2014 New Releases So Far…

The one regular feature that I have on this blog are the monthly posts listing the new releases on my radar (it counts as a feature even without a clever title, right?).  I thought it would be interesting to have a look back at the year so far and see which ones I’d read, and how they stacked up.

The books marked with an * are the ones I really liked, some additional comments in italics as well.



18074870Bought and read:

All were 3-star reads in Goodreads terminology, i.e. I’m glad I read them, but while they were good installments in their respective series, they didn’t quite make it to my re-read/keeper shelf.



085286-fc222Bought and read:

  • Diana Wynne Jones & Ursula JonesTHE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA (MG fantasy): I did wait until the price dropped though.  Worth reading – thought it was lots of fun, though the ending was a bit too tidy. 

Possible DNF:

  • Suzanne Brockmann‘s DO OR DIE (romantic suspense): I stalled midway – not yet an official DNF as I may still go back to it.  Nothing was happening, really.



night broken_front mech.inddBought and read:

Bought, but still lurking in that TBR pile:

  • Carla Kelly‘s THE WEDDING RING QUEST (historical romance): It’s a bit weird – I never feel an urge to read a Carla Kelly, but when I do get around to reading one, I wonder why I waited so long.



20645592Bought and read:

Bought, but still in the TBR pile



20738173Bought and read:

  • Tammara Webber‘s BREAKABLE (NA romance): Very much a companion book as opposed to a standalone
  • Joanna ChambersENLIGHTENED (historical m/m romance)
  • Josh Lanyon‘s STRANGER ON THE SHORE (m/m romance/mystery)

Borrowed from library and read:

  • Jim Butcher‘s SKIN GAME (UF): I had a feeling this wouldn’t be a re-read, hence the library reservation.

Borrowed from library, but DNF:

  • Richelle Mead‘s THE IMMORTAL CROWN (fantasy?): Couldn’t get into the story, may borrow again as I suspect it was more my mood. 

Waiting for price drop:

  • Seanan McGuire‘s SPARROW HILL ROAD (fantasy): I’ll wait until the mass-market paperback, I think.



21798646Bought and read:

Bought, but in TBR pile:

Library reservation:

  • Nalini Singh‘s SHIELD OF WINTER (paranormal romance): I totally planned on buying this, then started seeing mixed reviews, and figured that I could wait on reading it.

Waiting for price drop:



16045306Bought and read:

You can tell July was a good month for reading.

Library reservation:



9627755Bought and read:

  • Stephanie Perkins‘ ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER* (YA romance): No other author captures that teenage rush of crazy-emotions-all-over-the-place like she does

Borrowed from library, read:

  • Kelley Armstrong‘s VISIONS* (UF): I suspect I’ll be buying the next book.

Library reservation

Not yet bought


So, in numbers?

  • 8 months = 41 new releases in total
  • 28 bought & read, 3 bought & not read (could be far worse…)
  • 2 borrowed from library & read, 3 waiting on library reservations
  • 2 DNFs (1 purchased, 1 from the library)
  • 3 to be bought at some point


Filed under My Bookshelf

Three Links for a Monday

0451418425.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SL500_Recent-ish interview with ML Brennan, author of the American Vampire urban fantasy books (or the Generation V series, as the covers have it) @ SF Signal.  I read the first two books earlier this year, and the third (TAINTED BLOOD, out Nov) is most definitely on my to-read list.  There are two new(-to-me) UF series that I’m excited about this year, and this is one of them (the other is Rachel Aaron‘s Heartstrikers series, if you’re wondering).

While both centre around fairly common paranormal creatures (vampires and dragons respectively), I really like how they’ve brought something new to the table.  Jan @ Notes from a Readerholic pointed out that the main characters in both series have similarities in the sense they’re perceived to be weak to their families, which may be one factor.  Also, the protagonists in both are male – maybe I’ve just had enough of the kickass female heroine (TM)?  Don’t get me wrong – I still love the take-no-prisoners attitude of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels and Karen Chance’s Dory Basarab; it’s just refreshing to have different characters out there in UF-land.


I found this post (plus comments) @ Ruthless Culture fascinating.  The post talks about why there shouldn’t be back-to-back US-based WorldCons (as the title implies…), but then there’s a discussion in the comments around logistics for WorldCon bids – really interesting, including the commercial considerations I’d not really thought of before.  Location is obviously a massive factor in terms of attendance decisions – I don’t think I’d have gone if the UK con had been outside London (see FantasyCon = York, for example), so I probably fall into that “London boost” bracket.

(My last mention of WorldCons for a while, I swear.)


I’m not entirely sure this will take off, but it’s a new technology in the world of physical/ebook bundling.  Basically, write your name in the (physical) book, take a picture, and you get the ebook via BitLit.  I’ve had a look and the catalogue appears rather limited at the moment (biggest is the Joe Hill / HarperCollins promotion for Heart-Shaped Box), but it’s certainly innovative.  I’ve really cut down on print books dramatically over the past couple of years (I just need more bookshelves), so I’m probably not part of their target audience.  I can see this really working for people who either don’t have that bookshelf real estate constraint I have, or for readers who want to dip their toes into the ebook space?


Filed under Links & News

Books for September

For whatever reason (stars aligning etc etc), there are a LOT of new releases in September that I want.  It’s going to be a good reading month…


22559338Sherwood Smith‘s RONDO ALLEGRO (historical romance): Sherwood Smith is better-known for her fantasy novels (CROWN DUEL is probably the gateway novel into her works), but I really liked her take on Regency romance in DANSE DE LA FOLIE, so I’m up for this.  I’m guessing this is a romance based on the blurb…

At the end of the eighteenth century, all of Europe is at war.

In Palermo, sixteen-year-old singer-in-training Anna Maria Ludovisi is married by her dying father to Captain Henry Duncannon, the Perennial Bachelor. Mere minutes after the wedding he sets sail.

The threat of French invasion causes Anna to flee to Paris. At the end of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte is transforming France; Anna must transform herself into a professional singer in order to survive.

in 1805, Anna’s opera company is traveling through Spain when events bring the long-missing Captain Duncannon and his forgotten wife back together again, as the English, Spanish, and French fleets converge for battle off the Cape of Trafalgar.

For Henry Duncannon as well as Anna, everything changes: the demands of war, the obligation of family, the meaning of love, and the concept of home. Can they find a new life together?

Out Sept 9


22821635Patricia BriggsSHIFTING SHADOWS (urban fantasy): So not quite a new Mercy Thompson novel, more a collection of both old and new short stories (roughly half-and-half, I think, based on the info on her website).  I’ve read all the previously-released short stories, but I think there’s enough new content to persuade me to get this (though I may wait for a price drop).  Plus I’ve always liked the original Alpha & Omega novella.

Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger . . .

Including a number of original short stories, this stunning collection is set in the world of Mercy Thompson – mechanic, shapeshifter and fighter – and the characters she calls friends.

Out Sept 2


22392751Sarina Bowen‘s FALLING FROM THE SKY and Amy Jo Cousins‘ WHEN THE LIGHTS GO DOWN (contemporary romance):  Both of these are in the latest Harlequin E Contemporary Romance Box Set (together with two other stories), which makes it a no-brainer (the Harlequin E box set being a limited period e-bundle of four categories for a lower price).  If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ll know I’ve been really enjoying Sarina Bowen’s NA romance books, and while I haven’t mentioned it, I thought both these authors’ stories in the first Harlequin E box set had potential.

Four different men. Four unforgettable romances…

Falling from the Sky by Sarina Bowen

A brutal spinal cord injury robbed snowboarder Hank Lazarus of everything. But just as Hank gives up, Dr. Callie Anders shows him something that’s really worth fighting for….

Maid to Love by Rebecca M. Avery

Academic Courtney Wells has waited long enough and is going to have a baby on her own. But then she meets military-man-turned-maid Ian Hamilton….

When the Lights Go Down by Amy Jo Cousins

A new play could mean stage manager Maxie Tyler is finally Broadway-bound–as long as she can resist wickedly hot producer Nicholas Drake. Because getting involved with the “money” is a no-no…and this show must go on!

Start Me Up by Kristina Knight

When Hollywood hunk Chase MacIntyre proposes a faux relationship, disgraced L.A. matchmaker Nina Wright can’t refuse…until some serious sexiness makes “on paper” happen between the sheets!

Out Sept 1


15748529Seanan McGuire‘s THE WINTER LONG (urban fantasy): Under normal circumstances, I’d be counting down the days to this release.  However, through pure serendipity, I stumbled upon a copy at a bookstore, and yes, have already read it.  If you love Toby Daye (*raises hand*), you’ll like this one – I enjoyed revisiting Toby’s world, the usual suspects are all present and accounted for, and there are some rather interesting twists plot-wise, combined with a bit of emotional punch.  On the not-so-good side, there were bits that did feel repetitive (I know people who struggle with this series call this aspect out, and I could definitely see that in this book) and I kind of wanted more.

Short and straight-to-the-punch blurb:

 Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

Out Sept 2


18744715Juliet Marillier‘s THE CALLER (YA fantasy): While I had a couple of issues with the first book (still liked it, mind – just wasn’t up to the standards I set for a Marillier book), the second worked better for me, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.

In the final book in this gripping, romantic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Robin McKinley, Kristin Cashore, and Shannon Hale, Neryn’s band of rebels reach their climactic confrontation with the king. The stunning conclusion to the story that began with Shadowfell and Raven Flight is full of romance, intrigue, magic, and adventure.

Just one year ago, Neryn had nothing but a canny skill she barely understood and a faint dream that the legendary rebel base of Shadowfell might be real. Now she is the rebels’ secret weapon, and their greatest hope for survival, in the fast-approaching ambush of King Keldec at Summerfort.

The fate of Alban itself is in her hands. But to be ready for the bloody battle that lies ahead, Neryn must first seek out two more fey Guardians to receive their tutelage. Meanwhile, her beloved, Flint, has been pushed to his breaking point as a spy in the king’s court—and is arousing suspicion in all the wrong quarters.

At stake lies freedom for the people of Alban, a life free from hiding for the Good Folk—and a chance for Flint and Neryn to finally be together.

Out Sept 9


22839846Nalini Singh‘s ROCK ADDICTION (contemporary romance): Nalini Singh’s surprise rock star book!  Are rock stars becoming one of those really specific romance subgenres, something like motorcycle clubs?  I’m wondering how her PNR writing will translate into contemporary, to be honest (I know she started off in category romance, but I haven’t read any of those books) – it could go either way.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh stuns with a sizzling contemporary romance…

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

Out Sept 9


20697444MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant (YA fantasy): So I’ll be perfectly honest – I’m getting this purely for the Sarah Rees Brennan, because her contribution is set in the Turn of the Story universe (which she’s been serialising on her blog for free).  Or at least I think it is, so if it turns out to be a completely separate story, I’ll be horribly disappointed…

Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

Out Sept 9


18309803Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNMADE (YA urban fantasy): As we’re talking SRB, the final book in her Lynburn Legacy trilogy is out this month as well. I’ve liked the first two books (the first worked for me more than the second, however), so again I’m looking forward to reading the final book.

Fairly major spoilers for the first two books in the book blurb, so I’ll just link to the book’s Goodreads page.

Out Sept 23


20359719Sherry Thomas‘s THE PERILOUS SEA (YA fantasy): Moving on to a second book in a trilogy, Sherry Thomas is also releasing her follow-up to THE BURNING SKY, which I liked, but didn’t entirely love (you may have figured out by now that insta-love is really not my favourite thing in a book).  So potentially middle-book syndrome here, or possibly not…

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

Out Sept 16


BadBoys_Hunter_Final_medium-672x1024Kelly Hunter‘s SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (contemporary romance): I like Kelly Hunter’s books so much that I actually added this to Goodreads so I could link it here (go easy on me if I’ve set up the page wrong please – I do this probably once in a blue moon).  More info plus prologue on Kelly Hunter’s blog – it’s related to her earlier book THE HONEYMOON TRAP (but setting up a GR series is beyond me, and I don’t think there’s an official series title anyway…).

Sympathy For The Devil is Caleb Jackson’s story. Dive master, charter boat operator, one third of Jackson’s boat building enterprises – you may have met him in The Honeymoon Trap. He played the good brother in that story, and he can be a good brother. He tries to be.

He just doesn’t always succeed.

Have you ever done something you shouldn’t have? Ever screwed someone over and vowed never to do it again?

Welcome to Caleb’s world.

Out Sept 23 (or thereabouts)


Well.  I did say it was a long list…


Filed under New Releases

A Few Links for a Bank Holiday Weekend

And a very wet Bank Holiday at that!  Though it’s been a fairly productive weekend for me – I finally finished adding all my 2013 reads to Goodreads (yes, only eight months late – I think I just had a blogging slump during the middle of the year).

Some links I’ve been meaning to post for a while:


Filed under Links & News

My Day Out at LonCon3

LONCON3_logo_small_webSo you may have heard that the WorldCon (or the 72nd World Science Fiction Conference) was in London this year.  Probably because I didn’t have to commit to any major travel plans, I dithered a bit (okay, a lot) on whether to attend or not until the week before, when I finally decided that this would probably be the only time in my life where the WorldCon would be in my home city and I should really go.  So after studying the programme in detail, I handed over the money for a Sunday day admission – and was glad I did, because I probably would have died from envy while reading status updates otherwise…

I did swing past the Excel Centre (where the convention was being held) on the Saturday as Andrea K Höst organised a fan meet-up in one of the nearby cafes.  I was running late (thanks to me forgetting the DLR weekend schedule was slightly different to the weekday one) so I arrived midway through Andrea’s explanation of the world-building in her upcoming book, THE PYRAMIDS OF LONDON, I think!  But it was fun to talk books (and I also got to meet Estara in person, which was great).

On Sunday, I arrived at the Excel Centre more or less when planned this time around.  I thought the con was very well-organised – maybe because it was the fourth day, but I picked up my badge at the registration desk in about two minutes flat.  There were queues outside the more popular panels, but certainly the ones I attended were very prompt about ending 5-10 minutes early so that the next panel could start on time.

I had a few panels on my list to attend, and the first panel was “Authors Accept, Encourage, and Create Fan Works Too” – partly because of the authors on the panel (Seanan McGuire, Adam Christopher, Karen Miller, and Patrick Rothfuss, moderated by Karen Hellekson), but also because I was curious about their take on fanfiction (I’m not a massive fanfic reader myself, but have read and loved some).  This was held in one of the larger suites, so didn’t feel massively crowded – possibly 2/3s full at best?

Caveat: I wasn’t doing any proper note-taking, so I may have misquoted or misinterpreted panellists. 

My notes are rather scanty, as I’m really not at my best before noon on a Sunday.  The hour flew past – 60 minutes for a panel doesn’t feel long enough as by the time intros are completed and the panel has answered a couple of questions thrown out by the moderator, you only have time for a few questions from the audience.  For this panel specifically, I also had the impression that the panel wasn’t necessarily in agreement on certain topics, so it was a shame that there wasn’t enough time to explore what they agreed/disagreed on…

Not all the questions from the audience here felt particularly relevant to me, especially when one of the people chosen (I think he was an author too, but didn’t catch his name/recognise him) ended up stating his views on the topic as opposed to asking a question.  From memory, questions included the risk of losing copyright/trademarks (which led to the level of control that creators have over their universe – Karen Miller talked a bit about the restrictions of writing in the Star Wars universe) and whether actors should be allowed to add their own interpretation to characters as written by authors (there was a firm “no” from Karen Miller (I think!), though Pat Rothfuss hinted he disagreed).  Towards the end, Seanan McGuire (err.. I think again – good thing I’m not a journalist) made an eloquent argument about why “intent does not mean anything”, which I thought was fantastic – paraphrasing horribly, but it was along the lines of “it doesn’t matter what you meant when you wrote something, it’s about what the reader took away from it”.

I then went to the “Diversity Within Young Adult Science Fiction” panel, which was 90 minutes long and felt so much better-paced as a result.  Panellists were Mary Anne Mohanraj, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Mahvesh Murad, Kate Elliott, John Hornor Jacobs, and it was moderated by Marieke Nijkamp.  You’ll be glad to hear I had a few more proper notes from this one – so much so that the detail is behind the cut below, as this recap has turned out to be a bit of an essay…  Midway through this panel, the skies opened – possibly coincidentally, my note-taking application crashed (if I’d thought about this a bit more, I’d brought pen and paper really).  Which means my notes on book recommendations are rather sketchy – Kate Elliott talked up Malinda Lo’s books a lot though!

I took a break from the programming to wander through the dealers’ hall – there were so many secondhand mass-market paperbacks I wanted, but couldn’t really justify as I’ve the e-copies and no shelf space.  But still… I loved seeing all those retro covers, and would have probably caved had I been at the con for more than a day.  And I also bumped into Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers while browsing through the books – they were just as fantastic IRL as you’d expect them to be.

I wanted to attend the “So Grim. Much Serious. Wow” panel, primarily because Tanya Huff was on the panel, but when I turned up about 10 minutes early, the queue for the room was massively long.  So I figured I wouldn’t get in and decided to go to Bryan Talbot‘s “How I Make a Graphic Novel” instead.  Bryan Talbot was one of LonCon3’s Guests of Honour and it was a fascinating hour or so.  I don’t really read graphic novels (but I’ve been trying to understand how to read one, if that makes sense!), so I suspect I didn’t get as much out of it as others would have, but I enjoyed listening to him talk through the actual process of writing one – usage of different grid-styles, pacing, page design etc – and left impressed with the amount of work and thought that goes into creating a graphic novel.

Final panel of the day for me was “My Opinions, Let Me Show You Them“, which was a bloggers’ panel (Foz Meadows (m), Thea James, Aidan Moher, Adam Whitehead, Justin Landon) – it was nice to see the faces behind the blogs.  I’ve to say the room was very very warm – it was one of the smaller suites, and it was packed – and I swear the man next to me was snoozing away.  He perked up as the panel was asked to talk about some of their controversial posts, and started googling the posts in question as the bloggers were speaking, which amused me!  One of the questions asked was whether the panel ever pulled their punches, which led to Foz Meadows (usual caveat of I think it was, anyway…) talking about punching up/down/across, which was also referred to in the Diversity in YA panel I attended earlier.

And that was it for me – I had to run unfortunately, so couldn’t go to the Hugos ceremony in the evening, but it sounded like it was good fun for those who went (winners and breakdown of votes).  Although I only spent a day (or eight hours or so, to be precise) at LonCon3, it was really refreshing to be in the same place as other people who love reading and SF/F as much as I do, and I can definitely see the attraction of con-attending (and I really want to attend a romance and/or blogging convention now).  I suspect my experience would also have been a lot different had I done the full weekend/staying on-site thing – maybe next time…

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Filed under Random Thoughts

Sarina Bowen’s THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR: Cover Reveal (& Giveaway)

It’s fair to say I rarely do cover reveals.  So rare that today’s post may actually be my first one.

Two, no, three reasons actually:

  • Firstly, I love Sarina Bowen‘s covers for her Ivy Years series (shallow, but sadly true) – I love the striking simplicity of the cover designs and the cohesive series feel
  • More seriously, I’ve read and enjoyed the first two full-length novels in her series – they’re inter-connected stories (with different protagonists) in a college setting.  I think I’ve talked before about how NA books were all starting to blend into one for me, and her books feel different – she doesn’t shy away from tackling tough issues, and they’re not the standard run-of-the-mill issues you find in NA books.  The first book, THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN, has Corey dealing with the life-changing results of a sports injury, while Scarlett has serious reasons for creating a new life for herself in THE YEAR WE HID AWAY.  I also have major love for the Harkness (a thinly-disguised Yale) college setting and the sports elements in these books (ice hockey, if you’re curious).
  • Finally, it’s an M/M new adult book – how rare is that?  (Possibly less rare than my cover reveals.)

So without further ado, here’s the cover for THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR, out Oct 1:

The Understatement of the Year coverThe Understatement of the Year (Ivy Years #3)
by Sarina Bowen

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: New Adult
Release Date: October 1, 2014

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexual preference from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.


Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

A few Q&As about the series/book:

Q: Is Harkness College from the Ivy Years series based on Yale?

A: Heck yes! But it’s based on a Yale which has gone soft and fuzzy in my mind, in all the best ways. So I’ve fictionalized it to avoid the errors and inaccuracies that I’d be likely to make if I tried to get everything just right.

Q: Why did you decide to write a book about two guys?

A: In the first place, I didn’t really decide, so much as the idea for Graham’s struggle surgically implanted itself in my brain and would not let go. And when I pictured the two of them meeting up again in a locker room after five years of silence, I just got the chills. This became the book that I cheated on all my other books to write. (If my editors of other projects are reading this… sorry! I’ll get back to work now. Probably.)

Q: Why college hockey?

A. Because… duh! Hockey players are hot. And hockey is a fast-paced game where whining is categorically disallowed. Interestingly, fighting is not legal in college hockey, either. It’s all about the game. I love that!

Q: How many Ivy Years books do you have planned?

A: Five, if you’re counting the novella. After Rikker and Graham’s book, Bella is going to need her own book. What, you haven’t met Bella yet? You will on October 1st, when Understatement of the Year is published. She is a kick-ass chick in much the same way as Corey, Scarlet and Katie. You’ll love her. You can read a bit more about all the titles on The Ivy Years page on my website.

You can find and contact Sarina here: WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreads

Pre-order links: Amazon, Kobo (should be up shortly)


And if you’ve made it this far, there’s a tour-wide giveaway for the cover reveal of THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. You can win a signed set of paperback books which includes: The Year We Fell Down (Ivy Years #1), The Year We Hid Away (Ivy Years #2) and Blonde Date (Ivy Years 2.5). The giveaway is open internationally.

Finally – I’ve read an ARC of THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR and will post a review closer to the release date, but it’s a good one.

This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.


Filed under Cover Talk

Books for August

A belated new releases post (and WordPress has changed their posts interface – help!).  Not that many new releases this month that I want, for a change…


9627755Stephanie Perkin‘s ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER (YA romance): I fell in love with ANNA when it was released way back when, so am thrilled that we are finally getting the final companion novel in this loosely-related trilogy of books.

From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.

Out Aug 14


18398797Kelley Armstrong‘s VISIONS (UF): Her Otherworld books were auto-buys for me; I’ve been more on the fence about her recent releases, but I did like the first book in this series, OMENS, when I read it last year.  

As #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s new Cainsville series continues, Olivia’s power to read omens leads to the discovery of a gruesome crime with troubling connections to her new hometown.

Omens, the first installment in Kelley Armstrong’s exciting new series, introduced Olivia Taylor-Jones, daughter of notorious serial killers, and Gabriel Walsh, the self-serving, morally ambiguous lawyer who became her unlikely ally. Together, they chased down a devious killer and partially cleared her parents of their horrifying crimes.

Their success, however, is short-lived. While Olivia takes refuge in the old, secluded town of Cainsville, Gabriel’s past mistakes have come to light, creating a rift between the pair just when she needs his help the most.

Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed to look like her, but the body vanishes before anyone else sees it. Olivia’s convinced it’s another omen, a sign of impending danger. But then she learns that a troubled young woman went missing just days ago—the same woman Olivia found dead in her car. Someone has gone to great lengths to kill and leave this young woman as a warning. But why? And what role has her new home played in this disturbing murder?

Olivia’s effort to uncover the truth places her in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces, forces that have their own agenda, and closely guarded secrets they don’t want revealed.

Out Aug 19

19186417Lee Child‘s PERSONAL (suspense): The latest Jack Reacher is always on my to-read list, so no surprises here.  But I admit to liking the city-based Reacher stories more (yes, total city girl at heart!) and it looks like both Paris AND London make an appearance in this book.

Jack Reacher walks alone. Once a go-to hard man in the US military police, now he’s a drifter of no fixed abode. But the army tracks him down. Because someone has taken a long-range shot at the French president.

Only one man could have done it. And Reacher is the one man who can find him.

This new heartstopping, nailbiting book in Lee Child’s number-one bestselling series takes Reacher across the Atlantic to Paris – and then to London. The stakes have never been higher – because this time, it’s personal.

Out Aug 28


20945757Ann Aguirre‘s I WANT IT THAT WAY (NA romance): It’s been a while since I’ve read an Aguirre, and the last one I read was her Sirantha Jax SFR series (which, come to think of it, I never ended up finishing).  But I like her writing, and this first book in her new series caught my eye. 

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she’s determined to make them come true—for her parents’ sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can’t risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia’s and Ty’s paths cross, and soon they can’t stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can’t know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

Out Aug 26


Filed under New Releases

Some Really Good Books*

I… have been reading some really good books.  I don’t even feel guilty (okay, I do, vaguely) about not putting up my August new releases post because I’ve just Been Reading.  And now I’ve to gush talk about them, possibly slightly incoherently, but, well.

9221793First was a bit of a glom for new-to-me author Cinda Williams Chima.  I’ve heard good things about her writing, and have had the first book of her Seven Realms YA fantasy series on my Kindle for ages.  But I was never quite in the right mood for it – and still wasn’t really.  It was just that I had a three hour train journey and wanted some fantasy.  So I chose a book at random, and I’ll be honest - THE DEMON KING didn’t grab me from the start.  I thought the first chapters were inclined towards over-exposition and was concerned that this would be fantasy dumbed-down for the teen market.  The alternating POVs struck me as a rather tired narrative device, the characters felt a bit generic-fantasy archetype (the streetwise ex-thief turned good, the rebellious princess, etc etc…), and the dreaded love triangle threatened.

I know.  Thank goodness for that three-hour journey because I continued reading.

And somehow I got sucked in.  The characters grew up and became three-dimensional – I liked them, I rooted for them, and I wanted them to win through even though it felt impossible at times.  The stakes for Raisa, Han, Dancer, Amon, Cat, and well, so many others, became higher over the course of the series and I was totally invested in the outcome.  The romance (of course there was romance) was of the sort that came ever so slowly to the boil and was oh-so-satisfying.  I surfaced from the world of the Seven Realms a while later, having gulped down the entire quartet in around three days.  It’s the sort of series where midway through the final book, I almost didn’t want to finish it because that would have meant the story was over.

So if you’re in the mood for fantasy with a healthy mix of court intrigue, magic, and romance, you could do worse than to check out this series.  And I need to have a look at Cinda Williams Chima’s other series, obviously.

And that’s not all.

16068905I finally caved and bought Rainbow Rowell‘s FANGIRL after the numerous fangirl (sorry) squeeing reviews about her books (and also because of the current bargain-ish price of  £1.59 for the Kindle edition on Amazon UK).  Plus I needed to switch genres as I suspected any other fantasy would pale compared to the Seven Realms books at the moment.

All I’m going to say is that I only put down FANGIRL last night because it was 2am and I had a 9am meeting this morning.  So excuse me as I’ve to find out how Cath is doing…

*You may have noticed I’ve run out of inspiration when it comes to blog post titles.


Filed under My Bookshelf

Good Books

So that July new releases post I put up a week or so ago?  I’ve read three of them now – and loved all three.  Which is not always the case, let me assure you – I think I’ve had more misses than hits in 2014 so far.  But these three – let’s just say I resented having to put these books down when reading them (sometimes I feel like we should have “good book days” the same way we have sick days).


16045306First up, Miranda Kenneally‘s BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE.  I first stumbled upon Miranda Kenneally’s books when I picked up CATCHING JORDAN almost two years ago now (time flies!).  They’ve been a bit uneven since, but I feel she’s really hit it out of the park with ANNIE (you can tell when I’ve read a Kenneally when I go for sporting metaphors).  Seeing that the main protagonist’s a teenager who’s training for a marathon in memory of her boyfriend, it would be easy for this story to veer too much into the territory of angst and depression.  But it didn’t – Annie’s not the only one with baggage in the book, but yet the emotions never felt overdone.  She felt real, as did Jeremiah – I loved their chemistry, the feelings, and I was with them all the way as they took tentative steps into friendship and then more.  I also loved that family – on both Annie’s and Jere’s sides – was so present and loving in this book, which is a bit of a rarity for a YA/NA!  And finally, while there are cameos by characters from previous Hundred Oaks books, I felt this one worked as a standalone as well.


20426102I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting with Rachel Aaron‘s UF debut NICE DRAGONS FINISH LAST – I knew she could give good story after her SF Paradox trilogy (btw, did you read she’s writing another trilogy in the Paradox universe – more Sainted King!), but was slightly wary after reading her first (admittedly debut) fantasy novel way back and being all meh about it.  But I needn’t have been worried – I was caught up in the story from the first chapter onwards, and I suspect this would appeal to those looking for a slightly different UF series.  I mean, what other UF has a all-powerful dragon seer named Bob (okay, Brohomir, but he prefers Bob), who uses <3 <3 in his texts (and just generally takes the piss out of everyone)?  As you can gather, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s a solid story with some very engaging characters.  Julius is the “nice dragon” of the title, but he’s no self-pitying pushover.  There’s fast-paced action mixed with humour and snark, and tantalising glimpses of the wider dragon community – and if they’re anything like the Heartstrikers clan members we’ve already met, we’re in for a ride.  I closed the book wanting more Heartstrikers now.  She mentions November as a possible release date for the next book, so fingers crossed!


20822874And then KJ CharlesTHINK OF ENGLAND.  I had a feeling this was going to be it.  I mean, her Magpie Lord books were getting better and better, her romantic thriller NON-STOP TILL TOKYO drew me in despite violence not generally being my thing, but still, I was not prepared by how much I loved THINK OF ENGLAND.  Set in turn-of-the-century 20th-century England, the first thing that struck me was the period feel.  The usual tongue-in-cheek Samhain warning for this book read:

Warning: Contains explicit male/male encounters, ghastly historical attitudes, and some extremely stiff upper lips.

And all three were spot on.  I thought KJ Charles nailed the insular attitudes of the English upper class of that era, the country-house weekend (or fortnight, in this case) feel.  The story evolved so naturally, and before I knew it, Curtis was up to his ears with intrigue and deception.  And not knowing whether he was coming or going with Daniel… Their chemistry was off the page, and their interactions equally romantic and sexy.  As for the final suspenseful and action-packed chapters – well, let’s just say I couldn’t put the book down.  Unusually for an m/m historical, I closed the book thinking a HEA was actually possible, despite the challenges not getting hand-waved away or swept under the carpet.  I’m hoping this is just the start of a series, as I suspect any of Curtis and Daniel’s future adventures will be a joy to read.


Filed under Reviews

A This and That Kind of Post…

… reflecting my similarly unfocused state of mind – here are both links and recent reads.


I grew out of my “classics” phase ages ago, but this post by Sherwood Smith on her latest re-read of George Eliot‘s MIDDLEMARCH had me running to manybooks.net to download the PD version.  I’ve never read MIDDLEMARCH before, but I want to now.  Hopefully I’m not in for a disappointment – thoughts, anyone?

Requisite tor.com post that I liked: This one about cover art for Orbit books.  If I’m honest, I hadn’t really thought much about Orbit covers having a certain artistic style, but some of their covers have been striking.

And because I link to almost every Courtney Milan post – she talks about her enhanced digital editions ($0.99 each for a short while, I believe) and how she was able to release her own version of the books she published with Harlequin.  Really interesting (or at least, I thought so!).


Books I’ve read recently (I flirt with the idea of a weekly/monthly wrap-up, and then figure I’d never stick to a schedule):

A couple of new-to-me category authors (spoiler: I wasn’t wowed by either) – Joss Wood‘s MORE THAN JUST A FLING? and Jessica Gilmore‘s THE RETURN OF MRS JONES.  I picked up the Wood because it was on sale and Nath likes her writing, and the Gilmore because I read a review somewhere.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember where now, so shout if you’ve seen it reviewed fairly recently – it wasn’t an overly-glowing review, but I was in the mood for an exes reunited premise.

Plus and minus points for each (I know – call this a book blog…) – okay, I liked that both stories felt fresh (as opposed to how category romance can sometimes feel dated) and there was some sparkle, but pacing felt a bit slow in spots.  So while I’d probably read more by each author at some point, I’m not running out to get the rest of their backlists.

20878147KS Augustin‘s THE CHECK YOUR LUCK AGENCY (urban fantasy): I picked this up because of an interview Andrea K Höst did with KS Augustin a few weeks back – it piqued my interest in her writing and this book is (was?) free.  Slightly a bit too much info-dumping for me at the start, but that wasn’t a show-stopper.  I did like how the Malaysia/Singapore setting came to life and the book whiled away an hour or so on the train very nicely.  However, I felt the story read more like a series of episodes as opposed to a full novel, plus it ended very abruptly, which caught me by surprise.  Having looked up the series detail now, the “complete” version is a five-book omnibus – I’ll probably get that at some point.


Non-books related: I’m not sure how or when I stumbled onto this site, but I am hooked on Ask a Manager (have I mentioned it before?).  Alison Green just talks plain common sense when it comes to workplace dilemmas – well, the answers are almost always obvious when you read her responses, but they’re not at the same time.  And it’s always nice to see that mine is not the weirdest office out there.


Filed under Links & News, My Bookshelf