A Few Links

Juliet Marillier answers some FAQs on what’s in the pipeline, writing-wise.  I’m excited about her new series, Blackthorn & Grim:

The series is adult fantasy set in early medieval Ireland, and features a pair of older, more flawed protagonists who appear in every novel. There are both fairy tale and mystery elements.

Also, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that as much as I love her Sevenwaters books, I’ve not yet read her Bridei Chronicles or her Wildwood books.  Any thoughts on these books?

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I would love to work in a library (I’m madly jealous of you librarian bloggers out there), but I suspect my expectations don’t match reality at all.  I mean, I kind of imagine spending a lot of my day sitting hidden behind large stacks of books, just reading…  I know – one can dream, right?

So that’s why I found Kelly @ Stacked’s post on weeding out her library’s YA collection so fascinating.  Something I’ve never thought about at all!

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I forgot to link this earlier, but Tamora Pierce did an interview @ Goodreads when BATTLE MAGIC was released.  She’s one of my favourite YA authors (and an autobuy), so I’m always up for more Tamora Pierce.  I liked how she referenced Georgette Heyer when talking about secondary characters she likes:

I like characters with wit and self-awareness. One of my favorite writers for her broad cast of characters is Georgette Heyer: Ulysses, the scruffy dog, and Jemmy, the climbing boy of Arabella, are both favorites of mine for their spirit and commentary; Frederica’s younger brothers always catch the Marquis flat-footed in Frederica, and the smooth Sir Vincent in The Grand Sophy as well as Beau Brummell in Regency Buck always have dignified, sarcastic comments to make.

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YA Fantasy x 3

Three YA fantasy novels I read last year – one didn’t quite work for me, but the other two were just right.

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Liar's Moon (Thief Errant, #2)Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

By rights, I should have loved this book. It had all the elements that I love – it’s a YA fantasy with an independent heroine, there was a sprinkling of romance against a background of rebellion and danger, and finally, there was a murder mystery to be solved.

But in the end, the story just felt a bit too passive, and I never connected with the characters, while the romance never felt real. I was left wondering how the most-wanted people appeared to wander freely through the city without ever being caught. I’m not invested enough in Digger or her story to continue – even with the slightly cliff-hangerish ending.

This is the second book in the series.  I had some reservations after reading the first book STAR CROSSED (way back in 2010), but decided to give the series another chance – LIAR’S MOON didn’t really change my mind.  I wanted more.

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A Posse of PrincessesA Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith (YA fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a reread for me – after reading Thea’s review at The Book Smugglers, I was tempted into buying the revised e-version (with an extra chapter) and had no regrets.

This felt a bit like a high school story translated to a fantasy setting, with cliques, bullying, and secrets galore – however, Sherwood Smith pulls it off and I loved how Rhis and girl power came to the fore. And I really liked how the HEA in this book was a realistic one for a story where the main protagonists are teenagers. The high fantasy world will be familiar to long-time readers of Sherwood Smith’s fantasies, but at the same time, I think it works perfectly as a standalone.

I remember liking this well enough the first time I read it, though it wasn’t a standout at that time.  I’m not quite sure what changed – maybe I was just in the right mood for this kind of story, but I really loved it the second time around.   

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Stained Glass Monsters (Eferum, #1)Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K. Höst (YA fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been remiss about not posting about this earlier, bearing in mind how much I enjoyed the book. In a way, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS reminded me of Sharon Shinn’s Summers at Castle Auburn, which happens to be one of my favourite YA fantasy books.

I loved the story in this one – it had a really imaginative plot and is something quite different to other fantasy stories out there. I liked how the author trusted you to get the world, instead of spelling out every single detail. The dual POV worked well for me – both Kendall and Rennyn were strong females at very different stages in their lives, and that contrast in perspectives gave two different views into the story. And while I did not necessarily like every single character, I could empathise with each one.

I read this straight after Andrea K Höst’s The Touchstone Trilogy, and although I did see certain similarities in descriptions and characterisation, I do like how she gives us a very different story each time.

All in all, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS is one book I would re-read, and while it worked really well as a standalone story, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more stories set in this world.

I admit that I’m not entirely sure this is YA fantasy – I think it straddles the border between YA and adult.  I certainly would have loved reading it as a teenager.  I read this during my Höst glom last year.  Good times.

Random Linkage

Or non-timely linkage?  Things that have caught my eye over the past month or so…

Books for October

So many October new releases… seriously.

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12528745Karen Chance‘s TEMPT THE STARS (urban fantasy): A new Cassie Palmer!  It’s only been, oh, two years or so since the last one, although we did get a Dory book to tide us over.  I may need a bit of a refresher as to what’s been happening, but a new installment in one of my favourite UF series always makes me happy.

Being a goddess is a lot less fun than you might think. Especially when you’re only a half goddess, and you only found out about it recently, and you still don’t know what you’re doing half the time. And when you’ve just used your not-so-reliable powers to burglarize the booby-trapped office of a vampire mob boss.

Yeah, that part sucks.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Cassandra Palmer, aka the Pythia, the freshly minted chief seer of the supernatural world. After all, Cassie still has to save a friend from a fate worse than death, deal with an increasingly possessive master vampire, and prevent a party of her own acolytes from unleashing a storm of fury upon the world. Totally just your average day at the office, right?

Out Oct 1

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17340100Jacqueline Carey‘s AUTUMN BONES (urban fantasy): I’m a fan of Jacqueline Carey’s writing and enjoyed the first in this series (though I now take back what I said about Norse mythology being uncommon!).  Fingers crossed that the love triangle thing is not played up in this book.

Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel.

Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one.

He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything

Out Oct 1

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16102412Diana Peterfreund‘s ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA (YA fantasy): The companion book, FOR DARKNESS SHOWED THE STARS, was one of my standout reads of 2012, so I’m looking forward to revisiting Elliot’s world and reading Diana Peterfreund’s re-interpretation of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.  Speaking of which, I’ve never read it, though I’m pretty sure I downloaded a (public domain – free!) copy a while back – hmmm… to read or not to read?

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

Out Oct 15

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18141373Allison Parr‘s RUNNING BACK (NA): Remember when I had a bit of a fangirl-y moment earlier this year about Allison Parr’s debut RUSH ME? Yes, me too.  Companion book alert, and this sounds promising.

Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O’Connor, popular NFL running back.

On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she’s not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…

Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.

Out Oct 21

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17900241Kelly Hunter‘s WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW (contemporary romance): Okay, sneaking this in as this is technically a November release – but Harlequin will release the ebook version on its site on 1 Oct.

Shh…it’s a secret!

Special ops expert Trig Sinclair is a man’s man, and that means he knows the cardinal rule of the bro code—no matter how dynamite Lena West is, as his best friend’s younger sister, she’s strictly off-limits!

But when a secret mission to Istanbul sees Lena and Trig pretending to be married (and sharing a bed!), he finds himself in a whole new world of sweet torture. But if Trig thinks playing the honor-bound hero is tough, it’s got nothing on how Lena feels when she discovers what her “groom” is really hiding…

Out Nov 1 (but Oct 1 on the Harlequin site)

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And that’s not all – other books I’m eyeing:

  • Julia Quinn‘s THE SUM OF ALL KISSES (historical romance): I still have the second Smythe-Smith book in my TBR pile, but Quinn is a safe bet for when I’m in the mood for a fun and witty romance, so I’ll probably end up getting this third book sooner rather than later
  • Diane Stanley‘s THE CUP AND THE CROWN (YA fantasy): The first book, THE SILVER BOWL, was one of those books that left me smiling, but I’ve actually been practising my self-restraint for a change and waiting for the second book to be released in paperback.  Which it will be on Oct 1.
  • Mary Kay AndrewsCHRISTMAS BLISS (contemporary romance): Is October too early for a Christmas story?  I may save this for a December read…
  • AD Robertson‘s CAPTIVE (romance): I received a review copy, so you’ll be reading more about this soon, but this is YA author Andrea Cremer writing under a different name – same world as her YA books, but with the “steamier” bits included apparently.  Is this a trend?