2010: Recap of My Reading Year Part 3

And the final four months of 2010…

September

I’m not quite sure what happened in September – no, actually, I do, it was a complete nightmare work-wise – but I ended up only reading six books this month.

But they were good ‘uns – I read Seanan McGuire‘s third Toby Daye book, “An Artificial Night” (oh, I have some crazy love for this series), and also really liked Jo Beverley‘s latest Georgian historical, “The Secret Duke”.  I read very few historical romances nowadays, but Jo Beverley remains on my autobuy list because she brings her historical settings to life (and she writes in the Georgian period – I am a total sucker for men adorning themselves in lace and jewellery).

And I discovered Manna Francis‘s Administration series – a (free) online science fictional m/m series that I glommed over the month.  Some really excellent writing set in a dystopian universe, with two main characters (one rather damaged to start with) growing over the series arc, and eventually giving you a HEA you can believe in.  I know it doesn’t sound like the cheeriest of stories, and it’s not – it’s dark and violent and grim (I’m really selling this, aren’t I?) – but trust me, incredibly satisfying when you reach the end.

Oh – and I received my new Kindle, which deserves a whole other post of its own (there is one sort of fermenting away in draft status).  Suffice to say it has replaced my Sony Reader in my affections…

October

I read eight books during October – the highlight being the long-awaited new Miles Vorkosigan book, Lois McMaster Bujold‘s “Cryoburn”.   You know how I said I could not wait for Elizabeth Peters‘ new Amelia Peabody?  This was exactly the same, but even more so – seriously.  And “Cryoburn” didn’t disappoint.  It was perfectly-written on so many levels – it could be read as a straight Miles adventure/mystery (and Miles was very definitely at his “forward momentum” best in this one) , and then you hit the last pages and realisation comes crashing down on you, and you think “oh”.  And start re-reading all over again.

I also liked Sharon Shinn‘s latest fantasy, “Troubled Waters”, and Ilona Andrews‘ new paranormal romance “Bayou Moon” – the latter met with almost universal praise throughout the blogosphere, while the former had more mixed reactions, IIRC.

November

I went on holiday and read a massive 24 books over this month.  Bliss.

I glommed new-to-me YA author Jaclyn Moriarty‘s fantastic epistolary-style novels following a group of teenagers attending both private and public high schools in Australia – they were completely addictive reading, cheeky and irreverent, yet completely compelling and poignant at times.   I followed that up by reading four of Diana Wynne Jones‘ equally-addictive Chrestomanci YA fantasy novels – just so fun and inventive and plain good story-telling.  And then to mix things up, I read all three of Erin McCarthy‘s stock-car racing contemporary romances – which were steamy, funny, and yes, addictive.

Yes, I do glomming in a big way – why do you ask?

Other books I enjoyed this month – Nalini Singh‘s “Play of Passion”, her latest Psy/Changeling paranormal romance, which I thought breathed fresh air into this long-running series (and just in time for the big Hawke/Sienna book next year), new-to-me m/m romance author Indigo Wren‘s “The Trap”, based on the Dear Author review which promised melodrama and angst in spades (it delivered), and Sharon Lee‘s contemporary fantasy “Carousel Tides”, which is one of the books that has done that weird trick of “the more I think about it, the more I realise how much I liked it”.

December

I wrapped up the year with 20 books (yep, more holidays) .  However, not many books stood out for me – the biggest surprise was that I ended up reading a number of Joan Wolf‘s Regency romances.  I used to love her historicals and stocked up on her backlist when they were re-released as ebooks at Fictionwise – they’ve sat unread until now, when for some strange reason, I just felt like dark brooding heroes, horse-mad heroines, and sweet romances.

And finally, new-to-me authors this month included Elizabeth C Bunce‘s “Starcrossed” (YA fantasy), Kalayna Price‘s “Grave Witch” (urban fantasy), Marie Sexton‘s “Strawberries for Dessert” (m/m romance) – I didn’t fall in love with any of these books, but I would definitely read more by these authors.

And that’s it!  Next up will be the lists and statistics post, and maybe one about 2011 resolutions…

Previous 2010 wrap-up posts

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 November

Yes, we’re in the second half of the month.  My excuse is that I’ve been on holiday (two things of note: (a) I have read so many books – total bliss! (b) why did no one tell me that Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books are so much fun) and then fell into a bit of a post-holiday blogging slump – you would not believe how long it’s taken me to write this post.  Seriously.  I came thisclose to canning the entire post and just listing the titles.

However, many bars of chocolate later for some much-needed energy, here are the November releases on my to-buy list:

31BbrhQSomL._SL160_ Patricia Briggs’ “Wolfsbane” (fantasy): The sequel to “Masques”, which I read when it was re-released a couple of months back.  I also re-read another of her older fantasy novels, “When Demons Walk” last month – compared to her recent Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega UF books, I have to say both of these came off as having slightly rough edges, both still good reads though.  I’m really looking forward to reading “Wolfsbane” and seeing how she now writes fantasy.

Blurb from Amazon:

Shapeshifting mercenary Aralorn leads a dangerous existence. Now she must return home for her noble father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has passed away. But when Aralorn and her companion Wolf arrive, they find he’s not dead, but ensorcelled by the ae’Magi, using him as a conduit to destroy Aralorn and Wolf. She must overcome this mysterious mist or fall to the blackest of magic.

Out now (excerpt)

 

51co3aHGhL._SL160_ “Songs of Love and Death”, edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (fantasy/SF/romance): I really need to kick the anthology habit – I have so many sitting around half-unread because I tend to read a couple of stories before abandoning the entire book.  I have no idea why, short attention span?

But with some of my favourite fantasy and romance writers amongst the contributors to this anthology (Neil Gaiman, Diana Gabaldon, Jim Butcher, Jacqueline Carey, Jo Beverley, Mary Jo Putney to be more specific, full table of contents at SF Signal), I had to cave and get this.  My only concern is the “star-crossed lovers” aspect – I’m hoping this will not be a tear-jerker of a book.

Out now

 

311iJRfOQNL._SL160_ Nalini Singh’s “Play of Passion” (paranormal romance): Ninth book in her Psy-Changeling series.  I’ve a confession to make: I wasn’t exactly going to rush out and get this one straightaway.  Don’t get me wrong – I like these books well enough, but I’ve been finding myself reading them months after release date.  Also, “Blaze of Memory” (the seventh book) was not one of my favourites; I didn’t connect with the h/h, the resolution came off as a bit deux ex machina, and even the larger Psy plot arc which normally intrigues me didn’t quite capture my interest.  Umm… yeah, safe to say BoM didn’t work for me.

However, last week I read the eighth book “Bonds of Justice” (see massive book reading binge note above), and ended up really enjoying the romance as well as wanting to know what would happen next, which is always a good sign.  So yes, I’ve already bought “Play of Passion”.

Blurb for “Play of Passion” from Ms Singh’s website:

In his position as tracker for the SnowDancer pack, it’s up to Drew Kincaid to rein in rogue changelings who have lost control of their animal halves—even if it means killing those who have gone too far. But nothing in his life has prepared him for the battle he must now wage to win the heart of a woman who makes his body ignite…and who threatens to enslave his wolf.

Lieutenant Indigo Riviere doesn’t easily allow skin privileges, especially of the sensual kind—and the last person she expects to find herself craving is the most wickedly playful male in the den. Everything she knows tells her to pull back before the flames burn them both to ash…but she hasn’t counted on Drew’s will.

Now, two of SnowDancer’s most stubborn wolves find themselves playing a hot, sexy game even as lethal danger stalks the very place they call home…

Out now (excerpt)

 

51QVnfBTpTL._SL160_ Sharon Lee’s “Carousel Tides” (urban fantasy): I’m only familiar with Sharon Lee’s writing as part of the Sharon Lee & Steve Miller writing team for the Liaden books (and they have just sold three new Liaden books – yay!), but as those rank amongst my favourite books, Ms Lee’s solo effort was certainly on my radar.

I’ve already read this one and liked very much – I actually found it slightly reminiscent of Tanya Huff’s equally-enjoyable “The Enchantment Emporium” because of the way the fantastic is seamlessly blended with the real.  “Carousel Tides” is not the all-guns-blazing type of urban fantasy; in fact it takes you quite a while to realise that this book is not a straight contemporary.  I loved how this played out and also the unusual setting (a Maine amusement-park coastal town), which is so clearly portrayed that it is almost a character in its own right.

Blurb from Baen’s Webscriptions site:

Kate Archer left home years ago, swearing that she would die before she returned to Maine. As plans go, it was a pretty good one — simple and straightforward.

Not quite fast enough, though.

Before she can quite manage the dying part, Kate gets notice that her grandmother is missing, leaving the carousel that is the family business untended.

And in Archers Beach, that means ‘way more trouble than just a foreclosure.

Out now (excerpt)

 

HF_AMidwinterPrince_coversm Harper Fox’s “A Midwinter Prince” (m/m romance): I don’t think I’ve mentioned Harper Fox on my blog this year (unfortunately not an unusual occurrence – I haven’t blogged about many things this year, have I?), but she’s one of my new-to-me author discoveries this year.  I’m a total sucker for angst-filled stories, and boy, does Ms Fox deliver on that front.  She also has a knack of writing characters that stay in your mind for way after you finish the last page, and I love the way she makes her very British settings come alive (her debut, “Life After Joe”, was all grimy industrial Newcastle, while the beauty and isolation of Cornwall came across wonderfully in her second novel “Driftwood”).

Blurb from Loose ID’s site:

When Laurie, son of a wealthy London baronet, takes a homeless young man off the bitter winter streets, he only means to shelter him. But Sasha is beautiful and passionate, and he knows what he wants. Soon the two are entangled in a wild and illicit romance. Sasha, an illegal alien, has dangerous connections and a violent underworld past that won’t let him go. Privileged Laurie has problems of his own — a brutal father who holds the keys to Laurie’s golden cage and would rather kill him than accept his son and heir is gay, let alone in love with a street urchin. Laurie’s only hope is to run. In a Romani encampment with Sasha, he finds not only a safe haven but sexual fulfilment beyond his wildest dreams.

But their new happiness is fragile. Sasha’s secrets run too deep, and he vanishes, leaving Laurie desolate, as much an exile in his own city as Sasha has been. Now Laurie must grow up and find his own strength. Can he break free of his suffocating aristocratic world in time to save his lover and himself?

Out now (excerpt)

 

51ps0frjlSL._SL160_ Jim Butcher’s “Side Jobs” (urban fantasy): This is a collection of Harry Dresden short stories, most of which I’ve probably read already.  The one story I know I haven’t read – and the reason why I want this collection – is “Backup”, which was the limited-edition novella published by Subterranean Press and narrated from Thomas’s point of view.  I love Thomas, but could not quite convince myself to shell out $20 (IIRC) for a 72-page novella.

Actually I lie – there would be a second story I haven’t read yet in this collection, as it also contains a previously-unpublished story taking place after the latest Dresden book.  This one from Murphy’s viewpoint, apparently.

Blurb from Jim Butcher’s website:

The first short story collection in the #1 New York Times bestselling series-including a brand-new Harry Dresden novella!

Here, together for the first time, are the shorter works of #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher-a compendium of cases that Harry and his cadre of allies managed to close in record time. The tales range from the deadly serious to the absurdly hilarious. Also included is a new, never-before-published novella that takes place after the cliff-hanger ending of the new April 2010 hardcover, Changes. This is a must-have collection for every devoted Harry Dresden fan as well as a perfect introduction for readers ready to meet Chicago’s only professional wizard.

Out now

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)

 

510TzMpWHUL._SL160_

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.

Books for April

I have been rather remiss in not posting this earlier, but better late than never, and it is still April…

Here are the new releases for April that are on my To Buy list (and in most cases, have already been bought and read):

 

61lZlurY4L._SL160_ Elizabeth Peters“A River in the Sky” (historical mystery): I posted about this last week when my copy arrived and I did a little dance of glee.

The latest book in the Amelia Peabody series is set chronologically before “The Falcon in the Portal”, which is one of my favourites in the series due to ermm… various romantic entanglements, shall we say?  For a change, “A River in the Sky” is not set in Egypt; instead Amelia & co are in Palestine, and while this expanded their adventures to a new locale, it also meant that I missed some of the familiar settings and characters.  All in all though, I enjoyed revisiting the Peabody family, and can only keep my fingers crossed that there is yet another installment in this series.

Out now US, April 29 UK (excerpt here)

 

51opJaC77NL._SL160_ Kelley Armstrong’s “Tales of the Otherworld” (urban fantasy): Another April release I have already bought, this time during my failed attempt at attending a signing.

This book collects a few more of the short stories Ms Armstrong previously published for free on her website, with all proceeds going to her chosen charity, World Literacy of Canada. I think I’ve previously read most, if not all, of these online, but it was nice to have them in a single book.  There is also a new Eve story, which appealed to me, seeing Eve is one of my favourite characters.  I would say that this collection is more for long-time fans as opposed to new readers, because of their origin as online freebies – the stories have been aimed at filling in the background of the main characters and therefore can feel somewhat open-ended if you haven’t read the full-length books.

Out now (no excerpts, but more free shorts here)

 

51hH6KJTfGL._SL160_Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Saltation” (SF):  The second in a duology (the first is “Fledgling”), which covers events only alluded to in the main Liaden storyline.  These two books are somewhat unique, as the authors serialised both online in return for reader donations, prior to selling both books to Baen.

I bought this during my little Baen ebook haul a couple of weeks back, and while I liked (and read in one sitting), I have to add a caveat that this is probably not a book for readers new to the Liaden universe, which is a shame, because I remember thinking that its prequel, “Fledgling”, was a perfect jumping-off point.  There were one too many references to off-screen (off-page?) events which would only make sense if you had read the previous books, and there is a bit of a cliff-hanger ending as the book brings you right up to the same point as the main storyline.

Oh, and I have to add a cover note: for a Baen cover, this isn’t half-bad.  I have just finished reading another Baen book that I really really liked, but had a cover that did it no favours.

Out now (excerpt here – a whole nine chapters of it)

 

51CqsSW-evL._SL160_ Jim Butcher’s “Changes” (urban fantasy): A new Dresden Files book and yet another April release I have already read, which must make it some sort of record.

“Changes” was hyped as a turning point for the entire series, and when the first line of the book was revealed, it looked as though that would be the case.  Verdict?  As with all of his books (okay, most – I still haven’t managed to get through the first three books of this series yet), this was a good, solid fun read – he is an excellent storyteller.  However, I continue to find Harry’s love life (or what passes for it) somewhat two-dimensional; his friendships are wonderfully strong, yet his romantic relationships fail to move me.  If that changes, this would be up there as one of my all-time favourite UF series.

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51fV53d8D4L._SL160_Jo Beverley’s “The Secret Duke” (historical romance): Oh look, an April release I haven’t yet bought.  Not for lack of trying, I was trying to find it in ebook format, but haven’t had any luck.

You know how the most fascinating characters are usually saved for the last book?  Well, this is the third book of Ms Beverley’s Secret trilogy, and in the previous two books (“A Lady’s Secret” and “The Secret Wedding”), I have been intrigued by the Duke of Ithorne, who is the focus of this story.  This book is also part of her Malloren family series, which is set in Georgian times – I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I adore Georgian-set historicals.  And Jo Beverley excels in bringing historical settings alive in her romances.

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51m7Gj-IB9L._SL160_ 51byDuc4toL._SL160_Finally, two April releases I may get: Mary Jo Putney’s latest historical romance, “Never Less than a Lady”, a maybe only because I haven’t yet read the first Lost Lords book – I really need to get around to it.

And the mystery anthology “Crimes by Moonlight”, edited by Charlaine Harris, and containing a “Sookieverse story”, i.e. a story set in her Sookie Stackhouse world, but not featuring Sookie herself.  I want, not just for the Harris story, but also because the lineup and theme sounds great, however, it’s a hardcover so I will probably practise patience!

Around the Web

Karen Chance has put up the first four chapters of a free short story set in her Cassie Palmer world, the rest of the story to follow soon, hopefully.  This is the first of the short stories she’s writing to fill in the gap until the next Cassie book is released in summer 2011.  I’m still keeping my fingers crossed that date will be brought forward – in the meanwhile, I’m all for more Pritkin, Marlowe, and Mircea.

 

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s320x240 I just saw the table of contents for the anthology “Songs of Love & Death”, edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois, and all I can say is I WANT.  NOW.  I started typing out the contributors that caught my eye, then realised I was pretty much listing all of them, so here is the full list instead:

  • Jim Butcher, "Love Hurts" (a Harry Dresden story)
  • Jo Beverley, "The Marrying Maid"
  • Carrie Vaughn, "Rooftops"
  • M.L.N. Hanover, "Hurt Me"
  • Cecelia Holland, "Demon Lover"
  • Melinda M. Snodgrass, "The Wayfarer’s Advice" (an Imperials story)
  • Robin Hobb, "Blue Boots"
  • Neil Gaiman, "The Thing About Cassandra"
  • Marjorie M. Liu, "After the Blood"
  • Jacqueline Carey, "You and You Alone" (a Kushiel story)
  • Lisa Tuttle, "His Wolf"
  • Linnea Sinclair, "Courting Trouble"
  • Mary Jo Putney, "The Demon Dancer"
  • Tanith Lee, "Under/Above the Water"
  • Peter S. Beagle, "Kashkia"
  • Yasmine Galenorn, "Man in the Mirror"
  • Diana Gabaldon, "A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows" (an OUTLANDER spinoff)

It’s out in November, a whole seven months away.  The cover’s pretty cool too.

 

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And Seanan McGuire has been nominated for the John W Campbell Award for best new writer, one of the big SF/F awards.  I totally adored her October Daye series, so yay for her nomination!  Full list of Hugo and Campbell nominees is also up at the AussieCon website.

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…

Books for December

A post slightly on the late side, but that’s probably because there aren’t that many December releases on my To Get list.  Umm… three if you want to be exact.  And I’ve read one of them already.

51tQt3vs5tL._SL160_ First up is Jim Butcher’s “First Lord’s Fury” (fantasy), the sixth and final in his book in his Codex Alera series (and the one that I’ve finished reading). 

Previous books in this series have delivered consistent entertainment, and “First Lord’s Fury” was no exception.  Tavi’s all grown-up now and returning to his homeland to defend his people from the evil Vord.  There was full-on action from the word go, with battle scenes galore, and trust me, Mr Butcher excels in this.  Yes, it’s predictable in the “good guys are going to win” sort of way (which is not necessarily a bad thing, I like happy endings), and like his Dresden Files series, it’s a lot more plot-driven than character-focused.   However, I thought it was a fitting conclusion to a pretty good fantasy series and I spent a few hours happily absorbed in this book.

Excerpt here (out now)

 

515Wv6GPzKL._SL160_ Next is Mercedes Lackey’s latest Valdemar anthology, “Changing the World” (fantasy). 

What can I say?  I’m a sucker for Valdemar stories.  I was such a massive Lackey fangirl in my teens (I mean, speaking white horses, wow) and it’s a habit I can’t shake.  Yes, last year’s “Foundation” wasn’t vintage Lackey, but I am so going to get this anyway.  Apart from Ms Lackey herself, contributors include Tanya Huff, Judith Tarr, and Mickey Zucker Reichert, from what I can gather.

No excerpts available (out now)

 

the_dark_tide And last, but certainly not least, Josh Lanyon’s “The Dark Tide” (m/m mystery), the final book in his Adrien English series.  I stumbled across these books last year, and Mr Lanyon immediately jumped onto my auto-buy list.  I adore his writing, and the characters – ah, the angst.  I don’t even care about the main mystery plot in this one, I just want Adrien and Jake to get their happy-ever-after.

The blurb:

Like recovering from heart surgery beneath the gaze of his over-protective family isn’t exasperating enough, someone keeps trying to break into Adrien English’s bookstore. What is this determined midnight intruder searching for?

When a half-century old skeleton tumbles out of the wall in the midst of Cloak and Dagger Bookstore’s renovation, Adrien turns to hot and handsome ex-lover Jake Riordan — now out-of-the closet and working as a private detective.

Jake is only too happy to have reason to stay in close contact with Adrien, but there are more surprises in Adrien’s past than either one of them expects — and one of them may prove hazardous to Jake’s own heart.

And you know, just in time for Christmas.  Perfect.

Excerpt here (out Dec 22)

Books for July

Halfway through July and my sidebar is still displaying “May Books I Want”.  I feel slightly embarrassed.  I may even update it later today.

Anyway, here are the July books I want.  Rather unusually, there are three historical romances to start off:

51-AyvLw-DL._SL160_ Mary Jo Putney’s “Loving a Lost Lord” (historical romance):  A straight historical romance from Mary Jo Putney. *happy dance*  Her Fallen Angels series was one of the first historical romance books I read, together with Julie Garwood, Amanda Quick, et al., but it’s been quite a while since I last read one of her books.  According to Ms Putney’s website, LaLL is the start of a new Regency historical series as well, so fingers crossed it’s a good one.

Excerpt here (out now)

 

51wNmc1KHLL._SL160_ Eloisa James’ “A Duke of My Own” (historical romance):  The last of her Desperate Duchesses series, this is Villiers’ story.  While this series has been slightly uneven at times, it has definitely been my favourite historical romance series over the past year or so.  I’m hoping her next series will be just as good – I can’t wait to find out what she chooses to write next.

Excerpt here (out July 28)

 

51JsN1IdcFL._SL160_ Julia Quinn’s “What Happens in London” (historical romance):  This is loosely tied to her “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” book, but pretty much a stand-alone, from what I gather.  A Quinn book never fails to make me smile, and I’ve been hearing pretty good things about this one.

Excerpt here (out now)

 

 

And moving on to urban fantasy and paranormal romance:

510nfONrO-L._SL160_ Jenna Black’s “Speak of the Devil” (urban fantasy): Fourth in her Morgan Kingsley series, Morgan being a demon exorcist.  I was almost ready to stop after the second book, but the third one redeemed this series IMO, so I’m now excited about the fourth.

Excerpt here (out July 28)

 

 

51BQzbjQiuL._SL160_ Nalini Singh’s “Branded by Fire” (paranormal romance): Part of her Psy-Changeling series, this is Riley and Mercy’s story.  This is one of the few paranormal romance series I read, as Ms Singh manages to combine really strong world-building with wonderful romance.  I have no idea why I haven’t bought this one yet.  Must go get.  Now.

Excerpt here (out now)

 

51Krb5pZfCL._SL160_ Linda Howard’s “Burn” (romantic suspense):  I really really wish Linda Howard had a website.  And I wish Piatkus Books would publish the UK version closer to the US release date – Amazon is currently showing October.  Oh well, it is a Linda Howard so I will buy.  I’m hoping it’s not as outdoor-survival-focused as her recent ones.

No excerpt (out now in US)

 

 

517vRFujEzL._SL160_ Suzanne Brockmann’s “Hot Pursuit” (romantic suspense):  The latest in her Troubleshooters series, this is a Sam and Alyssa book, IIRC.  There was a whole lot of controversy around her January release earlier this year, but I haven’t heard much about this one.  Or maybe I just haven’t been hanging out in the right places.

Excerpt here (out July 28)

 

 

51FS025 PVL._SL160_ And finally, the anthology “Strange Brew” is already sitting on my bedside table.  Edited by PN Elrod, it has short stories by Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Karen Chance, and Charlaine Harris, amongst others.  My thoughts so far?  The Briggs story didn’t really grab me until the last few pages,  Jim Butcher’s contribution is a nice Harry Dresden interlude, the Karen Chance one is very representative of her non-stop action writing (I really liked it), and the Charlaine Harris story is slightly disturbing (set in her Sookie Stackhouse universe but no Sookie).

Me = Bad Blogger

Real life completely gets in the way. 

Ah, anyway, bank holiday weekend – hurray!  Dawdling home, I decided to stop by the library (rare occurrence, trust me) and came out with these two books:

210vUxkSmML._SL160_ John Scalzi’s “The Last Colony” (military SF):  I have the first two books in this very loose trilogy (or is it a series now that “Zoe’s Tale” is out?), but for some reason, never quite got around to getting this one.

51HPCf2rreL._SL160_

The other book I grabbed was the UF anthology “Many Bloody Returns”, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner.  I don’t *think* I have this – I say think because I have pretty much lost track of the anthologies I own!  Apart from the named authors on the cover (Charlaine Harris herself, Jim Butcher, and Kelley Armstrong), other MBR contributors I recognise are PN Elrod, Rachel Caine, and Tanya Huff.

So plenty to read this weekend.  But… Roland Garros also gets underway tomorrow!  I will definitely be watching – anyone else?