Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Book Cover Experimental

This was posted on January 30th, but I just found it today. If you're interested in book covers and what people think about them, check out this "unscientific" survey from Jeff VanderMeer. Jeff is an SF author, so the book covers in question are scifi/fantasy covers, but it's interesting to read people's opinions. And of course, some people have no idea what romance is.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Upcoming -- A Lady's Secret by Jo Beverley

A Lady's Secret by Jo Beverley
Signet, 1 April 2008

: When Robin Fitzvitry, the fun-loving Earl of Huntersdown, encounters a cursing nun in a French inn, he can't resist the mystery. He offers to help Sister Immaculata reach England, expecting amusement on the tedious journey home from Versailles. Petre d'Avernio is not exactly a nun, though she has spent years in an Italian convent with her mother, whose death has left her in danger. She must find the only person who might protect her-her true father, an English lord who does not know she exists. The gorgeous earl Robin Fitzvitry will be a dangerous ally, but she's glimpsed her pursuers and must race to the coast. She will resist him, use him, and eventually escape him with her virtue and secrets intact-she hopes.

Read an excerpt here

My thoughts on the cover
: I have not read every book that Jo Beverley has written, but I have read a lot of them. She is an author who I think consistently produces high-quality and enjoyable books. She is also a nice person online, and though that doesn't always influence my book buying, it's a lot easier to give my money to someone who is friendly and informative in her interactions with readers. I also have to say that I love this cover. I think it is sexy but classy. I am far from an expert, but I like that the clothing at least has the feel of something historically accurate. I'm not a stickler, but I do get tired of modern dresses and obviously dyed-looking hair on the cover of books that are supposed to be set in the Georgian or Victorian eras. And no men with half-open shirts on the cover either. I like the lace and ruffles on his shirt. It's realistic. I do find the cutting-off of the faces a little odd, but I supposed it's better than cutting them off at the neck. I know that the publisher is trying to go for the everywoman feel, where the reader can imagine themself as the heroine. I am not that kind of reader, but I understand the desire somewhat. It really isn't much different than walking out of a zombie movie and having the "what I would do" talk, which I've had more than once. And a side benefit of the headless woman trend -- it's hard to be inaccurate to the actual book contents that way.

Monday, January 14, 2008

In Search of the Unusual -- Snake Agent by Liz Williams

I finished reading Snake Agent a few days ago, and I thought it was a great read. I've been a little underwhelmed by the more traditional stuff these days (in romance, fantasy, and urban fantasy, which are my primary reading genres), and so I've been on the lookout for new authors and not necessarily edgier, but more unusual books. And sometimes older books as well.

So when I saw this book at Borders on my last visit, I picked it up. The author sounded a little familiar, and when I got home I looked her up. It turns out this is a paperback reissue of a hardcover book (same title) originally issued in 2005, with two sequels. It was published by Night Shade Books, which is a specialty press for sci-fi and horror. I think it's possible that this is one of their first mainstream paperback releases.

Anyway, the book -- I really enjoyed it. It's a blend of science fiction, fantasy, mystery and horror, and it does the whole thing quite well. It's sort of urban fantasy set in the future with some heaven/hell mythology and a Chinese setting. It was the fact that the main character, Wei Chen, is Chinese that interested me in the book. I don't know if the author is Chinese (part or full or not) and it doesn't really matter to me because it is very clear that she has done her homework on the setting and on the character.

The Publishers Weekly review called Chen "a crack paranormal crime investigator" and they are on target. He actually uses police procedure to investigate the crime (the stealing of innocent souls for use in a brothel in hell), and you get a feel for the real-life rivalry between law enforcement groups when he's forced to collaborate with a vice cop from hell and an assassin of demons who works for the government.

Another nice touch was that his relationship with his wife was really realistic, IMO. No sunshine and roses, just two people (spoiler alert: well, not really two people, because his wife is a demon) trying to make it together and work out their differences and understand each other's needs.

I'm very much looking forward to the reissued paperback editions of the next two in the series, The Demon and the City and Precious Dragon, to be released in February and March 2008, respectively.