Saturday, April 10, 2010

Recommended Reads

The first quarter of 2010 is over. Can you believe it? Due to computer problems and health issues, I’ve had a lot of downtime to spend with my TBR pile. Here are some of the reads I found particularly noteworthy:

First off, I read my first Laura Kinsale romance, Lessons in French, for The Season. To read my review, visit The Season blog!

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre (My Review: LOVE) - I actually read this book late last year, but I don’t think I ever really gushed over how much I heart this story. Before Grimspace, I’d never tried sci-fi. Which is pretty odd considering my obsession with Han Solo. If you’re like me and you want to give the genre a try, Grimspace is the place to start. It isn’t a mainstream romance. It’s shelves in the sci-fi/fantasy section, but it does have romantic elements. I haven’t been this excited about a heroine since Eve Dallas. I’m a big fan of flawed protagonists and Sirantha Jax is the picture of incredible inner strength with a streak of vulnerability. (You might say she’s the Eve Dallas of futuristic space travel…beyond 2060, that is.) Her relationship with March is beautifully portrayed. I loved the political aspects of futuristic space travel and other worlds. Not to mention Sirantha’s “J gene,” which allows her to “jump” spaceships through “grimspace.” I can’t wait to read the next book in this series, Wanderlust, which is supposed to be fantastic!

Ecstasy Unveiled by Larissa Ione (My Review: 5/5) - I’m a fan of the Demonica books so I was first in line for this baby, the 4th installment in Larissa Ione’s series, in January. Finally in March I finished my 3rd paranormal manuscript and as a reward I picked up Ecstasy. Ahhhh. There’s just something about a Larissa Ione book. From the first chapter, her voice and character just take charge of your imagination and the story doesn’t let you go until the big, satisfying finish. I loved the hero, Lore, a relatively new face in the series. In this book, readers will also get acquainted with Sin who, other than Shade, might be my favorite character. With many romance series, the sequels show glimpses of former hero/heroines lives, continuing their HEA’s with children and picket fences and whatnot. Very fluffy stuff that oftentimes isn’t necessary. What Ione does—very similar to my favorite paranormal author, J.R. Ward—is keep building those secondary characters. They still have problems to solve which fuels the central storyline instead of taking over it. As a writer, it isn’t an easy thing to do, but Ione does this beautifully. More than anything, I loved revisiting Eidolon, Shade, and – in particular – Wraith. She also set up the final installment in the series, Sin's book, which I will pre-order from Amazon. If you’re a fan of dark paranormal romance or are WARDen fan, I highly recommend the Demonica series, starting with Eidolon and Tayla in Pleasure Unbound.

Three in Death by J.D. Robb (My Review: 4/5) - Nora Roberts’ J.D. Robb books are a comfort like no other. While I was feeling unwell in March, I also picked up this collection of In Death novellas, Three in Death – featuring Interlude in Death, Midnight in Death, and Haunted In Death. There’s nothing like journeying forward into the familiar world of 2060 NYC. I had already read Midnight but enjoyed the re-read all these years later. *g* Haunted put Eve up against the supernatural, which was interesting. And, of course, there's the almighty Roarke. *sigh* Perfection. *Side Note: Early this year, Roberts’ publisher split the hardback Remember When which featured a story in Roberts’ contemporary style and another in her grittier J.D. Robb voice featuring Eve and Roarke, linked by the same mystery only in different time periods. The titles are now available in mass market paperback. Did it bother anybody else that the title of the J.D. Robb half wasn’t an “In Death” like all other Robb novels and novellas, but called Big Jack instead. Maybe it’s the nitpicky author in me, but you’d think to save fans confusion, they’d give it a consistent title.

Hard to Hold by Stephanie Tyler (My Review: LOVE) - Catherine Mann is the only military romance author on my auto-buy list. However, when I tackled the first title in Stephanie Tyler’s SEALs trilogy, I was blown away! It’s not just the chiseled, bad-ass alphas that make these books must-reads – it’s the whole package. The heroes are so real, especially Jake in Hard to Hold, which is my new favorite romantic suspense. (It even edged out Nora’s Honest Illusions and Public Secrets…which is saying something!) The heroine deals with the recent and heavy trauma of an Africa kidnapping and physical and sexual abuse. This always a tentative subject for romance novelists, but Stephanie Tyler handles it better than any other author dealing with the same subject I've come across. And did I mention, I LOVE Jake. Every book in this trilogy is wonderful. I can't wait to read more from Stephanie Tyler!

Meant To Be by Donna Marie Rogers (My Review: 5/5) - I didn't think she could top the prequel to this contemporary romance title, There's Only Been You. Donna Marie Rogers never fails to surprise me. In Meant To Be, readers return to the Jamison family, only this time for brother Garrett's story. I love Donna's blue-collar heroes. Garrett is one sexy alpha. Remember I mentioned that banter between the h/h goes a long way toward roping me into the story? Meant To Be has lovable banter in spades! A story where the h/h start out disliking each other is always entertaining. The romance is hot, and the ending is so fitting! The characters are wonderfully layered and Donna's voice makes for a delightful read! *Side Note: Fans of Lori Foster will love this book. She even gave the cover quote!

Lighthouse by Eugenia Price (My Review: 5/5) - I'm a southern history nut so I love a dash of non-fiction every so often. Eugenia Price's St. Simon's Island trilogy is based on real-life events but reads like a southern fiction novel. While rich with well-researched detail, it still entertains! If you love individual and deeply personal portrayals of the people who make up American history, I recommend Lighthouse and the rest the St. Simon's Island trilogy as well as other novels by Eugenia Price.

Redeeming Gabriel by Elizabeth White (My Review: 3.5/5) - White's work is always enriched in the deep south, particularly Mobile, Alabama, which is just across the bay! I love reading up on local history. This inspirational author never disappoints. Not only does she delve into the Civil War era of Mobile history, she digs into the nautical history of the military. I recommend this book for the hero, Gabriel, who is a Union spy posing as a minister, the colorful walk through Civil War Mobile and Baldwin County as well as the well-written conflict between the h/h.

New Spring by Robert Jordan (My Review: 5/5) - Just like sci-fi, I'm new to fantasy. Who better to start with than Robert Jordan? I'm a Tolkien groupie and Jordan builds a world as deeply layered with character and magic as Lord of the Rings without losing the world's originality. This book is the prequel to The Wheel of Time series. Thanks to my sister-in-law, I knew where to start. Now I can't wait to play catch up by diving into the next installment! I am now a Dragonmount follower!

So that's my recommended reads from the first quarter of 2010! If you'd like to see what else I have on my favorites shelf, check out my Shelfari profile! Here's a glimspe of my spring wish list:

Readers, what's on your wish list? Read anything you'd like to recommend? I'm currently opening a Goodreads profile. I love that you can rate novellas there like Blackest Heart not available at Shelfari. What's your virutal shelf preference between these two sites?
And stay tuned: author Genella DeGrey is bringing her book tour here to The Cozy Page on April 13th! There will be prizes! Save the date...


Lindsey Edwards said...

I'm reading Shana Abe's latest The Time Weaver. It's an ARC. It's fantastic so be sure to look for it in stores June 1st!! (shameless plug for my fave author)

Amber Leigh Williams said...

I've heard wonderful things about her work, Lindsey. And her covers are really beautiful. Thanks for the rec!

Donna Marie Rogers said...

Amber, thank you so much for your wonderful review of Meant To Be. I'm so glad you enjoyed it enough to list it as one of your recommended reads. :-)

I don't blog, but if I did I'd definitely have Blackest Heart as a recommended read, as well as Bluest Heart & Bet It On My Heart. One of the best trilogy of stories I've ever read. :-)

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Aw, Donna, you're so sweet! Next on my TBR is Golden Opportunity! Can't wait!

Larissa Ione said...

Aw, Amber...thank you so much! It's so cool to be recommended along with these awesome authors!

By the way, a friend of mine recommended Bluest Heart to me the other day! She was so funny...she was all, "I discovered this new author...have you heard of her?" It was fun to say yes! :)

Amber Leigh Williams said...

Larissa - wow, it still amazes me what a small world the romance community is! Can't wait for Sin's book!