There’s nothing like new books…

I haven’t been reading much lately – mostly due to longer hours at work, the start of the Christmas party season, and err… a rather unhealthy obsession with “Strictly Come Dancing”.  But does this stop me from buying yet more books?  Nooooo…

I picked up the new Eloisa James – “An Affair Before Christmas”.  I’ve said this a dozen times already but wow, beautiful cover.  Really.

215gbh7m4wl__aa_sl160_.jpgAlso, a new-to-me author – Jenna Black‘s “The Devil Inside”.  I’m a bit urban fantasy-ed out, but this had a Kelley Armstrong quote on the cover.  I’m so gullible.  Heh.  Another good cover, though I’ve lost count of the number of urban fantasies with the back of the model on the cover.  With a tattoo.

And came across three Elizabeth Peters that I haven’t read yet – “The Copenhagen Connection”, “The Murders of Richard III” and “Die for Love”.  The latter two appear to be part of the Jacqueline Kirby series.

So five new books in the TBR pile – I’d better start reading!

Around the Web

Anne Bishop‘s posted an excerpt from “Tangled Webs”, the new book set in her Black Jewels world.  It’s out March 2008, and I’m so looking forward to this! 

If you’re ever bored, The Times (UK newspaper) has published their inhouse Style Guide online.  It’s what their journalists use to check spelling, grammar, names, etc. for the Times.  Here’s the page on titles and the Royal family – if you ever think “I’m sure she should be Lady Jane Grey, not Lady Grey”, this is the page for you.

Cover Lust

How does an author manage to get not just one, but four(!) fantastic covers?

I read Maria V. Snyder’s “Poison Study” about a year ago.  While I liked it, I didn’t love it enough to shell out for the sequel “Magic Study” in hardcover.  Anyway, I was just on Amazon to see if “Magic Study” was out in paperback – and came across these four beautiful covers for “Poison Study”. 

211fya9f1tl__aa_sl160_.jpg  21tghrc0isl__aa_sl160_.jpg   21dm7lg8gal__aa_sl160_.jpg   21ruo2lw7el__aa_sl160_.jpg

The first (far left) is the original hardback one, which is the version I have.  I don’t mind admitting that I bought it partly for the cover – I love the rich colours on this one.  This is a Luna book, and despite my hit-and-miss record with their stories, they always have fantastic covers!

Then there are two Mira versions, one marked Young Adult Edition (second from left) and the other Adult Edition (third from left).  Both of these look to be mass market paperbacks.  I hadn’t realised Mira had a YA line, and it’s interesting to see how they’ve done the covers slightly differently for each market.  The YA cover implies that there is more action in the book – you have Yelena holding a staff, looking as though she is about to go into a fight, and the tagline is “Magic, excitement and adventure you can almost taste…”.

The adult version has the same fonts and tagline, but a completely different feel – more emphasis on the magic and mystery side of it, I think.  It looks as though they’ve gone for a ancient diary or spellbook(?) cover.  Maybe it’s a play on the Study part of the title.  The silhouette reminds me of Trudi Canavan’s “Black Magician” trilogy books.  Probably my least favourite cover out of these four.

The fourth one is also a Mira book (far right) – I think, but am not 100% sure, that this was a trade paperback.  This has a more dreamy and mystical quality compared to the other two Mira covers – while you see a figure on the front cover, her face is hidden from the reader.  Also, it’s set on a winding staircase, which gives a sense of mystery and implies that it’s set in another world.  A Publishers’ Weekly (starred review) quote is used as the tagline (the same as on the Luna cover).  This is my favourite out of the four.

The “Magic Study” covers are beautiful as well – here are the two I found.  While the Luna one (left) is again lovely, the girl on this cover appears to be younger than the one for the first book – or is that just me?  The Mira cover is just fantastic – it echoes the theme of the winding staircase from the first book, while moving it to an entirely different setting.

21j9v1rsazl__aa_sl160_.jpg   21zwu4bs93l__aa_sl160_.jpg

Suzanne Brockmann’s “All Through the Night”

21pthbsdhal__aa_sl160_.jpgI finished “All Through the Night” yesterday – I loved it, but then I’m a massive Jules fan.  If you’re not, I suspect this book may not be for you… 

WARNING:  Major spoilers if you haven’t read ATTN yet below – I can’t not discuss this book and not give away some plotlines.  So do not read if you haven’t yet read ATTN!  Also, slight spoilers if you haven’t read “Force of Nature” – but then again, if you haven’t read it by now, I figure you’re not a massive fan and therefore won’t care if you get spoiled.  I think. 

Right, now that the spoiler warnings are out of the way…

ATTN is unashamedly a Jules book – it’s a must-have for all Jules fans.  It’s like an epilogue stretched out over a full-length novel.  Okay, not a full-length novel Brockmann-style, but maybe a Mills & Boons-type length.  You know when you reach the end of a romance, read the five-pager epilogue and think “I want more”.  Well, this is “more”, and then some.

I loved it.  I loved seeing Jules and Robin get together (the proposal!), and work through all their trust issues.  I think they reached closure on many of their outstanding questions.  And throw in the crazed stalker, a cameo from Adam, and oh, the wedding day events – it kept me smiling.  I can just imagine Ms Brockmann thinking “now everything’s going smoothly, hmmm… so how can I throw a spanner into the works?”…

And we get Sam’s POV as well.  I don’t think I’ll ever say any book had too much Sam and Alyssa.  They  were the first Brockmann couple that truly got to me, mainly because of the way their story carried on through so many books.  When they finally got together, it was so emotionally satisfying.  And that’s the same way I feel about Jules and Robin.

So do I say it’s probably not for the Jules non-fans?  Well, the secondary h/h pairing just didn’t work.  I really didn’t get the love at first sight thing, and the things Will does – well, I couldn’t really care for him after that.  Honesty and integrity are a bit of a hot spot for me, and I think he crossed the line.  Yes, Ms Brockmann sort of tries to explain why he does it (and yes, his niece was cute), but it just wasn’t convincing enough.  And I liked Dolphina, but I couldn’t really figure out why she was attracted to Will.  Apart from the physical attraction part, which again, wasn’t all that convincing.  So if you’re not reading for the Jules-Robin HEA, I don’t think it works.

Also, I would have liked to see – oh, and this feels like tempting fate a bit – what would happen if Robin had a relapse?  But then, I suspect it would take just a bit too long to deal with the aftermath of that, so perhaps it’s well that Ms Brockmann didn’t explore that possibility.  But oh, the angst.  The possibilities.  Heh.  I’m so evil.  I do think there are a couple of loose threads left open, e.g. is Jules transferring to Boston permanently?

By the by, what is it with the babies in this one?  Is Ms Brockmann taking a sly potshot at the romance HEA?  LOL.

Finally, my favourite line ever is now “My safe word is monkey”.  I choked on my tea when I read that.  You have to read it to appreciate it.

Amazon Prime in the UK

I received an email announcing the launch of Amazon Prime in the UK.  Basically, you pay £49 (approx $100) and receive free one-day shipping for a year.

I’m in two minds on this – on one hand, it’s almost instant gratification!  I could order a book tonight and get it tomorrow.  Which is really tempting, especially for the latest US releases which appear about a month later (if it ever does appear) in the high-street bookstores.

On the other hand, at the moment, you get free shipping on all orders over £15.  And let’s face it, it’s not difficult for me to order over £15 worth of books at any one time.  And yes, the Super Saver delivery turnaround times are slightly longer at three to five business days, but then again, as I’m not around during the day, the delivery company normally leaves the parcels with the porter and I collect them on weekends.  Which sort of negates the one-day delivery aspect of the whole thing,

So would I pay approx £1 per week for the ability to order books whenever I want without having to consider postage charges?  Probably not.  I think I’ll hold off for now.  But I admit I’d be really tempted if they bring it down to, say, £30 or so… 

A good book day

Amazon delivery this morning – Sharon Shinn‘s “Reader and Raelynx” and Suzanne Brockmann‘s “All Through The Night”!  I’ve been waiting impatiently for these books to come out – and now my biggest dilemma is which one to read first 🙂

21pthbsdhal__aa_sl160_.jpgOh, I’ve just realised I missed ATTN off my November books post below.  It’s part of her Troubleshooter series, following on from “Force of Nature” (which I loved).  It’s not a full-length novel, however – it’s a Christmas novella.  In hardback.  Having said that, 280-plus pages isn’t too bad, and I bought it off Amazon for around the same price as I would pay for a mass-market paperback instore.  And it’s Jules.  Nuff said.

31aiftodzzl__aa_sl160_.jpgAlso, and this is the part that made it a really good book day – I borrowed Eva Ibbotson‘s “Star of Kazan” from the library about a month ago.  However, I haven’t really been in the right mood for reading one of her books for some weeks, so it’s just been sitting on my bedside table all this while.  And I *thought* I had renewed it online.  However, I checked yesterday and I hadn’t – so I owed £2 in fines.  Grrrr… I was not a happy bunny.

So I decided to go in today and return it, kicking myself all the while for wasting money through sheer stupidity.  Before the library though, I had to head to the post office to collect a parcel, which necessitated having to queue for 15 minutes-plus.  Normally, I would just stand in line, tapping my foot and thinking evil thoughts about everyone else in front of me.  However, this time around, I fished “The Star of Kazan” out of my bag,  started reading, became completely engrossed in the story, and actually resented reaching the front of the queue!

I decided to go in, pay my fine, and renew instead of returning it – and the very best bit is when I got to the library, the librarian announced they were having a fine amnesty.  She cleared my fine!  I left with the biggest smile on my face.

So now, three books I’m so looking forward to reading – and I may actually get into the habit of carrying a book around with me all the time.  But my handbag normally weighs a ton already, and the thought of lugging around extra weight puts me off – will have to think about it… 

November Books

For some reason, I’m in a bit of a reading slump.  I read seven books in October, which is half the number of books I read during the month before.  Though I did re-read some of my favourite Amelia Peabody books.

Anyway, here are the books I’m looking forward to in November – not that many this time around:

21a5egw6lzl__aa_sl160_.jpg“An Affair Before Christmas” by Eloisa James (Historical romance) – Second book in her Desperate Duchesses series.  The heroine of this one, Poppy, wasn’t really onstage during the first book, so I admit I’m more looking forward to reading about Elijah and Jemima – and hoping their marriage takes a turn for the better.  I also really like the cover for this book – it’s so colourful and somehow conveys this decadent feeling, which feels really well-suited to the Georgian period setting.  Excerpt here.

21h3gazvksl__aa_sl160_.jpg“Reader and Raelynx” by Sharon Shinn (Fantasy) – Fourth book in her Twelve Houses series, which is more traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy than her Samaria series.  I just love Sharon Shinn’s writing and this series is a perfect blend of fantasy and romance.  Her latest book “General Winston’s Daughter” has whetted my appetite nicely for this one. 

210tpa5vvll__aa_sl160_.jpgAlso, another Sharon Shinn story will be in the anthology “Elemental Magic”, which I admit is the only reason why I’m getting it.  Other authors are Carol Berg, Jean Johnson, and Rebecca York, and it’s described as a fantasy romance anthology.  On Ms Shinn’s website, she describes her contribution as being very gothic – “Cinderella as written by Emily Bronte”!