Summer Check-in

We’re currently in the middle of the second mini-heatwave of summer, which feels like it should be some sort of record for London.  I’m also in a post-Olympics slump, and trying to remind myself what I did before there was cycling/diving/pentathlon on TV every evening…

26853604The Olympics has meant I’ve done very little reading during August.  I did finish Kate Elliott’s brand-new release POISONED BLADE though, which I count as a win!

It’s the sequel to her YA debut COURT OF FIVES and even better than the first, IMO. I felt COURT OF FIVES was more straightforward adventure; in POISONED BLADE, she brought the layers of complexity I expect from an Elliott book, while continuing to build on the relationships established in the first book.  The slight threads of romance (or attraction?) worked better for me as well, perhaps because more ambiguity and growth (on all sides) was introduced.  At times though, there was so much arguing between Jessamy and other characters that it frustrated me.  But maybe that’s what I’m meant to feel – anger is tiring, and the conversations made sense in the larger context of the story. TL;DR: Good installment and I look forward to the next book!

Links of interest:

 

Books for August

I think I’ve made peace with the fact that this blog goes on semi-hiatus during the summer months.  Right now, I’m spending too much time watching the Olympics, especially considering the evening sessions start at 2am here.

But I’m still reading.  Kind of.  I had a quick look at the July new releases I listed in my last blog post (talk about infrequent posting), and am rather stupidly pleased that I’ve read all of them!  All were decent reads, though none outstanding.

Of the lot, I probably enjoyed ALLIANCE OF EQUALS best, but I’m very much not a fan of one of the authors telling reviewers not to say “…don’t start [with this book]…” in their reviews.  Partly because authors telling reviewers what to say/not to say tends to rub me the wrong way generally, but also I genuinely think starting with the wrong book can put someone off an author/series for good.  For this particular book, I do believe the emotional payoff is diluted if you’re brand-new to the universe and the new reader may think there’s too many POV changes and not much story, but what the heck, what do I know – start wherever you like.

Err… rant over.  Maybe I should blog more, I’ve obviously wanted to get that off my chest for a while.  Moving on, here are the books I’m planning on getting this month (spoiler: August is a great month for new releases).

lgcover.9781460397459KA Mitchell’s BOYFRIEND MATERIAL (NA M/M romance): I’m a long-time fan of KA Mitchell’s writing and I enjoyed the first in this series, which was also her NA debut.  College setting as bonus!

Physically, it’s easy for Ethan and Wyatt to be together—well, if “easy” means stolen moments when Ethan’s roommate is away, or sneaking away to a hidden nook in the library. Privacy is hard to come by in a dorm, but finding ways to connect is half the fun.

Emotionally, though, that’s a different story. Wyatt isn’t sure if a relationship is something he can make last—years of having to hide his emotions have left him with a shaky sense of self-confidence. And when it’s time to head home for the holidays, their steamy on-campus connection may not translate so well to the real world…

Out now

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27969076Julie Cross and Mark Perini’s YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE (YA romance): I’ve really enjoyed Julie Cross’s YA romances (her LETTERS TO NOWHERE was one of my all-time favourites, and a strong recommend if you’re looking for a sports-themed read for the Olympics), but I was not a fan of her last collaboration with Mark Perini. So basically, a long-winded way of saying I’m going to give this a go at some point.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her “good girl” persona, so she’ll try Eddie on for size.

New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the “good girl” stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He’s shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie’s bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

Out now

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26225506Foz Meadows’ AN ACCIDENT OF STARS (fantasy): I’ve not read any of her fiction before (she started as a blogger, IIRC), but there are some very good reviews floating around for this portal fantasy.  Plus Kate Elliott and Martha Wells blurbs – I’m sold.

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.

Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

Out now

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28438133Kelley Armstrong’s BETRAYALS (UF): This has been an uneven series for me – liked the first two, but thought the last book was a bit of a mess.  I’m still continuing with the series though.

Olivia Jones knows a lot about betrayal – most of her life has been a lie. On the eve of her wedding, she discovered she was adopted – and that her biological parents were convicted serial killers.

Liv has found sanctuary in her new home of Cainsville, but she’s learned not to trust the town’s mysterious elders. So when her biker boyfriend Ricky Gallagher is linked to a series of murders, she’s reluctant to ask for their help. Meanwhile things have grown increasingly complicated with Gabriel Walsh, her boss and sometime friend. The fact that their fraught relationship is connected to an ancient myth in which they were passionate lovers doesn’t help matters, either…

As Liv fights to clear Ricky’s name, she discovers that her own life is at serious risk. Soon Ricky, Liv and Gabriel are tangled in a web of a betrayals. In order to survive, they will have to trust one another. But given their dark history, is that even possible? Or wise…?

Out now

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26116636Rachel Aaron’s NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED (UF): Another series where I really liked the first book, but was a bit underwhelmed with the second (am I being a bit grumpy today?).  Having said that, this is my current book on my Kindle.

When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

Out now

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26853604Kate Elliott’s POISONED BLADE (YA fantasy): Speaking of Kate Elliott!  I’ve pre-ordered this one.  I won the first book in an author giveaway last year, and liked it a whole lot.

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes’s traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…She must become a warrior.

Out Aug 16

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31288118Nalini Singh’s WILD EMBRACE (paranormal romance): The other book I’ve got on the go (the days when I only read one book at a time is long gone…) is Nalini Singh’s latest release ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR – I’ve only just started, so reserving judgement, but she wasn’t kidding when she described it as an ensemble book, was she?  Anyway, a few more novellas in the Psy-Changeling world here.

The ‘alpha author of paranormal romance’* presents a stunningly sensual collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas, in which taboos are broken, boundaries are crossed, and instincts prove irresistible . . .

Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander . . .

Dorian
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration – until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play . . .

Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him . . .

Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries . . .

Out Aug 23

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30175057Alexis Hall’s LOOKING FOR GROUP (M/M contemporary romance): Alexis Hall has such a talent for writing.  Each of his books have had unique voices – I’m not a gamer, but I’m totally getting this one.

So, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

Out Aug 29

25558608Sabaa Tahir’s A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT (YA fantasy): I thought the buzz around her debut was well-deserved (though could have done without the love triangle/rectangle) and this is very much on my to-buy list.

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Out Aug 30

Books for July

There’s quite a few new releases on my radar this month.

22846823Miranda Kenneally’s DEFENDING TAYLOR (YA romance): I’ve always enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s sports romance books (my very favourite being BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, and the latest in her Hundred Oaks series is out this month.

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Out now

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23510834Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s ALLIANCE OF EQUALS (SF): This is my current book on the go, and it’s keeping me occupied (in between watching tennis points!).  Some of the plot threads from previous books appear to be coming to fruition in this one, so hurrah.

A new novel in the popular and exciting science fiction Liaden Universe® series. Over a half million Liaden Universe® books sold with an audience that keeps growing!

Beset by the angry remnants of the Department of the Interior, challenged at every turn by opportunists on their new homeworld of Surebleak, and somewhat low on funds, Clan Korval desperately needs to reestablish its position as one of the top trading clans in known space. To this end, Master Trader Shan yos’Galan, aboard Korval’s premier trade ship, Dutiful Passage, is on a mission to establish new business associations and to build a strong primary route that links well with existing Loops and secondary routes.

But reestablishing trade and preserving the lives of the few remaining members of the clan aren’t all of Korval’s problems. Matters come to a head as Dutiful Passage, accustomed to being welcomed and feted at those ports on its call-list, finds itself denied docking, and blacklisted, while agents of the DOI mount armed attacks on others of Korval’s traders, under the very eyes of port security systems.

Traveling with Dutiful Passage on this unsettling journey is Padi yos’Galan, the master trader’s heir and his apprentice. Padi is eager to make up for time lost due to Korval’s unpleasantness with the Department of the Interior. She is also keeping a secret so intense that her coming of age, and perhaps her very life, is threatened by it.

Out now

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29087455Sarina Bowen’s STEADFAST (contemporary romance): The first book in this trilogy, BITTERSWEET, came out last month, and it totally whetted my appetite for Jude’s story.  I could get on board with this trend of releasing books in quick succession…

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

Out July 12

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30651327Rachel Caine’s PAPER AND FIRE (YA fantasy): I had a good time with the first book in this series so bring on the second.  Also obviously – libraries.

LET THE WORLD BURN

With an iron fist, the Great Library ruthlessly controls the knowledge of the world, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but his life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered for ever. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe any more. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or a Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control …

Out July 21 in the UK (think the US version is out now)

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29536947JL Merrow’s BLOW DOWN (M/M contemporary romance): I find my experience with JL Merrow’s books a bit hit-or-miss, but her Plumber’s Mate series has definitely been on the hit side so far.

Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.

The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Book 4

The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.

Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.

As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.

Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.

Out July 12

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27804510Megan Derr’s THE PIRATE OF FATHOMS DEEP (M/M fantasy romance): I’m not usually one for fluffy romance, especially fluffy fantasy romance, but the first book in this series somehow hit the right buttons for me.

High Commander Lesto Arseni is the most feared man in the Harken Empire. None but the High King dares risk his wrath—and a pirate who once punched him in the middle of the imperial pavilion. A pirate who later snuck away with Lesto to an empty room, touched him in ways far more memorable. And then immediately bolted like a man who’d gotten what he wanted.

Shemal just wants to live a normal life, leave his pirating days behind him and prove that he’s respectable now. The last thing he needs is the two idiots who show up wanting his help with the noble they’ve kidnapped—the very man Shemal had been hoping to prove himself to, the man he hasn’t forgotten since Shemal punched him a year and a half ago.

Out July 13

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So, that’s my list – what’s on yours?

A Couple of New Releases

You know you haven’t been reviewing for a while when you forget how to use your tagging system at Goodreads.  And it wasn’t even that complicated to start with…

Anyway, I had grand plans to start posting more regularly, and then I remembered why my posting frequency dips (even more) over the summer – Wimbledon starts this week!  As I type, I’ve “Today at Wimbledon” in the background (thank goodness the BBC got rid of last year’s trying-too-hard highlights show “Wimbledon 2day”).

So before I get too caught up in the tennis (with the Olympics coming up next), here are a couple of recent reads.

28161530I’ve just finished Sarina Bowen‘s newest release BITTERSWEET.  Talk about foodie heaven!  And she accomplishes that without the dreaded infodump. It also takes skill to weave such a cosy and close-knit small-town (farm?) picture without ever veering into saccharine territory, and again, Bowen manages that with ease.  Obviously Griff and Audrey’s chemistry was off the charts and the relationship worked for me.

However, in what is becoming a familiar pattern in Bowen’s books, I spotted the major flashpoint a mile away and spent most of the book waiting for the axe to fall.  Which is why I happily abandoned the book halfway through for about a week before finishing it in a single gulp.  And a minor niggle – there were a few typos scattered throughout.  Not many, but enough to catch my attention.

29607276An unexpected new release read for me was Linda Howard‘s TROUBLEMAKER – I was expecting to wait a few months for my library reservation to come through.  Let’s get this out of the way – it’s not up to the standard of vintage Howard.  Then again, maybe it’s time to adjust expectations when it comes to Howard.

Janine’s review @ Dear Author said that the heroine’s dog, Tricks, was a Mary Sue character, which made me laugh because I’d scribbled in my notes that it felt like a love story between Bo (the heroine) and Tricks.  But it was suspenseful enough, though I think Howard overdid the dark damaged hero somewhat.  I felt there were some slightly anachronistic notes in what’s meant to be a modern romance, for instance, Bo thinking that she needed to buy “guy foods” for Morgan (and similar thinking in Morgan’s mind, IIRC).  Overall, the perfect commute-type read for me – it made the time pass quickly enough, but I never needed to know what happened next.

 

 

Personal/Politics

I try to keep this blog mostly book-related, but it seems weird not to acknowledge that we just had a once-in-a-lifetime event here in the UK. I work for an organisation that will 100% be affected by the Brexit vote, and it was a very strange morning yesterday.

You may have seen that London was very pro-Remain.  I went to bed pretty convinced that Remain would win the vote, that Friday would be a bit of a damp squib following the buildup, and we would all have a good laugh over the over-the-top contingency planning.

And then I woke up to the news that it was an Out vote; as I walked into work, David Cameron was resigning.

Wow.

Not much work got done during the morning at all. There was a lot bit of black humour, I think most people were stunned by the result and trying to figure out the implications. By mid-afternoon, the reality had settled in somewhat, and I do expect it to be pretty much business-as-usual on Monday.

Like everyone else in the UK, I’ve no idea what it means for me. There are so many ramifications, and all of them will take time to play through.  I’d be surprised if anything crystallises in the next few weeks (then again, I’ve obviously proved a failure at reading the tea leaves).

I won’t lie.  The massive uncertainty is worrying.  But there’s nothing I can do about it right now, and I don’t want to stress myself out imagining worst-case scenarios.  So let’s wait and see what happens – it will be an interesting few months, I suspect.  (And I may have to severely limit my time on social media!)

One thing I need to get off my chest before I wrap up: I find myself biting my tongue when someone says they voted without understanding the consequences. Seriously?

It doesn’t matter which way you voted, but voting on something as momentous as this without taking the time to think, or even worse, voting arbitrarily because “oh, one vote doesn’t count”? Arrrrgghhhhh.

But what’s done is done. We have to unite to move forward, and on a personal level, me ranting IRL at people is not going to help at all. So consider this my rant in a private space, and hopefully I won’t fall out with the next person who says they didn’t really think before voting.

That’s it – usual service will be resumed shortly!

Books for June

I’d apologise for my absence, but it was a reading v. blogging thing!  I’ve just inhaled all seven books (plus a couple of short stories) of Jodi Taylor‘s madcap time-travel series.  Post to follow, hopefully, but it’s a solid recommend just in case you were wondering…

Now that I’m sadly caught up with The Chronicles of St Mary’s series, here are the June new releases I’m planning on getting – it’s a short list, but there are some good ones.

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SUMMER DAYS, SUMMER NIGHTS, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance anthology): This sounds like the perfect summer beach read (or for those of us unlikely to make it to beaches in the next few months, the perfect err… summer balcony read?).  Some big-name YA authors in this anthology, including Leigh Bardugo (loved her SIX OF CROWS) and obviously Perkins herself.

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Out now

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28161530Sarina Bowen’s BITTERSWEET (contemporary romance): I’m excited about this new series from Sarina Bowen.  I love her writing, and I’m intrigued by lumbersexual farmers!  Also, we debated the covers at Nath’s – mixed reaction to the covers themselves, but everyone’s getting the books…

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Out June 14

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28375943Nalini Singh’s ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR (paranormal romance): I think Nalini Singh’s referred to this one as an “ensemble book”, and it’s meant to wrap up the current series arc?  I’m looking forward to catching up with the usual suspects here.

The ‘unparalleled romantic adventure’* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world . . .

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy . . . and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable – and save Trinity – no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honour even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

Out June 16

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28348234Naomi Novik’s LEAGUE OF DRAGONS (historical fantasy): The final book in the Temeraire series!  If I’m honest, I think this series jumped the shark a while ago – the recent books have felt more like historical travelogues than anything else – but I’m obviously going to read the final book to see how the story’s wrapped up.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all – if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country – and the ferals, loyal only to themselves – vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa – and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready – one that that may win him the war, and the world.

Out June 14

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30245656Eloisa James’ A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS (historical romance): I feel like Eloisa James has been experimenting with several formats recently and this one is a novellette set in the world of her Essex Sisters series.  I remember posting about this series way back when I first started blogging – I’ve just looked up that post, and I’m both cringing and laughing at my enthusiastic review of the books.  I’ve debated whether to link it, but why not – here’s my take on the Essex Sisters series (I am so tempted to edit that post, but have restrained – you get the warts and all version!).

A witty and sparkling Regency romance novella by Eloisa James, author of My American Duchess, linked to the bestselling Essex Sisters series

Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again . . . and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.

When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.

Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behaviour . . . once again.

Out June 28

Any big June releases that I’ve missed?

Recent Reads – The Good, the Bad… and the So-So?

How about some actual book talk here?  For a book blog, I’m conscious I don’t post a lot about books I’m reading (probably because that would take some actual focus and thought, both of which have been sadly lacking here).  Let me see if I can get back into the rhythm of things…

27074515At the moment, I’m reading Alison Goodman‘s YA historical fantasy THE DARK DAYS CLUB (which is marked Lady Helen #1 on Goodreads, so am assuming it’s the first in a series).  I’m about a quarter in, and it’s all good so far – I’m suitably intrigued, the story’s moving at a snappy pace, and I’m liking the period flavour.  It is feeling a bit Buffy-like, so I’m reserving judgement (I wasn’t a massive fan).

28246697I finished Nora Roberts‘ new romantic suspense THE OBSESSION the other day – it’s been a while since I’ve really enjoyed an NR, and picked this up after seeing mostly positive reviews.  Alas, this didn’t work for me.  It had a promising start which sucked me in immediately, but a very soggy middle (if a book could be described as such) – I ended up flipping through the rest of the book just so I could find out whodunnit.  Spoiler: it wasn’t worth the time.

And then books by two new-to-me authors I’ve really enjoyed

25404499Santino Hassell’s Five Borough series – a M/M contemporary romance series set in New York City.  I picked up the first when it was on sale a few weeks back, and ended up buying both the second and the third (just released!).  I flew through all three books – the first, SUTPHIN BOULEVARD, may be my favourite because I really liked the school setting.  It’s also probably the angstiest; the second two books are much more straightforward romance. Each is a standalone romance, so feel free to dive into the series whenever. Hassell is definitely a new auto-buy for me.

29247999And then Julianna Keyes’ UNDECIDED Kaetrin’s review of this NA romance @ Dear Author piqued my interest and I one-clicked it.  I totally loved.  There’s a certain kind of NA that hits all the right buttons for me – I haven’t spent too much time analysing the exact formulae, but elements definitely include (1) protagonists who talk to each other (2) non-angsty conflict (3) some messy self-discovery and growing up (4) chemistry.  UNDECIDED had all of this a-plenty, with a college setting as bonus – I have a soft spot for college!

I loved the Keyes so much that I bought one of her contemporaries straight after (UNDECIDED is her first NA).  I picked GOING THE DISTANCE using my (not-so-)trusty Goodreads formula (highest rated standalone book), but I’m not entirely sure – not exactly connecting with the h/h.  Hence the jump to the current Alison Goodman read.

So that’s a few of my recent reads – have you read any of these?

 

Books for May

I know it’s been a bit quiet here over the past couple of months, but I feel like 2016 has been a really good year for new releases so far.  But it’s starting to calm down – there are a few books I want to get in May, but not as many as in previous months.

26067987Mary Balogh’s ONLY BELOVED (historical romance): I’ve been reading her Survivors’ Club series and enjoying it well enough, reflected by the fact I usually wait until my library reservations come through as opposed to buying.  This book wraps up the series – I’ve placed my library reservation!

From the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Only a Promise comes the final book in the rapturous Survivor’s Club series—as the future of one man lies within the heart of a lost but never-forgotten love…

For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.

Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.

For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?

Out now

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29244653Ashley Gardner’s THE ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR (historical mystery): I’ve had a soft spot for Egyptian settings ever since I fell for Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books (I’m still keeping a ear out for rumours as to her final unpublished manuscript), and I probably will pick this up at some point.

Lucius Grenville at last persuades Captain Lacey to join him in an expedition to Egypt, to visit various ancient sites. Lacey is excited to go, though torn about leaving his new family. He discovers, though, that the burgeoning market for antiquities has made Egypt’s ancient history open for plunder, bringing forth ruthless men who will not stop short of murder for the sake of a fortune.

Out May 17

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26242354Lisa Kleypas’s MARRYING WINTERBORNE (historical romance): There’s a (unusual) historical theme to this month’s new releases for me – I felt like Lisa Kleypas’s previous book spent a lot of time setting up the Helen/Winterborne romance (and overshadowing the main relationship), so hopefully this book lives up to the promise.

A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…

A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable…the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

Out May 31

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17927395Sarah J Maas’s A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (YA fantasy): I am on the fence for this (very likely a library reservation too) – I had fun reading the previous one, but I remember the doormat-y heroine also infuriating me at times.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Out now

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So not exactly a sterling month for new releases – any books you’re really excited about?

Bank Holiday Monday Links

Despite the doom-and-gloom weather predictions, it’s turned out to be a good Bank Holiday!  Lots of sunshine (where I live, anyway), and it feels like spring is finally here.  And not a moment too soon…

A few Monday links:

Sarah Rees Brennan talks about women and worldbuilding – she makes some interesting points.  Hand-wavey worldbuilding is one of my pet hates (I can overlook it if I’m really invested in the characters, but it takes a lot!).  I haven’t seen a male/female divide on “good” worldbuilding but then again, my reading skews heavily towards female authors so IDK.  Anyway, she mentions THE TURN OF THE STORY, which is one of the very few online serials I fell for (primarily because it wasn’t a serial until it was…) – definitely worth reading if you haven’t already.

Speaking of worldbuilding (or lack of), Marko Kloos talks about how his Frontlines military SF series started out.  Which made me think a bit about what I consider to be worldbuilding.  I don’t need to know the nth detail of a world, but I appreciate consistency between characterisation and the setting.  How characters think and react should be shaped by the society and culture in which they live, which in turn is influenced by history, technology, the physical setting and so forth.  When any of these are out of sync, it feels slightly jarring to me – does that make sense?  Do you think of worldbuilding differently?

Finally, an interview with Lois McMaster Bujold, who’s an author who does amazing worldbuilding IMO.  It’s a great interview and covers quite a few topics.  On backlist books, I found this piece interesting – not surprised, though:

So, yes, I now make much, much more from my self-pubbed backlist e-books than backlist paper books. None of them sell more than modestly, but I have 20 or 30 titles up, depending, and they do add up. A frontlist (new) lead book publication with good push from a major publisher can still top that in the first years of a book’s life-cycle. By my current calculations, after about five years e-versions go back to being more advantageous.

 

Books for April

A bit of a late post, but better late than never?  Here are the April new releases on my radar (and in a couple of cases, that I’ve already devoured).

25893424KJ Charles’s A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION (M/M historical romance): I have utterly loved the previous two (and a half) books in this Regency series, and this one was no exception.  I’ve read hundreds of regency romances before (no hyperbole, I promise – I pretty much read historicals exclusively when I started reading romance) and KJ Charles managed to bring something new to the table.  She juggles questions of privilege, the politics of the era, and sexual tension a-plenty with ease here – and it’s probably the most suspenseful non-romantic suspense novel I’ve ever read.  Can you tell I loved it?

Power, privilege, and the rigid rules of class leave two hearts yearning for connection in the sizzling new Society of Gentlemen novel from K. J. Charles.
 
Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.

For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.

Out now

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25648897Marko Kloos’s CHAINS OF COMMAND (military SF): I downloaded an ARC of this one by accident – well, kind of (courtesy of the author linking to a Netgalley widget on his blog – the downloading part was all me, because I just couldn’t resist).

I’ve been avoiding ARCs for a while.  When you don’t have enough time to blog regularly, the last thing you need is to commit to writing actual reviews, right?

But I have no regrets about this one – I’ve enjoyed Marko Kloos’s writing ever since his self-pubbed debut, and CHAINS OF COMMAND was a satisfying installment in his series.  Fuller review to come, but it’s a fast-paced read that hit the right MilSF buttons for me (and a lot less angsty than the blurb below suggests).

The assault on Earth was thwarted by the destruction of the aliens’ seed ship, but with Mars still under Lanky control, survivors work frantically to rebuild fighting capacity and shore up planetary defenses. Platoon sergeant Andrew Grayson must crash-course train new volunteers—all while dulling his searing memories of battle with alcohol and meds.

Knowing Earth’s uneasy respite won’t last, the North American Commonwealth and its Sino-Russian allies hurtle toward two dangerous options: hit the Lanky forces on Mars or go after deserters who stole a fleet of invaluable warships critical to winning the war. Assigned to a small special ops recon mission to scout out the renegades’ stronghold on a distant moon, Grayson and his wife, dropship pilot Halley, again find themselves headed for the crucible of combat—and a shattering new campaign in the war for humanity’s future.

Out now

25898527Martha Wells’s THE EDGE OF WORLDS (fantasy): So. I really want this one.  Martha Wells’ Raksura books are the epitome of adventure fantasy for me, and I’ve loved all previous books/novellas in this series (also, I’m slightly impressed by the fact I appear to have actually posted reviews for all of them on Goodreads – it’s been a while since I’ve done that). But.

The UK ebook is £17(!), and I can’t justify that price for an ebook.  At least not yet – ask me another day when I’m feeling a bit weaker…

An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors, the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.

Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.

The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

Out now

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25671827Kylie Scott’s DIRTY (contemporary romance): Another auto-buy author for me, this time with the first of a spin-off series (from her rockstar romance Stage Dive books).  Very possibly my next read.

 The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn’t know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it’s with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she’d marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he’s all wrong-maybe it’s time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

After all, what’s wrong with getting dirty?

Out now

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16221851Sarah Rees Brennan’s TELL THE WIND AND FIRE (YA fantasy): Sarah Rees Brennan’s wickedly funny writing + retelling of A TALE OF TWO CITIES = very promising read.

However, another ebook issue is holding me back from having read this, this time of the geographical limitations variety.  I know – #firstworldproblems.

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

Out now

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23253083Cinda William Chima’s FLAMECASTER (YA fantasy): After a slow start, I ended up adoring Cinda William Chima’s Seven Realms quartet, so a spin-off set a generation later was always going to grab my attention.  I’m easy like that.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

Out now

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Maybes this month

  • Stephanie Burgis’s MASKS AND SHADOWS – this is a historical fantasy centred around opera, which is intriguing in itself.  Also, good buzz, and I love the cover.
  • Jo Beverley’s A VISCOUNT NEEDS A WIFE – I hate to put this with the maybes as Jo Beverley’s one of my long-time autobuy authors, but I haven’t felt a spark with her recent historicals.  I will probably end up buying this though.
  • Richelle Mead’s THE GLITTERING COURT – I loved her earlier books, but her more recent books have been more misses than hits for me.  This is a start of a new series, however, so I’ll probably wait on reviews before deciding.

Well – that was a bit longer than I expected, I obviously need to get reading.  What April new releases are you buying (or have bought!)?