Jilly: Good Book Squee–The Goblin Emperor

The quality of my TBR list has improved greatly of late thanks to Jenny Crusie. Last month she added a new weekly feature, Good Book Thursdays, to her blog, www.arghink.com, and invited her online community to recommend something good to read.

Jenny’s followers are a discerning group, so when Katherine Addison’s novel The Goblin Emperor collected a slew of recommendations, I bought it and bumped it up to the top of my list. I’m glad I did. The story is fantasy, which I love, arguably Young Adult (not so much my thing), and with only the barest smidgeon of the possibility of a future love story (bah!), but I really enjoyed it.

The Goblin Emperor is a coming-of-age story about eighteen year-old Maia, half-elf, half-goblin, who unexpectedly becomes Emperor of the Elflands following the death of his father and three of his siblings in an airship crash. He’s the only child of a political mixed marriage, raised in exile by his mother and after her death, by a bitter, bullying cousin. Maia comes to the dangerous, formal and highly politicized Imperial Court without friends or allies and has to decide whom to trust and just what kind of Emperor he wants to be—assuming he survives long enough to make his mark. He quickly discovers that his father’s airship was sabotaged, and he’s smart enough to realize the murderer is likely to be close at hand.

If you’re looking for Continue reading

Jilly: Good Novella Squee–Gaslight Hades

I treated myself to a book binge last Sunday. I chose carefully, but my day of self-indulgence did not begin well: neither of the first two books I read hit the spot. In the first I liked the main characters but the plot resolution was weird; in the second I liked the worldbuilding but the characters lacked depth. Fortunately I saved the best for last. Grace Draven’s novella Gaslight Hades rescued my readathon.

The story is a steampunky second chance romance with a difference, and at 39k words it’s compact enough to read in a sitting, but long enough to avoid that rushed plot feeling you sometimes get with shorter novellas.

Here’s the official blurb:

Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he’s earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married.

Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

I really enjoyed this story, and here’s why: Continue reading

Jilly: Good Book Squee – The King’s Man

The King's Man by Elizabeth KingstonHave you read anything interesting lately? As you’ve no doubt deduced from the title above, this week I read a book I enjoyed so much I’d like to spend today’s post making Good Book Noise about it.

The King’s Man by Elizabeth Kingston has been on my TBR list for a while. I’m not sure where I first heard about it. I thought it was in the comments here, but if so, I can’t find the original recommendation and that’s a pity, because I owe somebody a great big Thank You.

The book is a historical romance, but not as we know it, Jim. Instead of a light, frothy, witty Regency comedy of manners or a rollicking adventure of Napoleonic derring-do, we have a dark, fascinating and deeply satisfying love story set in the late 13th century against a backdrop of power politics and Welsh rebellion against English rule.

The hero is King Edward’s right-hand man and go-to killer, matched against the Welsh daughter of a powerful Marcher family. Ranulf’s a warrior, deeply damaged because traumatic Backstory. Gwenllian’s super-skilled at sword-fighting and healing, the respected leader of the family’s troupe of men, deeply embroiled in the battle for independence courtesy of her politically obsessed mother. Ranulf and Gwenllian are natural enemies thrown together first by circumstance and later by politics as a cunning maneuver to control them both. Inevitably things don’t work out as planned.

Things I loved about The King’s Man: Continue reading

Jilly: Good Book Squee – Beach Books

Good Beach BooksWhat do you think makes a great holiday read?

It’s June already – just over two weeks to the solstice – and most of my friends are gearing up for their summer vacations. Chez Jilly we’re using our travel budget to fund our trip to RWA National in New York, so there will be no sand-and-sangria break for us this year. It’s been a hectic first half of 2015 though, so I’m thinking maybe I’ll designate the week after RWA as a reading-for-pleasure staycation. Experience suggests that I’ll bring a big bag full of new books back with me, so I should have plenty of choice, but just in case they’re not sunshine-friendly, I’d like to stock up now with a few perfect beach books to pile up beside my virtual deck-chair. Continue reading

Jilly: Good Book Squee – Historical Romance

27431042_sWhere do you stand on intelligent, well-written historical romance?

By the time you read this, Justine’s UK research trip should be well under way. If things go to plan, we’ll have spent Friday in Brighton exploring the Royal Pavilion and other Regency landmarks with 8LW friend Rachel Beecroft, and Saturday investigating the narrow streets and smugglers’ haunts of the ancient Cinque Port of Rye. Today? If it’s Sunday, it must be Dover!

Justine will be following in the footsteps of a generation of US historical romance authors, walking the terrain of Kent and Sussex to soak in a million tiny details that she’ll use to give her stories an authentic and unique feel. There’s a strong tradition of quality historical romance writing in the US, and I’m constantly impressed by the way the authors skillfully mix historical accuracy and characters with agency to create novels that feel credible but appeal to a 21st-century reader. I especially love stories that go beyond Dukes and governesses and gowns – some of my favorite historicals may have Almack’s and corsets, but they also have spies, soldiers, suspense, mysteries, politics, business-people, dancers, actresses, and social change.

I’m really looking forward to reading the 8 Ladies’ contribution to this excellent tradition – Justine’s Three Proposals, Elizabeth’s The Traitor, and Nancy’s new series – but while they write, edit, polish and pick new titles, I’d like to celebrate some of my favorite US historical romance writers and (if I’m lucky) collect some new recommendations.

Off the top of my head, how about: Continue reading