Books for February

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you’re not really into the book you’re reading* but also too lazy to reach out and pick another book?  I’m hoping one of these new releases will get me out of this almost-but-not-quite reading slump (with the exception of the first, because I read that last month).

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15802940Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s NECESSITY’S CHILD (SF): It’s the 16th in the Liaden Universe series, but the authors have made a point of branding this as a “portal” book into the series.  I finished this back in January when Baen released the e-version, and while I agree it is a pretty standalone book, I don’t know if the story would have been compelling enough for me to search out the previous books in this series if I hadn’t read any of the Liaden books before.

Bonus link: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller did a Big Idea guest post about NECESSITY’S CHILD at John Scalzi’s blog, where they talk a bit more about the ideas and inspirations behind the story.

Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and clan intrigue – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers.

The kompani sees none as an enemy, and yet few as friend. The kompani exists in many places, living quietly in the shadows, thriving off the bounty that others have no wit to secure, nor skill to defend. Their private history is unwritten; their recall rooted in dance and dream.

The humans of Clan Korval is in many ways the opposite of the kompani. The interstellar trading clan is wealthy in enemies, fortunate in friends.  Korval protects itself with vigor, and teaches even its youngest children the art of war.

And when representatives of Clan Korval arrive on the planet Surebleak where the kompani has lived secret and aloof, it seems to the kompani that they are borne by the very winds of change.  Change can be a boon for in change lies opportunity.

But the arrival of Clan Korval, establishing itself upon Surebleak with its friends, its enemies, and, most of all, its plans may bring catastrophe, changing the culture and the kompani, forever.

In this time of change, the lives of three people intersect — Kezzi, apprentice to the kompani‘s grandmother; Syl Vor, Clan Korval’s youngest warrior; and Rys, a man without a world, or a past.

Out now (excerpt)

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13758481THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, edited by John Joseph Adams (SF/F): Even the title sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Plus some of my auto-buy authors are on the list of contributors (Seanan McGuire, Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novik).  I’m definitely checking this one out.

From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.

An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.

Out Feb 13 (book site with excerpts and interviews)

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15744557Jennifer Echols‘ STAR CROSSED (contemporary romance): Nath and Ames @ Breezing Through brought this to my attention when they posted their list of February new releases.  I’ve only read one Echols (I know, hides), but GOING TOO FAR most definitely left an impression.  And STAR CROSSED sounds like plain fun.

The first novel in the sizzling new Stargazer series about a public relations firm, the stars they represent, and everything they’d rather keep private.

He said . . . She said.

Publicist Wendy Mann has always competed hotly with her rival Daniel Blackstone, but this time they’re headed for a collision. Wendy’s job is on the line if she doesn’t save the image of a spoiled young starlet who’s posting provocative pictures of herself all over the Internet in a snarky attempt at revenge on her former boyfriend. Daniel is representing the ex, a onetime teen heartthrob who never grew up. With the feuding Hollywood pair scheduled to appear on the same Las Vegas awards show, Daniel and Wendy are determined to do whatever it takes to defend their own clients.

Unfortunately, the chemistry between Wendy and Daniel is even more explosive than that of their Hollywood stars. L-O-V-E was always a four-letter word for these two ultra-competitors; they never counted on the scorching heat that erupts between them. But Wendy’s high-gloss exterior hides a dark past—one that’s lurking behind the bright Vegas lights. Their careers are on the line, and so is Wendy’s life…

Out February 26

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13456081Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING (fantasy): I fangirl massively about all of AKH’s books, so I’m obviously thrilled we get a new one so soon after AND ALL THE STARS.  And I love what the author says about HUNTING:

“Hunting” was written in response to my extreme frustration with Georgette Heyer‘s Regency Buck. Much as I love Heyer’s books, on occasion she takes a promising young lady, and just…foils her at every turn. My need for a heroine capable of getting herself out of her own scrapes produced Ash Lenthard, who does not so much kick ass, as tap-dance across the heads of her enemies…

There’s a Goodreads giveaway happening at the moment, if you’re interested (although – *blinks* – with more than 7600 people entered, I’m not quite sure that it’s worth entering).

Ash Lenthard doesn’t call herself a vigilante. She’s merely prone to random acts of derring-do, and occasional exhibitions of tomfoolery. Her friends, the Huntsmen, have never stepped over the line while patrolling the streets of Luinhall.

That was before the murder of Ash’s beloved guardian, Genevieve.

Now, Ash Lenthard is out for blood and even when the hunt sends her to the palace, on a collision course with a past identity she would do anything to forget, Ash cannot, will not, back down.

Out February 28 (excerpt)

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*In case you were wondering, it’s LM Montgomery’s PAT OF SILVER BUSH.  I normally love LM Montgomery’s novels (and her Emily trilogy is up there on my list of all-time favourites), but I’m not really caring for Pat and her all-encompassing love for Silver Bush, and also struggling a bit with the way Judy’s thick accent is conveyed on the page.  Has anyone else read PAT and is it worth finishing?

2010: Recap of My Reading Year Part 1

I’ve done an annual recap of books read for the past few years running – this time around, it’s taken a bit more than usual to start writing this (possibly tied to my general lack of blogging motivation this year, you think?).  But I like revisiting my reading year – both when writing the recap and also when re-reading them months later – so, well, here we go.

January

I read 11 books in January, and actually, looking at the list of books read, there were some very good ones to start off the year.  I finished Diana Gabaldon‘s “An Echo in the Bone”, mainly by dipping in and out over a period of several weeks, which in hindsight, was the best way to finish such a massive tome.  The story was so sprawling and epic that I’ve no memory as to what the book is about now, except that I enjoyed it immensely and it had a dratted cliffhanger ending.

As for new-to-me authors, I read Sean Kennedy‘s “Tigers and Devil” (m/m romance) after seeing it appear on so many Top Books of 2009 lists, and yes, that was totally well-deserved.  I loved the Australian setting and even got to grips with Australian Rules football – I think.   Steve Kluger‘s hilariously funny yet sweet “Almost Like Being in Love” (rec’d by Nath) was another hit.  And I read my first Sarah Dessen (YA contemporary), “The Truth About Forever”, which was very definitely not my last Dessen of the year.

February

14 books read during February – unfortunately, none really worked for me until the end of the month, when I read and loved both Jacqueline Carey‘s “Naamah’s Kiss” (the first in her latest Kushiel fantasy trilogy, which held me enthralled from beginning to end) and Mary Stewart‘s “Touch Not the Cat” (romantic suspense, and one of the few books I missed during my Stewart glom back in 2008).

I read a few more Dessens, but none really as good as TTAF.  And that was about it in terms of memorable reads.

March

Nine books read over the month, including two of Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye books, which takes my “Best New-to-Me Urban Fantasy Series of 2010” trophy – I have to include the new-to-me caveat, as the first book came out in 2009, but got buried in the glut of new UF releases. When I finally got around to reading “Rosemary & Rue”, I was totally captivated and promptly followed up with the second book, “A Local Habitation”.  Ms McGuire’s Faerie/San Francisco world is incredibly refreshing and real, Toby is developing into a heroine you can properly get behind (character growth, I love you), and there is Tybalt.  The King of Cats.  Ahhh.

Apart from that, I read my first Jennifer Echols, “Going Too Far” – more YA contemporary!  It was good – strong characterisation, compelling believable romance – and I wanted more.

April

I was back up to 11 books this month (as an aside, I’m surprised I was reading as much as I’ve been over the months) and it was a good one.

I loved Lisa Lutz‘s “The Spellmans Strike Again”, the latest madcap adventure in The Spellman Files books and oh-so-satisfying (character growth!), and also Patricia Briggs‘ “Silver Borne” (I have not read a lacklustre Mercy Thompson book yet).  And Jim Butcher‘s latest Dresden Files book, “Changes”, was great storytelling, as always.  Elizabeth Peters released a new Amelia Peabody (I have no words to describe how much I was anticipating this one) and while it was not one of the best Peabody books, it was just so good to revisit the whole cast of characters again.  Finally, a new-to-me author this month was Sarah A Hoyt and her “Darkship Thieves” (which Janicu has just reviewed), which was an excellent blend of space opera and romance.

Probably a good time to stop – next post, the next four months…

Books for July

June was a bit of a quiet month for new releases, but July more than makes up for it.  In no particular order, here are the books I’m planning on getting:

 

41ryYv9FPTL._SL160_ Kelley Armstrong’s “Waking the Witch” (urban fantasy): I am loving the bright red UK cover and what they did with the title.  Not that the US cover isn’t good, but it’s a bit same-y kick-ass urban fantasy heroine IMO. 

Anyway, putting covers aside, I’m looking forward to the eleventh(!) book in Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series, and not just because Savannah is the narrator (yes, she’s one of my favourite characters, and I don’t think we’ve ever had a story from her perspective before).  This was one of the first UF series I started reading, and I have a soft spot for these books – I’m looking forward to revisiting old friends.

Out July 27 (PDF excerpt)

 

51AK4c-YWL._SL160_ Naomi Novik’s “Tongues of Serpents” (fantasy): Speaking of old friends, the next Temeraire book is also out in July, or at least, it is in the States.  This may have to be an import for me.

I’ve been hooked on this series ever since the first one, “His Majesty’s Dragon” (or “Temeraire”, depending on which version you got) came out back in 2006.  I think the focus of the books have moved somewhat from the Will/Temeraire relationship (let’s face it – Temeraire is the most adorably precocious dragon evah!) to the wider historical intrigue and political twistiness of the times, but you know, alternate historical fantasy with dragons still works.  The last book ended on a bit of a tearjerker note, and now Will and Temeraire are off to Australia – I can’t wait to find out what they get up to.

Out July 13 US, September 2 UK (excerpt)

 

51stXKvCx2L._SL160_ Jennifer Echols’ “Forget You” (contemporary YA): Jennifer Echols’ “Going Too Far” caught me by surprise earlier this year, and while I have yet to have an in-depth glom of her backlist (any recs most appreciated, btw), I’m planning on getting her new release.

The blurb on Ms Echols website is certainly piquing my curiosity:

WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET…AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER?

There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four-year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. With her life about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon.

But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people—suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.

Out July 20 (excerpt)

 

519ZABKkb9L._SL160_ Eloisa James’ “A Kiss at Midnight” (historical romance): I don’t normally jump up and down at the thought of fairytale retellings, but ah, this is an Eloisa James.

It’s her take on Cinderella, and while I can count the number of historical romances I’ve read this year on the fingers of one hand, there is something about Ms James’ writing that does it for me every time.  I’ve been a bit spoilt with her gorgeous Georgian-set Desperate Duchesses series, and this sounds like a Regency from what I gather, but still.  Definitely on my list.

Out July 27 (excerpt)

 

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PN Elrod’s “Dark and Stormy Knights” anthology (urban fantasy): I’m not entirely sure how PN Elrod manages to secure some if her headline contributors, but coming up with excellent themes may have something to do with that.  I mean, this one sounds excellent:

They’re the last defenders of humanity, the lone wolf bad boys— and girls—who do dark deeds for the right reasons. Modern day knights who are sexy, funny, mad, bad and dangerous to know because they do what most of us only dream about…and get away with it.

And when we have Ilona Andrews (a Kate Daniels story) and Jim Butcher (a Dresden story from the POV of John Marcone – interesting) amongst the authors, count me in.

Out July 20 US, Sept 5 UK

 

51TwmuLctEL._SL160_ Eoin Colfer’s “The Atlantis Complex” (children’s fantasy): I’m a big fan of Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series and have enjoyed every single book – not often you can say that about a series spanning hmmm… six books to date?

Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? Has goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Captain Holly Short is unconvinced, and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common in guilt-ridden fairies. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing professions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind—and the grips of a giant squid—in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?

Artemis Fowl has lost his mind… Just when the world needs him most.

Out July 20 (PDF excerpt)

 

And finally, because that isn’t enough new books for a month, I will also probably get Ellen Crosby’s “The Riesling Retribution”, the fourth in her Wine Country mystery series that I stumbled across late last year.  I didn’t quite want to shell out for the hardcover, but the paperback is out at the end of July.   And quite possibly Suzanne Brockmann’s new standalone “Infamous” (out July 27) – it’s been a while since she’s released a non-Troubleshooters book.  She describes it as a “paranormal-cowboy romantic suspense”

Oh, and yes, Nalini Singh’s latest Psy-Changeling book “Bonds of Justice” should very much be on this month’s list of books to get, but for some random reason, I still have her previous book on my TBR pile.  Must go read now.