Sarah A Hoyt’s “Darkship Thieves”

I am crazy jealous of all those people who attended BEA and/or the RT convention (or both!) and came away with massive book hauls.  Sort of silly really, because I have waaaay too many books that I have not yet read, and the last thing I need is yet more books.  Oh well, who said jealousy was rational.

Anyway, in an attempt to focus my mind on how many books I have not read, I decided to spend this lovely chilly damp Bank Holiday afternoon updating my list of books read in 2010 – grand total of 55 to date – and realised I never blogged about Sarah A Hoyt’s “Darkship Thieves”, which I picked up at random during one of my library visits and enjoyed tremendously.

51TB1RUC2ZL._SL160_ Ignore the cover depicting a half-naked woman (why, oh why, Baen) because there is a wonderful SF romance lurking inside.  Actually, the cover art works both ways – it caught my eye as an obviously Baen cover on the library display, hence me taking a closer look.  So I picked it up, began reading the first few pages, and knew I wanted to take it home…

Blurb from the publisher’s website:

Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space.  Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods.  Never wanted to visit Circum Terra.  Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips.  You always get what you don’t ask for.  Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room.  In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help.  But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime—if she managed to survive…

I was in the mood for a SF romance and this fitted the bill perfectly.  Athena – the only remaining heir of her Patrician family – escapes from her father’s ship after what appeared to be a mutiny by her father’s bodyguards, and lands in the hands of Kit, one of the infamous darkship thieves.  Chaos and confusion ensues (is her father really in trouble, who can she trust?), and Athena has no choice but to flee to Kit’s homeworld, and begins to slowly unravel her family history and its secrets in an attempt to return home.

It’s an entertaining adventure-packed romp, Athena grows into a pretty impressive heroine, and Kit is a wonderfully charismatic hero right from the start.  The plot, while not incredibly original, was twisty enough to keep me engrossed, and if I say I went looking for a sequel as soon as I finished the book, that should give you an idea of how much I enjoyed “Darkship Thieves”.

A passage from Chapter Four, when Athena comes face-to-face with Kit for the first time after fleeing her father’s ship:

I’d be damned if I was going to meet it while cramped and bent in here.  I pushed down the door opening release very fast, then pushed the lifepod open, in one move, while holding my slip—what remained of it—closed with my other hand.

And found myself facing someone who looked utterly alien.  Oh, not alien like with tentacles and stuff like the bad mid twenty-first-century senses. I mean, those were not really scary.  What’s so scary about a squid or an octopus?  Even if it’s walking on land?

No.  This . . . creature was scary because he was human, undeniably and certainly of the same human stock I was—bipedal, general body shape of human male.  Truth be told, wonderful body shape of human male.  He was tall, with broad, straight shoulders, a narrow waist, the muscular legs of a dancer or runner.  All of which were clearly visible because he was wearing what could have been a dancer’s costume—bright red and made of some material that molded every inch and possibly every pore.

I noticed that first, but then I looked up.  And above the neck . . . Oh, don’t misunderstand me.  He didn’t look deformed.  Just familiar and different in an unbearable combination.  His face was that of a human male, in bone and skin—a broad face, with a hint of the Nordic and a square chin, that would not have looked out of place on a redhead.

Only the hair above the face was not red.  It was . . . calico, like a cat’s.  A mixture of blond and brown and red, bright enough to be visible in this dim light.  And his eyes, broad and bright, had no sclera at all.  They were green like a cat’s and, like a cat’s, slanted and shining in the dark.

"Cat got your tongue?" he asked, and seemed to see this as the epitome of humor.

I have another of Ms Hoyt’s books in my TBR pile, and am aiming to get around to it soon.

Lengthy excerpt for “Darkship Thieves” available here. Ms Hoyt also posts free short stories at Sarah’s Corner Booth, with a couple of stories set in the Darkship Thieves universe.


Lisa Kleypas – The Covers

I mentioned in a previous post that I really liked the recent covers that Lisa Kleypas’s UK publisher, Piatkus, were using, and I thought it would be fun to do one of those posts that form the mainstay of cover discussions – US versus UK.


Taking her current historical series, The Hathaways, here are the US covers:












They’re lovely covers and certainly shout “historical romance”, but IMO, wouldn’t stand out in the Romance section.  The first three have a level of cohesiveness that indicate they’re part of the same series.  Granted, not massively strong, but if you put them side-by-side, they have similarities – (headless) female model, a lovely lush evening gown, with a one-colour theme. 

For the fourth, St Martin’s Press seems to have decided to go with a different cover style – no models, instead, the title is on an invitation-style card, with flowers in the background (the cover for the next book in the series is also in the same style).


What about the UK covers?  Here you go:












The differences between the UK and US markets have never been clearer…

This time around, the first book is the odd one out.  “Mine Till Midnight” has a much more subdued colour palette compared to the other three, and it’s rather restrained, which I’m not sure conveys the right feeling for a Kleypas romance.  I recall comparing this to the US cover when it first came out, and wanting the US version. 

So, not a winner for me, and the cover art department may have agreed, because the second cover is very different.  I liked this one, not least because it shows the model engrossed in a book.  And oh, I actually saw the same picture on another recent book, but for the life of me, can’t remember which one.  All I recall was that it was a completely different genre, which amused me (yes, I’m easily amused) and that they tweaked the colours.  Any ideas, anyone?

And then for the third and the fourth books, finally some consistency.  And I like, I really do.  The ornate dresses, the rich colour schemes, the lace and gloves, they work for me.  I’m hoping they use this style for the next one, “Love in the Afternoon”, but I can’t find a cover online.

I was going to cover Ms Kleypas’s contemporaries as well, but this has been longer than I expected and that’ll have to wait for another post.

What do you think of these and which are your favourites?

Ack – I Forgot

51SZV7wBRkL._SL160_ This is what I get for procrastinating in writing up new releases that I’m planning on getting.

I forgot the May release: Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Bleeds”.  I even pre-ordered it, which I very rarely do nowadays.  So “Magic Bleeds” is officially out May 25, and an excerpt is here.  I am all excited and really hoping my mail doesn’t let me down.

In other news, I did cave and order “Warriors” from The Book Depository, partly thanks to Teresa who tipped me off about the price differentials between the .com and sites (I’ve just re-checked and the price is now down to £14, it was £21 when it was first released), but also because I saw it in-store and it is a massive tome.  At least two inches thick.  So I figured it was worth the price, clicked the Buy button, and it’s just arrived today.  Just in time for the weekend.

Books for May

Yes, I know there’s only about a week left in May, but gosh, I feel as though I’ve been playing catch-up for the whole month.  Especially today, when I didn’t actually hit Snooze on my alarm clock this morning.  Yep, I turned it right off.  I did make it into work at a reasonable time (ahem), but I’m now going to be incredibly paranoid about hitting the right button in the mornings!


Anyway, here’s the list of May releases on my radar:

41o2vJWxcYL._SL160_ Richelle Mead’s “Spirit Bound” (YA urban fantasy): Fifth in her incredibly popular Vampire Academy series.  It’s like the new Twilight.  Well, not quite, but the impression I get is that she has a massive fanbase.  I’m getting this book, because I want to know what happens next, but I think her Georgina Kincaid books win out for me.  She’s a pretty prolific writer (I mean, three series on the go), rather impressive.

Out now (excerpt here)


51Sc1e-DC3L._SL160_ Kelley Armstrong’s “The Reckoning” (YA urban fantasy): Final book in her Darkest Powers trilogy, though she is going to write a spin-off trilogy, IIRC.  I have this one already, but I haven’t read it yet.

Out now (excerpt here)


51RhfpnfQ8L._SL160_ Charlaine Harris’s “Dead in the Family” (urban fantasy): Latest in her Sookie Stackhouse series, how many books is it now?  I’m probably going to buy, but I haven’t had the urge to run out and get it on release date. 

I’m hoping that’s not the UK cover, though it is what came up on Amazon UK.  I know some people think the US covers are a bit cute-sy, but I love them.  Especially the glittery bits 😉


Out now (excerpt here – PDF)


51EUA1gwnTL._SL160_ 518mPPRSpcL._SL160_ And then two historical romances that I want to get, but I still have the previous book sitting in my TBR pile, which means I really shouldn’t: Julia Quinn’s “Ten Things I Love About You” (out May 25) and Lisa Kleypas’s “Married By Morning” (also out May 25). 

Ack.  I may actually even be two books behind in the Kleypas series.  Sigh.  I think I may have to wave the white flag at my TBR pile.  The good news is that I love the UK covers for both of these, and the UK release dates are June and October respectively.  I never thought I would be glad for a later UK release date.

I’m Still Here, Really…

Even though it’s almost been three weeks since I last posted. 

I’ve been away on work-related matters for the past week or so, and although I was planning on sticking up a “Gone Away” post, I was my usual disorganised last-minute self and ended up running out of time. 

Anyway, am back, slightly jetlagged, and to my joy, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Mouse & Dragon” is available online at Webscriptions.  I sneaked a peek because Baen does release e-versions early (it’s hitting the shelves June 1), and yay!  I believe M&D is the direct sequel to “Scout’s Progress”, one of the earlier books in their Liaden universe.

I didn’t actually read that much while travelling.  Actually, I ended up not bringing my e-reader with me. 

I know.

I debated this for quite a while, because I have so many ebooks I am yet to read (seriously, we’re talking a lot), and hey, isn’t one of the key selling points of an ereader is that it’s easy to carry around?

But I finally ended up setting it to one side, because I knew I wouldn’t have that much time to read, hence there being no point in bringing a wide selection of books.  And I was lugging so much work stuff in my carry-on that I really didn’t want to chuck a not-so-sturdy ereader in the mix.

So I decided it was an excellent opportunity to tackle my physical TBR pile and selected the following:

  • Robin McKinley’s “Sunshine” (urban fantasy): I have been meaning to read this forever.  Seriously.  I mean, everyone seems to love it.  And Angie did a recent post on its various covers, so it was in the forefront of my mind.
  • Susanna Kearsley’s “The Shadowy Horses” (romance): I picked this up a while back, err actually seven months back, looking at the date of that post, and have never quite felt in the right mood for it.  But I figured this would cover any romance cravings I had.
  • George Mann’s “The Osiris Ritual” (steampunk fantasy/mystery): Added to my TBR piles at the same time as the Kearsley, and yes, again it was never quite the right time.  So I added this to my travelling pile to deliver a mystery fix if I wanted one.

And I was really rather pleased with my selections because I had pretty much all bases covered and three books I’ve been meaning to finish for a while.  Yes, I probably put more thought into this than the rest of my packing.

Well, best-laid plans and all that… guess how many of the above I read? Three-quarters of one.  Wait, I can explain!

The day before I left, I had one of my library requests come in – Richelle Mead’s “Succubus Shadows”, the latest in her Georgina Kincaid series.  Now, I’m trying to make more use of my local library.  And Mead is one of those authors whose books I do like, but not love.  So I thought it would be a good library candidate and added my name to the reservations list, not expecting it to come in so soon, but arrive it did and I collected it the morning before I left.

And guess what?  Obviously I started flipping through it on the way home from the library, obviously I decided that since I had started, I needed to finish it, and obviously it ended up being the one book I did finish on the trip.  So much for tackling my TBR pile.

The three-quarters book is “Sunshine”, and I am determined to get through the rest of it this weekend.  I am liking it, but – and maybe it’s because I’ve been reading it at spare intervals throughout the week – I’m not that deeply invested in the characters.  It is very good writing, like the other McKinley stories I’ve read, but I’m missing that magic spark that makes me flip pages frantically until I hit “The End”.

And I may be distracted by that “Mouse & Dragon”.