Books for May

May =  a mix of new releases I definitely want and those that I’m not quite sure about…

The definites:

21900150Julie Cross & Mark Perini‘s HALFWAY PERFECT (YA romance): I’m a big fan of Julie Cross’s YA sport romances – this one is a bit different but still sounds rather fun.

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry.

Eve’s time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she’s determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex.

While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana.

But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won’t let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

Out May 5

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20698530Jenny Han‘s PS I STILL LOVE YOU (YA romance): Did I mention how much I liked Jenny Han’s TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE when I read it last year?  No?  Well, I did – it had a charming and slightly quirky protagonist, it was about growing up and having a bit of romance, but most importantly, it was about sisterhood.  I’ve pre-ordered the sequel – that’s how much I really liked it.

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Out May 26

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24744875Astrid Amara‘s SONG OF THE NAVIGATOR (SF M/M romance): Sometimes I really like her stories, other times they leave me a bit cold.  The blurb on this one has me intrigued though.

Worst Possible Birthday: Being sold into slavery by none other than your lover.

Tover Duke’s rare ability to move anything instantly across light-years of space makes him a powerful, valuable asset to the Harmony Corporation, and a rock star among the people of the colonies. His life is luxurious. Safe. Routine.

He has his pick of casual hookups passing through Dadelus-Kaku Station. His one brush with danger of any kind—the only bright spot in his otherwise boring life—is Cruz Arcadio, a dark-haired, hard-bodied engineer whose physical prowess hints he’s something much more.

When a terrorist abducts Tover, hurling him into a world of torture, exploitation and betrayal, it’s with shattering disbelief that he realizes his kidnapper is none other than Cruz. As Tover struggles to find the courage to escape his bondage, he begins to understand the only way to free his body, his mind—and his heart—is to trust the one man who showed him that everything about his once-perfect life was a lie.

Warning: This story contains descriptions of extreme violence and assault. It also contains graphic sexual depictions. It also has a lot of birds. And pirate movies from the future. And romance.

Out May 26

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17261670 (1)Josh Lanyon‘s WINTER KILL (M/M romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon has said this is more suspense than romance, but hey, a new Lanyon – I love his writing.

Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he’s heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam “On the Beach.” Now he’s got a new partner, a new case, and a new chance to resurrect his career, hunting a legendary serial killer known as The Crow in a remote mountain resort in Oregon.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he’s a tough and efficient cop — and he’s none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf — even when one of the agents is smart, handsome, and probably gay. But a butchered body in a Native American museum is out of his small town department’s league. For that matter, icy, uptight Adam Darling is out of Rob’s league, but that doesn’t mean Rob won’t take his best shot.

Out May 31

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And then the maybes:

  • THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR anthology (romantic suspense): Charity anthology (The Wounded Warrior Project) with a Suzanne Brockmann contribution. I’d buy this if it was sold in the UK – at the moment, the ebookstores are showing it as geographically-restricted.
  • Sarah Dessen‘s SAINT ANYTHING (YA romance): I had a bit of a Sarah Dessen glom when I first discovered her, and then her books started to feel a bit same-y (yes, these may be related).  I’ll probably borrow this one from the library.
  • Lisa Lutz‘s HOW TO START A FIRE (women’s fiction?): I don’t know – I’ve liked her offbeat Spellman mysteries, but this one sounds a bit too women’s fiction-y for me.

 

I think that’s it for my May new releases list – any others on your list?

A Bit of Everything

I’m starting to realise I actually read a lot last October, despite doing what I thought were 15-hour working days.  Here’s what else ended up on my Goodreads shelves (as always, additional commentary in italics).

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Angels of DarknessAngels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ANGELS was an anthology that was worth the money for me. Usually anthologies tend to have at least one author I’m indifferent to, but this one had the bonus of me liking (if not loving) all four contributors.

I loved the peek into Ilona Andrews’ new Alpha world – more please? It was definitely darker and scarier compared to their Kate/Curran books, more reminiscent of their The Edge universe somehow. Sharon Shinn’s Samaria novella – well, I’m a total Samaria fangirl and while this was not the strongest story ever, just being able to revisit the world made the story worth it for me. And I liked Meljean Brook’s Guardian contribution despite me having stalled out early in her series (I suspect I would have gotten a whole lot more out of this story if I had known the full backstory), while Nalini Singh’s novella was enjoyable even though I haven’t loved her latest Guild Hunter books.

I think this was one of the anthologies I was most excited about last year, especially as it had a Samaria story.  I didn’t regret splashing out on the trade paperback edition.

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Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18)Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It used to be I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Stephanie Plum book. Nowadays, I put in a library request and it sits unread until close to the due date.

I didn’t care for Smokin’ Seventeen but EIGHTEEN surprised me – and in a good way. Alongside the usual zany antics from Lula et al plus the usual Morelli-or-Ranger dilemma, there was actually a plot that made sense. Yes, the usual suspects turn up, but Stephanie has actually developed some skills – both in bounty-hunting and self-defense AND she may – just may – be taking responsibility for her own actions.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the next book (but I’m still getting it from the library).

Ha.  I have just put in my library reservation for NOTORIOUS NINETEEN, as it happens.  I will keep you posted on whether the slight upwards trend continues (probably in a year’s time at the rate I’m going).

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Shadow Kin (The Half-Light City, #1)Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott (fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t quite sure if this was urban fantasy or not when I picked it up – answer: it’s not, despite the very UF-like cover. Which was a bonus, because I was in the mood for something different.

And this was different – to an extent. I liked the magic system, especially sunmages, but struggled with the incorporation of vampires and beastkin (i.e. shapeshifters/werewolves). I think the world-building suffered somewhat from the too-many-paranormal-creatures syndrome. The story is told in alternating POVs, which was slightly confusing as I really couldn’t tell the difference between the voices. I finally figured out that the symbols at the start of each section indicated the narrator, which helped – but I shouldn’t really need visual cues to tell POV.

However, good ending and I ended up liking this story well enough. I would probably get the next book to see how the writing and story develops.

I’ve not picked up the sequel actually.  I saw BLOOD KIN in the bookstore and was considering it, then I remembered the lack of distinct voices in the POV shifts in this book, and decided I didn’t really need to know what happens next.  Unless of course, one of you has read it and think it’s worth picking up?  

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Canyons of Night (The Arcane Society,#12, Looking Glass Trilogy,#3,  Harmony, #8)Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle (paranormal romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jayne Ann Krentz (and her various pseudonyms) used to be an autobuy for me – however, the only books of hers I regularly read nowadays are the Jayne Castle ones. I suspect it’s because the paranormal aspects that so annoy me when they appear in her historicals and contemporaries fit in nicely with her futuristic romances.

If you’ve read other Harmony books, you know exactly what to expect from CANYONS OF NIGHT. Hero meets heroine, they argue, then realise their talents dovetail perfectly together, and have a HEA (after getting rid of the bad guys). Having said that, I liked how Slade and Charlotte had a bit of a history, the chemistry between the two, and the small-town atmosphere. The suspense angle? Didn’t work for me.

And Rex the dust-bunny (for a change, belonging to the hero, not the heroine) and his fondness for sparkly objects? Love. Yep, I may be just reading this series for the dust-bunnies.

I know, I know.  This is futuristic romance-LITE, but I can’t help myself.  

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What Happened To GoodbyeWhat Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (YA romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish. Sarah Dessen can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, and if you read too many in one go, her plots can start to feel slightly recycled. But WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE was complicated in the way the best YAs are. The beginning chapters hinted at hidden mysteries in Mclean’s life – the different names, the must-orders from the restaurant’s menu… they all promised a good story and I wasn’t disappointed. Mclean’s relationship with her parents came across as realistic – love mixed in with resentment and confusion – and at the end, I admit to a few sniffles. This book left me with warm fuzzy feelings.

I slightly overdosed on Sarah Dessen when I first stumbled over her books and did a Dessen glom, but this reminded me of how good her books can be.

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Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A really long book that could have possibly done with some additional editing as it dragged in places. I’m glad to have Beka’s story completed (and the linkage between her family and Alanna’s explained!), though I would have liked to have spent more time with Beka’s friends and family who we met in the first book. [Slight spoiler – highlight to read: The twist at the end left me slightly bemused and sad – I suppose it was part of Beka’s growing up but, well.] All in all, I’ve liked this glimpse into Tortall’s history, but I’ll probably wouldn’t re-read the trilogy.

I tend to be a diehard Tortall fangirl, but this was not my favourite of the books, unfortunately.  On the other hand, the Mark Reads chapter-by-chapter reviews for her Alanna books are reminding me what a fantastic series that was.

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Quarter Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, #1)Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell (SF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this following a suggestion when I asked for space opera recs, with the caveat this wasn’t exactly space opera with big battles etc, but focusing on the trading side of things.

And it’s a easy read – a coming-of-age academy-type story, but this time, the academy being a merchant spaceship. Interesting world, and I can see myself getting the next to follow Ishmael on his adventures.

I did buy the next book, but have stalled a couple of chapters in.

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Slow Ride (Fast Track, #5)Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked SLOW RIDE more than the previous book The Chase, which perhaps isn’t saying too much.

What I liked about this one? Tuesday and Kendall’s interactions – having female friendships amidst the testosterone-fueled atmosphere is always a nice contrast. And you felt that they were real friends. I also liked how Tuesday’s journalistic background was incorporated through the articles and gossip columns inserts – they were fun. And (not that I’m saying I have first-hand experience or anything – ahem), the drunken scenes came across as being spot on… [Slight spoiler – highlight to read: Although was alcoholism an actual problem for Tuesday? I’m not quite sure – and while I did think that Erin McCarthy was trying to tackle a serious issue, I’m not quite sure if it worked. Which probably means it didn’t.]

What I didn’t really care for: I did wonder why Kendall and Elec’s storyline had pivotal scenes in this book – this isn’t their story and really, it should have been wrapped up in the previous book. And while this series has a reputation for having some really steamy sex scenes (and I have loved the first few books), I felt this book had too many sex scenes scattered throughout that didn’t really advance the plot. However, it was interesting to see (very light) BDSM in a mainstream contemporary romance – a sign of the times?

Tuesday came across as a bit of a caricature at times, and too much on the laddish side – does anyone really ever describe themselves as “looking like ass”? Eh. And finally, the final argument was a bit OTT and I admit I lost respect for Tuesday at that point – drunk or not, she should have known better. I think it just came off as Diesel/Daniel being too nice for her.

So the jury’s still out on this series – I’ll still be reading the next, but not rushing out to buy.

I bought the next book FAST TRACK, but again stalled in the first couple of chapters – the hero came across as being incredibly condescending and the heroine had zero self-esteem.  Though I have seen relatively good reviews around, so I may return to the book 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…

Sarah Dessen Recs?

Arrrghhhh.  Busy, busy, busy.  I’ve barely had time to blog hop, let alone read and leave comments, in the past couple of weeks.

51lFqOeoncL._SL160_ But I really had to mention Sarah Dessen’s “The Truth About Forever”, which I just finished this week.  I’ve had it in my TBR pile for a looooong time (funny how often I use that phrase), so a big thank you to Christine for listing it in her Top 20 Reads of 2009 and convincing me I had to read it.

Macy’s dealing with her father’s unexpected death.  Really.  I mean, she has the perfect boyfriend, she’s focused on her schoolwork, and she’s about to start a summer job that will look great on her high school transcript when applying to universities.  So why does she feel as though it’s a constant struggle not to fall apart?

I was completely caught up in Macy’s story pretty much from the start.  Watching her slowly figuring out that she doesn’t have to be perfect, seeing her grow so much from the first page to the last, dealing with her grief and reconnecting with her life?  So satisfying.

And sa-wooon.  Wes.  Mmmmm.  Okay, it’s not just Wes, it’s the whole cast of secondary characters that made this story so good.  Kristy and her search for truly extraordinary boys.  Bert and his cologne and gotchas.  Even Monica and her “donnevens”.  But Wes.  Ahhh.  I loved how Macy and Wes slowly became best friends without realising it, the diabolical Truth game the two of them played that revealed so much about each other, and oh, the last question.

So yes, I loved.   A very feel-good book.

Now for all you longtime Sarah Dessen fans, I need some help.  I’ve just bought three more Dessen books (no, I don’t waste any time and yes, it was another 3-for-2 offer) – “Lock and Key”, “Just Listen”, and “This Lullaby”, based purely on the selection they had in the bookstore and the back cover blurb. 

But I’m wondering, did I pick the right books?  Are there any other Dessen books that I should really be getting?