I haven’t been blogging much (again) but this time it’s because I’ve been reading. I’m glad it’s Bank Holiday weekend, because I needed that extra time to catch up on my sleep, I’m been staying up way too late to finish “…just one more chapter”.
So an overview of my recent reads (pretty much spoiler-free as it’s more about my reaction to the books as opposed to the storylines):
Patricia Briggs’ “Hunting Ground” (urban fantasy): I really can’t put my finger on why Ms Briggs’ writing works for me – all I know is it does. So much so that I find myself re-reading passages all the way through the book, just to savour her words. I never want to reach the last page.
Anyway, the story itself? Very good. I’m loving how Anna and Charles are slowly getting to know each other. It’s refreshing how the “werewolf mates” device is not used as a panacea for all things, they still have issues to work through and their relationship isn’t necessarily all hearts-and-roses-forever just because they’ve bonded. As for the plot, I figured out the whodunnit just a couple of pages before the reveal, which was rather satisfying. I’m also really enjoying getting another view on Ms Briggs’ world – very rich world-building indeed.
And here’s something I just stumbled upon. Here’s the cover to the next Mercy Thompson book “Silver Borne” (March 2010) from Ms Briggs’ website (link via OCD, Vampires, and Rants, Oh My!) in all its shiny glory. I would squee a bit more, but (a) it’s a good eight months away and (b) us UK readers are probably going to end up with a totally different monochrome cover.
ETA: I was right – UK version added on the left. I mean, it’s not bad (and it’s still mass market paperback), but it sort of pales next to the US cover art.
Jo Beverley’s “The Secret Wedding” (historical romance): It’s taken me a while to get around to reading this April release, but I haven’t been in the mood for a historical romance until recently. This is second in a loose trilogy set in her Malloren world (the first, “A Lady’s Secret” was released last year, and the third, “The Secret Duke”, is out next April).
I’m a fan of Ms Beverley’s books, especially her Malloren family books, so it was very nice to return to this world and revisit familiar characters. To me, this book was solid, but lacked a bit of “oomph” relationship-wise. I’m also not massively keen on plotlines that revolve around concealed identities, so I spent the first half of the book being slightly frustrated at Caro and Christian pretending to be other people. But that is very much my personal preference, and once identities were revealed and Rothgar & co came onstage, there was no way I was putting it down. Also, as with all Beverley books, this is in no way a wallpaper historical – the Georgian setting is beautifully described and comes alive. And Thorne, the hero of the third book, completely caught my attention in this one – I’m very much looking forward to “The Secret Duke”.
All in all, one that would be satisfying for long-time series fans, but probably not one I would recommend to Malloren newbies.
Richelle Mead’s “Blood Promise” (YA urban fantasy): I wasn’t 100% sure if I should shell out on the hardcover price for this book, but in the end I caved in. Ms Mead has a trick of keeping you engrossed in the story, meaning I kept on turning the pages way into the night. Having said that, while I do like this series, I’ve come to realise I’m not in love with it and I’m trying to figure out why.
I think it’s because I’m not completely invested in the characters and their story, I’m not feeling everything that they are. Having said that, I am impressed by the way Rose develops in this book and I have a feeling she’s pretty much left her younger self behind for good. And something I appreciate about Ms Mead’s books (and this includes the Georgina Kincaid books as well) is that she’s not afraid to progress the series arc, there is a feeling of we’re heading somewhere, and even more, I trust her enough to sit back and enjoy the journey.
I’m still not entirely sure that “Blood Promise” is worth the hardcover price, but then again, I did enjoy the book and finished it over a couple of days.
Robin McKinley’s “The Hero and the Crown” (fantasy): I bought this based on Angie’s rec earlier this month when I posted about YA/adult fantasy crossovers. While I had read Ms McKinley’s “The Blue Sword”, I wasn’t aware that there was a prequel. So when I spotted this in the bookstore the other day, I had to pick it up.
I loved Ms McKinley’s use of language and her storytelling. Within a few pages, I was firmly settled into her world – no mean feat considering I was reading this on my way back home, standing in a crowded carriage on the Tube.
I will admit I had mixed feelings for a few chapters, and took a while to realise why. The first chapters of this book had me thinking it would be a romance, and so I was reading with my romance reader’s hat on, firmly believing this would be Aerin and Tor’s story. And then Tor disappeared from the pages, Aerin took over, and this very much became Aerin’s voyage of self-discovery. So, my bad… I adjusted my expectations, and it was all good.
Very very strong coming-of-age story, beautifully told, and totally deserving of its Newbery Medal. And now I want to re-read “The Blue Sword”.
Next up: Diana Peterfreund’s “Rampant”. I’m a few chapters in already, and it’s all very addictive.