Karina Bliss’s FALL

28230419I seem to have hit the motherlode of autobuy authors this month.  (Also – four blog posts in a month?  I’m not sure what’s happening either.)

I’ve always liked Karina Bliss’s writing, but I’ve never rushed out to buy her latest releases.  I bought her self-pubbed RISE on an impulse (okay, fine, it was a weakness for rock star romances), and had a lot of fun reading it.  So when she offered me an ARC of the sequel, FALL, I was very quick to say yes please!

Keep Rage together at all costs…

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage’s nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She’s supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it.  But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.

Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they’re hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they’re all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he’s almost convinced, too.

It’s perhaps inaccurate to bill FALL as a rock star romance – Seth does rock out a couple of times (and I may have swooned alongside Dimity), but the overall story focuses more on the aftermath of events that happened in RISE. As a result, it’s less rock star, more intimate, and all about Seth and Dimity’s developing romance. There’s sizzling chemistry, a lot of denial, some pursuing, and yes, a HEA that made me smile.

Snappy dialogue and sparkling humour made the time whizz past for me (I won’t spoil it for you, but there was a LotR analogy that made me splutter with laughter). But it’s not just all light frothy romance – at its heart, FALL is about family, both the family you’re born into and the family that you create for yourself, and this added substance to the romance.

Dimity’s that rare breed in a romance novel – she’s a thoroughly alpha female, though Seth is no pushover either. I loved that Seth was confident enough to let Dimity be herself, and that Dimity wasn’t magically transformed into a new person at the end of the book. Bliss makes the most of alternating POVs here, and I had so much fun seeing Seth and Dimity through each other’s eyes.  I also appreciated the well-rounded secondary characters in the book – Seth’s family play a solid supporting role, as do the other members of the band (yes, total sequel bait, but I’ll bite).

I have to say one thing did pull me out of the story at times: Seth’s nickname for Dimity was Honey B (after she was not-so-kindly compared to a honey badger). This is purely me (and rather poor timing), but there is a contestant called Honey G on this year’s UK X Factor, and well, having my mind link the two of them is not a good thing!

Unfortunate nicknames aside, FALL was a winner for me, and I’m really looking forward to the next installment in this series – or whatever Bliss writes next.

Elizabeth Bonesteel’s Central Corps Novels (or When You Discover a New-to-You Author)

25817527I got a copy of Elizabeth Bonesteel‘s debut novel THE COLD BETWEEN via instaFreebie earlier this year (or perhaps late last year?).  I’m always on the lookout for new-to-me military SF authors and well, the Chris McGrath cover didn’t hurt…

And then the book languished on my TBR pile for a while – until I was in the mood for SFF and decided to give it a go.

From my Goodreads review:

Let’s get the not-so-good stuff out of the way first: this is pseudo-MilSF at best (liberties are taken with the fraternisation and chain of command elements and I’m not entirely sure the science here would hold up to close scrutiny).

But the setting and characters were enough to convince me to go with the flow and pretend that military science fantasy was the genre, and once I did, then THE COLD BETWEEN turns out to be an entertaining and fast-paced murder mystery in space. I’m not fully invested yet, but I suspect I could grow to care about these characters in future books, and the romance fan in me liked the (unresolved) romance threads in this one.

You could tell I wasn’t 100% convinced, right?  But I did finish the book in a couple of days… and you know how sometimes characters stick around in your head?  It was like that with Elena, Greg & co – I had to know what they did next.

29099274So I pre-ordered the sequel, REMNANTS OF TRUST, and fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long as it came out this week (and proved to be a really good distraction from RL events, I have to say).

[Slight spoilers for previous book removed!] […Commander Elena Shaw and Captain Greg Foster have] been assigned to patrol the nearly empty space of the Third Sector.

But their mundane mission quickly turns treacherous when the Galileo picks up a distress call: Exeter, a sister ship, is under attack from raiders. A PSI generation ship—the same one that recently broke off negotiations with Foster—is also in the sector and joins in the desperate battle that leaves ninety-seven of Exeter’s crew dead.

An investigation of the disaster points to sabotage. And Exeter is only the beginning. When the PSI ship and Galileo suffer their own “accidents,” it becomes clear that someone is willing to set off a war in the Third Sector to keep their secrets, and the clues point to the highest echelons of power . . . and deep into Shaw’s past.

REMNANTS OF TRUST was great.

Still not perfect, mind (I suspect this is going to be one of the YMMV books, similar to Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye books, which I adore and others just… don’t), but something about Bonesteel’s writing just hits the spot for me.

The story held my attention throughout.  There’s some excellent and breath-taking action sequences, interspersed with quiet (and not-so-quiet) conversations.  And then there’s the immediate whodunnit (and why), overlaid with bigger-picture political manoeuvring, all in a space opera setting (which is basically my catnip).

Bonesteel has a knack of writing protagonists that you grow to care about, with several new faces being introduced here.  She uses the trick of multiple POVs to create reader empathy with her characters, and it worked for me here.

I also appreciated how she wove diversity into her SF world, without it being in your face.  One thing that I want to mention specifically: one of the central characters in REMNANTS is of (implied) Chinese descent, and with the recent discussions of othering being at the forefront of my mind, I did wince at how she was presented initially.  In the end though, I felt that Guanyin turned out to be as human and vulnerable as the other characters, and it ended up being the right balance for me.

My criticisms about pseudo-MilSF from the first book still hold true, but I’ve decided to think of Central Corps as an alt-MilSF world where people can freely fraternise with anyone regardless of rank (yes, I can rationalise with the best of them).  I’m also on the fence on the unresolved relationship arc – part of me wants to bang heads together and say enough already, while the other part of me just wants to sit back and see what happens next.

Regardless of these niggles, safe to say Elizabeth Bonesteel is now firmly on my list on autobuy authors, and I can only hope she writes many more stories.

A Minor Accomplishment (and Links)

Look!  It’s only taken me eleven months to log all my 2015 reads on Goodreads.  Ha. *eyes 2016 notes*

I think I’ve mentioned my “process” before – I basically jot down some rough notes (and rating using GR stars) in a Google Docs document and then transfer over in a (much) more coherent form to GR when I’ve some time to spare.  (This excludes those books that I feel strongly enough to blog about here, obviously!)

What I have found myself doing when transcribing my notes a year some time later is that I occasionally adjust my original rating for a book – rarely upwards, usually downwards.  Not very often – it was maybe for ten or so books when I was finishing off my 2015 updates?  In a way, distance helps me to calibrate my ratings – if I can barely remember the plot a few months later, that 4* was probably a bit too generous in hindsight.  Does anyone else adjust ratings retrospectively too?

Anyway, a couple of links for the weekend:

Books for November

Happy… November?  It’s almost Christmas! *ducks and hides*

I had a look at my Goodreads to-read shelf for November, and the list seems shorter than in previous months.  Though that’s possibly a good thing as I decided to go though my Kindle in an attempt to clear out my books…  let’s just say I’m very glad that a virtual TBR pile takes up no physical space at all!

The November new releases that I’ll be getting:

28941103SHADOWED SOULS, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L Hughes (urban fantasy): I know, I know.  I keep on saying I’m not a short story fan, and then I promptly run out to buy more anthologies.  This one has some UF big names – I’m most keen on the Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire and Tanya Huff.

In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals with some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters .

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES BY

Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *

Out now

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28953458Sharon Shinn’s UNQUIET LAND (fantasy): Her Elemental Blessings series has been a bit uneven for me (really liked the first, the second was so-so, and the third somewhere between the two), but Sharon Shinn remains an auto-buy for me.  And I really like the world-building in this series.

From the national bestselling author of Jeweled Fire and Royal Airs comes the latest novel in the Elemental Blessings series.

Leah Frothen has returned home. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned by regent Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in…

Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.

But when the regent asks her to spy on ambassadors from a visiting nation, Leah soon learns that everyone—her regent, her lover, and even her daughter—have secrets that could save the nation, but might very well break her heart.

Out now

*

28230419Karina Bliss’s FALL (contemporary romance): I really enjoyed the first book in this rockstar romance series, and her linked story in the You Had Me at Christmas anthology was one of the rare romance shorts that worked for me.

Keep Rage together at all costs…

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage’s nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She’s supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it. But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.

Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they’re hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they’re all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he’s almost convinced, too.

Out Nov 15

Maybes:

  • Juliet Marillier’s DEN OF WOLVES (fantasy): She’s normally an auto-buy for me, but I’ve not managed to get into these Blackthorn & Grim books.  This is the last of the trilogy and I’ll probably wait for the paperback edition.  Beautiful covers though.
  • Stephanie Burgis’s CONGRESS OF SECRETS (fantasy): I’ve enjoyed her short stories, but never read a full-length novel of hers yet – maybe this will be the first!  Again, fab cover.
  • Lee Child’s NIGHT SCHOOL (suspense): I haven’t yet weaned myself off the Jack Reacher books despite the recent less-than-suspenseful plots, though this may be one I get from the library.

 

 

Book Randomness

October is flying past for me. In fact, all of 2016 appears to be progressing at 2x speed – anyone else feel that way?

I’ve sat down several times to try and compose a blog post, but have given up on anything coherent.  So here’s a random set of book-ish thoughts for today:

akh1) An Andrea K Höst new release!  Seeing her post about The Towers, the Moon pop up today was a pleasant surprise – I love her writing, and let’s face it, a set of short stories sounds about my speed lately.

2) Having said that, a new book want – Angie’s post about Beth Brower‘s THE Q made me want to run out and buy it immediately.

3) Old news, but I am loving Neil Gaiman‘s retro cover re-dos.  STARDUST especially!  I have such a soft spot for those old-school covers.

4) And finally, anyone on Litsy?  I joined after Chachic posted about the Android release (I’m meandmybooks), but I’m struggling.  Most of my reading is done on my Kindle, and I figure there’s only so many “arty” shots I can do.

Here’s my first (and only) Litsy contribution…  (also my reading list as of a week or so ago)litsy

Books for October

New month, new books!  Here are the new releases I’m getting:

28504482Lynn Kurland’s THE WHITE SPELL (fantasy romance): The first trilogy in Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdom series was such fun – I’ve since ploughed through the rest in the series (still fun, but not as absorbing as the first) and have pre-ordered the new one.

The New York Times bestselling Nine Kingdoms Saga continues in a land where light and dark magic vie, and where a reluctant hero and seemingly defenseless stable maid must join forces against an encroaching evil.

Acair of Ceangail, youngest bastard son of the worst black mage in history, has followed in his father’s footsteps, wreaking havoc throughout the world and leaving powerful enemies in his wake. After a year of reparation, he owes a final bit of penance: twelve months spent working in a barn without using his magic.

Léirsinn of Sàraichte understands horses, stable work, and how to judge men’s hearts.  When she starts seeing shadows where there should only be light, she knows there is evil afoot. Unfortunately, it’s something she can’t fight on her own.

Acair’s attempts to aid Léirsinn only draw the notice of dangerous mages against whom he is currently defenseless. With only each other to rely on, Acair and Léirsinn find themselves suddenly in a race to save the world before it’s consumed by darkness…

Out Oct 4

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31195675Alexis Hall’s PANSIES (M/M contemporary romance):  There’s this thing I have with Alexis Hall’s books… I always feel kind of lukewarm after reading the book description, and then I finally get around to reading the book and end up loving it.  So maybe I’ll learn from my previous experiences and buy the book on release day this time?

Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie’s never met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

Out Oct 10

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24909346Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s GEMINA (YA SF): I suspect this will be on a lot of people’s lists.  Angie deemed this one bibliocrack-worthy, so really, that’s all I need to know

The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and theHypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless

Out Oct 18

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30364774Santino Hassell’s INTERBOROUGH (M/M contemporary romance): I flew through the earlier books in this NYC-set series earlier this year, and I’m glad I didn’t have to wait too long for a new book.

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

Out Oct 24

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29087466Sarina Bowen’s KEEPSAKE (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s having a prolific year, isn’t she?  Not that I’m complaining – this is the final book in her True North series, and the previous two entries have been solid ones.

Lark Wainright, 23, has nightmares. She used to be fearless. But while overseas for her nonprofit employer, she was kidnapped and held at gunpoint in a dusty shack. Everyone has an opinion about what might have happened to here there, but she’s not saying much. She’s too consumed by guilt to talk about it.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the Shipley orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps into her little car and heads to Vermont. Unfortunately, the night terrors don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret from those who know her best, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of Orange County, Vermont, to calm her down when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah, 23, is a survivor of a different kind. It’s been three years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult out west, and the only home he’d ever known. In Vermont, he’s found a peaceful place in the bunkhouse at the Shipley’s farm. He’s good with animals, and he’s good with his hands. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. And he doesn’t always know what to make of a world where apps and movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV. He’d never spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are still a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she shoves Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for more than farm labor.

Out Oct 25

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And a couple more October releases on my radar:

  • Kelley Armstrong‘s Otherworld short story collection, OTHERWORLD CHILLS, though I’ll probably request from the library as it contains some previously-published material.
  • The contemporary romance anthology YOU HAD ME AT CHRISTMAS (though isn’t it a bit too early for Christmas?!) with a Karina Bliss story – her contribution is set in her Rock Solid world, and I did love the previous book.

 

Books for September

Well, summer’s flown past, hasn’t it?  It doesn’t feel like it should be autumn yet (I’m sure I’ll change my mind as soon as it gets a bit cooler and starts raining every other day).

September’s a good month for new releases – here are the ones on my radar:

15748538Seanan McGuire’s ONCE BROKEN FAITH (UF): I read this earlier than expected due to the UK release date, but it’s now out everywhere!  If you’re a Toby fan, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this one – Toby plays detective, and standard mayhem ensues (with royalty in attendance as bonus).

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

Out now

*

31223642Sarina Bowen’s ROOKIE MOVE (contemporary romance): I’m just finishing up this one, and am loving the professional hockey backdrop (also, it’s loosely connected to her Ivy Years NA series). A solid romance, and one that totally reinforces her status as one of my autobuy authors.

A brand new sporty, sexy series from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.
Georgia Worthington and Leo Trevi were the golden couple of their high school. He was the hockey team captain, she was a tennis star. Until graduation, when tragedy pulled them apart.

Five years later, everything’s coming together for Leo. His dreams of playing professional hockey seem to be coming true as he’s called up from the minors to play for the NHL’s newest team. The only problem? The team’s publicist is the woman who broke his heart.

As she tries to prove herself as the senior PR specialist for a major NHL franchise, the last thing Georgia needs is the distraction of her former flame. But when Leo arrives at the press conference that can make or break her career, Georgia realizes that the man she put her on ice might still be able to melt her heart.

Out now

*

27840861Leigh Bardugo’s CROOKED KINGDOM (YA fantasy): I dragged my feet when it came to reading SIX OF CROWS and regretted it – I’ll be grabbing this on release day.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Out Sept 27

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28220973Julie Cross’s CHASING TRUTH (YA romance): A new series from Julie Cross!  Intriguing blurb – it sounds slightly OTT, but I’ll give it a go because it’s Cross.

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Out Sept 27

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28262024Elle Kennedy’s THE GOAL (NA romance): Another series I discovered late, but better late than never!  I’m always up for more of her NA romance.

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

Out Sept 26

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17333174Ilona Andrews’ MAGIC BINDS (UF): Hurrah for a new Kate Daniels!  It’s been a while.

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Out Sept 20

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Maybes for this month:

  • Wen Spencer’s PROJECT ELFHOME (fantasy): Wen Spencer’s usually an autobuy for me, but I’m not wholly sold on a short story collection.  I’ll probably get it soon (and despite the cover – Baen has really outdone themselves this time).
  • Courtney Milan’s THE YEAR OF THE CROCODILE (romance): A short story/novella(?) in her Cyclone series – I enjoyed the first book a lot, so I’ll most likely grab this at some point.
  • Connie Willis’s CROSSTALK (SF romance): Connie Willis is now firmly on my list of authors to read after a couple of you rec’d her books when I posted about the cover of this one.  Not sure if I’ll start with this book though.

 

 

Good Books!

Don’t you love it when you get a run of good books, especially if it happens when you’re on holiday and have the luxury of being able to stay up late reading without any guilt?

15748538I started off with Seanan McGuire’s ONCE BROKEN FAITH, the latest October Daye book.  (I hadn’t realised the UK release was a few days before the US one, so it was a very pleasant surprise when the book appeared on my Kindle!)

I’m always up for more Toby, so needless to say, it was a very enjoyable read- we had Toby being very Toby, Tybalt doing his King of Cats thing, Quentin (and family!), plus a magical whodunnit mystery plot.  I’ll be honest though – if you’re not into Toby’s world, this is not the book for you.  There were some rather self-indulgent passages, info-dumping galore, and McGuire’s plotting probably doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny.  But I can forgive much when it comes to this series, and ONCE BROKEN FAITH was a solid installment.

30175057Next up was Alexis Hall’s newest, LOOKING FOR GROUP.  This, I loved.  It had the dubious honour of being the book I was reading while wandering around the most picturesque of settings, and I probably spent half my time sitting in various cafes ignoring the views (I can only apologise to my travel companions).  I’m not a gamer at all, but was wholly absorbed by Hall’s sweet romance, set partly in the alternate reality of an MMO.

I was a bit nervous going in (see: not a gamer), but having to work out online gaming shorthand was not dissimilar to having to get my bearings in a fantasy novel.  I loved how Hall explored online (and offline) relationships, celebrated the gaming culture, and managed to cover the whole growing-up/going-to-university thing all in one book.  LOOKING FOR GROUP was diverse, nerdy, and quite possibly one of my favourite books of the year.

22349087And then I read Jodi Taylor’s THE NOTHING GIRL. I keep on saying that I’m going to do a proper blog post on her Chronicles of St Mary’s time-travel series because they are utterly brilliant, packed full of laugh-out-loud moments and yet totally grounded in history, but despite me making the time to read all seven novels (and numerous short stories) in the space of four weeks, I haven’t managed to even draft a post.  So take this as a very strong recommendation for the books, even if you don’t normally care for time-travel stories; I would not have classified myself as a fan, but these books proved me wrong.

Anyway, I grabbed THE NOTHING GIRL when Kobo had their recent 50% off sale. I wasn’t sure how her writing would translate to contemporary romance, but Jacey Bedford’s review persuaded me to give it a go.  If LOOKING FOR GROUP reminded me of READY PLAYER ONE (for the sheer celebration of geek culture), THE NOTHING GIRL was faintly reminiscent of LM Montgomery’s standalones – the quiet protagonist who’s set apart slightly from everyone else, a small-town setting, and of course, a man with a not-entirely-unearned reputation. I went in having no idea of the plot, and enjoyed the story tremendously – layer upon layer of reveals unfolded as I got to know each character, and if I guessed the ending a bit ahead of the final pages, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment one bit.

(And I’m currently reading Sarina Bowen’s ROOKIE MOVE – she does sports romance so well, it’s shaping up to be a good one!)

So that’s me – tell me your recent good reads?

 

Different Strokes

It’s been a very long time since I did a UK v. US book cover post, but the contrast between these covers grabbed my attention.

So, Connie Willis’s CROSSTALK – UK cover on the left, US on the right.

I’d seen the US cover around previously, and thought it was an interesting choice for an SF book; it reminded me of YA romance (for instance, Julie Cross’s TEMPEST) so my guess was that the publisher was trying to widen the audience for this book.  The UK cover, on the other hand, comes across as much more retro and adult, and if I’d seen this in the New Releases section of the bookstore, I’m not sure I’d have connected it with SF if it wasn’t for Connie Willis’s name.

Even the back cover copy gives out different vibes – here’s the UK copy:

Briddey is about to get exactly what she thinks she wants . . .

Briddey is a high-powered exec in the mobile phone industry, overseeing new products from concept (‘anything to beat the new apple phone’) to delivery. And she works with her wonderful partner, Trent. They’ve been together for six magical weeks, in a whirlwind of flowers, dinners, laughter and now comes the icing on the cake: not a weekend away or a proposal but something even better. An EDD. A procedure which will let them sense each other’s feelings. Trent doesn’t just want to tell her how much he loves her – he wants her to feel it.

The trouble is, Briddey can’t breathe a word of it to anyone (difficult, when the wholeoffice is guessing) until she’s had two minutes to call her family. And they’re hounding her about the latest family drama.

The race is on: not just for new, cutting-edge technology, but also for a shred of privacy in a public world and – for Briddey – a chance for love at the heart of it all.

And then the US version:

In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior to a marriage proposal—to enjoy better emotional connection and a perfect relationship with complete communication and understanding. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and Briddey finds herself connected to someone else entirely—in a way far beyond what she signed up for.

It is almost more than she can handle—especially when the stress of managing her all-too-eager-to-communicate-at-all-times family is already burdening her brain. But that’s only the beginning. As things go from bad to worse, she begins to see the dark side of too much information, and to realize that love—and communication—are far more complicated than she ever imagined.

The UK version feels a bit chicklit (SF-style) to me, while the US one reads both younger and more romance-y.

What do you think?

(I should say that the UK cover came to my attention because of a Goodreads giveaway email – it’s here if you’re interested in entering, UK-only though).

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: