New Year’s Resolutions of the Bookish Kind

Other people have a TBR pile. Ereaders don’t really lend themselves to that. I suppose you could say I have a TBR bitstream, but it doesn’t really mean the same thing. Or stack the same way.

I really have two TBR lists. Make that three.

There’s the TBR list of stuff I have made a commitment to review. That list actually exists as a list. It’s the “to-do” list on my calendar. I can track that one.

Then there’s the TBR lists in Library Thing and Goodreads. That has some physical components. All the print books that we kept when we moved, that I own but I hadn’t read yet. There are over 200 of those. I’m trying not to make the physical component of that problem any worse, but good books come out all the time. And that’s the third list.

I still see things I want to read. I do mark them as “to-be-read” on Goodreads. And there’s still that “so many books, so little time” problem. When the 2012 Goodreads reading challenge ticks over, I’m going to commit myself (now there’s a double meaning if I ever wrote one) to reading 400 books in 2012. Otherwise it isn’t a challenge.

But about that whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing? In this post I’m going to list all the books on my “to do” list that are past due. These are the ones I’ve already promised to somebody. In other words, this list is the dreadful backlog I keep referring to, and then averting my eyes.

I’m going to see how many of these I can get rid of before my first blogoversary, which is April 4, 2012. Coincidentally, my birthday is April 5. We’ll see how I do.

Author Requests











And in my incredibly overwhelming NetGalley queue:




















Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Ruin should be on here, except, I finished it Thursday night. It was awesome. The whole Elantra series was fan-damn-tastic. And I absolutely can’t wait for Cast in Peril, whenever that comes out. But I will be so glad to knock Cast in Ruin off my NetGalley queue.

Technically, Heir of Novron, Truthseeker and God’s War are not in any queue. But by the time I finish Theft of Swords and Rise of Empire, does anyone really think I’m not going to finish the series. Honestly? I’ll have to just to see how it turns out.

Truthseeker and God’s War are both the second books in their respective series. And I can’t seem to make myself read the second book with reading the first book, well, first. And I have a delicious suspicion that after I’ve read Cut & Run I’m going to be reading the rest of that series, because all of the reviews have been phenomenal. But maybe I’ll be able to resist the impulse until after I’ve caught up a bit.

I can dream, can’t I?

What resolutions have you made for the new year, bookish or otherwise?






12 for 2012: My most anticipated books in 2012

It’s very difficult to figure out what books I’m looking forward to most in 2012. I mean when I started to look at lists, I realized that most of what I was anticipating were the next books in series, or new books from authors I already knew. But when I looked at the list of my best reads from this past year, most of them turned out to be authors who were new to me. It’s a puzzle, isn’t it?

This doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the series books that I read. I certainly did. But it’s the discoveries that turned out to be the most memorable. Maybe that’s because they were such surprises.

Just the same, these are the books I am planning to stalk NetGalley for review copies. And if I can’t get a review copy? Well, then I’ll just have to buy a copy and review it anyway. There’s even a reading challenge about reading one book a month just for fun!

But the books I’m looking for in 2012 are…drumroll, please!

When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris will be the next book in her Sebastian St. Cyr historical mystery series. What Angels Fear is the first book, and St. Cyr is a detective of the amateur and aristocratic variety. He should be the hero of a Regency romance, and in other circumstances, he might have been. But his service in Wellington’s army has left him much too tormented for that. His personal life makes him a tragic hero; the demons that drive him make him an ideal detective, if only to keep him from becoming a criminal. March can’t come soon enough on this.

Celebrity in Death by J.D. Robb. This is Eve Dallas’ 34th outing. I’ve read all of them. Usually in one sitting. I still can’t figure out how she does it, but Robb/Roberts does it really, really well. This book means there will be one warm night in February.

Restless in the Grave by Dana Stabenow. I think I will always have a fondness for Alaska stories. Heck, I still tell Alaska stories, and it’s been 6 years now since I left Anchorage. But living in Alaska is something that changed my perspective, probably forever. The situations Dana writes about in her novels are always a tiny bit familiar, even the ones set in the Bush. Because Alaska is possibly the world’s biggest small town, and there weren’t six degrees of separation, there were three at most. Even for cheechakos like us. Dana writes damn good mysteries, but I always read them for a taste of the place we almost called home.

Master and God by Lindsey Davis. I love Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco series. The whole idea of a hard-boiled detective operating in Imperial Rome has always been utterly delicious. And Falco’s wife Helena Justina is made of awesome. Master and God is not a Falco book. It’s historical fiction set in the same time period. Davis wrote one other work of historical fiction set during the Falco period, The Course of Honor. I read it years ago and it was fantastic. If Master and God is half as good, it will be well worth reading. Come to think of it, I hope people re-discover The Course of Honor. It was incredibly good and I don’t think it got half the attention it deserved.

The Bride Wore Black Leather by Simon R. Green. This one has been teasing me every time I look at Amazon. The recommender can figure out I want to read this, so it sorta/kinda looks like it’s available, but it’s not. January 3, 2012. Come on already. For those fans of the Nightside, John Taylor is finally going to marry his long-suffering (in more ways than one) girlfriend, Suzie Shooter. He just has one last job to finish up before he meets her at the altar. But no job in the Nightside is ever easy, especially not for John Taylor.

Redshirts by John Scalzi. This sounds like it’s going to be really cool. And really, really funny. And yes, the redshirts in the title are those redshirts. Like in Star Trek. The ones that always get killed at the beginning of the mission. What happens if a bunch of them figure it out? And decide that they are not going to let it happen to them? This sounds like something only Scalzi could possibly do justice to. In June, we’ll all find out.

An Officer’s Duty by Jean Johnson is the next installment in her series, Theirs Not to Reason Why. I loved the first book, A Soldier’s Duty (reviewed here), and I can’t wait to see where Johnson next leads her time-travelling heroine, Io, in her quest to save the human race from utter extinction. July 31 is way too far away for this one.

Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz. I knew that someday the Krentz was going to link the Victorian era Arcane Society of her Amanda Quick novels to her contemporary Jones & Jones psychic investigations to her futuristic romances under her Jayne Castle pseudonym. I read them all, but the links make for an added twist that I love. In January Copper Beach starts a new subseries, Dark Legacy.

Crystal Gardens is the start of a second subseries, Ladies of Lantern Street, that Krentz is starting in April under her Amanda Quick name. That means it’s a Victorian era story, at least for the first book. All of the Arcane Society books, both contemporary and Victorian, have been excellent romantic suspense.

Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh is the 11th book in her Psy-Changelings series, and the first to be published in hardcover. Although her Archangel series hasn’t wowed me, the psy-changeling books have never failed to please. I only wish that the release date was earlier than May. And I wish the US version had a better cover. The UK cover is awesome. (UK on left, US on right.)

Dragon Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. I want to go back to Liaden. I want to catch up on the books in between (there are several) that I haven’t read, and I want to finally find out how things are going. Liaden is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, space opera science fiction romance universes of all time. Dragon Ship is due Labor Day. I think I have enough time to get caught up. It will be so worth it.

This last book is an absolute flyer. It sounds really cool, but who knows.

The Yard by Alex Grecian. What if, after Scotland Yard failed to capture Jack the Ripper, they started a Murder Squad? 12 detectives specifically charged with investigating the thousands of murders in foggy, grimy, crime-filled London. How much luck would they have? When one of their own is murdered, the Yard’s first forensic pathologist is put on the track of the killer. I love historic mysteries, and this sounds very, very cool. In May, I’ll find out.


These are the books I’m looking forward to this year. I wonder how many will end up on my “best books of 2012” list.

What are your most anticipated books for 2012?

11 for 2011: Best reads of the year

2011 is coming to a close. It’s time to pause and reflect on the year that is ending.

There’s a lovely quote from Garrison Keillor, “A book is a present that you can open again and again.” There’s a corollary in this house about “not if the cat is sitting on it” but the principle still applies. The good stories from this year will still be good next year. Some of them may even have sequels!

These were my favorites of the year. At least when I narrow the list down to 11 and only 11. And even then I fudged a bit. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (reviewed 12/1/11). This book had everything it could possibly need. There’s a quest. There’s a love story. It’s a coming-of-age story. It’s an homage to videogaming. There are pop-culture references to every cult classic of science fiction and fantasy literature imaginable. There’s an evil empire to be conquered. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Omnitopia: Dawn by Diane Duane (reviewed 4/22/11). On the surface, Omnitopia and Ready Player One have a lot in common. Thankfully, there is more than meets the eye. Omnitopia takes place in the here and now, or very close to it. The world has not yet gone down the dystopian road that Wade and his friends are looking back at in Ready Player One. On the other hand, any resemblance the reader might see between Worlds of Warcraft mixed with Facebook and Omnitopia, or between Omnitopia Corp and Apple, may not entirely be the reader’s imagination. Howsomever, Omnitopia Dawn also has some very neat things to say about artificial intelligence in science fiction. If you liked Ready Player One, just read Omnitopia: Dawn. Now!

The Iron Knight (reviewed 10/26/11) was the book that Julie Kagawa did not intend to write. She was done with Meghan, her story was over. Meghan is the Iron Queen, but what she has achieved is not a traditional happily-ever-after. Victory came at a price. Real victories always do. Meghan’s acceptance of her responsibility means that she must rule alone. Ash is a Winter Prince, and Meghan’s Iron Realm is fatal to his kind. The Iron Knight is Ash’s journey to become human, or at least to obtain a soul, so that he can join his love in her Iron Realm. It is an amazing journey of mythic proportions.

Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel (reviewed 10/18/11) is a story that absolutely shouldn’t work. The fact that it not only works, but works incredibly well, still leaves me gasping in delight. Dearly, Departed is the first, best, and so far only YA post-apocalypse steampunk zombie romance I’ve ever read. I never thought a zombie romance could possible work, period. This one not only works, it’s fun. There’s a sequel coming, Dearly, Beloved. I just wish I knew when.

Debris by Jo Anderton (reviewed 09/29/11) is the first book of The Veiled World Trilogy. It’s also Anderton’s first novel, a fact that absolutely amazed me when I read the book. Debris is science fiction with a fantasy “feel” to it, a book where things that are scientifically based seem magical to most of the population. But the story is about one woman’s fall from grace, and her discovery that her new place in society is where she was meant to be all along.

A Trick of the Light by Louise Penny (reviewed 09/19/11). If you love mysteries, and you are not familiar with Louise Penny’s work, get thee to a bookstore, or download her first Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, Still Life, to your ereader this instant. Louise Penny has been nominated for (and frequently won) just about every mystery award for the books in this series since she started in 2005. Find out why.

I love Sherlock Holmes pastiches. (This is not a digression, I will reach the point). I have read all Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell books, some more than once. I almost listed Pirate King (reviewed 9/9/11), this year’s Holmes/Russell book instead of Trick. But Pirate King was froth, and Penny never is. A regular contributor to Letters of Mary, the mailing list for fans of the Holmes/Russell books, recommended the Louise Penny books. I am forever grateful.

The Elantra Series by Michelle Sagara (review forthcoming). I confess I’m 2/3rds of the way through Cast in Ruin right now. I’ve tried describing this series, and the best I can come up with is an urban fantasy series set in a high fantasy world. I absolutely love it. It’s the characters that make this series. Everyone, absolutely everyone, is clearly drawn and their personality is delineated in a way that makes them interesting. There are people you wouldn’t want to meet, but they definitely are distinctive. It’s also laugh-out-loud funny in spots, even when it’s very much gallows humor. I’m driving my husband crazy because I keep laughing at the dialog, and I can’t explain what’s so funny. I would love to have drinks with Kaylin. I’d even buy. But the Elantra series is not humor. Like most urban fantasy, it’s very snarky. But the stories themselves have a crime, or now, a very big problem that needs solving, and Kaylin is at the center of it. Whether she wants to be or not.

If you are keeping score somewhere, or just want the reading order, it’s Cast in Moonlight (part of Harvest Moon), Cast in Shadow, Cast in Courtlight, Cast in Secret, Cast in Fury, Cast in Silence, Cast in Chaos, and Cast in Ruin.

The Ancient Blades Trilogy by David Chandler consists of Den of Thieves (reviewed 7/27/11), A Thief in the Night (reviewed 10/7/11) and Honor Among Thieves (reviewed 12/21/11). This was good, old-fashioned sword and sorcery. Which means the so-called hero is the thief and not the knight-errant. And every character you meet has a hidden agenda and that no one, absolutely no one, is any better than they ought to be. But the ending, oh the ending will absolutely leave you stunned.

Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (reviewed 7/29/11) is 2011’s entry in one of my absolute all time favorite series, The Dresden Files. And I saw Jim Butcher in person at one of the Atlanta Barnes & Noble stores. Ghost Story represents a very big change in the Dresden Files universe, where Harry Dresden starts growing into those extremely large boots he’s been stomping around in all these years. If you love urban fantasy, read Dresden.

Turn It Up by Inez Kelley (reviewed 8/10/11 and listed here) is one of the best takes on the “friends into lovers” trope that I have ever read. Period. Also, I’m an absolute sucker for smart people and witty dialogue, and this book is a gem. “Dr. Hot and the Honeypot” pretty much talk each other into a relationship, and into bed, while they give out sassy advice over the airwaves on their very suggestive and extremely successful sexual advice radio show.

My last book is a two-fer. Break Out (reviewed 8/4/11) and Deadly Pursuit (reviewed 12/6/11) by Nina Croft are the first two books in her Blood Hunter series, and I sincerely hope there are more. This is paranormal science fiction romance. Like Dearly, Departed, this concept should not work. But it absolutely does. And it gets better the longer it goes on. If you have an urban fantasy world in the 20th century, what would happen if that alternate history continued into space? Where do the vamps and the werewolves go? They go into space with everyone else, of course. And you end up with Ms. Croft’s Blood Hunter universe, which I loved. But you have to read both books. The first book just isn’t long enough for the world building. The second one rocks.

I stopped at 11 (well 11-ish) because this is the 2011 list. I could have gone on. And on. And on. My best ebook romances list was published on Library Journal earlier in the month. LJ has a ton of other “best” lists for your reading pleasure. Or for the detriment of your TBR pile.

Beauty Dates the Beast

I’ll be honest. I read Beauty Dates the Beast for pure fun. And it absolutely totally was. Pure fun. In the middle of moving it was exactly what I was looking for.

Jessica Sims’ Beauty Dates the Beast is about an escort service. But this isn’t your usual sleazy escort service. This isn’t even your usual swanky escort service, although it is very expensive and has a very select list of clients, and an even more select list of escorts. This agency caters to the fanged, furry and finny among the population. Talk about special requests! Vampires, werewolves and other creatures that go bump in the night apparently aren’t willing to do the old bump and grind with just anyone. At least the high-rollers among them aren’t.

Bathsheba Ward works for Midnight Liaisons. Bathsheba is a human, so she is not one of the escorts. She only arranges the liaisons, she doesn’t go out on them. Until Beauregard Russell gets stood up by his escort. Beau Russell is head of one of the cat-shifter clans, and Bath doesn’t have a substitute she can send, so she goes in person to apologize. When Beau wants her for herself, human frailties and all, Bathsheba’s world starts to unravel.

Beau is in town for more than just a date, and Bathsheba has way, way more problems than just keeping her boss from discovering that she’s interested in a client. When a member of Beau’s clan is kidnapped, and Bath’s secrets are exposed, she’s not sure who she should trust with her secrets. Because when Beau learns what Bath has been keeping from him, she’s afraid he might have to make a bargain that she can’t live with.

Will love conquer all?

Escape Rating B+: This was a great escape read. I was looking for something to take me out of the middle of moving, and this was absolutely terrific for that. The only problem was the whole move was still waiting for me when the book was done. I would definitely recommend Beauty Dates the Beast for anyone looking to get whisked away for a few hours!

No Proper Lady

No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper appeared on a number of “best romance of 2011” lists, including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence and Finalist for Best Book of the Year. It had been on my TBR list for a while. I was reminded of it last week when The Galaxy Express reviewed the movie Time After Time, because both No Proper Lady and Time After Time are time travel stories, and I wondered how much they would resemble each other.

First, if you haven’t seen Time After Time, stream it on Netflix or Amazon. Then come back. I’ll wait. Malcolm McDowell as H.G. Wells takes his quite functional time-machine from Victorian London to San Francisco in 1979 in pursuit of his former BFF Dr. John Stevenson (played chillingly well by David Warner) who HG has just (in 1893) discovered is Jack the Ripper, just after Stevenson “borrows” his time machine. HG follows Stevenson to the future to bring “the Ripper” back to face justice. Wells is much more of a “fish out of water” in the late 20th century than the violent Ripper. The veneer of civilization had changed in nearly a century, but violence is the same. Wells finds a guide to help him navigate the 20th century, and true love makes all things bearable, even though it provides him a hostage to fortune.

No Proper Lady has elements of both Time After Time and Sheri S. Tepper’s Beauty. The comparison to Beauty is good but frightening. We’ll come back to that one. There’s even more than a hint of the Terminator if you squint.

Joan has been sent back to 1888 to change history. In the future that she comes from, humanity is about to be exterminated, and the events that lead to its demise happen in 1888. When Joan comes from, the demons have destroyed nearly everything, and the humans they do not control are almost gone. One last ceremony, one final burst of energy, sends Joan back in time. The circle was breached even as she was being sent through it.

But even if she didn’t feel the others fall, Joan can never go back. If she succeeds, she changes the future for the better. Her future will never happen, and good riddance. But the people she knew, her parents, her friends, will never be born. She is utterly alone in a totally foreign world, two hundred years in the past.

All she has is a name. She has to stop Alex Reynell and destroy the book of demon summoning spells that he has written. Now. In this year 1888 that she has been sent to. Or the human race is doomed.

Joan, like H.G. Wells, finds a contemporary guide. Her guide is Simon Grenville. He, too has a problem with Alex Reynell. Simon and Alex used to be best friends, until Alex took the magic powers that they were both learning and started summoning demons. Now they are enemies. Simon and Joan become allies in the fight to save humanity.

But first, they have to find a way to introduce a woman who has spent her entire life fighting tooth and nail for her very survival into the upper crust of Victorian society at the height of its fussiness.

Joan discovers that learning to kill demons was much easier than learning etiquette. Which she has to learn. Because she needs to sneak up on Alex Reynell and steal that book. Destroying the book is paramount, and it must be found, no matter the cost. Her life, her heart, her soul. Or Simon’s.

Escape Rating A-: The story grabbed me on multiple levels. The fish-out-of-water time travel story is very reminiscent of Time After Time and even Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander a tiny bit, although Joan is much less sure of herself than Claire, and it is one of the things that makes her interesting as a character. One way in which No Proper Lady reminds me of Outlander is that the romance does not need to be seen as the primary motivator for the story. There is an HEA, but that’s not necessarily the only reason this story exists.

I said this reminded me of Sheri Tepper’s Beauty. One piece of that story that still chills me is the portrait of the mid-20th century as the “last good time” on Earth. Whether one agrees or disagrees, the word-picture sticks. No Proper Lady, with Joan’s intense reactions to the pastoral beauty and plenty of the English countryside and relatively safe living conditions after her horrific experiences, evoked that same response. To her, the late 1880’s had been the “last good time” before Reynell “broke the world”.

No Proper Lady is absolutely not a typical romance novel. And that’s the beauty and the wonder of it.

Ebook Review Central for Dreamspinner Press for November 2011

Happy Boxing Day to those in the UK, Canada, NZ and Australia! For the rest of us, happy Monday. And welcome to the post-Christmas edition of Ebook Review Central, where it’s still November, and it’s time to look at Dreamspinner Press titles for that month.

Dreamspinner fans seem to have started their Turkey Day comas early in November. Every title received at least one review, but there were no overwhelming favorites this month. Just a nice, steady stream of reviews.

Last month’s featured titles continued to receive acclaim. Rick R. Reed’s Caregiver continued to rack up even more reviews this month. Roux and Urban’s Divide & Conquer not only added to its impressive review tally, it made several “best of 2011” lists, including Samantha’s Top Picks for 2011 at Fiction Vixen and Library Journal’s Best Ebook Romances for 2011.

But we’re here to highlight the November titles.

Cop Out by KC Burn is a story “about love, romance, growth, and doing the right thing,” according to one reviewer. This is a clearly both a police story and a love story with multiple twists on the way to its deserved happy ending. When Kurt’s detective partner is killed in the line of duty, Kurt knows that he must visit his partner’s family. It’s what partners do. But when he tries to locate his partner’s family, he has to do some investigation. His partner was deeply in the closet, and kept his life partner, Davy, isolated and alone to the point of abuse. Now Davy has no friends or support network, and is alone with his grief. Kurt and Davy’s journey to friendship, trust and eventually love make the story of Cop Out.

It’s Not Shakespeare by Amy Lane is an “opposites attract” type of story.  James Richards is a college professor on the verge of settling into a rut for the rest of a pretty boring life. Instead, he moves to northern California to escape a bad breakup. One of his students sets him up with a friend of hers, and his life kick-starts its way out of that rut he had started to settle into.  Rafael Ochoa is the “friend”, a younger, handsome, motorcycle mechanic from the other side of the tracks who seems like a wet dream come true for James, but they shouldn’t have anything in common. But they are just what each other needs.  (And all the reviewers say that James’ dog Marlowe is adorable!)

Unshakeable Faith by Lisa Worrall is an amnesia story. Brody Tyler feels obligated to help a young man who suffers a vicious attack and then walks into his bar with amnesia, so he invites him to stay. They fall deeply in love, in spite of the young man’s lack of memory. Brody calls him “Nash”. Six months later, “Nash” is the victim of a hit and run driver, wakes up in the hospital, and remembers his original life, but not his life with Brody. Brody convinces Nash’s family that he is Nash’s bodyguard, so that he can continue to be near him, and find out who is after him. Ms. Worrall doesn’t just make the amnesia story work, she convinces the readers that the life during the amnesia spell is real enough that we mourn the relationships that are lost when it ends. Amnesia stories can be hard to make believeable, but Lisa Worrall carries it off, according to the reviewers.

That’s all for this week. See you on next week (next year!) for Samhain Publishing’s November 2011 titles.


What’s on my (mostly virtual) nightstand? Christmas 2011

It’s Christmas. We just demolished a turkey boob. There’s just the two of us humans plus the cats, so we only get a turkey breast. A whole turkey would be too much. Somewhere along the way, I started calling it a turkey boob, and the name stuck. The poor turkey is way past being offended.

The cats definitely wanted in on the act. The gravy packet we took out of the turkey? We had to hide it in the microwave until it was time to cook it. Erasmus wanted that gravy packet so bad…

But we’re here to talk about books, not turkeys. Well, so far I haven’t reviewed any turkeys. There’s always next year.

I’m stalling. I just realized that. I looked at last week’s list and next week’s list and the boxes in my office and tried not to scream. We moved last weekend. So I’m a little behind. Just an itty-bitty bit. Moving right along. (Sounds like the Muppets, doesn’t it?)

Next week’s list is as big as this week’s list. I knew I was slightly over-committed.

Midnight Reckoning by Kendra Leigh Castle is the second book in her Dark Dynasties series. I reviewed the first book, Dark Awakening, back in August, and I enjoyed it much more than enough to make me snap this up from NetGalley when I saw it.

The First Rule of Ten by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay is billed as the first book in the Tenzing Norbu mystery series. Tenzing Norbu is an ex-monk from a Tibetan Monastery who joined the LAPD. At the beginning of the book, he hangs out his shingle as a private detective. Whether this concept works or not, remains to be seen. It definitely sounds interesting.

The Price of Temptation by Lecia Cornwall was described as the story of a tortured Regency Robin Hood meeting his not so proper Marian. It was a description I couldn’t resist. We’ll see if the book lives up to the description.

A Demon Does it Better by Linda Wisdom is the story of a witch with a job at a paranormal hospital where patients have been disappearing. She encounters a sexy demon on a mission who gets her into a world of trouble.

Stellarnet Rebel by J.L. Hilton is my hit of science fiction romance for the week. A deep-space colony, obsessive online gamers, aliens, terrorists and reporters. There’s even a blogger involved. I hope they’re the hero and not the villain…

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is Cinderella’s story if Cinderella were a cyborg. And I think if she rescues herself, but I’ll have to read it and see. This is one YA book that there is a lot of buzz about, and I know I’m going to be sure to read this one. It’s the first in a series, The Lunar Chronicles, which makes it even more tempting.

About last week’s recap…well, I’m in chaos. I really am. I’m reading Cast in Chaos, by Michelle Sagara. One of the books in my backlog is Cast in Ruin, and I needed to read all the Elantra books to catch up. Chaos is the last book before Ruin. It seems completely apropos at the moment.

Two more books from the long backlog are also gone. Tricks of the Trade by Laura Anne Gilman and Honor Among Thieves by David Chandler both went to a highly recommended “bye-bye”. Terrific books in their genres.

I also finished the mind candy of the week, so Lady Seductress’s Ball and One Perfect Night are done as well. Rachael Johns’ One Perfect Night turned out to have more story to it than just mind candy and was very nicely done.

I read a couple of things just for fun. Beauty Dates the Beast by Jessica Sims and No Proper Lady by Isabel Cooper had been recommended to me oodles of times. No Proper Lady was on a ton of “best of 2011” lists. And now I can add my voice to the throng. They are both terrific books. Totally different from each other, but terrific. Complete reviews are, of course, forthcoming.

And I didn’t get anywhere with the rest of the books I was supposed to read. Which is a serious problem. My egalley of The Demi-Monde: Winter is supposed to time-bomb off my iPad on 12/27. I have a print galley in a box. I think it’s in one of the 19 book boxes in my office. If not, there are about as many book boxes in my husband’s office next door. Then there are the boxes in the hall…It must be here someplace. Mustn’t it?

Don’t forget, tomorrow is still Monday, even if it is a holiday weekend. And that means it’s time for another edition of Ebook Review Central. This Monday it’s time to take a look Dreamspinner Press’ November titles.

And we’ll be back next Sunday for another look at the perils of Marlene’s iPad. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

One Perfect Night

One Perfect Night by Rachael Johns is an office romance. In real life, fishing off the company pier is generally considered a bad idea. In this story, it not only turns out to be good advice for the participants, but it is great fun to read.

Peppa Grant usually works as voice talent at Lyrique Recordings. But for the company’s Christmas party, she had agreed to entertain the staff’s children, dressed in a fairy costume, after the regular entertainment called in sick.

This was not her lucky day. On her way into the party, she had side-swiped the Head Honcho’s vintage Lamborghini, and there was no way her insurance was going to cover the damage. And she was going to have to ‘fess up to her “crime” dressed up as an “elf” to a man the female employees nicknamed “McSexy”.  And Peppa was in no way immune to his charms.

Cameron McCormac didn’t need any financial assistance to help repair the damage to his Lamborghini. Money was not a problem. What he really needed was a date to his family’s Christmas party that evening to stave off his relatives well-meaning but futile attempts to fix him up with someone. He hadn’t been interested in anyone since his wife died three years ago, but he was definitely interested in the fairy girl in her too-short tutu and red fishnet stockings. Very, very interested.  Cameron offered Peppa a deal, accompany him to his family’s annual Christmas, and he’d forget about the car. Peppa couldn’t even afford to replace the hubcaps on a Lamborghini. She took the deal.

Nothing that evening was what either of them expected. Especially when the evening ended in Peppa’s bed. But after one perfect night together, what happens when both of them want more, even though neither of them expect that it can possibly work out?

Escape Rating B: This story turned out to have much more to it than I expected, especially for a 100 page story.  Peppa and Cameron are both characters who have been hurt badly, and both have come to expect absolutely nothing from relationships, even to expect not to have relationships. They know they should not get involved. And yet they do. Everything is tentative and scary for both of them, and the author does a very good job of portraying the “two steps forward, one step back” nature of this type of relationship. Well done.

Lady Seductress’s Ball

With a title like Lady Seductress’s Ball, I was expecting Eliza Knight’s novella to be a steamy novella without much plot. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised that this short erotic story concealed a happily ever after.

Olivia, Countess of March, has been having erotic dreams of Tristan, the Earl of Newcastle… while she’s been waiting for her husband, the Earl of March, to just up and die already.

Her behavior isn’t quite as vulture-like, or maybe harpy-like, as it sounds. Her parents’ deathbed wish three years ago was that she marry the much older March. They thought it was safe. Olivia has found it stifling. She behaves with exacting propriety, but is miserable inside. And she is utterly alone.

Tristan, the man she dreams of, also dreams of her. Olivia doesn’t know it, but he would have offered for her. But in the midst of her first season, her parents’ sudden death and her subsequent marriage to March quashed all his hopes, too. Three years later, he still burns for a woman he cannot touch.

Until one evening, when March is feeling a little better, Olivia holds a dinner party, and invites several friends. Daringly she invites Tristan. For a few brief moments in the garden, they acknowledge their mutual desire for each other, but go no further than heated caresses.

Weeks later, Olivia receives an invitation from Tristan to Lady Seductress’s Ball. One night in the country when anyone who is invited can indulge any sexual fantasy with whoever they choose. The only requirement is that she arrive masked.

Will she go? And after an entire night indulging in every fantasy she has ever dreamed of, can she return to a life of duty and obligation? Can love (and lust) conquer all?

Escape Rating C+: The story was trying to have its cake and eat it, too, in the romance vs. erotica sense, and squeeze it into 70 pages. There wasn’t quite enough space. That Olivia might lust after someone other than her husband, made a lot of sense. He wasn’t much interested or interesting, even before his illness. But there isn’t enough relationship between Tristan and Olivia to show them falling in love with each other. I’m glad there’s an HEA, but why does it happen? There’s just not enough space to develop the “sex into love” plot, and we don’t see enough of their previous acquaintance to see why they might have already been in love before the opening scenes of the story.