Sarah Dessen Recs?

Arrrghhhh.  Busy, busy, busy.  I’ve barely had time to blog hop, let alone read and leave comments, in the past couple of weeks.

51lFqOeoncL._SL160_ But I really had to mention Sarah Dessen’s “The Truth About Forever”, which I just finished this week.  I’ve had it in my TBR pile for a looooong time (funny how often I use that phrase), so a big thank you to Christine for listing it in her Top 20 Reads of 2009 and convincing me I had to read it.

Macy’s dealing with her father’s unexpected death.  Really.  I mean, she has the perfect boyfriend, she’s focused on her schoolwork, and she’s about to start a summer job that will look great on her high school transcript when applying to universities.  So why does she feel as though it’s a constant struggle not to fall apart?

I was completely caught up in Macy’s story pretty much from the start.  Watching her slowly figuring out that she doesn’t have to be perfect, seeing her grow so much from the first page to the last, dealing with her grief and reconnecting with her life?  So satisfying.

And sa-wooon.  Wes.  Mmmmm.  Okay, it’s not just Wes, it’s the whole cast of secondary characters that made this story so good.  Kristy and her search for truly extraordinary boys.  Bert and his cologne and gotchas.  Even Monica and her “donnevens”.  But Wes.  Ahhh.  I loved how Macy and Wes slowly became best friends without realising it, the diabolical Truth game the two of them played that revealed so much about each other, and oh, the last question.

So yes, I loved.   A very feel-good book.

Now for all you longtime Sarah Dessen fans, I need some help.  I’ve just bought three more Dessen books (no, I don’t waste any time and yes, it was another 3-for-2 offer) – “Lock and Key”, “Just Listen”, and “This Lullaby”, based purely on the selection they had in the bookstore and the back cover blurb. 

But I’m wondering, did I pick the right books?  Are there any other Dessen books that I should really be getting?

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More Linkage

The Christmas/New Year hangover has all but disappeared, and I’m starting to spend way too much time at work again.  So in lieu of actual content, more links of interest:

Eileen Wilks has an updated website – and it has an RSS feed for updates!  I’m not exactly lazy (okay, yes I am), but a website feed means that I’m not going to miss out on any news.  Her next book, “Blood Magic”, comes out 2 Feb and I can’t wait – I love her Lupi novels.

Karen Chance has posted a bit about the schedule for her next books (now I could use an RSS feed for her website).  It’s a mixture of good and bad news (scroll down to the 5 Jan update).  The bad news is that her next Cassie book has been pushed back to summer 2011 (big sigh).  The good news is that Ms Chance plans to “…alleviate any withdrawal symptoms anyone may feel by putting some short stories with different character’s POVs on the web site”.  We’ll get Pritkin!  Mircea!  Francoise!  Err… my memory needs jogging – who is Francoise?

51ejPPYyI8L._SL160_ And finally… manga Shakespeare!  It’s “Much Ado About Nothing” – and oh, I’ve obviously missed something because when I googled “Manga Shakespeare”, it’s actually a whole series of books

I know next to nothing about manga, but I’m loving the drawings in “Much Ado About Nothing”“The Tempest” looks lovely too, and “Twelfth Night” has been given a steampunk setting!  They’re not expensive either (around £5 at Amazon), I am tempted…

Around the Web

Random author linkage:

Public Service Announcement

For some weird reason, the majority of search terms used by people who stumble on my blog is “Diana Gabaldon blog”.  I’m serious, we’re talking at least twice as many searches as for the second most popular search term (which is “Vicky Bliss”, because I’m sure you’re all dying to know).

Well, this isn’t it, but Diana Gabaldon does have one, and it’s called “Voyages of the Artemis”.  And it’s lovely and rambly, a bit like her books actually, and tends to be updated more often than her website.

2009: The Statistics and Lists Post

I am not letting 2009 slip away without doing a post with lots of bullet points and numbers.  So without further ado…

 

My very favourite books read during 2009

Roughly in reading order:

  • Heir to Sevenwaters (Juliet Marillier)
  • Bone Crossed (Patricia Briggs)
  • Magic Strikes (Ilona Andrews)
  • Corambis (Sarah Monette)
  • The Queen of Attolia (Megan Whalen Turner)
  • Hunting Ground (Patricia Briggs)
  • The King of Attolia (Megan Whalen Turner)
  • The Dark Tide (Josh Lanyon)
  • Fire (Kristin Cashore)
  • Death’s Mistress (Karen Chance)

Apart from Josh Lanyon’s “The Dark Tide” (mystery / m/m romance), all the rest are fantasy (including four urban fantasy books).

Patricia Briggs and Megan Whalen Turner appear twice – no surprises there.

And coincidentally, there are ten of them – makes a nice Top Ten list! 

 

New-to-me authors I’m glad I discovered during 2009 

 

Author most-glommed during 2009

L.M. Montgomery, due to me delving into her backlist throughout most of January

 

The statistics…

Because I like tracking these.  What do you mean, better things to do with my time?

  2009 2008
# of books read during the year 115 155
# published during the year itself 55 (48%) 73 (47%)
# of authors read 71 88
# of new-to-me authors 22 (30%) 27 (30%)

 

So although the number of books I read decreased from 2008, the proportion of books published during the year itself and that of new-to-me authors remained the same.  Interesting – I really wasn’t expecting that.

 

And the pretty graph…

Because I did one for 2008 as well.  Can you tell I went on holiday in Oct 2008 and Sept 2009?

2009

 

And that is really it for 2009, here’s to a great 2010!

Another January Book

51Qpj-M8LFL._SL160_ Can’t believe I missed this off my list of January must-gets.  “Inked” is an urban fantasy anthology featuring two authors I stalk (in a polite non-obsessive sort of way), Karen Chance and Eileen Wilks.  The two other contributors are Marjorie M Liu and Yasmine Galenorn.

Blurb:

Four tales of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore body art that is more than it seems—in a world of magic and mayhem that always leaves it mark . . .

New York Times bestselling author Karen Chance’s "Skin Deep" tells the tale of a war mage in Las Vegas who stumbles across an ominous magical ward that appears as a dragon on her skin–and has a mind of its own…

When New York Times bestselling author Marjorie M. Liu’s demon slayer Maxine Kiss investigates a grisly murder at a high-class soirée, she finds herself involved in a conspiracy dating back to World War II–and a secret mission that her grandmother may have carried out for the US Government, one that involves the mysterious"Armor of Roses."

In USA Today bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn’s "Etched in Silver," a supernatural agent is on the trail of a sadistic serial killer, when an unexpected ally comes to her aid, setting in motion a magical ritual that may end up binding them together, body and soul.

When the heavily tattooed body of a man is found in a Northern California town, FBI Agent Lily Yu is drawn into the case. Trouble is, the victim wasn’t human–and the killer isn’t finished in USA Today bestselling author Eileen Wilks’s "Human Nature."

2009: Recap of My Reading Year Part II

Continuing my January to June recap, here’s the second half of my 2009 in books:

 

July

51OpuIGbojL._SL160_ I finally got around to reading Megan Whalen Turner’s “The Thief” and yes, kicked myself in the what-took-me-so-long kind of way.  Because this series is an indisputable gem, so cleverly written and populated with wonderful characters.

I hit double-digits in terms of books read this month, a whole eleven books, most of which were good.  On the not-so-good side, I think I gave up on Janet Evanovich’s Plum books.  Or at least buying the hardcover.

 

 

August

51PzrTZeJGL._SL160_ Another Patricia Briggs book, this time “Hunting Ground” in her Anna and Charles series, was the standout book of the month for me.

I also loved Robin McKinley’s “The Hero and the Crown” (YA fantasy, and a beautifully-told coming-of-age story), which I picked up thanks to a rec from Angie, and heaved a huge sigh as I turned over the final page of Megan Whalen Turner’s “King of Attolia”.  Ah, Gen.

And with eleven books read this month, this quarter was looking good.

 

September

Wait for it… I read a massive 21 books.  Yes, I was on holiday.

51l1odgzyAL._SL160_ Lisa Kleypas’s contemporary romances “Blue-Eyed Devil” and “Smooth-Talking Stranger” impressed me with the way she dealt with serious issues while keeping the romance firmly at the centre of the story – her contemporaries are now autobuys for me.

I also got around to reading Mary Ann Schaffer & Annie Barrows’ “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” – it made me laugh and cry (at different times, before you ask).  A proper feel-good book.

And I also enjoyed Lisa Lutz’s “Curse of the Spellmans” (mystery, funny with heart), Ellen Crosby’s “The Merlot Murders” (mystery, loved the winemaking focus), and Mary Kay Andrews’ “Savannah Blues” (contemporary romance, filled with Southern charm and lots of humour).

 

October

510CGKLV3pL._SL160_ So after the wonder that was September, I read seven books in October.  But they were mostly good.  I loved Sharon Shinns “Quatrain” (fantasy anthology) because her writing is beautiful and it was like revisiting old friends.

I finished my mini-glom of Joanne Dobson’s Karen Pelletier books (mystery) – I very much enjoyed the small-town college setting and the literature element of the mysteries.  And I really liked Ilona Andrews’ “On the Edge”  (paranormal romance, which felt almost like a frontier-set historical romance) and Ellen Emerson White’s “The President’s Daughter” (YA, and read thanks to another rec from Angie – no prizes for guessing who was responsible for quite a bit of my book spending this year).

 

November

518m9fIkHlL._SL160_ A measly four books read (I think this was payback for September).  I made time to read Juliet Mariller’s “Heart’s Blood” (fantasy), and it was very much worth it.  Not quite as magical as her Sevenwaters world perhaps, but a very good read.

And really, that’s all I can say about November, which saw my number of blog posts also fall to a dismal three during the month.

 

 

December

41K28wvJBOL._SL160_ the_dark_tideRounding off the year with 17 books read, I read and raved about Kristin Cashore’s “Fire” (fantasy) and Josh Lanyon’s “The Dark Tide” (mystery / m/m romance) in the final days of 2009.

But before that, I also loved Eloisa James’ “A Duke of Her Own” (historical romance), which wowed me with the very sexy and steamy chemistry between the hero and the heroine.  Unusually standalone for an Eloisa James book as well.

And technically a 2010 release, except I read it this side of the new year (just), I adored Karen Chance’s “Death’s Mistress” (urban fantasy), which was packed full of action and humour, and sneaked into my list of top reads for the year.

 

And that brought my total number of books read over the year to 115, which, while 40 fewer than what I read during 2008, had some truly excellent books.

One more post with lists and numbers, and that’ll be it for 2009, I promise!

What’s in a Name?

I completely missed this.  Sarah Monette’s next book will be published by Tor under a different name – this is because her Ace sales figures for the Doctrine of Labyrinths quartet were disappointing, and therefore the big bookstores would not be ordering many books under the Sarah Monette name going forward.

Firstly, I’m so pleased that she’s sold another book because I loved her writing, and “Corambis” (the final book in the series) was one of my favourite books of 2009.  I will say though, that the books were very dark, complex, and really, unconventional fantasy, and probably not for everyone.  And then you take into account that these books need to be read in order, the first appears to be out-of-print now, and finally, that they were first released in hardcover… difficult sell. 

So if you loved the Labyrinth books, look out for “The Emperor of Elfland” (title subject to change, I’m guessing) by Katherine Addison hopefully sometime next year.

 

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And on a not-really related note, here’s a Suvudu blog post about book titles.  Apparently, Naomi Novik’s “Temeraire” (or “His Majesty’s Dragon”, if you read the US version) had the working title “Between Wind and Water”.  Not as catchy as the final one(s), I have to say. 

Speaking of which, her sixth Temeraire book, “Tongues of Serpents” will be released July 2010 (thanks to Renee for the heads up).

2009: Recap of My Reading Year Part I

This time last year, I posted an epic series of posts about my reading year (okay, five – that counts as epic for me).  This time around, not that many, I swear.

Looking back at the first half of 2009:

 

January

31JSQpzMt2L._SL160_ I started the year off with a bang, falling in love with Juliet Marillier’s “Heir to Sevenwaters” (warning: very spoiler-y post) and officially becoming a Marillier fangirl.  I then somehow started on LM Montgomery’s short stories and really, couldn’t stop – I pretty much spent the latter half of January immersed in LM Montgomery’s turn-of-the-century Prince Edward Island.

Eleven books read in total, counting the six LM Montgomery short story collections – I did say I was addicted, didn’t I?

 

February

4114F4Y9TuL._SL160_ Standout book of the month was Patricia Briggs’ “Bone Crossed” (urban fantasy) – did you even have to ask?  She has a gift for storytelling and I can’t get enough of her Mercy Thompson books.

And it was obviously quality, not quantity, that counted in February, because while I only read five books (seriously, what was I doing?), I also read and loved Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Horizon” (fantasy), which was a note-perfect ending to her Sharing Knife series, and Josh Lanyon & Laura Baumbach’s “Mexican Heat” (romantic suspense m/m), which I thought delivered both romance and suspense in spades.

 

March

51kxH6Hh-AL._SL160_ Not a massively exciting month reading-wise, with seven books read over the course of the month.  I mostly read the latest books in various ongoing series, including Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent in the Moor” (historical mystery, with a wonderfully Gothic atmosphere) and Kelley Armstrong’s “Made to be Broken” (romantic suspense, and a solid read, as per my expectations).

But swept away in a wave of nostalgia after reading LM Montgomery back in January, I started re-reading Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School books, and gosh, this brought back so many memories – I adored them as a kid and wanted to go to boarding school so badly.  I loved doing these re-reads, and even invested in some new-to-me Chalet School books – and ouch, these are expensive nowadays.

 

April

Now April was an excellent month for reading. 

51IdzKI1TYL._SL160_Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Strikes” (urban fantasy) wowed me – from a rather so-so first book, the Kate Daniels series has grown into one of the best UF series out there, IMO.  I also loved Sarah Monette’s “Corambis” (fantasy), an incredibly satisfying finale to her Doctrine of Labyrinths series.

51Vk0dfT6IL._SL160_And then there was Karen Chance’s “Curse the Dawn” and Jim Butcher’s “Turn Coat”, both immensely enjoyable installments in the Cassie Palmer and Dresden Files urban fantasy series respectively. 

I read nine books this month, very much dominated by the fantasy genre, but also including two Agatha Christie mystery short story collections, which had a nice mixture of new-to-me stories and old favourites.

 

May

Ah, May.  I read seven books in total, but there were two standouts for me. 

tagfinalcoverDiana Peterfreund’s “Tap & Gown” brought her Secret Society Girl series to a close, and did so in the most perfect manner possible. 

51veKT4RdvL._SL160_And I finally got my hands on Eva Ibbotson’s “Magic Flutes”, thanks to Young Picador re-releasing her backlist in the UK.  Her historical romances are pure joy to read – some of her turns of phrase are almost magical, and I am in love with her ever-so-slightly exotic continental European settings.   And of course, the enchanting characters.

 

 

June

somebody_killed Well.  I did a minor Josh Lanyon glom, reading three of his novellas (“Lovers and Other Strangers”, “Someone Killed His Editor”, and “Don’t Look Back”) in quick succession, all which had his trademark wry humour and wonderful characterisation.

And read two more books, neither of which I fell in love with, and then I sort of went into a reading slump.

 

 

So that was the first half of my reading year: 44 books read in total, with some excellent ones in there, but ending on a bit of a downer.  However, things improved substantially in the next month…

To be continued…

Around the Web

Links of interest: A new contract, a new computer game, and a fascinating visit

 

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First off, some excellent news – Tracy Grant has signed a two-book contract with Kensington Books, writing as Teresa Grant.

51ZQazBh47L._SL160_ I’m really happy to hear this because her previous books “Beneath a Silent Moon” and “Secrets of a Lady” (previously published as “Daughter of the Game”) blew me away when I read them ages ago.  These were re-released by Avon in 2007/8, but I think I came across them back when they were first published – looking back, we’re talking 2002/3 here.  And although it has been years, I still remember loving these historical mysteries and more to the point, the central couple, Charles and Mélanie Fraser.  They were books full of twists and intrigue, and strong on the relationship side of things, IIRC – I may have to dig them out for a re-read.

51vgtB8ulcL._SL160_ The first book has the working title “The Dark Waltz” and the central couple will be called Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch, instead of Mélanie and Charles, although it is essentially their story.  Being nosy, I asked why, and Ms Grant said it was because Kensington wanted “… something they could market as something fresh and new, not overtly connected to existing series”. Makes sense, and I can’t wait for this to be released.

 

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You may have heard of Marjorie M Liu’s “Tiger Eye” being used as a basis for a computer game – here’s an interview with Melissa Heidrich, Studio Director of PassionFruit Games, giving some more information, at the Grasping for the Wind blog.  Interesting stuff.

I’ve read “Tiger Eye”, but must admit it didn’t quite work for me.  I know many people are big fans of her Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series (of which “Tiger Eye” is the first book), and  I’m wondering if I should give her another shot.

 

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And finally, if I say Richelle Mead went to Forks, and you go “huh”, I’m guessing you’ve managed to avoid Twilight and all things vampire-related.  Ms Mead, author of the YA urban fantasy Vampire Academy books, made a day trip to Forks, home to Bella and Edward (and Jacob etc etc).  They have Bella’s truck outside the Visitors Centre.  Go read.