Very Short Thoughts

These July 2011 reads are a bit of a downer.  It was partly self-inflicted though.

Reviews cross-posted from Goodreads as always, additional comments in italics.

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Hit List (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #20)Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton (paranormal romance)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Ummm… not much to say here. Lots of repetition. I skimmed. I borrowed this from the library, which shows that at least I am learning. Slowly.

I know.  Serves me right, huh?

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Smokin' SeventeenSmokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

A bit of a forgettable read, this one – I’m glad I borrowed it from the library.

I am so glad I’ve managed to stop myself from buying the hardcover.  I think this book was sitting on the New Releases shelf as well – no reservations for this one. 

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A Double DeceptionA Double Deception by Joan Wolf (regency romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve a soft spot for Joan Wolf’s regencies – I liked this sweet romance, though it’s not one of her best. Familiar plot and familiar characters with an OTT villain – a quick and enjoyable read.

I liked this well enough when I read it, but am struggling to remember the plot now.  Good to know I’m showing some consistency with my ratings… I think this one is only if you’re a Joan Wolf fan.  Or like sweet regency romances.

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Dead Reckoning (Sookie Stackhouse, #11)Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had low expectations coming into this book, having not really got on with the previous couple of books, and was pleasantly surprised – this was actually entertaining with a plot! I liked that Sookie wasn’t so much of a doormat in this book when her “friends” did stupid things. I’m hoping the next book shows us consequences of events in this. I’m also starting to wonder how Charlaine Harris will end this series – will there be an HEA, and if so, how…

The more we get in this series, the more doubtful I feel about everyone getting a happy ending in the end.  I’ve read Ms Harris’s other (mystery) series, and well, I don’t think she feels the need to give a HEA.  

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Mind Games (The Disillusionists Trilogy, #1)

Mind Games by Carolyn Crane (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The cover is very much standard UF – the story is not. It’s UF with an unusual twist – I liked and will be picking up the other two in this trilogy.

Disclaimer: I’ve been reading Carolyn Crane’s blog (and have been a very occasional commenter) since her pre-publication days, and so may have been slightly biased here. I did buy MIND GAMES back when it was first released in 2010, but only got around to reading it last year (and mentioning it here another year later – good thing no one’s dependent on me for publicity!).

2010: Recap of My Reading Year Part 2

Continuing my month-by-month recap of 2010 (the first third of the year covered here):

May

Amongst the ten books I read in May was the excellent “Magic Bleeds” by Ilona Andrews.   This series has grown in leaps and bounds – I remember not being impressed by the first book way back when, but am rather glad I persevered.  I think if I had to name my top three UF series, it would be this one, together with Patricia Briggs‘ Mercy books and Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye series.

Nothing else stands out during May.  Scanning the titles I’ve jotted down show that I ranked all the rest as “Glad I read”, which is pretty much what it says – I’m glad I read the book, it wasn’t a waste of time (or money!) but it’s not one that really stood out for me.

Oh, I’ve experimented with a new grading system this year (it was a very quiet experiment and I don’t think I mentioned it anywhere!), moving on from letter grades (A, B, C, etc) to a statement-based one (“Glad I read”, “Wish I’d passed”, and so on).  This was because I never really used the full extent of the letter-based grading scale, and wanted to try something more meaningful as opposed to marking everything a B grade (obviously I’ve just moved on to “Glad I read” instead).

Seriously, I’ve found this more useful, but I’m thinking of moving to the equivalent of 1 to 5 stars in the New Year because I’ve started a Goodreads account (err… one review and one friend – hi Estara! – at last count, so don’t all rush over at once).  We’ll see – I don’t shout very loudly about what grades I give books and it took me a couple of years to actually change my grading system, so it’ll probably continue being rather unobtrusive here on the blog…

June

After that slight detour into my grading system, back to books read… I read ten books this month, unusually two re-reads amongst them, though very different ones – Louisa May Alcott‘s “Eight Cousins” and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s “Conflict of Honors”.

“Eight Cousins” was inspired by Angie’s review of its sequel “Rose in Bloom”, and it was fascinating to re-read this as an adult – it is very much a product of its times (1875), for example, when talking about what a woman’s role should be, but at the same time, surprisingly modern in its views on, say, fresh air and exercise.

“Conflict of Honors”, on the other hand, is very much a comfort read for me, and re-reading this book straight after the authors’ latest release “Mouse & Dragon” gave me a slightly different perspective – I’ve always loved how the authors somehow manage to combine space opera with a fantasy of manners, but this time around, having just read the prequel, the events just prior to the start of this book (avoiding spoilers!) felt more immediate and hard-hitting, so there was more of an emotional impact.

New-to-me author – I read Meg Burden‘s “Northlander”, again based on an Angie rec, which turned out to be the type of coming-of-age YA fantasy that presses all the right buttons for me.  Loved.

Oh, and I think I may have finally kicked my Laurell K Hamilton‘s Anita Blake habit this month as well.

July

There were some good ones in the nine books I read this month.  I remember very much enjoying Julia Quinn‘s “What Happened in London”, even though I actually had to go and look up the book to try and remember what the plot was about.  Ahem.  I do recall liking it very much at the time, and thinking it had her trademark Quinn humour.

I loved Sarah Rees Brennan‘s “The Demon’s Covenant”, so much so it was one of the very few books I actually blogged about this year – bearing in mind how much I blogged this year, you know I really really liked it if I posted about it.  Oh, and I enjoyed Kelley Armstrong‘s latest Otherworld novel, “Walking the Witch”, though points deducted for yet another blasted cliffhanger ending.  Seriously.  I have stopped reading series before because of cliffhanger endings – I completely detest them.

August

Wrapping up a post that turned out to be slightly longer than anticipated – I read another nine books in August, including my first books from Carina Press, which has been an excellent addition to the epublishing scene.  I loved both Josh Lanyon‘s “Fair Game” and new-to-me author Harper Fox‘s “Life After Joe” – Josh Lanyon was already an autobuy m/m romance author, and Harper Fox’s lyrical writing and fantastic sense of place makes her another one for me.

I also got around to reading my second Steve Kluger, “My Most Excellent Year”, which was just as good as the first – a very feel-good book.

And I finally read Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games trilogy, all three in a month – it didn’t exactly disappoint, but I’m not entirely sure it lived up to all the hype.  On the other hand, what book could?  I ended up liking the middle book, “Catching Fire”, best, but all three were very good summer reading.

So that was the middle third of 2010 – final four months next…

Books for June

Here’s a much more timely post than I’ve managed for the past two months running.  However, is it just me or are June releases thin on the ground?

 

41JHNOwcdqL._SL160_The only book I have on my must-get list is Jacqueline Carey’s “Naamah’s Curse” (fantasy) – the second book of her latest Kushiel trilogy, this is an auto-buy for me. 

51Ezx8npQML._SL160_I thought the first book, “Naamah’s Kiss”, had a slightly different feel to Ms Carey’s previous Kushiel books, maybe because the narrator was Alban-born and had a more pragmatic worldview than the previous two narrators, but I was still pretty much swept along from the first page, and can’t wait to read the follow-up. 

I’m delighted the UK edition (cover on the left) is being released in the same month as the US one, else I’d be very tempted to shell out the cash for the US version. 

Out now US, June 24 UK (excerpt here)

 

51AQMVcQmPL._SL160_ I’ve already bought Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Mouse & Dragon”, which officially hits the (physical) shelves June 1.  I’ve also seen their “The Dragon Variation” in-store – it’s an omnibus edition collecting “Local Custom”, “Scout’s Progress”, and “Conflict of Honors” into one volume.  I was tempted, but I do have slightly beaten-up paper copies of the three already, so decided to pass.  Though I have just noticed the ebook version is $6, which is really too good to pass up…

 

I grabbed Lynn Flewelling’s “The White Road” yesterday while browsing in the bookstore, and really, that was the last of the June releases on my list.

51sEN7yeML._SL160_ Janet Evanovich’s latest Stephanie Plum, “Sizzling Sixteen”, is out June 22 but I’m hesitant to buy hardcover because the recent books have been, well, lacking, shall we say?  Same with Laurell K Hamilton’s latest Anita Blake book, “Bullet”, which I’ve also seen out on shelves now, in its bright-red glory.  I’m holding out on both of these until I see more reviews.

I must be missing some June releases surely – what other books are you planning on getting this month?

Books for February

So midway through February and I have yet to post the new releases coming out this month that I’m planning on getting.

51jNEDOonL._SL160_ And that’s because there’s only one: Eileen Wilks’ “Blood Magic” (urban fantasy – excerpt here), the sixth book in her Lupi series.  I’m a long-time fan of this series, so this one is an autobuy for me. 

Back cover blurb:

Lily Yu’s world changed when she met Rule Turner, known to the human world as “that werewolf prince.”  It’s been eight months since everyone else’s world changed, too—when the Turning hit.  That shifting of the realms has magic seeping back into the world in quantities unseen since the hot news story concerned a pair of human babes raised by wolves who went on to found a new city:  Rome.

Lily is a homicide cop turned FBI agent.  She works for a special Unit within the MCD—that’s the Bureau’s Magical Crimes Division.   Lily became a cop to stop the monsters , though it was human monsters she had in mind at the time.  These days, the perps she tracks may be a lot more—or a lot less–than human.

In Blood Magic, Lily and Rule are faced with their most dangerous opponent yet, one the law can’t touch.  One who can’t be killed.  One whose like hasn’t been seen in our world since long before those wolves fostered Romulus and Remus.

Oh, one more thing about Blood Magic:  Grandmother is back.
Those of you who haven’t read the previous books in my World of the Lupi series may be scratching your head about now.  Someone’s grandmother shows up and you’re supposed to get all tingly?   You might be more interested in some of the other characters in Blood Magic, like the assassin.  Or the dragon.  Or the ancient, undying enemy willing to wait for centuries to achieve what really matters.

Revenge.

 

There’s not to say there aren’t other new releases out there this month.  Nalini Singh’s “Archangel’s Kiss” (paranormal romance) is out, but I haven’t yet made time to read the first book in her Guild Hunters series, “Angels’ Blood”.   And this is despite the rave reviews it’s been getting.  I know.

Katie Macalister’s “Steamed” also intrigued me with its tagline “A Steampunk Romance”, but I am clinging to my rule about only one unread book per author, and I am sort of halfway through her last Silver Dragon book, “Me and My Shadow”.

And that also applies to Laurell K Hamilton’s new Anita Blake novella, “Flirt” – I am midway through her last book “Skin Trade” (and have been for a good few months really), but also can’t really convince myself to pay hardcover prices for what is essentially a novella.  Probably one to get from the library.

Books for October

A bit late with this post, but September had so many releases I wanted – I’m determinedly not thinking of the number of books I added to my TBR pile last month.  And October is shaping up to be just as good.

 

510CGKLV3pL._SL160_ First up, Sharon Shinn is flooding the New Releases shelf – I’m not complaining though!  I’ve just ordered “Quatrain” (out now).  I’ve been waiting ever so impatiently for this quartet of fantasy novellas set in Ms Shinn’s various worlds (Twelve Houses, Samaria, Summer at Castle Auburn and Heart of Gold).  A very cool fact she mentions on her site:

While these four stories take place in radically different worlds, a lot of little details tie them together. For instance, the titles roughly correspond to the four elements; all four open with an almost identical sentence. And a few other things like that. 🙂

I can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

 

51f9e0JbBNL._SL160_ Ms Shinn then has a YA fantasy called “Gateway”, which she says is set in an alternate St. Louis (out Oct 15) – here’s the blurb from her site:

Adopted from China and raised in St. Louis, Daiyu is a teenage girl who one day steps under the Arch—and finds herself in an alternate version of her familiar city where almost everyone is Chinese.  She has been brought here by mysterious strangers to help them bring down the corrupt ruling government, but to do so, she must play a dangerous part among the elite members of this society.  Very quickly she learns to trust no one except a young man named Kalen.  He will help her carry out her plans and then find her way back home—but she is not so sure that, when her task is over, she’ll be able to leave Kalen behind.

I love the cover of “Gateway” – very striking.

 

51QZXBtejQL._SL160_ And finally, she has a story in the “Never After” anthology (together with Laurell K Hamilton, Marjorie Liu, and Yasmine Galenorn), which is intriguingly described as fairy tales with a feminist twist.  This one is out Oct 27.

 

513iaE1vtOL._SL160_ Moving on from Sharon Shinn (excellent interview here, btw, if you haven’t already read it), Kelley Armstrong has her latest Otherworld release out now as well, “Frostbitten” (urban fantasy).  Elena is definitely one of the narrators in this one, but I can’t remember off the top of my head if she is the only one. 

Ms Armstrong also released a free mini-story called “Recruit” (PDF link), that I believe is linked to the events leading up to “Frostbitten”.  I’m a sucker for freebies.

 

518m9fIkHlL._SL160_ Finally, and I almost forgot because it’s already sitting on my bedside table, Juliet Marillier’s “Heart’s Blood” (fantasy) is also out now (US and Australian editions out Nov 3).  I’ve read and loved every single one of her Sevenwaters books (I really need to catch up on the rest of her backlist), and this one sounds just as amazing.

And I adore the atmospheric UK cover.

From her website:

A haunted forest. A cursed castle. A girl running from her past and a man who’s more than he seems to be. A tale of love, betrayal and redemption…

Whistling Tor is a place of secrets, a mysterious wooded hill housing the crumbling fortress of a chieftain whose name is spoken throughout the district in tones of revulsion and bitterness. A curse lies over Anluan’s family and his people; the woods hold a perilous force whose every whisper threatens doom.

And yet the derelict fortress is a safe haven for Caitrin, the troubled young scribe who is fleeing her own demons. Despite Anluan’s tempers and the mysterious secrets housed in the dark corridors, this long-feared place provides the refuge she so desperately needs.

As time passes, Caitrin learns there is more to the broken young man and his unusual household than she realised. It may be only through her love and determination that the curse can be lifted and Anluan and his people set free…

I somehow don’t think I’ll run out of books to read this month.

Books for June

There isn’t a massive number of new releases that I’m looking forward to this month, but there are still a few I’m very excited about:

51xUYWmKjvL._SL160_ Jacqueline Carey’s “Naamah’s Kiss” (dark fantasy):  I adore Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books, and I’m excited that “Kushiel’s Mercy” isn’t the last time we get to visit that world.  She does say on her website though:

One word of warning: Readers hoping to find out what befell the cast of Kushiel’s Legacy may be disappointed. There are some scattered hints, but ultimately, I chose not to go into a lot of detail. For one thing, I didn’t want to burden the narrative with unnecessary backstory.  For another… I didn’t really want to know. I prefer to imagine them all frozen in time at the end of Kushiel’s Mercy, living eternally in the happily-ever-after moment.

And this is Moirin’s story; my impulsive heroine with a generous heart, a great capacity for delight, and a tendency to throw herself headlong into any situation, no matter how complicated or ill-advised it may be. Naamah’s child, unwittingly sultry, compelled by desire; a child of the Maghuin Dhonn, possessor of subtle magic, unable to understand why the rest of the world finds it so strange that she worships a bear.

I’m okay with that – new heroine, new story.

Excerpt here (out June 24)

 

1107 Josh Lanyon’s “Somebody Killed His Editor” (m/m romantic suspense):  Josh Lanyon was one of my favourite new-to-me authors of last year (am totally addicted to his Adrien English books), and this is the first book of a new series.

Blurb from his website:

For sixteen years Christopher (Kit) Holmes has enjoyed a successful career as a mystery writer, thanks to the popularity of elderly spinster sleuth, Miss Butterwith and her ingenious cat, Mr. Pinkerton.  But sales are down in everything but chick lit and Christopher’s new editor doesn’t like geriatric gumshoes.  It’s a pink, pink world for Kit.

Reluctantly the reclusive Christopher agrees to attend a mystery writer’s conference at a remote Northern California winery.  But no sooner does he arrive then the bridge to the outside world washes out. On his trek to the Blue Heron Lodge, Christopher discovers the body of a woman in the woods.  If nearly two decades of mystery-writing are anything to go by, the woman doesn’t appear to have died a natural death.

Thanks to the ongoing storm and washed-out bridge, local law enforcement is not able to come to the rescue. Déjà vu!  It’s practically like all those classic murder mysteries in isolated country manors that Christopher has been penning for sixteen years!  If only Miss Butterwith was on hand. Or even Mr. Pinkerton….

Excerpt here (out June 16)

 

51ExyI1mOxL._SL160_ Tanya Huff’s “The Enchantment Emporium” (urban fantasy"): Tanya Huff is one of those authors who appear to seamlessly switch between writing SF, high fantasy, and urban fantasy as the mood takes them.  I’ve loved her last few books, and am looking forward to this standalone book.

Alysha Gale is a member of a family capable of changing the world with the charms they cast. Then she receives word that she’s inherited her grandmother’s junk shop in Calgary, only to discover upon arriving that she’ll be serving the fey community. And when Alysha learns just how much trouble is brewing in Calgary, even calling in the family to help may not be enough to save the day.

Author’s livejournal, no excerpt (out now)

 

blade1 Ilona Andrews’ “Silent Blade” (romantic SF):  “Magic Strikes”, the third in the Kate Daniels UF series, was one of my favourite reads of the year so far, and I’m definitely picking up this short story, which sounds completely different from her previous work.

Old hatreds die hard. Old love dies harder.

On Meli Galdes’ home planet, the struggle for power is a bloody, full-contact sport—in business and on the battlefield. For years her lethal skills have been a valuable asset in advancing her family’s interests. She’s more than earned her right to retire, but her kinsmen have one last favor to ask.

Kill the man who ruined her life

Excerpt here (out now)

And the other books that I’m considering:

Janet Evanovich’s “Finger Lickin’ Fifteen” (mystery):  Has the Stephanie Plum series run out of steam?  I liked Fourteen better than Thirteen, even though the number of laugh-out-loud moments was definitely lower than the earlier books.  I do like Stephanie and Morelli though, and that’s possibly why I’m still reading this series in hardback. Out June 24 (excerpt here, PDF)

Laurell K Hamilton’s “Skin Trade” (urban fantasy):  Another series I’m slightly ambivalent about.  I think I have kicked the Merry habit, but I haven’t quite given up on Anita Blake yet.  Out now (excerpt here, PDF)

“Swordplay” edited by Denise Little (fantasy):  My misses probably outnumber the hits when it comes to short story anthologies, but one themed around swordsmen and swords calls to the romantic in me.  I love the minimalist cover as well.

 

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Recent Reads

I’m never going to get organised enough to post my monthly reads on a regular basis or to review every single book I read (or even every other book), so here are some quick thoughts on a few books I’ve recently read.

I loved Karen Chance’s “Midnight’s Daughter” (urban fantasy), but I’d have to say it’s probably not one for new readers.  Even though it’s the start of a new series, it’s set in the same world as her Cassie Palmer books and I suspect that without having read the Cassie books, the world-building would leave you a bit lost.  This book also references a novella in the “On the Prowl” anthology, which I vaguely recalled, and so helped me to understand some events that occurred off-stage, so to speak.  But I love Ms Chance’s writing and I enjoyed exploring more of her world through a different viewpoint.  I want more.

I also read Mary Stewart’s “The Gabriel Hounds” (romantic suspense).  I’m fascinated by contemporaries written decades ago because of the insight you get into everyday life and cultural norms back then.  What life was like without mobile phones and the internet.  When you had to go through an operator to make international calls.  When it was acceptable to have a heroine who smokes.  Anyway, I liked this one, especially the Middle East setting and the mystery of the reclusive and eccentric grand-aunt who styles herself after Lady Hester Stanhope.  But I was wondering about the romance: [slight spoiler] – surely first cousins are slightly too close, especially if their fathers are twins (identical, I’m assuming)?  Or was that considered acceptable back then? [/spoiler]*

And then I read Laurell K Hamilton’s “Swallowing Darkness” (err… paranormal romance?  I’m not entirely sure how to classify this).  I wasn’t going to read this one as I’ve almost given up on the Merry Gentry series, but my curiosity was piqued by several posts asking if this was the final Merry book (it isn’t, btw), which sort of implied that the overall story arc had reached a conclusion.  It wasn’t as bad as one of the previous books (can’t remember which now, the one that pretty much consisted of a couple of scenes and nothing else) but it was almost a DNF for me, because I was just… bored.  The bad guys would attack, Merry (or rather, the Goddess) would save the day and heal everyone.  Repeat.  Even the sex scenes felt tame to me (or maybe the heat-level that’s prevalent in romance nowadays has raised the bar a bit).  FWIW, yes, there is some sort of conclusion to the whole Merry-Cel saga, but it’s definitely a borrow, not buy, book).

And I finished Richelle Mead’s “Succubus Dreams” (urban fantasy – I think) yesterday.  As always, an entertaining read.  I like the fact Ms Mead’s not afraid to have her characters move on and change, the series doesn’t feel static to me.  And Georgina is a very likeable character.  However, while I know I will probably get the next book in the series (and will enjoy it), I don’t feel as though I must know what happens next.  I guess I’m not as invested in the series as I am in others.

 

*Spoilers in comments as well

Books for May

Okay, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will be able to post covers properly for this post.  I’m not liking the WordPress upgrade much. (ETA: No, I still can’t insert pictures directly – this is driving me mad!)

Anyway, May books I’m looking forward to:

Charlaine Harris‘ “From Dead to Worse” (urban fantasy) – I’ve been a big fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series since Day 1, so definitely am getting the 8th book in the series.  But OMG.  Look at the UK cover (left).  Is that Sookie to you?  Yes, she’s blonde and if I think about it, I can’t pick out anything that contradicts the books.  But I guess I’m just not used to actually seeing Sookie as a “real” person – err… that would be as opposed to the cartoon-like characters on the US covers. 

Excerpt here (out May 6).

 

Julia Quinn‘s “The Lost Duke of Wyndham” (historical romance) – A brand-new Julia Quinn!  And I mean properly new (that is, not a rewritten older book).  The sequel to this is out in September, btw, and apparently is the story of the existing Duke of Wyndham.  The one who could be replaced by the hero of this book.  I’m looking forward to seeing how she handles this story.  The cover’s interesting – it’s mimicking the look of a TV/movie book adaptation.

Excerpt here (out May 27).

 

Stephenie Meyer‘s “The Host” (SF) – Ms Meyer’s first grown-up book.  I’m thinking lots of teen readers who loved “Twilight” will be picking this one up.  I really have no idea how this one will be received.  Heh – just went over to her website, and the tagline is “science fiction for people who don’t like science fiction”.  I like SF, but SF thrillers aren’t quite my thing.  I’m planning on getting this as I loved Ms Meyer’s writing and “Twilight” (though by the third book, Bella was really starting to grate on me).  I haven’t been looking for reviews on this, but I’m surprised I haven’t happened across any by accident yet.  I’ve seen quite a few ARCs of these on auction sites.

Excerpt here (out May 6).

 

Laurell K Hamilton‘s “Blood Noir” (urban fantasy) – I’m such a sucker for Anita Blake books – this is the 16th, I think?  The last one (“The Harlequin”) started out promisingly but sort of fizzled out halfway.  I’m hoping this one is better.  The UK cover is more consistent with previous books in the series (for some reason, the model reminds me of Angelina Jolie in the Tomb Raider movies – err that would be Lara Croft then).  The US cover, as has been mentioned elsewhere, is a radical departure from previous covers. 

Excerpt here (out May 27)

 

Tanya Huff‘s “Blood Bank” (urban fantasy) – This is a collection of the Vicky Nelson/Henry Fitzroy short stories, previously published in an omnibus version together with “Blood Debt”.  Vicky’s a PI and Henry’s a vampire – I know you’re thinking standard urban fantasy, but the first of these books was published back in 1991, so way before the current UF trend.  I suspect I’ve probably read some of these short stories already, but still…

No excerpts (out May 6).

 

That is pretty much it for this month.  I’m most excited about the Charlaine Harris book.  I’ll also probably get the Jes Battis book I mentioned in my post below.  Amanda Quick also has a new book out (“The Third Circle”), but it’s hardcover and I still haven’t gotten hold of her last release “The River Knows”.

 

My June Booklist

I posted some time back about books I planned to buy this month.

Out of those books, I’ve read Jo Beverley’s “Lady Beware”, Eloisa James’ “Desperate Duchesses” and Laurell K Hamilton‘s “The Harlequin”.

On the first two – when I updated my list of books read in June with these two books, I ranked “Lady Beware” slightly higher than “Desperate Duchesses”.  Now I do this after reading each book (or as soon as I remember, anyway), so my grade for each book is independent of similar books.  

Interestingly, even though I ranked “Lady Beware” higher, it was “Desperate Duchesses” that stayed in my mind a couple of days after, while I had to think really hard to remember the details of “Lady Beware” a few days after reading it.  I think Ms James has a real talent for bringing characters alive, even though her storylines may not be as carefully linked together, if that makes sense.  Anyway, both are books that I definitely don’t regret buying.

As for “The Harlequin”, I thought it started off well with a really interesting premise, but sort of fizzled out halfway through.  A mysterious vampire hit squad comes to town, leaving masks to indicate their intention – white if they’re just observing, red if they’ve come for you.  So the scene is set for an intriguing peek into the world of vampire traditions – unfortunately, nothing really happens.  Both in the book and in terms of the overall series arc.  So an okay book, but well, nothing special.

Here’s an interesting review of “The Harlequin”, by someone who’s never read an Anita Blake book before.  IMO, the reviewer completely gets to the root of what’s missing in the later books.

I have Meljean Brook‘s “Demon Moon”, but haven’t properly started it yet – have just dipped in and out of the first couple of chapters.  I remember doing the same thing with the first book “Demon Angel” – I kept on reading bits and pieces until I reached a part that completely grabbed me, and then I ended staying up until 2am until I finished the book.  I think I need to plan it better this time around…

I haven’t seen Julia Quinn’s “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever”, Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Justice”, Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife: Legacy” or Janet Evanovich’s “Lean Mean Thirteen” in stores yet – then again, I haven’t been in a bookstore recently.  Actually, I’m not sure if the latter two have been released yet.

Just checked, and no, they’re not officially out yet.  However, there appear to be more excerpts on Ms Evanovich’s website for “Lean Mean Thirteen”.

Also, the first chapter of Ms Bujold’s book is posted on the Eos blog, and if you haven’t yet read the first in the series “TSK: Beguilement”, here are the first couple of chapters.

June Books

Hmmm… is it just me or are there a lot of books scheduled to be released in June?  Here are the ones I’m planning on getting (and one I bought today) – starting off with the historical romances:

0451221494_01__aa_scmzzzzzzz_v46673742_.jpgJo Beverley‘s “Lady Beware” – This is the one I came across today and bought immediately.  It’s part of her Company of Rogues series – Dare Debenham’s sister meets the new Viscount Darien, who just happens to hate the Rogues.  From the back cover blurb, Viscount Darien’s name is actually Horatio Cave, which would nicely avoid the problem of too many Ds in the story…  While I prefer Ms Beverley’s Georgian books, her Regencies come a close second – so I’m looking forward to this one.  A couple of excerpts are up on her website.

0749938323_01__aa_scmzzzzzzz_v23241071_.jpgJulia Quinn‘s “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” – Not a Bridgerton book!  Yes, I do know Jo Beverley’s Company of Rogues series is probably longer than the Bridgertons, but let’s just ignore that fact.  Can’t remember if I’ve posted this before, but here’s a deleted scene (the original epilogue) from Ms Quinn’s “How to Marry a Marquis” – it’s reminded me of how much I love her books. 

Eloisa James‘ “Desperate Duchesses” – Start of a new series – a trilogy, I think.  Her Essex Sisters quartet bumped her up to my auto-buy list, so I’m keeping an eye out for this.  Ms James always provides a refreshing take on tried-and-true romance storylines, so this should be no exception.  Excerpt on her website here.

Moving on to the ummm… I think I’m going to say paranormal romance:

21twewxnsyl__aa_.jpgMeljean Brook‘s “Demon Moon” – Sequel to “Demon Angel”, which got a rather good reception in romance blogland when it came out early this year.  Having read the deleted snippets Ms Brook posted on her blog and Jennie‘s rec, I can safely say I’m grabbing this as soon as I see it!  I wonder if Colin can beat Hugh in the hero stakes?  Excerpt here.

Laurell K Hamilton‘s “The Harlequin” – The latest Anita Blake.  Okay, at 432 pages, it’s almost twice the length as “Mistral’s Kiss”, so that’s a good sign – I think!  Excerpts here – oh, and the cover’s pretty cool as well.

In fantasy:

Jacqueline Carey‘s “Kushiel’s Justice” – Second in Imriel’s trilogy.  Imriel has a secret affair with Sidonie, but chooses duty over love.  Ms Carey did hint at this in the first book, so I’m not surprised, though it isn’t my favourite plotline.  There had better be a HEA – if not in this book, in the next!  Excerpts here.

212b4xetwdl__aa_.jpgLois McMaster Bujold‘s “The Sharing Knife: Legacy” – While I would very much prefer a Vorkosigan book, I’m not really complaining – well, not much, anyway.  This is the follow-up to “TSK: Beguilement” – Fawn and Dag return to Dag’s Lakewalker home.  Full blurb here.

And finally:

0312349491_01__aa_scmzzzzzzz_v42704093_.jpgJanet Evanovich‘s “Lean Mean Thirteen” – I’m a big Plum fan, so I’m excited about this.  Yes, I thought the Valentine’s Day novella was a complete rip-off – but I just love this series.  More madcap antics, and oh yes, Morelli and Ranger.  Excerpts here.

Right, that’s my June booklist for now, though I suspect I’ve probably missed a few off.