A Couple of New Releases

You know you haven’t been reviewing for a while when you forget how to use your tagging system at Goodreads.  And it wasn’t even that complicated to start with…

Anyway, I had grand plans to start posting more regularly, and then I remembered why my posting frequency dips (even more) over the summer – Wimbledon starts this week!  As I type, I’ve “Today at Wimbledon” in the background (thank goodness the BBC got rid of last year’s trying-too-hard highlights show “Wimbledon 2day”).

So before I get too caught up in the tennis (with the Olympics coming up next), here are a couple of recent reads.

28161530I’ve just finished Sarina Bowen‘s newest release BITTERSWEET.  Talk about foodie heaven!  And she accomplishes that without the dreaded infodump. It also takes skill to weave such a cosy and close-knit small-town (farm?) picture without ever veering into saccharine territory, and again, Bowen manages that with ease.  Obviously Griff and Audrey’s chemistry was off the charts and the relationship worked for me.

However, in what is becoming a familiar pattern in Bowen’s books, I spotted the major flashpoint a mile away and spent most of the book waiting for the axe to fall.  Which is why I happily abandoned the book halfway through for about a week before finishing it in a single gulp.  And a minor niggle – there were a few typos scattered throughout.  Not many, but enough to catch my attention.

29607276An unexpected new release read for me was Linda Howard‘s TROUBLEMAKER – I was expecting to wait a few months for my library reservation to come through.  Let’s get this out of the way – it’s not up to the standard of vintage Howard.  Then again, maybe it’s time to adjust expectations when it comes to Howard.

Janine’s review @ Dear Author said that the heroine’s dog, Tricks, was a Mary Sue character, which made me laugh because I’d scribbled in my notes that it felt like a love story between Bo (the heroine) and Tricks.  But it was suspenseful enough, though I think Howard overdid the dark damaged hero somewhat.  I felt there were some slightly anachronistic notes in what’s meant to be a modern romance, for instance, Bo thinking that she needed to buy “guy foods” for Morgan (and similar thinking in Morgan’s mind, IIRC).  Overall, the perfect commute-type read for me – it made the time pass quickly enough, but I never needed to know what happened next.

 

 

New Year, New Links

Recent links that have caught my eye:

More of What I Read Last Year

One dud, but overall the first half of last Sept was a pretty good reading month for me.  As always, reviews were originally posted on Goodreads – additional comments in italics below.

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Loose Ends (Steele Street, #11)Loose Ends by Tara Janzen (romantic suspense)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

You know, I surprised myself when I ended up buying LOOSE ENDS. I loved the first few books in the Steele Street series, then some head-spinning WTF plots in the following books meant that I stopped buying them a few years ago. But having discovered this was the final Steele Street book, I found myself intrigued as to how Tara Janzen would wrap up the series and welcome home the (missing, presumed dead) final member of the crew.

There are paranormal elements, so be warned, this isn’t a straight contemporary romantic suspense (which is a shame, because the SF-ish twists didn’t really work for me). But in the end, I enjoyed this, though readers that have followed the entire series would probably have found LOOSE ENDS more satisfying than I did.

Tara Janzen has a knack for writing male dialogue that has this authentic ring to it and even though it has been years, I loved seeing Superman, Kid Chronopolous & the rest of the Steele Street special ops team back together again. The cars, well ahhh… I’m not into cars by any means (I’m happy as long as they get me from A to B), but the passion Janzen (and her characters) had for them added a fun and sexy dimension to the story.

One of my very first reviews on this blog (all the way back in 2007) was for Tara Janzen‘s CRAZY SWEET (no, I didn’t care for it).  So this was a slightly nostalgic read for me and I’m glad the series ended on a decent note.

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PreyPrey by Linda Howard

My rating: 1 of 5 stars (romantic suspense)

I’ve loved some of Linda Howard’s backlist, which is probably why I’m still reading her recent releases. But this was just boring. I’m normally a fan of survival/wilderness stories, but I skimmed a lot in this one – neither the plot nor the characters captured my attention. And when we got the POV of the bear… oh dear.

I borrowed this from the library – thank goodness.  I keep on picking up her new releases just in case the magic of her earlier books makes a reappearance, but I have generally been disappointed. 

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Mummy Dearest (The XOXO Files, #1)Mummy Dearest by Josh Lanyon (m/m romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I didn’t fall in love with this novella. Don’t get me wrong, I finished it in one sitting (it’s a Lanyon after all!), but the story was too short for me to connect with the h/h. Having said that, I loved the writing as always, and I’d definitely read more books in this series.

Josh Lanyon is an autobuy author for me, but this one wasn’t one of my favourites.  

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Lola and the Boy Next DoorLola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Is that enough?

After the wonderful surprise that was Anna and the French Kiss, I was doing my best to temper my expectations. And it helped that the back cover copy didn’t exactly make me want to rush out and buy LOLA.

But Lola herself was a intriguing mix of insecurities and confidence, and before I knew it, I was caught up in her story. I loved how Stephanie Perkins integrated Lola’s love of costumes into her personality. Cricket was really sweet and lovable, so nice(!) – which, you know, isn’t exactly the norm for a romantic lead. But it worked – totally. I was rooting for them as they fumbled their way back together. The positive depiction of non-traditional families was a lovely unexpected plus, and the San Francisco setting made me want to go and visit. And oh, I did a slight squee as Anna and St Clair made an appearance – it was really interesting seeing them again, and this time from someone else’s perspective. Very cool.

I think the difference between ANNA and LOLA was that I could identify with Anna’s experience – Lola’s was slightly more distancing for me. But I loved every minute of reading this, and all I can say is bring on the third book, Isla and the Happily Ever After.

This was one of my favourite books of 2011.  Stephanie Perkins’ books are amongst the best that the YA romance genre offers, IMO.

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Dead Run (Dangerous Ground #4)Dead Run by Josh Lanyon (m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Adrien English will always be my all-time favourite Josh Lanyon series, but I have to say Dangerous Ground is rapidly making up ground on the AE books. I am dying to see where this series is going – or rather, when and how Will and Taylor get their HEA.

The Paris setting intruded slightly (a bit of a travelogue at times?), but the characters were beautifully drawn and leapt off the page. It’s sort of painful because Will and Taylor are fumbling around in their still new-ish relationship and hurting each other, sometimes on purpose but more often than not by accident. You just want to shake them at times. Possibly Will more than Taylor. But you know, I’ve a feeling the final pay-off will be worth it. <spoiler – highlight to read>I’m a sucker for the amnesia trope and I loved how this was played out in DEAD RUN. </spoiler>

I just want more.

Ah, the angst.  I love Will and Taylor.

Books for August

Taking a break from the agonising about whether to buy the eARC for Lois McMaster Bujold’s new book or not, here are the books on my To Buy list for this month:

 

51D8GyqI7FL._SL160_ Tamora Pierce’s “Melting Stones” (YA fantasy): Now this was first released quite a while back in audio form, IIRC – however, I’ve never quite managed an audiobook before, and have waited for the paperback release.  The story’s set in her Circle universe, which partly explains my patience – I would probably have caved and bought the hardcover, had this been a Tortall book.  But I like the Circle books well enough, and have already ordered my copy of “Melting Stones”.

Four years have passed since Evvy left the streets of Chammur to begin her training as a stone mage. At fourteen, she’s unhappy to be on a new journey with her mentor, prickly green mage Rosethorn, who has been called to the Battle Islands to determine why the plants and animals there are dying. Evvy’s job is to listen and learn, but she can’t keep quiet and do nothing. With the help of Luvo, the living stone heart of a mountain, Evvy uncovers an important clue. Now, with the island on the brink of disaster, it’s up to Evvy to avert the destruction that looms ahead.

While we’re on the subject of Tamora Pierce, I was thrilled to read about her upcoming collection of short stories, “Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales”, out next February.  It collects previously-published short stories – I suspect I’ve already read a few, but it would be fantastic to have all of them in a single volume.

Out now (excerpt)

 

fair_game Josh Lanyon’s “Fair Game” (m/m romantic suspense): Josh Lanyon is pretty much an auto-buy author for me, after his very excellent Adrien English series.

A crippling knee injury forced Elliot Mills to trade in his FBI badge for dusty chalkboards and bored college students. Now a history professor at Puget Sound university, the former agent has put his old life behind him—but it seems his old life isn’t finished with him.

A young man has gone missing from campus—and as a favor to a family friend, Elliot agrees to do a little sniffing around. His investigations bring him face-to-face with his former lover, Tucker Lance, the special agent handling the case.

Things ended badly with Tucker, and neither man is ready to back down on the fight that drove them apart. But they have to figure out a way to move beyond their past and work together as more men go missing and Elliot becomes the target in a killer’s obsessive game…

As an added bonus, “Fair Game” is released by Carina Press, the new(-ish) Harlequin e-imprint – I have been curious about them, and therefore this is an excellent opportunity to try out their books as well.  I have to say I am incredibly impressed with the covers on their site – I have not seen a bad one yet.  Could do with longer excerpts though.

Out now (excerpt)

 

51U-XU2WbiL._SL160_“Kiss Me Deadly”, edited by Trisha Telep (YA fantasy): This anthology looks to be made out of win – contributors include some of my favourite authors (yes, I mean Diana Peterfreund and Sarah Rees Brennan), and I’ve been meaning to read some of the other authors forever. 

If you can possibly thirst for more mysterious metaphysical accounts of love, Trisha Telep has organized some of the greatest and most thrilling tales of paranormal paramours since The Eternal Kiss.  She presents the acclaimed literary talent of thirteen unique authors, creating a collection of stories that will undoubtedly capture the imagination of every soul who dares to read them. Werewolves, ghosts, zombies, vampires, and fallen angels drive the plot of these riveting romances.

Out now

 

512A7hoGL._SL160_

Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Shades of Milk and Honey”  (fantasy): This popped up on my radar a couple of weeks ago, and after having read her short story “First Flight” on tor.com, I’ve pretty much made up my mind to get this.

Shades of Milk and Honey is an intimate portrait of Jane Ellsworth, a woman ahead of her time in a version of Regency England where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. But despite the prevalence of magic in everyday life, other aspects of Dorchester’s society are not that different: Jane and her sister Melody’s lives still revolve around vying for the attentions of eligible men.

Jane resists this fate, and rightly so: while her skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face, and therefore wins the lion’s share of the attention. At the ripe old age of twenty-eight, Jane has resigned herself to being invisible forever. But when her family’s honor is threatened, she finds that she must push her skills to the limit in order to set things right–and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

Out now (excerpt)

 

And my maybes for August?  Linda Howard’s “Veil of Night” (romantic suspense) – her books have been more miss than hit for me lately (and on a side note, I can’t believe she still does not have a website).  I may also get “Death’s Excellent Vacation”, another of the UF anthologies edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner, at some point – or wait for the paperback. 

Books for November

Mid-November and I’ve only read two books.  At this rate, I’ll need to stop eyeing up the new releases, else it will be a losing battle against my TBR pile.  Maybe it’s a good thing there aren’t that many November releases that I want.  I think.

415lXZ2a4HL._SL160_ I’m definitely going to get Nalini Singh’s “Blaze of Memory” (paranormal romance), the latest in her Psy/Changeling series.  An autobuy for me really – this series has not grown stale and I love the strong romance in each book, combined with the excellent overall plot arc and world-building.  So far, Ms Singh just keeps on getting better and better with each book, although saying that, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that “Angel’s Blood”, the first book in her other series, is still sitting in my TBR pile.

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51E4VozoVZL._SL160_ 517ByqgtCEL._SL160_ And then there’s Charlaine Harris “Grave Secret” (urban fantasy), the fourth book in Ms Harris’ “other” series, i.e. the one that is getting slightly less attention than her Sookie Stackhouse books.  I think this is the final book, but I’m not 100% sure.  Renee of Renee’s Book Addiction and Carolyn of The Thrillionth Page did a rather timely “Sleeper Series” post on these books.

I’ve just checked and the UK version (published by Gollancz with the cover on the right) isn’t out until January.  I wish the publishers would sync up their international releases.  Also, I much prefer the US covers for all of Charlaine Harris’s books.  The UK ones are pretty generic UF, IMO.

Out now (US anyway) and PDF excerpt here

 

51XvbGmfmUL._SL160_ And finally, I have just bought the anthology “The Dragon Book” (fantasy), edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois, and with stories by some of my favourite authors, including Naomi Novik and Tamora Pierce (and yes, it’s a Tortall story and no prizes for guessing the main character).  Oh, and Diana Gabaldon.  Ana from The Book Smugglers reviewed it last week, and I pretty much ordered it immediately.

Out now (more details on contributors here, with an excerpt that I haven’t looked at, because it’s a large PDF)

 

The maybes for November?  I will probably get around to buying Katie Macalister’s “Me and My Shadow” (paranormal romance), the latest in her Silver Dragon books, at some point.  IIRC, my copy of the previous book in this series had some chapters in the wrong order, which didn’t exactly improve my reading experience, especially since I didn’t figure that out until much later in the book. 

And Linda Howard’s “Ice” (romantic suspense) – normally an autobuy author, but I hear it’s a hardcover coming in at 200-odd pages.  And I haven’t adored her most recent books.  Probably a borrow-from-library book for me.

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).

The Third Quarter of 2008

Ploughing on with my year in review posts (I’m beginning to regret starting this!), here’s July to September:

 

July

A fairly quiet month reading-wise.  I enjoyed Naomi Novik’s “Victory of Eagles” (historical fantasy, Book 5 of the Temeraire series) – how can you not like Temeraire?  Ms Novik’s take on dragons and the Napoleonic Wars era remains fresh, and I recall shedding some tears during this one.  That was probably expected, seeing how the previous book ended, but all’s well and I look forward to seeing what Will and Temeraire get up to next.

I liked Tanya Huff’s “The Heart of Valor” (military SF, Book 3 of the Confederation series).  This surprised me slightly, because while I enjoy her urban fantasy books, her SF books had never really captured my imagination.  This one did, to the extent I bought the next book in hardcover.

I also read Sherwood Smith’s “The Fox” and “King’s Shield” (fantasy, Book 2 and 3 of the Inda series).  This is slightly different from her other books, as it isn’t YA, though I think it’s set in the same universe.  I had a hard time getting into “The Fox”, primarily because it’s been around two years since I had read “Inda” (Book 1), and I struggled with the large cast of characters and multiple plotlines.  However, by the end of “The Fox”, I was taken enough to buy “King’s Shield” in hardcover – here’s hoping I remember enough when “Treason’s Shore” (fourth and final book) comes out in August 2009.

The last book I really liked is Suzanne Brockmann’s “Into the Fire” (romantic suspense, Book 13 of the Troubleshooters series).  I wasn’t quite sure going in, since the Jules/Robin arc had been wrapped up in the previous book (and Jules/Robin is up there with Sam/Alyssa for my favourite Brockmann couple), but I really liked this one.  Though I will say it probably fell victim to the “everyone-who-has-ever-been-mentioned-pops-in-and-says-hi” curse.  And I will be getting “Dark of Night” when it comes out in January (whoops, missed it off my January releases list) – while I’ve been unable to avoid DoN spoilers, I’m not that invested in the Sophia arc to have a strong opinion as to what the HEA should be.

 

August

Another quiet reading month, with the highlight being Patricia Briggs’ “Cry Wolf” (urban fantasy).  I liked it so much that I was moved to declare if I could only ever read one author for the rest of my life, it would be Patricia Briggs.  Not that I actually want to be in a situation where I had to read only one author, mind you.  But still.  I loved revisiting Ms Briggs’ Mercy universe from a different angle.

I won a copy of Julia Spencer-Fleming’s “I Shall Not Want” (romantic suspense, Book 6 in the Russ/Clare series) at Keishon’s earlier in the year, and finally got around to reading and reviewing it.  I really liked the small-town feel and how Clare’s faith was blended seamlessly into the book, definitely a new series for me to follow.

Other books I read and liked during August were Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust” (fantasy, reviewed for the TBR challenge here) and Linda Howard’s “Death Angel” (romantic suspense).  “Death Angel” got mixed reviews in blogland and I can get why, but Ms Howard made the rather unsympathetic main characters and the whole second chance at life scenario (which would normally make me roll my eyes and close the book) work for me.

Oh, and I was thrilled to find a 1958 paperback in pristine condition at a secondhand bookstore, it even had a promotional postcard in it and everything.  Don’t laugh.  Anyway, while I didn’t love the story that much (Josephine Tey’s “One Shilling for Candles”, mystery), I intend to read a few more books from Ms Tey’s backlist.

 

September

Speaking of quiet reading months, I only managed to finish five books in September (though I more than made up for this in October).  That is shockingly low for me, but on the bright side, I did enjoy the books I read.

Jayne Castle’s “Dark Light” (futuristic romance) was a solid fluffy romance (and no, that’s not an oxymoron).  If you read a Jayne Castle, you always know what you’re going to get, and that makes for a great comfort read.  I also read Nalini Singh’s “Hostage to Pleasure” (paranormal romance, Book 5 of the Psy/Changeling series) and Ann Aguirre’s “Wanderlust” (SF romance, book 2 of the Jax series), both again worth the time.

And I read Cassandra Clare’s “City of Bones” and “City of Ashes” (YA urban fantasy, Books 1 and 2 of the Mortal Instruments trilogy).  I was a bit on the fence after reading CoB, but bought CoA when I had to grab something in five minutes (hey, you know you need reading material).  And I was very glad I did because I totally loved CoA and did a bit of a squee here.

 

So that was July, August, and September 2008 – my reviews of the first half of 2008 are here and here.

Sigh

Help.  I can’t decide what to read next.  I just haven’t been that enthused about reading lately – I think I’m sort of sliding into a reading slump.

Having said that, I did read Linda Howard’s “Death Angel” over the weekend, mainly because it was staring at me accusingly from the pile of books on the coffee table. 

I liked it – the whole plot is unusual* for a romance, and I’m not quite sure how Ms Howard made it work, but she did.  Even the “second chance” bit, which normally would have me rolling my eyes, but actually nearly made me cry! 

I’ve noticed she’s been focusing on survival-type plots recently – the same applies to “Death Angel”, though DA is more survival in an urban environment, i.e. avoiding CCTV cameras and not leaving a paper trail behind you, whereas the past couple of books have focused on outdoor survival stuff.

I’m going to end my Bank Holiday weekend by tidying up my bookshelves, and maybe I’ll stumble over something that will kickstart my reading again.  Or I can wait until tomorrow’s releases – both the new Ann Aguirre and Jayne Castle books are out tomorrow!

 

*<slight spoiler>especially the moral ambiguity</end spoiler>

Books for July

Time flies!  I can’t believe half the year has already gone past.

Anyway, new month, new books… here are the July releases that I’m looking forward to (although most of these are August or later releases in UK, I just may have to haunt bookstores that do US imports!):

 

41cJFka00oL__SL160_ Linda Howard’s “Death Angel” (at a guess – romantic suspense):  Ms Howard is one of my auto-buy authors.  Having said that, I haven’t been too crazy over her last two books (too heavy on the survivalist stuff and too light on the romance), so I’m hoping this one is better. 

Excerpt here (out July 1)

 

 

 

61eYT1zu1UL__SL160_ 51YcHRfZmiL__SL160_ Naomi Novik’s “Victory of Eagles”  (historical fantasy) – Fifth book in the Temeraire series (think Napoleonic Wars with dragons if you’re not familiar with this series already).  Temeraire is the most adorable dragon ever (yes, I’m aware how absurd that sentence sounds, but it’s true – hmm… precociousness in dragons obviously comes across better than in children).   The previous book left Laurence is a rather precarious situation so I can’t wait to get this. 

UK cover on the left, and US one on the right, btw.  I prefer the US cover (more colour!), but the UK version is very similar in style to the previous editions – very striking if you have all five in a row.

Excerpt here (out July 8 )

 

51W-EpQ0YFL__SL160_ Eoin Colfer’s “The Time Paradox” (children’s fantasy) – Sixth book in the Artemis Fowl series.  Speaking of precocious children, here’s the poster child.  I can’t remember how I first stumbled upon this series, but it’s brilliant.  Artemis is a teenage boy who could probably take over the world (in his spare time) if he wanted to.  In this one, apparently he has to go back in time and outsmart his ten-year-old self – excellent premise!  Oh, and I love the cover.

Excerpt here (out July 15)

 

212Bv9w5i2BbL__SL160_ Diana Wynne Jones’ “The House of Many Ways” (children’s fantasy) – I wouldn’t describe myself as a massive fan of Ms Wynne Jones (or is that Ms Jones?), but “House of Many Ways” is a follow-up to… “Howl’s Moving Castle”!  And I love Howl.  And Sophie.  And Calcifer!  Unusually, I liked both the book and the animated movie, although the movie did take a lot of liberties with the story.  Definitely going to get this book. 

Excerpt here (out July 1 – think it’s already out in the States)

 

21b7e8p2BbEL__SL160_ 51I9bKIEshL__SL160_Kelley Armstrong’s “The Summoning” (YA urban fantasy) – This is a YA spin-off  from her Otherworld series and apparently, the book’s written from the POV of a 15-year-old who’s just coming into her powers.  I can’t wait to see the Otherworld from such a different perspective, and I do like Ms Armstrong’s writing.  Again, UK cover on the left and US on the right – I think the US lucked out this time around.  The UK version is a bit blah, hopefully it looks better in real life!

Excerpt here or you can read the Flash version somewhere here, okay, go to Story > Excerpt (out July 1)

 

51hRsnr9rDL__SL160_ Patricia Briggs’ “Cry Wolf” (urban fantasy) – Is there anyone out there *not* waiting for this one?  After giving us a taster in the “On the Prowl” anthology, here’s Anna and Charles’ story.  And the cover’s amazing.

Excerpt here (out July 29)

 

 

 

Maybes for July include John Scalzi’s “The Last Colony” (SF – will probably get if it comes out in ebook format), Nathalie Mallet’s “The King’s Daughters”  (fantasy – second in the Prince Amir series) and Sherwood Smith’s “The Fox” (fantasy – this is the mmp version, so I will most likely get).

Oh, and finally, there’s this anthology titled “The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance” which sounds interesting – contributors include Karen Chance (which probably makes it a “Buy!”), Lilith Saintcrow, Keri Arthur, and Vicki Pettersson.

What I read on holiday

Not full-on proper reviews, because I’m, well, lazy – just thoughts! 

I picked up Linda Lael Miller‘s “The Man from Stone Creek” on impulse.  I haven’t read her books for ages and ages, and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it.  I hadn’t read a Western historical romance in, well, ages.  But I loved the characters in this book – the undercover Ranger working as a schoolteacher, the heroine managing the general store, the vividly-drawn secondary cast – as well as the general atmosphere and feel of the wild wild West!  This really put me in the mood for reading more Westerns, so I also picked up her “Emma and the Outlaw” and “Lily and the Major” books (re-issues).  While these weren’t as good as TMfSC, I think I may start reading Westerns again.

Nora Roberts‘ “High Noon” was my airplane book – I thought it was a solid read, but nothing special, IMO.  My sister said that Ms Roberts writes great characters, but her recent standalones lack *something*. And I think I’ll agree.  The writing flowed as always, but I didn’t love it, and from a distance of two weeks or thereabouts, I can’t even remember the storyline.  I think the last Nora Roberts books I loved were her Chesapeake books – the ones with the Quinn brothers.

I also read Stephenie Meyer‘s “Eclipse”.  Eh.  I’ll admit it – this book bored me.  I gave up halfway through and skimmed through to the end, just to find out where the characters ended up.  I don’t like Bella, which is a major problem since the book is written from her POV.  She’s too whiny and well, immature.  But she’s only 18.  Or 19.  I’m wondering if I would have liked it more if I were a teenage girl – would I have identified more with Bella?  I’m a bit on the fence as to whether I’ll get the final book – I’ll probably wait until the reviews come out for that one, I suspect.  This was a bit of a disappointment.

Oh, and Suzanne Brockmann‘s Force of Nature.  Now this I loved.  I thought FoN was classic Brockmann, with a really action-packed suspenseful ending. Without giving too much away, I’m a huge Jules fan, and I’m glad he finally got his story and HEA.  And I’m so getting the November novella (FoN spoiler-ish blurb here).  

I heard she’s starting a new story arc that includes Tess and Nash.  Ouch.  Poor them.  I’m in two minds on these secondary romance arcs – on one hand, I love them because you really get invested in the characters and there’s more scope for “what’s the worst thing I can do to these characters”-type plots and she does it *so* well, but on the other hand, I find that I get so caught up in them, that I just end up skimming through the books for the bits that involve them.  I know I certainly did that for Sam/Alyssa and now for Jules.  Hmm… 

And finally, I read Linda Howard‘s “Up Close and Dangerous” on the way back.  Though reading about a plane crash while on a plane may not have been the best choice.  Heh.  Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I found all the practical survival stuff fascinating.  So I liked that part, which was good since they spent most of the book getting off the mountain, which surprised me a bit.  The suspense part… wasn’t really suspense, was it?  I thought she could have led up to it better, more foreshadowing perhaps?  The twist came out of nowhere for me – I re-read the relevant bits once I finished the book, and still didn’t think she gave any clues.  Perhaps not one of her greatest books ever, but a good read nonetheless.

I actually did more re-reads of old favourites, but I’ll save that for another post!