I’ve been reading Kerry Greenwood‘s “Cocaine Blues”, which is the first book in a mystery series set in 1920s Melbourne (rec’d by Marg over at Historical Tapestry) and a really enjoyable read.  Not only is the main character, Phryne Fisher, rather engaging, but Ms Greenwood also conveys the feel of early 20th-century Melbourne really well.  Now, I’ve only been to Melbourne once (and that was years and years ago) so I can’t vouch how authentic it is, but it reads well!

Anyway, one of the scenes has her eating Russian salad (salade russe), which I’ve never heard of before.  I made a mental note to find out what it was – and promptly forgot about it.  I was then flicking through the restaurant reviews section in this evening’s paper – and guess what?  A mention of Russian salad!

It’s weird when that happens – coming across something you’ve never heard of before in your life twice in two days.

And if you’re wondering – here’s the description.

Ramblings over for the night.


Around the Web

Patricia Briggs has announced the tentative title of the first “Anna and Charles” book – “Cry Wolf”.  I think it’s out July next year.

A new interview with Lois McMaster Bujold is up on the SFF Chronicles site.  It’s probably the most up-to-date in terms of what she’s currently doing – the new Vorkosigan novel is the next one on her plate!  Also, she gives her take on the SF/F and Romance crossover – def worth a read.

There is also a bit on “The Sharing Knife” books, but I skimmed those questions because I *still* haven’t read “TSK: Legacy”.  I need to get around to it, but I just haven’t felt like reading it for some reason.  I’ve been having a bit of a quiet reading month – I think I’ve only read three new books.  No, four – I read “Mine Till Midnight” by Lisa Kleypas last night and really really liked it.

What would get you to read a book?

In conjunction with the Man Booker prize announcement, the BBC website has an interesting article on “10 ways to get you to read a book”.  While I’d agree with most of them (word of mouth, author, covers, etc, etc), #2 and #3 on the list – “book groups” and “Richard and Judy” respectively – is not something that would particularly work for me. 

Book groups – mmm… I don’t think I’ve ever participated in a book group, in real life or online.  I can see the attraction – I think it would encourage me to read books I wouldn’t have ordinarily picked up, but at the same time, it’s probably too structured for me.  I choose books to read based on my mood, and I think I’ll feel “forced” to read something that I don’t necessarily want to read at the time.

As for “Richard and Judy”… for the non-UK readers, Richard and Judy are a married couple that host a tea-time TV show with a book club, modelled on Oprah’s Book Club.  Basically, anything they recommend pretty much shoots up the bestseller lists.  I don’t think I’ve ever bought one of their recs.  Probably because I know what I like and don’t.  Heh.  Am I too rigid in my reading?  Sure, I read a lot, but within the genres I like – romance, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy.  I rarely read books shelved in general fiction (unless incorrectly shelved!) or non-fiction.  Sometimes I think I should try and broaden my horizons, then I figure I’ll rather use the free time I have reading books I know I’ll enjoy.

As an aside, I love the BBC Magazine site -it’s part of the wider BBC News website, but has a slightly more tongue-in-cheek look at the topics of the day.

 And while we’re (sort of) on the subject, I don’t think I’ll be buying the Man Booker winner – from the reviews I’ve read, it seems to be a rather gloomy book – I don’t read books to get depressed!

Eloisa James stuff – and her website

I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I’m a bit of an Eloisa James fangirl – yes, a rather recent one, true, but I just love her books.  She’s just posted a couple of bonus bits on her site – firstly, the second half of the preface to her new book “An Affair Before Christmas” (Nov 2007), and a new take on Chapter 3 in Desperate Duchesses (free registration required for the latter). 

Ms James has rewritten Chapter 3 from Damon’s point of view – it’s the scene where he first meets Roberta.  What’s even better is her commentary at the end of the scene, explaining how she approached the rewrite – a behind-the-scenes type article.  It’s fascinating stuff.

And finally, she has a guest article from Lisa Kleypas up, who does some promo on her new release “Mine Till Midnight”.  I love the way Ms Kleypas described the Hathaway family as a historical Beverly Hillbillies-type family.  Heh.  And the way she described Cam… “Mine Till Midnight” has just been bumped to the top of my TBR pile!

Eloisa James has one of the best author websites around, IMO.  I was browsing around her site, and came across this page, where her webmaster (webmistress?) described how they put together her website.  The amount of work and attention to detail that went into creating the look and feel of her website amazes me – and it’s really easy to navigate too, unlike some other Flash-heavy websites that shall remain nameless… 

I then popped over to the web design company’s site, and looked at all the other romance authors who use them – it’s a pretty impressive list of names!  I’m actually not surprised that they do Julia Quinn’s and Laura Lee Guhrke’s as well, I thought they felt similar – not in terms of style, but in the basic framework and layout, if that makes sense.

More for the TBR pile

I’ve been having a very quiet October, reading-wise.  Mainly because feeling completely stuffed up and being unable to breathe tends to discourage reading. 

But anyway, I feel much better now, and went for a mini shopping trip yesterday.  Books I bought:

310ewgsqhbl__aa_sl160_.jpgEva Ibbotson‘s “The Morning Gift” and “A Song for Summer” – I loved “The Secret Countess”, and so couldn’t resist getting these two when I spotted them on the shelves.  Can I just say whoever’s designing her covers is doing a fantastic job?  (Though having started reading “The Morning Gift”, Ruth is meant to have a snub nose!)

21pikprsf2l__aa_sl160_.jpgAnyway, I started “The Morning Gift” late last night, thinking just a couple of chapters before I go to bed, and had to force myself to put the book down at 2am.  I’m only about a quarter of the way through, and already I’ve both choked with laughter (Chopin etudes) and reached for the tissues.  It starts off at the beginning of WWII, and the main character, Ruth, makes a marriage of convenience in order to flee the Nazis and escape to England. 

Ms Ibbotson’s “About the Author” blurb says that she was born in Vienna but fled to England after the Nazi invasion, so I wonder how much of this draws on her own experience?  Her writing is beautiful and so descriptive – already she’s transported me to the Vienna and Great Britain of the 1930s.  And she doesn’t skimp on her characters either, not even the secondary ones.  I suspect I’ll be finishing this book tonight.

21fgq6xgwpl__aa_sl160_.jpgAlso, I got Lisa Kleypas‘ “Mine Till Midnight”!  *big smile*  Am so looking forward to reading this.  Oh, the bookstore I was in had both the US and the UK version – I *wanted* the US cover but it was one pound more expensive, and I decided to be sensible for once.  The covers are so different though – I peeked inside the stepback cover for the US version and saw a half-dressed Amelia and Cam wrapped around each other, while all you see on the UK cover is this (very) demurely-dressed woman, bonnet and parasol, walking on a well-manicured lawn.

And the non-book shopping bits?  I bought the Stila fall palette (the blue one – think it’ll be good for doing a smokey eye look) and an RMK eyeshadow compact (purply-brown with highlights in the shape of hearts – gimmicky, I know, but their products are great).  And some very cute pyjama bottoms from Gap, which is having a massive mid-season sale on at the moment.  All in all, a very productive shopping trip.

Around the Web

The new cover of Anne Bishop’s “The Invisible Ring” is up on her website (with an excerpt – it’s to be reissued June 2008).  And it’s a great cover, IMO.  “The Invisible Ring” is a stand-alone story set in her Black Jewels universe.  If I want to re-visit her world, but don’t have the emotional energy (or time!) to read all three books in the original trilogy, I read “The Invisible Ring”.  It’s a lovely reminder of her world – and Daemon makes a cameo.

On excerpts / short stories – these have been up for a while, but in case you haven’t seen them:

  • Nalini Singh has a short Lucas/Sascha scene up on her website – set between “Slave to Sensation” and “Visions of Heat”.  I need to track down the Christmas anthology “An Enchanted Season” with her Psy/Changeling short story.
  • Laura Lee Guhrke has an excerpt from the second book in her Girl-Bachelors series up as well.  I really liked the first one in this series, and will definitely be getting “The Wicked Ways of a Duke” when it comes out in January 2008.
  • Carrie Vaughn has the original Kitty short story up – this was the story that started off her Kitty werewolf series.  Yes, I know – a werewolf named Kitty, but it works!  The fourth book in this series, “Kitty and the Silver Bullet”, is out in January as well.

Ebook readers again

No, I still don’t have one, but Sony may launch their ebook reader in the UK next year, according to the website (link via MobileRead). 

If this is true, I would so definitely get it, even though I bet the price would be double what it is in the States (currently $299, approx £150).  I really want an ebook reader, but I’ve been hesitating because I would have to buy it sight unseen.  And since the Sony Reader isn’t officially meant to be sold outside the States, I was worried that I’d have trouble buying ebooks with a non-US credit card.

What I was planning to do was to go for a holiday in the States, drop by a Borders (or a Sony store – I wasn’t too fussed) and have a proper look at the Reader and possibly buy one.  But now – hmm… should I just wait until April and see what happens?  It should be cheaper than the iLiad (definitely) or Bookeen (maybe), but am not quite sure how much cheaper.  Decisions, decisions…

Revisiting Amelia Peabody

It’s been quiet here because I’ve been recovering from a cold for the past couple of days, and can’t quite organise my thoughts enough to post about the books I’ve read!

But one of the comfort reads I reached for was Elizabeth Peters‘ “He Shall Thunder in the Sky”.  This is probably one of the more romantic books in the Amelia Peabody series, but it doesn’t just have romance, it has suspense, mystery, action – everything you could possibly ask for, really.

I’d never really been interested in Egyptology before reading these books, but I’m now quite seriously tempted to go and visit the Tutankhamun exhibition at the O2 Dome in November.

And as good as her Barbara Michaels books are, I really really *want* another Amelia Peabody.   I may do a re-read of the whole series now.

Books for October

New releases coming out this month that I want:

21fgq6xgwpl__aa_sl160_.jpg21q3wnel84l__aa_sl160_.jpgLisa Kleypas‘ “Mine Til Midnight” (historical romance) – While I wasn’t hugely keen on her contemporary debut “Sugar Daddy” (I say that, but I’m probably still going to get its sequel), I loved her Wallflowers quartet.  So I’m obviously going to get Cam Rohan’s story.  Oh, this is the first time I’ve seen the UK cover (on the left) – I’ve to say this time around, I prefer the US one (right).  The UK one looks a bit too boring, and IMO, doesn’t really fit the title as well – it may look better in person, though!  I’ve seen an earlier version of the US cover, where the dress is white, instead of the deep blue, and I thought that was even prettier.  I would have loved to have that cover.  Maybe blue sells better!  Excerpt here.

21b06k0uiql__aa_sl160_.jpgCharlaine Harris‘ “An Ice Cold Grave” (urban fantasy) – The third book in her Harper Connelly series – hmm… the first two books were titled “Grave Surprise” and “Grave Sight” respectively, but I guess they decided to take a different tack with this one.  Despite the paranormal aspects of this series (Harper can see how someone died), this series reminds me more of Ms Harris’ Lily Bard mystery series than the Sookie Stackhouse books.  The mood of the Harper Connelly and Lily Bard books tends towards the grim and depressing, while the Sookie books are lighter in tone and are more cheery.  Excerpt here

The Christmas anthology “An Enchanted Season” (paranormal romance) – Okay, I admit that I want this for one reason only – Nalini Singh‘s contribution.  Until I read “Caressed by Ice”, I wasn’t really too bothered about this – I was vaguely aware of the planned anthology, but wasn’t planning on getting it.  Then I read CBI, loved it, and now I want Tamsyn and Nate’s story.  Excerpt here.  Oh, and the other authors are Maggie Shayne, Erin McCarthy, and Jean Johnson. 

21tizhfgb4l__aa_sl160_.jpgSharon Shinn‘s “General Winston’s Daughter” (YA fantasy) – A new Sharon Shinn 🙂 With an excellent cover.  It is hardcover, unfortunately, but you can’t have everything…  Her website very informatively – not – says that it’s set in a world like 19th century Britain.  Luckily, there is a bit more information on Amazon:

When seventeen-year-old heiress Averie Winston travels with her guardian to faraway Chiarrin, she looks forward to a reunion with her father, who is a commanding general, seeing her handsome fiancé Morgan once more, and exploring the strange new country. What she finds is entirely different. Although the Chiarizzi appear to tolerate the invading army, rebels have already tried to destroy them; Morgan is not the man she thought he was; and she finds herself falling in love with Lieutenant Ket Du’kai, who himself comes from a conquered society. Can the irrepressible Averie remake herself in this new world? Sharon Shinn’s newest romance has an epic sweep, piquant humor, social commentary, and love to spare—just the thing when you want to lose yourself in another world.

One of her other YA fantasy novels, “Summers at Castle Auburn”, is amongst my all-time favourites, so I’m looking forward to this one.

And a couple of maybes:

Rachel Caine‘s “Midnight Alley” (YA urban fantasy) – Third book in her Morganville Vampires series.  I think I’m going to wean myself off this series.  It’s not a bad series or anything like that – Ms Caine tells a good story, but for some reason, I’m not completely hooked.  And it’s not as though I’m running out of books to read.  Hmm… maybe I just don’t like the premise of this series – a university town ruled by the vampire mafia.  Excerpt here.

Tara Janzen‘s “On the Loose” (romantic suspense) – Seventh book in her Steele Street series.  It’s been a while since the last book in this series came out, and though I liked the first few books in this series, I thought the last couple of books, well, weren’t great to put it mildly.  I think I’ll wait for the reviews on this one.  Excerpt here.