Books for September

A couple of books I missed off my August post were Elizabeth Peters’ “The Laughter of Dead Kings” (mystery) and Richelle Mead’s “Storm Born” (urban fantasy).  Ms Peters’ book is a September release in the UK, and I could have sworn the Mead book had a September date too.  Ah, well.

 

Moving on to books actually due for release in September:

51KAvRxAOxL__SL160_ Nalini Singh’s “Hostage for Pleasure” (paranormal romance):  The fifth novel in her Psy-Changeling series, the hero of this one is Dorian – the one Changeling who can’t shift into animal form.  Hmm… why do I have a strong suspicion this is going to change in this book?  I love this series – IMO, it’s one of the few paranormal romance series out there that gets the balance between the world-building and the romance just right.  Cover-wise… not too excited, the sunset background makes it look like a tropical romance.

Excerpt here (out Sept 2)

 

pirate-king-loose_id Josh Lanyon’s “Death of a Pirate King” (m/m mystery):  After reading the Dear Author review, I bought the first three books in this series, and became completely and utterly hooked.  Highly highly recommend this series.  Will Jake finally get his act together?  Will Adrian decide to cut his losses?  Oh, the angst.  And yeah, the mystery bits are good too.

Excerpt here (out Sept 16 – I think!)

 

 

21qKXXRe5wL__SL160_ 51qw9JW4hwL__SL160_ Julia Quinn’s “Mr Cavendish, I Presume” (historical romance):  The first book in this duology, “The Lost Duke of Wyndham”, was an entertaining read (on the light side, admittedly).  To me, Thomas was by far the more interesting character, so I can’t wait to find out what he was doing off-stage.  Or off-page.

According to a post on her bulletin board, there’s an extract available on this site, but you’ve to sign up and to be honest, it sounds like a bit of a palaver to read an extract that will probably be posted on her website at some point soon! 

Anyway, blurb here (out Sept 30)

 

51Y9kYoi0EL__SL160_ Richelle Mead‘s “Succubus Dreams” (urban fantasy):  Third in her Georgina Kincaid series.  I was a bit on the fence when I read the second book; I thought the plot was slightly questionable and the romance not that realistic.  But I do like the world Ms Mead has created and I’m very curious about where she’s going to take Georgina and Seth’s relationship.  Speaking of the second book, it had two titles – it was “Succubus on Top” or “Succubus Nights” depending on where you live.  I’m confused, did they think the US title was too racy for the UK?

I’m not that keen on the cover – the model looks a bit too hard-faced.

Excerpt here (out Sept 30)

 

51QtPFtaYzL__SL160_ 51ee5OyOSPL__SL160_ Lisa Kleypas’ “Seduce Me at Sunrise” (historical romance):  Second in the spin-off series from the Wallflowers books.  It’s a rather successful series, with yet another related book “A Wallflower Christmas” (I’m guessing it’s a Christmas gift hardcover book) coming out err… in October [aside: Selfridges has opened its Christmas Hall.  It’s still summer, people (just)!].  Ms Kleypas can do as many spin-offs as she likes – I love her Wallflower world, and her historicals are an auto-buy for me.

Oooh, I thought her US cover was nice, but I’ve just seen the UK one.  Love.

Excerpt here (out Sept 30)

 

Maybe books this month include “Duainfey” (fantasy) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  From Ms Lee’s LJ:

In addition to being the first original novel Lee and Miller have done with Baen Books, Duainfey is also something of an artistic departure for us. It is a dark romantic fantasy, set in a Regency-like society, with Fey. Think a cross between Laurell K. Hamilton’s early Merry Gentry books, and Jane Eyre

Interesting, eh?  I love their Liaden series, so am probably going to give it a go, even though this sounds completely different.  Excerpt here (out now, I believe, and if you read ebooks, Baen has a fantastic pricing policy for hardcovers – it’s $6 on their site).

Laura Lee Gurkhe’s “Secret Desires of a Gentleman” (historical romance) is also a maybe for me, mainly because I still haven’t read the second book in this series (“The Wicked Ways of a Duke”).  I loved the first though (“And Then He Kissed Me”), and there’s really no reason why I haven’t read the second.  Excerpt here (out Sept 30).

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You Can Never Have Too Many Books…

I’m still around three-quarters of the way through Stephenie Meyer’s “Breaking Dawn” (am rather entertained despite the rather jaw-dropping storyline – more on this later), but yesterday was release day for some books I’ve been anticipating…

Elizabeth Peters’ “The Laughter of Dead Kings” (mystery): The long-awaited Vicky Bliss is out!  Definitely the next book I’m reading.

Ann Aguirre’s “Wanderlust” (SF romance): Ms Aguirre is running a contest – go buy her book in the next week or so, and enter to win $200 of free books.

“Enchantment Place” (fantasy):  An anthology edited by Denise Little – the theme being magical malls where you can buy anything.  I’m a sucker for these anthologies, even though I can’t remember the last time I read a short story and thought “must go read that author”.  I don’t think I’m a short story kind of person.  But yeah, couldn’t resist.

Richelle Mead’s “Storm Born” (urban fantasy):  Another release I missed off my August list (I did think it was looking a bit sparse).  I like Ms Mead’s Succubus series and this is the first book in a new series.  Err… no idea what it’s about, but am willing to give it a go!

Jayne Castle’s “Dark Light” (futuristic romance):  The last of the August releases I was planning to get.  I’ve done pretty well this month!

 

ETA: Slightly misleading post, I meant to say the Peters, Aguirre, and Castle books were released this week.  The other two are slightly older releases (still August ones though, I think!) that I bought as well.  And I also forgot to say that I got them at BooksOnBoard using the promo code New_R3lease – this gets you 25% off the purchase price for new releases August 25th to September 30th, and is valid until this Friday!

Sigh

Help.  I can’t decide what to read next.  I just haven’t been that enthused about reading lately – I think I’m sort of sliding into a reading slump.

Having said that, I did read Linda Howard’s “Death Angel” over the weekend, mainly because it was staring at me accusingly from the pile of books on the coffee table. 

I liked it – the whole plot is unusual* for a romance, and I’m not quite sure how Ms Howard made it work, but she did.  Even the “second chance” bit, which normally would have me rolling my eyes, but actually nearly made me cry! 

I’ve noticed she’s been focusing on survival-type plots recently – the same applies to “Death Angel”, though DA is more survival in an urban environment, i.e. avoiding CCTV cameras and not leaving a paper trail behind you, whereas the past couple of books have focused on outdoor survival stuff.

I’m going to end my Bank Holiday weekend by tidying up my bookshelves, and maybe I’ll stumble over something that will kickstart my reading again.  Or I can wait until tomorrow’s releases – both the new Ann Aguirre and Jayne Castle books are out tomorrow!

 

*<slight spoiler>especially the moral ambiguity</end spoiler>

It’s Almost Here…

My “New Vicky Bliss!” entry tends to be one of the most popular posts on my blog for some reason.  Probably partly due to the fact that Ms Peters has a minimal web presence – I can’t remember the last time her website was updated! 

According to Amazon, “The Laughter of Dead Kings” will be released here in the UK a month later (Sept 25) than the US (August 26).  Bah.  I may get the ebook version because I don’t think I can hold out for one whole month.

Meanwhile, the back cover blurb is:

For the first time in more than a decade, New York Times bestselling Grand Master Elizabeth Peters brings beautiful, brainy Vicky Bliss back into the spotlight for one last investigation. But this time the peerless art historian and sleuth will be detecting in Amelia Peabody territory, searching for solutions to more than one heinous offense in the ever-shifting sands of Egypt’s mysterious Valley of the Kings.

Who stole one of Egypt’s most priceless treasures? That is the question that haunts the authorities after a distinguished British gentleman with an upper-crust accent cons his way past a security guard and escapes into the desert carrying a world-famous, one-of-a-kind historic relic. But the Egyptian authorities and Interpol believe they know the identity of the culprit. The brazen crime bears all the earmarks of the work of one “Sir John Smythe,” the suave and dangerously charming international art thief who is, in fact, John Tregarth, the longtime significant other of Vicky Bliss. But John swears he is retired—not to mention innocent—and he vows to clear his name by hunting down the true criminal.

Vicky’s faith in her man’s integrity leaves her no choice but to take a hiatus from her position at a leading Munich museum and set out for the Middle East. Vicky’s employer, the eminent Herr Doktor Anton Z. Schmidt, rotund gourmand and insatiable adventurer, decides to join the entourage.

But dark days and myriad dangers await them in this land of intriguing antiquity. Each uncovered clue seems to raise even more questions for the intrepid Vicky—the most troubling being, Where is John going during his increasingly frequent and unexplained absences? And the stakes are elevated considerably when a ransom note arrives accompanied by a grisly memento intended to speed up negotiations—because now it appears that murder most foul has been added to the equation.

TBR Day: Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust”

This is posted as part of Keishon’s TBR Day challenge, which is aimed at encouraging us readers with the towering TBR piles (you know who you are) to start tackling the books that have been languishing in there for eons.

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5126P1XE2QL__SL160_ Book: Stardust (fantasy)

Author: Neil Gaiman

Copyright Date: 1999

Why did I buy this book?  My sister had a bit of a Gaiman glom some time back, and insisted that I read this one.  We more or less share the same tastes when it comes to reading, so I took her word that this was a good one.

Why did it sit in my TBR pile for so long?  I read the first couple of chapters about a year ago now, just before the movie came out.  While I thought his writing had a certain charm, I just wasn’t in the right mood.  And once I’ve started a book and not continued, I have a very bad habit of not returning to it!

What is it about?  From the back-cover blurb:

In the sleepy English countryside at the dawn of the Victorian era, life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall.  Young Tristan Thorn has lost his heart to the beautiful Victoria Forester, but Victoria is as cold and distant as the star she and Tristan see fall from the sky one evening.  For the prize of Victoria’s hand, Tristan vows to retrieve the star for his beloved.  It is an oath that sends the lovelorn swain over the town’s ancient wall and into a world that is dangerous and strange beyond imagining…

So what did I think of it?  Once I made up my mind to read this, I was totally engrossed.  I thought it read like a charming fairy tale for adults.  And for such a slim book (194 pages in my version), it packs so much story and is wonderfully-plotted.  All the subplots somehow tie themselves in with the main thread and come together beautifully at the end.  I say “somehow”, because it’s not at all obvious how they’re going to fit together or resolve themselves, yet everything works out perfectly!

It’s full of whimsical gems; this sentence describing the size of Fairie is a lovely example:

But Faerie is bigger than England, as it is bigger than the world (for, since the dawn of time, each land that has been forced off the map by explorers and the brave going out and proving it wasn’t there has taken refuge in Faerie; so it is now, but the time that we come to write of it, a most huge place indeed, containing every manner of landscape and terrain).

Character-wise, Tristan, the protagonist, is a very engaging young man, and watching him grow into himself throughout the book was completely satisfying.  All the secondary characters are nicely fleshed-out, and for a story that reads like a lighthearted fairy-tale at first, the evil characters do radiate a proper sense of menace and danger.  Which makes it all the more gratifying when they get their come-uppance.  And yes, there’s humour – there were some bits that made me snicker.

The only thing that kept niggling at me – and this is very much just me – is that because I knew that there was a movie (sigh, I held off on watching the movie because I wanted to read the books first… time to hit the DVD rentals, I think), I kept on trying to visualise how a scene would transfer onto the big screen!  Arrghh.  I did try to stop myself, but I would catch myself doing it.  Very annoying.

My conclusion?  A very strong B+ and I think I’ll have to track down more of Mr Gaiman’s backlist.  Does anyone know if his other books are written in the same style?

Around the Web

A new Q&A with Lois McMaster Bujold at Joseph Mallozzi’s blog – amongst the many nuggets of information she provides is that the next Miles book is set after “Diplomatic Immunity” with Miles being 39 years old.  The bad news?  It’s at least a year and a bit until publication – she says early 2010.

It’s a rather long post, but def worth a read.  I never realised Barrayar was based on feudal and Meiji Japan before, I think I was blinded by the Russian influences!

Books I’ve Been Wondering About

I’ve been debating over getting these books for a while now – anyone read them?

 

51HTISDSZML__SL160_ 41fl4w8GtGL__SL160_ Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely” (YA fantasy):  I’ve read some glowing reviews on this one and it’s just won the RITA for Best Young Adult Romance.  But I think this is a fae-based story, which I’m not that keen on (I know, I’m weird).  The US and UK covers are very different, btw.

 

 

 

51tW3kzOmtL__SL160_Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrument books (YA fantasy):  I think “City of  Bones” is the first in the series.  These came to my attention when I saw a stack of excerpt booklets at the counter of my local Starbucks.  I ignored them then because I thought “yet another urban fantasy”, but then when browsing in Borders, I saw them on a table display in the YA section.  Flipped through a couple of pages and thought it was quite interesting, but decided to think about it a bit more.  Of course, the booklets in Starbucks are all gone now.

 

51ql%2BU1UKbL__SL160_ Galen Beckett’s “The Magicians & Mrs Quent” (fantasy): I love the title and the cover of this one! The excerpt is tempting, and the book is blurbed by Jacqueline Carey and Ellen Kushner, amongst others.  There’s an ebook version available, so I’ll probably get it – for some reason, I’m much more open to trying new-to-me authors in ebook format.  Probably because I don’t have to commit to giving it shelf space  😉

July Reads

I use Google Docs to track my reading (an idea shamelessly nicked from Jennie at the beginning of this year) and the link is sort of hidden away on my 2008 Books page. 

However, I’ve never really gotten around to posting my reads for the month.  I think part of me feels that if I don’t do a “proper” post explaining what a book is about and exactly how I felt about it, I shouldn’t really post about it.  Which is slightly stupid, seeing that I like seeing other people’s monthly reads list! 

So here’s what I read in July – I read twelve books in total (LOL, I can’t count – I said it was eleven on Nath’s blog), with the standouts being Naomi Novik’s “Victory of Eagles”, Tanya Huff’s “The Heart of Valor”, Sherwood Smith’s “King’s Shield”, and Suzanne Brockmann’s “Into the Fire”.  Seven fantasy books (two children’s and one YA in there), three romances, one mystery, and one SF, which sounds about normal for me!

Books and comments below (pretty much copied and pasted from my Google Docs spreadsheet): 

“Duchess by Night” by Eloisa James  (historical romance):  I was really enjoying it up to the last third, when the conflict that was introduced just felt ever-so-slightly forced to me.  A good read, nonetheless.    B

“Fearless Fourteen” by Janet Evanovich (mystery): Ms Evanovich once said that the Stephanie-Morelli-Ranger triangle would never go anywhere (err… paraphrasing horribly here).  I disagree – Stephanie and Morelli feel so comfortable now and they’re just right together.  I think it’s time for her to stop lusting over Ranger, because that bit is now feeling slightly unrealistic.  Better than the last book, IMO (though still not as funny as the earlier ones!).    B-

“Shadows Return” by Lynn Flewelling (fantasy):  An unexpected fourth book set in her Nightrunners world.  I remember loving this series way back when – did it stand up to the test of time?  Okay, Seregil-Alex’s relationship felt a bit umm… 2D in the beginning (maybe because I’ve been reading Josh Lanyon’s books, and he writes m/m really well), but as the book progressed, I became caught up in the plot.  The next book (out in 2009, I think) will definitely be on my to-buy list.    B

“Phantom of the Night” by Anne Stuart (contemporary romance):  I read this for my TBR Day challenge.    C+

“Victory of Eagles” by Naomi Novik (historical fantasy):  Fifth in the Temeraire series.  Loved.  I really enjoy Ms Novik’s wonderfully thought-out world.    B+

“The Heart of Valor” by Tanya Huff (military SF):  A surprisingly enjoyable read, err… surprising to me because although I love Ms Huff’s urban fantasy, I’ve never been that into her SF books.  Until now.  A definite rec if you like military SF.  Although I can’t really remember the previous books in the series, I think it reads reasonably well as a standalone.  Now I’m tempted to get the next… but it’s in hardcover. Sigh.    B+

“The Summoning” by Kelley Armstrong (YA urban fantasy): Ms Armstrong’s YA debut and first in a trilogy. Umm… scarier (i.e. more horror-ish) than I thought it would be, and the plot didn’t feel that original to me – I’m almost sure I’ve read similar setups by other authors.  And I hate open-ended stories.  Having said that, I do like her writing and I finished this in one sitting.    B

“The Fox” by Sherwood Smith (fantasy): Second in her Inda series.  While I got somewhat lost with the huge cast of characters and the number of plotlines (seeing that it’s been two years since I read the first book), it was engrossing enough for me to go out and buy the third book immediately…     B

”King’s Shield” by Sherwood Smith (fantasy): … which I enjoyed more, probably because I remembered who was who in this one!  Am looking forward to the fourth (and final, I think) book now.    B+

“Oakleaf Bearers” by John Flanagan (children’s fantasy): Fourth in his Ranger’s Apprentice series, which I am officially addicted too.  It’s not great writing (I think it’s the occasionally ominprescient viewpoints which throw me off), but it’s very good story-telling.    B

“House of Many Ways” by Diana Wynne Jones (children’s fantasy): A sort-of sequel to "Howl’s Moving Castle", which I loved.  This, not so much (mainly because Howl and co don’t take centrestage – i.e. it’s not you, it’s me), but still filled with DWJ trademark style and humour.    B-

“Into the Fire” by Suzanne Brockmann (romantic suspense): I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this so much, because I’m a Jules fangirl and he only makes a very minor appearance in this book.  But I did and stayed up (very) late to finish it.  A word of warning however, I’ve been following the series from the start and so knew everyone who turned up, but newcomers to the series may find the large cast of characters and their backstories slightly confusing.    B+

Just to Say…

I was reading “Cry Wolf” yesterday, and this thought randomly popped into my mind:

If I could only ever read one author’s books for the rest of my life, I’d probably choose Patricia Briggs.

And the first chapter of “Bone Crossed” in the back?  I want it NOW.