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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Books for May

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

Out May 17

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

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

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

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

Out May 31

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

Bank Holiday Monday Links

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

A few Monday links:

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

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

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

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

 

Books for April

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

After all, what’s wrong with getting dirty?

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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Maybes this month

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

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

Checking In (and Reading on the Go)

Errr… unexpected blog hiatus?  RL has been rather hectic recently, and I’ve fallen out of the habit of regular(-ish) blogging.

However, I’ve discovered the pleasure of reading on my commute (nothing fancy, just using the Kindle app on my smartphone).  I kind of laugh at the me-of-five-years-ago, who would be politely dubious (at best) about reading on the go, and especially off a small screen.  I was never one to lug around a book – a newspaper or magazine, yes, but there was something about the extra weight of a bound book that put me off.  Now, I’m reaching for my phone as soon as I reach “my” spot on the train platform.

But my commute-time reading only works for a certain type of book – it may be blinkingly obvious, but the books that worked best for me:

  • A book that I could put down whenever without feeling the need to read just one more page or finish the chapter*
  • A fairly linear plot with a small cast of characters
  • Not too action-packed, though not too boring either (I don’t ask for much, do I?)

*There were a couple of books that I ended up reading on my phone because I had to finish the story. Another reason for liking e-books, huh?

I started off with short story anthologies/collections (I have a weakness for themed anthologies – I seem to buy a lot, but never quite get around to reading them, so what better way to start clearing out my e-TBR):

  • Mary Robinette Kowal’s WORD PUPPETS: I’ve enjoyed a few of her short stories before (both included in this collection, IIRC).  In fact, I’ve probably liked them more than her novels (I thought there was more emotional connection, but YMMV) so I was keen to read more of her backlist.  I think the two I’ve previously read remain the strongest of the lot, but I generally liked all.
  •  WITCHES: WICKED, WILD & WONDERFUL, edited by Paula Guran: This was a collection of older previously-published stories, and more of a mixed bag for me.  Liked some, others left me feeling a bit icky and I skipped a couple.  (Unfortunately, don’t ask me which – downside of reading on my commute is that I read this book over a long period of time, and can’t remember who wrote which stories now.  I may have to return my book blogger badge.)

And then I moved on to full-length novels:

  • Susan Dennard’s TRUTHWITCH: I had high hopes for this one following the buzz, but this didn’t work for me.  Possibly because the story didn’t lend itself to commute reading – I struggled to understand the magical systems, and the multiple POVs made the story a bit choppy and left me feeling disconnected from all of the protagonists.
  • Naomi Hirahara’s  MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE: This was based off a rec on someone’s blog (unfortunately I can’t remember who), and the whole LAPD bicycle cop thing intrigued me.  I liked the insight into LA communities and politics, and appreciated the diversity portrayed in the book (for instance, differentiating between Chinese/Japanese/Vietnamese-American as opposed to all Asian-Americans).  However, it got a bit too detailed at times – I suspect someone who’s familiar with the LA geography would appreciate the detail more.  I’ll probably pick up the next in the series at some point.

And I’ve just started BLITZING EMILY by Julie Brannagh (like the previous two, also a new-to-me author – maybe I should add that to my commute reading criteria?).  I found the beginning a bit slow-going and very much romance-by-numbers, but am continuing for now!

So that’s my newly-discovered joys on reading on the go – do you have any tricks when it comes to selecting reading material for your commutes?

Books for March

New month, new releases!  Here are the books I’m planning on buying this month.

(Also, WordPress tells me it’s been three weeks since I last blogged.  I think my blogging muse has disappeared on an extended holiday.)

26030141Patricia Briggs’ FIRE TOUCHED (urban fantasy): A new Mercy Thompson book!  Mercy is one of the original trailblazing UF heroines for me, and I’m glad this series is still going strong.  I’ve pre-ordered this book, and this is basically my weekend plans sorted.

Mercy Thompson is back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer . . .

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Out March 8

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22062202Anne Bishop’s MARKED IN FLESH (urban fantasy): I’m eyeing this one with a bit more trepidation.  I enjoyed the first book in the series, but had more mixed results with the second and third.  Still going to buy it though.

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community…

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Out March 8

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29283273Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s US (NA M/M romance): I’m thrilled we get a sequel to HIM, one of my favourite books of 2015.  This is where my weekend plans start getting a bit complicated…

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves–Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes, and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

Out March 8

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28464968Amy Jo Cousins’ BETWEEN A ROCK AND HARD PLACE (NA M/M romance): Two more novellas in Cousins’ Bend or Break NA series.  On a (kind of) related note, I’m sad that Samhain Publishing’s closing – some of my favourite authors debuted there, and I always thought of them as one of the better indie publishing houses.

When friends lose the benefits, can the friendship be saved?

Love Me Like A Rock

With the right art tools, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

Emotional and sexual frustration fuel a spark between Austin and Sean, the nude model in drawing class. After a quick and very dirty encounter, all the reasons Austin has been waiting for Vinnie go fuzzy in his mind.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose both his friend, and his lover.

Hard Candy

Vincent always assumed he and Austin would eventually end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with Bryan, a dance major, Vinnie is drawn to his vibrant spirit and calm center.

Physically, the rowing jock and the glittery dancer can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.

Out March 22

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25657772Julia Quinn’s BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON (historical romance): Thoughts on Julia Quinn’s return to the Bridgertons?  I’m not sure.  I’m going to get this because it’s a Bridgerton book, but I haven’t loved her more recent historicals.  Good reviews on Goodreads though.

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected of places…

This is not one of those times.

Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband… someday.

Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should…

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he’s arrogant, annoying, and she’s absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can’t stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor…

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can’t abide is the one person they can’t live without…

Out March 29

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And my maybes:

  • Seanan McGuire’s CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY: I’m a die-hard Toby Daye fan, but haven’t connected with McGuire’s InCryptid series.  I think I’m a book behind already, though I’ve heard this book is better than the previous one.
  • Alwyn Hamilton’s REBEL OF THE SANDS: New-to-me author, and I can’t remember where I first saw this now, but it’s YA fantasy and you know I’m a sucker for those.
  • Jaclyn Moriarty’s A TANGLE OF GOLD: I loved Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield YA series, but you know what?  I still haven’t read any of The Colours of Madeleine books because it’s so difficult to get these books here.

 

A Couple of Cover Reveals (and Links)

I will stop linking all the cover design articles at tor.com one day, promise.  Just not today.

AnAccidentOfStars-CoverHere’s a Julie Dillon cover for this upcoming novel by Foz Meadows. AN ACCIDENT OF STARS sounds really intriguing – one for my to-read list, I think:

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

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

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

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

8-Sand_Malice_Front_Cover_FinalAnd I’ve not read any of Bradley P Beaulieu‘s books before, but enjoyed reading this post about the making of his cover for OF SAND AND MALICE MADE.  Love the title too (and have noted the Robin Hobb blurb!).  I think I’ve a book of his in my very large e-TBR pile, will have to dig it out now.

And in non-cover linkage:

Books for February

It’s (barely) the second week of February, and I have done so much re-reading already.  I’m not a massive re-reader (I seem to have grown out of the habit over the years, as my teenage bookshelves are filled with much-loved and dog-eared paperbacks), but I made an exception for two sequels out this month.

26036399CS Pacat’s KINGS RISING (fantasy M/M romance): I don’t have words to describe how much I was looking forward to the final book in the Captive Prince trilogy.  And I don’t have words to describe how much I loved this book.

A lot of my spare time over the past week was spent re-reading the previous two books (possibly multiple re-reads *clears throat*) in advance of KINGS RISING’s release, and I’m still all about Damen and Laurent and Akielos and Vere right now.  I’ve labelled the subgenre as fantasy romance, but that bland label doesn’t even begin to hint at the political intrigue, the slow unexpected reveals, and the sheer levels of tension (both sexual and otherwise) in these books.  KINGS RISING is the perfect ending to one of my favourite trilogies ever, I think.

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity – can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

Out now

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Layout 1Lois McMaster Bujold’s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (SF): It’s a good thing the e-ARC for this was released back in November, or I’d have really struggled choosing the first February release to read this month.  Despite having the e-version, I’ve splashed out and ordered the signed hardback book as well, because, well, Bujold.

Note SPOILERS in blurb for previous book, which was published four years ago, so I’m guessing the statute of limitations has expired…

Three years after her famous husband’s death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed Vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, Admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he’d never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his life.

Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor’s key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry, into a mystery he never anticipated; his own mother.

Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science-fiction social comedy, as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects, neither is the past.

Out now

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10493755Andrea K Höst’s THE SLEEPING LIFE (fantasy): The reason for the other re-read I’ve done this month.  I am a huge fan of Höst’s writing (understatement alert), and having a new book of hers this month is such a treat.  So obviously, I had to re-read the first Eferum book, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS, in preparation for this release – that was so not a hardship, and I’m kind of tempted to re-read her whole backlist now. 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the re-read for me!

(Oh, and TSL was definitely worth the wait.  What I love about Höst’s books is that her stories always feel fresh and new, and TSL was no exception.  It was interesting to see the aftermath of the events in the first book (both personal and on a larger scale), I enjoyed spending more time with the protagonists in the first book (and meeting new and fascinating characters), and although SGM is a self-contained story, I loved how Höst took the remaining plot strands and spun them neatly into a follow-up.  Really, this was one of the best ways to spend a Sunday.)

Also, 50% off both Eferum books @ Smashwords until 14 February using the coupon codes here.

Fallon DeVries has a sister who lives only in his mind. Paying the price of magic gone wrong, Aurienne is trapped watching a world she cannot touch, only able to communicate with her brother while he sleeps.

And it’s slowly killing him.

Fallon and Auri’s best chance of untangling their lives is to win the help of a mage of unparalleled ability. But how can they ask for help when the warped spell prevents him from speaking?

Besides, Rennyn Claire – once the most powerful mage in the world – is a shadow of her former self: ill, injured and unlikely to recover unless she can hunt down the monster who once tried to make her his slave. But that Wicked Uncle is nowhere to be found, and other dangers, once slumbering dormant, are stirring…

Out now

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27069828Jen Frederick’s JOCKBLOCKED (NA romance): Despite my general lack of sportiness, I love reading sports romances – possibly because characters come to life for me when I can believe that they have passions and interests outside the actual relationship, if that makes sense, and having sports as a backdrop can do the trick.  This was the case with the first Frederick I read, so am looking forward to the second in the series even though I know nothing about American football.

She’s always played it safe…

College junior Lucy Washington abides by one rule—avoid risk at all costs. She’s cautious in every aspect of her life, from her health, to her mock trial team, to the boring guys she dates. When a brash, gorgeous jock walks into the campus coffeeshop and turns his flirt on, Lucy is stunned by the force of attraction. For the first time ever, she’s willing to step out of her comfort zone, but can she really trust the guy who’s determined to sweep her off her feet?

He’s always played around…

Entering his last year of college eligibility, linebacker Matthew “Matty” Iverson has the team captaincy in his sights. And it’s his for the taking, if he can convince his quarterback Ace Anderson to give up the starting position. Luckily, Matty already has an edge—the hottie he’s lusting over just happens to be Ace’s childhood best friend. Getting Lucy on his side and in his bed? Hell yeah. Matty is more than confident he can have both, but when he falls hard for Lucy, it’s time for a new game plan: convince the woman of his dreams that she’s not sleeping with the enemy.

Out Feb 11

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28101707KA Mitchell’s GETTING HIM BACK (NA M/M romance): Possibly KA Mitchell’s first NA?  Though her protagonists tend to skew on the younger side, IIRC.  I usually like her writing, so I’m definitely grabbing this one.  This may be on the short side for a novel though, possibly novella-length.

An unexpected fresh start leads to an unlikely-but-absolutely-perfect pairing in this male/male new-adult novel from bestselling gay romance author K.A. Mitchell

Ethan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but he’s not going to let that stop him from exploring all his new life has to offer. Sex-only hookups, his photography, new friends and a campus-wide game of zombies vs humans all help keep his mind off his broken heart and move him toward building a new, better life without his ex.

And then there’s Wyatt. Mysterious, grouchy—hot. And possibly not gay. But Ethan’s not going to let that stand in the way of figuring out what makes Wyatt tick. New college goal? Get Wyatt into bed and into Ethan’s life.

Step one: arrange a “tutoring” date. Step two: “accidentally” bump into Wyatt as often as possible. Step three: explore the sexy body under that ever-present hoodie. And when their friendship deepens into something neither of them expect, convince Wyatt he’s not just a pity fling or a one-time hookup, but that Ethan is in it for the long haul.

Out Feb 15

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15816410Kalayna Price’s GRAVE VISIONS (UF): The last book in the Alex Craft series came out in 2012, so “much-anticipated” is definitely the right word for this fourth installment.  I was enjoying this UF series a lot, so I’m glad to see GRAVE VISIONS finally make it to print.

Grave Visions by Kalayna Price is the much-anticipated fourth installment in the kick-ass urban fantasy series about Alex Craft, a grave witch who can communicate with the dead.

If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a Grave Witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers, who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But now she’s the one fighting to keep her own secret. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that has surfaced in several of the spaces between the human and fae worlds.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep she loses her freedom.

Out Feb 25 in the UK (out now in the US, I believe)

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And then my maybe (or almost definitely) books – quite a few this month:

  • Kirsty Eagar’s SUMMER SKIN (NA): Only a maybe because of the difficulty in getting Aussie books over here. I really enjoyed her RAW BLUE when I read it back in 2011; SUMMER SKIN sounds just as good.
  • Jacey Bedford’s WINTERWOOD (fantasy): I’ve not read any of Jacey Bedford’s books before (she’s written a couple of SFs, which I’ve been meaning to pick up at some point), but this historical fantasy with a cross-dressing heroine sounds rather fun.
  • Megan Erikson and Santino Hassell’s STRONG SIGNAL (M/M contemporary romance): I’ve heard nothing but good things about Hassell’s writing, and have liked the Erikson NA books that I’ve read.
  • Brandon Sanderson’s CALAMITY (YA fantasy): Sanderson’s YA books are always good for a couple of hours’ entertainment, though I’ll probably get this from the library as I’ve liked but not loved the previous books in this series.
  • Shannon Stacey’s FULLY IGNITED (contemporary romance): I’ve enjoyed the previous books in Stacey’s Boston firefighters series, so I’ll end up buying this at some point.  And I’ve just realised this is Scott’s story, which means “at some point” is sooner rather than later…
  • JL Merrow’s LOVERS LEAP (M/M contemporary romance): Merrow’s books are always so British in feel and have a good dollop of humour to go with the story.  I’m only hesitating over this one as it’s being published by Riptide Publishing, and their prices tend to be higher than other publishers.
  • Rosie Claverton’s CAPTCHA THIEF (mystery): Claverton appears to have had a switch of publishers for this one (the previous two books were published by Carina Press).  I need to finish the second book, but will be getting this at some point.

Re-imagined Covers and Short Stories

Happy February!  Or rather, how in the world did January pass so fast?  Possibly because I spent too much time clicking on links – here are a few that caught my attention recently:

This cover reveal post @ tor.com for Jay Kristoff’s new book led me to Meg’s cover redesign project.  I am so impressed by her re-imagined covers for Rae Carson’s Fire & Thorns trilogy and Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle quartet.  They’re gorgeous (and totally rival the originals!) and I really hope she does more.

maidenthief_fullAnd two free short story reads:

A Few January Reads

I’m trying to keep to a every-Monday blogging schedule (bet no one noticed!), but I’ve to say that inspiration has really not struck today.

26036399The biggest book-related thought I have is wondering how I can fit in a Captive Prince re-read before the third and final book comes out next Tuesday – I am so excited about KINGS RISING.  Unfortunately, the conclusion is that I probably can’t, so I may have to hold off starting KINGS RISING until the weekend. #firstworldbookbloggerproblems

Recent reads have all been of the so-so variety… I just finished Jayne Ann Krentz‘s latest, SECRET SISTERS.  It was going pretty well… until it wasn’t.  Not wanting to spoil anyone who’s planning on reading it, but as reveal after reveal spilled out, I was left thinking ???!!!.  Let’s just say I’m glad I borrowed it from the library.

I also finished Lisa Kleypas‘s COLD-HEARTED RAKE (can you get any more generic title-wise?).  Not one of her best historicals, IMO.  Don’t get me wrong, I really liked it while I was reading it, but two weeks later, I’m struggling to remember the details.  I think the h/h setup for the second book  was probably its strongest point.

Actually, I lie about the so-so reads.  I really loved Harper Fox‘s M/M romance MARTY AND THE PILOT (ignore the cover), and it may be one of my favourite reads of 2016 (if we’re allowed to start talking favourites this early!).  It’s on the shorter side of category romance, but had so much story packed in.  Fox has a gift for conveying setting so easily, plus there was chemistry a-plenty between the two protagonists, and really, all the feels.   There is a required suspension of disbelief about a pretty major plot point, but I was happy to go along with the flow because I was enjoying myself so much.

So that’s me for this week – tell me about your latest reads?