Books for March

Here’s a pretty long list of March releases that I’m eyeing (plus a whole load of maybes).  Also, Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING is now scheduled for a March release, so lots of book goodness this month.

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11035657Patricia BriggsFROST BURNED (UF): *inarticulate noise* Yes, I’m that excited about a new Mercy Thompson story.  It’s been one of the very few books I’ve actually pre-ordered this year.  I’m wondering if we’re going to see the repercussions of the events in the last Anna & Charles book in FROST BURNED – I hope so.

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Out March 5 (excerpt)

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12551082Miranda Kenneally‘s THINGS I CAN’T FORGET (YA romance): Miranda Kenneally’s CATCHING JORDAN was an unexpectedly good read when I stumbled upon it last year, so I’m all up for a new book in her Hundred Oaks setting (this is termed a companion book, which appears to be a quiet trend in the YA space).

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

Out now (excerpt)

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13501633Seanan McGuire‘s MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL (UF): So I didn’t quite love the first InCryptid novel, but this is Seanan McGuire.  I’m giving this series another go.

Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: “monster.”

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity–and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn’t quite work out that way…

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city’s readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there’s no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity’s apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ–assuming there’s anyone left standing when all is said and done. It’s a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit…and carnage.

Out March 5 (excerpt)

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13414149QUEEN VICTORIA’S BOOK OF SPELLS, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (YA fantasy): The subtitle is An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, which just intrigues me.

“Gaslamp Fantasy,” or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. A number of wonderful fantasy novels, including Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, owe their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers ranging from Jane Austen, the Brontës, and George Meredith to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and William Morris. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature inspired by this period.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves these works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, mainstream, and young adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents such as Elizabeth Bear, James Blaylock, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Kushner, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire, Delia Sherman, and Catherynne M. Valente, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century invested (or cursed!)

Out March 19 (publisher page)

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15714478Teresa Grant‘s THE PARIS AFFAIR (historical mystery): I’m a long-time fan of Teresa Grant’s books and am looking forward to a new installment in Suzanne and Malcolm’s life.  Her novels are packed full of historical detail and political intrigue; add the rather complicated relationship between Suzanne and Malcolm and you get a very satisfying read.

Warning: SPOILER in book description for previous books(!):

From the ashes of war rise the secrets of its darkest hearts…

In the wake of the Battle of Waterloo, Paris is a house divided. The triumphant Bourbons flaunt their victory with lavish parties, while Bonapartists seek revenge only to be captured and executed. Amid the turmoil, British attaché and intelligence agent Malcolm Rannoch and his wife, Suzanne, discover that his murdered half sister, Princess Tatiana Kirsanova, may have borne a child—a secret she took to the grave. And Malcolm suspects there was more than mere impropriety behind her silence…

As Malcolm and Suzanne begin searching for answers, they learn that the child was just one of many secrets Tatiana had been keeping. The princess was the toast of Paris when she arrived in the glamorous city, flirting her way into the arms of more than a few men—perhaps even those of Napoleon himself—and the father must be among them. But in the mêlée of the Napoleonic Wars, she was caught up in a deadly game of court intrigue, and now Malcolm and Suzanne must race against time to save his sister’s child from a similar fate…

Out March 26 (excerpt)

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And then my maybes:

Anne Bishop‘s WRITTEN IN RED (YA UF): I’ve skipped her more recent fantasy releases, but may pick up her YA UF debut. (ETA: This is not a YA according to commenters – no idea where I got my original impression from!)

Jennifer Nielsen‘s THE RUNAWAY KING (MG/YA fantasy): I liked but didn’t love the first book in this trilogy (THE FALSE PRINCE) so this is on my library reservation request list.

Nalini Singh‘s WILD INVITATION (paranormal romance): Another library reservation request, I think – primarily because I’ve read both of the previously-published short stories in this anthology.  I’m not keen on paying full price for two new stories.

Eloisa James‘ WITH THIS KISS (historical romance): Normally Eloisa James is an autobuy author, but I’m not sure this serial-in-three-parts will work for me.  I’ll wait on reviews.

Jacqueline Winspear‘s LEAVING EVERYTHING MOST LOVED (historical mystery): Her Maisie Dobbs books are hits or misses with me, so I’ll probably play safe and borrow a copy from the library.

More Mini-Reviews (with Some Goodreads Rating Thoughts)

Heh – talk about ready-made content.  Here are the remaining books I read last April and added to Goodreads probably about a “couple” of months later.  Note I am still adding my 2011 reads there (umm… I think I’m up to September now – I mean, I hope I am), so take that timeline with a pinch of salt.

Speaking of Goodreads and the latest author/reviewer kerfuffles (I’m not adding any linkage, but if you’ve managed to miss the fun and want to know, ask!), I’ve been scanning through the numerous posts and commentary.  Just because.  I don’t think anyone’s made any new arguments, but one thing that did strike me was an example cited where an author said something along the lines of “I can’t believe she  wants to “fan” me on Goodreads after only giving my book three stars”.

Bearing in mind that was just ONE author and therefore not representative at all of the author community… it did make me think.  Because (and naming no names), I’m pretty sure there are authors that I “fan” (i.e. follow) there because I tend to love their books – however, let’s face it, not every book is great and if I’ve read quite a few of their books, there are bound to be a good distribution of grades in there.

Here’s my Goodreads rating breakdown by the way – you can see it’s sort of a normal distribution, skewed towards the positive:

Do authors get upset if they see books rated “only” three stars by readers who call themselves fans?  I “fan” authors (off-topic, but ugh, I hate that phrase) because I want to see their new releases and posts on Goodreads, and either I’m too lazy to add their blog to my blog reader or they don’t have one.   Maybe it’s more terminology than anything else, and with Goodreads classifying you as a fan if you want to follow an author’s updates, using that function carries slightly different connotations to what I’m using it for.

And also, three stars is actually a good rating – it’s “I liked it” in Goodreads-speak, as opposed to “It was ok” (2 stars) or “I didn’t like it” (1 star).

So did I have a point to this?  Uh, not really.  Only that I may think twice about listing myself as an author’s fan, especially if I’m not going to be one of thousands.  Maybe.

If you’ve read this far, well, on to the rest of my April reads – and hmm… this is possibly the more negative half.  As before, copied over from my Goodreads shelves, with some additional comments in italics.

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The Chase (Fast Track, #4)The Chase by Erin McCarthy (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’ve liked previous books in this series, but this one was a bit of a disappointment. The plot was ever-so-slightly OTT and I never really believed in the characters’ motivations. And okay, I never quite came to like Kendall herself.

I loved the first three books in this series, but the more recent ones have missed the mark somewhat.  I’m still going to be getting the next book in this series – whether I then continue really depends on how much I like it!

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City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments, #4)City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well. This sort of read like fanfiction for the original trilogy.

The expanded version (because this sounds as though I’m disparaging fanfiction, and I’m not – I love good fanfic, operative word being good) is that well, I didn’t quite see the point of this book.  It wasn’t a new story – instead it took the original trilogy and sort of negated that story arc.  And the characters stagnated.  Does that make any sense?  

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Misfits (Adventures in the Liaden Universe, #15)Misfits by Sharon Lee (SF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am loving the fact that Sharon Lee & Steve Miller are releasing their Liaden Universe chapbooks in ebook format.

This one was another great “fill-in-the-gaps”-type short story – we get to see Miri from another person’s perspective, and it had a totally satisfying ending.

Oh yes, I continued my Liaden short story glom.  Can you tell I was thrilled to be able to read their backlist in e-format?

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Eidolon (Adventures in the Liaden Universe, Volume14)Eidolon by Sharon Lee (SF)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just because “Shadow Partner” fills in the backstory for “A Day at the Races” (in Two Tales of Korval) so perfectly…

I really liked this one – it had my favourite Liaden characters in it, and as I said, it took a previous short story and just added so much more depth and colour to it. 

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Alien in the Family (Katherine Alien in the Family by Gini Koch (SF romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

And this book, unfortunately, is where I draw a line under this series.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s still fun, but in the end, there were too many things that niggled me about the book to get into it and continue with the series.

It felt as though there were too many plotlines, combined with some slightly-off pacing and plotting – the big action finale takes place around three-quarters into the book, with the last quarter focusing on Kitty/Jeff’s wedding… which had zero conflict or tension.

Also, trying to keep the character names straight drove me mad – for instance, Kitty would think of someone as Reader, but call him James. There were more than enough characters already – having different names for each person made it even more difficult to remember who was who.

And finally, this came across as a bit of a throwaway comment in the book, but really pulled me out of the story and was possibly the tipping point in my decision to finish with this series: [spoiler – highlight to read] Kitty gets changed into a sexy outfit, the other character essentially tells her to get a cover-up and then they have this exchange:

He took my shoulders and turned me around. “God, it’s as bad from the back. Really, go put on some clothes.”

“I don’t have a wrap, okay?”

“Find one. Before I rape you.” He gave me a gentle push toward the bedroom.

??!!!!

Fair enough – there had been some romantic tension between these two previously and this was meant as a joke, but seriously?? I thought we had moved on from rape being a female’s fault for dressing “inappropriately” – even as a joke. Aarrghh. However it was meant, I have to say this episode yanked me out of the story and had me fuming a little. I would have said I don’t normally get on my high horse about books having to have the RIGHT message, but really.

[end spoiler] I just don’t have enough invested in either the characters or the story to continue reading this series.

Oooh, I had a bit of a rant here – it was my feminist side getting up on a soapbox.  But I’m not continuing with this series – my non-enjoyment was starting to outweigh my enjoyment.

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An Unlikely Countess (Malloren #11)An Unlikely Countess by Jo Beverley (historical romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Slightly mixed feelings on this book, not one of the stronger Malloren books, IMO.

What I didn’t like first – and these are very much YMMV* things: One of the plotlines I’m not particularly keen on is when characters purposely mislead others, and this formed one of the bigger conflicts in this book. Secondly, Jo Beverley has always excelled in historical detail, which is why I love reading her books, but this book was possibly too realistic in parts – and with her spelling out the chasm between local gentry and the aristocracy, I sometimes felt the obstacles to a forever kind of HEA were too much. Prudence didn’t come across as having the strength/character to eventually grow into the role demanded of Cate’s countess. And I found the eventual villain and explanation slightly over-melodramatic.

Having said all that, I liked Prudence and Cate’s relationship – their initial attraction to each other and subsequent romance felt very organic and real. And I was fascinated by the feudal nature of the Yorkshire society and the non-London settings – most historicals are set in London society so this was a refreshing change.

So yes, a good read, but not a keeper for me.

*YMMV = Your Mileage May Vary

Jo Beverley has written some books which were keepers for me, but her recent ones have been more solid reads – still good, but lacking that spark that elevates them to magic reads.  Her new release is coming out soon-ish, IIRC – I’ll be getting it but possibly not rushing out to buy.

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Outcast MineOutcast Mine by Jamie Craig (SF m/m romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Very much a case of it’s not you, it’s me.

Alien sex just doesn’t do it for me – however, great premise and good writing. I’d read more by Jamie Craig, I’ll just steer well clear of anything with a hint of aliens.

Ummm… yeah.  My review says it all.  I did like the SF setting, but it was too… out there for me.  Hey, I tried.

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Paris A to Z (Coda Books, #6)Paris A to Z by Marie Sexton (contemporary m/m romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m probably in the minority here, but this book didn’t really work for me. Maybe because it’s been a while since I’ve read the previous books, but I kept on losing track of who was who. It felt a bit like because the author knew her characters so well* that there was a lot of assumed knowledge which didn’t necessarily translate well to someone not as fully invested in the world she had created.

*And to be fair, it’s book 6? I have read the previous books, I swear.

I know a lot of people loved this.  It just didn’t work for me.

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The Mask of Night (Charles & Mélanie Fraser #4)The Mask of Night by Tracy Grant (historical mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It has been quite a while waiting for this book, and it was a pleasure to sink back into Tracy Grant’s complex world of Regency intrigue.

I love how things were not always what they appear to be at first glance, and how Ms Grant peels away the layers of the various relationships in this book, each reveal providing a fresh take on things. Melanie and Charles’ relationship remains rather complicated – the revelations in the previous books have put their marriage at risk, but they are both determined to work at it and learning to trust each other again. Painful, but potentially so rewarding.

I will say the sheer number of characters and the rather intricate political plotting lost me at times – possibly not helped by it being years since I’ve read the previous two books. But I have the latest book, Vienna Waltz, in my TBR pile, and am looking forward to reading more in Ms Grant’s world.

I’ve been meaning to start VIENNA WALTZ for ages now – it’s been sitting on my Kindle for months and I still haven’t opened it.  I think it’s because Tracy Grant’s books require a level of mental concentration to really get the plot – one that has been sadly lacking on my part for a while…

New Glom and Links

I am on a bit of a Kelly Hunter glom.

I’m not sure what’s happened – I’ve suddenly doubled the number of M&Bs I’ve read in a year within a fortnight (though to be fair, it was a rather low number to start off with).  I’ve loved all three of Ms Hunter’s Bennett Family series that I’ve read so far – she pulls off very convincing romances, combined with dialogue that makes me laugh and some crazy chemistry between the hero and the heroine.  And she puts her own spin on tried-and-tested tropes, making them feel fresh and new to me – and that’s no easy thing, bearing in mind the number of M&Bs I’ve read over the years.

The first book is WIFE FOR A WEEK if any of you are interested – there were passages that made me smile right from the start and the eventual reveal appealed to my sense of the ridiculous.  There’s no obvious sequel-bait in these books, but I’m liking the sibling relationship between the four brothers and one sister and am looking forward to finishing the series.

I’m just annoyed because I can’t download the remaining two Bennett books I bought from the Mills & Boon UK website.  Grrrr.  I’ve emailed their customer services and hopefully will get a response tomorrow, though I’m very tempted to ask for a refund and repurchase from Amazon instead.  Yes, that’s how much I want to read them.

Anyway, apart from my glom, I’ve been browsing the internets.  Did you know Naomi Novik has a redesigned website?  And a cover for the next Temeraire book (CRUCIBLE OF GOLD out March 2012)?  And there’s a prologue?

And then there’s a couple of ebook-only releases.  I think 2011 is the year the ebook finally went mainstream.

Tracy Grant‘s re-released one of her backlist books.  DARK ANGEL’s an historical romance – I’ve only read her current series, which is more historical mystery/suspense, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s very different.

And Tanya Huff‘s released a collection of short stories.  I’ve bought NIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE & OTHER STORIES off Amazon UK, so I’m assuming it’s now available widely.

Books for April

This month’s new releases that I’ve been anticipating…

Teresa Grant‘s “Vienna Waltz” (historical mystery): Technically a March 29 release, this book has been a long time in coming.  I won’t go into the slightly convoluted history of why I’ve been waiting for this book for ages (mainly because it is of no interest to anyone but myself), but if this is in the same vein as her previous two books, it promises to be an excellent mix of historical intrigue and suspense, with some rather complicated romance.

Blurb:

Nothing is fair in love and war. . .

Europe’s elite have gathered at the glittering Congress of Vienna–princes, ambassadors, the Russian tsar–all negotiating the fate of the continent by day and pursuing pleasure by night. Until Princess Tatiana, the most beautiful and talked about woman in Vienna, is found murdered during an ill-timed rendezvous with three of her most powerful conquests…

Suzanne Rannoch has tried to ignore rumors that her new husband, Malcolm, has also been tempted by Tatiana. As a protégé of France’s Prince Talleyrand and attaché for Britain’s Lord Castlereagh, Malcolm sets out to investigate the murder and must enlist Suzanne’s special skills and knowledge if he is to succeed. As a complex dance between husband and wife in the search for the truth ensues, no one’s secrets are safe, and the future of Europe may hang in the balance…

Out now (excerpt)

 

Erin McCarthy‘s “The Chase” (contemporary romance): I can’t remember the last time I’ve been waiting impatiently for a contemporary romance to be released.  But I was completely captivated by her previous three Fast Track novels last year and am very much looking forward to this one.  I’ll be the first to admit that not all of Erin McCarthy’s books have worked for me (there have even been some DNFs), but I loved how she brings together the testosterone atmosphere of stock car racing with some very steamy romance.

Blurb:

Kendall Holbrook is determined to make it to the top, even with the challenge of being a woman on the male-dominated racing circuit. She doesn’t have time for romance- especially not with racing rival Evan Monroe, the man who nearly crushed her dreams years ago. Forced into meeting up with him, Kendall is experiencing all those old feelings again- and she can’t deny that they still have more than enough chemistry to set fire to the track.

After getting dropped by his biggest sponsor, Evan is watching his racing season go up in flames. Now, the only replacement available is completely humiliating: a co-sponsorship for his-and-her deodorant with Kendall Holbrook- the girl who once broke his heart. Acting like Kendall doesn’t still get him all hot and bothered is bad enough, but the biggest challenge awaits him on the track- where Evan has to decide if a second chance at love is more important than making it to the finish line…

Out April 5 (excerpt)

 

Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s “One Was A Soldier” (mystery): I won (and actually reviewed) the previous book in this series, “I Shall Not Want”, when Keishon hosted a giveaway back in 2008.  I loved how the mystery was set against the backdrop of Clare’s faith and the small-town setting, and was also intrigued by the rather complicated relationship between Clare and Russ – and this book sounds as though things aren’t getting any easier.  It’s been quite a long gap in between books, but this may be worth the wait judging from the online buzz.

Goodreads blurb:

Julia Spencer-Fleming’s debut novel, In the Bleak Midwinter, burst onto the mystery scene like a wild fire, snatching up almost every award imaginable. Since then, the series has only been picking up speed, the characters only digging deeper into our hearts. One Was a Soldier takes the suspense and heart-tugging to the next level, making for a truly devastating read.

At the Millers Kill Community Center, five veterans gather to work on adjusting to life after war. Reverend Clare Fergusson has returned from Iraq with a head full of bad memories she’s using alcohol to wipe out. Dr. George Stillman is denying that the head wound he received has left him with something worse than simple migraines. Officer Eric McCrea is battling to keep his constant rage from affecting his life as a cop, and as a father.

High school track star Will Ellis is looking for some reason to keep on living after losing both legs to an IED. And down-onher- luck Tally McNabb has brought home a secret—a fatal one. Police Chief Russ Van Alstyne just wants Clare to settle down and get married—to him. But when he rules Tally McNabb’s death a suicide, Clare sides with the other vets against him. Russ and Clare’s unorthodox investigation will uncover a trail of deceit that runs from their tiny Adirondack town to the upper ranks of the Army, and from the waters of the Millers Kill to the unforgiving streets of Baghdad.

Fans of the series have been waiting for Russ and Clare to get together, and now that burgeoning relationship is threatened in this next tantalizing novel by Julia Spencer-Fleming.

Out April 12 (excerpt)

 

Holly Black‘s “Red Glove” (YA urban fantasy): I’ve been meaning to read Holly Black’s faerie urban fantasy books for years, but never quite got around to it.  Then last year, I read her first Curse Workers book, “White Cat”, which sucked me into a very cool and inventive world – so I’m all excited about the second book now.

Blurb (note this has SPOILERS FOR FIRST BOOK):

Curses and cons. Magic and the mob. In Cassel Sharpe’s world, they go together. Cassel always thought he was an ordinary guy, until he realized his memories were being manipulated by his brothers. Now he knows the truth—he’s the most powerful curse worker around. A touch of his hand can transform anything—or anyone—into something else.

That was how Lila, the girl he loved, became a white cat. Cassel was tricked into thinking he killed her, when actually he tried to save her. Now that she’s human again, he should be overjoyed. Trouble is, Lila’s been cursed to love him, a little gift from his emotion worker mom. And if Lila’s love is as phony as Cassel’s made-up memories, then he can’t believe anything she says or does.

When Cassel’s oldest brother is murdered, the Feds recruit Cassel to help make sense of the only clue—crime-scene images of a woman in red gloves. But the mob is after Cassel too—they know how valuable he could be to them. Cassel is going to have to stay one step ahead of both sides just to survive. But where can he turn when he can’t trust anyone—least of all, himself?

Love is a curse and the con is the only answer in a game too dangerous to lose.

Out April 5 (though June 16 for the UK edition – sigh) – book site (I’m linking to the News page as opposed to the frontpage as video starts playing automatically)

 

Lisa Lutz and David Hayward‘s “Heads You Lose” (mystery): I am a BIG fan of Lisa Lutz’s Spellman Files books.  They’re slightly loopy and incredibly funny, but leave you with a big smile on your face at the end of it.  And while this is not a Spellman book and may have a bit of a gimmick-y concept (okay, very), I’m curious and do know that Ms Lutz, at least, does good comedy, so I’ll be getting it.

Blurb:

From New York Times–bestselling author Lisa Lutz and David Hayward comes a hilarious and original tag-team novel that reads like Weeds meets Adaptation.

Meet Paul and Lacey Hansen: orphaned, pot-growing, twentysomething siblings eking out a living in rural Northern California. When a headless corpse appears on their property, they can’t exactly dial 911, so they move the body and wait for the police to find it. Instead, the corpse reappears, a few days riper … and an amateur sleuth is born. Make that two.

But that’s only half of the story. When collaborators Lutz and Hayward—former romantic partners—start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics (meet Brandy Chester, the stripper with the Mensa IQ), and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

Out April 5 (excerpt)

 

And finally, two maybes for the month: Kelley Armstrong‘s “The Gathering” (out April 12), the first in her new YA trilogy and Alison Goodman‘s “Eona: The Last Dragoneye” (out April 19).

As much as I like Kelley Armstrong’s books, I’ve not fallen in love with her YA writing, and this may be a library borrow for me.  As for Alison Goodman’s sequel to “Eon”, I liked the first (and love the cover of this one!), but may wait for the UK paperback release in August.

Around the Web

First off, bidding for two fundraising initiatives – Operation Auction and Genre for Japan – kicks off today/tomorrow.

Also, Tales for Canterbury is putting together an anthology of short stories to raise money for victims of the Canterbury earthquake – you can pre-order now and digital/print versions will be released in April.  Contributors include Juliet Marillier and Neil Gaiman, amongst many others.

I never cease to be amazed at the goodwill and generosity of the online book community.

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On  a different note, Amanda Hocking‘s name has been all over the place recently as a poster-child for self-publishing, especially since she’s now signed a major publishing contract with one of the big houses.  I finally caved in to my curiosity, and decided to download a sample of one of her books  to my Kindle – when I realised it was only £0.49, I bought the book.  It’s not a bad sales strategy, especially since “Switched” is the first of a trilogy.

Speaking of ebooks, Tracy Grant‘s also published “The Mask of Night” as an ebook-only release.  I loved her previous two releases, and was going to include her new release “Vienna Waltz” in my April books post.

Links are to the Amazon UK pages, but I’m sure they’re on Amazon US (and other online bookstores) as well.

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And Toni LP Kelner has published the table of contents for the upcoming “Home Improvement: Undead Edition” anthology (co-edited with Charlaine Harris).

It’s all sorts of good – especially since it includes a Toby Daye story from Seanan McGuire. Other contributors include Ms Harris herself (yep, a Sookie story) and Patricia Briggs (mention of vampires, so possibly a Mercy one?),

Happy dance.

Around the Web

Links of interest: A new contract, a new computer game, and a fascinating visit

 

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First off, some excellent news – Tracy Grant has signed a two-book contract with Kensington Books, writing as Teresa Grant.

51ZQazBh47L._SL160_ I’m really happy to hear this because her previous books “Beneath a Silent Moon” and “Secrets of a Lady” (previously published as “Daughter of the Game”) blew me away when I read them ages ago.  These were re-released by Avon in 2007/8, but I think I came across them back when they were first published – looking back, we’re talking 2002/3 here.  And although it has been years, I still remember loving these historical mysteries and more to the point, the central couple, Charles and Mélanie Fraser.  They were books full of twists and intrigue, and strong on the relationship side of things, IIRC – I may have to dig them out for a re-read.

51vgtB8ulcL._SL160_ The first book has the working title “The Dark Waltz” and the central couple will be called Suzanne and Malcolm Rannoch, instead of Mélanie and Charles, although it is essentially their story.  Being nosy, I asked why, and Ms Grant said it was because Kensington wanted “… something they could market as something fresh and new, not overtly connected to existing series”. Makes sense, and I can’t wait for this to be released.

 

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You may have heard of Marjorie M Liu’s “Tiger Eye” being used as a basis for a computer game – here’s an interview with Melissa Heidrich, Studio Director of PassionFruit Games, giving some more information, at the Grasping for the Wind blog.  Interesting stuff.

I’ve read “Tiger Eye”, but must admit it didn’t quite work for me.  I know many people are big fans of her Dirk & Steele paranormal romance series (of which “Tiger Eye” is the first book), and  I’m wondering if I should give her another shot.

 

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And finally, if I say Richelle Mead went to Forks, and you go “huh”, I’m guessing you’ve managed to avoid Twilight and all things vampire-related.  Ms Mead, author of the YA urban fantasy Vampire Academy books, made a day trip to Forks, home to Bella and Edward (and Jacob etc etc).  They have Bella’s truck outside the Visitors Centre.  Go read.

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Christmas is an exhausting time of year!  Monday’s mince pies and champagne party started off the week (btw, I do not recommend three-and-a-half glasses of champagne on an empty stomach), Tuesday was a mad after-work dash through the shops to get last-minute presents, Wednesday was a complete disaster at work, and Thursday was the big company Christmas bash.  Had an early night yesterday, and all I want to do now is curl up and have a nice afternoon nap.  I’m fighting temptation here!

Catching up on various blogs and newsletters:

Jo Beverley‘s November newsletter with a cover of her upcoming book “A Lady’s Secret” (April 2008) is here.  Okay, I’m definitely getting this book because she’s one of my auto-buy authors, but I’ve to admit the cover is a bit blah.  Yes, the dress is probably historically accurate, but… it’s not very nice, is it!  I think it’s the bows down the front that put me off.  Anyway, the book’s set in the world of the Mallorens (hurray – love her Georgian stories!) and an excerpt is here.

Also, and it is horribly belated, Tracy Grant wrote a fascinating blog post on character names back in November, both on choosing character names and also how her characters are addressed differently throughout the novel.  She is also posting excerpts from the next Charles and Melanie novel “The Mask of Night” – I’m keeping everything crossed that it will be published soon.  Please.

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Hurray – it’s the weekend!  A lovely sunny one as well, it’s quite a change from the freezing weather we had a week ago when I seriously considered digging out my winter coat.  Unfortunately, I went out last night and am feeling slightly err… delicate today, so I’ve just spent the afternoon having a bit of a nap instead of making the most of the sunshine.  Oh, and this post may not be hugely coherent.

But anyway, moving on:

In case you haven’t heard, a few peeps in romance blogland have started a new site called Romantic Advances – the aim being to collate info on all upcoming releases in one place.  It looks very cool indeed and the tagline “Building the TBR mountain… one book at a time” is hilariously spot-on!

Author Tracy Grant who I mentioned the other day has a new website – there’s more information on her upcoming release “Secrets of a Lady” (“Daughter of the Game” released under a different title).  I actually like “Daughter of the Game” better as a title – while “Secrets of a Lady” suits the storyline just as well, it strikes me as being a bit too generic.  “Daughter of the Game” on the other hand, is a bit more evocative and mysterious.  I’m guessing that it’s referencing the Great Game (though actually, isn’t that between Britain and Russia?  My knowledge of history is abysmal).  Regardless of the title though, it is a good book and I really really hope Ms Grant gets to publish her third book in her Charles/Melanie series, which is titled “The Mask of Night” – now I like that title *grin*

Mary Jo Putney has posted an excerpt of her upcoming release “A Distant Magic” (July 2007) on her website.  Also, two great pieces of news from her latest newsletter:

In one last bit of news—A Distant Magic will be my last hardcover for the foreseeable future.  I’m changing publishers and will be returning to paperback originals, which I’ve wanted to do for some time now.  Romance readers like to buy their books, and you can  buy four paperbacks for the price of one hardcover.  I want my books to be affordable!

The first book won’t be out until early 2009 (no date or title yet), and it will be classical romance with no fantasy, since that’s what the editors wanted when my agent and I went shopping for a new house.  So those of you who have been wishing for that can celebrate!

Wheeee… cheaper books AND a historical romance with no paranormal elements – the bad news being that it’ll only be out in 2009, I suppose.

And Jo Beverley is also working on a new Georgian – she mentions this in an interview on the Word Wenches blog, posted to promote her latest paperback release “Lady Beware”.  I finished it the other day and really liked it – Ms Beverley always delivers a good story.  I loved the romance and chemistry between Thea and Darien, and I liked reading Darien’s angst-y viewpoint.  My main quibble is that it wasn’t entirely a standalone book – many characters from her previous Rogues books make an appearance to help resolve the main plot conflict.  Not a major minus point overall, so yes, it was a good read.

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Tracy Grant is one of my “Where are they now?” authors.  She wrote two books “Daughter of the Game” and “Beneath a Silent Moon”, and then completely vanished from the publishing world.  It’s been a while since I read them, so I’ve forgotten the exact details, but I remember what stood out was the fact the second book is set before the first book. 

Errr… so what, you may ask?  Well, one of the main plotlines in the first book focused on cracks in Charles and Melanie’s marriage arising from earlier deceptions and lies, so it was interesting to re-visit them in the second book, when they were (mostly) blissfully unaware of what was going to happen.  It’s not something all authors can – or want – to do.  I suppose one exception was Stephanie Laurens’ prequel to her Cynster series “The Promise in a Kiss”, which was Sebastian and Helena’s story (Helena being the matriarch of the Cynster family).  I thought it was lovely as a stand-alone book – but knowing beforehand that Sebastian somehow produces a love-child and dies young(ish?) doesn’t make the HEA ending quite ring true… 

Going back to Ms Grant, “Daughter of the Game” is also one of those few romances where it starts off with the main characters already happily married with children.  It’s different enough to be refreshing – I only recall reading one other book that started off like that, it was a M&B by one of the well-established names, maybe Susan Napier or Emma Darcy?  I liked that one too. 

Anyway, there is a point to these ramblings – Ms Grant posted on the AAR boards that her new book “Secrets of a Lady” (September 2007) is actually “Daughter of the Game” re-issued under a different name in trade size, so not a new book, unfortunately.  However, there is a “bonus” addition in the form of letters between Charles and Melanie.  Ms Grant also said she will be updating her website shortly (probably about time because it was last updated in 2003!) and also starting a blog to keep us readers updated on her books.

In other news around the internet, Laurell K Hamilton has posted the first chapter of her next Anita Blake book “The Harlequin” (June 2007).  Now say what you will about the latest Anita books, but this one has Edward – errmmm… do you think Anita will end up sleeping with him?  It’s the first time I’ve seen the cover as well, and it is rather striking.

And Karen Chance has confirmed the next Cassie Palmer book is out in May 2008, with another book “Midnight’s Daughter”, set in the same universe, coming in October 2008.  I’m definitely looking out for them.