Books for April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But they do know that Clive Ronan is back.

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

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

Out now

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

Rules are made to be broken . . .

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

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

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

Out April 16

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

Bad luck is the least of their worries…

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

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

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

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

Out April 17

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

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

Well, here they were.

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

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

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

Out April 25

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

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

Life doesn’t come with a syllabus.

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

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

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

Out now

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And the maybes:

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

Books for March

The general reaction in my circles to Wednesday’s Westminster attack  can be summed up as follows:

  • Thoughts and prayers with those killed or hurt, and their families
  • Massive respect for those working in the emergency services, who ran towards the danger instead of away from it
  • London is open and it’s business as usual

On to books, and rather belatedly, the new releases for March:

18775827Manna Francis’s CORPORA DELICTI (SF): Manna Francis is published by a small press, who release the ebook months after the paperback is first published.  Normally this would have me up in arms and refusing to buy the book on principle, so if I say I ordered the physical book, you get an idea of how much I love her Administration series.  A lot of her fiction is available online for free, but I’ve the published versions as well.  Her dystopian SF world is incredibly detailed (though probably not one for the more squeamish), and I’m ridiculously obsessed by the Toreth/Warrick dynamics.  This is book nine though, so start from the first book.

On the surface, stability has returned to Europe. According to all the official metrics released to news feeds, the Administration and the corporations are stronger and more united than ever. Only in the most secret of government surveillance departments and corporate security divisions would anyone suggest otherwise.

On the surface, Senior Para-investigator Toreth’s year is ending badly. His boss hates him, his junior is looking for a way out, and his new case seems like a dud. Even the upcoming holidays bring more unwelcome news. But the new year starts him down a trail that will lead him from an unpromising beginning, via an unappetizing corpse, right into the financial heart of the Administration and the highest-stakes investigation of his career.

On the surface, corporate director Keir Warrick’s life is on the up. His virtual reality corporation SimTech has weathered the storm of the revolt, and new opportunities are appearing. Away from work, though, more clouds are gathering. What should be good family news brings concerns for the future. With so many secrets to keep, where can he turn to finally guarantee the safety of his family and corporation? And what will the consequences of his choices be for his relationship with Toreth?

This is the ninth book in the Administration series, and follows the intertwined private and professional lives of somewhat justifiably paranoid senior para-investigator Val Toreth and overly inquisitive corporate director Keir Warrick.

Out now

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31380043Patricia Briggs’s SILENCE FALLEN (UF): I’ve loved Mercy Thompson since day one, and while the series has its ups and downs, I’m always going to be reading a new Mercy.

Coyote shapeshifter Mercy Thompson is attacked and abducted in her home territory. Fighting off a crazed werewolf, she manages to escape, only to find herself alone in the heart of Europe, without money, without clothing and on the run from the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world.

Unable to contact her pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, but first she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy needs to be at her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves – and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Out now

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30364791Santino Hassell’s INSIGHT (paranormal romance): I stumbled upon Santino Hassell’s writing last year, and he very quickly became an autobuy author – I love how his romances are set in a New York that feels current and alive.  He turns his hand to paranormal romance this time around.

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Out now

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32162446Josh Lanyon’s FAIR CHANCE (romantic suspense): This one wraps up her trilogy published with Carina Press.  I’ve read it already, and it’s a decent mystery, though heavier on the suspense than romance, IMO.

Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Play from bestselling author Josh Lanyon  

One final game of cat and mouse… 

Ex–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it’s the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.

The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer’s twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.

Out now

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34198964Sarina Bowen’s GOODBYE PARADISE (contemporary romance): Apparently Sarina Bowen first published this book (and another) under a pseudonym.  I’d have completely missed them, so I’m glad she decided to release them under the Bowen name!

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

Out now

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And the maybes:

  • Anne Bishop’s ETCHED IN BONE (UF): After a great start, this series has kind of fizzled out for me.  I’ll still get this at some point because I want to know how she’s wrapped up the story, but I’ll probably wait for the paperback release.
  • THE DJINN FALLS IN LOVE & OTHER STORIES (fantasy): This anthology edited by Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin sounds great, but I’m trying to curb my habit of buying anthologies that I never finish…
  • Cassandra Rose Clarke’s STAR’S END (SF): A story that sounds right up my alley; sadly, the £12 ebook price tag means that I’m waiting for a price drop (or hoping my library gets it in).

 


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Megan Derr’s TOURNAMENT OF LOSERS: You could possibly call this M/M fantasy romance a bit of fluff.  So what?  Sometimes, you just want an enjoyable, feel-good story and this one is certainly that.

New (to-me) Find

33867423It’s been a while since I’ve stayed up way past my bedtime to read just one more chapter, but that was pretty much what I was doing all of last week.

Estara recommended W.R. Gingell’s fantasy books some time back, and I finally got around to reading SHARDS OF A BROKEN SWORD, which is a compilation of three of her interlinked shorter novels (novellas?).  Needless to say, I loved it.

Her writing hit all the right buttons for me – she had clever and strong-minded heroines with a keen sense of the absurd, male counterparts who were worthy foils for them, and plots centred around twisty, mysterious puzzles.  I adored the first two stories, though the third felt a bit rushed towards the end.  All in all though, a most refreshingly enjoyable fantasy.

29481285I immediately dived into the second of her books that I own – MASQUE, a Beauty and the Beast retelling, and which, for some reason, has been sitting on my Kindle for a while (I suspect I picked it up when it was for free or discounted).  If you’re like me and don’t care for fairy-tale retellings, don’t worry as I was halfway through the book when I realised the parallels to Beauty (yes, I can be slow).  Again, this was pretty much my catnip – a whodunnit in a fantasy regency-like setting.  While the villain was a bit too obvious, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story one bit.  I thoroughly loved spending time with Isabella, Lord Pecus, and the rest of Bella’s merry band.

I’m currently reading SPINDLE, which you get for free when you sign up to her newsletter.  If you’ve guessed it’s a Sleeping Beauty (with some added Rapunzel) retelling, you’re right.  I have to say that I’m not loving this as much as the previous two, possibly because Poly has just awoken up from an enchanted sleep and is still trying to find her feet.  She’s different to the very self-assured heroines of the previous books, and I’m missing that self-confidence in her interactions – but things are picking up!  I noticed WR Gingell references Diana Wynne Jones in the dedication of this book, and this story definitely has a DWJ flavour to it.

And once I’m finished with this, well, Gingell’s written a couple more books, and there’s a new release in April.


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I feel like this entire post has been a book rec, but here’s another one: Sherwood Smith’s LHIND THE THIEF.  I’ve a soft spot for YA fantasy – my Goodreads review here.

A Links Post

I really need to start closing my browser tabs.  Here are some (book-ish) links that caught my attention recently:

25241403I adored this guest review of KJ Charles’s A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR @ Smart Bitches Trashy Books.  Part of me wants to be able to write reviews like that, the other part is more than happy to just sit back and read them.

Awards season has started, and I always keep an eye out for new recs.  Here are the nominations for the Aurealis Awards (for Australian SF/F and horror writers) and the Nebula Awards.  Also, an analysis of the Nebulas by author Cora Buhlert.

A fun interview with editor Anne Sowards on working with Patricia Briggs @ Unbound Worlds.  She edits some of my favourite authors.

And finally a Tumblr link – this post on “Coexisting With The Fair Folk Who Have Taken Up Residence In/Around/Beneath Your University: A How-To Guide” was amazing.  I would totally read a whole book based on this premise.


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Lucy Parker’s PRETTY FACE: I know, I know, it’s a brand-new release with lots of buzz.  But I utterly loved it, and it’ll definitely be on my 2017 favourites list.  I don’t have many contemporary romance auto-buy authors (maybe only Kelly Hunter?), but Lucy Parker is now one of them.

Books for February

There are quite a few February new releases on my radar – most of which I’m definitely buying, with a couple of maybes.  Help.

The definites:

30753493Wen Spencer’s THE BLACK WOLVES OF BOSTON (urban fantasy): I may not love all her books, but Wen Spencer writes so very readable characters, while always delivering something a bit different.  I’ve already finished this, and although I had trouble keeping up with the multiple POVs and also some reservations about one of the central couples, it was fun, and her werewolves and vampires weren’t the bog-standard UF ones.  I’ll be picking up the next book.

REBUILD A LIFE, SAVE A CITY

Silas Decker had his world destroyed when he was attacked by vampires outside of New Amsterdam. He rebuilt his life a dozen times in the last three hundred years—each time less and less successfully. Now he lives alone, buried under a hoarding habit, struggling to find some reason to wake up with the setting of the sun.

Eloise is a Virtue, pledged to hunting evil.  What she doesn’t know is how to live alone in a city full of strangers who know nothing about monsters.

Seth is the sixteen-year old Prince of Boston, ward of the Wolf King.  Now he is left in a city that desperately needs his protection with enemies gathering all around.

Joshua believes he is a normal, college-bound high school senior.  His life is shattered when he wakes up in a field, covered with blood, and the prom committee scattered in pieces about him like broken dolls.

These four must now come together to unravel a plot by Wickers, witches who gain power from human sacrifices and have the power to turn any human into their puppet. Four people who lost everything struggle to save Boston by saving each other.

Out now

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33642764Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s HARD WIRED (contemporary romance): I’ve really enjoyed Santino Hassell’s Five Borough series, but this co-authored Cyberlove series started off on a too-angsty note for me.  I liked the second book more though, and have already bought this one.  I find the tech angle in these books fascinating – I’m not a Luddite by any means, but online gaming is pretty much a different world for me.

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.

Out now

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25670396Jacqueline Carey’s MIRANDA AND CALIBAN (fantasy): I keep on changing my mind on this one.  On one hand, I usually buy every book Jacqueline Carey writes.  And it’s a Shakespearean retelling, which makes it even more intriguing.

On the other hand (!!sorry, kind of spoiler-ish!!), apparently it’s not exactly a HEA (to be fair, the back cover copy refers to Miranda and Caliban’s “doomed relationship” and I suspect the retelling will stay close to the original).  Not that I need a HEA in a fantasy, but I kind of want to read uplifting books at this point in time. I’ll probably wait on more reviews before deciding.

We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?

In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin–the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.

Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.

Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play’s iconic characters.

Out Feb 14

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32613865Lucy Parker’s PRETTY FACE (contemporary romance): Speaking of uplifting books, this has to be one, right?  There was (deserved) buzz around Lucy Parker’s debut, and I’m looking forward to reading this.

The play’s the fling

It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Out Feb 20

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31368090Lisa Kleypas’s DEVIL IN SPRING (historical romance): I ended up DNF’ing the second book in this series (possibly a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing), but I’ve high hopes for Evie and Sebastien’s son’s story.

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven…

Out Feb 21

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30517107KJ Charles’s AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION (historical romance): A new KJ Charles is always a treat, even more so when it’s the first of a trilogy.

A slow-burning romance and a chilling mystery bind two singular men in the suspenseful first book of a new Victorian series from K. J. Charles.

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

Out Feb 21

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31141489Julianna Keyes’s UNDECLARED (new adult romance): Julianna Keyes’s UNDECIDED was an unexpected reading gem last year, and I’m glad she’s writing more in the NA genre.

Kellan McVey is Burnham College’s most prolific athlete, partier, and ladies’ man—and that’s just how he likes it. Returning to reign for his third year, he wants nothing to change. Then Andrea Walsh shows up.

It wasn’t too long ago that Andi and Kellan were lifelong friends, mortal enemies, and, for one hot summer, more. Then Kellan left and Andi stayed behind.

Kellan thought he’d moved past that last summer’s heartbreak, but with Andi sitting next to him in class, befriending his friends, and battling for the same once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity, he’s starting to remember why he hated her…and why he loved her.

Kellan has a long list of reasons that falling for Andi again is a terrible idea, though every new moment together challenges that theory. But Andi’s all too familiar with Kellan’s love ’em and leave ’em approach—and she’s found someone else to get serious about.

Burnham’s campus king has never had to fight for a girl, but if he wants Andi to give him another chance, he’ll have to do the one thing he’s never had the nerve to do: admit it.

Out Feb 27

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30255973Ellen Emerson White’s A SEASON OF DARING GREATLY (YA): Angie’s review means that this book is pretty much a must-read for me.  I loved EEW’s The President’s Daughter series, and this reminds me that I’ve a couple of her backlist titles sitting in my TBR pile.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.

On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?

This literary and engrossing story of a young woman trying to mark out a place for herself in a male-dominated world will captivate fans of Friday Night Lights, The Art of Fielding, John Corey Whaley, and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Out now

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25538649Julie Cross’s OFF THE ICE (YA romance): And another sports YA!  I adored Julie Cross’s gymnastics-centred Letters to Nowhere series, so keen to see what she does with ice hockey.

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

Out Feb 28

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30243858Marko Kloos’s FIELDS OF FIRE (SF): And an SF to round things off.  I’ve an ARC of this, so will be posting a fuller review shortly.  It’s a solid installment in the series, and long-time readers won’t be disappointed.

The time has come to take the fight to the Lankies.

Mars has been under Lanky control for more than a year. Since then, the depleted forces of Earth’s alliances have rebuilt their fleets, staffing old warships with freshly trained troops. Torn between the need to beat the Lankies to the punch and taking enough time to put together an effective fighting force, command has decided to strike now.

Once again, seasoned veterans Andrew and Halley find themselves in charge of green troops and at the sharp tip of the spear as the combined military might of Earth goes up against the Lankies. But if there’s one constant in war, it’s that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy…and the Lankies want to hold on to Mars as badly as humanity wants to reclaim it.

Out Feb 28

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And finally, the ones I’ll be (hopefully) requesting from the library:

Kelley Armstrong’s A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE (mystery): It’s a follow-up to last year’s CITY OF THE LOST, which I liked but didn’t love.

Sophie Kinsella’s MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE: Her books are a bit hit or miss with me, so it’s a library request (especially as it’s a hardcover).


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Patricia C Wrede & Caroline Stevermer’s CECELIA AND KATE: OR THE ENCHANTED CHOCOLATE POT (fantasy): I wandered over to scan my bookshelves for this pick.  I adore this utterly charming fantasy, in which the story unfolds through letters between the above-mentioned Cecelia and Kate.

Reading Updates

Three random reading updates:

11056493#1: I’ve continued my exploration of audiobooks.  I finished Georgette Heyer’s VENETIA (the end was surprisingly suspenseful, despite me having read it a couple of times before), and moved on to her SYLVESTER, which is also read by Richard Armitage (based purely on the fact it was the only other Heyer my library had available).

I’m loving his narration, but it’s taken me a while to get into SYLVESTER.  It’s not one of my all-time favourite Heyers, partly because the heroine spends a good part of the book waiting for the other shoe to drop, and this sort of suspense is not my thing.  But all is revealed now, and the heroine and her trusty sidekick are embroiled in yet another pickle.  Good times.

Next on my list is an Elizabeth Peters book, and I’m looking forward to seeing how Amelia Peabody’s adventures translates to audio.

#2: Speaking of Elizabeth Peters, did you see there will be A NEW BOOK THIS YEAR?? I am so excited. (I thought I had posted this, but I possibly squeed on Goodreads only.)

THE PAINTED QUEEN is out in July.  I remember a post about this book being a work-in-progress back when she passed away in 2013, but after so long without any news, I thought it had been quietly shelved.  I have everything crossed that it’ll be a good one.

#3: Finally, I finished Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s GOOD BOY last week.  So much fun.  I had (very) slight reservations going in because of the series title (WAGs being a bit of a derogatory term used by the tabloid press here), but my fears were unfounded.  I loved how Blake didn’t get a personality transplant by the end – he was still the same Blake, but with a lot more depth to his character?  I’d liked to see more of Jess’s character growth though, I’m not entirely sure I bought her story arc.


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Mercedes Lackey’s BY THE SWORD: I devoured Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books as a teen (I may have mentioned that a few times before…).  If you set aside the Arrows of the Queen and The Last Herald-Mage trilogies (my copies are pretty much falling apart), Kerowyn’s story is one I always come back to – it’s loosely-related to the rest of the series, but I think it works well as a standalone too.

Three Links

I try to keep this blog focused purely on book-related stuff, but… it’s been a grim start to 2017, hasn’t it?

This tweet helped though:

On to other links that have caught my attention:

13515074A good source of book recs for me are award longlists – the RT Book Reviews Award Nominees list was released recently.  Despite the title, it’s not just romance titles – their SF/F lists are always worth a read.

Tanya Huff is one of my autobuy authors (THE SILVERED was one of my favourites).  She’s also very versatile, switching between SF, high fantasy and urban fantasy with ease, and this Reddit author appreciation thread is an incredibly comprehensive summary of her work.

And finally, this post by KJ Charles titled “Your Politics Are Showing” was smart and on point.


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Kate Sherwood’s SACRATI: Sherwood’s books are a bit hit or miss.  Some of them really work for me, while others leave me cold.  SACRATI is in the former camp, as you may have guessed – it’s a M/M fantasy romance, with a lot more depth and world-building than I expected going in.

Audiobook Musings (and a Question!)

Guess what? I’ve rediscovered the Overdrive app.

I used to use the app on my Kindle Fire, but then stopped using the Fire (I had one of the older versions, and it was just a tad too bulky to justify carrying it around all the time) and so I kind of forgot about Overdrive altogether.

Then my library sent a reminder recently that we could borrow ebooks via Overdrive, so I downloaded the latest version on my phone in a spare moment… and I may have gone a bit overboard with the digital borrows.  I’m finding the app really easy to use and I love that my digital holds get checked out automatically (providing that I haven’t exceeded my library allowance).

But, I digress.

I realised I could also borrow audiobooks from my library via Overdrive.

I’ve been wanting to try audiobooks for a while.  However, let’s put it this way – when doing languages at school, I almost failed the listening skills part because I just stopped paying attention.  And for a while, conference calls at work was the hardest for me because I would get distracted and drift off.  So I wasn’t keen on the idea of spending money on something which may not have worked for me.  But now that I’ve (ahem) mastered conference calls?  And I can borrow audiobooks?  Why not.

18220481I read up on audiobooks tips for a first-time user (listener?) – suggestions included trying a book you’ve read before and also choosing a good narrator (which apparently makes all the difference).

So I weighed up my choices, listened to a few samples, and landed on Georgette Heyer’s VENETIA (read by Richard Armitage).  Partly because it met the criteria above (well, I assume it does meet the second one, I’ve no other narrator to compare him to) and partly because I was inspired by Angie’s Heyer read.

It’s worked so far.  I’m about three-quarters through, and am really enjoying it!  No problems with following the plot, though this may be due to the fact I’ve read it a couple of times before…  It’s definitely an different experience listening to the story, as opposed to reading it – I hadn’t realised that Damerel pretty much assaults Venetia at their first meeting before, for instance.

But – and we finally get to my question: If you listen to audiobooks, when do you do it?  And what else do you do when listening?

My initial assumption was that I’d listen to VENETIA while commuting to work.  But I quickly realised that didn’t work for me because I don’t really have uninterrupted commute time as such – my journey to work involves a 10-minute walk, a 15-minute train journey, and another 10-20 minutes’ walking.  I considered plugging in my earphones as I make my way to the station, but I’m half-asleep at that point, and flicking through my emails during my train ride is probably as much as I can manage.  And it’s just a bit too stressful dodging other commuters on my way home to lose myself in the audiobook.

So now I’m trying to figure out how best to incorporate audiobooks into my day – I’d love to know when you listen to audiobooks!  Or if they don’t work for you either.

(And also any audiobook recs would be brilliant.)


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SK Dunstall’s LINESMAN: This fun space opera has the distinction of being the most recent book that had me staying up way too late to read “just one more page”.  I also flew through the other two books in the trilogy in short order.

 

Books for January

A bit late, but here are the January new releases on my radar:

33191880Sarina Bowen’s HARD HITTER (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s quickly become an autobuy author for me, and she excels at sports romances.  I’ve already read this one, and it’s a solid romance.  As always, I learn something new about ice hockey – who knew fights were an actual part of the game?

He’s a scrapper in the rink, but he’s about to learn that playing nice can help you score…

As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O’Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of fighting, O’Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He hides his pain from the coaching staff, but when his chronic muscle strain becomes too obvious to ignore, he’s sent for treatment with the team’s massage therapist.

After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini needs a timeout from men. She’s focusing only on work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O’Doul is easy on the eyes but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O’Doul heal, but as the tension between them starts to simmer, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good…

Out now

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33230173CS Pacat’s THE SUMMER PALACE (M/M fantasy romance): It may be a short story, but I can’t get enough of Laurent and Damen.  It was the perfect series epilogue.  *happy sigh*

(I obviously read this the second it downloaded onto my Kindle.)

“When all this is over, we could take horses and stay a week in the palace…”

Set after the events of the Captive Prince trilogy, The Summer Palace is a story about Damen and Laurent. It’s an epilogue of sorts to the Captive Prince series.

Out now

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31225405KJ Charles’s WANTED, A GENTLEMAN (historical M/M romance): If we’re talking autobuy authors (and this post is full of them), here’s another.  Her historicals have proper depth to them.

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring

a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber

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In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

Out now

30747137Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s GOOD BOY (contemporary romance): I’m not sure what’s up with two Bowen releases in the space of a month, but I’m not complaining.  I love her collaborations with Elle Kennedy.

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody (nobody!) can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Caution: May cause accidental aspiration of tea or coffee. Do not read in a public place where loud laughter is inappropriate. Contains hot but hilarious hockey players, puppy cuddling and a snarky pair of underwear.

Out Jan 31

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33650339And oh, I almost forgot to mention Andrea K Höst’s surprise New Year’s Day release, IN ARCADIA.  She very kindly sent me a copy, and it was the perfect way to start off the new year.

It’s an epilogue of sorts to the Touchstone books, and as per my Goodreads review:

Well, this was a lovely and satisfying “slice-of-life” addition to the Touchstone series.

If you wanted more than just the Gratuitous Epilogue (I know I did!), then this is the perfect read. It was so good to see Cass and the whole gang again, and I loved the quiet romance that unfolded between Laura and Gidds Selkie. Now all I want to do is re-read the entire series…

I will say this will work much better for those who have read the original trilogy, as opposed to a truly standalone read.

 

So that’s me – which January releases do you have on your lists?


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Sharon Shinn’s SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN: Sharon Shinn gets the blend of romance with fantasy just right. And this has a place on my keeper shelves.

2016 Best Ofs?

All these 2016 wrap-up posts are not doing good things to my TBR mountain.  Help.

Here are the books/authors that have caught my attention so far:

27068944Cathy Yardley’s LEVEL UP: Courtesy of Angie, bookpusher extraordinaire.  Also, incredibly cute cover.

Chanel Cleeton’s Wild Aces books: I’ve not read her before, but a mention by Mandi @ Smexy Books got me looking, and perhaps fighter pilots are the new SEALs?

Julianna Keye’s THE GOOD FIGHT: I loved her NA book, UNDECIDED, but kind of stalled out on the next book of hers that I tried.  Kini @ Smexy Books now has me thinking that I picked the wrong book to read.

Karen Odden’s A LADY IN THE SMOKE: Tasha @ Truth, Beauty, Freedom & Books made this Victorian mystery sound so good.

Ana and Thea @ The Book Smugglers reminded me of the authors I MUST try in 2017: Becky Chambers, NK Jemisin, Rachel Neumeier (yes, I already have their books on  my Kindle…)

Lyn Gala’s Aberrant Magic series and Robert Innes’s UNTOUCHABLE: Sirius’s list @ Dear Author had me adding both of these books.

Kel Kade’s FREE THE DARKNESS: Kailana @ The Written World name-checked this several times in her post.

I suspect I’ll probably add to this post as I work my way around the blogs.  Would you second any of these?


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Martha Wells’s THE DEATH OF THE NECROMANCER: I’m sticking with old-school fantasy.  Thoroughly enjoyable murder mystery fantasy.