Playing Catch-Up: Books for October, November, and December

It has been a busy few months indeed.  But better late than never – here are the new releases for the last quarter of 2017 on my want list.  Brace yourselves, it’s a long post.

34670092Genevieve Cogman’s THE LOST PLOT (fantasy): I’m really excited about this one – I love the Invisible Library world and the stakes keep on getting higher in Irene’s adventures.

A covert mission
A royal demand
And a race against time

The fourth title in Genevieve Cogman’s witty and wonderful The Invisible Library series, The Lost Plot is an action-packed literary adventure.

In a 1930s-esque Chicago, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses and tommy guns are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon vs dragon contest. It seems a young librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him there could be serious political repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai find themselves trapped in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail and fiendish security systems. And if this doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences for Irene’s job. And, incidentally, for her life…

Out Dec 14

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36535656Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby’s MAN HANDS (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s an autobuy author and I’m keen to see how this collaboration works out.

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

Out Dec 11

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34099086Sarina Bowen’s BOUNTIFUL (contemporary romance): She’s a rather prolific writer!  Despite the fact this came out in October, it’s still waiting for me on my Kindle – it’ll be a Christmas holiday read for me.

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

Out now

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35495782Santino Hassell’s CITYWIDE (contemporary romance): His Five Boroughs series brings New York City to life, and I’m always up for more.  Even though reading about a heatwave right now strikes me as particularly unseasonable.

A record-breaking heatwave engulfs the Five Boroughs, and emotions run as hot as the temperatures.

In Rerouted, Chris Mendez is trying to live a drama-free life. That doesn’t include another threesome with Jace and Aiden Fairbairn. But then a citywide blackout leaves them trapped together, and Chris is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about relationships and his own heart.

In Gridlocked, former Marine Tonya Maldonado is keeping real estate heiress Meredith Stone on permanent ignore. Mere isn’t Tonya’s type. Not even close. Who cares if she kisses like a dream and has the filthiest mouth this side of the East River? But then a security detail at a summer party ends with her saving Mere’s life and discovering they have more chemistry than she’d ever imagined.

In Derailed, Stephanie Quinones escapes the heat and her complicated love life by going on a company retreat. Trouble is, it’s a couples’ retreat, and she lied about having a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the only person willing to play pretend is her on-again/off-again fling, Angel León. They’re currently “off again,” but after a week in the woods, Stephanie realizes she wouldn’t mind them being permanently on.

Out now

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33020122Eloisa James’s WILDE IN LOVE (historical romance): While I’m not that into historical romance anymore, I’m still getting this one.  As bonus, Georgian historical!

Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy. . . .

The first book in Eloisa James’s dazzling new series set in the Georgian period glows with her trademark wit and sexy charm—and introduces a large, eccentric family. Readers will love the Wildes of Lindow Castle!

Out now

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35722751Elizabeth Wein’s COBALT SQUADRON (SF): How cool is this – Elizabeth Wein writing a Star Wars graphic novel!  Obviously timed to coincide with the release of The Last Jedi (yes, I’ve already bought my tickets…).

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire) journeys to a galaxy far, far away to bring readers the harrowing story of the courageous bomber pilots and technicians of Cobalt Squadron!

Out Dec 15

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17312145Tamora Pierce’s TORTALL: A SPY’S GUIDE (fantasy): Not quite a new Tortall book (that’s next year!), but I caved and bought this hardcover.  And I don’t regret it one bit.  This is only a must-have if you’re a Tortall fan, but if you know one, it’s the perfect Christmas present.

The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall!

Out now

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36103416Jodi Taylor’s CHRISTMAS PAST (fantasy): It may only be a short story, but I adore her St Mary’s books.  A Christmas Day treat!

Max, Leon and Matthew – together at last for Christmas at St Mary’s – a time of conspicuous consumption, riotous misbehaviour and the traditional illegal Christmas jump. And this time, it’s inter-generational.

Donning her unfamiliar mother hat, Max takes Matthew back to 19th century London, where they plan to deliver a parcel of Christmas cheer to his former friends, but find themselves confronting the terrifying Old Ma Scrope in the process.

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

It’s also the season of goodwill towards all mankind.

Pity no one told Max.

Out Dec 25

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33798968Josh Lanyon’s THE GHOST HAD A EARLY CHECK-OUT (romance): Another Christmas Day treat perhaps?  I can’t quite remember the first book, so may do a re-read ahead of this release.

Sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks

To live and draw in L.A.

Now living in Los Angeles with former navy SEAL Nick Reno, artist Perry Foster comes to the rescue of elderly and eccentric Horace Daly, the legendary film star of such horror classics as Why Won’t You Die, My Darling?

Horace owns the famous, but now run-down, Hollywood hotel Angels Rest, rumored to be haunted. But as far as Perry can tell, the scariest thing about Angels Rest is the cast of crazy tenants–one of whom seems determined to bring down the final curtain on Horace–and anyone else who gets in the way.

Out Dec 25

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And then the longlist of ones that are maybes (as well as the ones that I’ve read and am lukewarm about):

Melissa Caruso’s THE TETHERED MAGE (fantasy): I’ve read so many good reviews of this debut.  Perhaps one to try and get from the library.

KJ Charles’s AN UNSUITABLE HEIR (historical romance): KJ Charles is an autobuy author, but the romance in this final book in her Sins of the Cities trilogy wasn’t entirely successful for me.  I really love the diverse historical backdrops in her books though.

Ginn Hale’s THE LONG PAST & OTHER STORIES (fantasy): I’d get this if I wasn’t on a short story buying ban.  I have so many half-finished anthologies and collections that I’m trying out a one-out one-in thing – let’s see how successful I am…

THE BOOK OF SWORDS, edited by Gardner Dozois (fantasy): Speaking of anthologies, here’s another one I kind of want.  I’ve a soft spot for the sword & sorcery kind of fantasy, and there’s a Kate Elliott in here.

INFINITE STARS, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (SF): And I may as well list the final anthology I want.  This one is space opera and military SF – so another subgenre I love.  I think this one is mostly previously-published short stories though.

Jen Frederick’s PLAYED (NA romance): I’ll get this once I’m all caught up with the series.  I adored the romance in the first book, but the second one is still sitting unread on my Kindle.

Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT and SIGHTLINES (paranormal romance): I wasn’t won over by the first in this trilogy, but I still have books two and three sitting on my Kindle.

Lynn Kurland’s THE DREAMER’S SONG (fantasy romance): I’ve learnt to wait until Kurland finishes the three-book arc within the series before picking up the books as she’s a habit of cliffhanger-ish endings.  By my count, this is book two, so I’m waiting until next year’s release.

Alexis Hall’s HOW TO BLOW IT WITH A BILLIONAIRE (contemporary romance): I’m slightly torn on this one – again, it’s book two of three, and the author has warned that that the HEA is only in book three.  I’ll probably wait until the final book, and read both at the same time.

Tammara Webber’s BRAVE (NA romance): Is it just me or has it been a while since the last new Webber novel?  I didn’t love the last in this series, but I’ll keep an eye out for this.

And that’s it!  I’m all caught up now – well, until 2018…

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Kindle Unlimited: My Impressions and a Couple of Recs

If you’re in the UK, I’ve just noticed that Amazon’s offering a free three-month subscription to Kindle Unlimited as part of their Black Friday deals.  It’s normally a one-month trial, so definitely worth considering if you’ve been curious about KU.

I’ve always wondered if an £8/month subscription was worth it, bearing in mind most KU books are self-pubbed and go for between £2-3 anyway.  I had a free two-month trial offer via email the other day, and that finally persuaded me to sign up.

I can now say it was an unequivocal yes for me (and no, this post is not sponsored by Amazon nor are there any affiliate links).  I did do some research (because I’m a geek like that) to confirm that there were KU books that I was interested in before hitting the Subscribe button – to save you some time, here are a couple of authors I would recommend.

9325172Kate Stradling: I discovered her books when I stumbled across her Ruses duology earlier this year.  I loved her voice, and what’s not to like about charming YA fantasies with a satisfying romance?

So I took advantage of the fact that all her books are in KU, and found myself racing through A BOY CALLED HAWK and its sequel, A RUMOUR OF REAL IRISH TEA – these are futuristic YA, so completely different to the previous books, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.  And I would also rec her newest portal fantasy, NAMESAKE, and her take on a lesser-known fairytale in GOLDMAYNE.  So basically all her books.  (Even if you don’t have a KU subscription, her books are really reasonably priced between £0.99 and £2.)

30966931Glynn Stewart: I’ll be honest – at the moment, he is probably the entire reason why my KU subscription has been worth it.  His books sit in on the border between military SF and space opera (with some fantasy mixed in, depending on the series), which is exactly the kind of SF that appeals to me.

I’ve read around 15 of his books to date – seeing that they retail for around £3 each, it’s probably covered my subscription costs for the next few months.  Ironically, the first book of his that I read (STARSHIP MAGE) was by far the weakest – I’m glad that didn’t put me off, because the series gets stronger and stronger, and both the Duchy of Terra and Castle Federation series have been excellent from the start.

As you can probably tell from my not-so-mini glom, his books are addictive page-turners, so much so that I always ensured the next book in the series was downloaded to my Kindle (you can borrow up to ten KU books at any one time, btw).  His books are faintly reminiscent of Marko Kloos with some excellent space battle scenes and characters that really grow on you (though again like Kloos, I am on the fence about the romance threads in his books – I’m picky!).

Any of your favourite authors in KU?  I admit I’ve not really paid any attention to which authors do KU before, so I’d love to get more recs!  Also, shout if you’ve any KU questions, I’m happy to try and answer them.

(Belated) Books for September

Well, September totally escaped me.  (I’ll probably get to the end of December and be like “what happened to 2017…”.)  Here were the new releases in September that I wanted to get (and mostly got)

34913546Stephanie Burgis’s SNOWSPELLED (fantasy romance): I’ve a couple of Stephanie Burgis’s books on my TBR pile, but haven’t quite gotten around to them yet.  However, I convinced myself that I could make time for a (long-ish) novella and wasn’t disappointed – SNOWSPELLED is a satisfying alt-historical fantasy romance, with some clever reworking of historical romance tropes.  It’s the first in a series, and I’m definitely picking up the next one.

In nineteenth-century Angland, magic is reserved for gentlemen while ladies attend to the more practical business of politics. But Cassandra Harwood has never followed the rules…

Four months ago, Cassandra Harwood was the first woman magician in Angland, and she was betrothed to the brilliant, intense love of her life.

Now Cassandra is trapped in a snowbound house party deep in the elven dales, surrounded by bickering gentleman magicians, manipulative lady politicians, her own interfering family members, and, worst of all, her infuriatingly stubborn ex-fiancé, who refuses to understand that she’s given him up for his own good.

But the greatest danger of all lies outside the manor in the falling snow, where a powerful and malevolent elf-lord lurks…and Cassandra lost all of her own magic four months ago.

To save herself, Cassandra will have to discover exactly what inner powers she still possesses – and risk everything to win a new kind of happiness.

A witty and sparkling romantic fantasy novella that opens a brand-new series for adults from the author of Kat, Incorrigible, Masks and Shadows and Congress of Secrets.

Out now

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23383896Seanan McGuire’s THE BRIGHTEST FELL (urban fantasy): Once upon a time, I’d haunt the bookstores a couple of weeks before release date, hoping to stumble across an early copy of the latest Toby Daye book.  While this isn’t necessarily the case anymore, this is still one of my favourite UF series, and Seanan McGuire has delivered another solid installment for the longtime reader.

For once, everything in October “Toby” Daye’s life seems to be going right. There have been no murders or declarations of war for her to deal with, and apart from the looming specter of her Fetch planning her bachelorette party, she’s had no real problems for days. Maybe things are getting better.

Maybe not.

Because suddenly Toby’s mother, Amandine the Liar, appears on her doorstep and demands that Toby find her missing sister, August. But August has been missing for over a hundred years and there are no leads to follow. And Toby really doesn’t owe her mother any favors.

Then Amandine starts taking hostages, and refusal ceases to be an option.

Out now

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35911393Sarina Bowen and Sarah Mayberry’s TEMPORARY (contemporary romance): I’m a bit off contemp romance at the moment, but this collaboration sounds great and is going on my to-buy list.

The most beautiful man I’ve ever seen is the one who can ruin everything…

The first time I lay eyes on Callan Walker, I know he’ll be trouble. With his smug grin, hot Aussie accent and thousand dollar shoes, he’s just the kind of rich guy who always gets what he wants.

And he wants two things: a night of sin, and my cooperation as he outmaneuvers his powerful mother to take control of his uncle’s estate.

I can’t afford either one. I’m the only thing standing between my little sister and the foster care system. He may have money and charm on his side, but I have something even more powerful — pure desperation. This temp job at his mother’s company can become a full time job for me. It has to.

But when Callan’s eyes rake over my body, sometimes I forget my obligations. His piercing gaze finds the fun, optimistic girl I used to be and not the tired person I’ve become.

And it works–if only for a moment. Our night together was a mistake. I can’t afford to get sucked into his high-powered family’s treachery. But the closer I get to Callan, the more layers I find beneath those expensive clothes. Though I can’t forget this is temporary. He’s temporary. I have too much to lose.

Too bad my foolish heart didn’t get the memo…

Out now

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32991569Kristin Cashore’s JANE, UNLIMITED (fantasy?): According to Goodreads, this is YA fantasy/mystery – who knows?  The blurb leaves it pretty ambiguous.  Anyway, Kristin Cashore has written some of my favourite YA fantasy books, and a new book from her is always a cause for celebration.

If you could change your story, would you?

Jane has lived a mostly ordinary life, raised by her recently deceased aunt Magnolia, whom she counted on to turn life into an adventure. Without Aunt Magnolia, Jane is directionless. Then an old acquaintance, the glamorous and capricious Kiran Thrash, blows back into Jane’s life and invites her to a gala at the Thrashes’ extravagant island mansion called Tu Reviens. Jane remembers her aunt telling her: “If anyone ever invites you to Tu Reviens, promise me that you’ll go.”

What Jane doesn’t know is that at Tu Reviens her story will change; the house will offer her five choices that could ultimately determine the course of her untethered life. But every choice comes with a price. She might fall in love, she might lose her life, she might come face-to-face with herself. At Tu Reviens, anything is possible.

Out now

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32919683Catherine Asaro’s THE BRONZE SKIES (SF): I’ve been a fan of Catherine Asaro’s Skolian books since forever, though I didn’t really care for the first in this spin-off series (possibly because it was a revised and extended version of an older novella, and it showed).  I’m glad to report I enjoyed this one better – while not quite vintage Asaro, it had strong worldbuilding and the mystery kept me absorbed.

Major Bhaajan achieved the impossible. Born Undercity, the slums below the City of Cries on the planet Raylicon, she broke free to become a military officer with Imperial Space Command. Now retired from military duty, she works as a private investigator on retainer to the Majda Family.

Hired by The Ruby Pharaoh herself, Major Bhaajan is tasked with finding a killer. But this is no ordinary murderer. The Ruby Pharaoh witnessed a Jagernaut cut down Assembly Councilor Tap Benton—which shouldn’t have been possible. The Jagernauts are the elite of the elite soldiers in the Imperial Space Command. What’s more, the spinal node implanted in all Jagernauts should have prevented the murder. But the Ruby Pharaoh is sure of what she saw, and she has reason to believe that the Jagernaut will kill again.

Now, Major Bhaajan must hunt down a killer before it is too late. To do so, she must return to the one place on Raylicon she knows best: Undercity.

Out now

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35516086Jodi Taylor’s WHITE SILENCE (suspense): I discovered Jodi Taylor last year, pretty much raced through her backlist, and am now snapping up her new releases, even when it’s branded a “supernatural thriller”, which isn’t exactly my thing.  This one’s waiting for me on my Kindle.

“I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I am.” 

Elizabeth Cage is a child when she discovers that there are things in this world that only she can see. But she doesn’t want to see them and she definitely doesn’t want them to see her.

What is a curse to Elizabeth is a gift to others – a very valuable gift they want to control.

When her husband dies, Elizabeth’s world descends into a nightmare. But as she tries to piece her life back together, she discovers that not everything is as it seems.

Alone in a strange and frightening world, she’s a vulnerable target to forces beyond her control.

And she knows that she can’t trust anyone…

White Silence is a twisty supernatural thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

Out now

And my maybes:

Weekend Links

31944679A random collection of links for your weekend reading:

Lady Business interviews Kate Elliott.  It’s a nice in-depth interview.  I am slowly making my way through Kate Elliott’s backlist, but that may take a few more years.

Sarah Rees Brennan talks about the changes she made when revising her TURN OF THE STORY serial to become IN OTHER LANDS.  Which, by the way, is very definitely one of my favourite books of 2017, so much so that I’m seriously considering shelling out for a hardcover version to grace my shelves.

I re-read Mary Stewart’s THE IVY TREE earlier this year (I think, the months have flown past) and re-confirmed its place as one of my favourite Stewarts.  This was a lovely review of the book.

Non book-related, but I found this fascinating: Anne Helen Peterson wrote about how she goes about writing celebrity profiles.  And here’s the resulting Charlize Theron profile, if you’re interested.

Books for August

I can’t believe we’re getting towards the end of summer.

There are four new releases that interest me this month, of which I’ve read three.  Which is pretty good going considering my severe lack of reading time recently…

35118935KJ Charles’s SPECTRED ISLE (historical paranormal): KJ Charles is 100% an autobuy author for me.  She has this knack of interweaving the paranormal with the ordinary so seamlessly, while getting the period feel just right.  This series promises much.

Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense…except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.

Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there’s something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.

Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.

Out now

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31944679Sarah Rees Brennan’s IN OTHER LANDS (YA fantasy): I devoured this portal fantasy when she serialised it on her blog a while back.  This polished and expanded version is even better – it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year, with hidden depths underneath all the snark.  I loved how SRB combines social commentary with humour, and Elliot shines here as the pacifist hero who grows up but never loses his sense of wonder.

Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliot. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.

Out now

34346381Santino Hassell’s ILLEGAL CONTACT (contemporary romance): I’m a sucker for sports romance, and I really like how Santino Hassell grounds his books in current-day New York.  This was the perfect summer escapist read, and I’m really looking forward to the next in this series.

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Out now

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33541039Megan Derr’s THE HEART OF THE LOST STAR (fantasy romance): I went on a Megan Derr glom earlier this year, and am still buying pretty much all of her new releases.  Her books are best described as total comfort reads.

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

Out now

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(I probably should say that Karen Chance’s latest Cassie Palmer, RIDE THE STORM, also came out this month.  I’ve been a long-standing fan of this UF series, but RtS was such a dragged-out mess.  I really struggled to finish it, and I may have just given up on Cassie)

Books for July

I’ve totally failed at blogging this summer.  I generally post much less frequently during summer – it’s that fatal combination of long summer evenings, the tennis (following Roland Garros/Queens/Wimbledon basically takes over my life for a few weeks), holidays, and ah, just summer being summer.  But I have to admit this year has been pretty abysmal blogging-wise, even by my low standards.

But enough self-flagellation – here are the new releases for July that I’ll be reading (or have read, in a few cases).

34748555JL Merrow’s SPUN! (contemporary romance): I love the ever-so-British feel of JL Merrow’s and this one promises to be a fun summer read.

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

Out now

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29750595Kate Elliott’s BURIED HEART (YA fantasy): I’m so excited for this conclusion to her Court of Fives trilogy, and the book just appeared on my Kindle today.  Hurrah for pre-ordering magic.

The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series

In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!

Out now

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32855152Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess’s THE PAINTED QUEEN (historical mystery): Speaking of being excited.  The very last Amelia Peabody book!  While there had been rumours of a final book, I had pretty much given up hope after several years, so confirmation of this was incredibly thrilling.  Joan Hess finished writing the novel based on a partially-written manuscript by Elizabeth Peters, so it may not be quite like the original, but I don’t really care…  I’m glad we see Amelia one last time.

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archaeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’s bestselling, beloved mystery series

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia Peabody is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—“Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for EmersonWhere were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Armana, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

Out now

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28960325Martha Wells’s THE HARBORS OF THE SUN (fantasy): This is the final book in her Three Worlds Raksura series, which is a bit bittersweet.  I’m glad that we get an ending to Moon’s story, but I’m going to miss this world.

A former friend has betrayed the Raksura and their groundling companions, and now the survivors must race across the Three Worlds to rescue their kidnapped family members. When Moon and Stone are sent ahead to scout, they quickly encounter an unexpected and potentially deadly ally, and decide to disobey the queens and continue the search alone. Following in a wind-ship, Jade and Malachite make an unlikely alliance of their own, until word reaches them that the Fell are massing for an attack on the Reaches, and that forces of the powerful Empire of Kish are turning against the Raksura and their groundling comrades.

But there may be no time to stage a rescue, as the kidnapped Raksura discover that their captors are heading toward a mysterious destination with a stolen magical artifact that will cause more devastation for the Reaches than anything the lethal Fell can imagine. To stop them, the Raksura will have to take the ultimate risk and follow them into forbidden territory.

The Harbors of the Sun, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, is the thrilling follow-up to The Edge of Worlds, and the conclusion of a new Three Worlds duology of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

Out now

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27422533Ilona Andrews’s WILDFIRE (paranormal romance): I don’t love this Hidden Legacy series as much as other people, but the books are fun reads, and I’m looking forward to this one.

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

Out now

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34293313Rachel Caine’s ASH AND QUILL (YA fantasy): I have mixed feelings on this one.  I enjoyed the first couple of books (alt-world fantasy centred around libraries and books – what’s not to like?), and was looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.  Then it was announced that the series would be extended to five books, and  well, it kind of showed here.  Not enough story IMO, and drama for the sake of drama got a bit tiring after a while.  But I’m invested in the world and the characters, so I’ll still get the next book…

Held prisoner by the Burner forces in Philadelphia, Jess and his friends struggle to stay alive in the face of threats from both sides … but a stunning escape guarantees worse is coming. The Library now means to stop them by any means necessary, and they’ll have to make dangerous allies and difficult choices to stay alive.

They have only two choices: face the might of the Great Library head on, or be erased from life, and the history of the world, for ever.

Win or die.

Out now

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Maybes for the month:

Rachel Aaron’s A DRAGON OF A DIFFERENT COLOR (UF): I loved the first Heartstrikers book, but have stalled with the third book.  It’s sitting half-read on my Kindle, so I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll buy this fourth installment in the series.

Miranda Kenneally’s COMING UP FOR AIR (YA romance): A bit of a trend here.  Sport romances are my weakness and I loved the first few books in her Hundred Oaks series (also, her BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE was one of my favourite books of 2014), but I haven’t really connected with her more recent releases.  I’ll still get this at some point though.

Kalayna Price’s GRAVE RANSOM (UF): I don’t think this series has quite recovered from the long break between the third and fourth books yet.  I suspect I’d be a lot more invested in the characters if I started this series today.

Suzanne Brockman’s SOME KIND OF HERO (romantic suspense): Ah, I really don’t know here.  I loved her Troubleshooters books, but her recent spin-offs have not worked for me at all, and I regretted shelling out for hardcovers.  Now that she’s back to her Troubleshooters world, just maybe the old magic’s back?  I’ll probably wait for a price drop.

Sarina Bowen’s HELLO FOREVER (contemporary romance): Normally Sarina Bowen’s an autobuy for me, but the first book in this duology didn’t really work for me.  It was all a bit too neat and tidy, with the end conflict feeling rather manufactured.   I’ll hold fire for now, but will probably buy at some point.

Kylie Scott’s TRUST (NA romance): I’m feeling a bit burnt out on NA romance at the moment, but I do like Kylie Scott’s writing.

Books for June

Another late-ish post, but June has honestly been a month of way-too-much-to-do-and-very-little-time.  The mini-heatwave we’ve had this week has not helped at all – I just wanted to collapse in the evenings after braving the London tube home.  London does not do heat well.

And a link for a good cause – Authors for Grenfell Tower is raising funds for the British Red Cross.  Signed books etc galore.  Auctions end Tuesday 27 June.

Onto the new releases this month:

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35171433 (1)Tanya Huff’s A PEACE DIVIDED (military SF): Tanya Huff is now an auto-buy author for me, regardless of what she writes.  I really enjoyed this one – she explores the aftermath of war in this series, and while it would help if you’ve some familiarity with the linked Confederation books, this works relatively well as a standalone series.  I’m always impressed by how Huff juggles multiple POVs with ease, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not officially touch. When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon with power beyond anything previously known. Torin must contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy, former enemies, to her team. She will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between “us” and “them” is anything but straight.

Out now

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32161804KJ Charles’s AN UNNATURAL VICE (historical romance): Another one I’ve already read.  I was a bit lukewarm about the first book in KJ Charles’s Victorian-set Sins of the City series, but this enemies-to-lovers story worked much better for me.  I liked all the spiritualist behind-the-scenes reveals and the London setting came alive (as always).

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Out now

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30691976Yoon Ha Lee’s RAVEN STRATAGEM (military SF): The first book in this series was incredibly absorbing, but also made my head hurt at times – however, all reviews indicate this follow-up is much more accessible.  I’ll still wait until I’ve a solid block of spare time to dive into this one.

War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies and resurrected by the hexarchate to put down a heretical insurrection, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh incursion by the enemy Hafn, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, appears able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev – or Brezan – trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Yoon Ha Lee’s critically acclaimed Machineries of Empire trilogy continues with Raven Stratagem, coming from Solaris Summer 2017.

Out now

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32967547Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s STAY (contemporary romance): My current read, and I’m totally loving this sports romance.  These writing duo are on fire.

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch—an anonymous virtual assistant service—is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting… until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth—that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.

But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Out now

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30364801Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT (paranormal romance): Quite possibly my next read.  I didn’t love the first book in this series (great start, but then fizzled out – possibly suffered a bit from having to set up the whole series), but he’s still an auto-buy for me.

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Out June 26

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Maybes for the month:

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell’s MATURE CONTENT (contemporary romance): Their Cyberlove series has a bit too much angst for me and overdoes the hurt/comfort trope, but I’ll probably end up buying this at some point.

Diana Gabaldon’s SEVEN STONES TO FALL (historical): Another of those short story collections with mostly previously-published material, but with a couple of new pieces.  I try to borrow these collections from the library.

Books for May

I feel like the month of May just flew past.  This is less an upcoming book releases post, more of a “hey, here are all the new releases that came out over May and what I thought of them”.

32758901Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED (SF): This novella totally lived up to the promise of the initial excerpt we got a couple of months ago.  How could you not fall for a (self-named) MurderBot who really just wants to be left alone to watch the latest soap operas.  There’s definitely a second in the series, and a potential third and fourth – fingers crossed she sells them.

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that blends HBO’s Westworld with Iain M. Banks’ Culture books.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Out now

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30658022Jenny Han’s ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN (YA): I adored the first book, and was delighted when Jenny Han decided Lara Jean’s story wasn’t quite complete.  This is the last of the books, and it wraps up the now-trilogy quite nicely.  If I’m honest, I found ALWAYS AND FOREVER less successful than the previous two (there were times I wanted to give Lara Jean a bit of a shake), but overall, it caps off a lovely set of books that brings to life the rollercoaster of emotions that high school was.

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Out now

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30753671Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s THE GATHERING EDGE (SF): The twentieth book in the Liaden series… and it didn’t really work for me.  What I wanted was some sort of resolution (or at least progression) on the plot threads left dangling from previous books.  What I got was Theo and crew hanging around on their ship in space.  For a whole book.  YMMV, but I wish I’d waited for the next book and then read both THE GATHERING EDGE and the sequel in one go (because things have to happen in the next book, surely?).

The luck runs rough around Theo Waitley. Not only are people trying to kill her and capture the self-aware intelligent ship Bechimo to whom Theo is bonded, they’re also trying to arrest her crew members, and throw the dignity of an important passenger, the duly-constituted norbear ambassador Hevelin, into question.

No wonder Theo and her crew felt the need of a break, and retired to what Bechimo refers to as “safe space.” Unfortunately, safe space may not be so safe, anymore.  It seems that things are leaking through from another universe, and another time. In fact, whole spaceships are coming through.  One of those ships is a blasted battleship seemingly fleeing a long-lost war. What’s more, its crew may be members of Theo’s ancient ancestral line—her relatives. It’s certain that they are in dire need of help. Theo has a choice to make. It seems that Bechimo’s “safe space” is about to become deadly perilous.

Out now

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34593693Elizabeth Wein’s THE PEARL THIEF (historical YA): And here’s the first new release that I haven’t read yet.  I’m really looking forward to this, but it’s a matter of too many books, too little time, and I want to take the time to savour this one.  Also, I love the cover, BTW.

Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. It is not an idyllic return to childhood. Her grandfather’s death has forced the sale of the house and estate and this will be a summer of goodbyes. Not least to the McEwen family – Highland travellers who have been part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember – loved by the family, loathed by the authorities. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. Suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens but Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.

This beautiful and evocative novel is the story of the irrepressible and unforgettable Julie, set in the year before the Second World War and the events of Code Name Verity. It is also a powerful portrayal of a community under pressure and one girl’s determination for justice.

Out now

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8306741Megan Whalen Turner’s THICK AS THIEVES (YA fantasy): Speaking of books I want to savour!  I have the actual hardcover in my possession (and trust me, that is rare), but have not yet cracked open the pages.  Partly due to lack of spare time, but also, it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I’m considering doing a series re-read before I dive into this.  We’ll see.

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

Out now

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon’s at her best when she does the FBI agent thing, and hurrah, this is one of them.  There’s been a Kindle edition mix-up which means I’m still waiting for Amazon to push the correct version to my ereader, so I’m practising delayed gratification on this one.

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Out now

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22303684Ilona Andrews’ WHITE HOT (paranormal romance): It’s been a while since the first Hidden Legacy book.  Despite that, I’ve only read good things about WHITE HOT.

The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot.

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

Out May 30

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As for other May releases that have also caught my eye:

SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS, edited by Paula Guran (fantasy): I’m a sucker for swords and sorcery-type stories, and this sounds like a promising curation of stories.

Sarina Bowen’s PIPE DREAMS (contemporary romance): I’ve read this, and while I normally love Bowen’s work, especially when it comes to sports romance, this one was one of the weaker ones for me.  Possibly because the narration uses flashbacks as part of the story, and I really don’t care for them.  I wasn’t onboard for one of the main plot points as well.  YMMV.

Joanna Chambers & Annika Martin’s ENEMIES LIKE YOU (romantic suspense): I loved the free prequel they released, but all the tension and promise kind of fizzled out for me when it came to the actual story.  Too much internalising, not enough action, and the twist was fairly obvious.

Lee Child’s NO MIDDLE NAME (suspense): This is a collection of Reacher short stories, most are previously-published but there’s one new novella.  A library request for me, I think, as I’ve probably read most of the shorts already.

Sunday Thoughts and Links

(Alternative title: I couldn’t really think of a blog post title)

Really late (it’s back to sporadic blogging now), but I’m liking the Hugo Awards shortlist.  I think it’s back to being a source of new-to-me authors, instead of being hijacked by personal vendettas.  My thoughts on the Best Novel finalists FWIW:

  • ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders: I admit I keep on changing my mind on this one.  One review makes the book sound like something I’d really enjoy, and then the next review makes me think it wouldn’t speak to me at all.  I guess there’s only one way to find out…
  • A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT by Becky Chambers: I’ve the first book on my Kindle, I guess I should really get around to reading it?  I’ve only read good things about this series.
  • DEATH’S END by Cixin Liu: Ditto re first book, Kindle.
  • NINEFOX GAMBIT by Yoon Ha Lee: Oh hey, I’ve read this one.  I’ve mixed feelings – I can see why it’s earned its place on the shortlist (it is brilliant), but I also found it genuinely difficult to understand (and it’s rare I say that about a fiction book!).  I did get into the story eventually, and will definitely get the sequel, but it’s one of those books where you really have to pay attention at the start.
  • THE OBELISK GATE by N. K. Jemisin: Err, I can only repeat that I’ve been meaning to read her books for ages.  This may be the spur I need.
  • TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING by Ada Palmer: I was really interested in reading it, but the price of the hardback put me off.  And then I’ve read not-so-great reviews of the second book.  So this is probably in the same category for me as the Charlie Jane Anders. for me.

And a couple of links that caught my attention recently:

153784Tamora Pierce is one of my favourite YA fantasy authors – her Alanna books have a special space in my heart.  I found her Margaret A Edwards Awards speech really interesting – she talks about Alanna (of course), but also how she came up with Keladry’s story, and how she wanted Kel to be different to Alanna.  Also:

Kel’s story is more political than Alanna’s because I have grown more political over the years[…]

Yes.

Speaking of favourite authors, Elizabeth Mansfield also wrote some of the most well-loved Regency romances on my shelves (and I’ve been grabbing the e-versions as they become available).  Her daughter has posted some of unpublished anecdotes on her website – they’re wickedly funny and well worth a read.


randombookrec

Intisar Khanani’s SUNBOLTMEMORIES OF ASH: A YA with a strong female lead in a wonderfully-realised fantasy world – this ticks a lot of boxes for me.  Fair warning, SUNBOLT is more of a lead-in novella than a standalone story – it doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, but I was left wondering what happens next.  MEMORIES OF ASH more than ably answers that question, and I stayed up (very) late following Hitomi on her adventures with my heart in my mouth.

Books for April

April is turning out to be a really good month for new releases.  Even better, we have two bank holiday weekends in the span of a fortnight – finally!  It’s felt like a really long haul since the Christmas/New Year holidays.

The new releases I’m buying (or have bought, in several cases):

33916695Jodi Taylor’s AND THE REST IS HISTORY (fantasy): I whizzed through all seven of Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s books last year, which is not something I ever thought I’d be saying about a time-travel series.  She makes history come alive in vivid technicolour detail, while simultaneously having Max, Peterson, Leon, and pretty much everyone else at St Mary’s prove Murphy’s Law over and over again.

This book was released last Thursday (though it’s a May release for US readers), and I’ve already finished it.  I didn’t think it was possible for the stakes to be raised any higher in this series, yet AND THE REST IS HISTORY does that.  It was a rollercoaster ride all the way through, and I’ve no idea what else Jodi Taylor can put her characters through now.  (Also, I now know more about the Battle of Hastings than I ever thought I would.)

No one knows quite how, but Max and her baby are safe at last.

No one knows quite how, but Peterson has persuaded Dr Foster to marry him.

No one knows quite how, but Markham’s marital status remains unknown.

Certainly no one knows quite how a twelve-foot-high teapot has mysteriously materialised on the South Lawn, but it has.

But they do know that Clive Ronan is back.

They do know that he hates them and that this time he has good cause. And they do know that he will bring death and destruction in his wake.

Follow the disaster magnets of St Mary’s from the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and from Hastings to the Sack of Constantinople in this, the eighth book in The Chronicles of St Mary’s

Out now

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34214319Sean Kennedy’s MICAH JOHNSON GOES WEST (YA): I’ve been a fan of Sean Kennedy ever since I read TIGERS AND DEVILS.  I loved the very Australian sense of place that he conveyed in the story, and have read all the sequels.  This one is a loose spin-off from the original series, so obviously I’m getting it.

On the outside, Micah Johnson seems to have everything. He is proving his worth on the field during his rookie year with his new professional football team, the Fremantle Dockers, but his personal life is a mess. Homesick, three thousand kilometres away from his family and friends on the other side of Australia, Micah isn’t coping. He’s using casual sex, alcohol, and drugs as crutches since he doesn’t feel comfortable approaching his foster family with his problems, and he’s left with nowhere to turn. It isn’t until he experiences a health scare and a friend is rocked by a personal tragedy that Micah realises he does have the strength to succeed at a new life in the West—but he has to learn to ask for help.

Out now

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28220678Kylie Scott’s TWIST (contemporary romance): I’m not loving her Dive Bar series as much as I did her Stage Dive rockstar romance books, but this one sounds good.

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Out now

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34336498Elizabeth Vaughan’s WARDANCE (fantasy romance): It’s been so long since Elizabeth Vaughan’s original Warlands trilogy.  I haven’t reread those books for ages, so have no idea how the trilogy would stand up to time, but I remember loving them, so part of me is getting this new release purely for the nostalgia factor.  (The other part is hoping it’s really good.)

Spring returns to the Plains, and with it, the Time of the Challenges, when warrior fights warrior in a contest for rank and status. For Simus of the Hawk, now is the time to raise his challenge banner, to fight for the chance to finally become Warlord.

But his deadliest challenge does not come from other warriors, or even the sundered Council of Elders. For on the first night of the Challenges, a mysterious and deadly pillar of white light scorches the night sky—instantly changing everything for the People of the Plains.

Now a warrior-priestess, Snowfall, stands before Simus, who dares to speak of peace, of reconciliation. Her knives are sharp, her tattoos alluring, and her cool grey eyes can look through Simus and see…everything.

Now Simus and Snowfall must solve the mystery of the pillar of white light, and protect their people from all the destruction and chaos it brings. Snowfall fights for her place beside Simus, despite resistance from friend and foe.

The warrior-priests have abused their power for many years. Can Simus face the challenge of trusting Snowfall with his honor? And perhaps . . . with his heart?

Out now

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30312456Elizabeth Moon’s COLD WELCOME (SF): It’s been quite a while since we’ve had an SF book from Elizabeth Moon.  For some reason, I’ve never gotten into her fantasy series, but I’ve already finished reading COLD WELCOME.  It’s not quite standalone, but I never felt lost, even with my vague recollections of the previous Vatta storylines.  For an SF novel, we spend quite a lot of time planet-side, but it more than delivered on suspense and military detail, which is pretty much what I expect from a Moon book.

After nearly a decade away, Nebula Award–winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with this installment in a thrilling new series featuring the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta’s War sequence.

Summoned to the home planet of her family’s business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero’s welcome. But instead she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance.

Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet—a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group’s survival but her entire home planet.

Out now

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31423483Alexis Hall’s HOW TO BANG A BILLIONAIRE (contemporary romance):  You know, I’ve no idea what this book is about, but I’ve already pre-ordered it.  Which is pretty much the definition of an auto-buy author.

Rules are made to be broken . . .

If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.

I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me.

Out April 16

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33932233WR Gingell’s BLACKFOOT (fantasy): Speaking of autobuy authors, here’s a new one.  I’ve had such fun exploring WR Gingell’s backlist, and a new release is a bonus!  She does this thing where her books skip around within the internal chronology of the series, for which I’ve discovered an unexpected fondness (Megan Derr also does similar).  I’m not sure why that appeals to me – perhaps part of the fun is seeing events being retrofitted within the overall story arc.

Bad luck is the least of their worries…

Annabel has never wanted a cat. She certainly didn’t want a secretive, sarcastic black cat who takes over her pillow and makes remarks that no one else ever seems to hear. Despite that, Blackfoot manages to slink into her life like a small, furry shadow.

Now Annabel and her friend Peter are being over-run by cats. More and more arrive each day, turning up at the old castle ruins where Annabel and Peter spend most of their time. And some of those cats aren’t as…friendly…as Blackfoot.

When someone tries to kill Annabel and a spell goes very badly wrong, they find themselves trapped in the castle ruins, which are now growing back at an alarming rate. Even more alarming is the fact that the person who tried to kill Annabel is rapidly gaining control over the magical ruins.

Worst of all, Blackfoot knows more than he’s telling, and what he’s not telling could be enough to get them all killed.

Out April 17

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I’ve been finding Josh Lanyon’s books a bit hit or miss recently, but she excels at FBI agents and that Unresolved Sexual Tension thing, so I think this could be a good one.

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Out April 25

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33125611KA Mitchell’s RELATIONSHIP STATUS (NA romance): This book wraps up KA Mitchell’s debut NA romance trilogy.  I liked the first book, but was a bit more lukewarm about the second.  I’ll still get this to see how it all wraps up though.

Falling in love is easy. Staying there is the trick in this third book in bestselling author K.A. Mitchell’s male/male Ethan & Wyatt trilogy.

Life doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Ethan knows firsthand that long distance is hard on love. If Wyatt is spending his summer at an internship in Pittsburgh, that’s where Ethan will be. Even if it means inventing his own career goal just to find a reason to stay with his boyfriend. He didn’t expect they’d be living in a hot, crappy apartment, with work schedules that keep them apart more than together.

Wyatt’s past has taught him to keep his head down and focus on living through the day. Loving Ethan has him looking to the future for the first time; he’s just not in as big of a rush to get there. It’s hard to trust in happiness when life has been busy kicking you in the nuts.

Together they’re getting the hang of real life, when a new responsibility for Wyatt throws everything off balance. Ethan’s doing everything he can to prove he’s in this forever, while Wyatt is torn between a future with Ethan and a debt to the past. Too bad they didn’t cover this in college.

Out now

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And the maybes:

  • COSMIC POWERS: THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF FAR-AWAY GALAXIES, edited by John Joseph Adams (SF): The contributor list for this anthology is a mix of authors I really like and authors I’ve been meaning to read forever (Seanan McGuire, Kameron Hurley, Becky Chambers, Charlie Jane Anders, and Yoon Ha Lee amongst others), so I will very likely get this if the ebook price is reasonable.
  • Dianna Gunn’s KEEPER OF THE DAWN (fantasy): This is the first work to be published as part of the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative, and the cover is beautiful.  I’m easy like that.
  • Cinda Williams Chima’s SHADOWCASTER (YA fantasy): I will get this – I just need to finish the first book first!  I abandoned FLAMECASTER halfway, so will need to restart it.
  • Becky Albertalli’s THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED (YA romance): I enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s debut last year, and I think this is getting an equal amount of buzz.