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.

2016: Lists and Numbers

Here’s my traditional wrap-up of 2016 in lists and numbers (I like spreadsheets, what can I say).  I may have done my favourite reads of 2016 already, but here are a few other lists.

2016 new-to-me authors

I read books by 21 new-to-me authors over the course of 2016, which is pretty much on par with the previous year.  The authors I’m really glad I discovered?

Well, four of them wrote books that featured in my favourites of 2016 so that probably goes without saying:

  • Beth Brower
  • Jodi Taylor
  • Leigh Bardugo
  • Santino Hassell

And the other five authors:

Authors most glommed in 2016

Unsurprisingly, Jodi Taylor – not only did I read all seven of her St Mary’s books, I also read her standalone romances – a contemporary, THE NOTHING GIRL, and a historical, A BACHELOR ESTABLISHMENT.  Slightly different voices, but no less enjoyable.

Coming a close second with seven books each were Megan Derr and Lynn Kurland.

I’ve read Megan Derr before, but never quite got on with her books. This year however, for whatever reason, her M/M fantasy romances became my comfort reads (I read all of her Tales of the High Court, Unbreakable Soldiers, and Princes of the Blood series – the last being my favourite so far).

I also finished reading all of Lynn Kurland‘s Nine Kingdoms fantasy romances (spot a trend there?).  It was a bit of a mixed bag overall, but at least I’m caught up now.

And some numbers…

I read 127 books over the year, way down on previous years (I usually average around 150).  Let’s just say 2016 had distractions galore (not all bad though, I suspect the summer Olympics was a contributing factor!).

About one-third of the books I read were published prior to 2016, and roughly 40% were published via non-traditional channels.

Breakdown of genre and numbers by month (see what I mean by the Olympics?):

2016

Compared to previous years (perhaps read more fantasy should be my 2017 resolution?):

2016-trend

And that’s my 2016 reading year!  Here’s the Goodreads version, which is all pretty and fancy.


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I know, I totally forgot about my plan for doing a regular book recommendation in my last post.  Memory of a goldfish, sorry.

So here’s my first rec of 2017 – Kate Elliott’s JARAN: If you’re in the mood for some old-school SFF with romance a-plenty, I adored JARAN. It’s the first of a series, but works very well as a standalone.

2016: My Favourite Books

I’m joining in with the general sigh of relief that 2016 is finally over – happy new year everyone!

Here are my very favourite books of 2016, in no particular order:

 

Beth Brower’s THE Q (fantasy): This fantasy had the perfect amount of charm and romance swirled into the mix, and was the highlight of my December reading.

CS Pacat’s KINGS RISING (M/M fantasy romance): So much anticipation for this final book in the trilogy, and you know what?  She delivered in spades.

KJ Charles’s A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION (M/M historical romance): Having read hundreds of historical romances, it’s rare for one to blow me away – but this one did.

Harper Fox’s MARTY AND THE PILOT (M/M contemporary romance): Harper Fox has a knack for getting the chemistry between her leads just right.

Leigh Bardugo’s CROOKED KINGDOM (YA fantasy): Full of twists and turns, full of feelings.

Santino Hassell’s SUTPHIN BOULEVARD (M/M contemporary romance): His Five Borough series have a real sense of place, and there’s no lack of romance (or angst, come to think of it).

Alexis Hall’s LOOKING FOR GROUP (M/M NA romance): This was full of sweet geeky goodness of the best sort.

 

Not on this list, but Jodi Taylor’s The Chronicles of St Mary’s novels also deserves a mention – they were totally addictive, and I finished the whole seven-book series in the space of a month (which is probably why no one particular book stood out, come to think of it…).

A Rec a Post?

Who can’t wait for 2016 to be over? *raises hand*

World events aside, I’ve been struggling with a cold for the past few weeks now, and a sniffly nose isn’t the best accessory when Christmas party season is in full swing. (I may also have been struggling with a self-inflicted achy head at various points in the past month.)

Anyway, my “a rec a post” idea. I saw this somewhere (can’t quite remember where now – I don’t think it was a book blog, but it was a similar concept), where regardless of the post topic, a recommendation was included at the end.

I freely admit to not blogging that often in 2016, but I liked this idea – I am always able to recommend a book, and it’ll give me a chance to mention both old favourites and new discoveries without feeling obliged to launch into full-blown review mode.

32591947So to end the year, here’s my first rec – Beth Brower’s THE Q. Angie brought it to my attention when she reviewed it a while back, but it’s taken me this long to get around to reading it.  If you were like me and hesitant to jump in based on the very limited blurb, THE Q’s a charming fantasy with a slow-burn romance (basically, it’s my catnip), and I found it reminiscent of Eva Ibbotson’s historical romances.  Quincy St Claire’s life revolves around her great-uncle’s printing business, The Q, and she has one year to save her inheritance.  As the story unfolds, she finds out that saving The Q is much more than retaining control over the business.  While the story starts off slow, stick with it, because the pay-off’s great.

And that’s it for now (I may have to get a bit better at writing snappier recs).

If you celebrate Christmas, happy Christmas, and if you don’t, I hope you get a chance to relax and recharge your batteries for the new year over the next week or so.

Books for December

I am so ready for the yearend holidays.  Most people in my office are taking the week between Christmas and New Year off, and I’m no exception – I’m looking forward to having a few lazy days once the Christmas festivities are over!  And happily, there will be quite a few December new releases to keep me company…

29011312Jen Frederick’s DOWNED (NA romance): I had a lot of fun reading the first book in this series (especially with its nods to old-school romance tropes!), but haven’t yet made time to read its sequel.  Still getting the third book though.

He’s the guy no one likes…

Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.

She’s the girl everyone loves…

Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.

Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.

Out now

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31421764Josh Lanyon’s THE CURSE OF THE BLUE SCARAB (M/M romance/mystery): While Lanyon is an autobuy author for me, her more recent releases have been of the hit-or-miss variety for me. So I’m feeling a bit nervous about this Edwardian-set story, which she describes as being “…very kooky”.

Who or what is responsible for the gruesome deaths of members of the secret society known as the Order of Osiris?

Dr. Armiston, an irascible, confirmed bachelor who believes in medicine not mysticism, is certain the deaths are only tragic accidents.

The members of the Order of Osiris suspect something more sinister is at work. They profess to believe an ancient curse has been visited upon their society. Handsome and mysterious Captain Maxwell requests Armiston’s help.

Tarot cards? Egyptology? Spiritualism? Armiston has little patience with the superficial and silly pastimes of the rich, but he does love a good puzzle. Or could it be that he is more drawn to young Captain Maxwell than he wishes to admit?

Either way, Armiston must solve the secret of the cursed sarcophagus very soon, for Captain Maxwell is the next slated to die…

Out Dec 9

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29345916Genevieve Cogman’s THE BURNING PAGE (fantasy): Now I’ve no doubts about this book.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past two books in this series and this one has been pre-ordered.

The third title in Genevieve Cogman’s clever and exciting The Invisible Library series, The Burning Page is an action-packed literary adventure!

Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she’s not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.

However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy – particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library’s destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted ‘join me or die’ job offer. Meanwhile, Irene’s old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.

Out Dec 15 (UK)

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28756485Ilona Andrews’ ONE FELL SWEEP (urban fantasy): I’ve heroically restrained from reading the online serialised version (okay, it wasn’t that much of an effort – I’m too much in favour of instant gratification to really do serials).

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has and may have to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that.

Out Dec 20

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30197317Jodi Taylor’s MY NAME IS MARKHAM (fantasy): I normally don’t buy standalone short stories, but I’ve totally loved Jodi Taylor’s time-travelling series this year.  It’s such brilliant, hilarious, heart-warming fun, and this Christmas short sounds fantastic.

Like a smaller and much scruffier Greta Garbo – finally – Markham speaks!

It’s Christmas and time for the first (and almost certainly last) St Mary’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party – attendance compulsory, by order of Dr Bairstow. Discovered practising his illegal reindeer dance and poo-dropping routine, our hero, along with fellow disaster-magnets Peterson and Maxwell, is despatched to Anglo-Saxon England to discover the truth about Alfred and the cakes.

In his own words, our hero reveals Major Guthrie’s six-point guide to a successful assignment and the Security Section’s true opinion of the History Department. And of historians in general. And of one historian in particular.

And, just to be clear, it is time travel, for God’s sake. Forget all that pretentious ‘investigating major historical events in contemporary time’ rubbish.

This is history without the capital ‘H’. Because this is the way the Security Section rolls!

Out Dec 25 (the perfect Christmas morning read!)

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31421768Josh Lanyon’s SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS (M/M romance): Speaking of not buying shorts… it’s an Adrien English story!  ‘Nuff said.

God Help You Merry Gentlemen…

Arriving home early after spending Christmas in jolly old England, sometimes amateur sleuth Adrien English discovers alarming developments at Cloak and Dagger Books–and an old acquaintance seeking help in finding his missing boyfriend.

Fortunately, Adrien just happens to know a really good private eye…

Out Dec 29

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And one maybe:

  • The fantasy anthology UNFETTERED II – while I’m trying to stop with the anthology buying, this is raising money for a good cause and also has some big-name contributors (including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, amongst others)…

I should probably mention Eileen Wilks’ DRAGON SPAWN is also a December release – it’s the latest in her World of the Lupi series, and would normally be in my list above.  However, I grabbed a copy when I saw it early on the shelves last week… and let’s just say it didn’t work for me.  It’s basically half a story, with a very abrupt cliffhanger ending, which was disappointing especially when the story itself took a while to get going.  I’ll still get the next book to see what happens next, but I’m starting to feel that this series is running out of steam.