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The CharioteerThe Charioteer by Mary Renault. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

Mary Renault’s landmark novel about a wounded soldier who returns from the front and must choose between relationships with two very different men

After being wounded at Dunkirk in World War II, Laurie Odell is sent back home to a rural British hospital. Standing out among the orderlies is Andrew, a bright conscientious objector raised as a Quaker. The unspoken romance between the two men is tested when Ralph, a friend of Laurie’s from school, re-enters his life, introducing him into a milieu of jaded, experienced gay men. Will Laurie reconcile himself to Ralph’s embrace, or can he offer Andrew the idealized, Platonic intimacy he yearns for?

This novel has been called one of the foundation stones of gay literary fiction, ranking alongside James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room and Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar. Celebrated for its literary brilliance and sincere depiction of complex human emotions, The Charioteer is a stirring and beautifully rendered portrayal of love.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary Renault including rare images of the author.

A classic novel of war, love, and coming of age, I reviewed this when it finally came out in ebook form thanks to Open Road. If you didn’t buy it then, you should definitely buy it now. It’s gay romance but the emphasis is on the relationships, not the sex. And the cocktail party scene is worth the price of admission all by itself. It took me forever to finally read this book because I was afraid it couldn’t live up to the hype. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

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lavinia le guinLavinia by Ursula Le Guin. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

In a richly imagined, beautiful novel, an acclaimed writer gives an epic heroine her voice.

In The Aeneid, Vergil’s hero fights to claim the king’s daughter, Lavinia, with whom he is destined to found an empire. Lavinia herself never speaks a word. Now, Ursula K. Le Guin gives Lavinia a voice in a novel that takes us to the half-wild world of ancient Italy, when Rome was a muddy village near seven hills.

Lavinia grows up knowing nothing but peace and freedom, until suitors come. Her mother wants her to marry handsome, ambitious Turnus. But omens and prophecies spoken by the sacred springs say she must marry a foreigner—that she will be the cause of a bitter war—and that her husband will not live long. When a fleet of Trojan ships sails up the Tiber, Lavinia decides to take her destiny into her own hands. And so she tells us what Vergil did not: the story of her life, and of the love of her life.

Lavinia is a book of passion and war, generous and austerely beautiful, from a writer working at the height of her powers.

I am woefully under-read in Le Guin’s oeuvre but even I know that she is one of the towering writers of the 20th century. This book takes a minor character from Virgil’s Aeneid and imagines her life. It’s technically a YA novel, I guess, but like everything else Le Guin writes, everyone should read it. I can’t do it justice, so I’m counting on the awesome DA commentariat to come to my rescue below.

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stray andrea hostStray by Andrea K. Höst. $ Free

From the Jacket Copy:

Part 1 of the Touchstone trilogy.

On her last day of high school, Cassandra Devlin walked out of exams and into a forest. Surrounded by the wrong sort of trees, and animals never featured in any nature documentary, Cass is only sure of one thing: alone, she will be lucky to survive.

The sprawl of abandoned blockish buildings Cass discovers offers her only more puzzles. Where are the people? What is the intoxicating mist which drifts off the buildings in the moonlight? And why does she feel like she’s being watched?

Increasingly unnerved, Cass is overjoyed at the arrival of the formidable Setari. Whisked to a world as technologically advanced as the first was primitive, where nanotech computers are grown inside people’s skulls, and few have any interest in venturing outside the enormous whitestone cities, Cass finds herself processed as a ‘stray’, a refugee displaced by the gates torn between worlds. Struggling with an unfamiliar language and culture, she must adapt to virtual classrooms, friends who can teleport, and the ingrained attitude that strays are backward and slow.

Can Cass ever find her way home? And after the people of her new world discover her unexpected value, will they be willing to let her leave?

We’ve talked about Stray many times in comment threads here at Dear Author, but newer visitors might not be award of Höst’s work. It’s free again for a little while, and it’s well worth the cost of your time. I assumed we had reviewed it at some point, but we haven’t. Technically YA, once again, but also written for just about everyone to read.

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nos4a2 joe hillNOS4A2 by Joe Hill. $ 1.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

NOS4A2 is a spine-tingling novel of supernatural suspense from master of horror Joe Hill, the New York Times bestselling author of Heart-Shaped Box and Horns.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

Then, one day, Vic goes looking for trouble—and finds Manx. That was a lifetime ago. Now Vic, the only kid to ever escape Manx’s unmitigated evil, is all grown up and desperate to forget. But Charlie Manx never stopped thinking about Victoria McQueen. He’s on the road again and he’s picked up a new passenger: Vic’s own son.

Amazon informs me that this title is pronounced Nosferatu, for which I am grateful. Joe Hill has great fiction and horror bloodlines (Stephen and Tabitha King are his parents) but he comes by his high reputation honestly, through the quality of his work. This book will apparently make you see Christmas in a different light, and not necessarily a good one. Presumably it speaks to those of us who think the Christmas season already has some horrifying aspects. Critics suggest that it is longer than it needs to be at 700 pages, to which I say bah. I love Big Fat Books.

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Sunita has been reading romances almost as long as she has been reading. Her favorite genres these days are contemporary, category, and novels with romantic elements. She also reads SFF, mysteries, historical fiction, literary fiction, and the backs of cereal boxes. As of January 2015, all the books she reviews at Dear Author are from: (1) her massive TBR, (2) borrowed from the library, (3) received as gifts from friends/family, or (4) purchased with her own funds.


  1. Fallen Professor
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 14:13:33

    The Charioteer is (for now at least) showing up full price ($11.99) at both Amazon and Kobo. Hopefully the price drop will show soon!

  2. Sirius
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 14:25:10

    Fallen professor, are you in the US? I am and for me Amazon does show $2.99 price. “Charioteer” is such an awesome book IMO :).

  3. Fallen Professor
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 14:30:25

    @Sirius: Ah no, I’m in Canada :(. But the Amazon US page says $11.23 for me for the Kindle version (which is $11.99 Canadian). I’ve been able to take advantage of 99% of these deals, because they usually translate to Amazon Canada, so I was wondering about this one. especially since the U.S. page has the high price too.

  4. Sunita
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 14:33:05

    @Fallen Professor: It shows as $2.99 for me too (I’m the in US). I can’t guarantee the prices hold outside the US, but I check them the morning of the post to make sure they’re still discounted here.

    I assume it’s a publisher decision, but I could easily be wrong about that.

    Thanks, Sirius, for checking.

  5. Fallen Professor
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 14:46:26

    @Sunita: Thanks! The weird thing is that, no matter whether the Canadian version is discounted or not, the US reduction usually always shows up, but not in this case. And Kobo, which is Canadian-based, hasn’t matched. I’ll keep checking, since I’ve heard about this book before and am really curious, but $11 is a lot of an ebook (it’s the same price as the pb, from what I see).

  6. cleo
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 14:56:44

    Seconding the Lavinia love. I started to write that it’s different from her sf/f, but I’m not sure that that’s true, since it has similarly detailed and believable worldbuilding. It probably helps to be familiar with the Aeneid, but I enjoyed Lavinia a lot without actually remembering anything I may have learned about it in high school western civ.

    I have another Host in my TBR, from another sale and DA recommendation. One day I will actually read her books, instead of just collecting them.

  7. harthad
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 15:49:16

    I just want to share the love where The Charioteer is concerned; it’s one of my favorite books ever. It’s also not necessarily an easy go. I remember being thrown by some of the Britishisms (particularly in the early school scene between Laurie and Ralph) and by the dense (but oh, so beautiful) prose. It got easier once I grasped that not everything important to the action was being directly stated; sometimes what isn’t being said is as important as what is. My assumption is that Renault had to be oblique to get it past the censors at the time it was published (1953).

  8. Christine
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 16:24:24

    Just FYI, Molly O’Keefe first Boys of Bishop book Wild Child is 99c now too, but US only ($8.99, 9.65 for Cdns) – I’m Canadian too, and I’ve found that no matter whether I check the or websites, if I’m looking from a Canadian IP address and it’s not a Canadian matched price then it shows up high on both sites.

  9. Laura B
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 16:29:30

    Stray is a lot of fun and very well done.

    I’ve always contrasted Lavinia’s silence to Dido’s passionate voice. The one is proper and matronly while the other is unruly and exotic.

  10. Sunita
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 16:36:26

    @harthad: Thanks for pointing that out, and I totally agree! I talk about the allusive and elliptical language in my review of the book, but I didn’t link to it; here it is.

    @cleo: @Laura B: Thanks to both of you! And Cleo, you and me both on the book collecting.

  11. Maite
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 20:11:53

    While I haven’t read Joe Hill’s work, I have read the Locke & Key comic and adore it. Time to try his writing.

  12. Kim W
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 20:13:06

    One of my favorite Josh Lanyon book series The White Knight/The Dark Horse has the MC playing a role in a movie production of The Charioteer. That’s why I bought The Charioteer when it went on sale yesterday.

  13. Patricia Burroughs [aka pooks]
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 22:12:12

    Loved Lavinia and I didn’t remember anything about the Aeneid.

  14. Janine
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 23:54:18

    Sold! On The Charioteer and Lavinia.

  15. BRNZ
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 01:14:37

    Can I just say how much I ADORE Andrea K Host’s writing. I picked up Stray when it was free after some discussion I had seen (probably here) and I was a bit nervous cos I am not a fan of first person or diary type stories but I was utterly utterly hooked.

    For an amazing YA standalone, try “And All The Stars” fabulous stuff. I am slowly working my way through her backlist, savouring it as I would a box of expensive chocolates.

    Love her stuff so much!

  16. lawless
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 08:16:26

    I bought The Charioteer and, after reading the sample, NOS4A2. Like Kim W, reading Josh Lanyon’s The White Knight/The Dark Horse made me curious about The Charioteer.

  17. msilk
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 09:31:32

    NOS4A2 is $17.99 at Kobo, sale officially lost. WTG Kobo!

  18. Fallen Professor
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 09:46:41

    @msilk: Wow, that’s amazingly expensive for an ebook… And I was complaining about the $11.99 price for The Charioteer yesterday.

  19. msilk
    Jun 03, 2014 @ 20:43:46

    @Fallen Professor: I’m in Canada so I expect books to be a bit more but that price just floored me. I keep checking the deals though as sometimes I luck out and it’s on sale or I can get it lowered enough with a coupon.

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