Best of 2008 and New Year’s Resolution for 2009

A lot of people are posting a year end post for 2008. It's nice to see people looking back at the books they read for the year and picking out their favorite reads, and it's interesting to see what they picked. I thought it would be a good thing to try myself because with it recorded, I can look back in later years and see what my tastes were like.

Out of a total of 77 books read this year, very few got into my best list, but book ratings are highly subjective.  I just went with my gut and rated them according to how I felt about the book as soon as I finished reading them. These lists are compiled from ratings I put down in my private notes.

All the links to my reviews here are to my Livejournal.

The Books that Blew Me Away  – These books are those I gave top marks to when I first read them. It's a very hard list to get onto because I have to feel like I'm falling in love and cannot be parted from the book for it to get on this list. Only three got on it this year.

Books that Came Close to Blowing Me Away – These came very close to getting top marks from me. This is a personal thing, but the books above I would put down and then obssessively think about when I could pick them up again. The books below, I didn't feel as consumed by the book, but still felt really impressed by them.

  • Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Wicked Game by Jeri Smith-Ready (my review)
  • Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (I need to review this when I have the book in my hands)
  • The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald (review coming soon)

Books I Really Liked/ Keepers. These each had several moments where I loved the book and overall I think these are books that deserve to be loved and read by others, but for some reason or other these didn't get into the top 7. I still consider these keepers, and all these authors are pretty much autobuys/ must read backlist authors. There are 19 of these books this year (Linnea Sinclair's name comes up a lot here, I was reading her backlist in 2008):

  • The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Exit Strategy (Nadia Stafford, Bk 1) by Kelley Armstrong (my review)
  • Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (my review)
  • Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • An Accidental Goddess by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy (my review)
  • Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre (my review)
  • Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega, Bk 1) by Patricia Briggs (my review)
  • Easy Freedom by Liz Berry (my review)
  • Jinx by Jennifer Estep (my review)
  • Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair (my review)
  • Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (my review pt 1, pt 2)
  • The Good Neighbors by Holly Black (my review)
  • The Nanny by Melissa Nathan (my review)
  • Grave Sight (Harper Connelly, Bk 1) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler (my review)
  • Burndive by Karin Lowachee (my review)
  • An Ice Cold Grave (Harper Connelly, Bk 3) by Charlaine Harris (my review)
  • The Decoy Princess and Princess at Sea by Dawn Cook (my review)

 

And for my New Year's Resolution – it's the same resolution as last year , to read 100 books.

  • 2006 – 103 books
  • 2007 - 99 books
  • 2008 – 77 books
  • 2009 – let's get it back up to 100!!

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Selene by Lilith Saintcrow / Mercy Thompson news

Yup, yet another post today. Quick one – has anyone been following the online series by Lilith Saintcrow – "Selene"? It got finished. I've been reading it on google reader. Weird thing was that the epilogue didn't show up on the reader but is online. I read it all and each chapter is long, so you are getting a lot for FREE here. And I liked it. Urban fantasy and dark definitely. Selene has had a very hard and desperate life, partly because of her "curse" as a tantraiiken, and so is subject to her body's constant craving for sex to get power. I liked the ending too, even though it isn't fully complete (looks like the story will continue), I felt rather satisfied with it. Lilith Saintcrow's newsletter says:

"By 9AM (PST) today, the Epilogue to Selene goes live. You can now read the entire book (except the prequel in the Hotter than Hell anthology) from start to finish. This is the beginning of Selene and Nikolai's story, and no doubt a few of you are going to think it hasn't really ended.

You're right, it hasn't. There's one more Selene book, but we're going to have to wait for that. In the meantime, I hope you've enjoyed seeing how the Deadly Nichtvren Duo met–and I hope some of their relationship in the Valentine books is clearer!

Feel free to drop by the fan forum, where there's a special corner set up just for Selene. I do read the forum as much as I can, so it's a good way to let me know how you liked the book."


In other news, did you know that

1) The Mercy Thompson series is being put into graphic novel format (this is semi old news), but the new news is that the first 11 pages is online.

2) Again Mercy Thompson – was picked up by 50 Canon Entertainment. Is there a series or a movie in the works? I hope so!  (via Dear Author)

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Random stuff

Ack, been in a class for work all week and too pooped at the end of the day to blog. So it's near the end of the Book Blogger Appreciation week that I mention – yeah it's BBAW at My Friend Amy! Lots and lots of givaways going on, check that out here and here. I have to say I had lots of fun doing the puzzle for the logic puzzle ebook giveaway. I can't walk away from a logic puzzle – quite a sickness. Lots and lots of giveaways there, I haven't even looked at more than what seems like 5%…


The cover for Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews got revealed today. My reaction is a mental "Eee!!". This one comes out April 2009.


Giveaways/Freebies:

  • Did anyone get the Any Given Doomsday book by Lori Handeland I posted about? I got mine today, but no one emailed me that I was going to get it, so if you signed up at Shelfari, chances are good.
  • Lesley's Book Nook is giving away a copy of Cry Wolf – just need to comment on her review here by 6pm GMT friday (that's soon…)
  • Via Dear Author – Tor is giving away free ebook copies of Emma Bulls' War for the Oaks – really recommend this book, so if you haven't read it, it's worth a download.

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Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

 I've been meaning to review this book and just holding off for no particular reason for a while now. Here goes.

Cry Wolf is the first book in the start of a new urban fantasy series by Patricia Briggs, which is set in the same world as her Mercy Thompson series and runs in parallel with it. Although I say urban fantasy, this series does have a greater focus on romance than the Mercy series, which is something the author points out herself in interviews I've seen online. Fans of Mercy looking into reading this series should expect to see a lot about the relationship developing between Anna and Charles along with any action.

I strongly recommend reading "Alpha and Omega" in the On the Prowl anthology before reading Cry Wolf (reading the Mercy series isn't necessary though). In that short story we learn how our protagonists met – Anna called Bran for help with the Chicago pack, and he sent his enforcer and son, Charles. Charles realizes two things – one is that that Anna is a rare Omega wolf – someone sort of out of the pack structure – who can resist an Alpha's commands and who also soothes Alpha wolves. The other is that his wolf recognizes her as his mate. Cry Wolf takes up the story right after this. Things are still new with them so although they are sort of a pair now, it isn't set in stone. Both feel awkward and unsure of the other, and Cry Wolf tells the story from both their points of view (in the third person) so the reader can understand where each is coming from.

The story starts out with Charles still wounded after Chicago but after returning to Montana, another problem surfaces which needs his attention as his father's trusted right hand. There is evidence of a rogue wolf nearby, which is rare considering that this is the Pack headquarters. Bran has just killed a wolf and friend (his job if he sees madness taking over), and is wary of killing another so soon because of the possible backlash from his pack. So Charles, (and Anna with him) are sent to check it out.

I noticed more worldbuilding in terms of the pack and some of the backstory regarding it in this book. For instance the reader learns a bit more about what happens when two wolves decide to mate and what an Omega wolf can do. We also see some history for certain older wolves, including Bran and Samuel. I don't remember reading about this part of Bran's life from Mercy's series, so I thought that was very interesting and shed more light into why Bran is the Marrok.

My thoughts: I still love the Mercy series more, but it sure doesn't suck to get a book every six months from Briggs as she puts out Anna and Charles books between each Mercy offering. I enjoyed reading this book, and found myself slowly savoring it, not running through it in a day. Well, I was busy getting married too. I like Anna and I like Charles, but I'm not 100% sure about Anna yet. She doesn't seem as strong a character as Mercy. I'm kind of waiting to see about that – Anna seems so fragile and timid sometimes, although she does stand up for herself and does some things that put herself in danger, I am not seeing independence yet. Should be interesting to see how she develops. A good start to a series, looking forward to the rest!

P.S. There is an excerpt of Bone Crossed (book 4 of the Mercy Thompson series) at the end of this book. Ahhh.. salivating.

Other reviews (I see Bs and above pretty much):

The Good, The Bad, and the Unread: One Two 

Urban Fantasy

Dear Author

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My first giveaway!

It's eight days to my wedding – which is on 08/08/08. To make everyone participate in the mix of anticipation and dread (haha), I've decided to have a giveaway. If things go well with this, I'm probably going to continue. I've given books to people before, just not in any kind of contest, but I enjoy entering other people's giveaways, so let's spread the fun.

Prize

1. $20 dollar e-certificate to Barnes and Noble (I figure this makes things a bit easier for non-US participants)

2. Your choice of a paperback book from one of the authors in the list below. It has to be currently in print (you can ask for Wanderlust too, just expect to wait a bit until it comes out in order to get it). 

Some authors in urban fantasy/futuristic/space opera that tickle me

Linnea Sinclair

Wen Spencer

Ann Aguirre

Ilona Andrews

Patricia Briggs

Eve Kenin

Michelle Sagara

Jocelynn Drake

What you have to do

Just comment with your name here on vox or on my LJ (janicu.livejournal.com) by midnight EST on 08/08/08. Anyone on the planet who amazon/bn ships to can enter. If you spread the word and post a link of where you spread the word, you get two entries in this contest (cause – this blog has um… about 5 readers).

I'll probably be recovering from the wedding so likely won't pick winners till 8/11/08. I'll try to be earlier. We'll see how it goes.

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paperback to hardcover

Zeek from the blog The Way I See It posted that book 4 of the Mercy Thompson series, Bone Crossed, is going to be hardcover!

Uggg.

You know, I'm a big fan of this series, but I don't like hardcover. I think the last fiction book I bought new in hardcover was back in 1996. If an author I really like comes out in hardcover I will wait a whole year or more to get the paperback. I will choose trade paperback over hardcover. I am not a fan of waiting, but I'll wait. If the series started out hardcover, i feel ok, it's my choice to wait till paperback since I prefer paperback. But when the series started out paperback and then went hardcover – so now I have all these paperbacks, and you want me to buy a hardcover mid-series? I can see how this benefits the writer and the publisher, like it's a big deal to get a hardcover rather than a paperback, and I think the author makes more royalties on hardcover and so if the author can keep writing it helps the reader. All good in theory, but on a personal level it doesn't really make me happy. I don't like buying hardcover.

I might have bought it if it was trade paperback. I might have bought it if it was the first book in a new series. But hardcover mid-series when I already own all the books in paperback …I'm probably going to have to get it at the library and buy it when it comes out in paperback. But I feel disappointed I have to wait.

Other people complaining about this hardback issue.

The flip side of the coin. And a debate.

Sigh.

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Patricia Briggs – new covers

 

The cover for Cry Wolf the first book in the new Patricia Briggs series is out. This follows the story "Alpha and Omega" which was in the On the Prowl anthology and which is a spin off from the Mercedes Thompson series. I like it. Man I hope Briggs can keep up with having two series, each book 6 months away from the other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

And Dan Dos Santos, the artist responsible for the art in the first 3 Mercy books posted this artwork for Bone Crossed online. Urban Fantasyland also posted this. At the point I'm considering it the potential cover because I haven't seen anything official yet (?). Like it, and really like Dos Santos' work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

And more covers – over at Patricia Brigg's website there was news that Patricia Briggs' books are being re-released with new covers. Hmm. I like the old Steal the Dragon and When Demon's Walk covers better though it's a big plus that the new covers have more clothes on the girls and the colors are brighter.  On the other hand I definitely like the new Hob's Bargain cover better, except she's wearing a lot of makeup that looks very modern.  And Dragon Bones – the tights from the old cover where hideous.

The typeface and costumes for all – better.

Steal the Dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Demons Walk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

The Hob's Bargain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dragon Bones

 

 


 

 

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Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood by Patricia Briggs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I picked these two up because I wanted to read Patricia Briggs' backlog. These two books are a duology that is pretty straight fantasy with some unique elements. I think these are quite good because of the main character – Ward of Hurog who is also the narrator most of the time (the first book has a first person point of view throughout and the second book switches from first person from Wards POV to third person centering on someone else).

There is a lot of emotional, verbal, and physical abuse heaped Ward and his two siblings by their father the Hurogmerten. Ward pretends to be stupid after he was beaten so badly he had to relearn how to talk, and loses his magical abilities. Meanwhile his sister is a mute and his brother tried to commit suicide. The first person viewpoint is unusual in fantasy I think, but it works because we see Ward's thought process before he acts like a slow giant and understand what he's trying to do. When Ward's father dies, you see that sometimes Ward's act is too good – now he's generally thought unfit to rule his Keep, and his uncle has to "help" him in the transition while talk of committing him to the King's Asylum circles him. The two books deal with the aftermath of Ward's father's death and Ward's long battle to keep control of his beloved home, while of course dealing with a despot of a King and the usual political intruiges. It's hard to tell who is on his side and who is not, because it turns out he's not the only one pretending to be something in order to stay alive. On top of all that is the fantastical aspect – odd powers and ghosts that are unique to Ward and Hurog (which means dragon). There is also a bit of a romance in here, but not really a large part – just overall a side story and not a focus. Sweet nonetheless. Also there is the group journey thing, but not quite quest-like, more like moving strategically as in war.

Overall, if you like fantasy these are worth a read. Very interesting plot and well written. I liked it a LOT better than Briggs' Hob's Bargain which I wasn't that fond of, but there were some aspects that I feel nitty over:

1) The weird first person to third person switches in the second book. A bit jarring.

2) There's a lot of rape or alluding to rape. At least 3 main characters. An interesting trend along with the other types of abuse described. I don't know what to make of it. In some ways I didn't like it even though it sort of revealed some characters evil or other characters overcoming their past. I dislike it but not as negatively as I do disliked it in certain other books. Hmm, maybe because it wasn't central to the plot. I don't know.

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*GASP* !!!!

Via Dear Author – Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson series is going to be made into comic book form?

"Dabel Brothers Publishing has signed bestselling paranormal fantasy writer Patricia Briggs to produce a new original comic series featuring her character Mercedes "Mercy" Thompson.  The four-shot miniseries will be released in the second half of 2008, with a hardcover collection from Del Rey to follow in 2009. 

 

The Mercedes Thompson series began in 2006 and currently consists of three novels.  The comic will be a prequel to the comics titled Mercedes Thompson:  Homecoming. " – from ICv2 News

 

Also – they're doing the same with Dresden Files? This is the first I heard of this. I think certain people I know may be interested in that.


 

ALSO – Book 4 of the Cast series by Michelle Sagara is supposedly in the works to come out this August-fallish? Will be called Cast in Fury. I'm really looking forward to it.

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Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs

Ah, another butt shot cover. I liked this one.

This is book 3 of the Mercedes Thompson series. Mercy, a VW mechanic who can shapeshift into a coyote, can't help sticking her nose into things when her friends are in danger, even when they tell her to back off. Book 1 was Mercy helping werewolves, book 2 was helping the vampires, and in book 3 she's involved with the fae. This time the problem is that her mentor Zee is being charged with murder. Mercy feels she must prove his innocence to save his life, even though he tells her get her ass lost.

Lazy bullet time:

  • There is a resolution to the love triangle Mercy is involved in since book 1. I was pleased with it. It felt like her decision was inevitable but I liked how her choice was explained.
  • I think you can probably read this book out of order, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's a lot better knowing what happened in books 1 and 2.
  • I was really looking forward to this book, and I think a lot of people loved the story, but I didn't feel the same way at the end of this one as the others. I don't think the end made me feel "satisfied", but this isn't the fault of the writing. I'm going to try to say this without spoilers. Basically - I found myself being chilled by what I was reading. It went past my personal comfort zone, which shows that the writing is good, but I don't think I want to reread it. At all. Meanwhile I would reread books 1 and 2. So basically, this was a different kind of book to me – more visceral, less escapist. I could go into why and blah but that would spoil so that's all I have to say.
  • So good book, not sure if i could handle it again. I'm fragile.
  • I love this protagonist.
  • Wonder what book 4 is going to be like? I thought there were 7 of these books coming out, and since this book seems like it concludes, I can't tell if we are going to keep hearing from Mercy (I hope we do), or if we're going to get a book from another POV. I wonder if we're going to revist the vamps because Mercy was a little nervous about them finding things out after book 2?  

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