jmc_bks: (Stupid)
Originally posted at WordPress.

+  Tickets for Indian Wells arrived today.  Yes, it's six months away, but it's nice to have long term plans, isn't it?

-  Also arriving today:  a jury form for the federal district court, meaning jury duty may be in the very near future.

+  Theater tickets for next month -- Alan Rickman in Seminar on Broadway!

-  Please, Green Day, don't cast sparkle-pie Cedric Diggory as St. Jimmy.  I get that he'd sell tickets but nothing in his body of work leads me to believe that he can live up to this. (See also this and this.)

+ Ferrer and Lopez are in the semifinals of Shanghai...I would never have predicted that.  So no matter how the match turns out, a Spaniard will be in the final, albeit not the Spaniard anyone would have predicted.

-  Must go in to the office this weekend.  So far behind in everything.  And I have to pack my office to move yet again (3rd time in as many years).

+  But I'll be able to meet L for dinner and a movie as a result.  And Weekend is playing in limited release at the Landmark, so...

-  Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink.  I have hundreds of books to read (literally) and yet I keep scrolling through my computer and phone and Kindle and staring at the shelves, thinking that there's nothing that I *want* to read right now.


jmc_bks: (Nadasco - 08 Spain Davis Cup)
+  My summary of my US Open 2011 adventures is posted over at WordPress.

+  For better or worse, I've got a draft of my Fall Festival fic.  It's just over 2,000 words, much shorter than I expected.  Struggled with the prompts and the POV character.  But at least I'll have something to send.  And I'll include an apology in the intro to the recipient, because she really deserves better.

+  Jo Nesbo's newly released (in the US) book, Headhunters, arrived today \o/

+  I read an ARC for a book due out in December and I loved the book.  I want to squee about it so much but am restraining myself.  I do plan on writing a review this week, although I won't post it until closer to the release date.  But this way it's written and won't be forgotten as I read other books.

+/-  The biopsy on the mole removed by the doctor came back negative for cancer.  The cream she prescribed for my skin, which she warned would make things worse before it made things better, is making my skin really, really worse.  Blotchy, itchy, oily, uncomfortable.
jmc_bks: (Default)
Traffic in DC is unpredictable for me. What ought to take 10 minutes by cab or 15 by bus turns into an hour long commute. So I left with plenty of time last night to meet for dinner. And, since I *planned* for heavy traffic, it was relatively light. Instead of hanging out in the bar, I walked to the Borders on the corner, where I saw the saddest of things: a nearly empty bookstore, shelves with little on them, and huge signs saying "EVERYTHING FOR SALE, EVEN FIXTURES". I had forgotten that this Borders store was closing because it seemed to do such good business. But when I asked, they said that the rent was horrendous and increasing per the lease, which was the nail in the coffin.

All the wooden shelving had "sold" labels. Most were completely empty, a few had scattered books on them. The fullest shelves were full of YA paranormal. Not sure if they were just overstocked with it, or if the genre's popularity has leveled off.

Books I left with (for less than $14)
1. tangled by Carolyn Mackler (YA hard cover): I've read her before and liked her voice.
2. Virtually Hers by Gennita Low (Rom Susp, trade paperback): Ditto. I've got another TPB of hers to be read, but hadn't bought this one because it's tpb. Why the move to tpb out of mmp? There was a publisher change, too, from a NY pub to Samhain. Was she caught in the midlist author crunch?
3. Simply Perfect by Mary Balogh (Eur Hist mass market paperback): I stopped reading her just before this one came out. For less than $2, it didn't seem like a big risk.
4. A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh (Eur Hist mmp): Ditto.
5. Demonkeepers by Jessica Andersen (Paranormal mmp): I went to a Q&A with her back at RWA2009 and was very impressed by her. I've accumulated a few of her Final Prophecy books but not read them yet. Again, low risk here.
6. Through Stone and Sea by Barb & JC Hendee (fantasy): I've heard good things about them but not read their work before.
7. ??? A category that I seem to have left on the train :( It was a few months old, not the current month's releases, presumably because the store had stopped getting new stock.
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
I've spent most of this week doped up on DayQuil and NyQuil.  When I'm not a zombie going through the motions of work, I'm falling asleep on the couch or the train or wherever I sit down for more than a few minutes at a time.

My pretty new tea pot arrived today.  It's a sunshiny yellow, which I love.

New books to be read, if I ever finish Medicus, are waiting on my night stand:  Carla Kelly's new book, which appears to be generating some controversy among her fans since it is a departure from trad Regencies, and a f/f book set in the surf culture in Hawaii.  The second book I bought only because when I opened to a random page, the characters were talking about Nora Roberts.  Which entertained me.

Medicus is well-written, and interests me as I read it, but I don't feel really compelled to keep reading.  You know how sometimes it's hard to put a book down, you have to know what comes next?  I don't feel that way.  There's no urgency.  And the mystery feels remote, not central to the story.  Which is maybe the author's intent, I'm not sure how this book is classified, as a mystery or just historical fiction.  

Or my ennui could be a function of the cough medicine.
jmc_bks: (title2)
I haven't read any books in the last week, have been too brain dead to start anything new and see it through to the end.  Have picked up a couple of old favorites and read random passages, but otherwise, not much.  I have downloaded a few Kindle samples, so for SBD, I'll share my opinion about them:

Hello Kitty Must Die by Angela Choi.  I think limecello recommended this on Twitter.  Or maybe someone else?  The sample intrigued me, mostly because I appreciated the POV of the narrator, who is jaded and sarcastic and kind of crazy.  Also, the Kindle price is pretty good, especially in comparison to paper prices.

Skin Heat by Ava Gray.   This is a pen name of Ann Aguirre, whose Corinne Solomon series I enjoy; the first book of the series had h/h who did not appeal, so I skipped it, but this one seems sort of interesting.  I've read the first few screens, and the hero seems to be sort of disoriented and struggling with some sort of newly acquired abilities, kind of like the Million Dollar Man or Bionic Woman.  Am leaning toward buying a copy.

The Long Struggle: The Muslim World's Western Problem by Amil Khan.  Khan wrote a thoughtful piece on Egypt over at CNAS's blog, and mentioned this book.  It seems sort of timely, so if I his prose is as readable in the book as it is in the blog article, I'll probably download a copy of this.

Artichoke Heart by Suzanne Supplee.  YA fiction, reviewed positively by a YA reader/reviewer.  Downloaded the sample this evening, so I'm not sure how I'll jump on this one.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand  by Helen Simonson.  This was well-reviewed at Dear Author and a few other places.  Eh, the opening sample didn't really work for me: the hero, even taking into consideration the shock he's had at the beginning of the book, is crotchety and not very engaging to me.  
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
Wendy the SuperLibrarian is hosting the TBR Challenge for 2011.  I slacked off last year and read very few books from the TBR, so I didn't feel like I should sign up to participate officially.  Serendipitously, I was reading a book pulled from the TBR on January's TBR day, even though it wasn't the correct subgenre.

Title:  Lord Carew's Bride
Author:  Mary Balogh
Publisher:  Signet
Subgenre:  Traditional Regency
Publication date:  June, 1995

Her Heart's Dilemma

Samantha Newman's heart skipped a beat when she found herself dancing with the irresistibly handsome and notorious Earl of Rushford. This ruthless libertine, who had betrayed Samantha six years ago, was waltzing back into her life. She had vowed never again to become his plaything, yet she could not deny the strong attraction that drew her to him.

Faced with a marriage proposal and feelings that have been stirred by Rushford's charming cousin, the Marquess of Carew, Samantha must decide if she can ignore the embers of an old passion--and ignite the flames of a new one....


I can remember loving Mary Balogh's European historicals back around 2000-2002. Since then? Eh, not so much. The Bedwyn series killed my interest: they were all pretty interchangeable, and were part of her move to hardcover. Was disinclined to pay hardcover prices for material that didn't feel original. But I have some of her older trad Regencies in the TBR mountain.

My synopis of the plot:
While staying with her happily-married cousin (see Balogh's Dark Angel), Samantha meets gentleman who works as a landscaper on the Marquess of Carew's estate. He's lame, but lovely company. Except he's actually the Marquess, he just introduced himself as plain Mr. Harley Wade. But she doesn't know that and just enjoys his company until it's time to go back to Town for the season. While there, she becomes entangled with Rushford, a nasty bit of work who nearly ruined her cousin (again, see Dark Angel) and Samantha herself. Slimy, smarmy, smirky, he's still nearly irresistible to Samantha, who is dumber than a stump. Up pops Mr. Wade to her rescue: he proposes and she accepts, thinking it will be a friendly marriage but not a love-marriage. But then she learns he's the marquess. And later that Rushford is now her cousin by marriage. Sturm und drang follows. But eventually they get a happy ending.

What did I think? Well, I might've enjoyed this if I'd read it when it was first released. Now, though, I think Samantha is a self-centered, ignorant twit, and Wade deserves better. The plot was slow. Extremely slow. I spent most of the book waiting for something - anything! - to happen. Maybe if you're looking for a quiet, slow read, with very little action and mostly introspection, this would be a good read for you? But I was bored.
jmc_bks: (flaming june)
Registration for #RWA11 opened today, and it seemed like everyone on my Twitter feed was registering and booking their hotel room or debating registering. I felt all D: because I'm not going. I don't actually care about the conference, per se: I'm not a writer or an aspiring writer so a lot of the workshops aren't relevant to me except in an academic sort of way; I don't need the free books -- given the size of my TBR, more free books would be ridiculous. But. But the people! So many people I "know" via Twitter or other online venues are going to be there! And I'm going to miss the opportunity to meet them!

Poking around, checking for new releases to buy or pre-order, I have not found much of interest. SEP has a new book out today that appears to be well-liked by the rom-reading community, but I stopped reading her several books ago, and even if I were inclined to give her a second or third chance, the price of the ebook is ridiculous. February doesn't seem to have many great offerings either: the exceptions are the new In Death book and Carla Kelly's inspirational (which I'm kind of ambivalent about). Jaci Burton's Play by Play will be out in early February, too, and it is one book that has been completely sold by the cover art. Call me shallow.

My reading slump seems to have accelerated. It's the 18th of the month and I've only read three books. Three!  The only thing that is remotely like a silver lining is that since I've read so little, it's been relatively easy to post about each book.

Erin Brockovich (of movie and class action fame) is now writing fiction? Legal(ish) suspense? Uh, okay. The curiosity factor might make me pick it up at the bookstore, but the hardback format would have me either skimming it in the store or waiting for a used copy from Paperbackswap.

The Biochemist broke my brain. Or caused me to break my brain, depending on how you look at it. We were exchanging emails about a potential fic for me to write when the conversation veered into the NYC pop/punk music scene of the late 90s. Ray Person + Gabriel Saporta = brain exploding.  Just the thought of the pair of them with their pimp shades...I can't even.

Dear Melissa Etheridge, I'd love to see you as St. Jimmy on Broadway during your one week run in February, but I don't think it'll happen due to scheduling issues.  This makes me very, very sad, because I think you'll rock the dissolute, seductive, threatening St. J. in a way that's completely different from Tony Vincent and Billie Joe Armstrong's presentations of the character.
jmc_bks: (seagull)
Years ago, long before I blogged or really did much on the internet (those days are vague in my memory -- how did I find any good books to read without reader/bloggers?), one of the mystery series I enjoyed was Joanne Dobson's Karen Pelletier series.  Pelletier is an English professor at a small, private college in western Massachusetts, who somehow gets entangled in literary mysteries.  Being easily distracted, I had forgotten about this series since the last book was released back in 2003.  At the time, Dobson changed publishers from Bantam to Poisoned Pen Press. [Back then I would not have questioned a publisher change; today, given slightly more knowledge of the publishing industry and the precarious situation of midlist authors, I would wonder if Bantam had declined to renew her contract due to low sales.  The series deserves much more attention than it has received.]  Anyway, I was reminded of this series earlier this week, so I checked to see if Dobson, an English professor at Fordham University, was still writing fiction.  Lo and behold, the sixth Karen Pelletier mystery was published this past January!  And today a copy of Death Without Tenure arrived on my doorstep.

In addition to Death Without Tenure, a copy of The Annotated Persuasion arrived.  No, I'm not going to tell you how many copies of Persuasion I own.  It embarrasses me a little.  But obviously not enough to keep me from buying this annotated edition.
jmc_bks: (Chocolate)
What did I find waiting on the doorstep this evening?  Why, books, of course!

I've generally given up on anthologies, because I resent paying $8 for what usually amounts to one short story that I enjoy and three or four filler stories by authors who don't interest me.  But Meljean Brook posted last week that the First Blood anthology, with her "Thicker Than Blood" novella was on sale for $1.53, which is just insanely cheap, so I ordered a copy.

And the hardback edition of Steve Kluger's My Most Excellent Year was on sale for $6, which is half the price of the paperback edition.  Score!

Rounding out the delivery is Jesse Petersen's Married With Zombies, which seems kind of intriguing.  Zombies aren't going to go away, it seems, so I should dip my toes in, so to speak.

But first, back to Demon Forged
jmc_bks: (flaming june)

This past Wednesday was TBR Challenge day.  I've been negligent about the TBR Challenge lately, but I did pull a book off the TBR this month, so here's my belated report.

Title:  The Bellini Bride
Author:  Michelle Reid
(c)2001 Harlequin/Mills & Boon

Why this book?  I bought a bunch of used Harlequin Presents a while back, part of the backlist of my favorite HP authors:  Robyn Donald, Michelle Reid, Helen Bianchin. Reading them in bulk is a bad idea, though, because too much of a particular trope (rich Greeks! vengeful Spaniards! secret babies and virgin mistresses!) wears out fast.  So a bunch of these were languishing on my bookshelves until Jane at Dear Author reviewed The Bellini Bride and reminded me of what was sitting there.

Wanted: a suitable bride...

Marco Bellini thinks he has it all: success, wealth...and Antonia -- his beautiful, sensual mistress.Then his father becomes ill, and Marco feels bound to marry and produce an heir to the famous Bellini fortune.

But who should Marco choose as a bride? Antonia isn't suitable, but she's the only woman he wants in his life and his bed. Dare he take his mistress to be his lawful wedded wife?

What do I think about the cover art?  It's pretty standard Harlequin Presents cover art fare.  More interesting to me is the title: although it has bride, at least it doesn't include virgin, lover or mistress.  Which sort of makes sense, because I believe they became much more common title elements after 2001.
 

What did I think of the book?  It was pretty good on the Presents scale.  Set among the uber wealthy, with an emphasis on social class and the propriety of place that seems alien and kind of ridiculous to me but is nevertheless the standard European HP milieu.  Secrets and failure to communicate.  But the heroine wasn't a doormat: she recognized when the hero was being an asshat and called him on it.  Often HP heroes never really apologize for their asshatery, but in this case he did and he acknowledged it in public.

Would I read this author again? Sure.  I've read her books before, I'm sure I'll read more in the future.

Keep or pass on?  Eh, I don't know.  Although I enjoyed it, I'm probably not going to read it again, so in an effort to reduce clutter, I'll probably donate it in my next big UBS/PBS/GoodWill purge.



 


TBR: DNF

Apr. 21st, 2010 08:52 pm
jmc_bks: (Default)
I'm failing Avidbookreader's TBR Challenge 2010.

This month's TBR book, Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley, was very appealing.  Loved the blurb, liked the non-white heroine/protagonist, enjoyed Chen's debut, Nothing but the Trusth (and a Few White Lies).  But I couldn't get past the half way point of Girl Overboard.  There wasn't anything wrong with it, truly, I just kept picking it up and putting it down.

For a review from a reader who loved Girl Overboard, check out Jia's post at Dear Author.



jmc_bks: (daffs)
It's that time of year again. March Madness! Opening day for MLB! No, the really important thing that happens this time each year for the last few year? The Washington Post's Peeps diorama contest. Check out this year's finalists, taking a close look at my faves, "Peeps and Prejudice and Zombies" and "Where the Wild Peeps Are". Other book-themed Peep tableux include Alice in Wonderland, Goodnight Moon, and Madeleine. There are also a lot of film scenes, current events and pop culture references, if you're interested.

On a happy note, my copy of Arianna Franklin's A Murderous Procession has arrived. And at just the right time. Although I still haven't finished Generation Kill, my fiction slump has broken, I think, courtesy of Patricia Briggs' Silver Borne, which was very good, if a little schmoopy and slightly lavendar in the very end.

Unrelated: why is the TV coverage of Miami's tennis tournament ending with the women's match tonight? The Tsonga/Nadal match isn't being aired anyplace that I can find locally. Must find a live stream.
jmc_bks: (Stupid)
The date for posting about your February read for Avid Reader's TBR Challenge was last Wednesday, but I missed it.   Better late than never, right?

The proposed theme for February was virgin heroes, but I couldn't find one on my TBR shelves.  It's possible that he could've been hiding there, but I didn't feel like making a huge effort to find one.  Instead, I pulled Kathleen O'Reilly's August 2009 Harlequin Blaze Hot Under Pressure from the shelf.

She hates flying... Until he gives her a reason not to!

Boutique owner Ashley Taylor hates flying.  Especially when there's a sugar-fueled little hellion on board.  But then David McLean (sexy!) sits next to her, and suddenly Ashley finds herself hoping the delay will last forever -- and that 

David won't notice her comfy pink bunny slippers (sadly, the opposite of sexy).

David
does notice Ashley, and when the flight is delayed overnight, they can't get to the airport hotel fast enough.  Off with the slippers and in with the zing!  Fortunately, America is filled with cities -- L.A., New York, Miami -- and nothing says "smoking-hot passion" like an intercontinental affair.

Why this book?  Because I have read and enjoyed a couple of O'Reilly's earlier Blazes.

What did I think of this book?  Only the fact that I was reading it while on a plane kept it from being a wallbanger.  Seriously, if the entertainment choices offered by the airline had been better, I would've abandoned this book.  But I was a captive audience.  The problem wasn't the writing, it was the characters and the set up.  I thought the heroine was a spineless enabler, and long before I knew what her sister's problem was I despised them both.  The hero...I liked him only marginally better. 

Also, in what world do khakis and a white shirt equal copier repair guy?  I've spent my entire adult life working in offices and I have NEVER seen a copier repair guy in khakis and a white shirt.  Ever.

SPOILER:  

And for the love all of all things fraternal, would contemporary authors PLEASE stop having characters hook up with the siblings of their partners!?!  Dumping your fiancee for her sister?  Not on.  Being friends with benefits with your dead husband's brother?  Also not on.  Sleeping with your husband's brother and then divorcing him to marry the brother?  That's family wrecking, and it belongs in lit fiction, not category genre romance, please.

Three times in the span of a month just pushes all of my squick buttons.  

The only thing I really appreciated about the book was the easter egg of seeing Jamie and Andrew Brooks from an earlier book.


 

jmc_bks: (Default)

Avid Reader's TBR Challenge is good for me and my TBR.  It is slowly (very slowly) winnowing down the TBR mountain.  Sometimes I wonder why some of the occupants are on the shelves, though, since so many of the books I select for the challenge wind up unfinished.

This month's book:
Fashionably Late by Nadine Adjani

(c) 2007 by Forge/Tom Doherty Associates

Convinced you're having a quarter life crisis? Think maybe a soul-searching trip might help?

Aline Hallaby, a nice, obedient Arab girl, has it all - a budding career at one of Montreal's most prestigious accounting firms, a loving family, and a boyfriend of three years who has finally proposed. To top it all off, she's about to fly to Cancun with her accounting classmates to celebrate passing the Uniform Final Examination. There's just one tiny problem: Ali has failed the exam. She hasn't told a soul. Not her parents. Not her boyfriend. And definitely not her boss, who will boot Ali out the door as soon as she finds out.

So rather than suffer through seven days in Cancun with her drunken-yet-successful classmates, Ali grabs her best friends, Sophie and Yasmin, and flees to the farthest place her airfare cancellation insurance will carry her: the resort town of Varadero Beach, Cuba . . .

The sea, sand, and sun, not to mention the attention of a certain Cuban dive instructor, soon have Ali feeling wonderfully careless and increasingly reckless. Caught up in a whirlwind of rum-soaked nights and moonlit Havana strolls, this good Muslim girl gets her very first taste of what it would be like fo be bad, really bad. But will what happens in Cuba stay in Cuba? Or is Ali finally ready to break out of the good-girl mold and grow into the woman she's meant to be?

I don't know the answer to those questions, since I grew bored and irritated by Ali by the time she arrived in Cuba.

Why this book? I think I read a recommendation somewhere in blogland. And it seemed like a slightly different chick lit offering: heroine of Lebanese descent, set in Montreal and Cuba. But in the end, not so much. Ali just came across as spoiled, self-absorbed, and not very sympathetic.

I felt sorry for her exam failure, remembering how certain I was that I'd failed the bar when my results arrived on Saturday rather than Friday like all my friends. But impatient with her otherwise, and rather disgusted by her treatment of her boyfriend (whose sole offense seemed to be proposing during her meltdown) and her parents (who wanted her to be successful and to marry well - fairly average parental dreams). Mostly, as I read I wanted to tell her to grow up and behave like an adult. My expectation of chick lit heroines is that they behave like adults, even when making bad choices and then fixing them. Ali never seemed to get past adolescent. Of course, that may have happened after I abandoned the book.

Anything else? Am curious about how "good Muslim girl" is defined, because Ali did not seem particularly defined by her faith or culture. She drank, she dated a Catholic boy, she never went to mosque, etc. She seemed Arabic and Muslim in name only.

Keep or pass on? Pass on.

Read this author again? I'd try her again but won't buy unless I *love* it.

jmc_bks: (title2)
It seems sort of appropriate to SBD about the reading-related resolution I made this year.

The heart of the resolution is not new -- reduce the TBR mountain -- but the mechanism for it is different.  Instead of deciding that I must read X number of books, I must clear X off the shelves each month no matter what, whether I've read them or not.  And I'm not permitted to buy any new books unless I've done so.  (Yeah, so I can't use the gift cards I received until I've reached this month's quota.)

So, yesterday's weeding, all RWA books:

Fortune's Woman by Raeanne Thayne. Eh, after skimming the first 10 pages, I couldn't be arsed to continue.

Her Very Own Family by Trish Milburn.  CBA

The Doctor's Royal Bride by Jessica Matthews.  CBA complicated by the fact that I hate made-up European principalities.

Virgin Mistress, Scandalous Love-Child by Jennie Lucas.  Only read the first 10-15 pages of this book and it ENRAGED me.  The asshat, sexist, conclusion-jumping, excuse-grasping hero was a total dick.  The heroine was too sweet, too innocent, too downtrodden and pathetic to believe.  Actually ripped this book in half.

I did manage to read slightly more of Rescue Me by Christy Reece.  How many cliches could be crammed into the prologue?  Skanky, hypersexualized mother who hates her daughter and hits on godson; insecure teen with a crush who "knows" she'll marry him because...because; a hero who at 21 is already smarter, braver, etc.  He prevented a terrorist attack!  He speaks seven languages and has a couple of black belts!  He invented a new explosive as a science project!  

Chapter One: I was completely creeped out by the heroine pretending to be someone else in order to have sex with the hero.  And the results were quite predictable, if ridiculously over the top.

Chapter Two:  head hopping!  Tattoo seemed unlikely given the harped-upon social status, controlling mother, and complete lifestyle change.

Also, spying and security contractors and quasi government agencies?  Not appealing to me any longer as plot points, settings, or characters, for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with the author or the books themselves.

That said, the rest of the first two chapters were enough of this book for me.  
jmc_bks: (Forward momentum)
The TBR is huge, but I still look forward to adding to it! Here are some of the books I'm looking forward to in 2010. March, April, June and July look to be exceptional months for reading at Chez JMC.

January

Two January releases actually arrived on my doorstep in December, so I'm no longer looking forward to them.  [Scoundrel's Kiss by Carrie Lofty and Proof of Seduction by Courtney Milan] That leaves Seressia Glass's urban fantasy novel, Shadow Blade, to anticipate later this month.  I've read a couple of her older contemporary romances, and this new release has gotten some good buzz online.




February

Lessons in Seduction by Charlie Cochrane 

Sixth in the series, the Cambridge Fellows take a high profile case, investigating the death of the king’s ex-mistress.  There's no excerpt up yet, but the blurb is here.

I love the cover art for this series, btw.  The color tones and the consistency across books.  I believe the same artist has designed all six covers, but am too lazy to check the credits at the moment.






March

March is going to be a happy reading month for me, it seems!  Urban fantasy, YA adventure, gay romance and mystery.  Who could ask for anything more?

Roadkill by Rob Thurman
Cal & Niko are back! I sort of wondered if the series was over, since Thurman left the brothers in a semi-safe and comfortable place at the end of the last book, so I'm glad to be able to read more of their adventures.

The Dark Farewell by Josh Lanyon There's an excerpt up at Samhain, but no cover art yet. 

No Souvenirs by KA Mitchell 3/9/10 No cover art or excerpt, but description is here

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner 3/25/10
Sophos! Gen! Eddis! Attolia! At last!

Silver Borne by Patricia Briggs 3/30/10


April

Hell Fire by Ann Aguirre 
Book #2 of the Corine Solomon series







A Murderous Procession
by Ariana Franklin 
Book #3 of the Adelia Aguilar medieval forensic mystery series.

Tales of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Collection of novellas; have read early versions of some of them, when they were originally posted on Armstrong’s website. Looking forward to reading polished versions, along with additional new material.

Am feeling ambivalent about the next BDB book, which is supposed to be John Matthew’s. Haven't read Ward's angel spin off series, and am basically over the series, but may read this one (borrow from library? not paying hard back prices) to wrap up my reading of the series.

May

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews 
Ignore the boobs that are about to pop out of the push up bra and impede Kate's swing; pretend there is no "sticker" on the bottom.  This book is going to be an adventure, I'm sure.


June

Marrying the Royal Marine by Carla Kelly 
There's no information available on this book yet, other that the generic page at Amazon, not even on the Harlequin Historicals page at eharlequin.com. But I'm thrilled to read more by Carla Kelly, and am assuming this is the final installment of her naval trilogy. Is it too early to be wondering what Ms. Kelly will be writing next?


July

Demon Blood by Meljean Brook
More Guardians!  Probably I should read Demon Forged before this comes out.  Seven months, plenty of time...

Tongues of Serpents by Naomi Novik 
No cover art yet, but some info about the setting of the book here.


October

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
There's no hard release date for this one yet, or cover art.  Am looking forward to Brooks' steampunk debut.

November

CryoBurn by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is the long awaited new Miles Vorkosigan novel.  TBH, I had sort of assumed that the Miles series was over, since it had been so long since Diplomatic Immunity.  Thrilled to learn otherwise :)  There is no cover art or blurb yet that I could find, and the only mention of a release date is at LMB’s website, not Baen Books. 
jmc_bks: (Default)

The book selected for this last TBR Challenge of 2009 was Melissa Nathan's The Waitress. I'd heard good things about Ms. Nathan's work. Alas, i left it unfinished, and couldn't really pinpoint why. Was able to set it aside easily, never really engaged by the characters. It's me, not the book, I'm sure.

jmc_bks: (meninas)

This month’s TBR Challenge book is Ariana Franklin’s Mistress of the Art of Death.

Why this book? Avid Reader reviewed it when it was first released, and it sounded interesting. [I’ve been intrigued by the Plantagenets since first reading Jean Plaidy’s historical novels, grabbing them from my mother’s stack of library books. Henry II in particular, in part because of his queen, but also because of his legal reforms.] Sadly, when I borrowed this book from the library, I wasn’t in a mood for historical, so I returned it (late) unread. But I ended up buying a copy, because I knew I’d get around to it sooner or later.

Cover art? Beautiful, if a little macabre, given the way the woman is leaning on the skull. But it matches the content, since Adelia is the twelfth century equivalent of a forensic pathologist. She’s not quite comfortable with the dead, pretending they are pigs in her mentor’s body farm, but neither is she uncomfortable.

The blurb: In Cambridge, four children have been murdered. Wrongly accused of the crimes, a small community of Jews threatened by Catholic mobs is given sanctuary by Henry II. To assist in proving their innocence, he summons an expert in the science of deduction and the art of death. She is Adelia, a prodigy from the Medical School of Salerno, and an anomaly in a medieval world, who is forced to conceal her identity and her purpose from England’s grave superstitions and condemnation. One man willing to work with her is Sir Rowley Picot. His personal stake in the investigation makes him an invaluable ally – and in Adelia’s eyes, a suspect as well. From navigating Cambridge’s perilous river paths to penetrating the dark shadows of the Church, Adelia’s investigation will not only reveal the secrets of the dead, but in time, the far more dangerous ones buried by the living

What did I think of the book? Loved it. In fact, after reading it, I bought a hard copy of the second book of the series, The Serpent’s Tale, and then downloaded a copy of the third, Grave Goods, since I couldn’t find a hard copy at either of the local bookstores.

What did I like about the book? Well, everything. That’s not helpful, though, is it?

I suppose what I enjoyed most was the voice of Vesuvia Adelia Rachel Ortese Aguilar. She is alien to England, a scientist through and through, and her observations of the people and customs of her surroundings are fascinating. More than that, I appreciate how she recognizes her awkward position in English and Norman society, but still manages to maneuver and do the job she’s been sent to do.

It seems clear that Franklin did a monumental amount of historical research based on the descriptions and settings, but none of it is shared via infodumpery; the details seem to appear magically as appropriate.

The secondary characters are as wonderful as Adelia is herself: Mansur, her Moorish companion and guard; Simon the Fixer, who is the “real investigator” while Adelia is merely the examiner of the dead; Gyltha and Ulf, Cambridgeshire natives who are assigned to her as guards of a sort; and Abbot Geoffrey, a father-like figure whom I hope to see again in future books.

Without spoiling anything, I think the personal decision made by Adelia at the end of the book is right for her at that moment. But I’m sure that it is going to cause her no end of heartache in the future.

 Keep or pass on? Well, I loved the book, but planned on passing it on to someone else who’d mentioned interest in the book.   But there was an unfortunate accident involving an unfastened thermos and the book, so that won’t be happening. Just as well. I’ll pass on a new copy and keep the waterstained copy for myself. On to the second book now.

Anything else worth mentioning? Ariana Franklin has also been published under the name Diana Norman.  I read a book under that name,  A Catch of Consequence, but it didn’t grab my attention the way this one did, despite having a smart, strong protagonist. Also, I found the dialect used in ACC to be distracting to the point of irritation, which was not the case here. Some speech patterns were changed from what I would consider standard, but not enough to be bothersome.

The book's webpage is here, including excerpt.
jmc_bks: (Seagull)
Books that I might read while lounging on the beach:

The Betrayal by Pati Nagle:  fantasy, RWA book
Her One Desire by Kimberly Killion: historical, RWA book
Rescue Me by Christy Reece: romantic suspense/adventure, RWA book
Lord of Pleasure by Delilah Marvelle: historical, RWA book
Nightkeepers by Jessica Andersen:  paranormal, not a RWA book but picked up from HPB because I got the second book of the series at RWA and must read in order
Written on Your Skin by Meredith Duran: historical, not RWA book
Demon Bound by Meljean Brook: paranormal, pulled off the TBR pile
Mistress of the Art of Death by Arianna Franklin: mystery, pulled off the TBR pile A+
Packing the Heat by Penny McCall:  romantic suspense, RWA book (DNF)
Hill Country Christmas by Laurie Kingery:  historical inspiractional, RWA book  (DNF: characters blathering about god providing when the heroine is destitute hit a really sore spot for me; their attitude was, don't you worry, honey, god will fix things and you'll be taken care of.  Screw that -- take care of yourself without expecting miracles.)

Also, I am a moron.  Bought a 1,000 piece puzzle of "Las Meninas" specifically to do while on vacation at the beach.  I'm at the beach.  Where is the puzzle?  On the table at home, where I left sitting out so I wouldn't forget to pack it.  Dammit.

Also:  Dear Atlantic Ocean, I have missed you.  I never realize how much until I can smell the ocean air, then feel the sand under my feet and the shriek of gulls and pounding of waves.
jmc_bks: (flaming june)

For Avid Reader's TBR Challenge this month, I read J.A. Konrath's Whiskey Sour, the first book in his Lt. Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels mystery series.

Why this book?  When I was standing in front of the TBR shelves indecisively last week, trying to figure out which book to pull from the among the embarrassment of riches (it actually is a little embarrassing -- guests never fail to comment on the bookshelves and how they are overstuffed with books), this one caught my eye.  I thought perhaps Avid Reader initially recommended the series or reviewed one of the books, but when I searched her archives nothing came up, so I'm not entirely sure how/why it came to be on the TBR.  Unless maybe the cover art and title caught my eye?  I have been known to drink a whiskey sour or two in my time.  Anyway, I pulled Whiskey Sour off the shelf because seeing the author's name reminded me of his post on pricing and free reads via Kindle, which struck me as thoughtful.

What did I think of the cover art?  Liked it -- love the colors and the drink on the cover.  It's a bit plain, but that's not a bad thing IMO. 

The back blurb: 

Lieutenant Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels is an insomniac Chicago cop with a train wreck of a personal life and a stalker bent on adding her to his murder list.  Join Jack, her binge-eating partner, a sleazy PI, and two very stupid FBI agents on a wild hunt for the Gingerbread Man 00 a killer who makes Hannibal Lecter look like Huck Finn.

What did I think?  Pretty good.  Jack is a train wreck personally, but a very sharp detective.  Loved the secondary characters.  When I started reading, I wasn't sure if this was the first book of the series or somewhere in the middle -- but after a couple of pages, I realized it didn't matter, because Konrath managed to share whatever details I needed to know on the page.  (Of course, I learned after the fact that this was the first book of the series.)

Anything I didn't like?  Jack's resistance to surveillance and protection when a sociopath (psychopath?) serial killer was stalking her struck me as a little foolish.  On one hand, she's a professional, so she feels like she can protect herself.  On the other hand, the Gingerbread Man demonstrates early on how accessible she is, so why be so cavalier about her own personal safety?

Keep or pass on?  Keep.  Although I may download a free copy of the ebook (available here), and pass on my paper copy in an effort to trim my personal library. 

Konrath has a post up with a summary of the books and their order here.

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