Books for December

Yes, this post is late, but on purpose this time!  There just haven’t been many December new releases that I’m interested in, so I’ve been holding off in the hope that I’d come across a few more.  Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case, so here’s the list of December releases on my radar – I will admit I’m fairly lukewarm on a few.

*

13547361Sarah A Hoyt‘s DARKSHIP RENEGADES (SF): This is a follow-up to DARKSHIP THIEVES, an impulse borrow from my library a couple of years back and one I ended up liking very much.  I’m glad a sequel has finally been released, but my memory of the first book is somewhat hazy.  Also, this is published by Baen, so in theory, you should be able to purchase the e-version at both the Baen ebookstore or Amazon following their announcement last week.  I can see the price is now $8.99, as opposed to the original $6, so I’m assuming that’s gone through…

After rescuing her star pilot husband and discovering the dark secret of her own past on Earth, Athena Hera Sinistra returns to space habitat Eden to start life anew. Not happening. Thena and Kit are placed under arrest for the crime of coming back alive. The only escape from a death sentence: return to Earth and bring back the lost method for creating the Powertrees, the energy source of both Eden and Earth whose technological origins have been lost to war. But that mission is secondary to a greater imperative. Above all else, Thena must not get caught. If she does, then suicide is to be the only option.

With the odds heavily stacked against not only success, but survival, Thena comes to understand what her cynical accusers do not: it is not merely one woman’s life on the line anymore. For it’s on Earth where the adventure truly begins. Thena realizes that what is truly at stake is the fate of Eden and Earth alike, the continuance of the darkship fleet–and freedom for all in the Solar system–and beyond.

Out now (excerpt)

*

13589141ELEMENTAL MAGIC, edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): December normally signals a new Valdemar anthology, but not this year – it’s the turn of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series.  It’s the same concept as the Valdemar anthology – various authors (the usual suspects, plus a few others) contribute short stories set in Lackey’s world.  I always end up buying the Valdemar anthology, which tends to be a mixed bag (i.e. a couple I really like and the rest ranging from decent to mediocre), but then again, I have a soft spot for Valdemar stories in general.  I’m not as fond of her Elemental Masters books, but I suspect I’ll also end up buying this one.

Among Mercedes Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically acclaimed and beloved as those about the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Now other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner…

Out now

*

1600621616007364Carina Press also has their Christmas (holiday?) anthologies out this month – the previous ones I’ve read have been good value for money, so I keep an eye out for them.  This year, their three anthology themes are contemporary romance (ROMANCING THE HOLIDAY), erotic romance (RED HOT HOLIDAY), and SF romance A GALACTIC HOLIDAY.  I’ve already bought the latter two based on generally positive reviews (and am especially excited about the SF one), and will probably get the contemporary one at some point.

Out now

*

13561603Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway‘s A LADY MOST WILLING (historical romance): This is a follow-up to the previous collaboration between the same authors, which I haven’t read yet, but I’m guessing these three authors should have put together a pretty fun and Christmassy read.

During their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Scotland to visit their aged uncle in his decrepit castle, the Comte de Rocheforte and his cousin, Earl of Oakley, are presented with unique gifts: their uncle has raided an English lord’s Christmas party and kidnapped four lovely would-be brides for his heirs to choose from… as well as one very angry duke, Lord Bretton. As snow isolates the castle, and as hours grow into days, the most honourable intentions give away to temptations as surprising as they are irresistible.

Out Dec 26 (excerpt)

Advertisements

(Late) Linkage

I came across some links which I thought I had posted previously, but obviously hadn’t – so slightly out-of-date but still interesting (to me, anyway!):

Books for December

Ah yes, I do have a blog.

*dusts off cobwebs*

I have to say I have no idea where the latter part of this year went.  It’s Christmas this weekend!  How on earth did that happen?  I have ummm… six months of reading to add to my list of books read this year.  I am off work until the New Year though, so there is hope.

So – December books?  Good month.

UNDER THE VALE AND OTHER TALES OF VALDEMAR (fantasy anthology): It’s December!  And we get another Valdemar anthology.  No matter how much I moan about the latest books, I will always cave and buy them.  Because you know – white horses Companions, Heralds, magic Gifts… go ahead, make fun of me, but Valdemar is always going to hold a special place in my heart.

Blurb:

Under the Vale is the latest collection of short stories set in the world of Valdemar.

The Heralds of Valdemar are an ancient order, drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.

Now readers can travel to the world of Valdemar with Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Judith Tarr, and others in these original stories, including an all-new novella from Mercedes Lackey.

Out now

*

KA Mitchell‘s BAD BOYFRIEND (m/m romance):  I wasn’t wild about the first book in this series, BAD COMPANY, but I do like KA Mitchell’s writing, so I’m giving this series another shot.  This one sounds nice and angsty, which probably means I’ll like it.  I’m so easy.

Blurb:

After Eli Wright came out, his parents threw him out. In the five years since, he’s made his own way, lived by his own rules, determined to never change himself—not for anyone. He’s not against finding Mr. Right, but Mr. Right Now will do just fine.

Quinn Maloney’s reward for ten years of faithfully keeping his closeted boyfriend’s secrets? A hell of a wake-up call to go with his morning coffee. Not only did Peter have affairs, he went straight to marry his pregnant girlfriend—and Quinn was to never reveal their history.

With the baby’s baptism looming and Quinn expected to put on a polite front, he decides he’s had enough of playing the peacekeeper. One wink from a much younger, eyeliner-wearing guy in a bar, and Quinn’s found a perfectly outrageous date for the occasion.

The date goes better than he ever imagined. And so much worse, as Eli convinces everyone they’re madly in love. That wasn’t part of the plan, but the more Quinn learns about the man behind the makeup, the more he wishes it was true.

Warning: Contains an absolute bastard of an ex-boyfriend. Not responsible for sudden uncontrollable urges to punch him in the teeth. Also not responsible for any overheating or sudden urges brought about by explicit sex with a little BDSM thrown in.

Out now

*

Eloisa JamesWINNING THE WALLFLOWER (historical romance): I don’t exactly hide the fact I’m an Eloisa James fangirl.  This novella is probably to help promote her new release (see below!), but it’s most definitely on my list of things to read this month.

Blurb:

It could only happen in a fairy tale.

Lady Lucy Towerton:
Plain and tall. (According to the lady herself.)
Titled and irreproachably proper. (According to her fiancÉ.)

Until, overnight, she becomes

Lady Lucy Towerton:
Heiress. (Thanks to an aged aunt’s bequest.)
Belle of the ball. (So say the fortune hunters of the ton.)

In charge of her own destiny (finally!), Lucy breaks her engagement and makes up her mind never to be proper again…

Out now

*

Eloisa JamesTHE DUKE IS MINE (historical romance): After a bit of a rocky start, I’m now absorbed by this series of fairy-tale retellings.  I’m looking forward to this version of The Princess and the Pea.

Blurb:

He is a duke in search of a perfect bride. She is a lady—but a long way from perfect.

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.

Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Tarquin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.

To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…

Unless it’s already too late.

This sexy, witty version of The Princess and the Pea turns the classic fairy tale into an enticing, funny, and moving romance

Out Dec 27

 

Also, I have been on a ebook shopping spree – here are some that I’ve purchased recently.  The majority are short stories or novellas, which has suited my reading mood perfectly:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s WISH (contemporary romance): Kelly Hunter sucked me back into to the category romance genre this year and I totally glommed her entire backlist.  This is a brand-new novella that she’s self-published.
  • Tanya Huff‘s FEBRUARY THAW (fantasy): I really liked her first e-collection of backlist short stories, I’m thrilled she’s released another one.
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s HIDDEN (urban fantasy): If you’re not willing to splash out on the Subterranean Press paper versions, the ebook’s a good alternative.  I have to say it’s the shipping that puts me off – if I lived in the US, I would probably own quite a few SubPress editions already.
  • Carla Kelly‘s CHRISTMAS COLLECTION (historical romance): Estara brought this to my attention, and it kicked off a mini-Carla Kelly glom for me.  I tend to forget how much I like her writing in between reads, if that makes sense.
  • Carla Kelly‘s MARIAN’S CHRISTMAS WISH (historical romance):  Spurred on by the previous collection, I bought this re-release and well, really liked it.  Perfect for this time of the year as well.

And actually, that’s a nice Christmassy note to end with – I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!

 

Books for December

See, a timely post! Here are the new releases I’m planning to buy this month and then indulge in over the Christmas holidays:

Juliet Marillier‘s “Seer of Sevenwaters” (fantasy): I only discovered Juliet Marillier a couple of years ago, but her Sevenwaters books sit firmly on my keeper shelves.  So a new Sevenwaters book  is always a cause for celebration – the only fly in the ointment is that there is no UK release.  Why??!!!  Not happy, people.  The silver lining is that because of this, I pre-ordered the US edition from The Book Depository and just received an email saying it’s on the way.

The blurb from the author’s website (Sibeal’s story!):

Sibeal has always known that she is destined for a spiritual life, and is committed to it with all her heart. Before making her final vows, she travels to the northern island of Inis Eala to spend the summer with her sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh.

But Sibeal has barely set foot on the island when a freak storm out at sea sinks a ship before her eyes. In spite of frantic rescue efforts, only three survivors are fished alive from the water, and one of them, a man Sibeal names Ardal, clings to life by the merest thread.

As Ardal fights for his life, the island community discovers that there is something unusual about the three shipwrecked strangers. The beautiful Svala is mute and disturbed. Stalwart warrior Knut seems ashamed of his grieving wife. And Ardal has a secret he can’t remember … or won’t tell. When the astonishing truth comes out, Sibeal finds herself drawn into a perilous quest. At its end, she will face a decision that may break her heart.

Out Dec 7 (excerpt)

LB Gregg, ZA Maxfield, Josh Lanyon, and Harper Fox‘s “His for the Holidays” (m/m romance): This anthology from Carina Press is sounding like a very good one.  Each writer brings something different to the table, IMO – I love the slightly offbeat sense of humour in LB Gregg’s writing, the angst that Harper Fox excels in, and oh, pretty much all aspects of Josh Lanyon’s writing.  And ZA Maxfield is on my to-try list, so this anthology really ticks all the boxes.

Hope brightens a bleak Edinburgh December. A man gets a second chance with his high school crush. A decade-long game of cat and mouse comes to a passionate conclusion. And Santa Claus drives a red muscle car. Heat up your holidays with this collection of four festive tales from some of the top talent in the male/male genre.

Out Dec 6 (book page at Carina Press)

Richelle Mead‘s “Last Sacrifice” (YA urban fantasy): The last book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series,  though there will be a spin-off series in the same world.  I like these books, but haven’t fallen in love with the series – I’m not sure why.  Ms Mead has a massive fanbase for these books though, so I’m probably in a minority.  Having said that, I do find the VA series pretty addictive reading, and I will be getting this because I want to know what happens in the end.  Also, the UK cover?  Meh.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice. Now, with Rose on trial for her life and Lissa first in line for the Royal Throne, nothing will ever be the same between them.

Out Dec 7 (excerpt)

Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway‘s “The Lady Most Likely…” (historical romance): Julia Quinn and Eloisa James are amongst the very few historical romance authors that remain autobuys for me (I probably have read some Connie Brockway before, but none of her books comes to mind immediately).  I’m never quite sure how a collaboration between different authors will turn out – sometimes it works, sometimes not – but I’ll still be getting this.  I’m also not sure exactly how this book is structured; the authors refer to it as “a novel in three parts” – does this mean three linked but separate stories, one story with three acts… anyone know?

From Ms James’ website:

Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them—and a few other gentlemen—to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season. Hugh will have time to woo whichever lady he most desires… Unless someone else snatches her first.

Out Dec 28 (excerpt)

Mercedes Lackey‘s “Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar” (fantasy): I don’t know why I always feel as though I have to justify my addiction to the Valdemar stories (she says, embarrassedly).  I think a new collection of Valdemar stories has been released at this time of the year for the past few years, so yay for more Heralds, white Companions, and all that.

Blurb from Amazon:

In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Valdemar was the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now readers can take a journey to the world of Valdemar-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-each adding their own special touches.

Out Dec 7

“Love and Rockets” edited by Martin H Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (SF romance): I was in two minds about whether to put up the cover or not, because DAW appears to have decided to enter this one into the “Worst Cover of the Year” award.  I like the monthly themed DAW anthologies, but I have no idea why their covers are so hit or miss.  There have been some rather striking ones, but equally some that make me think no one was that bothered, and some truly awful ones.  Cover aside, this is an SF-romance crossover anthology, which is a genre I’m quite keen on, so I’m hoping I come across some new-to-me authors in this one. I can’t find a list of contributors, though I know Lois McMaster Bujold has written an introduction.  Here is the table of contents, courtesy of contributor Steven H Silver.

Blurb from Amazon:

Space…the final frontier. Or is it? Many say there’s no frontier more forbidding than a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. But what if one’s a human, and the other’s an alien? Here is an original collection of space opera stories where authors take love (unrequited or not), on a spaceship, space station, or planetary colony, and add enough drama, confusion and mayhem to ensure that the path to true love-or short-term infatuation-is seldom free of obstacles.

Out Dec 7

I’ve Been Reading…

That blogging urge, it comes and goes.  But why have a blog if I don’t actually blog? So let’s talk books, specifically books I’ve bought and read recently:

 

51cK3p09dL._SL160_Diana Peterfreund’s “Morning Glory”: The first book I’ve bought via my Kindle!  I did the Kindle sampling thing, and liked (surprise, surprise), so hit the Buy It Now button.  Seconds later, the entire book was on my Kindle.  So the same way I remember Catherine Asaro’s “The Ruby Dice” as being the first ebook I read, “Morning Glory” is now the first ebook I’ve downloaded wirelessly onto my reader.

I know, I’m a geek.  Moving on swiftly…

It’s slightly strange reading a book knowing that it’s a novelisation – I read a scene and then wonder how it gets played out on screen.  I think it’ll wear off soon, I’m only a couple of chapters in at the moment.  Ms Peterfreund says on her blog that “Morning Glory” has a similar, snarky tone to her Secret Society Girl series – I’m tending to agree at the moment.

 

511JdeLKGvL._SL160_ Sharon Shinn’s “Troubled Waters”: Ahhhh.  I really enjoyed this one – I find it so easy to completely immerse myself in Sharon Shinn’s writing.

Estara asked if this was similar to her Twelve Houses fantasy books – answer is yes, IMO, though this reviewer thinks “Troubled Waters” is less action-packed.  Certainly I thought this book was more akin to Twelve Houses than her previous two YA fantasy releases (“General Winston’s Daughter” and “Gateway”), which – and I’m not sure whether this is because they were specifically YA books or not – were more “issue” books to me.  Don’t get me wrong – I liked them, but I felt the way the messages in the books were conveyed was just a bit too heavy-handed.  Do YA books have to include a message?  Discuss*.

Back to “Troubled Waters”, I tend to love elemental-type magic systems, so was fascinated by the elemental/corporeal blessings incorporated here.  I’m stating my bias upfront, because I don’t know whether another reader would find the emphasis on the blessings slight overkill, but it worked for me.  And it’s Shinn, so yes, there’s a rather lovely romance.

Jennie’s review @ Dear Author is pretty reflective of my thoughts, though I probably found Zoe more sympathetic from the start, and would grade the book a notch higher.  I would so love to read more stories set in this world, though we may have to wait longer as I think her next project is an urban fantasy (I am very curious about how this will pan out, I suspect it will be a very good read).

Something else: In the short book intro on her site,  Ms Shinn mentions her favorite scene, which was actually one that stuck in my mind – it’s interesting she says

It doesn’t do anything to advance the plot, but it’s just so sweet, and it really illustrates the power of the blessings.

Completely agree, and when reading it, I actually thought that scene would make a great short story or teaser for the book.

 

612xamlJyjL._SL160_Mercedes Lackey’s “Intrigues”: I read “Intrigues” just before “Troubled Waters” (yes, making good progress on my October must-reads) and it was interesting to compare the two.

The worlds and writing styles are very different, but the plots are essentially similar: Young girl/boy slowly discovers his/her place in the world with the help of conveniently-placed friends and conveniently-discovered skills (albeit the Lackey story is spread over three books as opposed to the one book for Shinn).  What I was pondering were characters – how Ms Shinn avoids Zoe falling into the Mary-Sue trap, whereas Ms Lackey’s Mags so obviously is one.  Oh, and if you’re talking heavy-handed messages, Lackey is the writer for this.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it sounds as though I’m picking on the Lackey book, but it was a decent read, even though I really shouldn’t have bought the hardcover.  I am a complete sucker for white Companions and anything Herald-related.  And even the annoyance of Mags’ dialect being spelt out all the way through (“… ye’ll be wantin’ me t’ find ye a silk‘n’velvet blanket ‘cause wool just don’t show off yer coat good ‘nough” – ack) didn’t negate the secret thrill of meeting one of Vanyel’s descendants in this book.

Err okay.  Must. Grow. Up.

 

**************

*That was slightly tongue-in-cheek.  Only if you really want to.  I’m well aware this is a topic raised now and again in blogland.

My personal take?  Books are like food.  You have M&S Percy Pigs on one end (i.e. zero nutritional value, but you know, still good) or umm… blueberries (superfood!) at the other.  I’m inclined to think YA books tend to be more heavily-clustered at the superfood end (oh, this is a bad analogy and I am really not sure where I am going), but better a good message than a bad one.

Books for October

Yes, I’m aware that sidebar to the right still reads August Books I Want.  How on earth did October sneak up on me?

The new releases this month that I’m all excited about:

 

51J4L3Ke1ZL._SL160_ Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Cryoburn” (SF): I know, after all that agonising about whether to buy the e-ARC from Baen, I managed to hold off.  More to do with lack of free time than anything to do with willpower, I hasten to add.  And probably also helped along by the fact the release date has been moved up to Oct 19.

The first edition of the hardcover is somewhat insanely accompanied with a CD that pretty much holds Ms Bujold’s entire backlist and more.  I’m serious – you apparently get all the Vorkosigan books, except “Memory” (which actually is one of my favourites), various essays, speeches, and interviews. 

The back cover blurb:

Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter Miles to check it out.

On Kibou-daini, Miles discovers generational conflict over money and resources is heating up, even as refugees displaced in time skew the meaning of generation past repair. Here he finds a young boy with a passion for pets and a dangerous secret, a Snow White trapped in an icy coffin who burns to re-write her own tale, and a mysterious crone who is the very embodiment of the warning Don’t mess with the secretary. Bribery, corruption, conspiracy, kidnapping—something is rotten on Kibou-daini, and it isn’t due to power outages in the Cryocombs. And Miles is in the middle—of trouble!

Out Oct 19 (excerpt)

 

51Z7J7ZRV3L._SL160_ Deanna Raybourns “Dark Road to Darjeeling” (historical mystery): I admit Deanna Raybourn’s previous standalone book, “The Dead Travel Fast”, is still sitting in my TBR pile (no idea why – must get to it soon), but I’m planning on bumping the latest book in her Lady Julia Grey mystery series to the top of the pile.

Note that there are slight spoilers in blurb for previous books in the back cover blurb:

For Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane, the honeymoon has ended…but the adventure is just beginning.

After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia’s eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly-widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband’s family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband’s death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.

Out now (excerpt)

 

511JdeLKGvL._SL160_ Sharon Shinn’s “Troubled Waters” (fantasy): I’m not entirely sure if this is the start of a new series or not, but I’ll read anything Sharon Shinn writes.  I fell in love with her writing with the Samaria books, and although it took me a while to settle into her Twelve Houses universe, it’s now one of my favourite fantasy series.  So new Shinn fantasy book = must-get.

The back cover blurb:

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood—and the secrets of the royal family—she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

Out now (PDF excerpt)

 

612xamlJyjL._SL160_ (1) Mercedes Lackey’s “Intrigues” (fantasy): I’m one of those girls who grew up reading about talking white horses (and completely swooning over angst-y Vanyel), so yes, I am a total sucker for a new Valdemar book, faults and all.  The previous book, “Foundation”, kicked off the Collegium Chronicles series, and while it wasn’t quite the same as the early Valdemar books, I’m still getting this one.

The back cover blurb:

Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy.

But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is "recognized" by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie’s parents-who is he, really? Can Mags solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?

Out now (book details on author’s site)

 

51lfKgVNNFL._SL160_ Mercedes Lackey’s “Trio of Sorcery” (urban fantasy): And look, a second Mercedes Lackey book, but something quite different.  Ms Lackey is one of those authors who wrote urban fantasy before we named it as such, and this book comprises three novellas, two with existing characters and one new.  I remember enjoying her Diana Tregarde books, so am glad she’s starting to write in these universes again.

The back cover blurb:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mercedes Lackey presents three exciting short urban fantasy novels featuring three resourceful heroines and three different takes on the modern world and on magics both modern and ancient.

Arcanum 101:  Diana Tregarde, practicing witch, romance novelist, Guardian of the Earth. Studying at Harvard, Diana is approached by Joe O’Brian, a young cop who has already seen more than one unusual thing during his budding career. The distraught mother of a kidnap victim is taking advice from a “psychic” and interfering in the police investigation. Will Diana prove that the psychic is a fake? Unfortunately, the psychic is not a fake, but a very wicked witch—and the child’s kidnapper.

Drums:  Jennifer Talldeer, shaman, private investigator, member of the Osage tribe. Most of Jennie’s work is regular PI stuff, but Nathan Begay brings her a problem she’s never seen before. His girlfriend, Caroline, is Chickasaw to his Navaho, but that’s not the problem. Somehow, Caroline has attracted the attention of an angry Osage ghost. Thwarted in love while alive, the ghost has chosen Caroline to be his bride in death.

Ghost in the Machine:  Ellen McBridge: computer programmer extraordinaire, techno-shaman. The programmers and players of a new MMORPG find that the game’s “boss,” a wendigo, is “killing” everyone—even the programmers’ characters with their god-like powers. A brilliant debugger, Ellen discoveres that the massive computing power of the game’s servers have created a breach between the supernatural world and our own. This wendigo isn’t a bit of code, it’s the real thing . . . and it’s on the brink of breaking out of the computers and into the real world.

Out Oct 26 (excerpt)

Books for December

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

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

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

Excerpt here (out now)

 

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

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

No excerpts available (out now)

 

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

The blurb:

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

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

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

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

Excerpt here (out Dec 22)

Around the Web

A couple of quickies – new author sites and updates:

Juliet Marillier has relaunched her website.  I’m finding it slightly graphics-heavy, but it looks good.  There’s a RSS feed for news updates which is always useful.  She talks about her website redesign on Writers Unboxed – it’s pretty interesting stuff.

Mercedes Lackey has a Facebook page (and okay, a Twitter account too).  Better still, she says she plans to update her website – about time, I say.  I’ve just had a quick look and I’m seeing 2009 releases listed, though the welcome message is still dated July 2002.

Her Facebook site also has the following piece of news:

Completed the Fairy Godmother piece. Turned it in. Next up a new Young Adult dark fantasy/western ("Deadwood" style) series proposal. Also Tor says they want some Diana Tregarde and Jenny Talldeer. We’re going to do a threesome of novellas. (What is the collective noun there?) Apparently they were listening after all 😉

Yay on the novellas news – I loved the Diana Tregarde books.  And the YA dark fantasy/western sounds very intriguing.

The Fourth Quarter of 2008

And the end is in sight!  I may actually finish my 2008 Review posts before the end of January.

 

October

I was on holiday for most of October, which explains the massive total of 20 books read during this month.

I had never quite managed to understand why Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series (urban fantasy) was so popular, having read the first book “Storm Front” a while back and not being too impressed.  Nath convinced me to give the books another go, and restart the series from Book 4 (“Summer Knight”) instead.  That made all the difference and I’m now an official Dresden Files fangirl.  Proved by the fact I read the next seven books in this series during the month.  I will say that I’m unlikely to go back and read the second and third books in this series though.

I got my hands on Kristin Cashore’s novel “Graceling” (YA fantasy, first of three linked books) and discovered why there was such a buzz around this debut.  One to appeal to Tamora Pierce fans (of whom I am one), with good storytelling, a strong heroine, and a touch of romance.  Although in hindsight, I could have done without the cutesy names.

Mercedes Lackey released a new Valdemar book (“Foundation”, fantasy and first in a trilogy, I think), the first one in years, and despite it not really being up there with the Arrows and Last Herald-Mage trilogies, I loved revisiting her world and reading more about the founding of the Heralds’ Collegium.

And I started Richelle Mead’s “Vampire Academy” series (YA urban fantasy), reading both “Vampire Academy” and “Frostbite” (Books 1 and 2 respectively), and found it an engrossing and entertaining series.  I’ve enjoyed her Georgina Kincaid books, so I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to reading the VA books.

 

November

It was back to work, and I managed to read ten books this month.

Karen Chance is one of my favourite UF authors, and I enjoyed her “Midnight’s Daughter” (urban fantasy, Book 1 of a Cassie Palmer spin-off series).  While probably not one for new readers to the series, I liked seeing her world from the viewpoint of a different protagonist, and as always, I love the plotting and non-stop action.

I only read nine historical romances throughout 2008 and my favourite by a mile was Eloisa James’ “When the Duke Returns” (Book 3 of the Desperate Duchesses series).  On the face of it, the series premise doesn’t sound that much different from that of other historical romances out there – the duchesses and their recalcitrant, indifferent men – but as it is, I can’t remember when I’ve last enjoyed a historical romance series so much.  The opulent Georgian setting, the characters, their chemistry, the angst – it all came together in this one to make an excellent book.  I have very high expectations for the final two books out in 2009. 

And oh, Juliet Marillier’s “Daughter of the Forest” (fantasy, Book 1 of the Sevenwaters series).  I’ve had this book sitting in my TBR pile forever, and was finally moved to read it following the glowing reviews of the new book “Heir to Sevenwaters” set in this world.  And I loved.  Adored.  Passed the book on with a you-have-to-read-this-now recommendation.  Ordered the next two books from Amazon.  You know, on paper, this wouldn’t be a book that I’d enjoy.  I never was keen on retelling of fairytales or Celtic settings or the fey.  But Ms Marillier is a wonderful storyteller, and I’ve fallen in love with her Sevenwaters world.

It may have been only ten books read this month, but there were some very good ones there!

 

December

A very good reading month to end the year with.  I liked practically all the books I read this month and I’m finding it tough to narrow it down to the ones I liked best.

I finished Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters trilogy (“Son of the Shadows” and “Child of the Prophecy”) and immediately ordered “Heir to Sevenwaters” (no, I don’t know why I didn’t order them all in one go either).  I always start the year hoping to come across a new-to-me author with a marvellous backlist that will capture my imagination, and Juliet Marillier was probably my 2008 author (previous years being Elizabeth Peters, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Georgette Heyer in 2007, 2006, and 2005 respectively).

I read Josh Lanyon’s “Death of a Pirate King” (mystery, m/m romance, fourth in the Adrien English series) and “The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks” (mystery, m/m romance, standalone), and wasn’t disappointed.  I’m completely hooked on the Adrien English series and the Adrien/Jake relationship (think dysfunctional yet sooo right at the same time).  And Mr Lanyon’s writing is beautifully sparse yet descriptive.  I love the way he sketches in the background and atmosphere so easily, and his strong characterisation – his stories are the type where you never want to reach the last page.  M/M romance is a new subgenre for me this year, and I’m glad I decided to try something new.

And honourable mentions must go to Jenna Black’s “The Devil’s Due” (urban fantasy, Book 3 of the Morgan Kingsley series), Jim Butcher’s “Princeps’ Fury” (fantasy, Book 5 of the Codex Alera series), and Julie Hyzy’s “Hail to the Chef” (cosy mystery, Book 2 of the White House Chef series), all three of which were latest installments in ongoing series, and which I enjoyed very much.

 

So that’s my month-by-month review (previous parts one, two, and three linked here)… and err I’m not finished yet with 2008.

Books for December

Okay, a bit late with this one, but here are the new releases I’m planning on getting this month:

51ZUCDyoG6L._SL160_ Jim Butcher’s “Princeps’ Fury” (fantasy):  Book 5 in his Codex Alera fantasy series.  Technically a November release, and one I bought in my BooksonBoard splurge last week.  I’m a couple of chapters in at the moment, and am hoping to finish it over this weekend.  It’s a completely different setting to his Dresden Files books, but just as enjoyable, if not more.  The last book finished with a couple of major events and revelations, so it’ll be interesting to find out what happens next.

Excerpt here (out now)

51 FXbZ9y2L._SL160_ Julie Hyzy’s “Hail to the Chef” (cosy mystery):  I loved the first book in this mystery series (“State of the Onion”) when I read it at the beginning of this year, and have been waiting impatiently for the second book to come out.  Olivia (Ollie) Paras is a White House chef, so you get food and mystery combined in this series, with a sprinkling of White House trivia.  Oh, and a dash of romance.  The perfect recipe.

No excerpts, but more series info here (out now)

 

518YU2V5HxL._SL160_ “Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar” (fantasy): This is a collection of short stories set in Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar world.  Contributors include Tanya Huff, Judith Tarr, Rosemary Edghill, and many others, plus there is an original short story by Ms Lackey herself.  I’m a sucker for all things Valdemar, so yes, I think I will probably get this.

No excerpts (out now)

 

 

51RDQ7KDGdL._SL160_ “Unusual Suspects” (mystery/fantasy):  I got this the other day, it’s a follow up to the “Powers of Detection” anthology that came out a couple of years ago, IIRC.  Contributors include Charlaine Harris (with a Sookie story) and Sharon Shinn (contemporary ghost story).  I’m about three-quarters through and have enjoyed most of the stories so far, only skipping one because the way the dialogue was written gave me a headache.  The Sookie story is much better than the one in the “Mistletoe and Wolfbane” story, btw – but then again, I thought the MaW one was a bit of a letdown.  I liked the Donna Andrews story, and oh, I’ve just looked her up and she writes straight cosy mysteries – I may have to check them out!

No excerpts (out now)

 

So it’s a quiet month for new releases, especially full-length novels.  A couple of other releases that I’m considering are “Fast Ships, Black Sails”, a pirate anthology with Sarah Monette and Naomi Novik amongst the contributors, and “The Vorkosigan Companion”, a reference book for Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series.