast. Then she receives word that she’s inherited her grandmother’s junk shop in Calgary, only to discover upon arriving that she’ll be serving the fey community. And when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day.

Author’s livejournal, no excerpt (out now)

 

blade1 Ilona Andrews’ “Silent Blade” (romantic SF):  “Magic Strikes”, the third in the Kate Daniels UF series, was one of my favourite reads of the year so far, and I’m definitely picking up this short story, which sounds completely different from her previous work.

Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.

On Meli Galdes’ home planet, the struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport—in business and on the battlefield. For years her lethal skills have been a valuable asset in advancing her family’s interests. She’s more than earned her right to retire, but her kinsmen have one last favor to ask.

Kill the man who ruined her life

Excerpt here (out now)

And the other books that I’m considering:

Janet Evanovich’s “Finger Lickin’ Fifteen” (mystery):  Has the Stephanie Plum series run out of steam?  I liked Fourteen better than Thirteen, even though the number of laugh-out-loud moments was definitely lower than the earlier books.  I do like Stephanie and Morelli though, and that’s possibly why I’m still reading this series in hardback. Out June 24 (excerpt here, PDF)

Laurell K Hamilton’s “Skin Trade” (urban fantasy):  Another series I’m slightly ambivalent about.  I think I have kicked the Merry habit, but I haven’t quite given up on Anita Blake yet.  Out now (excerpt here, PDF)

“Swordplay” edited by Denise Little (fantasy):  My misses probably outnumber the hits when it comes to short story anthologies, but one themed around swordsmen and swords calls to the romantic in me.  I love the minimalist cover as well.

 

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Books for January

Happy New Year everyone!

I’m in the midst of writing up my 2008 reading year in review, but obviously can’t ignore the new releases coming in January.  Here are the books I’m looking forward to:

 

51agMaU5GjL._SL160_Kelley Armstrong’s “Men of the Otherworld” (urban fantasy):  I love Kelley Armstrong’s website – it’s easy to navigate, has all the information you want on her releases, and is regularly updated at the beginning of every month.  And she offers free fiction too.  Sometime last year, she took down a few of them to be polished up and published in an Otherworld anthology, with proceeds going to charity.  And this is it, three stories about the men of the Pack – plus a new Jeremy novella.

Out Jan 27 (more details here)

 

51oeeigQeL._SL160_ “Mean Streets” anthology (urban fantasy):  I want this one because of Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden contribution.  The other authors are Simon R Green, Kat Richardson, and Thomas E Sniegoski – I haven’t read any of them before (or at least I don’t think I have?) but new-to-me authors are always good.  Also continuing the free fiction thing, here are a couple of Harry Dresden short stories.

Out Jan 6

 

31YsKxYeS7L._SL160_ Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Horizon” (fantasy):  The conclusion to her Sharing Knife series.  It took me a while to get into this series, what with my obsession with Miles and the Vorkosigan universe, but after taking ages to get around to reading “Legacy” (book 2), I realised just because it wasn’t Miles didn’t mean it wasn’t good.  Because good it is (in case you got confused by the preceding sentence).  Umm free fiction?  Here you go.  I’ve linked to it before, but “Mountains of Mourning” is an excellent read… and not just because it’s a Miles story.

Out Jan 27 (more details here)

 

It’s a pretty quiet month otherwise.  Probably worth mentioning that Janet Evanovich’s first full-length Between-the-Numbers Plum novel, called “Plum Spooky” (details here), is coming out Jan 6, but to be honest, I don’t really care about these books because Morelli and Ranger tend to be MIA and Diesel doesn’t really do it for me.

Any other releases worth highlighting?

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Books for June

I’m v excited about some new releases due out this month.

First up is Jacqueline Carey‘s “Kushiel’s Mercy” (dark fantasy):  This completes the Imriel trilogy (previous books are “Kushiel’s Scion” and “Kushiel’s Justice”).  I admit I had doubts about Imriel as the protagonist for this trilogy, but they quickly faded as soon as I read the first book.  I can’t wait to see how she finishes off his story.

Excerpt here – warning: contains big spoiler for second book if you haven’t yet read it (out June 12)

 

Then there’s Diana Peterfreund‘s “Rites of Spring (Break)” (YA):  I read the first book in this series, “Secret Society Girl”, a couple of weeks back and immediately had a bit of a fan-girl squee about it.  I more or less zoomed through the second book (“Under the Rose”), and while I didn’t rate it as highly as the former (minor gripes – firstly, the novelty has worn off slightly, and secondly, I think there was more telling than showing), I still love the world Ms Peterfreund has created.  I can’t wait to read the third.  And surely she’s not teasing about the possible romance?

Excerpt here (out June 24)

 

Next is Lynn Flewelling‘s “Shadows Return” (fantasy):  I didn’t expect she would ever return to her her Nightrunners world, but am happy to be proven wrong!  This is the fourth book in the series (and her website says a fifth is scheduled for next year – yay!).  Okay, bear with me because it’s been a while since I’ve read them and my memory’s a bit sketchy, but these books basically revolve around the adventures of noble-cum-spy Seregil and his former-apprentice-now-lover Alec.  Think “saving the kingdom”-type fantasy.  Ms Flewelling writes a good story.

Various excerpts on Ms Flewelling’s Livejournal (out June 24)

 

Brandon Sanderson‘s “Mistborn: The Well of Ascension” (fantasy):  I am trying to rein in my spending (honest!), so I’ve been waiting for the paperback release of this book.  It’s the second in the Mistborn trilogy, which is a fantasy with an interesting almost-scientific magic system.  I did like the first book, and I’m impressed that I refrained from buying the hardcover.   I probably shouldn’t pat myself on the back yet though, because the third book “Mistborn: The Final Empire” is also out this month… (edited to correct: M:TFE is a re-release of the first book, the third book is out in October, which will help my wallet – thanks La Plume for the info!).

Excerpts and other bonus information here

 

And then there’s Janet Evanovich‘s “Fearless Fourteen” (mystery):  No, I haven’t yet managed to wean myself off Stephanie Plum (though I haven’t bought the St Patrick’s Day novella – it’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?).  Despite the fact the Stephanie-Morelli-Ranger love triangle never goes anywhere (I’m a Morelli girl myself), I’m still a Plum addict.  It’s the offbeat humour that pulls me in – I almost always have at least one laugh-out-loud moment when reading Stephanie Plum.  I say “almost” because I thought the last book was actually a bit of a letdown.  So while I definitely am getting FF, it had better be good.

Excerpt here (out June 17)

 

Umm… and a maybe for Tanya Huff‘s “Heart of Valor” (military SF) – that’s Book 3 in the Confederation series.  But – and I know this sounds terrible – I can’t remember if I’ve already read it.  Arrrghhh.  I need to go and read a few pages in the bookstore.

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Books for January

21q4pgimxhl__aa_sl160_.jpgETA: I can’t believe I forgot to add Patricia Briggs‘s “Iron Kissed” (urban fantasy) to my list.  I loved her books when she wrote straight fantasy, and now I love her urban fantasy.  This is the third in her Mercy series, and apparently the love triangle gets resolved.  I can’t wait to read this one.  Excerpt here.

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Happy New Year! 

There are quite a few January new releases that I want to get: 

21buid0l2bml__aa_sl160_.jpg“Night Season” by Eileen Wilks (urban fantasy) – As mentioned in my previous post, this is one of my favourite urban fantasy series.  Excerpt here.  It looks as though Ms Wilks has also put up a bonus short story (yay!)- I’m waiting until after I finish reading “Night Season” though.

21xb8nkn5kl__aa_sl160_.jpg“Kitty & the Silver Bullet” by Carrie Vaughn (urban fantasy) – Fourth book in Ms Vaughn’s Kitty series.  Another werewolf urban fantasy, yes – but how many out there have a werewolf named Kitty?  I like but don’t love this series – at least not yet.  I’m still going to get it though – I like how Kitty develops and grows throughout the series.  Excerpt here.

21zvij2dvzl__aa_sl160_.jpg“The Wicked Ways of a Duke” by Laura Lee Guhrke (historical romance) – Ms Guhrke was a new-to-me author in 2007 and I enjoyed the first book in her Girl-Bachelors series “And Then He Kissed Her”.  I’m hoping this is just as good.  The cover’s a bit cliched though – I like the dark blue colour scheme but not the standard romantic h/h clinch.  Excerpt here.

21j6ojd-bwl__aa_sl160_.jpg“Succubus on Top” by Richelle Mead (urban fantasy) – Another 2007 new-to-me author.  I read the first book in this series a couple of months ago, not expecting much (I was in an urban fantasy reading slump), and really liked it.  Heh.  I’ve just re-read the review I wrote back then – and I *really* liked it.  LOL.  Excerpt here.

312wy5vk3cl__aa_sl160_.jpg“The Ruby Dice” by Catherine Asaro (SF) – The latest installment in her Skolian Empire series.  Ms Asaro does SF with really good romance.  I’m very excited about this one – except for the awful awful cover.  Sigh.  This is why I shouldn’t complain about romance covers.  There are worse ones for SF books out there.  Excerpt here.

As for Jan releases I’m interested in, but probably won’t get:
21-pjhr4egl__aa_sl160_.jpg“My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon” (urban fantasy anthology) – Why I want to read it: It has some of my favourite authors, including Jim Butcher and Kelley Armstrong.  And a rather cool theme – honeymoons with a supernatural twist, in case the title didn’t quite make that clear :-)  Why I’m not quite sure: It’s a trade paperback release, so more expensive than a mass-market.  And short stories aren’t quite my thing.  Nice cover though.
 
21kv2bfox5ul__aa_sl160_.jpg“Plum Lucky” by Janet Evanovich (mystery) – Oh no, another “between the numbers” book!  Now I know I bought “Plum Lovin” (her last Valentine Day novella) despite swearing not to, but this time, I’m definitely not getting this St Patrick’s Day one – as much as I love Stephanie Plum.  £17 for a 176-page book is just mad.  I don’t know if I’ll even get this one if it comes out in paperback.  IMO, the problem with her “between the numbers” books (apart from the length, that is) is that because not many of her Plum readers buy them, she can’t really advance the overall story plot – and that leaves you feeling unsatisfied.  Excerpt here.

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A Look Back at My June Reading

It’s raining again and I’ve a bit of a cold – it’s turning out to be a pretty grim weekend!  But it is the end of June, and so a good (or logical, anyway) time to look at what I’ve read this month.

I read 22 books this month, which is a lot for me – the second-highest number of books read per month this year so far.  January was the only month when I read more, and that was due to the Christmas/New Year holidays and err… the fact that I wasn’t doing much at work because I was about to move on!  This time around, I’m not quite sure where I found the time.  I think I spent less time online because of the on-off broadband connection of mine (which, fingers crossed, seems to be working properly now)…

Historical romance:  I read a lot of Eloisa James – five books plus her new release “Desperate Duchesses”.  It has been an EJ glom for me – I think I’m now completely caught up on her backlist.  I also read Amanda Quick‘s “Second Sight” – a book I picked up only because it was half-price.  It’s been on my TBR pile for a while, mainly because it was part of her Arcane Society series and I’m just not keen on her paranormals.  I actually quite enjoyed it, but it still wasn’t vintage Quick – a quick and easy read, though.

Mystery:  Eight books in total here, obviously including Jacqueline Winspear‘s “Maisie Dobbs” books, a couple of Jill Churchill‘s cosy mysteries (a few more have just arrived today in my Amazon delivery) and more Elizabeth Peters – both Vicky Bliss and stand-alones.  “The Love Talker” is my favourite stand-alone EP so far, I think it’s a bit more gothic than the others I’ve read to date, with a very subtle romance. 

Hmm… actually nine books if you count Janet Evanovich‘s “Lean Mean Thirteen” as Mystery.  I was actually a bit disappointed in this one.  It was definitely a Plum book – all the usual suspects making an appearance with the trademark slapstick comedy and let’s see… Stephanie destroying her cars, Stephanie trying to apprehend her FTAs (can’t remember but I think she lost her handcuffs as well), etc, etc.  So, yes, classic Plum, but – and I can’t believe I’m actually saying this – it’s starting to feel like a paint-by-numbers book.  Nothing much happens in the overall story arc, I didn’t have any laugh-out-loud moments… and I actually didn’t finish the book in one sitting.  Maybe I just have too high expectations for a Plum book?

SF/F (including urban fantasy):  About six books, I think – not really dominated by a single author.  Let’s see, Dave Duncan, Laurell K Hamilton, John Scalzi, Carrie Vaughn, Ilona Andrews, and PC Cast/Kristin Cast.  The books by the first four were continuations of various series, while the latter two books started off series (and were by new-to-me authors).  Actually, is there a plural for the word “series” or is it a plural in itself – it doesn’t seem to sound right somehow? 

Anyway, hard to compare these six books (and probably completely illogical – as they are mostly in completely different genres, or subgenres), but I will stick with the first four authors (yes, even Anita Blake, as I’m still too heavily invested in these characters now) and not the last two, as their books/worlds just didn’t stand out from the rest of the pack. 

And I’m still after the following books – I know they’re out, but for the life of me, I can’t find them anywhere…

  • Julia Quinn’s “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever”
  • Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Justice”
  • Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife: Legacy”

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My June Booklist

I posted some time back about books I planned to buy this month.

Out of those books, I’ve read Jo Beverley’s “Lady Beware”, Eloisa James’ “Desperate Duchesses” and Laurell K Hamilton‘s “The Harlequin”.

On the first two – when I updated my list of books read in June with these two books, I ranked “Lady Beware” slightly higher than “Desperate Duchesses”.  Now I do this after reading each book (or as soon as I remember, anyway), so my grade for each book is independent of similar books.  

Interestingly, even though I ranked “Lady Beware” higher, it was “Desperate Duchesses” that stayed in my mind a couple of days after, while I had to think really hard to remember the details of “Lady Beware” a few days after reading it.  I think Ms James has a real talent for bringing characters alive, even though her storylines may not be as carefully linked together, if that makes sense.  Anyway, both are books that I definitely don’t regret buying.

As for “The Harlequin”, I thought it started off well with a really interesting premise, but sort of fizzled out halfway through.  A mysterious vampire hit squad comes to town, leaving masks to indicate their intention – white if they’re just observing, red if they’ve come for you.  So the scene is set for an intriguing peek into the world of vampire traditions – unfortunately, nothing really happens.  Both in the book and in terms of the overall series arc.  So an okay book, but well, nothing special.

Here’s an interesting review of “The Harlequin”, by someone who’s never read an Anita Blake book before.  IMO, the reviewer completely gets to the root of what’s missing in the later books.

I have Meljean Brook‘s “Demon Moon”, but haven’t properly started it yet – have just dipped in and out of the first couple of chapters.  I remember doing the same thing with the first book “Demon Angel” – I kept on reading bits and pieces until I reached a part that completely grabbed me, and then I ended staying up until 2am until I finished the book.  I think I need to plan it better this time around…

I haven’t seen Julia Quinn’s “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever”, Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Justice”, Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife: Legacy” or Janet Evanovich’s “Lean Mean Thirteen” in stores yet – then again, I haven’t been in a bookstore recently.  Actually, I’m not sure if the latter two have been released yet.

Just checked, and no, they’re not officially out yet.  However, there appear to be more excerpts on Ms Evanovich’s website for “Lean Mean Thirteen”.

Also, the first chapter of Ms Bujold’s book is posted on the Eos blog, and if you haven’t yet read the first in the series “TSK: Beguilement”, here are the first couple of chapters.

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