Links on a Drizzly Saturday

Despite the lack of sunshine, it’s definitely summer – or rather, that time of year when live tennis is on (free-to-air) TV.  Hence the sparseness of posts around here, which will likely continue for the next few weeks.

But it’s pouring drizzly and the tennis has stopped for the day, so a few links…

Rosie Claverton‘s post on notes she gets from her editor makes me smile – “what’s a chav” indeed.  One thing I really like about her Amy Lane mystery series is the sense of place I get from her writing, so it’s interesting to see some of the questions her (American) editor asks.

I thought this was an insightful post on female writers in fantasy by Tansy Rayner Roberts @ SF Signal.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt the lack of female fantasy authors myself – at least half, if not more, of the SFF books on my shelves are by female authors.  I sometimes wonder if that’s also because I read a lot of romance, which is so female-dominated.

Heartstrikers2-1000Not exactly breaking news, but it’s a pretty cover – Rachel Aaron‘s cover for her upcoming ONE GOOD DRAGON DESERVES ANOTHER.  I found the first book a whole load of fun, so this one’s definitely on my to-buy list.

Also, she posted her (or rather, her husband’s) number-crunching on reader retention rates across a series, which was interesting – not least because it backed up her viewpoint of “the first book sells the second, but the second sells the series”.

As a reader, I think that’s pretty accurate – the first book in a series needs to be strong in order to get me to pick up the second, but by the end of the second book, I’m either invested in the characters or not.  And if I am, then I really want to know what happens next.

Having said that, I do think my reading habits have changed over the years – it used to be really difficult for me to stop reading a series (the row of Laurell K Hamilton and Janet Evanovich books occupying prime bookshelf space being an excellent example of that).  Nowadays, I’m quite happy to abandon series halfway if the books aren’t living up to my expectations.  Any thoughts on this?

Books for June

June!  New books!  Need I say more.

Well, yes, actually, because I seem to have come out of my reading slump, and have been reading.  I hesitate to say that I’m reading a lot (pesky things like sleep and work are still getting in the way), but despite the fact it’s only the second week of June, I’ve finished reading quite a few new releases here.

22750124Martha WellsSTORIES OF THE RAKSURA VOLUME 2 (fantasy): This is Martha Wells’ second collection of novellas/short stories set in her Raksura world.  I loved this trilogy when I finally got around to reading these books last year (they were in my 2014 favourites) and I was delighted to hear that she was continuing to write more stories in the same universe.  This is one of the books I’ve raced through, and it may sound weird as they’re new-to-me stories, but they’re almost like comfort reads.  She delivers exactly what you’re expecting – there are no surprises, and I mean that in a good way.

Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically ignore genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Out now

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24397828Nalini Singh‘s SHARDS OF HOPE (paranormal romance): I was debating whether this book was a buy or borrow, right up to the last moment when I caved and bought the Kindle version.  And yes, I’ve read it.  I haven’t loved her more recent Psy-Changeling books (hence the internal debate), but I thought this was the best one since the Hawke/Sienna book (which was, gosh, published back in 2011 – time flies).  There was quite a bit of repetition and the story felt a bit padded out, I thought the level of violence was slightly OTT, but I liked Aden and Zaira’s story more than I thought I would.

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.

Rich, dark, sumptuous and evocative . . . bestselling author Nalini Singh is back with a stunning, dark and passionate new tale.

Out now

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25395582Sherwood Smith‘s LHIND THE SPY (YA fantasy): Sequel to her LHIND THE THIEF (which I’ve read – no idea why I haven’t reviewed it).  I’m reading this right now, and it’s actually taking some discipline to write this blog post as opposed to continuing with Lhind’s adventures.  Lots of fun so far.

In this sequel to Lhind the Thief, Lhind has gone from castoffs to silks, back alleys to palace halls—and is not having an easy time of it. That’s before she’s snatched by an angry prince she’d robbed twice, who is determined to turn her over to the enemy who frightens her most, the sinister Emperor Jardis Dhes-Andis.

When her own dear Hlanan comes to rescue her, it’s Lhind who has to do the rescuing, setting off a wild chase to fend off mercenaries and then to confront an entire army intent on invasion.

Lhind and Hlanan try to negotiate the perilous waters of a relationship while on the run—straight into a trap.

Just when Lhind is beginning to figure out where she might fit into the world, she finds herself alone again, surrounded by enemies, in one of the most dangerous courts in the world.

And she begins to find out who she really is.

Out now

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24684698KJ Charles‘ THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL (M/M historical romance): I’ll buy anything KJ Charles writes. ‘Nuff said.

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

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And then my maybes/library requests:

  • Erika Johansen‘s THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING (YA fantasy): Probably a library request.  I read the first book last year – thought it was a decent start, though over-hyped.
  • Garth Nix‘s TO HOLD THE BRIDGE (fantasy): A collection of his short stories.  I’ve read a few of his books (and liked), but have a few more unread on my Kindle – another one for the library.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER MOST HISTORICAL (mystery): Another collection of short stories.  I’ve liked her Captain Lacey historical mysteries (hey, I’ve read all nine of them), so I’ll get this at some point
  • Mary Balogh‘s ONLY A PROMISE (historical romance): I’ve requested this from the library.
  • Sophie Kinsella‘s FINDING AUDREY (YA): Ditto.  I’ve had good times reading her more recent releases, but I’m not entirely sure I want to splash out on a Kinsella hardcover, especially for her first(?) YA.

 

Random Links (and a Pretty Cover)

How in the world is it June already?  Though to be fair – I’m still wearing my winter(!) coat, so it doesn’t actually feel like summer right now.

Right, obligatory weather update done – here are a few links…

TanglewaysAndrea K Höst posted a new Julie Dillon cover – TANGLEWAYS (the sequel to her alternate-history fantasy THE PYRAMIDS OF LONDON) is out next year. Pretty.

Everyone’s heard about John Scalzi and his $3.4m 13-book 10-year deal, right?  I found this interview with him at the Washington Post a fairly comprehensive read (in addition to the posts on his own blog) – apart from the deal, he touches upon the outcome of the digital publishing experiment where he released one of his books as an e-serial last year.

One of the things that we saw is that it didn’t really have an effect on the sales of the hardcover that we could see. […] So what we actually found, we sold hundreds of thousands of individual copies of the episodes of “The Human Division.” And then when the book came out, the book sold exactly in line with previous “Old Man’s War” books. So we didn’t lose any readers. We didn’t cannibalize our readership in any significant way as far as we could see. So that was a really useful insight: There are distinct markets if you take the time to address them.

When the deal was announced, there was some talk about his backlist sales being consistently strong even if he’s never been been a #1 bestseller – i.e. when people discover his books, they tend to buy his entire backlist.  I’m more on the fence on this – while I’ve enjoyed reading his SF novels, I’ve never felt the need to read every single book he’s written.  I feel that way about several other authors – I read one of their books, wonder why I’ve not read more of their backlist, and then never actually bother to get any other books of theirs…

Spoilers for Sarah Rees Brennan‘s THE DEMON’S LEXICON (though it came out in 2009, so I’m assuming the statute of limitations on spoilers has expired? Right?) – she talks about Nick’s gender and sexuality at her Tumblr.  Interesting stuff.

And Rachel Aaron talks about her RT convention experience as a non-romance author.  Maybe I’m not reading the right blogs (or following the right people on Twitter!), but I didn’t really feel as much RT buzz as I have in previous years.  Which is kind of good, because I’d usually be dying of envy.  Any good RT recaps, anyone?