Weekend Links

31944679A random collection of links for your weekend reading:

Lady Business interviews Kate Elliott.  It’s a nice in-depth interview.  I am slowly making my way through Kate Elliott’s backlist, but that may take a few more years.

Sarah Rees Brennan talks about the changes she made when revising her TURN OF THE STORY serial to become IN OTHER LANDS.  Which, by the way, is very definitely one of my favourite books of 2017, so much so that I’m seriously considering shelling out for a hardcover version to grace my shelves.

I re-read Mary Stewart’s THE IVY TREE earlier this year (I think, the months have flown past) and re-confirmed its place as one of my favourite Stewarts.  This was a lovely review of the book.

Non book-related, but I found this fascinating: Anne Helen Peterson wrote about how she goes about writing celebrity profiles.  And here’s the resulting Charlize Theron profile, if you’re interested.

Around the Web – The Cover Edition

I am not handling this back-to-work thing well.  Especially since it’s pretty full-on at the moment.  So many things to do, so little time…

I want to review Eileen Wilks‘ “Blood Challenge”, which I will, but probably not today, as I’m finding myself yawning at odd intervals, and will probably cave in and have a bit of a nap soon.  So in lieu of actual content, here are some links:

Jennie has posted new Mary Stewart covers at her Mary Stewart Novels fansite, and I am totally in love with them.  I am very tempted to get another copy of the “The Ivy Tree”, which is possibly my favourite Stewart!

At Sounis, the Megan Whalen Turner livejournal fan community, they’ve put up the concept art for the cover of  “A Conspiracy of Kings”, which is all kinds of fascinating.

And sticking with the cover art theme, here’s a new-to-me group blog called Muddy Covers, by some of the cover artists I love, and again, it’s really interesting behind-the-scenes stuff.  For instance, Dan Dos Santos (who does the fantastic Mercy Thompson US covers, amongst others) blogs about his covers for Gini Koch‘s Alien SF books, which I am meaning to read at some point.

2010: Recap of My Reading Year Part 1

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

January

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

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

February

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

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

March

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

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

April

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

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

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

Mary Stewart Revisited

319W34BS01L._SL160_You may recall I went on a Mary Stewart mini-glom last year.  After reading around hmmm… eight Stewarts in two months, I took a bit of a break.

Angie just posted a lovely essay about how she discovered Mary Stewart.  This inspired me to dig up “Stormy Petrel” from the depths of my TBR pile and I am completely enthralled.  Ahhh… I may have to track down the Stewarts I have not managed to obtain yet.

Angie is also giving away a copy of “Madam, Will You Talk?” to one lucky commenter (giveaway closes midnight May 6) – even if you already have a copy, there are some wonderful comments in the post that are totally worth reading.

The Second Quarter of 2008

In my January-March wrap up, I forgot to mention the major book-related event in January – I got my Sony Reader.  And Catherine Asaro’s “The Ruby Dice” was the first ebook I read on it.  It’s funny how that sticks in my mind.  I think the first 50 or so pages, my main thoughts were “Wow, I can actually read books on this thing” and “I hope I don’t break it”.  And then it became a non-issue and I forgot I was reading an ebook.  So yes, love love love my Sony Reader.

Anyway, continuing my rambling review of 2008…

 

April

Karen Chance’s “Embrace the Night” (UF) was one of my Top Five releases of 2008, with the other standout read being Eva Ibbotson’s “A Company of Swans” (YA romance, or at least it’s shelved in the YA section).  I’ve adored all the Ibbotson novels I’ve read to date, and this was no exception.  Lyrical writing, beautiful settings and characters she makes you care about. 

I also read the fifth book in Elizabeth Peters’ Vicky Bliss series “Night Train to Memphis” (mystery).  Ahh… John Smythe.  While I still love Amelia Peabody more, I totally understood why Vicky fans were jumping with joy at the prospect of a new VB book coming out later in the year.

Three other books I really liked were Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Passages” (fantasy, Book 3 of the Sharing Knife series), Barbara Michaels’ “Patriot’s Dream” (mystery), and Ann Aguirre’s “Grimspace” (SF romance).  The Barbara Michaels was unusual because it had two linked stories set in different timelines, one during the American Revolution and the other in contemporary times – while I loved the history focus, I didn’t think they intertwined with each other very well.

 

May

Two author gloms during this month, the first being Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series, which I’ve already mentioned ad nauseum.  So I will restrain myself here.  Though does it qualify as a official glom if there were only two books in the author’s backlist at the time of said glom?

The second author was Mary Stewart (romantic suspense) and this definitely qualifies as a proper glom with me reading six Stewarts in May alone.  I finally decided to find out why so many bloggers love her novels, and gosh, I fell hard.  “Nine Coaches Waiting” became my favourite Stewart, until displaced by “The Ivy Tree” a month later.  I’m so fickle.

Anyway, between these two authors, I didn’t read much else during May – oh, I really liked Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Burns” (UF, Book 2 in the Kate Daniels series).  Which quite surprised me (in a good way!), because I hadn’t loved the first book in this series.  But I enjoyed MB, and can’t wait for the third.  I’m glad I like these books because – and this is going to sound really shallow – I like the covers for this series.  Heh.

 

June

And in June, I read a lot.  20 books in total – I’m not sure where I found the time actually.  Especially seeing Wimbledon was on at the same time.  Oh yeah, I remember now, it was a rather quiet time at work.  How things change.

I continued reading Mary Stewart’s backlist, five books this month including the aforementioned “The Ivy Tree”.  So good.  Even though I cheated and skipped ahead to the ending.  I know.  Curiosity killed the cat and all that.

Other standouts: Jacqueline Carey’s “Kushiel’s Mercy” (fantasy, Book 3 in the Imriel trilogy), a perfect ending to Imriel’s story.  I’m not quite sure how to describe it, but all I have to do it to read the opening lines of her books, and the way she writes, the cadence of her sentences, they instantly draw me into her world.  And I discovered Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English books (mystery / m/m romance) – he’s one of the best new-to-me writers I came across this year.  I love his writing and he has me totally invested in Adrien and Jake’s relationship.

 

So in the first half of the year, I read 83 books altogether.  It doesn’t feel like it, but I appear to have had more A reads during the first half of the year compared to the second.  I think November and December were good reading months for me, and the more recent reads are sticking in my mind.

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

Just to Say…

I’ve finally gotten hold of Jacqueline Carey‘s “Kushiel’s Mercy”, and that’s going to keep me occupied for a while. 

Except I still haven’t read a book for the TBR challenge, dammit.  Yes, I know – how difficult is it to read *one* book a month from my TBR?  Answer: Very, when you’ve new Mary Stewart books arriving daily.  Arrghhh – I will just have to make time between now and Tuesday evening.

Btw, “The Ivy Tree” may just have displaced “Nine Coaches Waiting” as my favourite Stewart.  Really cleverly written (and yes, I cheated and skipped ahead to the ending).

PS: This is for Jennie who strongly rec’d “This Rough Magic”:  I liked it very much too, but not as much as “Nine Coaches Waiting” – I mean, it didn’t have Philippe! 

A Convert

Jennie‘s been raving about Mary Stewart forever, and when she set up a fansite dedicated to her novels, I decided it was time to find out just what I’ve been missing.

I started with “Thornyhold” and “Rose Cottage”, and thought “Good books, definitely worth getting more”.  Then I read “Madam, Will You Talk?”, “Airs Above the Ground”, and “The Moon-Spinners”… all very good, falling within my B and B+ ranges.

And then last night I read “Nine Coaches Waiting”.  WOW.  Part of it was due to the book just matching my reading mood perfectly.  I was in the right mood for tempestous relationships, a dark brooding hero, a dangerous flight in the middle of the night…

Even better, I went into the book having just glanced at the cover blurb, with no idea what the plot was, and somehow I think this suited the set-up perfectly.  I was experiencing events with the heroine as they unfolded and this just felt right, especially with the first-person narration.

And it was beautifully written.  I was so completely caught up in the plot, the characters, the setting, the romance, the suspense – and the ending was just perfect.

I may get around to writing a review a little later, but right now, I’m going to the Book Depository to place another order.

I need more Mary Stewart.