Links, Anyone?

Yes, I’m slightly distracted by the French Open.  And will be for the next week or so.  Fortunately, I’ve a whole collection of links I’ve neglected to post over the past few weeks.

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15793208I’ve not entirely made my mind up over Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Glamourist History series – I admire how she’s managed to blend fantasy with the Regency setting pretty much seamlessly, but the characters left me slightly lukewarm in the first book.  However, I recently borrowed the third from my library on a whim (okay, it was the pretty cover) and ended up enjoying it more than I expected – so maybe I’ll get her most recent release?  My not-very-helpful ramblings on her books aside, she’s one of those authors with an online presence that impresses, and I really liked her blog series on debut author lessons (link to the one on covers).  Lots of interesting stuff there.

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It’s no secret that I’m a Sarah Rees Brennan fan, and I love the free online serial she’s been posting at semi-random intervals.  Even though I’m not a serial kind of person.  She totally tricked me into loving this one. Anyway,  two new installments of TURN OF THE STORY recently(-ish) popped up – Elliot is such a character.  I hope she releases a full-length book when she finishes the serial – I would definitely buy.

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589979Author Tansy Rayner Roberts is doing a re-read of Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts‘ Empire trilogy at tor.com.  THIS BRINGS BACK SUCH MEMORIES.  Sorry, but that totally deserved capitals.  I remember diving into Feist’s Magician books during my teenage years, and then I discovered this trilogy he co-authored with Janny Wurts – and I must have just lived and breathed those books for umm… however long it took me to read them.  I haven’t re-read them for YEARS, and I’m kind of nervous as to whether the story holds up to the test of time, but just reading the first couple of posts makes me want to join in the re-read…

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Interview with Tamora Pierce @ The Speculative Craft – there’s a great bit where she talks about how the publishing industry has changed since the early 1980s and how it’s affected her approach to writing.  Plus her biggest writing regret:

[…] I regret that I didn’t have more space with the Alanna and Daine books to develop the characters, I concentrated more on the plots. I don’t feel like I do plots well and I would have liked to have expanded on the characters more in those books, but in those days they were holding us to a 200 manuscript page per book limit, very strictly, so it’s not like I had the chance then and could have done it.

You know what?  I’d love to see what she would have done with the Alanna books had she not had a page limit.

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And to close off because it’s turned out to be a bit of a nostalgic collection of links: It’s 20 years since Julia Quinn‘s first historical romance was accepted by Avon – loved this letter she posted.  This is like a piece of romance history.  I totally fell for her Bridgerton books – admittedly, I haven’t been as enamoured of her more recent Smythe-Smith books, but they’re still good frothy fun.

 

Recent Reading + Links

œF$¿Æ‘$8Òò¤»däå¸R8BII can admit when I’m wrong and this is one of those times.

Some time back, Rachel Bach‘s new SF trilogy started making the rounds with some rather positive buzz.  Me… well, I kind of sniffed and said I read her debut fantasy novel (as Rachel Aaron) and wasn’t massively impressed.

But Nathan, and Jan, and Hils kept on talking up this series, and when I spotted the first book in my library, I caved and picked FORTUNE’S PAWN off the shelf.  And this is really me surfacing briefly from the third book to say that umm… everyone else was right, and this is a brilliant fast-paced space opera (with a fairly solid romance subplot – that can make or break the deal for me) and a protagonist that just grabbed me from the first chapter.  Lots of fun and if you’re in the mood for a SF, this would fit the bill quite nicely.

There is a silver lining to every cloud – the whole trilogy is now out, so I’ve been able to dive straight into the next book as soon as I’ve finished one.  I love my Kindle.

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Elsewhere, Meljean Brook‘s serial, THE KRAKEN KING, is being released – I’m determinedly avoiding all the (positive) reviews as I’m holding out for the full novel.  Mainly because I don’t think I’m a serial girl at heart (I rambled on a bit about my experience with reading John Scalzi‘s THE HUMAN DIVISION serial a while back), but I’ve been liking her various posts, especially this one about what actually constitutes a cliffhanger.  There was some discussion about narrative turning points – I said I thought they were cliffhangers, which I detest (as you may be aware!).

So interestingly (to me) and coincidentally, the first of the Rachel Bach trilogy ended with one of those turning points – and that didn’t annoy me that much.  I’m thinking that it was because I had the second book bought and downloaded onto my Kindle, so I didn’t have to wait to find out the outcome, plus regardless of that event *trying to be vague here*, I’d want to know what happens next.

FWIW, I didn’t care for the twist, but then I don’t really care for that kind of twist in general *trying to be even vaguer*.

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And two final links with less commentary:

I really liked this post by Liz de Jager @ tor.com on how she (and her agent) sold her debut novel (the book itself also sounds very interesting and I’m looking forward to its release).

Totally non-newsy, but I came across Kristin Cashore‘s cover gallery, with all her international covers – I’ve always loved the more commonly-seen US and UK covers, but enjoyed looking at the very different interpretations across the board.  Especially the Japanese cover for GRACELING (about one-fifth of the way down) and the German ones.

Books for May

Quite a few May new releases on my radar this month (though having read through my list, it sounds like I’m not 100% sold on any of them – I am, really!):

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17666976Seanan McGuire‘s SPARROW HILL ROAD (fantasy):  I’m approaching this with slight caution, as her non-October Daye books have been a bit hit or miss for me, and I’m not a fan of ghost stories in general, but still, it is Seanan McGuire.  I’m expecting impressive world-building and a page-turning kind of story.

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Out now

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17936925Tammara Webber‘s BREAKABLE (NA romance): I’ve been on the fence about this retelling of EASY from Lucas’s POV – while I liked EASY well enough, I don’t really get different POV retellings (which appears to be a bit of a trend in the NA world – or am I generalising?).  But Tammara Webber is on that list of authors I stalk (not literally, and definitely not in a creepy way, I hasten to add) and I’m pretty sure Jane @ Dear Author tweeted this was a good one, so it’s on my Kindle.

He was lost and alone. Then he found her.
And the future seemed more fragile than ever.

As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.

All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…

As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

Out now

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20309995Joanna ChambersENLIGHTENED (historical m/m romance): This is the last of the trilogy – the previous books have ended with HFNs, so a HEA is well overdue… I usually struggle with historical realities when it comes to m/m romance, but I’ve felt that Joanna Chambers has got just the right balance between portraying social constraints of the times and giving the reader a believable romance.  Plus previous books have been set in Edinburgh, a bit of a change to the more usual London.

Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.

Out now

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20738173Josh Lanyon‘s STRANGER ON THE SHORE (m/m romance/mystery): Josh Lanyon is an autobuy for me, especially with his more  recent infrequent release schedule, so I’ve already bought AND read this.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me – the romance certainly did, especially when the h/h were on-page together, but that didn’t really happen until later in the book.  The mystery… started off strong and fizzled out towards the end, plus there were elements that felt out of place.  Still a decent read, but probably not a one I’ll recommend for someone new to Lanyon.

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

Out now

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19486421Jim Butcher‘s SKIN GAME (UF): It’s hard to believe this is the 15th Dresden Files book, and the series is still going strong.  I’ve to say the major twist Jim Butcher introduced a few books back has made this series feel fresh again, so it’ll be interesting to see how Harry’s getting on in this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…

Out May 27

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16156357Richelle Mead‘s THE IMMORTAL CROWN (fantasy?): It’s fair to say I was very surprised to see the cover of this one – it’s quite a departure to the cover of the first book, and I’m wondering if the redesign is to attract more of Richelle Mead’s core YA UF audience.  Speculation aside, I reviewed the first Age of X book when it came out last year, and while it took me a while to get into the story, I was impressed by the ambitious world-building – it’ll be interesting to see how she develops it in this book.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Out May 29

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Possibles: