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Books Books Books!

May is not all about me-me-me and my-book's-coming-out. No!

There are other books coming out in May too. Really awesome books. So awesome one wonders why they had to come out in May and make me look bad.

Here is to my deadly foes, then...

White Cat by Holly Black

CASSEL: I come from a family of criminals, but as a Not Terrible Person, I am trying to go straight.
WORLD: Magic exists!
READERS: Yes, we have read fantasy books before.
WORLD: It has been illegal ever since Prohibition, which has created a society in which the mob is all magicians.
READERS: Well, that is awesome...
WORLD: Everybody wears gloves so they won't have curses put on them! There are many cool details here.
CASSEL: So yes basically, my family are the magic mob. I have evil brothers.
SARAH: How evil are your brothers! Tell me more.
CASSEL: ANYWAY I am the good brother. Going straight! Living clean! Paying my school fees by running an illegal betting ring!
CASSEL: Look my only skills are being a criminal! It's hard out there for a pimp! Not that I'm a pimp.
READERS: Well that's a relief.
CASSEL: I did kill a girl this one time. What I was fourteen.
CASSEL: But now I'm a nice, normal schoolboy. Going straight! Living clean! I have a girlfriend and friends and-
AUDREY: I am dumping you. Bad boys are great. BUT YOU SIR, YOU ARE TOO BAD. YOU ARE THE WORST.
CASSEL: No, I am nice! And normal! And...
SAM: Cassel, I like you. But, and I say this with love, you are an insane criminal.
CAT: purr
CASSEL: Nice kitty. How can my life get any worse.
BARRON: 'Sup. Did you ever wonder if there were any dark secrets in our family?
CASSEL: I thought our dark secrets were all those crimes we commit all the time.
BARRON: Sure. I mean those too.
CASSEL: Oh God. Well, I see due to all the terrible things that are happening to me that I'm the protagonist of a novel. Where's my love interest?
CAT: purr

I love this book. It is so clever. The world is so awesome. The heroine would be the evil femme fatale in any other book. And I love with a sick love books that deal with family, and the evil families can commit against each other, the love that remains, and the twists and turns of the love-and-pain screws. And I love Cassel's spare, funny voice: a noir detective who is a teenage boy in pain who is very intelligent, very amusing and totally heartbreaking.

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

I cannot summarise this book because it is the last of the trilogy! And I would just be ruthlessly spoiling you for them, but this is my review of book one: YOU SHOULD ALL READ THEM.

Suffice it to say that the adventures of Chloe the tiny necromancer, Derek the grumpiest ugly werewolf kid in town, his handsome foster brother Simon and Chloe's crazy rival turned crazy friend Tori conclude with resounding awesomeness.

One of my favourite scenes was Chloe, who has always been shy and prone to backing down, having a moment of 'This guy - who I really really like - has done something and I must call him on it but it's not that big a deal and I want him to like me and I can just let it go and I absolutely know he is a good guy and everything could just be okay and-' and then she spoke up, and called him on it. It was just a little moment. But it felt so real, and it was so important for the character, and it was great.

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

ISABEL: I am a monstrous creature of myth, created to serve the king of this land.
ROKAN: I am king.
ISABEL: Servin'! I don't think I want to mention my memory is on the blink and my shapeshifting abilities are not all they could be. I am still the royal killing machine.
CLARISSE: I am the king's politically astute, cold-hearted, scheming sister!
ISABEL: I'm more cold-hearted than you on account of being NOT EVEN HUMAN.
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: Cold-hearted lady stand-off at dawn!
ROKAN: Would anyone like to talk about love? And feelings?
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: Ladies say what.
ROKAN: Do you FEEL, Isabel?
ISABEL: I feel good about turning my hand into a claw and slicing a dude's throat right out.
ROKAN: weeps into royal handkerchief
KINGDOM: is torn by question of who the rightful king actually is
ISABEL: is torn by question of who the rightful king actually is
CLARISSE: I don't trust you.
ISABEL: I don't trust you either.
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: We are both right.
CLARISSE AND ISABEL: choose their king
READER: Is there any way to vote the Clarisse/Isabel ticket for rulers?

I really really really liked Isabel, who is cold and inhuman and a ruthless killer and amazing. I also love high fantasylands like Megan Whalen Turner's or Tamora Pierce's, and the right of kings being questioned, and truly horribly difficult moral and emotional choices which aren't shied away from. I admit I was not completely convinced on who would be the best choice for king, though, but Isabel and Clarisse are so awesome, I'm happy to go with their choice.

Moonshine by Alaya Johnson

For those at home who are going 'Sarah, you are always about the YA, and you never recommend adult books with sexy times with djinn in them!' To them I say '... that last part of your complaint was extremely specific!' But Moonshine is an adult novel. With djinn in it.

I have heard people say (real people, not the people I made up who want to get down with the djinn element) that they are tired of vampire romance. Well folks, I am here to tell you that I am part of the problem. I have noticed that in almost any book, I want the vampire to get the girl or boy of choice. This is true of Patricia Briggs's Mercy Thompson series, featuring a mechanic torn between two werewolves (who has a vampire friend with a Scooby van she fixes). It is also true, with even less chance for the vampire, in this tale of 1920s New York avec vampires, djinn, socialite reporters and suffragettes.

ZEPHYR: You know when you've left school and you're an activist and a vegetarian and doing charity work in the city and earnest about everything and-
ZEPHYR: And it's the 1920s and your folks back home are demon hunters but you really think demons are people and it bothers you and there's this very handsome djinn-
MANY PEOPLE: We retract our 'yes.'
ZEPHYR: And you live a good life, with your nice psychic roommate Aileen and your friend the sophisticated socialite razor-sharp reporter Lily and Amir the handsome djinn with only a few problems arising like rescuing illicit baby vampires and being hired to murder vampire mob bosses-
ZEPHYR: Also tutoring an evil gang of child vampires in order to get information. Um - hey there, evil leader of the Turn Boys. In the midst of breaking and entering and indiscriminate slaughter, have you ever considered that it might be fun to learn how to read?
NICHOLAS, EVIL LEADER OF THE TURN BOYS: Yes. All right. Teach me how to read.
ZEPHYR: Excellent!
NICHOLAS: Why are you doing this?
ZEPHYR: I am a bleeding heart liberal. With, and let me be very clear about this, elite demon-killing skills.
NICHOLAS: I'm very musical and very messed up! Do you want to hear about my daddy issues?
AMIR THE HANDSOME DJINN: I'm handsome but really shady! Like even more shady than hiring you to kill people implies.
ZEPHYR'S DEMON-KILLING PARENTS: Honey, is this a good time to visit you in the big city?

I personally am all about Zephyr and Nicholas. But Nicholas does APPEAR (while not being!) rather young. Luckily for readers who are less crazy than me, there is a handsome djinn around. Also - 1920s New York vampire immigrants vampire suffragettes a heroine with a loving family of demon hunters! My very favourite character may be Lily the socialite reporter. I love a lady sleuth.


( 61 comments — Leave a comment )
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(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
Moonshine is enormously fun! *tempts* And a delicious, delicious paperback.

Oh my gosh book in shops. Shouldn't be such a shock, given that I have my first Covenant event tomorrow, but... *bites nails* I hope you will like it!
May. 12th, 2010 09:18 pm (UTC)
These are all going on my list. (well, the first three - four, if the count includes TDC - already were, to be fair. but I am totally adding Moonshine!)

Also, the new Ilona Andrews, which is supposed to be released near the end of the month. :D

Edited: because random caps are no-one's friend.

Edited at 2010-05-12 09:19 pm (UTC)
May. 12th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
The new Ilona Andrews is on my list too, tell you that. Kate! Curran! Curran! Kate!

Moonshine's awesome! So are the other three. And I hope you like Covenant, too. ;)
(no subject) - issuegirls - May. 14th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sarahtales - May. 14th, 2010 10:17 am (UTC) - Expand
May. 12th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
I just finished THE WHITE CAT this weekend and I love, love, love. I'm a sucker for mobs/criminals. Cassel's mother is a piece of work. AND I LOVE HER.

Aaaaaaaaaand now I'm sold on MISTWOOD. You mention cold-hearted females I come running. I love me some cold-hearted females.
May. 12th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Cassel's mother drives me nuts, but I say this while loving Lila and Barron not wisely but too well... I too love, love, love it.

Isabel is excellent, and I love that there is no suggestion she's not excellent just the way she is.
(no subject) - thegreatmissjj - May. 12th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 12th, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC)
I must thank you for reccing Kalley Armstrong's books - I absolutely LOVE this trilogy and would never have picked up the first one if not for your recommendation. Anyway, I love a lot of books that you have recommended and will probably end up buying these ones too. And of course I am very excited about your new book too. I creepily haunted my local bookshop until they got it in last time, at which point when I paid for it the shop assistant said 'THE DEMON'S LEXICON?? I STAYED UP UNTIL FOUR READING IT!' and got really excited and enthusiastic. And so did I and it was wonderful. Like I said: very excited!

Also can I ask: you did a writing MA, right? How helpful did you find it?
May. 12th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
*beams* I love both you and the shop assistant. And I am so glad I could help steer you to Kelley Armstrong's excellent excellent books.

I did do a writing MA, yes. I found it helpful to a point, learned stuff, met lovely people, but I think they are most helpful for people writing adult literary fiction - which I am very far from writing. ;)
May. 12th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
I own both The Reckoning & White Cat. This brings me much joy, since I have no money to buy unlimited books and I must buy something whenever you recommend it. : )

I am so in lovey love with The Reckoning, well mainly Derek, *huggles Derek* I think I like him best when he is shouty. You can just imagine him getting even crosser when people get used to it and start to pat him on his grumpy head in a condescending fashion.

*adds other books to my 'want to read' list*
May. 12th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
I promise to use my powers responsibl - I am a lying liar who lies, but I also spend irresponsibly on books, promise! And Derek is love.
May. 12th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
when will the Covenant be available on Kindle? i hope the answer is "yesterday."
May. 12th, 2010 09:34 pm (UTC)
Same time as the book is out, insofar as I know: the eighteenth! Or thereabouts. ;)
(no subject) - aubade_saudade - May. 12th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 12th, 2010 09:35 pm (UTC)
You do a remarkable job in making me want your deadly foes.
May. 12th, 2010 09:36 pm (UTC)
Curse them, I say, a plague on their talented heads!
(no subject) - evelynlela - May. 12th, 2010 10:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 12th, 2010 09:39 pm (UTC)
I only read Mistwood because I got an ARC of it along with my ARC of Conspiracy of Kings, and I had the same reaction of "Well, if you say he's the best, I will believe you, because you are awesome..."

I also just finished The Reckoning (I can only say !!!), have White Cat and the new Ilona Andrews on order, and will be buying Demon's Covenant in less than a week (so excited!). Apparently I must read Moonshine so I can complete the set of Unbelievably Awesome Books mentioned here.
May. 12th, 2010 09:44 pm (UTC)
May is so going to break my monthly book budget!
(Deleted comment)
May. 12th, 2010 10:31 pm (UTC)
If you love a lady sleuth you should read Rosemary and Rue and the other Toby Daye books by Seanan McGuire. I am just saying. ^_^
May. 12th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
That sounds fantastic! Your book recs always make me happy, especially now that I'm stocking up books like most people stock up water for nuclear fallout shelters. I'm spending six weeks in Europe with little-to-no access to internet, and your book recs are making up quite a lot of my reading list.

... *runs off to her nook to hunt them down*
May. 12th, 2010 11:32 pm (UTC)
Just picked up my pre-ordered copy of Demon's Covenant from my local independent bookshop after work today. :D
May. 13th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
I nervously hope you like it!
(no subject) - daisy_chan - May. 23rd, 2010 03:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 12th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
Three of those books are already on my to-be-bought-slash-read list, but I will gleefully add Moonshine which also sounds fabulous! I do not remember any of your book recs letting me down, so this shall stand me in good stead for the rest of the month. :D

Although of course the book I am most excited for is yours. That should go without saying, even though I just did.

Okay, back to the essay before I start rambling...
May. 12th, 2010 11:48 pm (UTC)
I seriously adored Chloe in The Reckoning, I felt so proud of her! I always have, I think she's one of my favourite female leads in YA, but she grows so much in this book! And the best part is that she changes in tiny quiet ways so that she is fundamentally the same person who has learned to stand up for herself more. For instance, in that scene you mention, I love the calm logic she uses to call the guy on the bad thing, because that's the only thing that would work with him and she *knows* that, she's intuitive and thoughtful like that. *totally looks up to her even if she's wayyy older* :)

I was super proud of Simon as well. The hieroglyph thing was ridiculous and adorable. I wanted to squeeze him so much. They're all lovely characters, really, I'm going to miss waiting for their next book. :)

As for the other recs, I'm most intrigued by White Cat (I've only read The Spiderswick Chronichles by Holly Black and I've been meaning to read some of her books for older readers) and Moonshine, because I don't think I have ever read a fiction story featuring sufragettes and that's just not right. Also, Zephyr sounds pretty adorable. :D
May. 13th, 2010 12:15 am (UTC)
You didn't mention that MISTWOOD is also gorgeously written. It made me cry with sadness then with happiness then with confusion of sad / happy and if there isn't a sequel about Clarisse and [spoiler] there Will Be A Reckoning.

Just sayin'.

Speaking of Reckonings, I've got the Armstrong and the Black in my pre-orders, and now I have to go add me some sexxy djinn - and - tonic.
May. 13th, 2010 01:14 am (UTC)
I already finished The Reckoning weeks ago (it was an April release here, and wasn't it *wonderful*?), which I am kind of glad of now, because in addition to White Cat and my two copies of Covenant (Aussie publishers, take note: delaying the release two months just means you do not get my money, as I throw cash at both the US and UK publishers, and let them race each other), I also have to investigate Mistwood and Monshine. I love your blog and your book reviews, but my bank account does not thank you.

Also, at work yesterday I went to recommend Lexicon to a customer, only to find out she had already read it. There was much squeeing on both sides, and the most excellent customer promised to lend her copy to the friend she was with. Thought you might like to know. :)
May. 13th, 2010 01:46 am (UTC)
What a very excellent customer, and what a very excellent you! Thank you for telling me the tale. ;)
May. 13th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
I just finished reading White Cat this morning and it was most excellent! While I adore Cassel and Barron, I have to say my complete love goes out to Sam in all his fake-blood-and-grease-fuel glory.
May. 13th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
Sam shines in Red Glove, let me tell you. I love Sam!
May. 13th, 2010 01:33 am (UTC)
I just bought your book today! I've been stopping by my Chapters daily with the hope that they would release it early and one of the employees went and got it for me from the back. She asked about Lexicon and I'm afraid I didn't do the best job recommending it ('What's it about? It has demons! And brothers! Like that show Supernatural only awesome. Oh why am I so bad at summarizing, I swear it's really great!') but she did say she was looking for non-vampire YA to recommend people so I have hopes she will try it nonetheless.
May. 13th, 2010 01:44 am (UTC)
Thank you for recommending it! And I shall have my fingers crossed you like Covenant. ;)
May. 13th, 2010 01:40 am (UTC)
Eee I am in the middle of The Reckoning right now! In fact, I should go get back to it. *flees*

The White Cat sounds rather awesome and is on by TBR :)
May. 13th, 2010 01:59 am (UTC)
Oh, I love The Darkest Powers series! And I love that Derek is unattractive- it means there has to be something else appealing about him.

I feel like in a lot of books, authors use a character's Supah Hottnessas an excuse to not give them a personality, like we ladies will be like, "He's PRETTY! He doesn't need to be INTERESTING or SMART or FUNNY or ANYTHING AT ALL because girl readers are clearly shallow and dumb." It's all so insulting...

But Derek. Mmm. It's like Kelley keeps telling me he's not attractive, but still makes me feel like he is. Because I care about him as a person. Oh, it's beautiful.

And Chloe is, of course, awesome.
May. 13th, 2010 03:58 am (UTC)
Hilarious summaries! :) I love how you do these things. I'm really interested in White Cat and I'm already planning to get Mistwood as soon as in becomes available here. Also, can't wait for Demon's Covenant! I am hoping that the local bookstores will have the UK edition.
May. 13th, 2010 04:42 am (UTC)
These may be the awesomest book reviews ever. Or at least in my recent memory. Thanks for these, Sarah!
May. 13th, 2010 04:51 am (UTC)
White Cat sounds amazing. Holly and you do a perfect job tantalizing us into wanting to know Cassel's secret. Besides, the guy on the cover is hot. Not that I care. :P

I want to read Mistwood too because cold hearted females, when written without resort to cliche, are fantastic.

And obviously I'm getting Covenant as soon as I possibly can. Congrats on your second published book!
May. 13th, 2010 06:20 am (UTC)
Dear Sarah, you are an evil enabler. I am going to spend my entire month's earnings on buying and having these books shipped to India.

A small point. When I went to Amazon to order The Demon's Covenant (it canNOT come fast enough) I saw that the About the Author section is from The Demon's Lexicon and mentions that it is your first book. I feel you should correct this and let everyone in Amazonland know that it is in fact your second awesome book. Let word of the awesomeness of Sarah's writing spread!
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