Archive for the ‘ Books ’ Category

Pricetag

Man alive.

Who is getting ready to be royally fleeced this week? There are too many great books coming out this week. Why have they all been scheduled to be released tomorrow?Couldn’t they eke them out over the month so it doesn’t feel so bad when I lay down a huge wadge of cash for all my new release books out tomorrow?

 

Highlights include…

 

My bank account is going to hate me tomorrow.

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Future Reads and a little fangirly gushing.

Just when I think Goodreads can’t get any better, I get a funky email through today which tells me all the new releases for authors on my shelves for the month of March. This is great. It means no more trawling through release pages etc. No more constant clicking to authors pages for release dates. No more missing release dates for auto-buy authors.

If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now, I LOVE GOODREADS.

So this week, I plan to re-read the J.L. Langley ‘With/Without’ series in preparation for the new release in this series.  It’s been such a long time since J.L. brought anything out. I can remember main details of the series but it’s such a great read, I feel the need to refresh the memory. I love re-reading books. ‘With Abandon’ is released on March 22nd and I can’t wait.

I also plan to read Julie James ‘A Lot Like Love.’ I have all of Julie’s books but I have never gotten round to starting one. (The infamous TBR pile that consumes more books than I can read…) I have see quite a few really good reviews for this book and I am looking forward to it.

I’m also planning to it up a few Harlequin Blazes. I have fallen behind on my Blaze reading so I need to catch up.

What’s everyone else planning on reading?

Cry Wolf – Keith Melton

One choice means heartbreak. The other, death.

Nightfall Wolf Clans, Book 1

Leah Kendrick is guilty of only one crime: loving her human mate, Tom, enough to give him the gift of The Bite. The Pack council is merciless, and the punishment swift. In an instant everything she’s ever known is ripped away, and they’re turned out into the long winter with nothing. No money, no car, and no protection from a variety of creatures who’d like nothing more than to take down a lone wolf.

Friendless and broke, they form a daring plan to take back what’s theirs and chase safety north. But the Pack has other ideas. And with time running out it’s about to call their bluff…

—————————

After finishing this book the most predominant thought in my mind was, ‘Is that it?’ It felt like it was over before it was even begun. I knew it was a novella and it would be short but I have to think it was the deft storytelling that had me entranced so much so that I was at the end before I knew it.

Leah has been banished from her pack for turning Tom, her mate, without the pack’s permission. After this they have to run. They have no possessions (all pack members sign everything over to the pack) and no allies. That’s the jist of it. It does exactly what it says on the tin. But packed into the 100 or so pages was some pretty impressive world building. We got a sense of pack dynamics and Leah’s life before and with Tom as well as some pretty impressive action scenes.

I really enjoyed the fact that Leah and Tom were both college drop outs with minimum wage jobs. It was nice to have a little reality mixed in with my urban fantasy, so much of the time the protagonists are rich and have a cushy job that pays them loads but doesn’t require attendance or any actual real work. I loved that Leah swore. She wasn’t some prissy little miss and although we didn’t spend a huge amount of time with them, I got a real sense of their relationship and how much they meant to each other. I wonder if that’s a male ‘thing’. The ability to convey bonds of love and emotion with very few words. Charlie Huston does it really well also. Sometimes the beauty is in the restraint. The words not uttered.

That said, if you are looking for a nice little story that is all wrapped this isn’t for you. It left me with more questions than answers. Is there further meaning in Leah’s dream? Will the pack still chase them? Because they have their bond can they start their own pack? Are they alpha’s now? What of the shadowy ‘Order’?

As I said, this felt more like a prelude to a full length novel, than an actual stand alone story. Am I hoping there is more to come? Most definitely.

To read, perhaps to listen?

I have been distracted this week due to family issues but I have still managed to keep up with some reading and I have rediscovered my love of (some) audio books. I have written about audio books before. I stand by what I say. The narrator makes of breaks an audio book for me. I can’t make myself overlook bad voice acting or horrendous accents. It ruins a lot for me.

In preparation for the new instalment of The Dresden Files ‘Changes’ by Jim Butcher, I’m listening to the books to refresh my memory. There’s been a lot of them. ‘Changes’ is instalment 11 or 12 I think. It’s one of the few series I have kept up with. I normally get ‘series fatigue’ by book 5 or 6. Jim Butcher, JR Ward, Lara Adrian, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Lorelei James seem to be the only survivors of this condition.

Sometimes I wish authors would swap, what must be, the security of an established fan base and a nice big fat book contract, and take a chance. Write something new.

I suppose they feel pressured as well. When you get hundreds of letters and email asking when the next instalment is, I imagine it’s hard to disappoint people, even if the creative drive is no longer there. (Which is evident in a LOT of authors who write long and protracted series) I suppose it’s also hard not to listen to people who are there to advise you. Publishers need to make money as much as an author. Why take a chance on something you’re not sure will sell when you have a product (a brand in some cases) that sells really well? Maybe these authors find it hard to write that second series. Find it difficult to come up with new ideas so they stay in their comfort zone. Maybe some even like the notoriety? Who knows?

But I think audio books might be the answer to some of my series fatigue. I don’t feel like I am wasting my time when I am listening to an audio book while doing the dishes, or the laundry. Plus, a stack of  audiobooks just doesn’t look as intimidating as a massive stack of books can.

So I can maybe pick up some of those series I let fall behind. I left the ‘In Death’ books behind at around book nine, I think. I would love to pick that series back up but every book started to feel very samey to me. I could also finally get around to reading the last Harry Potter. (I know, I still haven’t read it AND I have managed to stay unspoiled! Don’t ruin it for me.) Does Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter books have audio? Are they any good?

I doubt they are as good as James Marsters is. I think they should pass a law that he should read all audio books from now on. Le sigh.

What about you all? When do you usually drop a long running series? What about good/bad audiobook narrators? Any I should stay away from?

A Week In Reading

I used to do this on the now defunct Book Pron and I enjoyed giving my mini lightning reviews. I hosed the idea from Tracy over at Tracy’s Place. (I am unashamed in my pilfering of ideas.)

So what did I read this week?

It was a week of Kitty for me. I started on the Kitty Norville series by author Carrie Vaughn and really enjoyed it. I made it through five of six books. I haven’t purchased the seventh instalment yet, but I shall. Soon. Also managed to squeeze in Carol Lynne’s new one.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

I really loved the voice of Kitty in this first book and some of my favourite moments came from Kitty’s interaction with her radio audience. I also liked that Kitty wasn’t an alpha werewolf from the start. You know, get bitten and suddenly you are Amazon Alpha, the strongest, most sexually alluring  female werewolf on the planet. Kitty had issues with her pack and she was the lowest on the rung. It made a nice change.


Kitty Goes to Washington.

In this instalment Kitty is a rolling stone that gathers no moss. Going from town to town doing her show, she is finds herself in hot water when she lands in Washington. I enjoyed Vaughn’s vision of  how the world would react to supernatural elements being brought into the public domain. There was no mass hysteria but Vaughn managed to convey a sense of unease and tension through the whole book. Her description of how violated Kitty feels at the end of the book was really well done.


Kitty Goes On Holiday.

I loved this book. This was where it all changed. One minute I knew where the characters were going the next I was like ‘Whoa!’ And I loved being surprised like that. Plus, for some reason there were many places in this book where I was scared out of my wits. Some real evil mo-fo’s here.


Kitty And The Silver Bullet.

This is the one I had been waiting for. Kitty returns to Denver and faces her demons. It all felt a little anti-climatic at points but that is because it wasn’t a drama-filled angst-fest which I appreciated. Introduction of a few new characters was interesting and mention of ‘The Long Game.’


Kitty And The Dead Man’s Hand

This was where it fell apart slightly for me. The plot was a mess and unfocused and I didn’t really see the point of the book at all except as a lead in to the next book. T’was a shame but you can’t hit home runs every time.


Seb’s Surrender – Carol Lynne

My guilty pleasure is Carol Lynne. I know she writes basically the same story over and over but there is a kind of comfort in that too, you know. I know they are angst-ridden and the smexxoring is unrealistic but I kinda don’t care. Crack with a capital C. I liked this second book in her Bodyguards series much more than the first although the first was good too. Who would think you could have a security company that specializes in gay bodyguards? But it works. As always interesting set-up and characters are let down by the storytelling but I still enjoyed it. If you let go and just read she is fab.

So there you have it, not a bad haul for the week. What about everyone else? Anything particularly noteworthy, in an good or bad way.

UK vs. US

Sometimes I feel like I am in a South Park episode. The one where Butters is Professor Chaos and he’s trying to take over the world and every time he comes up with a plan his sidekick General Disarray tells him, ‘The Simpsons did it!’ It’s like that in Romancelandia a lot of the time. You come up with an idea and go looking for pictures or quotes and then find that someone had beaten you to the punch.

Example. I was going to do this post on Nathan Kamp and how he seems to be on every frickin romance novel cover and why the hell is this the case cause yeah, he’s good-looking but he’s not that good-looking. Went to get some pictures and saw that Jessica over at Racy Romance Reviews had all ready done it. And her post was so much more eloquent and rational than I would have managed I thought to myself, ‘Yep, I’m not gonna even try!’

The I was going to do this post on UK vs. US covers and saw that Meljean had done something similar over at Oddshots. But you know what. I have come to the same conclusion poor Professor Chaos did. Romancelandia has been around for aeons and will be around after I go and we always talk about the same subjects again and again and again so another repetitive blog post ain’t gonna kill us. Plus, I have pretty pictures I want to show you all…

So UK vs. US book covers.

There are different reasons for a change in cover which Meljean goes into in her blog post here. But I have to say, maybe it’s because I am from the UK, I think the UK edges out the US a lot of the time…*controversial* Let me show you.

Keri Arthur

I just prefer the UK one. It feels more evocative somehow. Although I do like the colour scheme of the US one, it feels like anyone with Photoshop could have done it (Although I know that isn’t the case..)


Nalini Singh

I prefer black over lurid pink. I’m not sure what possessed that particular choice. Admit it, you’d be much happier reading the UK cover on the train.


J.D. Robb

Again much more evocative. I find the US covers really garish and it doesn’t tell me anything about the book at all.


Sherrilyn Kenyon

Admit it, it’s just much prettier. Although admittedly, the US covers have had a make over and I do prefer the covers with just the sigils on them to the lurid men covers they used to have.


Jim Butcher

I think the US covers for his Codex Alera series are like a badly drawn school project. I really dislike them.  (Although they are probably drawn by someone really famous.) I was so happy when Orbit brought the new UK covers out. I think they convey the fantasy feel without falling into the usual pitfalls of fantasy covers.


As for his Dresden Files series. I also prefer the, admittedly, boring UK covers. Why? Because as much as I like Chris McGrath’s covers he draws Harry with a freakin’ fedora on and HARRY NEVER WEARS ONE IN THE BOOKS. EVER! It really irritates me. So I prefer the UK ones cause they leave me to imagine the characters myself without putting ideas in my head. Of erroneous hats.


Ann Aguirre

I love the new cover for Ann Aguirre’s Corine Solomon series. It’s dark and moody much like the book (although there are lighter moments). I do like the US cover as well, I just like the UK more. Sometimes that happens. Even though the US cover is probably more representative of the character.


Eloisa James

No contest as far as I am concerned. It’s a beautiful picture and I love the little chess piece in the picture. It gives you a clue to the content but looks out-of-place there so you give it a second look. It’s just such a lavish picture. Very representative of Elosia’s work I think.


Julia Quinn

Although the UK covers are a lit too chick-lit in execution, I do think that they translate the sense of fun and humour that is apparent in Julia’s work. Unlike the US covers that are so vague they almost seem surreal.


However there are exceptions with Julia Quinn. The two ‘Cavendish’ books for instance. I much preferred the US covers. Go figure.


Lisa Kleypas

It’s not always the case that I prefer the UK over US either. I prefer the US covers to Lisa Kleypas’ newest historical series. The blue dress is stunning and much more interesting to my eye than the far away figure in the UK cover.  US cover win.


Rachel Gibson

I  do like the UK covers better. Again, they seem to convey a sense of fun. Although, that said, it is obvious that the UK publisher is trying to make this cover seem anything but romance as that is a dirty word in the UK.


It’s a subject matter that has been discussed ad nauseam and it’s true that while you know what you’re getting when you have mantitty or a back/dress combo, namely a romance novel, why does it feel that romance readers get the short end of the stick when it comes to cover art? Especially in America. Why is it that YA novels get beautiful covers like this?


And romance readers barely warrant any effort at all. Srsly, I CAN do better than this on Photoshop.

Why is there more effort put into a book for teens, than into a book for adults? Because that’s what it feels like. ‘Oh, they’ll buy it regardless so let’s not bother.’ But that’s a whole other subject for a whole other day.

(I’m probably going to get panned now from rabid Chris McGrath fans..*ducks*)

Feeling good

You know, when I made up my mind to read more of what I have already and buy less new books, I wasn’t sure I could. I felt all squirrely just thinking about it. I am so used to a ‘see it, buy it’ mentality. Having an e-reader doesn’t help. One click and it’s mine. No trips to the bookshop. I don’t even have to put my coat on. I love that feature but it’s been my downfall too. My book buying budget has probably tripled since I got my e-reader. And it wasn’t that small to begin with. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for a lot of readers out there. And book blogs have just made it 100 times worse. They are such enablers of my buying habit, it’s not even funny.

Here is how it usually goes…

I see a book on one site and it gets a good review. My ears prick up. I click over to the next blog and another review, and suddenly the smell of it is in my nose. Hands twitch. But I stop myself and I go on clicking and I distract myself. But the facts get squirreled away in the brain. Couple of days later, I see another review. This one maybe not so glowing as the other two, but it also gives me a different perspective. Now, it’s like I’ve got it in my sights. I click over to Goodreads. Check out the rating. I’ll have a look at what people have to say, specifically looking at the poor ratings and if I see nothing too upsetting, it’s a click away to my pusher/dealer. Usually my go-to guy is Fictionwise but occasionally he’s out, so I have to go further afield but eventually I’ll track it down and then it’s mine. I’ve chased it down. I then have that moment of buyer’s euphoria. Perfect.

After that, I have to upload it onto Rafael (my Sony e-reader) making sure all the metadata is correct (Title, author, series title and cover I like best. Sometimes the UK ones are nicer you know…) and then I usually get distracted by something and I forget all about it. Or I might have bought 10 books at once (which is a more common occurrence than I care to admit) and you can’t read them simultaneously so some get forgotten about. This is how the famed readers TBR pile comes into existence.

my TBR pile

I’ve blogged about mine before. It’s getting so big it’s starting to make me anxious. I feel guilty when I buy new books, because I already have so many. Who could possibly read this amount of books in one lifetime? Why do I need more? And yet I keep buying and not reading. It is a habit. A hard one to break.

But I think I may be getting there. So far this year I haven’t bought any new books. My resolution was that I had to read 5 of my TBR pile before I could buy 1 new book. I’ve read 10 books so far this month (silver lining of being unemployed.) Is it sad that I do feel better? I’m feeling less anxious. I feel happier about my book choices and I feel much less guilty about the amount of money I was spending on books. Pressure I didn’t even realize was there has lifted slightly. I feel like I am making inroads in this massive pile. I’m able to relax and maybe enjoy and savour my books a little more. I have read 650+ books  in 2008/2009. That ‘s an average of  325 books a year. Who does that? Is it normal? Part of that was I felt I had to keep reading to get the numbers down. I have discovered a new favourite author and series. Does it matter that I have my 2 book already picked out? No. I might even see if I can wait until the end of the month and do all my buying then.

We’ll see if this new resolution lasts. I make it every year. But right now, I’m feeling good about it.