My Auto-buy Authors: The 2012 Romance Edition

Auto-buy Authors definition: You don’t have to know anything about their latest book, you just buy.  As soon as the release hits the shelves.

My auto-buy authors have changed a lot over the years, partly as my genre preferences have changed, but also because the internet has opened my eyes to numerous new-to-me authors out there.  You can probably guess at my list from either my monthly new releases posts (they’re always on there!) or my sidebar with authors I’ve blogged about, but I thought it would be interesting to pull both past and present together in a single post.  And then I decided to break it down by genre, else it would be a bit of an epic post.

So first up, romance.

Historical romance

There was a time when historicals made up the majority of my reading, now it is very rare that I run out to buy one on the day of release.  So the authors I still buy: Eloisa James (true fangirl here), Jo Beverley (primarily for her Georgian settings), Julia Quinn, possibly Lisa Kleypas (if she ever returns to historicals).

Old favourites who I’ve stopped buying: Amanda Quick, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood , Mary Jo Putney, Stephanie Laurens. Their recent releases (recent being relative here) feel as though they’ve lost the magic that their early books had.

Authors who have sadly passed away: Georgette Heyer – I’ve all her books, both romances and mysteries; Elizabeth Mansfield – I’ve a lot of her books and her backlist is being released in e-format (yay!); Eva Ibbotson, though I don’t think of her as “traditional” historical romance

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Contemporary romance

It’s not a genre that I read a lot, but if you include category romances in this subgenre, Kelly Hunter was my 2011 discovery.  And I used to read Lynne Graham as my guilty pleasure, but either my tastes have changed or her writing has.   Oh, Suzanne Brockmann – though does it count as an auto-buy if you only like certain series?  Her new paranormal/suspense series is not working for me.

I used to love Jayne Ann Krentz and Linda Howard.  Past tense being the operative word – I liked JAK’s straight contemps, but her recent releases with paranormal themes just leave me cold.  And it’s been years since I’ve loved a new Howard.  Who else?  I follow Erin McCarthy’s stockcar racing series, but don’t read all her books, so I wouldn’t really count her as an autobuy author.

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M/M romance

Josh Lanyon.  I’ve only started reading m/m romance in the past few years, but he is one of my all-time favourite authors regardless of genre.  Other auto-buy authors?  KA Mitchell. Harper Fox. Jordan Castillo Price.

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Paranormal romance

Ummm… it’s a lot more series-specific here.  Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changeling books. Meljean Brook‘s Iron Seas series – I abandoned her Guardians series a couple of books in (okay, one and a half books in) and have yet to go back.  Though seeing I’ve really liked her steampunk romance book, I should give it another go.  Ilona Andrews for their Edge series (I classify the Kate Daniels books as UF).

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Fantasy romance

Drawing a blank here.  I think I lean more towards romantic fantasy, which I’ll save for the fantasy post (which I suspect will be longer).  There is Elizabeth Vaughan, but I wouldn’t call her an auto-buy author.

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YA romance

I’ve loved both of Stephanie Perkins‘ books, so I’m guessing she probably counts as an auto-buy now.  I enjoy Sarah Dessen’s books though they do come across as a bit same-y after a while, and the one Jennifer Echols book I’ve read, but I don’t think that qualifies them as auto-buys for me.  This is probably the subgenre I read least.

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I think that’s it for romance – how do your auto-buys compare to mine?

Around the Web

So many links, so little time… 

Here’s what caught my attention around the internets lately:

And that’s it for now!

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…

A Few of My Favourite… YA Books

smuggler_YA_final2 I’ve been horribly remiss at not mentioning The Book Smugglers’ YA Appreciation Month previously, but hey, I’m guessing you all know about it already (and if not, there is still a week to go!).

Anyway, today, they have invited all and sundry to join the party – if you’ve a YA-related post, just go over to their site and add your link.

I don’t really blog a lot about YA (you could argue I don’t blog a lot, full stop), but YA makes up a good proportion of my reading diet. 

So in honour of YA Appreciation Month, here are a few YA books / series that have been on my mind recently:

 

The “why did I take so long to read this” YA series: Megan Whalen Turner’s Thief books

51OpuIGbojL._SL160_51MplFBNkVL._SL160_Megan Whalen Turner (warning: reviews on her website have spoilers for the previous books) has created an incredible series.  I think fans of The Thief may be hitting critical mass – certainly I have noticed more and more mentions of these books in the blogosphere recently.  Ana did a fantastic spoiler-free review of the series and pretty much echoed my thoughts.

51jFfciA rL._SL160_I always read the copyright page before plunging into the book (I’m surely not the only one out there), and “The King of Attolia” had these as library keywords:

1. Kings, queens, rulers, etc–Fiction  2. Soldiers–Fiction  3. Loyalty–Fiction  4. Robbers and outlaws–Fiction  5. Adventures and adventurers–Fiction

How could you not be excited about a book with those keywords?

This is very definitely a standout series, YA or otherwise (and expect a separate post coming up!).

 

51R4585BFDL._SL160_ Next up, the “YA book that needs more love” book: Sharon Shinn’s “Summers at Castle Auburn”

Coriel, the illegitimate daughter of a high-ranking aristocrat, spends most of her life learning herbal medicine from her grandmother, but she spends her summers with her half-sister, Elisandra, at the royal castle where Prince Bryan resides. Corie has always been secretly in love with Bryan, but she is slowly realizing that he is a spoiled, selfish, dangerous man—and that Elisandra dreads her upcoming marriage to the prince. Corie hopes that the prince’s cousin Kent will save Elisandra, while she wonders if the taciturn guard Roderick might play a bigger part in her own life.

I adore Sharon Shinn’s writing.  No matter what she writes.  And she has a trick of closing her books with the most magical lines ever.  Her Samaria and Twelve Houses series get quite a few mentions (and they sit on my keepers shelf), but I don’t hear a lot about this standalone YA of hers.

“Summers at Castle Auburn” is one of my favourite Shinns, a perfect coming-of-age story.  It is very much a comfort read for me, and it never fails to satisfy.  Here’s a review from Jennie – seeing that she read it on my rec, I’m really glad she enjoyed it!

 

51PGQSREPAL._SL160_ And finally, the “I’ll never outgrow this YA series” books: Tamora Pierce’s “Song of the Lioness” quartet

Call it fate, call it intuition, or just call it common sense, but somehow young Alanna knows she isn’t meant to become some proper lady cloistered in a convent. Instead, she wants to be a great warrior maiden–a female knight. But in the land of Tortall, women aren’t allowed to train as warriors. So Alanna finds a way to switch places with her twin, Thom, and take his place as a knight in training at the palace of King Roald. Disguising herself as a boy, Alanna begins her training as a page in the royal court. Soon, she is garnering the admiration of all around her, including the crown prince, with her strong work ethic and her thirst for knowledge. But all the while, she is haunted by the recurring vision of a black stone city that emanates evil… somehow she knows it is her fate to purge that place of its wickedness. But how will she find it? And can she fulfill her destiny while keeping her gender a secret?

Tamora Pierce has written many books since her first Alanna series, but the Alanna books are the ones I always end up re-reading (and there are some scenes that always end up with me sniffling, even though I know exactly what is going to happen).

Angie included Alanna in her recent post on “Stubborn Girls (and Why I Love Them)” and I have to agree whole-heartedly.

 

Interestingly, all these three are straight fantasy – something that I wasn’t actively thinking about when I was thinking about the YA books I wanted to highlight.  All three are also pretty much coming-of-age stories, which is much less of a rarity in the YA genre.

I could have chosen many other YA books – LM Montgomery’s Emily trilogy is amongst my all-time favourites, I was addicted to LJ Smith’s books, including her “Secret Circle” and “Dark Visions” trilogies, I buy Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books as soon as they hit the shelf, and I’m on a mission to complete my Eva Ibbotson collection… however, I think I’ll stop here and head off to check out everyone else’s YA posts

I Have Just Ordered…

51veKT4RdvL._SL160_ 51wsbUOfImL._SL160_ Eva Ibbotson’s “Magic Flutes”, which is being re-released on 1 May.  I couldn’t quite decide between the UK (left) and US (right) cover, but finally went for the UK one since I have the UK edition of “The Secret Countess”  as well.

And as for the different titles – I’ve been perusing the back cover blurbs online, and I can guess why “The Reluctant Heiress” is fitting, but “Magic Flutes”?  Is it an allusion to the opera?

I’m excited about this one – and hoping that it will get me out of my slight reading (and blogging) slump. 

Oh, and for the curious, here is the blurb:

Spring, 1922 Tessa is a beautiful, tiny, dark-eyed princess – who’s given up her duties to follow her heart, working for nothing backstage at the Viennese opera.  No one there knows who she really is, or that a fairytale castle is missing its princess, and Tessa is determined to keep it that way.  But secret lives can be complicated.  When a wealthy, handsome Englishman discovers this bewitching urchin backstage, Tessa’s two lives collide – and in escaping her inheritance, she finds her destiny…

9780330444989 And staying sort of on-topic:

I adore the the covers that UK Picador have created for the Ibbotson books, and aha – I knew I had posted about them previously

I’ve spotted a new “A Song for Summer” cover (left), which is much prettier and more striking than the one in my original post.  It really stands out on the shelves (and I’ve been thrilled to see copies faced out in the Recommended Reads shelves recently).

The Second Quarter of 2008

In my January-March wrap up, I forgot to mention the major book-related event in January – I got my Sony Reader.  And Catherine Asaro’s “The Ruby Dice” was the first ebook I read on it.  It’s funny how that sticks in my mind.  I think the first 50 or so pages, my main thoughts were “Wow, I can actually read books on this thing” and “I hope I don’t break it”.  And then it became a non-issue and I forgot I was reading an ebook.  So yes, love love love my Sony Reader.

Anyway, continuing my rambling review of 2008…

 

April

Karen Chance’s “Embrace the Night” (UF) was one of my Top Five releases of 2008, with the other standout read being Eva Ibbotson’s “A Company of Swans” (YA romance, or at least it’s shelved in the YA section).  I’ve adored all the Ibbotson novels I’ve read to date, and this was no exception.  Lyrical writing, beautiful settings and characters she makes you care about. 

I also read the fifth book in Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss series “Night Train to Memphis” (mystery).  Ahh… John Smythe.  While I still love Amelia Peabody more, I totally understood why Vicky fans were jumping with joy at the prospect of a new VB book coming out later in the year.

Three other books I really liked were Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Passages” (fantasy, Book 3 of the Sharing Knife series), Barbara Michaels’ “Patriot’s Dream” (mystery), and Ann Aguirre’s “Grimspace” (SF romance).  The Barbara Michaels was unusual because it had two linked stories set in different timelines, one during the American Revolution and the other in contemporary times – while I loved the history focus, I didn’t think they intertwined with each other very well.

 

May

Two author gloms during this month, the first being Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series, which I’ve already mentioned ad nauseum.  So I will restrain myself here.  Though does it qualify as a official glom if there were only two books in the author’s backlist at the time of said glom?

The second author was Mary Stewart (romantic suspense) and this definitely qualifies as a proper glom with me reading six Stewarts in May alone.  I finally decided to find out why so many bloggers love her novels, and gosh, I fell hard.  “Nine Coaches Waiting” became my favourite Stewart, until displaced by “The Ivy Tree” a month later.  I’m so fickle.

Anyway, between these two authors, I didn’t read much else during May – oh, I really liked Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Burns” (UF, Book 2 in the Kate Daniels series).  Which quite surprised me (in a good way!), because I hadn’t loved the first book in this series.  But I enjoyed MB, and can’t wait for the third.  I’m glad I like these books because – and this is going to sound really shallow – I like the covers for this series.  Heh.

 

June

And in June, I read a lot.  20 books in total – I’m not sure where I found the time actually.  Especially seeing Wimbledon was on at the same time.  Oh yeah, I remember now, it was a rather quiet time at work.  How things change.

I continued reading Mary Stewart’s backlist, five books this month including the aforementioned “The Ivy Tree”.  So good.  Even though I cheated and skipped ahead to the ending.  I know.  Curiosity killed the cat and all that.

Other standouts: Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Mercy” (fantasy, Book 3 in the Imriel trilogy), a perfect ending to Imriel’s story.  I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but all I have to do it to read the opening lines of her books, and the way she writes, the cadence of her sentences, they instantly draw me into her world.  And I discovered Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English books (mystery / m/m romance) – he’s one of the best new-to-me writers I came across this year.  I love his writing and he has me totally invested in Adrien and Jake’s relationship.

 

So in the first half of the year, I read 83 books altogether.  It doesn’t feel like it, but I appear to have had more A reads during the first half of the year compared to the second.  I think November and December were good reading months for me, and the more recent reads are sticking in my mind.

Around the Web

The Times today had a review of Eva Ibbotson‘s new YA (children’s?) book “The Dragonfly Pool”.  I wasn’t that interested, but I am now after reading the review.  Here’s the back cover blurb:

Tally Hamilton is furious to hear she is being sent from London to a horrid, stuffy boarding school in the countryside. And all because of the stupid war. But Delderton Hall is a far more unusual and interesting place than Tally ever imagined, and she soon falls in love with its eccentric staff and pupils. Now she’s even organizing an exciting school trip to the kingdom of Bergania …although Tally never expected to meet the prince. Prince Karil hates his life at the palace and he is only truly happy when he escapes to the dragonfly pool, a remote spot in the forests of Bergania. Then Karil meets a feisty English girl who brings the promise of adventure. But his country is under threat, and the prince soon looks to his new friend Tally for survival as well as friendship…

If you’re a Paddington Bear fan, the Times also had an interview with the author, Michael Bond, with an extract from the new book.  I was never that into Paddington (think I only read the first one way back when) but it’s a amusing extract.

Moving on, here’s an interview with Lois McMaster Bujold at the Star Tribune newspaper website – it’s interesting reading.  She also provides a summary of the universes for her different books.

Finally, if you loved Eloisa James‘ “An Affair Before Christmas” (which I did), here’s a bonus chapter on her website (you have to register to read, but it’s free and quick).  I’m loving her Desperate Duchesses series and can’t wait for “Duchess by Night” to come out.

Recent Reads

I’ve been rather quiet here lately, but that’s because I’ve been reading lots, so it’s all good!

I finished Lois McMaster Bujold‘s “Passages” almost in one go (note to self: do not start reading LMB’s books at 11pm at night).  I really liked this one.  I think part of the charm is that it is just so readable – it’s effortless reading. 

In a way, it’s different from the previous two because it’s not as romance-focused.  The first book in this series, “Beguilement”, was more about Fawn and Dag falling in love in the farmer world, while the second one, “Legacy”, focused on acceptance of their relationship by the Lakewalker community.  In “Passages”, it’s not that there’s less time spent with Dag and Fawn – it’s more that there’s less focus on their relationship as a couple.  They still take centre-stage, but I think that there’s more time spent with their relationships with everyone else in the story.  Also, it’s a more light-hearted humorous story compared with “Legacy” – there were a couple of scenes that made me laugh out loud!  All in all, an excellent read – a very very strong B+ for me, it definitely lived up to my expectations.

Speaking of books I’ve enjoyed lately, another one I really liked was Eva Ibbotson‘s “A Company of Swans”.  When I started the book, I wasn’t sold on the Amazonian setting – not quite sure why, I suppose it’s just not as appealing to me as, say, her Eastern European stories.  But as I read on, I just was completely drawn into the story.  If you look at the plot objectively, it is a standard romance one – girl runs away from home, meets rich man, falls in love, has misunderstanding, resolves misunderstanding and gets back together.  But Ms Ibbotson has a very special gift – she makes what could be a very ordinary story in the hands of another author a completely magical story.  You fall in love with the characters and root for them to get back together.  You smile, laugh, and sniffle your way through the book.  An A for me.

 

Finally…

I had to upgrade both the Java and Shockwave versions on my laptop, but I can now post pictures!  It’s the little things…

Okay, here’s why I wanted to post pictures – I came across the Eva Ibbotson covers for the US and UK markets. 

The UK ones:

       

The US ones:

     

I’ve the UK editions for all except “A Company of Swans” – I loved the US tutu cover, but now I’m thinking the UK one is prettier.  And compared to the US “A Song for Summer” cover, the UK one is just plain bland.  On the whole though, I think these are all fantastic covers.

And speaking of covers, Urban Fantasy Land has the cover art for the next Patricia Briggs Mercy novel “Bone Crossed” (Jan 2009).  I can see it standing out on the shelves. 

The Year in Review – Part 3

My favourite books of 2007 – roughly in reading order:

** Patricia Briggs‘ “Blood Bound” (urban fantasy) – The second book in her Mercy series didn’t disappoint.  I’ve just finished the third (“Iron Kissed”) and can safely say this is one of my all-time favourite series.  It stands out from the hundred and one werewolf urban fantasy series out there.

** Elizabeth Peters‘ “The Falcon at the Portal” and “He Shall Thunder in the Sky” (mystery) – I loved the entire Amelia Peabody series, but these two books are my favourite because of the romance.  Rambling series review here.

** Kelley Armstrong‘s “No Humans Involved” (urban fantasy) – I love all her books and the seventh book in her Otherworld series is no exception.  Review here.  Her Nadia Armstrong book, “Exit Strategy”, nearly made it onto this list as well…

** Jacqueline Winspear‘s “Maisie Dobbs” (mystery) – Set in 1930s London, this is the first book in her Maisie Dobbs historical mystery series.  I love the post-WWI setting and all the period detail – Ms Winspear really brings the era to life.  Series review here.

** Jacqueline Carey‘s “Kushiel’s Justice” (dark fantasy) – This is the second book in her Imriel trilogy, but definitely doesn’t suffer from the “middle-child” syndrome.  I posted some thoughts about it here, but appear to have spent more space ranting about the spoiler on the copyright page than actually talking about the book.

** JK Rowling‘s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” (YA fantasy) – Well, this just had to be on my list!  I thought it wrapped up the series perfectly.

** Suzanne Brockmann‘s “Force of Nature” and “All Through the Night” (romantic suspense) – I’m a big Jules fan, and I’m glad he finally got his HEA.  Apart from that, I thought FoN was classic Brockmann, with a great ending.  Review of ATTN here.

** Eva Ibbotson‘s “The Secret Countess” and “The Morning Gift” (YA romance) – Jennie’s review inspired me to buy the former, and I’m so glad I did.  It’s the perfect feel-good story.  Review of “The Secret Countess” here.  “The Morning Gift” is just as good – I don’t think I could pick the one I like better (some initial thoughts on it here).

** Diana Gabaldon‘s “Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade” (historical mystery) – She’s one of my favourite authors, and Lord John’s one of her most fascinating characters.  I don’t think think anyone else out there writes the way she does.

** Nalini Singh‘s “Caressed by Ice” (paranormal romance) – Third in her Psy-Changeling series, this was the one that wowed me.  I don’t think I reviewed it (lazy me!), but I loved the romance and the world-building.

** Lisa Kleypas‘ “Mine Till Midnight” (historical romance) – Ms Kleypas is a relatively new-to-me author, but now one of my auto-buys.  I liked how Cam wasn’t a typical hero and loved his story.

** Sharon Shinn‘s “Reader and Raelynx” (fantasy) – Fourth in her Twelve Houses series.  I think I would read anything Ms Shinn writes.  Fangirl gush aside – I thought this wrapped up her Twelve Houses series very well… but I’m still hoping for one more.   

** Eloisa James‘ “An Affair Before Christmas” (historical romance) – I loved this one.  I haven’t yet done a review (am waaaaay behind), but I thought it was better than the first book (“Desperate Duchess”) in this series.  Loved the Georgian setting, her writing, the cast of characters… everything about this book really!

Previous posts:

  • Part 1 – Quick look at the first third of the year
  • Part 2 – I ramble on about reading stats for the year