rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
Good grief it has been six months since I managed to write one of these! I find I am not reading very much after work and textbooks, and what I do get round to reading for pleasure has been almost entirely fluffy escapist romances, and fanfic (mostly fluffy escapist romantic fanfic). I am very much appreciating the modern world where I can join the mailing lists run by several authors whose books I consistently like, and who are good at sending email notifications that they have something out, or something at a reduced price, and some of whom helpfully recommend other books they have enjoyed.


What I've read

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
Two further novellas about the characters in Penric's Demon, where several years have elapsed between each one. I like this series very much.

Barking Up The Right Tree by Lilly Grant. A lovely fluffy short contemporary romance about a hunky apple farmer and the bored programmer who freelances as a web designer when not at the day job who makes him a great website for his farm.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Second in the Cyclone series, I adored the first, I was very excited about this one, read it through the day I bought it, read it again a few days later, loved it. [personal profile] skygiants wrote a great review of it.

Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade. I quite liked the geeky setting but was a bit meh about the story.

The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian. A m/m Regency romance with class conflict, a mystery to solve, and a domestic abuser to get rid of. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely look out for more by this author.

Protection, Inc. #1-#4 by Zoe Chant. Bodyguard shapeshifter romances with a "one true mate" trope. They are all shortish novels featuring peril, hurt, comfort, and hot sex, and therefore right up my street.

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
These are two of the five novellas in a historical romance collection, Gambled Away, which I am enjoying very much. These were the first two in the book, and coincidentally the two by authors I've already read.  They were both excellent; I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection.


Acquisitions this week
Fortune Favours the Wicked by Theresa Romain (recommended by Rose Lerner)
A HumbleBundle of ebooks about astronomy, and another of ebooks about coding games.

Plus 2 seasonal gifts from my brother:
Thors: Battleworld
by Jason Aaron, Chris Sprouse & Goran Sud┼żuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
rmc28: (books2010)
The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross

I really enjoyed this instalment in the Laundry Files universe.  It was funny and pointed and clever, as usual, and it was being all those things about superheroes and politics and startups.  (so basically me-catnip).  I also really liked seeing things from Mo's point of view; I think that fond as I am of Bob, it refreshes the series a bit to have someone else pick up the narration.  Also, no one who wanted something like success would give Bob the job Mo gets in this book.   And I really liked the scenes between Mo and Mhari, and to a lesser extent Mo and Ramona.

There are some really worrying threads left unresolved by the end though, so I rather nervously await the next book in the series.


Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan

This is the first book of a planned series of historical romances (The Worth Saga).  Courtney Milan is always good and I enjoyed it very much, especially the clockwork and the swearing on waterfowl, and the stroppy teenager in the house.  Milan is really good at interweaving plot, emotion and history to deliver happy endings, and this is no exception.

However, when I got to the end, I felt it was a bit unbalanced: the emotional threads had come to a resolution, but a great many plot threads were still dangling, presumably to be picked up in future books in the series.

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
What's Yours Is Mine by Talia Surova
Draw Me In by Talia Surova
Call Me Saffron by Talia Surova (dnf)
I want to like these books but found them infuriating in different ways, but I think that rant is lengthy enough to deserve its own blog post.

Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon
This was good! It's a detective novella set in WW2 Los Angeles, which starts with a body found on top of the La Brea Tar Pits. And it is also a gay romance where neither of the protagonists dies or has a miserable ending. There is apparently a sequel planned, and Lanyon has an enormous backlist (as it were) which also seems to be m/m romance in various subgenres. I've put in a library request for the one book in the Cambridgeshire libraries system, and put myself on the author mailing list so I can find out when the sequel to this one is out.

Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch
I was on a roll with reading and remembered this was out, so bought it on impulse. This one is over in the Welsh borders rather than London, and the big spoiler from the end of Broken Homes is mostly in the background of a gripping missing-persons case. I was particularly struck by the vivid sense of location - just as much in this countryside as in London. I think this is one that someone could read without much familiarity with the previous books, because it doesn't really depend on them for context beyond "policeman who can do magic".

One Dance with a Duke by Tessa Dare
One of my freebie romances from earlier in the month, and better than I had expected. I think I'd read one previous novella by this author and not been overly impressed, but I may look out more now.

Trade Me by Courtney Milan
I've already blogged about how much I liked this one.

All I Have by Nicole Helm
This was a nice little romance about a pair of farmers and their competition for custom at the local farmer's market, complete with believably annoying small-town reputations and family preconceptions. I now find it's going to be reissued later this year with extra scenes due to one romance line shutting down and books being bought up by another one. So I'm subbed to another author mailing list to find out when that's available.

Maid to Crave by Rebecca Avery
The Last First Date by Maggie Wells
Light My Fire by Kristina Knight
These three were in the same ebook box set as All I Have but all of them annoyed me / failed to grab me so I didn't finish any of them.

The Siren by Tiffany Reisz
Surprisingly good S&M romance, which was more engaging and more complicated than I expected, and turns out to have half a dozen sequels.

What I'm reading now
The Angel by Tiffany Reisz - sequel to The Siren and equally engaging.

What's next
I just bought The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher and have samples of Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel & The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North, all thanks to people reccing things to me for Hugo consideration. Plus I got the special issue Women Destroy Fantasy! of Fantasy Magazine, and am hoping to borrow a copy of the Kaleidoscope anthology.
rmc28: Rachel standing in front of the entrance to the London Eye pier (Default)
I stayed up way too late last night reading the latest book by Courtney Milan: Trade Me which got released yesterday.

I started reading Courtney Milan for her historical romances, and I was particularly smitten with the Brothers Sinister series, set in Oxford and Cambridge during the late 1800s, with women mathematicians, scientists, newspaper editors (and the aristocratic men who fall for them). She does all the emotional connection and struggle and happy endings that I love reading romance for, while quietly including a whole range of characters who aren't just aristocratic white straight neurotypical people with perfect mental health.

Trade Me is a billionaire novel.  There are lots of billionaire novels, especially since Fifty Shades of Grey and mostly I ignore them because I find conspicuous consumption and rescue narratives a turn-off.  But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it.

And I loved it. 

The trouble is, the things I especially loved are basically spoilers.  So let me see.  It's a trading-places novel, where Blake, the heir to a huge tech company swaps his life with that of Tina, a poor immigrant fellow student, only he isn't doing it for laughs and she insists they make a proper agreement, and they become friends and eventually a romance happens.  The novel isn't very fond of the "rich man rescues poor woman from poverty" narrative, and Tina isn't passive or a victim or stupid, and Blake is a rich boy with a problem, but not in a woobie manpain way. 

So you have Blake washing dishes to pay rent on Tina's horrible bedsit and trying to figure out his problem, and Tina planning the new top-secret product launch and worrying about her family.  (And the actual tech product launch scene, very near the end of the book, is brilliant and funny and spot on and I kind of want to get [livejournal.com profile] fanf to read the book even though he doesn't really like romances, just so I can laugh about it with him.)  There are lovely minor characters, and people feel believable, and there isn't any minor character being one-dimensionally horrible to provide artificial conflict, and the ending is great and doesn't tie everything up happily ever after.

I am so glad that there are two more books in this series, and I am particularly excited for book 2 and the characters it's apparently going to focus on.  I also want to see more about how Tina and Blake and their families go on from where they've got to at the end of this book.

Two other things of note:
  1. There is a trans character who just happens to be trans, and it only gets mentioned as a background thing to explain a particular response to a conversation.  That character has way more lines/scenes that aren't about their being trans.
  2. There is extensive portrayal of an eating disorder.  I think it's a portrayal done well, but it's unavoidably there in the story.
Trade Me is available from all the usual ebook stores, including DRM-free and in multiple formats at Smashwords, and also in paperback rather more expensively.
rmc28: (books2010)
Finished in the last fortnight
Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
Prisoner by Lia Silver
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross
Longbourn by Jo Baker
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

Currently reading
I just finished The Suffragette Scandal, I haven't made progress on either Bad Spell in Yurt or Infidel in weeks.  So right now - nothing!

New acquisitions
Prisoner by Lia Silver
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross
The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
Unveiled by Courtney Milan
Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
This Wicked Gift by Courtney Milan
Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan
Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan
Star Wars: Hard Contact by Karen Traviss

Next books
Saga and/or the rest of the new Courtney Milan acquisitions

I really liked The Suffragette Scandal, as I have the others in its "Brothers Sinister" series.  They're slightly AU historical romances, set in the ~1870s, with women being awesome at maths, science and politics, and with Cambridge settings for at least three of them.  (And Oxford settings for two.)   I also like that I can buy them from Smashwords without DRM. 

The other five Courtney Milans I bought are on offer at 99c (which appears to translate to 72p on Amazon) until 25th July, and are "enhanced" versions of her first five books, of which I think I've read one at the library some time ago.  Sadly they aren't available through Smashwords so it's your choice of DRM-infested sales venues.



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Rachel Coleman

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