rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I've only read one book in the last week or so.  I'm getting more Stuff Done, which leaves less time for reading.

Guard Wolf by Lauren Esker is the second in her Shifter Agents series.  Werewolf secret agent Avery has to find someone to look after four werewolf pups that have been abandoned, and gets help from social worker Nicole, liaison with the shifter community and a koala shifter from Australia.  What follows is mystery! adventure! danger! romance! cute puppies who are also sometimes cute children!

I really enjoyed the plottiness of this story, and the way it investigated/addressed the situation of shifters, and where they come from.  Lots of hurt/comfort too in a very lovely romance.  (I liked the first book, Handcuffed to the Bear, a lot too, this series is basically buy-when-out for me.)

Up next:
I recently got Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire, both by Elizabeth Wein, when the latter was on Kindle daily deal, and I remembered how many people I know loved the former.  On the other hand, I expect I might get a new book or two on Friday, plus of course Yuletide opens so I might just dive headfirst into that.  This is assuming I actually have time to read much with the children at home for nearly two weeks.

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: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I read three books this week!  All are historical romances by Rose Lerner, essentially because two of them have been on my private wishlist for a while, and the third (although the first I read) was on sale at 49p and sounded fun.

A Lily Among Thorns is about Serena Ravenshaw, former exclusive courtesan turned innkeeper with a terrifying reputation in London's crime underworld, and Solomon Hathaway, shy chemist and tailor.  Solomon comes to Serena because she has a reputation for finding things, and some heirloom earrings have been stolen from his family.  As they look for the earrings they get sucked into international espionage on the eve of Waterloo.

I enjoyed this very much; I loved that Serena was prickly and frankly scary at times, and that Solomon was shy and gentle but kept finding his courage to stand up to people being rude to Serena.  I also loved his ongoing obsession with people's clothing, and that he keeps not responding to Serena the way he expects (his response to her cross-dressing at one point is absolutely priceless).  The romance and the conflict between them felt real, and arising from their very different personalities and experiences.  (Oh, and there are some non-white and non-straight secondary characters, which is always a breath of fresh air.)

Sweet Disorder and True Pretences are both part of the "Lively St Lemeston" series, that being a small country town in which they are set (and another book to come later this year, I gather).   [personal profile] skygiants has written great reviews of them here and here, (which is why they were on my reading wishlist) but I'll have a go.

Sweet Disorder is the one about an election where there's a widow who can give someone a vote if they marry her; at first she's not interested but then her sister gets into trouble and she needs money.  Essentially, both candidate campaigns offer to bribe her to marry someone on their side.  The Whig is nice but utterly unsuited; the Tory has a young daughter who likes to read, but has horrible politics (and doesn't listen to her); and of course she's actually more interested in one of the matchmakers.

True Pretences is the one about the Jewish con-artist brothers, the younger of whom (Rafe) wants to go straight, so the older one (ash) finds a nice heiress (Lydia) who can't access her money to continue her political work unless she gets married.  All his delicate set up work gets thrown away when Rafe says "hey, so how about a marriage of convenience eh?" and she says "well, it's an interesting thought but actually I might prefer your brother" and Rafe says "fair enough, would do him good" and Ash is all "what? no, it's your nice marriage of convenience" and then the brothers have a big argument and Rafe leaves, but not before angrily telling Lydia about the Jewish con artist part too.  And Lydia thinks about this and says "still need to get married, how about it Ash?"    

And that's just about the first third of the book and the rest is Lydia and Ash convincing her entire social circle that this is totally a whirlwind romance and definitely not a marriage of convenience, and comparing notes on swindling vs political persuasion when you can't vote, and eventually the brothers' wicked past coming back to bite them.

All three books are a lot of fun, and generally warm and engaging and not too much outright villainy.  People are flawed and human rather than Good or Bad.  There's a bit of a theme about sibling and friend relationships being as complicated and difficult and worth sorting out as romantic relationships.  I could see rereading all three of them but think A Lily Among Thorns is my favourite.

rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
What I've read
Mostly comfort-reading: I was predictable and went for Kushiel's ChosenKushiel's Avatar to follow up Kushiel's Dart.  I also picked up and demolished the next in the Eloisa James Regency farcical romances: The Taming of the Duke, ditto one of my extensive to-read pile: Sleeping Tiger by Rosamunde Pilcher.

I mentioned the new novella Penric's Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold already: I've reread it once since and it's still very good.  On second viewing I was struck by Penric's essential kindness to people around him and how this ultimately works to his benefit, rather like Cordelia Naismith.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of a new Lia Silver book being released: Mated to the Meerkat is a delightfully funny shapeshifter romance and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It's pretty short, but it was also only 99p, and it brightened yesterday morning and lunchtime considerably.  Worth every penny, A+, will read again.

What I'm reading
I continue to enjoy updates from [personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan greatly, and I'm still making my way through A Girl and Her Fed archives in fits and starts.  I'm also listening my way through podfic of your blue eyed boys, mostly at bedtime to stop myself staring at bright light before sleep, and I'm very much enjoying the reader's voice and interpretation. It's a slower way of taking in the story for me, and I find I realise details and turns of phrase I hadn't in the rush of reading it myself.

What I'll read next
For the next few evenings at least, my next assignment for the OU takes priority.  Thrill at costing methods! Gasp at budget variances! Despair when numbers don't reconcile!

After that, who knows? I feel I should round up some enthusiasm for Hugo reading before I completely run out of time to vote.
rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read

I haven't been reading many books lately.  I have been reading my way through the archives of A Girl and Her Fed, by the author K B Spangler, recommended by [personal profile] davidgillon .  I've also been thoroughly enjoying the ongoing adventures of [personal profile] the_comfortable_courtesan and her circle of actors, musicians, and scientists (not to mention the wombatt).

Otherwise, I put down Two's Company by Jill Mansell because I was temporarily annoyed by it, and expect I will pick it up again when I am feeling less easily annoyed.

I started reading Earth to Hell by Kylie Chan, which was a library book I picked up as the first of a trilogy; it's set in Hong Kong and has some really interesting magic/mythology going on, but it turns out it's the first of a sequel trilogy and I was failing to keep up with who was who, so I took it back to the library and have requested the first of the previous trilogy to see if I can make any more sense of it.

I read Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James, which was exactly what I wanted the day of a migraine (delightfully farcical period romances with a lot of strong female friendships in them) and am now in a queue for the next in the series to work its way out of the library system.

What I'm reading
I started getting horribly ill yesterday evening, with what turns out to be strep throat, so I have been comforting myself with a reread of Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey.  Which has its issues but remains one of the most sympathetic depictions I've read of sex work & BDSM.  And also the heroine repeatedly achieves things by being clever and sympathetic and understanding of others (as well as hot and good in bed).

What I'll read next
Chances are high it will be the next two sequels to Kushiel's Dart :-)  But I might be radical and read either Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu or The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison as well.

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
Younger by Suzanne Munshower. This is a contemporary spy thriller with added commentary on society's age discrimination, especially against older women. It opens strongly, with our protagonist Anna going on the run across Europe, trying to work out how to survive the people who have killed her boss and are probably after her. After a bit we have a couple of lengthy (multi-chapter) sections explaining how she got there: scientific advances in cosmetics, industrial espionage and probable international espionage. Finally the two threads come together to a final showdown in Rome.

I was certainly gripped by the story, although it sags a bit near the end, where there's a couple of chapters of "everyone sits down and explains things to each other", followed by one of those irritating things where the character Spots Something Important but doesn't bother letting the reader know until the dramatic reveal.   While I'm being critical, I also thought there were one or two too many big coincidences driving the plot - I don't mind one or two, but there are at least four by my count.

I didn't actually like Anna much, though I had some sympathy for her predicament as an older women suddenly finding it much harder to get a job.  I rather think she's meant to be unlikeable near the beginning and more sympathetic as the book goes on, but I didn't like her much more at the end than the beginning.  Even so, I cared about finding out what happened to her, and ignored several other things in order to finish the book. I'd happily read more by the author, although her website doesn't reference anything more yet.

What I'm reading now
I'm a few chapters into Two's Company by Jill Mansell, and it is hitting the usual good notes: (complicated family! interesting new people! social disaster about to happen!)

What I'll read next

I have lots and lots and lots of short SF to read thanks to the Queers Destroy Science Fiction! kickstarter fulfilling.
There are two ebooks left from my last round of "five first chapters"
At the top of my to-read pile is Take a Chance on Me by Jill Mansell and underneath that Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley.

Also posted at http://rmc28.dreamwidth.org/584034.html with comment count unavailable comments.
rmc28: (books2010)
Before I had children, holidays were vast oases of time in which I could read.  Now, not so much.  Although I did learn to read Room on the Broom from back to front as well as the more usual way, at the insistence of my younger child.  It gives it a Memento-style feeling, though rather less violent.

What I've read
I finally finished rereading Ancillary Sword!  Once I got started I stopped only for child-related interruptions.  It is still a cracking good read, and I hope for some time and space to put thoughts together over on [community profile] bookatorium now.  I note that Ancillary Mercy is now listed for pre-order at Amazon, with a publication date of 8 Oct.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bryony and Roses by T Kingfisher: a sensible heroine with a good line in gardening, a convincingly creepy enchanted castle, a Beast who doesn't behave like a domestic abuser, and an ending I didn't see coming even if maybe I should have.  I also really liked Bryony's sister Holly, who isn't in the story very much but makes her presence felt, and in general Bryony's feelings towards her family.   In fact family-feeling, gardening, and sensible heroines are very much common features across the T Kingfisher books I've read; sometimes it's birth-family and sometimes it's found-family. 

I don't normally include my textbooks in this, but I'm going to make special mention of Unit 3: Costing and accounting systems from my current OU course on management accounting.  I have not yet made it through a session of study of this book without falling asleep.  In theory I find it interesting! But in practice there has been a lot of slumping over the textbook and pulling myself awake to find handwritten notes that wander off into gibberish.  I am determined to defeat it study-wise but I'm definitely keeping the ebook around against future insomnia.

I read A-Force (2015) #1 and like the art and the story, and the way it introduces key people so I can keep track of who's who.  The Secret Wars setup is really weird but I'll just handwave that as "weird big comics crossover event stuff".  I am engaged by this set of people and their situation and wondering what is going on, and I'm trying to justify to myself spending the money to keep up with it rather than wait for a collected edition.

What I'm reading now

Younger by Suzanne Munshower; I got as far as chapter 2 on the train home and am still finding it interesting.

What I'll read next
I still have the two Jill Mansells I found in the to-read pile when moving it.  A-Force (2015) #2 if I buy it.  Assorted library books are waiting for attention.  Draykon by Charlotte E. English is next on the ebook list.
rmc28: (books2010)
 What I've read
[more than usual in the last fortnight I have been sticking to light, predictable reads that I find comforting and escapist]

Much Ado About You
by Eloisa James
A new series of farcical historical romances, this time featuring four sisters (rather than the previous series, which was four friends).  I do like the friendships in these books probably at least as much as the romances.  I also like that the library has them all; they're definitely single-serving books for me.

Archangel's Blood
by Nalini Singh
Second in the "Guild-Hunter" series about a vampire hunter and angels.  This was definitely a bit gorier and getting close to my personal tolerance for that; also to my tolerance for dominant asshole romance "heroes".  I still like the concept and the characters a lot though, and the library has the rest of the series.

Justice Calling
by Annie Bellet
This is a pretty short read (150 pages, but a couple of chapters of the next one are included, so it's rather less than that).  It's a fun urban fantasy: there's shapeshifters and a witch with a secret, and a big tough law enforcer, and peril and plot, and a bit of romance worked in.  It was more or less exactly what I wanted to read right now and I enjoyed it very much.  There are four more books in the series, and a sixth coming out next month; I'm restraining myself from buying the lot right now, but I will be getting them as I clear more of my ebook backlog.

A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
This was a library book; I have about 2/3 of Jill Mansell's output on my shelves: contemporary romcoms with interesting people, complicated plots and happy endings, many of which are set in and around Bath, near where I grew up.  I haven't read one I disliked, and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.   [I am still migrating my to-read pile into my room, and there are two more by her in it, so I have physically pulled them out to read shortly.]

What I'm reading
I'm part way through rereading Ancillary Sword, and then "T Kingfisher" (Ursula Vernon) released another fairy tale retelling this week, so I am also part way through Bryony and Roses and enjoying it very much.

What I'm reading next
I was sufficiently impressed by G Willow Wilson's defence of A-Force to buy the first issue digitally.  (Though ouch, individual comics on release week is an expensive way to do this hobby.)  I also want to carry on with Daredevil vol 1.
That pair of Jill Mansell books I just found.
Younger by Suzanne Munshower is next up in my ebook list

rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
Hellbender by Dana Cameron
This suffered a bit from being interrupted a lot, so I kept losing track of the plot and having to skip back a bit and so on.  But I thoroughly enjoyed it as the next instalment in the series, resolving some plotlines, opening up more areas, and generally being a good romp.  I must get round to reading the author's archaology-detective books at some point.

Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh
So it's an urban fantasy about a vampire hunter, except that it turns out angels are rather scarier than vampires, and also that the limited number of archangels basically run things.  Our vampire hunter protagonist gets recruited to hunt down an archangel that has gone mad and is being especially appalling.  I found it a good read, but the romance a bit clichéd.  I have already tracked down and borrowed the next one from the library :-) 

Queen of Nowhere
by Jaine Fenn
I rather enjoyed this book about  a super-hacker travelling between space-stations for a couple of decades gathering evidence, recruiting a mostly-unaware spy network, with the end goal being to expose and defeat a secret conspiracy that most people would find laughable.  There are little interludes from other points of view around the human polity.  The book opens with her getting questioned by local police on arrival at a space station, and from then on we follow her getting in and out of trouble, and getting help when she least expects it.

I found the book a bit odd in places - not sure if I should be viewing the "unexpected help" as sinister or not, not sure how to read the actions of some of her established allies.  I was expecting some twists which didn't happen, but meanwhile I didn't see the actual ending coming.  (There are some similarities between the ending of this one and the ending of Angel's Blood but it would be spoilery to discuss them, so I won't at this point.)

A-Babies vs X-Babies by Skottie Young & Gurihiru
Some time ago there was a comics Event called Avengers vs X-Men which I didn't read (see: bad at keeping up with comics).  This isn't really anything to do with it, except for using it as an excuse to draw 20 pages of cartoon baby versions of comic characters fighting each other.  They are very cute and terrifyingly recognisable.  This is definitely one of those that takes me a long time to read - there's one double-page spread and quite a few more pages where there is so much going on I just have sit and stare at it for a while.

by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Andrea Mutti
This seems to be a "one shot" tying in to a longer story, which is a pity because I love Pepper Potts, and Pepper Potts in an Iron Man-style suit rescuing people is awesome and I'd love to read more of it.  About half the comic is about Rescue being awesome and the other half is Pepper being exhausted and stressed out in hiding.  I like the artwork which is not-cartoony and does things with colours and silhouettes that I like.  [argh, I lack vocabulary for this stuff - anyone able to point me at resources for how-to-describe-comic-art?]

What I'm reading now
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet
Only one page past the first chapter I already reviewed so far, so nothing new to say yet.

Daredevil vol 1 by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin & Paolo Riviera
Only read the first few pages, but my brother recommended this on the basis of the art, and I adored the cover

What I'm reading next
Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh (from the library)
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (reread for [community profile] bookatorium )
whatever is next on my Marvel comics backlog
whatever is first on the free comics from Comixology

rmc28: (books2010)
Reading Wednesday! It's been ages.

What I've read
SPIN by Nina Allen
This was for bookclub, and I liked it very much but found the (apparently intentional) ambiguity mildly irritating, and would have happily read a more straightforward book for at least as long again. I conclude that Nina Allen is very talented but possibly not to my taste.

by Lia Silver
Third in the Werewolf Marines series I adore, I've read it twice and like it very much and am so glad these books exist and I can read them, and there's at least one more to look forward to :-) Partner continues from Prisoner (free at Amazon and Smashwords) with rather more sex and romance as well as lots of evil spy agency action, and resolving in a happy ending while leaving at least one thread open for further stories.

Hild by Nicola Griffith
Another one for book club, though I didn't actually manage to finish it before our discussion, I did enjoy it enough to finish it shortly afterward. It's very immersive and beautifully written and I'm not quite sure why it's marketed as fantasy when it's very clearly novelised history, like Rosemary Sutcliff (only less aimed at children).

Fatal Shadows by Josh Lanyon
The only book in the local library system by Josh Lanyon, this is a modern (1990s?) murder mystery set in LA. The police think the murdery mystery author friend of the victim did it; he knows he didn't, and it's possible he might be next. I enjoyed it and am resisting buying the entire series in ebook until I've caught up my backlog a bit. [ahahaha]

Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James
Continuing my progress through farcical Regency romance; this book wraps up a quartet of related novels and allocates happy ever afters all around.

The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Zen Cho
A funny novella in the form of a diary by Jade Yeo, book reviewer in 1920s London, who gives a scathing review to the darling of the literati and then gets into even more trouble. I loved Jade's voice, I loved her cleverness and pointed commentary, and I was completely caught up in the story until the end. I've got a short story collection by Zen Cho waiting to be read, and am looking forward to it on the strength of this.

Notorious Pleasures
by Elizabeth Hoyt (dnf)
Meh. I wanted to like this; its by the same author and earlier in the series as the Regency Batman romance and there is nothing obviously wrong with it, but it wasn't really working for me; when I did get interrupted and put it down for a few days, I found it very hard to pick back up. (also the whole "gin is terrible and should be banned" running plot keeps annoying me because of my support for drug law reform - speaking of political message fiction).

I keep thinking I'm just being moody and finding things to dislike, but then I go back and remember how much I liked Hild and Partner and The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo and Your Wicked Ways. So I think I'm actually just being very picky at the moment which, given my books:time ratio, may not be a bad thing.

What I'm reading now
Hellbender by Dana Cameron, third in the urban fantasy series with an archaologist protagonist, following Seven Kinds of Hell & Pack of Strays.

What I'm reading next
Angel's Blood by Nalini Singh before it really has to go back to the library
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie - rereading so I can write it up/discuss it in [community profile] bookatorium
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet which I just bought because it was already on my wishlist thanks to [personal profile] davidgillon and she's just withdrawn from the Hugo ballot, and it's 99p on Kindle.
rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
I've not finished anything in the last two weeks - after my colleague's death a fortnight ago I found it hard to settle to anything for a while, even short stories.   I did decide not to continue with my trial Scribd subscription.  I enjoyed reading on its app and it has lots of books I want to read.  The trouble is that I already have a vast quantity of books paid for and not read, so adding a monthly fee and hundreds more unread books did not feel helpful.

What I'm reading now
Still working through Kaleidoscope and Women Destroy Science Fiction! one story at a time (slowly).  I've put down the the Angela Slatter short stories until after the Hugo nomination deadline. (9th March, self, remember to submit them)

I'm reading Spin by Nina Allen for bookclub on Friday and finding it fairly engrossing.

What's next
No idea at all; ideally something Hugo-eligible.
Partner by Lia Silver as it just got released :-)  I expect werewolf marines are just the thing to solidify the reading-properly again.
rmc28: (books2010)
What I've read
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Recommended to me by [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte as a possible Hugo nominee.  I got a sample of it, was completely sucked in by the end of the sample and read it eagerly until the end.  The book is narrated by someone who keeps living their life over and over, from the 1920s until they die and then go back to the 1920s again - and how he finds others in the same situation, and how he tackles a threat to them all and apparently the entire human race.  I quite often didn't much like the narrator, or his friends, but the story and the gradually expanding discovery of What Is Going On really drew me in.  I definitely recommend it.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (dnf)
This was also recommended by [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte but I didn't get beyond the end of the sample.  At the point it ended, I hadn't liked any of the characters and nothing had happened that made me think it would be exciting or interesting or anyone would get more likeable.   (In contrast to the previous where I didn't much like the characters but the events had sucked me in.)  Would someone who has read it like to encourage me to continue?

Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell (dnf)
Mind Sweeper by AE Jones (dnf)
These two were ebooks I've had for a while, and decided to tackle as part of my "clear the TBR pile" project.   Nothing about either of them put me off, but also nothing about either of them drew me in.  The first is a self-published Hannukah romance novella by one of the SBTB contributors, and the second is an paranormal/urban fantasy which won a Golden Heart.  

The Emperor's Edge by Lindsay Buroker
I read this because [personal profile] rachelmanija mentioned the author as an example of someone successfully self-publishing and employing "the first one's free" tactic.  This was the first one free; it's an epic fantasy adventure (someone is trying to assassinate the emperor) but in a steampunk setting with printing presses and steam vehicles.   Amaranthe is an "Enforcer" (a police officer) who ends up disgraced and uncovering the plot against the emperor, and recruiting a bunch of misfits (including an incredibly competent assassin) to save the day.  I found it  fun, and I did really like the way Amaranthe repeatedly got out of sticky situations with persuasion rather than violence. 

I had a couple of niggles with it: while the overt social sexism (women belong in business, not the police!) is criticised, there's a fair bit of casual sexual stereotyping of the "women want comfort not solutions" kind, and some unnecessary angsting over pastries and exercise in the first chapter.  Also, while I like Amaranthe a lot, there weren't any other women characters of any depth.

Even so, I liked the book as a whole enough to not mind the niggles, and the author has a lot more books availble, and seems to be producing them at an impressive rate, so that's a fun discovery.

A Wild Pursuit by Eloisa James
Another of the rather farcical (in a good way) regency romances I'm working through via the library.

What I'm reading now
I'm working through several short story collections at once.  I find I need to read one story at a time and then do something else, and I've got one each going in 3 different places (paperback, Kindle app, Scribd app) ... all I need is to get a fourth going in my main ebook reader and that's a full house:
Kaleidoscope - paperback
Women Destroy Science Fiction! Kickstarter-funded special edition of Lightspeed (the Women Destroy Fantasy issue I read last week was produced as a stretch goal for this one) - Kindle
The Girl With No Hands and other stories by Angela Slatter -  Scribd

What's next
Probably Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley, as it's eligible for Hugo nomination, and I've had it since release day.  The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (also known as Sarah Monette) if I can swallow the huge ebook price.  Or something off the library pile before I run out of renewals.
rmc28: (books2010)
First, let me commend this essay by [personal profile] thingswithwings on saying "I don't usually like X but" about works, especially when X is a socially-marginalised genre.  (and compare to e.g. "but you're not like those other women / politicians / sf fans", all of which I have been on the receiving end of, and all of which gets old really fast)

Last week, when I said The Siren by Tiffany Reisz was "Surprisingly good S&M romance", I was totally doing this.  To a lesser extent I was also doing it when I said "But this is a Courtney Milan billionaire novel so I couldn't wait to see what she did with it." 

Let me rephrase.  Both The Siren and its direct sequel The Angel are both engaging, page-turning, hot, romantic novels that happen to feature BDSM and polyamory.  The Siren has a protagonist who is learning about BDSM, which is a good device for explaining things to the reader who doesn't know much.  The Angel develops several of the characters from The Siren further and has a sweet m/m first-love romance too.  I suspect I could happily marathon the rest of the series and maybe I will after I've done more Hugo reading.

What I've read:
The Seventh Bride by T Kingfisher.  This has a retold-fairytale feel, but I wasn't quite sure which fairy tale: it's a bit reminiscent of Bluebeard but not in the details.  Rhea the miller's daughter gets engaged to the local mysterious lord, who turns out to be a nasty piece of work with magical powers, and a bunch more wives no-one seems to know about.  I loved the storytelling and the women-working-together plot and the hedgehog.

Women Destroy Fantasy! which is really a collection of short stories and non-fiction essays and I should probably talk about that in more detail separately.  One of the (Hugo-eligible) shorts, and one of my favourites, was also by T Kingfisher: The Dryad's Shoe.  It's a really nice Cinderella retelling, and reminds me that I never got around to writing about Ash by Malinda Lo which is a much creepier Cinderella story.

There are a great many "further reading" recommendations in Women Destroy Fantasy! many of which I have taken note of.

Toad Words and Other Stories by T Kingfisher.  This is a collection of stories, pretty much all retold fairy tales, and this time I actually recognised all of them (except the poems; I'm not good at poems).  My standout favourite was Boar & Apples, which you could also call "Snow White and the Seven Wild Boars".

I've been playing with a free trial of Scribd, which mostly meant I indulged in rereading a bunch of Jennie Crusie's funny romance books: Strange Bedpersons, Anyone But You, Getting Rid of Bradley, Charlie All Night, Manhunting.  I note that I am now squarely in the age-demographic of most of Crusie's heroines, which I wasn't when I first discovered her ten or so years ago.  Also that dogs can be strangely vital to romance.

I read another Tessa Dare, a novella called How to Catch a Wild Viscount which was apparently her first published piece.  I didn't like it nearly as much as One Dance with a Duke so I'm still a bit undecided about this author.

I had preordered Worth the Risk by Claudia Connor after enjoying her first book, Worth the Fall very much.  I didn't like this one nearly as much.  I finished it, so it's better than a lot of stuff, but I was disappointed.  It had a lot of the tropes I really dislike: a controlling dominant very rich hero who can't communicate, plot being driven by 2D Nasty Characters Being Nasty, a great deal of Manly Macho Men being Macho, while Good Family Women herd children around and gossip and obsess over babies. 

I really didn't like the way women in this book were either Good Family Women or Nasty Shallow Women.  There was a bit of that in the beginning of Worth the Fall but I had managed to forget it.   The things that I particularly liked in Worth the Fall were: slow romance developing out of connection and communication, the conflict of "you cannot carry on with the career you have and be the kind of partner you want to be in this relationship" feeling like a real no-one's-fault dilemma, no enormous financial disparity between the two characters.  In Worth the Risk, none of these apply and in most cases the opposite is true. 

What 's next
I still have samples of two sf novels to try, and [personal profile] ceb has kindly lent me Kaleidoscope for more short story goodness.  There's also another T Kingfisher novella I haven't bought yet ...
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 smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I've been nursing a sick toddler since Saturday, and also sick myself for much of the last few days. On the good side I got more reading done!

Books read:

Prisoner by Lia Silver
Laura's Wolf by Lia Silver
These are turning into comfort rereads for me. Also I haven't got over getting a Yuletide gift from the author :-)

Night School: Legacy by CJ Daugherty
This is book 2 in a series about a boarding school for the teenage children of the rich and powerful. It was due back at the library and I started it in a bit of an impatient mood with it and its tropes (undecided between two boys! beautiful mean girls! secret society secretly runs the world!), but eventually the storytelling drew me in and I finished it in a rush before it was library-run time. I don't think I will bother with the rest of the series though.

Fool for Love by Eloisa James
A fairly fun regency romance; second in a series. I find the style a little stilted and the plots completely silly, but there's a lot of charm and I'm a sucker for farce, which I think James does very well. Also though each one has its own "complete" romance story, there's at least three or four more going on in a more long-winded way among the wider cast, and I do want to see those resolved too. (I am not sure why I'm tolerating the romance tropes here better than the young adult ones in "Night School", but I am.)

Seven Kinds of Hell by Dana Cameron
Pack of Strays by Dana Cameron
Books 1 & 2 in an urban fantasy series (the third is due out at the end of March) about a trainee archaologist who discovers she's part of a Family, of werewolves and vampires and oracles. They're both fast moving with fairly complicated plots and the archaology is intermittently vital to the plot. The viewpoint protagonist is believably confused and flailing and trying to do the right thing even as it gets harder to figure out what that is.

I enjoyed them very much and I've preordered the next one. I have to thank [personal profile] davidgillon for bringing them to my attention (and writing a better review than I've managed here).

Hostage by Rachel Manija Brown & Sherwood Smith
This is the sequel to Stranger, which came out only a short while ago, and which I liked very much. I probably liked this one even more: it raises the stakes, develops the characters and the world a bit further, and has some lovely culture-shock exploration, between the small-town democratic society of Las Anclas, vs the power, wealth and control of the nearby Empire that threatens it. We lost the Mean Girl viewpoint from the first book (though we see her from other points of view) in favour of a new character from the Empire.

The authors have self-published this sequel, after getting the first published through a traditional route, and Sherwood Smith has published a thoughtful piece about that decision, which I think is worth reading if you are generally interested in what's happening with publishing, even if not in post-apocalyptic young-adult novels, or these ones in particular.

Selfishly, I'm glad that this sequel came out so quickly, and I do rather hope both books sell enough that the remaining two books planned can get written too.

Worth the Fall by Claudia Connor
I bought this on the basis of its mention in a podcast transcript by Smart Bitches Trashy Books (the main podcast discussion is on trigger warnings for rape, but this was in the "what have you read recently" bit), and enjoyed it very much. The romance is between a pregnant widow, with four children already, and a Navy SEAL, and it could have been awful, but the way the children in particular were written felt realistic and not-annoying to me, and the romance worked well and showed the two of them having to work their way through conflicts and life-changing decisions if they're going to make things work. It was the SEAL end of things I found less believable, in particular the Last Minute Dramatic Tension about 9/10 of the way through. But overall it worked for me really well, and there's a sequel out in about two weeks which I've preordered.

Next book
No idea, something else easy, ideally off my to-read pile, as I'm still ill.
rmc28: (books2010)
Today is not that day.

8 M&B 3-in-1 "By Request"
6 M&B Regency
5 M&B Historical
1 M&B 2-in-1 "Date with a Regency Rake"
1 Tessa Dare
1 Elizabeth Hoyt (author of the awesome Batman Regency Romance novel)

and as a palate cleanser to all that romance, Fifty Sheds of Grey

Oh hey, it's Wednesday. Let's call this a Reading Wednesday post.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

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