Around the Web

Apparently, Diana Gabaldon will be doing a reading from her latest book “Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade” in Second Life (Oct 11).  I’m seeing a lot of Second Life news around nowadays, but have no interest in actually trying it out.  Isn’t it like The Sims but online?  I’m starting to feel like a bit of a Luddite.

Also, if you’re a Nora Roberts fan in the UK (and if you have digital), ITV3 will be screening the four TV movies (“Angels Fall”, “Montana Sky”, “Carolina Moon”, and “Blue Smoke”) aired in the States earlier this year.  The first movie is “Angels Fall” and is scheduled for Oct 1.

This should be interesting!  I completely ignored the discussions on these movies because I didn’t think I’d ever get to see them.  While I can’t quite recall what “Montana Sky” and “Carolina Moon” are about, I did read “Angels Fall” just a few months ago, so that’s still relatively fresh in my mind – whether that’s good or bad, I’m not sure!

Nalini Singh – Who’s your hero?

Nalini Singh’s running a fun and easy contest to promote her latest book “Caressed by Ice” – Judd’s my hero.  Which is great, because I’m very much looking forward to his story coming out next month.  He’s the first Psy hero (the first two books had Changeling heroes and Psy heroines), so it should be interesting to see the role reversal in this one… plus I have a thing for cool reserved heroes!

 
   

  Which Psy-Changeling Hero Is For You?  


Your Psy/Changeling Hero: JuddQuiet, lethally contained and almost impossible to know, Judd Lauren is a Psy with incredible power. It will take one determined woman to melt this man of ice…but the rewards will be well worth the effort. Are you up to the challenge?Find out more about Judd and the series at www.nalinisingh.com
Take this quiz!

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What I read on holiday

Not full-on proper reviews, because I’m, well, lazy – just thoughts! 

I picked up Linda Lael Miller‘s “The Man from Stone Creek” on impulse.  I haven’t read her books for ages and ages, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I hadn’t read a Western historical romance in, well, ages.  But I loved the characters in this book – the undercover Ranger working as a schoolteacher, the heroine managing the general store, the vividly-drawn secondary cast – as well as the general atmosphere and feel of the wild wild West!  This really put me in the mood for reading more Westerns, so I also picked up her “Emma and the Outlaw” and “Lily and the Major” books (re-issues).  While these weren’t as good as TMfSC, I think I may start reading Westerns again.

Nora Roberts‘ “High Noon” was my airplane book – I thought it was a solid read, but nothing special, IMO.  My sister said that Ms Roberts writes great characters, but her recent standalones lack *something*. And I think I’ll agree.  The writing flowed as always, but I didn’t love it, and from a distance of two weeks or thereabouts, I can’t even remember the storyline.  I think the last Nora Roberts books I loved were her Chesapeake books – the ones with the Quinn brothers.

I also read Stephenie Meyer‘s “Eclipse”.  Eh.  I’ll admit it – this book bored me.  I gave up halfway through and skimmed through to the end, just to find out where the characters ended up.  I don’t like Bella, which is a major problem since the book is written from her POV.  She’s too whiny and well, immature.  But she’s only 18.  Or 19.  I’m wondering if I would have liked it more if I were a teenage girl – would I have identified more with Bella?  I’m a bit on the fence as to whether I’ll get the final book – I’ll probably wait until the reviews come out for that one, I suspect.  This was a bit of a disappointment.

Oh, and Suzanne Brockmann‘s Force of Nature.  Now this I loved.  I thought FoN was classic Brockmann, with a really action-packed suspenseful ending. Without giving too much away, I’m a huge Jules fan, and I’m glad he finally got his story and HEA.  And I’m so getting the November novella (FoN spoiler-ish blurb here).  

I heard she’s starting a new story arc that includes Tess and Nash.  Ouch.  Poor them.  I’m in two minds on these secondary romance arcs – on one hand, I love them because you really get invested in the characters and there’s more scope for “what’s the worst thing I can do to these characters”-type plots and she does it *so* well, but on the other hand, I find that I get so caught up in them, that I just end up skimming through the books for the bits that involve them.  I know I certainly did that for Sam/Alyssa and now for Jules.  Hmm… 

And finally, I read Linda Howard‘s “Up Close and Dangerous” on the way back.  Though reading about a plane crash while on a plane may not have been the best choice.  Heh.  Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I found all the practical survival stuff fascinating.  So I liked that part, which was good since they spent most of the book getting off the mountain, which surprised me a bit.  The suspense part… wasn’t really suspense, was it?  I thought she could have led up to it better, more foreshadowing perhaps?  The twist came out of nowhere for me – I re-read the relevant bits once I finished the book, and still didn’t think she gave any clues.  Perhaps not one of her greatest books ever, but a good read nonetheless.

I actually did more re-reads of old favourites, but I’ll save that for another post!

Am back!

Arrived back home yesterday evening – this is the last time I fly into Heathrow on a Saturday evening.  It was a complete nightmare from start to finish, starting with when the plane had to circle the airport waiting for a landing slot, followed with a massive queue at Immigration, and the longest-ever wait for the bags to be unloaded.

Anyway, I had two Amazon deliveries when I was away – it’s always nice to come home, but even nicer coming back to new books!

  • The Secret Countess (Eva Ibbotson) – YA.  Recommended by Jennie.
  • The Mirador (Sarah Monette) – Fantasy.  On my August “I want” list, so hurray!  I decided to order this one from Amazon because it’s hardback (i.e. cheaper from Amazon) and well, I was going on holiday so it wasn’t as though I would run across it in a bookstore…
  • Demons Are Forever: Confessions of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom (Julie Kenner) – Paranormal.  I’ve read the first two books in this series (imagine Buffy all grown up, married, and settled down in the suburbs) – this is the third book. 
  • Succubus Blues (Richelle Mead) – Paranormal romance.  I wanted to get this when it first came out, especially as there was a lot of good buzz around this.  But it was in trade paperback and I was trying to control my book budget (I manage this now and again, really!), so I waited until the mass market paperback came out.  I’m a bit “paranormal romanced out” now though, so it may be a while until I get around to this.
  • Be Buried in the Rain, Search the Shadows, and Shattered Silk (Barbara Michaels) – Mystery.  My first Barbara Michaels books.  Heh.  I have practically all the Elizabeth Peters books now, so am hoping these are just as good.  These particular books were recommended by various peeps on different posts…
  • The Sharing Knife: Legacy (Lois McMaster Bujold) – Fantasy.  I think this was on my list of books to get in June, but better late than never!
  • The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever (Julia Quinn) – Historical romance.  Also on my June list; am not sure why it’s taken me so long to get it.
  • The Four Forges (Jenna Rhodes) – Fantasy.  This caught my eye when it came out in hardcover last year, so I’m glad I remembered when the mass market paperback was released.  Err… can’t really remember what it’s about now (I think there are elves 🙂 ) – but I do like the cover art and it’s published by DAW, and for some reason, I generally like most DAW books.
  • Cocaine Blues (Kerry Greenwood) – Mystery.  Recommended by Marg on the Historical Tapestry blog – it’s set in Melbourne in the 1920s.  I’m on a bit of a historical mystery kick at the moment, so looking forward to this. 

So lots to read, plus I also have thousands of posts to catch up with (what would I do without Bloglines).  It is nice to be back!

This is me procrastinating

Am off on hols tomorrow and I still haven’t packed.  I’m such a procrastinator. 

I realised I hadn’t done a wrap-up of books read in July yet, and so obviously, writing this post became a lot more interesting than packing.  I belong to the school of thought that as long as you turn up at the airport with your passport and your plane ticket (e-ticket in this case), that’s all you need – you can buy anything else you need when you arrive…

Anyway, my July reading – 19 books read in total, probably slightly more than average.

Apart from Harry Potter (obviously), I really liked Jacqueline Carey‘s “Kushiel’s Justice”.  Despite being the second book in her Imriel trilogy (dark fantasy), it didn’t suffer from the “middle child” syndrome, and I was completely captivated right from the start. 

This book follows Imriel, one of the secondary characters from Ms Carey’s first Kushiel trilogy.  A royal prince and son of a traitor, he’s meant to enter into a marriage of state.  However, he falls passionately in love with Sidonie, the crown princess, probably the most “wrong” person ever for historical and political reasons.  So this book deals with his conflict between duty and love, and trespassing against their universal precept of “Love as thou wilt”.  

Don’t start with this book if you’re new to the series (start with Phedre and Jocelyn’s story – the first Kushiel trilogy), but this was a really good book.  Her world is just so fascinating and rich, and despite me wanting to see more of Phedre and Jocelyn, I just enjoyed re-visiting Terre d’Ange.

Ohhhh, I have to rant though.  Right, I’ve this err… slightly weird habit of reading the copyright page.  Not always, but I do read it – I like reading all the bits of random information on this page, such as who the copyright belongs to, the typeface used (especially if it’s slightly unusual), the cover artist, etc, etc. (I did say it was a weird habit.)

And right at the bottom of the copyright page, there’s sometimes a bit of library catalogue info (in this book “Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data”, whatever that means – I don’t pretend to be an expert) – and there was a MAJOR spoiler in this summary.  And I mean MAJOR.  It pretty much gave away the plot.  OMG.  And the summary was provided by the PUBLISHER.  I had read the first few chapters, and then flipped back to the copyright page (as you do), and read that sentence.  And I just thought WTF???!!!

Anyway.  It was still a good book though.  But really.

Heh, didn’t mean to ramble – moving quickly on… 

Another book I really liked in July was Kelley Armstrong‘s “Exit Strategy”.  It’s her contemporary suspense debut, and the heroine is Nadia Stafford, a contract killer.  I know – first-person from the perspective of a hit-err.. woman could be a bit icky and weird, but it’s not!  It works and it was a very interesting perspective.  I hope she writes more Nadia books.

Read my first Rachel Gibson books – for some reason, I’ve never read her before, but I did like her books.  “Daisy’s Back in Town” in particular, I think I was just in the right mood for the Secret Baby plot.  Yes, I know it’s cliched but I enjoyed it. 

Unlike Stephanie Laurens‘ Big Secret plot in “What Price Love?”.  I decided to read the Cynster book that had been sitting in my TBR pile and *sigh* regretted it.  I did find the horse-racing world interesting (lots of nuggets of info), but oh dear, the heroine, Priss, really irritated me in this book.  Her twin brother has accidentally been caught up in this major race-fixing plot, and she needs information from Dillon but she doesn’t want to tell him why.  Aarrgghhh.  Tell him already!  Yes, I understand you not wanting to tell him the first time you meet him, but now that he’s made it blatantly clear that he’s going to help you out – just tell him, dammit.   

And the purple prose.  I ended up skimming through the love scenes.  Which isn’t a very good sign for a romance, is it?  I knew it was not working when Priss and Dillon had their first kiss, and instead of being all caught up in the moment, I ended up counting the number of pages it took to describe a kiss (five, if you’re interested).  And IMO, the book could have been ended much sooner – once the plot was foiled, I’m afraid I lost interest in the last bit, where Priss was abducted by the mysterious Mr X.  I used to love Stephanie Laurens, but I think I’m going to stop buying her books for a while.

Err… I’m going to stop here, because it’s been a super-long post.  I’ll finish up my thoughts on my other July reads at some point.  And I’m going to go and pack.  Really.  Probably won’t be updating much in the next couple of weeks, but I suspect I’ll be lurking here and there…

Just because I’m bored

Here are ten books from my bookshelf in the living room, which I’ve been meaning to re-organise for months now – completely randomly: 

  • Lee Child‘s “One Shot”:  I like Lee Child and Jack Reacher.  It’s funny, but I suppose if you look at my Books I Want lists, TBR pile, etc. – you probably wouldn’t figure me as a Lee Child reader.  But I am – in fact, I’m re-reading “Tripwire” right now.
  • Sharon Shinn‘s “Angel Seeker”:  One of her Samaria books.  Good, but not as great as the first three books in this series.  I love Sharon Shinn.  And I have all her books.
  • Janet Evanovich‘s “Hard Eight”:  Part of her Stephanie Plum series.  I wasn’t overly impressed with the latest entry in this series (“Lean Mean Thirteen”), but these books are still worth a re-read.
  • Naomi Novik‘s “Black Powder War”:  Third Temeraire book.  I’ve the US mass-market edition from last August, because the UK paperback version has literally just been released.  An entire year after the States.  Methinks the publisher’s mad.
  • Cathy Kelly‘s “Best of Friends”:  Cathy Kelly’s an Irish chick-lit author.  I know I often say I don’t do chick-lit – but there are actually three authors I do buy: Cathy Kelly, Marian Keyes, and Anna Maxted.  Marian Keyes is probably the queen of chick-lit, and Anna Maxted tackles really serious issues (one that sticks in my mind was anorexia), but in a humorous way.  Actually, all three of them do – maybe it’s a subgenre of chick-lit and I should stop lumping all of them together.  Hmm… I need to think about this
  • Laurell K Hamilton‘s “Cerulean Sins”:  Book 11 in the Anita Blake series.  What happens in this one?  Err… can’t quite remember, and even scanning the back-cover blurb doesn’t give me a clue!  Anita re-animates a corpse.
  • Mercedes Lackey‘s “Exile’s Honor”:  Umm… one of her Valdemar books – this is one of her later ones, and is Alberich’s story (one of the secondary characters in the original Arrows of the Queen trilogy).  I’ll be honest – IMO, the later Valdemar books can’t be compared to the first couple of trilogies (which I loved), so I can’t really remember much about this story.  Or even when I last read it.
  • Catherine Asaro‘s “The Last Hawk”:  One of her Skolian Empire books.  Errr… I love her SF books, and I bought this as part of an Asaro glom probably a couple of years ago now.  Haven’t re-read it in ages, but I remember liking this.  Okay, I just looked at the blurb and it’s about Kelric landing on that matriachal planet.  Some bittersweet romance here – good book.
  • Georgette Heyer‘s “Devil’s Cub”:  Ah, sequel to “These Old Shades”, which is probably one of my favourite Heyers.  I like this one as well, but even more so because we get to see a glimpse of the Duke of Avon and Leonie at the end.
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s “Haunted”:  Eve’s story!  Probably one of my favourite in her Otherworld series.  I really liked the whole Savannah-Paige-Lucas interaction in this story.

Heh.  That was fun – and a really quick and easy post to write, actually.  I may do more of this in the future.

Also a fairly accurate reflection of the books I read – 3 contemporary (Child, Evanovich, Kelly), 4 SF/Fantasy (Shinn, Novik, Asaro, Lackey), 2 Urban Fantasy-ish (Hamilton, Armstrong), and 1 Historical Romance (Heyer).

Around the Web

A long-ish interview with Lois McMaster Bujold on Karen Miller’s Livejournal (via the Eos blog).  There is one mention of a new Miles book, but slightly depressingly, it sounds as though she hasn’t even decided on the plot yet.  Sigh.  While we’re on the subject, I’ve seen Karen Miller’s book “The Innocent Mage” around the New Releases section, but haven’t really picked it up.  Maybe I’ll go have a peek the next time I’m in the store.  Hmm… according to her website, it was released in Australia / NZ back in 2005 – I’m guessing it’s just been released in the UK then.

A tiny excerpt from the yet-untitled seventh Outlander book has been posted on Diana Gabaldon’s website.  I’m guessing that the fact that it still hasn’t been titled means it’s not coming out any time soon.  I wonder how heavy it’ll be? 

A bit late now – but Jo Beverley did an interesting post on cross-dressing the other day at the Word Wenches blog.  She talks about a real historical figure – Chevalier D’Eon – who features as a secondary character in one of her books.  Truth being stranger than fiction and all that.  And the most interesting bit – he’s now starring in a new anime feature!

So much for my August books

After listing all the books I want this month, I stopped by the bookstores today and couldn’t find a single one.  Yes, I know it is only the 5th of August, and most of them are coming out later in the month – but you know, wishful thinking…

Though I did see both Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife: Legacy” and Julia Quinn’s “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” – both of which I cannot buy because I’ve ordered it from Amazon.  Aarrgghhh.  Especially since the only reason I ordered them from Amazon was that I couldn’t find them in the shops.  Double aaarrgghhh.  And it always always happens this way.  Ordering a book from Amazon is almost a guarantee I’ll see it the next time I go to the bookstore.

I didn’t leave empty-handed though (err… not that I usually do).  I picked up three books:

21j38ns2bvfl__aa_sl160_.jpgBrandon Sanderson‘s “Mistborn” – First in a fantasy trilogy.  I’ve been meaning to get this ever since I read his debut novel “Elantris”, which I really liked.  I forgot this was coming out in mass-market this month, so it was a pleasant surprise to see this sitting in the New Releases section.  There is actually a back cover blurb from Romantic Times (“An exceedingly satisfying book!”), so I’m guessing there is some romance in here as well.

21fvdx2y0dl__aa_sl160_.jpgLisa Cach‘s “A Babe in Ghostland” – Paranormal romance, ummm… I’m guessing almost chick-lit based on the cover?  Not normally the kind of book I’d pick up, but Rosario has been really liking it, and the first few pages I read in the store intrigued me.

21scz5daanl__aa_sl160_.jpgLisa Shearin‘s “Magic Lost, Trouble Found” – Fantasy.  I think this is her first novel.  And I err… liked the cover.  No, really, that wasn’t the whole reason I bought it – I think I’ve read an interview with her somewhere and she talked about why she renamed her book.  One sec – off to Google…  Yes, the original title was “Thief of Souls”, which rings a bell – I think she said that she was advised to change that to something lighter to suit the feel of the books more.  Or I be completely making that up because I really can’t find the original site.  Anyway, it sounds interesting – the heroine is a sorceress with the ability to find things, hence the title.  Her website has an excerpt.

Books for August

August is a good month for books – books I want:

21x6agburdl__aa_sl160_.jpgStephenie Meyer‘s “Eclipse”: Third book in her YA vampire series.  I love Bella and I *love* Edward.  “Twilight” and “New Moon” are the first and second books in this series respectively – if you haven’t read them, go and try “Twilight” at least.  Even if you don’t do YA and hate vampires.  Really.  “Eclipse” excerpt here.

21kbd5cz2yl__aa_sl160_.jpgRachel Caine‘s “Thin Air”: Sixth book in her Weather Wardens series.  Right, the first book “Ill Wind” completely captivated me – people with the power to control weather, a secret group of weather wardens who work to avert natural disasters, and a very cute and yummy Djinn called David.  It was a great start to the series, and then… arrrgghhh.  I really really hate non-conclusive endings, and that’s how most of the later books have ended – with a major plot twist or reveal in the last few pages.  I’m going to get “Thin Air” because it’s meant to wrap up loose threads from the previous books.  And then I’m going to see how it ends, because I’m not 100% sure I want to continue with this series.  I love Ms Caine’s writing, but I just don’t like her plots.  Sigh.  Excerpt here.

Staying with the fantasy books, Gail Dayton‘s “The Eternal Rose”: The third in a trilogy.  The first two books in this series was published by Luna, but they decided not to continue with the series.  Thankfully, it was picked up by Juno.  While it’s not ground-breaking fantasy by any means, it’s an enjoyable and fast-paced fantasy series.  Err… alternative lifestyle warning:  There is polygamy in a sense here; Kallista, the lead female character is “married” to about five others (both male and female).  

21z8dijkull__aa_sl160_.jpgAn anthology with some of my favourite authors – “On the Prowl” (Patricia Briggs, Eileen Wilks, Karen Chance, and Sunny).  I think I’ve probably said this about a million times already, but I really love the first three authors.  If I were asked who I wanted to see in an urban fantasy anthology, those would have been the three names I’d have picked.  Though maybe I’d have liked Charlaine Harris as well, and oh, Kelley Armstrong. Anyway, I’m very much looking forward to this book – excerpts from Patricia Briggs and Eileen Wilks‘ stories are up.

21axwdc9d6l__aa_sl160_.jpgSarah Monette‘s “The Mirador”: The third in her dark fantasy series (btw, yes, I’ve noticed the “3” theme in this post!).  I think I’ve posted the link before, but excerpts from the book are up on her website.  The series revolves around two main characters, Felix and Mildmay, and they take turns to narrate the story.  I love these books – they’re dark, edgy, and compelling. 

21x46wfwrll__aa_sl160_.jpgThat’s it for the fantasy – on the historical front, I want Diana Gabaldon‘s “Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blades”.  A spin-off from her Jamie and Claire books, this book focuses on Lord John, a secondary character in the “Outlander” series.  I’ve no idea when it’s set relative to the J&C story timeline though (and no idea when the next J&C book will come out – I just wish she’ll write faster!).  Excerpt here.

31u4dkjygml__aa_sl160_.jpgAnd finally, I want Suzanne Brockmann‘s “Force of Nature”.  Mainly to see what happens to Jules – he better get his HEA soon.  Oh, and just one more, Jayne Castle‘s “Silver Master”.  Jayne Ann Krentz’s futuristic romances are my guilty pleasure.

I did say August was a good month for books 🙂