Books for September

This is one of those posts that fall into the “better late than never” category – here are the September new releases that I’m getting.

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Seanan McGuire‘s ASHES OF HONOR (urban fantasy): If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (or even for the past few weeks, come to think of it), you know I’ve been a big fan of Toby Daye ever since the first book.  Somehow Seanan McGuire gets better and better with each installment, and I’ve been so caught up in Toby’s story that it’s hard to believe this is the sixth book in the series already.  I’ve already finished ASHES OF HONOR – without wanting to spoil things, it’s oh-so-satisfying on so many levels.

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

Out now (author’s book page)

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Meljean Brook‘s RIVETED (paranormal romance): This is the third book in her Iron Seas series.  I hesitated a long time before I picked up the first book, THE IRON DUKE, because I stalled a couple of books into her other series (I do need to give them another go one day), but I really shouldn’t have.  Her steampunk world is so intricately crafted (Hilcia referred to these books as social science fiction, which is an excellent description) and she gives good romance.

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home . . . but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard

Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam…

Out now (excerpt)

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Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNSPOKEN (YA paranormal): I’ve such love for Sarah Rees Brennan’s stories and this first book of the Lynburn Legacy trilogy sounds like a must-have.  I mean, modern YA Gothic?  Count me in, especially if the story’s laced with her unique brand of humour, which never fails to make me laugh out loud.

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Out now (author’s book page)

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Lee Child‘s A WANTED MAN (suspense): I’m always excited about a new Jack Reacher (and admit that I am planning to see the movie, despite the Tom Cruise thing).  I think the recent Reacher books have been a bit hit or miss (and have amped up the violence), but Lee Child’s still an auto-buy author for me.

Four people in a car, hoping to make Chicago by morning. One man driving, eyes on the road. Another man next to him, telling stories that don’t add up. A woman in the back, silent and worried. And next to her, a huge man with a broken nose, hitching a ride east to Virginia.

An hour behind them, a man lies stabbed to death in an old pumping station. He was seen going in with two others, but he never came out. He has been executed, the knife work professional, the killers vanished. Within minutes, the police are notified. Within hours, the FBI descends, laying claim to the victim without ever saying who he was or why he was there.

All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat—to both sides at once.

In Lee Child’s white-hot thriller, nothing is what it seems, and nobody is telling the truth. As the tension rises, the twists come fast and furious, keeping readers guessing and gasping until the explosive finale.

Out Sept 25 (excerpt)

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Finally, there are a number of books I’ve been eyeing:

  • The annual(?) anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner – this one is titled AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE and has an Ilona Andrews contribution.  I’ve requested this from my library because I can’t justify buying a hardcover when I really only want to read one story
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  • I really liked Joanne Dobson‘s Karen Pelletier mystery series, which was set in a New England college campus.  She’s co-authoring a new series called Wartime in New York, and the first is out this month (FACE OF THE ENEMY) – I’m always a sucker for historical mysteries.
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  • I read Rae Carson‘s YA fantasy debut THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS earlier this year and liked it well enough, though I think the positive hype led me to have overly-high expectations.  The second, THE CROWN OF EMBERS, is out this month and while I do want to read it, I will most probably wait for the paperback.
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  • There’s a Christmas anthology called MISCHIEF AND MISTLETOE (less than 100 days to Christmas!) coming out this month – I wanted to get it until I realised it was around £8.  Contributors are the historical romance authors who blog at Word Wenches, including Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, so again, I’ll probably get it when it drops to a lower price point.
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Links of Interest

I nearly missed a typo and the post title was almost Kinks of Interest – which may have attracted more attention admittedly.  LINKS to items that have caught my attention recently:

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Courtney Milan put up a post about royalties received from her self-published v. traditionally published novellas so far – fascinating reading.  Ebooks have completely changed the publishing landscape from where it was a few years ago.

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Congratulations to Mary Jo Putney on her marriage – I loved her wedding post and pictures @ Word Wenches.

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Kristin Cashore answers some BITTERBLUE questions on her blog – be warned as there are spoilers about GRACELING, but I definitely appreciate the thought she put into the answers.

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John Scalzi puts up a thought-provoking post about straight white males and umm… privilege – having just read (and loved) Ernest Cline‘s READY PLAYER ONE, it was an interesting (and timely to me) analogy he chose to use (and comments are worth reading too).

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Sourcebooks’ Discover a New Love is doing a cover vote for the re-release of Patricia Rice‘s MUST BE MAGIC historical romance – both options based on very different concepts.  I’m not massively keen on either (the elements in the non-traditional option don’t feel cohesive enough, while the more period version is on the boring side), but if pushed, would probably go for the second.

Speaking of Discover a New Love, has anyone signed up for their monthly subscription package?  I was briefly tempted, but not all their books would be available to international readers, and I wasn’t sure if the more limited selection would work for me.

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Meljean Brook has had a website redesign and is giving away ten copies of THE IRON DUKE (UK edition) to celebrate (and for feedback on the new website) – I read this earlier in the year and was completely caught up in the world she created.

She’s also put up the UK cover for the third book, RIVETED, which is out later this year – I love.  I’m really pleased these books are being released in the UK as well.

Awards and Other Links

The 2012 Hugo award nominees were announced last week – I feel as though I haven’t really read enough SFF last year to be able to comment knowledgeably (same with the RITAs, I admit).  The most interesting aspect (to me) is that Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant) had four nominations in different categories – wow.

Of the Best Novel nominations, I have James A Corey‘s LEVIATHAN WAKES in my TBR pile, and Hilcia recommends – I plan on starting it soon-ish (by the way, Hils got two Hugo nominees right, so I’m impressed!).  She also recommends China Miéville‘s EMBASSYTOWN – this has less appeal to me at the moment.  On the other hand, I’ve never read any of his works, so I could be missing out!  I’m probably not going to read George RR Martin‘s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, as it’s the fifth in a long-ish series, and I don’t see myself reading the first four.  Similarly with Mira Grant‘s DEADLINE (despite my love for Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books), I’ve not read the first in the trilogy, so I’m not planning on picking that up.  That leaves Jo Walton‘s AMONG OTHERS, and again the premise doesn’t appeal to me (though I do like the articles she writes at Tor.com).

So that’s that for me and the Best Novel nominees – I’d love to hear your opinions on them if you’ve read any (or even if you haven’t!).

As for the Short Story nominees, they’re all available online and John Scalzi (who is one of them) has kindly provided links.  I need to check them out.

And finally, I have to say I’ve never heard of any of the John W Campbell nominees before this, which makes me feel as though I’ve been living under a rock.

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While we’re on the SFF theme, Fantasy Cafe has been hosting a Women in SF&F Month, with some great contributions from authors and readers alike.  I did the link-clicking thing and came across this list of female SF authors by Jessica @ Sci-Fi Fan Letter.  It’s a good resource, though I’m not looking to actively read books written by female authors.  If anything, I probably read too many female authors (by-product of being a romance reader, possibly?) – if I wanted to aim for more gender diversity, I would have to consciously try and read more books written by males.  Having said that, Jessica’s point was that while there are a lot of females writing SF, you may not always guess that from award nominee listings.

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And the pre-13 release buildup for Kelley Armstrong‘s final Otherworld book continues – remember when I had a bit of a moment about the free story only available in the hardcover versions?  She announces an e-only pack [ETA: new link], probably released in June – it’ll be $1.99 for this:

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

This is the promotion I’ll be running (me, not my publishers) for the bonus pack. With the e-book pack, you’ll receive:

1) something old – Stalked (the 10,000* word Elena & Clay honeymoon story reprinted from My Big, Fat Supernatural Honeymoon)

2) something new – a still-untitled 10,000* word Eve story set before Thirteen

3) something borrowed – first 50 pages of Thirteen/13

4) something blue – Xaviere is doing fun “police lineup” style character bookmarks, one for the gals (Elena, Paige, Eve, Jaime, Hope, Savannah) and one for the guys (Clay, Lucas, Kristof, Jeremy, Karl, Adam). The characters are dressed in blue (hey, I had to get it in there somehow!) I’m doing a limited print run of both. If you email me your receipt for the purchase of the bonus pack, I’ll mail you a pair of bookmarks, at least one of them signed. Because the bookmarks are a limited edition, I do have to “cap” this promo, but it’ll be a high cap, likely 1500, which shouldn’t be a problem if the only way to hear about it is through me

I’m on the fence – it’s nice in the sense she doesn’t have to do it and you know, I love Eve, but as I’ve already have MY BIG FAT SUPERNATURAL HONEYMOON, it’s really $2 for a short story.  I think I’ll wait and see.

Also, if you haven’t already heard, she has another new novella coming out with Subterranean Press – FORBIDDEN will be released in December.

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And finally, a couple of links I tweeted earlier this week:

The Vorkosiverse is a feast of relationships, not just romances. I love how cousins Miles and Ivan interact as evil brothers who nonetheless trust each other unconditionally. The way marriages mature and change. The way the boy emperor, Gregor, grows into his insanely demanding role. Cordelia, Aral, Gregor, Mark—there are so many marvelous characters who are defined as much by their relationships as by their actions.

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 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.

A This and That Post

So many things, so little time.  A few things that have caught my eye this week:

For those UK readers considering the Kindle (and yes, that would include me), NextRead has an excellent post summarising what you will and won’t get.  After shipping and taxes, the cost is around $387 according to this MobileRead post.

I’ve decided to hold off for several reasons:

  • Firstly, I want a UK store – why would I want to be held hostage to exchange rate fluctuations?  And pay for shipping and taxes myself?  And buy a UK power adaptor?  The launch does feel rushed.  They’ve certainly grabbed headlines by doing a massive worldwide launch, but there looks to have been some trade-offs.
  • Secondly, I’m put off by the price: $387 roughly equates to £242.  Too expensive to be an impulse buy, and let’s face it, I’ve a perfectly-working Sony Reader.  And then there’s the surcharge of approx $2 on top of US retail prices.  I’ll be curious to see what the pricing is like – both for the reader and for the ebooks – when they do launch the UK store.
  • Thirdly, and probably most importantly, I want a ereader that supports the epub format, because that is rapidly becoming the common format across the industry (both Waterstones and WH Smith, among others, sell epub books).  By only supporting the Amazon (Mobipocket-based) proprietary format, the Kindle will tie you in to buying books from Amazon*.

So I’m holding off for now, but I’m glad to see ebooks becoming more and more mainstream.

* Unless a store sells DRM-free (i.e. non-protected) Mobipocket books.

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51d7iMeTL._SL160_ A post on Word Wenches alerted me to the fact Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney are releasing their older books via a new UK publisher, Everlyn.  I think I already have the books listed so far, but the new covers are gorgeous and very very tempting.

Jo Beverley is doing a signing tour across England to support the re-releases (4-17 November 2009), and if I lived nearby, I would definitely want to go.  Very cleverly, it’s billed as “… retracing the steps of her characters as they flee across the South of England”.

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5189d1W8bxL._SL160_ Recommended read of the week: Ilona Andrews’ “On the Edge”.  I love her (their?  I’m never sure of how to refer to two writers writing under a single pseudonym) Kate Daniels series, so this was an auto-buy for me.

The authors call it a “rustic fantasy”, as opposed to “urban fantasy”.  I sort of think of it as fantasy romance, and actually, it reminded me of Western historicals.  A very entertaining read, and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

And I know the cover is not universally loved, but I like.  The male model matches my mental image of Declan exactly.

Reviews are up all around the web: The Book Smugglers (7 – Very Good), Angieville (Angie quoted one of my favourite passages in the book, and has more review linkage), Literary Escapism (loved), Dorkgasm (3 1/2 out of 5) to name a few.

Let me know if you’ve reviewed “On the Edge” and I’ll add a link.

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).

Busy Busy Busy

I’ve had an incredibly mad week at work.  Though we are expecting some major announcements next week (job cuts anyone?), so I’m guessing that being busy is better than sitting around doing nothing.  Errmm.  Let’s see.

So anyway, I missed Keishon’s TBR Challenge this week.  For the first time ever.  Am slightly annoyed with myself, seeing that I had the book picked out and everything, but it just didn’t happen.

I have so far read a grand total of four books in February and there is only one more week in this month.  I’m doing rather dismally.

I have bought the anthology “The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance” though, and in the interest of actually providing some useful information on my blog this week (as opposed to having a general moan), here’s the link to its Table of Contents, listing author and story.  Plus a few pages of Carrie Vaughn’s contribution.

And because this is something I like to know, of the stories I’ve read so far written by authors I’m familiar with:

  • Ms Vaughn’s story is very possibly set in the same world as her Kitty books, but there’s no crossover
     
  • Kelley Armstrong’s “Paranormal Romance Blues”: Otherworld setting, and Cassandra and Aaron make a cameo appearance
     
  • Ilona Andrews’ “Grace of Small Magics”: New world (love the title!)
     

And ummm… that’s it.  I did say I really hadn’t read that much this month. 

Okay, I skimmed the others:

  • Rachel Caine’s story features Joanne and David (and its title is “Blue Crush: A Weather Warden story”)
     
  • I didn’t recognise any of the characters in Meljean Brook’s contribution so it may or may not be a Guardian story (this is so helpful)
     
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon’s story mentions Avalon, so it must be set in her Lords of Avalon series which I haven’t read
     
  • Maria V Snyder’s story has a contemporary setting, so it’s not set in her Study world
     
  • Mary Jo Putney’s story “The Tuesday Enchantress” (love this title too) has “A Guardian Story” as the subtitle, but a contemporary setting so I’m slightly confused.  Possibly featuring a descendant from her historical series.

 

Any other questions, feel free to ask.

TBR Day: Mary Jo Putney’s “The Diabolical Baron”

This is posted as part of Keishon’s TBR Day challenge, which is aimed at encouraging us readers with the towering TBR piles (you know who you are) to start tackling the books that have been languishing in there for eons.

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Book: “The Diabolical Baron” (note that this is published with another story in “Dangerous to Know” – the other one is a novella “Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know”, which I’m not reviewing here)

Author: Mary Jo Putney

Copyright Date:1987

Why did I buy this book?  Mary Jo Putney was one of the first historical romance authors I stumbled across.  I loved her Fallen Angels series (not so much her newer paranormal romances, so I cheered when i heard she was moving back to straight historical romances).  Anyway, I picked up this copy for old times’ sake when I spotted it on the sales rack (and yes, the cover played a part).

Why did it sit in my TBR pile for so long?  Because I thought I had already read it!  I bought this book mainly for the novella, thinking that the blurb for “The Diabolical Baron” sounded familiar.  But when I picked up the book a couple of nights ago and started skimming through the main story, I thought “hey, this doesn’t feel familiar”…

What is it about?  It’s a Regency-set romance, and starts off with Jason Kincaid, nicknamed the Diabolical Baron, picking the name of his bride out of a hat.  He’s reached the age when he really should get married and he doesn’t quite care who he actually marries as long as she’s suitable.  So he ends up with Caroline Hanscombe, a young girl who meets all his criteria – well-bred, reasonably good-looking, etc, etc.  The only thing Jason hasn’t realised – and won’t until he invites them to his house – is that Caroline’s widowed aunt and chaperone, Jessica, was his first love.  Oh, and there’s Captain Richard Dalton, who at first sight appears completely unrelated to the main storyline, but ends up playing a major role in the story.

So what did I think about it?  “The Diabolical Baron” is not an unpredictable read – you pretty much figure out the entire storyline and who ends up with who after the first couple of chapters.  Having said that, the characters and their interactions were enough to keep me flipping the pages.

I liked Jessica – she was a refreshingly strong older heroine.  This isn’t one of the stories where the heroine sits around mourning the loss of her first love – instead, Jessica married someone else and had a good marriage.  She’s a typical Putney military wife heroine – an independent and strong-minded woman, following the drum with her husband.  I could see the attraction between herself and Jason, and their relationship was definitely the main thing that held my interest in this book.  There is also a secondary romance, which was sweet – actually, some of the scenes with Caroline and her music were lovely.

Secondary characters?  Well, you have the standard outspoken aunt with a heart of gold, a best friend who works at being a dandy, the ambitious stepmama, etc, etc.  The most interesting character is Reggie Davenport, who is cast in the role of the heir-apparent to the abandoned Wargrave estate.  A gambler, a drunk, and a bit of a letch, he actually has some of the best lines in the book.  He’s attractive because you get the feeling he’s not completely lost beyond all hope, and I’m pretty sure MJP redeemed him in a later book (ETA: have checked, and yes, he is the hero in “The Rake”).  The ambiguity in most characters is something I liked about this book – for instance, Caroline’s stepmother, while being wildly ambitious and not really caring about her stepdaughter, also has a strong honest streak.

What I didn’t like was the ending – the reason for Jason and Jessica’s original breakup really frustrated me.  It just felt like too trivial a reason for something that completely changed their lives.  And the last third of the book felt padded out and slightly lazy – a lot of assumptions by all the four main characters that typified the big MIS being used as a plot device.

My conclusion? It’s not one of Ms Putney’s best books – it’s one of her earlier ones and it shows.  It’s interesting because you can see hints of her later style peeking out, but as it is, it feels clumsy in places.  I couldn’t help but think it would have been a much better book if she had written it now.  I’m sort of torn between a B and a C for my grade – for sentimental reasons let’s call it B-.