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What Sunita is Reading in late September and early October

I’ve been reading for review,  trying out new authors and trying to find more self-published work. I seem to be partway through an awful lot of books. It’s a mixed bag in terms of content and quality.

Reckless Runaway At the Racecourse, by Ros Clarke. Ros and I follow each other on Twitter and she offered this, her first self-published book, for free on Smashwords for a short time. I’ve had it in the TBR for a while. So far it’s a sweet story, very much in the Harlequin/Mills and Boon tradition. The hero and heroine meet cute at the races when she runs out onto the track while a horse race is in progress in order to rescue her expensive shoe and escape her predatory boss (the hero is more worried about the horses than the heroine, which I appreciated). It looks like an opposites-attract story. The writing is solid (nice, snappy dialogue) and the production values are good so far. I’ll finish and report back.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Something Different by S. A. Reid. The author offered this book for review, and Joan/SarahF reviewed it and liked it very much. I was intrigued and frustrated in equal parts by the opening chapters. The protagonist is an unhappily married man with a stereotypically horrible wife who denies him sex (authors, can we have a moratorium on this kind of character? Please?). He is miserable but lacks the courage to change his situation. He goes out looking for a prostitute in a park and finds a young, handsome man rather than the woman he was initially seeking. They are attracted to each other and begin a relationship.  The author makes a number of missteps in depicting the setting, including the use of American English and odd contextual information (the setting is suburban London), and the protagonist comes across as pathetic rather than sympathetic. But the writing style is good and I’m curious to see if the author can redeem this guy.

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Bear, Otter, and the Kid by T. J. Klune. This debut m/m romance came out earlier this year and generated unbelievable buzz. I didn’t think it was my kind of book but I was curious, so I downloaded a sample and discovered that the excerpt alone was 9000+ 900+ Kindle locations. It is in dire need of editing and has one of those narrators who talks all the time and tells you everything in his head, if you know what I mean. And yet his voice is oddly compelling. The ridiculous names are explained fairly quickly. The Kid is revoltingly precocious. But the story is engaging, and last week it was discounted to $2.99 at Amazon, so I decided to buy it and see how far I could get. The basic storyline: the narrator, his younger brother, his best friend, and his girlfriend/other best friend form a family-like unit after the irresponsible mother takes off. The (male) best friend’s brother reappears after being essentially gone for three years and upsets the equilibrium. Cue romance and drama.

Goodreads | Amazon | BN | nook | Sony | Kobo

Among the Living (PsyCop #1) by Jordan Castillo Price. For some reason I totally managed to miss reading any of Jordan Castillo Price’s m/m paranormal mysteries, even though she was the subject of an If You Like column here at Dear Author. I’d heard wonderful things about her books for years, and I have enjoyed the Petit Morts series. I finally rectified this omission by downloading the first of the PsyCop books. Price makes it easy by offering half the book for free on her website. It’s well worth buying the other half. The protagonist is a psychic detective who sees and talks to dead people. He’s part of a Chicago police force in which psychics of various abilities are partnered with non-psychics (stiffs). The narrator is funny and endearing, the writing is smooth, the romantic storyline is appealing, and the mystery is pretty good. Full review to come.

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The Silent City (Rifter #8) by Ginn Hale. I read it in one sitting and loved it, but you probably knew that. We jump back in time in this installment, to when John was coming to grips with being The Rifter. Much of the story here revolves around his attempts to manage the vast powers he has on Basawar. Kyle/Ravishan is present as well. We learn more about the Fai’daum, and we find out how John became Jath’ibaye (in more ways than one). The story is dark, violent, and almost claustrophic. It is also romantic and even sweet at times. I have no idea how this epic, epic fantasy can be wrapped up in just two more installments. Luckily, I’m pretty sure Ms. Hale does. Full review to come, but not right away.

A Baby for Eve by Maggie Kingsley. When I did my post on the Harlequin Medical Romance line last year, a commenter suggested this book. Not only does the heroine have an abortion, she goes on with her life and eventually gets to have an HEA. I tracked it down and discovered it was part of Penhally Bay, Mills & Boon’s Centennial series in the Medical line. The entire series finally started being issued  in the US market this year, and this month the Kingsley was published (in print form; the ebook releases next month). I read it and liked it last year, but I decided to reread it and see if it was really good, or I just thought so because I was so happy to find a book with this setup. Review to come.

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The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge. This book, which was first published in 1984, has been reissued in paperback by Sourcebooks. I read it soon after it came out and I’ve dipped into it frequently since then. As biographies go, it’s a bit workmanlike: Hodge, herself a well-known author, employes a straightforward chronology that intertwines events in Heyer’s life with the research and writing of her novels. But it’s invaluable for Heyer enthusiasts. I decided to do a full reread before I embark on the new biography of Heyer by Jennifer Kloester (which is already available in the UK but won’t be published in the US until 2012). If readers are interested I’ll do a full review.

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Sunita has been reading romances since she ran out of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and Chalet School books and graduated to Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. Other old favorites include Mary Burchell, Betty Neels, Elsie Lee, and Edith Layton. Among current writers, she reads and rereads Anne Stuart, Tamara Allen, Jordan Castillo Price, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley.

22 Comments

  1. Ros
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 11:24:17

    Thanks for the mention, Sunita. Hope you enjoy the rest of the book!

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  2. Annie
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 11:42:03

    I too put off buying Bear, Otter, and the Kid until a few weeks ago. I actually enjoyed it. Good writer, was surprised it was his first book. I think it could have used a bit of editing. According to goodreads there is a sequel in the works.

    Loved the Psycop series. There is a cliffhanger with the latest book, GhostTV. Don’t know when the next one will be out. There are some free shorts that are tied into the Psycop series on the authors website.

    I think I’ll wait on Something Different. Is there a sequel in the works?

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  3. Sirius
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:23:11

    Psycop series are so worth it, I love her writing, even though I am not keen on ghosts and other scary stuff usually.

    I bought Bear, Otter and Kid based on the buzz too, but put off reading it, because so far it looks like a book which will annoy me (narrator who tells you everything in his head and loads of angst), but I will read it of course eventually.

    Woo Hoo, only two issues of Rifter left for me to collect and then I can start reading lol. After glancing at the last page that is :)

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  4. Ros
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:25:21

    @Ros: Oh, also, I don’t think it’s available at Kobo. You can get it on iTunes, though.

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  5. Isobel Carr
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:34:53

    I’m intrigued by Ginn Hale, but I can’t find anywhere to get a sample of the Rifter books to see if I like her voice. Bummer.

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  6. Janet W
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:41:28

    I went to buy A Baby for Eve (continuing on with my buying of books outside my comfort zone if I trust the reviewer) — plus the plot sounds good. But why isn’t it available now on kindle? If it’s from 2008? Is this a British book? No matter, it’s on my wish list but still …

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  7. cs
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:46:30

    I must be the only person who doesn’t really get the hype of Ginn Hale. I read her first book and wasn’t blown away by it. Maybe it’s the genre she writes that I have no interest in? Maybe I’ll pick it up once the serial is finished.

    Jordan Castillo price, personally I think it is a sin if you read M/M and have never read her books. Great writer and a lovely person to boot. JCP is very reader-friendly and it’s great. Psycop series is lovely – one of the few series that didn’t manage to lose its way after the third book (in my opinion of course).

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  8. Jane
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 12:50:41

  9. Sunita
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 13:05:11

    @Annie: Reid doesn’t have a website or other info, so I can’t tell if there’s a sequel.

    @Sirius: I don’t read much paranormal either, but this feels like mostly normal with a slight para twist, if that makes sense. It blends together so well I don’t notice it.

    @Janet W: Harlequin Medical releases their ebooks one month after the print copies and they don’t release e in advance. So the Kingsley came out in 2008 in UK, and now the Penhally Bay series is released one per month here in the US, with the staggered print/e release. Yes, it’s a bit frustrating!

    I agree on the praise for JCP as an author and publisher. The books and stories are consistently high quality and the production is very good. I’m kicking myself for not having read her earlier, but on the bright side, I have plenty queued up in the TBR!

    Thanks, Jane!

    @cs: I’m partway through Lord of the White Hell I and while I’m enjoying it, it’s not extraordinary yet like the The Rifter is for me. Hale’s writing is deceptively simple, I think. No flourishes, just a very straight-ahead style that underplays the big bangs; they sneak up on you and for me at least, they’re even more effective as a result.

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  10. FD
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 13:18:27

    I wouldn’t mind a full review of the Heyer biog. ;)

    I know I read A Baby For Eve when it came out, but I really don’t remember it – I guess because it was 2008 and that’s a while ago? Alternatively, maybe it just didn’t make too much of an impression either way apart from a mental note on the unusual backstory.

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  11. Isobel Carr
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 13:46:59

    Thanks!

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  12. Sirius
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 13:51:40

    @Sunita: Oh I read werewolves. vampires (even though now I look mostly for unusual werewolves fare and very sick of vampires), but before I started Psycop, hers seemed more like horror like paranormal if that makes sense? I do not watch horror movies and for some reason ghosts scare me quite a lot. But Psycop turned out to be fantastic.

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  13. Sunita
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 15:19:55

    @FD: Noted. :-) It doesn’t take much to encourage me.

    @Sirius: Oh, I see what you mean. I don’t read horror either, although I don’t mind ghosts. But Victor’s narration keeps it on the engaging rather than frightening plane. I could listen to him all day, and there aren’t many narrators I can say that about.

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  14. Darlynne
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 16:20:22

    … when she runs out onto the track while a horse race is in progress in order to rescue her expensive shoe and escape her predatory boss …

    I’m sorry, but no. This cannot/should never happen. There is no circumstance–and I’ve just read the first few pages at Amazon–under which this is anything but unconscionable. In fairness, I freely admit that I might enjoy the writing style, but as someone who worked at a racetrack, as someone who has a very good idea of how incredibly stupid this is, I … Jesus, I’m speechless.

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  15. Sunita
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 16:37:46

    @Darlynne: I’m sympathetic to hot-button issues. I can see why this one would do it for you; I was able to skate past, although I definitely see your point.

    Years ago I started a book in which the hero was the half-English son of the Maharaja of Kashmir. One of the most famous Princely State rulers in 20th-C India, so it was impossible to suspend disbelief.

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  16. Lindsey
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 16:46:18

    The excerpt for Bear, Otter, and the Kid was over nine thousand?

    Meme referencing aside, I can’t wait for you review of Among the living. Like Sirius, I am irrationally afraid of ghosts, and I hate horror, but since the series sounds like it doesn’t play up that aspect, I’ll have to check it out. Hm, maybe I should just read the first half of the book instead of waiting for the review.

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  17. Sunita
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 17:00:45

    @Lindsey: No, that was a mistake that I didn’t catch until after the post was published. It was over 900 locations. Still, quite a long book!

    Go read the first half, but don’t blame me if you have to buy the rest of it right afterward. The ghosts are quite spooky, but JCP does a great job with them.

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  18. Darlynne
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 17:09:09

    @Sunita: It’s really not a hot button for me. What it is, however, is unforgivable, and I don’t mean by me. In the context of a romance novel, this hurdle could not be overcome. There is no way a responsible horse owner could ever forgive such behavior, let alone fall in love with the person who caused it. Horses die. Jockeys die. He would not notice her ankles. If an author wants me to believe that love conquers all, this is not the scenario on which to base a potential romance.

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  19. TKF
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 17:39:46

    @Darlynne: It also reeks of TSTL (literally!). I love “horsey” romances, but no, just no. Running onto the track is unforgivably moronic.

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  20. Sirius
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 18:34:40

    @Sunita: Yep, Vic is an awesome narrator :). So yes, the author who can make me care so much despite the fact that I am so very afraid of many horror like stuff deserves a lot of praise by me. The fact that she writes other horror stuff though made me cautious in buying her other stuff, even though it is also very good.

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  21. dri
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 05:20:17

    Yes please to the Heyer bio review! I’ve been struggling through Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and kicking myself for not buying the bios first. *moans*

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  22. Eileen
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 11:40:33

    I would also like to request a review of the Georgette Heyer biography. I’ve been working my way through the Heyer ebooks which I bought in the recent sale and have been really enjoying them.

    ReplyReply

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