Books for October

I am loving the October new releases.

23734628Rainbow Rowell‘s CARRY ON (YA fantasy): Rainbow Rowell’s novels have been a bit hit-or-miss with me, but I adored her FANGIRL and was obviously going to read CARRY ON as soon as it was released.  (For those who haven’t read FANGIRL, CARRY ON is basically set in the universe that Cath, the main protaganist in FANGIRL, was writing fanfic in.  Very meta.)

And then I completely forgot about CARRY ON’s release date (it’s been one of those weeks) until it appeared on my Kindle – that seriously made my day.  Yes, I’ve read it.  So many thoughts, but main ones being: (1) I think you pretty much have to read FANGIRL first, else you’d be constantly wondering where the first five (or so) books are (2) It’s Rowell’s take on the Chosen One trope, and I love what she did with it (3) It’s so British that I was seriously wondering how I missed the fact Rowell was British* before (she references Ant and Dec!).

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

*Ummm… she isn’t.

Out now


24611981Tanya Huff‘s AN ANCIENT PEACE (SF): I pretty much read anything Tanya Huff writes, which is good as she’s one of those incredibly versatile writers who can switch between genres with ease.  And does.  This time, it’s SF and back to her Confederation world.  It’s been a while.

The first book of a thrilling new military science fiction spin-off of Tanya Huff’s Confederation series.

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. But when she learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting, she left the military for good.

But Torin couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, she drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. Torin just hoped the one they were about to embark on wouldn’t be the death of them.

Ancient H’san grave goods are showing up on the black market—grave goods from just before the formation of the Confederation, when the H’san gave up war and buried their planet-destroying weapons…as grave goods for the death of war. Someone is searching for these weapons and they’re very close to finding them. As the Elder Races have turned away from war, those searchers can only be members of the Younger Races.

Fortunately, only the Corps Intelligence Service has this information. Unfortunately, they can do nothing about it—bound by laws of full disclosure, their every move is monitored.

Though Torin Kerr and her team are no longer a part of the military, the six of them tackling the H’san defenses and the lethally armed grave robbers are the only chance the Confederation has. The only chance to avoid millions more dead.

But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder Races and the Younger, the more she begins to fear war might be an unavoidable result.

Out now


25357539Sarina Bowen‘s THE FIFTEENTH MINUTE (NA romance): Speaking of auto-buy authors, I cannot wait to read Sarina Bowen’s latest Ivy Years book.  Lianne was a pretty intriguing character in the previous book.

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

Out October 13


17410991Sherry Thomas‘s THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS (YA fantasy): Sherry Thomas wraps up her YA fantasy trilogy (as an aside, she had the best covers for this series), so I obviously need to know how it all ends.  I haven’t loved the insta-love aspect of these books, but the adventure, yes.

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort….

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

Out Oct 13


25494249Carla Kelly‘s CHRISTMAS EVE PROPOSAL (historical romance): I think this is a new Carla Kelly, but don’t hold me to it.  It’s a Harlequin Historical omnibus called IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS, and she’s listed as one of the contributors.  Possibly a novella?  Anyone know anything?



Christmas gets more interesting when sailing master Ben Muir takes lodgings with Mandy Mathison! Because when her scandalous past is revealed, only he can save her future…


Lily Rutherford is shocked to learn the man who snubbed her years before will be staying for Christmas. Can she forgive the viscount in time for a stolen kiss under the mistletoe?


Penniless widow Cassandra Norton faces Christmas on the run with her two stepdaughters, until Adam Royston sweeps her off her feet and into his country estate!

Out Oct 20


24431358Lisa Kleypas‘s COLD-HEARTED RAKE (historical romance): How long has it been since we could mention “Lisa Kleypas” and “new historical” in the same sentence?  I’m hoping her historicals are as good as I remember…

A twist of fate…

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills…

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

Out Oct 27


So that’s me – have I missed any of your must-read new releases?


Filed under New Releases

Links: New McGrath Cover and Book Promos

GhostTalkers_comp_webHappy October!

Look at this beautiful cover for Mary Robinette Kowal‘s upcoming WW1-set fantasy novel, GHOST TALKERS (out July 2016).  She talks a bit more about the input she provided the Tor art department at her blog.  I’d be tempted to get this in hardcover just so I could admire it on my shelves.  She has had some very good covers from Tor.

Artist is Chris McGrath – I kind of recognised his style, but the lighter colours threw me off a bit.  I guess I’m more used to his dark and brooding urban fantasy covers.

Oh, and the book itself sounds pretty good too.


Writer Unboxed has a couple of posts up on Bookbub (Part 1 and Part 2) – while they’re aimed more at authors, there’s some interesting information and stats on how they select books for inclusion in their promotional emails.  They get 100-300 requests a day, which is pretty amazing.  I think they do a good job of curating deals and targeting preferences – or rather, I find myself clicking through on their links more often than I do on other book promo services.


Speaking of book promo-type services, Kobo just started a new loyalty/discount programme, Kobo SuperPoints, where you earn points for spend, which you can eventually redeem for books.  They also have a VIP version, where it’s £6 (or local equivalent?) for a year, and you get additional points together with 10% off various titles (I assume books which are discountable).  I haven’t done the calculations, but signed up out of curiosity (as I had a spare discount code that brought the annual membership down to around £4) – I’ll let you know if the cost’s worth it in about a year’s time.  Has anyone else signed up?

If we’re talking loyalty programmes, I think AllRomanceEbooks “Buy 10, Get 1 Free” programme is a good one, especially if you buy a lot of indie/self-published books.

None of these are affiliate links or sponsored, BTW.


Non-book related, but really fascinating: The Simpleton (a design blog) talks about schema theory (yeah, me neither) with user guides on self-service shopping (1950s) and on using a telephone (1920s).  It makes you realise how everyday events, like shopping in supermarkets and answering phone calls, would have been viewed as truly extraordinary in the early half of the 20th century.


Filed under Links & News

September Links

I thought I’d have more time for blogging now that summer’s over… and then Davis Cup happens.  It’s been an edge-of-seat type of TV spectating over the past couple of days.

Also, rugby.  I’m not a massive rugby fan (understatement of the year).  Let’s just say that I can barely describe the rules of the game (“you need to get the ball to the other side of the field and then you can kick it through the posts for a conversion” is pretty much the extent of my knowledge), but somehow, the fact the World Cup is taking place in the UK has meant I’ve been watching more rugby matches in the past two days than I have in the past year?

So that was a roundabout way of saying that I was planning on writing a couple of reviews*, but instead here are some links and musings…


1277695Lois McMaster Bujold posted the new cover of FALLING FREE – the first book in her Vorkosigan series, if you go by internal chronological order.

I’d never recommend starting the series with FALLING FREE though – IMO it’s probably best read once you’ve finished all the other books because (a) it’s pretty stand-alone and (b) it’s not her best book by far.  It helps fill in some of the blanks and history, but I tend to suggest new readers start with THE WARRIOR’S APPRENTICE.  I started with CORDELIA’S HONOR myself (an omnibus version of the two books set before TWA) and while I liked both Aral and Cordelia, I didn’t feel the need to continue with the next books.  And then I read TWA, and pretty much devoured the entire series in a couple of months.

Anyway, new cover!  I like it a lot better than her previous self-pubbed versions – the cover artist, Ron Miller, posted in the thread:

…  As I told Lois, too many of her past covers have scarcely done her justice (and not just because they weren’t accurate in details—that’s not really a prime consideration—they were just plain bad art). After two or three false starts where I was going in a more realistic direction, I realized that what she was after was a graphic style that I’d always admired—and have had little opportunity to indulge in. Which made the whole project immensely fun and rewarding for me. The goal, of course, was to create images that were not only meaningful to existing readers, who would be already familiar with the stories, but also attractive to brand-new readers as well…a sometimes tricky balancing act. I can only hope we succeeded!

I totally agree LMB’s not had the greatest luck with covers (though I quite liked the CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE cover).  I’m glad she’s found an artist who can translate her vision into (hopefully) commercial covers – am looking forward to seeing the next set.


I haven’t been watching the TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon‘s OUTLANDER, mostly because it’s not on free-to-air TV here in the UK.  But from what I gather, it’s been a pretty good adaptation?  Also, casting appears pretty good in terms of matching the mental images I have of Claire and Jamie.

Diana Gabaldon’s writing the script for one of the Season 2 shows, and she posts about the experience here – it’s an interesting read, even if you haven’t been watching.  Also, funny:

P.S. I had breakfast with George R.R. Martin shortly after the agreement that I’d do a script, and mentioned it to him—knowing that he’d done a good deal of television writing before taking to novels. He laughed and said, “Oh, so you’re about to learn the Great Secret of screenwriting!”

“Reckon so,” I said. “And what’s that, George?” He leaned toward me conspiratorially and said, “It’s MUCH easier than writing a novel!”

No, I haven’t watched GoT either.  Yes, I live under a rock.


I love the intricate world-building of Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye universe, and was thrilled to see her do more Q&As  about Toby’s world in the lead-up to the release of A RED-ROSE CHAIN.  It’s always fascinating to learn more about the fantastical world that she’s created, especially when it becomes obvious that we see in the books is only the tip of the iceberg.


*One of those reviews is for Kate Elliott‘s COURT OF FIVES, which I won in a giveaway.  Notable as I very rarely win anything, and then a month later, I won Groupee’s Open Road Media SciFi bundle (offer’s closed now, but it was an excellent bundle).  It was a good month! I promise I’m not saying this because I won the Groupee giveaway, but I love Open Road’s SF/F catalogue.  They publish backlist SF/F, and whoever curates their selection has very good taste.


Filed under Links & News

Books for September

Now that summer’s almost over (yes, some denial here…), I’m hoping to settle back into more of a regular blogging schedule around here.  It’s been a busy few months – I’m not sure why, but when it’s still bright at nine in the evening, I feel as though I can cram more into my day?

I’ve also been reading a lot of books over the past couple of months…  Maybe I’ll actually talk about them at some point, but first, the new releases for September that I need to read.  All nine of them.

25615305Zen Cho‘s SORCEROR TO THE CROWN (fantasy): This one has had such good buzz.  I’ve been enjoying Zen Cho’s posts about her publishing journey on her blog – this is her debut novel.

In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Out now


25958273Deanna Raybourn‘s A CURIOUS BEGINNING (historical mystery): It’s been a while since I’ve read a Raybourn.  I stopped reading when she moved on from her Lady Julia books, but this start to a new series sounds intriguing.

In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Out now (Oct 1 in the UK)


23664710Lee Child‘s MAKE ME (suspense): Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books are always on my autumn reading list.  Though this looks like another small town setting, which always makes me feel claustrophobic…

“Why is this town called Mother’s Rest?” That’s all Reacher wants to know. But no one will tell him. It’s a tiny place hidden in a thousand square miles of wheat fields, with a railroad stop, and sullen and watchful people, and a worried woman named Michelle Chang, who mistakes him for someone else: her missing partner in a private investigation she thinks must have started small and then turned lethal.

Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, and there’s something about Chang . . . so he teams up with her and starts to ask around. He thinks: How bad can this thing be? But before long he’s plunged into a desperate race through LA, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Francisco, and through the hidden parts of the internet, up against thugs and assassins every step of the way—right back to where he started, in Mother’s Rest, where he must confront the worst nightmare he could imagine.

Walking away would have been easier. But as always, Reacher’s rule is: If you want me to stop, you’re going to have to make me.

Out now


22095547Cindy Pon‘s SERPENTINE (YA fantasy): I love the cover.  Also, I read her Big Idea post over at Whatever, and was hooked.

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

Out now


26084594KA Mitchell‘s PUT A RING ON IT (M/M romance): KA Mitchell’s pretty much an autobuy author for me.  And it’s been a while since her last book.

Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via a NYC Times Square Flash mob.

Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms…

Out now


24453021Seanan McGuire‘s A RED-ROSE CHAIN (UF): New Toby always makes me happy.

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Out now


17564519Rae Carson‘s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER (YA fantasy): I quite liked Rae Carson’s previous trilogy, and this one sounds even better.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance.

Out Sept 22


24876258Jim Butcher‘s THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS (fantasy): Jim Butcher does something that’s not Dresden-related.  Okay, slightly unfair, as he did write the Codex Alera fantasy series… anyway, this looks like a take on steampunk?

 Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Out Sept 29


25388580Kelley Armstrong‘s THE UNQUIET PAST (fantasy): I’ve no idea what this book is (looks like a shared-world series?), but I’ll give it a shot because, well, Kelley Armstrong.

You can only hide from the truth for so long.

Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.

Out Sept 29


And then the maybes:

  • Fran Wilde‘s UPDRAFT (fantasy): I’ve been hearing good things about this one.  Has anyone read this yet?
  • Mercedes Lackey‘s HUNTER (fantasy): I’ll always have a soft spot for some Lackey.
  • Holly Black & Cassandra Clare‘s THE COPPER GAUNTLET (YA fantasy): I read the first book, THE IRON TRIAL, recently – it was good fun, though a bit slow in parts.  And I’m a sucker for academy-type stories anyway.
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s LED ASTRAY (UF): More Armstrong, this time an anthology of mostly previously-published short stories, but with two new ones.  Which would be why I want the book…


Filed under New Releases

Weekend Links

I had forgotten it was WorldCon this weekend (or a whole year since LonCon3!).  I didn’t pay much attention to the Hugo award shortlists this year – with the Sad/Rabid Puppies pushing full slates, I was much more interested in the Hugo longlists, which have just been released (pdf link).

20518872I’ve to admit the Best Novel longlist didn’t really excite me.  Of the books I haven’t already read, I have Cixin Liu‘s THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM on my Kindle (free via the Amazon Kindle for Samsung programme), John Scalzi‘s LOCK IN doesn’t really appeal (though I’ve his newest THE END OF ALL THINGS also on my Kindle – I couldn’t resist the £2.99 price point), and I DNF’d Andy Weir‘s THE MARTIAN (I know, sorry).  I’ve heard good things about Robert Jackson Bennett‘s CITY OF STAIRS though, so I may see if my library has it.

I don’t have much to say about the rest of the awards (apart from good result?), though I’m really pleased Julie Dillon won Best Professional Artist – love her art.

A few other (non-related) links that caught my attention recently-ish:


Filed under Links & News

Books for August

August appears to be an seriously good month for new releases.  And I mean seriously.


25635416Rachel Aaron‘s ONE GOOD DRAGON DESERVES ANOTHER (UF): The second in Rachel Aaron’s self-pubbed series was released last weekend, and I’ve already read it.  I didn’t love it as much as the first book, if I’m honest – the plot setup felt overly-complicated to me and the pacing slightly off in places.  A lack of tension, perhaps?  Good action set pieces though.

After barely escaping the machinations of his terrifying mother, two all knowing seers, and countless bloodthirsty siblings, the last thing Julius wants to see is another dragon. Unfortunately for him, the only thing more dangerous than being a useless Heartstriker is being a useful one, and now that he’s got an in with the Three Sisters, Julius has become a key pawn in Bethesda the Heartstriker’s gamble to put her clan on top.

Refusal to play along with his mother’s plans means death, but there’s more going on than even Bethesda knows, and with Estella back in the game with a vengeance, Heartstriker futures disappearing, and Algonquin’s dragon hunter closing in, the stakes are higher than even a seer can calculate. But when his most powerful family members start dropping like flies, it falls to Julius to defend the clan that never respected him and prove that, sometimes, the world’s worst dragon is the best one to have on your side.

Out now


23590296ML Brennan‘s DARK ASCENSION (UF): One of the stronger UF series at the moment, IMO.  I stumbled across an early copy at my local bookstore and snapped it up.  I felt that this one had more romance in the mix, and less of the internal family politicking and secrets that really intrigued me in the earlier books.  It was a good installment in the series, but there was nothing unexpected in how the plot unfolded, if that makes sense.  Or maybe I’m just being hard to please.

As the “wickedly clever” (Publishers Weekly) series continues, reluctant, slacker vampire Fortitude Scott learns that nothing is more important than family—or more deadly….

After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up.

Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into the middle of an uncomfortable and dangerous battle for succession. His older sister, Prudence, is determined to take over the territory. But Fort isn’t the only one wary of her sociopathic tendencies, and allies, old and new, are turning to him to keep Prudence from gaining power.

Now, as Fort fights against his impending transition into vampire adulthood, he must also battle to keep Prudence from destroying their mother’s kingdom—before she takes him down with it….

Out now


17333171Ilona AndrewsMAGIC SHIFTS (UF): This is next up on my reading list!  It’s always nice to return to Kate and Curran.

In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Out now


18126966Lisa Kleypas‘s BROWN-EYED GIRL (contemporary romance): It feels like it’s been forever since my last Kleypas.  I stopped reading her recent Friday Harbour books because the magical realism elements didn’t work for me, but I’m all for a return to her Travis family.  Plus she has a new historical(!) coming out soon.

Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn’t believe in love–at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can’t resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can’t afford distractions. She’s been hired to plan the wedding of the year–a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he’s not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything–including her well-guarded heart–will she find out what matters most.

Out Aug 11


23834716KJ CharlesA FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE (M/M romance): KJ Charles is so an auto-buy author for me.  I’d read anything she writes.  Plus I adored the short story that’s set in the same world as this book, so really, a no-brainer.

In the first novel of an explosive new series from K. J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.
When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.

After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.

Out Aug 11


18068907Kate Elliott‘s COURT OF FIVES (YA fantasy): I’m still making my way through Kate Elliott’s backlist, but this one sounds like a total winner.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Out Aug 18


23601046Aliette de Bodard‘s THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS (fantasy): Aliette de Bodard’s a new-to-me author, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about her writing.  And the fact that “murder mystery” is mentioned in the first sentence below tipped the balance for me.

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.

Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, a alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

Out Aug 20


23006161Kelley Armstrong‘s DECEPTIONS (urban fantasy): I’ve really enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s previous two Cainsville books, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she wraps the story up.  Ummm… assuming this is a trilogy.


Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow?


Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side.


Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Out Aug 20


25912719CHARMED AND DANGEROUS (M/M paranormal romance anthology): This sounds like a whole load of fun, with an amazing line-up of authors – KJ Charles (see above), Jordan Castillo Price, Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara… to name but a few.  An excellent way to round off the month.

Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Out Aug 25


Filed under New Releases

Recent Summer Reading

So it’s still technically summer, though the British weather appears to think otherwise.  The summer lull has meant that I’ve flown through quite a few books recently – here are some of them.

25686927I bought Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy‘s HIM as soon as it arrived on the virtual shelves, and they totally hit it out of the park (or whatever the relevant hockey analogy is) with Wes and Jamie’s story.  It was funny and sexy and really, the perfect “best friends to lovers” romance.  Loved the sports/summer camp angle, the supporting characters (I’m kind of hoping for a sequel for a couple of them now), and the relatively low level of angst (I know – I surprise myself).  One of my favourites of the year, most definitely.

25777000On the fantasy romance side, I tried a new-to-me author, Melissa McShane‘s SERVANT OF THE CROWN, after reading Sherwood Smith’s review (the pretty cover didn’t hurt either).  This wasn’t an entirely successful read for me.  I loved the protagonist’s passion for books, and which reader could hate a plot that centres around a library, right?  However, I found the prose a bit clunky (continual mentions of how Alison turned blotchy when embarrassed or how she freezes up when complimented on her beauty started jarring after a while), and the world-building was kind of sketchy.  There were hints of some really interesting bits, for example, I’d loved to have seen a bit more about how family bonds influenced history and society, but on the whole, everything felt a bit wallpaper-y.  I’ll still try another book by McShane though.

25090918And libraries appear to be the new thing in fantasy – I also read Rachel Caine‘s INK AND BONE, which is the start of a new series (trilogy?) set in an alternate-history version of our world, where original printed versions of books are incredibly rare (also see Genevieve Cogman‘s THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY, which I thoroughly enjoyed).  I hesitated over picking up INK AND BONE because my experience with Caine’s previous works is that she loves her cliffhangers, but eventually caved, because well, LIBRARIES.  And this was a good adventure romp, with some magic and err… library-ing packed in for good measure.  I thought the world she created was really imaginative – Jess, the main protagonist, is a book smuggler-turned-scholar trainee, who’s trying to get a place at the Great Library of Alexandria. Academy-type stories are like my catnip, and this was one of them.  The weakest element for me was Jess’s eventual romance (I’m picky!) – it was a bit insta-love to me, and I much preferred the friendships that developed over the course of the book.  But I’m looking forward to see where the story goes next.

So that’s me – how’s your summer reading going?


Filed under Reviews

Books for July

Can I say that July’s flown by?  That’ll be my excuse for posting this new releases post in the second half of the month.  They’re good books, though.


18775818Manna FrancisBLOOD & CIRCUSES (M/M paranormal romance): I was dancing around with delight when I heard there was going to be a new Administration book.  The Administration series is this online M/M futuristic/dystopian romance series, which is available for free online, but the stories have also been released for sale.  I devoured this series when I first stumbled upon it – this wasn’t exactly your standard everyday dystopian romance.  The last installment left the protagonists in a pretty good place, and I honestly thought the series had come to an end.  So this is fantastic news.  The not-so-great news is that the ebook is only coming out next year (I think), so I may bite the bullet and order the paperback.  Or I could re-read the first seven books in preparation for this…

It’s set to be a busy autumn in New London and beyond. With the ripples of the revolt still running through the European Administration, Val Toreth is slowly settling into the new flat he shares with Keir Warrick. But on orders from the very highest levels of the Administration, Toreth finds himself leaving his regular beat far behind and heading over the Atlantic to Washington D.C. Without his usual team or his authority as a Para-investigator to back him up, Toreth is caught up in a world of politics, diplomacy, and religion far outside his experience. Worst of all, he’s stuck with an unexpected and very unwanted companion on his trip. Can he keep his cool and win through when international reputations are on the line?

Back in New London, Investigator Barret-Connor is called on to deal with a case that lies outside the traditional areas of interest of the Investigation and Interrogation Division–the unexpectedly dangerous world of Europe’s music corporations. With dark secrets hidden behind the PR-groomed public façade, both his professional skills and conscience will be tested.

The eighth book in the Administration series contains the novellasInnocent Blood and For Your Entertainment, and continues the lives of now partially domesticated Para-investigator Val Toreth and somewhat harried corporate director Keir Warrick.

Out now


16045315Miranda Kenneally‘s JESSE’S GIRL (YA romance): Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series is an auto-buy for me.  I’ve read JESSE’S GIRL and talked a bit about it last week.  This wasn’t my favourite of all her books, but one consistent thing that I do like about Kenneally’s books is how her protagonists aren’t always rich and privileged.

Everyone at Hundred Oaks High knows that career mentoring day is a joke. So when Maya Henry said she wanted to be a rock star, she never imagined she’d get to shadow *the* Jesse Scott, Nashville’s teen idol.

But spending the day with Jesse is far from a dream come true. He’s as gorgeous as his music, but seeing all that he’s accomplished is just a reminder of everything Maya’s lost: her trust, her boyfriend, their band, and any chance to play the music she craves. Not to mention that Jesse’s pushy and opinionated. He made it on his own, and he thinks Maya’s playing back up to other people’s dreams. Does she have what it takes to follow her heart—and go solo?

Out now


25719764Sean Kennedy‘s TIGERS ON THE RUN (M/M romance): Another sequel I never really expected to see, and another one I’m delighted to see released. I adored the first book, TIGERS AND DEVILS, when I read it five(!) years ago – it’s a heart-warming sports romance (with an excellent snarky narrator), with an Aussie setting that comes to life. I’m reading TIGERS ON THE RUN right now, and seeing Simon and Dec again is a whole load of fun.

Young Australian Micah Johnson is the first AFL player to be out at the beginning of his career. Retired professional football player Declan Tyler mentors Micah, but he finds it difficult, as Micah is prone to making poor life choices that land him in trouble. Nothing Dec can’t handle. He’s been there, done that, more times than he’d like to admit. Being Simon Murray’s partner all these years has Dec quite experienced in long-suffering and mishaps.

As usual, Simon thinks everything is going along just fine until his assistant, Coby, tells him a secret involving an old nemesis. Simon and Dec’s problems mash together, and to solve them, they must undertake a thousand-kilometer round trip in which issues will have to be sorted out, apologies are finally given, and a runaway kid is retrieved and returned to his worried parents.

Out now


16278318Ernest Cline‘s ARMADA (SF): Some people loved Ernest Cline’s READY PLAYER ONE, others thought it was an over-hyped piece of 1980’s nostalgia.  I fell firmly into the loved-it camp, so ARMADA is definitely on my to-buy list.

Zack Lightman has spent his life dreaming. Dreaming that the real world could be a little more like the countless science-fiction books, movies, and videogames he’s spent his life consuming. Dreaming that one day, some fantastic, world-altering event will shatter the monotony of his humdrum existence and whisk him off on some grand space-faring adventure.

But hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little escapism, right? After all, Zack tells himself, he knows the difference between fantasy and reality. He knows that here in the real world, aimless teenage gamers with anger issues don’t get chosen to save the universe.

And then he sees the flying saucer.

Even stranger, the alien ship he’s staring at is straight out of the videogame he plays every night, a hugely popular online flight simulator called Armada—in which gamers just happen to be protecting the earth from alien invaders.

No, Zack hasn’t lost his mind. As impossible as it seems, what he’s seeing is all too real. And his skills—as well as those of millions of gamers across the world—are going to be needed to save the earth from what’s about to befall it.

It’s Zack’s chance, at last, to play the hero. But even through the terror and exhilaration, he can’t help thinking back to all those science-fiction stories he grew up with, and wondering: Doesn’t something about this scenario seem a little…familiar?

At once gleefully embracing and brilliantly subverting science-fiction conventions as only Ernest Cline could, Armada is a rollicking, surprising thriller, a classic coming of age adventure, and an alien invasion tale like nothing you’ve ever read before—one whose every page is infused with the pop-culture savvy that has helped make Ready Player One a phenomenon.

Out now


25686927Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy‘s HIM (M/M new adult romance): I’m always up for a surprise release by two of my favourite authors (yes, I got around to reading Elle Kennedy’s NAs and am now stalking her updates for when the next book will come out).  I’ve heard good things about this one.

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

Out July 28


Filed under New Releases

Summer Reading

Oh, hey. *dusts off blog*

Actual summer weather combined with Wimbledon = not enough time to blog.  But I’ve some time to kill before the women’s final starts, so here are a few books I’ve read recently – no real standouts unfortunately.  Or maybe I’ve just been grumpy.

16045315Miranda Kenneally‘s JESSE’S GIRL: Enjoyable fluff.  Very enjoyable, mind, but also total fluff.  I was expecting a bit more after last year’s BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE (one of my 2014 favourites), so a bit of a letdown.  It reminded me a bit of Jennifer Echols’ BIGGEST FLIRTS (which I read last year).  That was also a sweet and fun YA romance, but with no surprises plot-wise.  I’ve been wondering if I’m expecting too much from YA romance though – I’d probably have loved both these books as a teen, so is it fair for me to be judging these through an adult lens now?

16096824Sarah J Maas‘s A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES: An impulse borrow from the library, as I hadn’t really cared for her debut, but this turned out to be a surprisingly engrossing fantasy that stitches together various fairy tales to come up with something a bit more modern, if not exactly unique.  There’s not much depth in world-building nor in characterisation, and it took me a while to settle into the book.  But things got better as the story progressed, and I needed to know how things would end.  There’s something about Feyre and her story that makes me think this would appeal to those who’ve liked Anne Bishop’s recent books.

23305614Sophie Kinsella‘s FINDING AUDREY: Another library borrow, as I wasn’t entirely sure I’d love a Kinsella YA, and this was probably a good call.  Kinsella’s well-known for her chick-lit… and this was YA chick-lit style.  One I’d recommend for a light beach read, but I never really connected with Audrey and her family.  I adore the cover though.

23403402VE Schwab‘s A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC: I’d been hearing good things about this fantasy, and grabbed the Kindle edition when it was on sale recently.  I loved the concept of alternate-Londons, but again, never quite connected with the protagonists.  It’s also a bit on the grimdark side, which is not a mood I particularly care for.  I’m on the fence as to whether I’d pick up the next book.


Filed under Reviews

Links on a Drizzly Saturday

Despite the lack of sunshine, it’s definitely summer – or rather, that time of year when live tennis is on (free-to-air) TV.  Hence the sparseness of posts around here, which will likely continue for the next few weeks.

But it’s pouring drizzly and the tennis has stopped for the day, so a few links…

Rosie Claverton‘s post on notes she gets from her editor makes me smile – “what’s a chav” indeed.  One thing I really like about her Amy Lane mystery series is the sense of place I get from her writing, so it’s interesting to see some of the questions her (American) editor asks.

I thought this was an insightful post on female writers in fantasy by Tansy Rayner Roberts @ SF Signal.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt the lack of female fantasy authors myself – at least half, if not more, of the SFF books on my shelves are by female authors.  I sometimes wonder if that’s also because I read a lot of romance, which is so female-dominated.

Heartstrikers2-1000Not exactly breaking news, but it’s a pretty cover – Rachel Aaron‘s cover for her upcoming ONE GOOD DRAGON DESERVES ANOTHER.  I found the first book a whole load of fun, so this one’s definitely on my to-buy list.

Also, she posted her (or rather, her husband’s) number-crunching on reader retention rates across a series, which was interesting – not least because it backed up her viewpoint of “the first book sells the second, but the second sells the series”.

As a reader, I think that’s pretty accurate – the first book in a series needs to be strong in order to get me to pick up the second, but by the end of the second book, I’m either invested in the characters or not.  And if I am, then I really want to know what happens next.

Having said that, I do think my reading habits have changed over the years – it used to be really difficult for me to stop reading a series (the row of Laurell K Hamilton and Janet Evanovich books occupying prime bookshelf space being an excellent example of that).  Nowadays, I’m quite happy to abandon series halfway if the books aren’t living up to my expectations.  Any thoughts on this?


Filed under Links & News