Checking In

November’s been such a hectic month – whatever happened to winding down for the year?  I admit that despite my best intentions, I’ve spent a good amount of time on the internet hitting that One-Click button over the past couple of days.  I’m not sure what’s happened (I suspect some price-matching algorithm going haywire), but my inbox has been flooded with price drop emails* over the weekend.  I’ve been fairly good, but the 50% rebate at AllRomanceEbooks (today only (30 Nov)!) may be the tipping point.  Who needs Christmas presents anyway, right?

I wanted to post about a couple of my recent reads before I completely forgot what I’ve been reading over November – because despite the busy-ness that was November, I’ve been getting through quite a few books.

24876258Most recently, Jim Butcher‘s foray into “steampunk” fantasy, THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS.  I borrowed this from the library as his more recent Dresden Files books (his very long-running UF series) have been just okay for me, and his other fantasy series felt very much like fantasy-by-numbers (entertaining fantasy-by-numbers, to be fair, but still, nothing groundbreaking).

But you know what?  I actually ended up enjoying this book a whole lot.  And I liked it precisely of what it wasn’t.

1) It wasn’t Harry Dresden in a steampunk setting, and by that, I mean the story didn’t feature a snarky dude with tendencies towards heroism, and transplanted into a fantasy setting.  (Also interestingly, this appears to be a negative in some of the reviews I’ve read.)

2) It wasn’t steampunk (hence the inverted commas above). Although this was branded as steampunk on Butcher’s website, the most steampunk-ish angle was probably the goggles the aeronauts wore, oh, and some passing references to steam engines?  The energy sources for his airships appeared to be magic crystals of the hand-wavey type, which kind of contradicts the whole basis for steampunk setting (not that I’m an expert or anything).

And this is a good thing how, you ask?  Because despite my best intentions (I feel like I should like steampunk, you know?), I’ve never really gotten steampunk as a genre (I adore Meljean Brooks’ IRON SEA series, but I suspect that’s more a testimony to her world-building skills than anything else), and I was more than fine with a fast-moving military/adventure fantasy with an intriguing setting and some surprisingly strong female POVs.

THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS isn’t a perfect read – there are quite a few POVs to get to grips with, especially at the start, and it doesn’t exactly challenge any fantasy conventions, but it’s lots of fun and I’m looking forward to the next book.

To wrap up, a couple more November reads I liked:

  • Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (M/M NA): I usually enjoy Lanyon’s books, and this was no exception – she has a way of hitting the right buttons for me.  This was branded as a caper-style story, and was very definitely one.  However, it did have the (trademark Lanyon) abrupt ending, and I’d liked to have a bit more (also, I kept on wondering how Jefferson could afford the many last-minute jaunts between London and the continent – train travel isn’t exactly cheap…).
  • Zen Cho‘s SPIRITS ABROAD (fantasy collection): I didn’t love her debut novel SORCEROR TO THE CROWN as much as I thought I would (I appreciated how she made the story feel current, for instance, we had everyday microaggressions translated in a fantasy Regency context, and also how Britain’s colonial history was woven into the story, but overall, never quite connected with the characters).  But I thought the short story length in this collection worked really well across the board, and I loved how fantastical and traditional elements were all transposed into a modern setting.



*Not a sponsored nor affiliate link – eReaderIQ has just saved me so much money over the past couple of years.  They earn a % of any purchases you make by clicking on their links, though you could probably remove/change the affiliate tags if you really really wanted to.

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Books for November

There are so many new releases in November that I want to read… and I’ve been reading quite a few of them, hence the radio silence.  I also caved and bought the eARC of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (there’s a really interesting (and spoilerific) discussion on Goodreads, with LMB participating) – my first eARC purchase and I have no regrets.  I figured that if I’d waited until the official February release, I would have been so excited about the book that there was no way GJRQ could have lived up to my expectations… you can see how I talked myself into buying the early version, right?  It’s fairly clean, if that helps, and by that, I mean I’ve read finished books with many more typos.

But enough about 2016 books and back to November new releases – this is a long one (with a couple of mini-reviews), so brace yourself.


23453463Eileen WilksMIND MAGIC (urban fantasy): It’s hard to believe this is the 12th(!) book in the Lupi series.  And unlike some series which are in severe need of winding up, this series is still delivering.  I finished MIND MAGIC in one night, and really enjoyed it.  The start was a bit weak (with a new character’s POV taking up the first couple of chapters), but once Lily and Rule made an appearance, I was hooked.  It’s always fun to explore more of Wilks’ Lupi world, and while I’d loved to have seen more of the usual gang, Lily pretty much carried the book by herself.  As she tends to do.  Probably not one for new readers, but if you’re a long-time Lily and Rule fan, I suspect you’d be pleased.

FBI agent Lily Yu’s mind is a dangerous place to be in the latest Novel of the Lupi…

Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve—until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status—despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds–because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Out now


18627947Karen Chance‘s REAP THE WIND (urban fantasy): Speaking of long-running UF series, this is “only” Karen Chance’s seventh Cassie Palmer book, but it feels like it should be a lot longer because of the wait between books.  It’s been two years since the last book, and I was a bit nervous starting RtW, because Chance does love her complicated plots combined with superfastnonstopaction.  And have I said it’s been two years?

I needn’t have worried though, because I quickly sank back into Cassie’s world and by the second chapter, I had remembered how much I love the way Chance mixes up time-travelling seers, vampires, and mages to give good story.  She still packs a lot of action into relatively few pages, but the plot held together just fine (not to mention that I found myself giggling madly at times – some lovely exchanges here!).  Best of all though, was the fact that Cassie finally gains some agency in this book and starts to take control of her life – I’m really looking forward to the next book now.

You’d think that being Chief Seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in and out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the time-line dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two…

Out now


20980680Kate Elliott‘s BLACK WOLVES (fantasy): After reading Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES and finishing her Spiritwalker books in the space of a couple of weeks, I was looking forward to her new book.  Spoiler: it didn’t disappoint.

BLACK WOLVES felt like a modern spin on epic fantasy, if that makes sense – still very recognisably epic fantasy, but with refreshingly different takes on the more traditional fantasy tropes.  I loved her variety of protagonists (including two older POV characters, one male and one female), though the multiple POVs did make me feel slightly distanced from the characters.  I also liked how different cultures and backgrounds were deftly interwoven into the story, making the world feel like a living, breathing one.  There were some interesting writing choices, including the usage of present tense for flashbacks and a time-jump about a quarter(?) of the way through the book – all of these worked for me, and I’m looking forward to the next book.

What I’ve just found out is that BLACK WOLVES is set in the same world as her Crossroads trilogy, but several decades on.  Which is interesting in itself, but should I have read the Crossroads books first???  I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything, but I wonder if I’d have gotten more out of the story had I known any previous history…

For readers of Brent Weeks and fans of Netflix’s Marco Polo comes a rich and inspired fantasy tale of warriors and nobles who must take the most desperate gamble of all: awaken allies more destructive than the hated king they hope to overthrow. Kate Elliott’s new trilogy is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father’s fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix’s Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

Out now


22567177Juliet Marillier‘s TOWER OF THORNS (fantasy): Onto the books I haven’t yet read… a new Marillier is always a cause for celebration, and we return to her Blackthorn & Grim world here.  While it’s not exactly Sevenwaters (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), I still really enjoyed the first book in this series.

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier’s “lavishly detailed”* Blackthorn & Grim series continues as a mysterious creature holds an enchanted and imperiled ancient Ireland in thrall.

Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

Out now


21528313Sharon Shinn‘s JEWELED FIRE (fantasy): While I was a bit lukewarm about the second instalment in this series, I have a soft spot for this world. And I do love Shinn’s writing in general.

The national bestselling author of Troubled Waters and Royal Airs returns to her Elemental Blessings series with the story of a young princess who will need more than blessings to survive in a kingdom where everyone will do whatever it takes to claim the throne…

As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue—until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country.

After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress’s three nephews. But Corene is not the only foreign princess in search of a crown.

Unaccustomed to being anyone’s friend, Corene is surprised to find companionship among her fellow competitors. But behind Malinqua’s beautiful facade lie many secrets.

The visiting princesses are more hostages than guests. And as the deadly nature of the court is revealed, Corene must rely on both her new allies and Foley’s unwavering protection—for the game she has entered is far more perilous than she ever imagined…

Out now


27271538HOW WE BEGAN (LGBT romance anthology): Yes, proceeds go to a good cause, but also contributors include Alexis Hall (he has a knack of bringing contemporary romance to life) and Amy Jo Cousins (I’ve really enjoyed her Bend or Break NA romance books).

How does love begin?

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

Out Nov 9


19504964Ilona AndrewsSWEEP IN PEACE (urban fantasy): I’ve not read the free online serialised version, so this will be an all-new Ilona Andrews book for me. I found the first Innkeepers book good fun, so am looking forward to this.

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Out Nov 13


25719256Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (NA M/M romance): I think this may be Josh Lanyon’s first NA romance?  Looks promising, and I love the cover that Carina Press produced.

In this fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper from multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon, twentysomething Jefferson Blythe gets lost, gets found, falls in love and comes out…all in the span of one wild summer

After his first relationship goes disastrously awry, Jeff Blythe uses his savings to tour Europe—the old-fashioned way. Armed with his grandfather’s 1960 copy of Esquire’s Europe in Style, Jeff sets off looking for adventure but finds much, much more than he bargained for…

In London, dodging questions from shady criminals about a mysterious package he most certainly does not have is simple. Losing the gunmen who are convinced he’s someone else is not. And when George, an old friend, offers him help—and a place to stay, and perhaps something more—things become complicated.

Is George really who he seems? And is Jeff finally ready to act on his attraction?

From Paris to Rome and back again, Jeff and George fall for each other, hard, while quite literally running for their lives. But trusting George at his word may leave Jeff vulnerable—in more ways than one.

Out Nov 16


26400106Amy Jo CousinsREAL WORLD (M/M romance): I mentioned Amy Jo Cousins’ Bend or Break series above, and this is the latest instalment.  I requested an ARC of this because I liked the first few books so much, and this was a really sweet wrap-up to Tom/Reese’s story (which started in OFF CAMPUS).

Set several years later, while the initial conflict felt slightly forced (or perhaps I just wanted to thump Tom’s head for not learning from his previous mistakes), REAL WORLD ended up being a steamy read that gave me the warm fuzzies at the same time, if that’s something that’s possible.  It was lovely to see old friends pop up – I’m not sure if REAL WORLD isthe last book in this series, but if it is, it’s a fitting bookend to a strong NA series.

Also, what I love about Cousins’ Bend or Break books (or actually, her writing in general) is the way she deals with social issues – they’re front and centre, but the “message”, if that’s what it’s called, doesn’t detract from the story-telling nor the romance at all.  If anything, the current-day issues she highlights make her stories feel more real with added depth.

When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.

Out Nov 17


25704796Joanna ChambersUNNATURAL (historical M/M romance): Joanna Chambers does historical romance well, and this one promises much. I think I read an excerpt on her website and added UNNATURAL to my must-get list immediately.

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Out Nov 24


And that’s not quite all (I know).  The other November new releases that are maybes for me this month:

  • Astrid Amara‘s CRASH PLUS EXPENSES (M/M romance): I like her writing, not so sure about the premise of this one.
  • Richelle Mead‘s SOUNDLESS (YA fantasy): Mead’s been a bit hit-or-miss for me lately, and while I love(!) the cover of SOUNDLESS, I’m nervous this is going to be on the wrong side of the appropriation line?  I’m waiting on reviews before deciding.
  • Carla Kelly‘s DOING NO HARM (historical romance): I will cave and buy this sooner or later.
  • Janet Evanovich‘s TRICKY TWENTY-TWO (mystery): So, remember when I said some series should be brought to an end?  I err… will still likely request this from the library.
  • Sally Andrew‘s RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER (mystery): No idea what prompted me to add this to my to-read shelf (anyone review it recently?), but it sounds interesting.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal‘s WORD PUPPETS (fantasy): A collection of short stories (with gorgeous cover) – I really liked her “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” (free on, so would love to read more of her shorts.


Filed under New Releases

Five Thoughts for a Monday

Because numbers make everything feel a bit more organised.

  1. I am so far behind on getting my reviews up at Goodreads that I’m half-tempted to catch up by adding the books to my “read” shelves without any comments.  And then I have this internal debate with myself because I’ve always posted at least a couple of thoughts on each book, and I don’t want to stop doing that.  But will I ever catch up otherwise?  Ack.  If you see a flurry of GR reviews from me over the next few weeks, you’ll know what I’ve decided.
  2. 50715I’ve been reading and loving Lynn Kurland‘s Nine Kingdoms fantasy romance books.  I finally got around to picking up the first book after a rec from Angie, and pretty much raced through the first trilogy.  I’d move on to the next set if they weren’t so expensive – a £10 ebook for a work published in 2011 is a tad bit too steep!  Are all Berkley backlist books priced at this price point?  And if they are, who’s paying those prices??
    Anyway, on the trilogy – it’s just plain fun, really.  I loved the self-deprecating humour and chemistry between the two leads, the story moves forward at a fast clip, and the cast of supporting characters do a great job of, well, supporting.  A couple of annoying niggles (including some lapses into faux Scottishness and a bit too much reliance on people not talking to one another as plot devices), but safe to say, this is one of my favourite trilogies of the year.  Fair warning though, the trilogy is really a book in three parts as neither the romance nor the story reach a conclusion until the final book.  Which would have made me raise cliffhanger hell if I hadn’t been able to buy the the next two books PDQ (funnily enough, the first three ebooks are priced fairly reasonably – even more so if you’ve a Kobo coupon from their latest competition).
  3. Not a new topic for book blogging, but I’ve been pondering timing for book reviews (possibly because I’ve a couple of reviews I need to write for new releases *clears throat*).  Standard practice has reviews being posted on or around release dates, but whenever I see reviews for a book I intend to buy, I skip them because I wouldn’t have finished the book by then and generally want to avoid any spoilers.  And if it’s not a book I was planning on reading, a review probably wouldn’t get me to buy it – it’s usually reader discussion that works as a spur, and as per previous point, it’s rare you get a good discussion on release date.   What think you?
  4. I’ve been on a book buying binge lately.  Including pre-orders, I make it 27 books purchased this month so far.  That would be at an average rate of one a day?  Some were planned purchases (see Rowell’s CARRY ON and, well, pretty much all the Oct new releases), but there were plenty of impulse buys as well.  Ebook deals are so bad for my wallet.
  5. I’m not convinced that the new Kobo’s Super Points VIP loyalty scheme is worth it.  And I can probably say that because of the number of books I’ve bought lately?  The 10% VIP discount tends to apply to certain trad-published books only, and generally excludes self-published books (I assume self-pubbed authors choose to opt in/out), which make up a large percentage of my purchases.  And where the 10% discount is available, Amazon usually has the books for even cheaper.  Finally, looking at the number of points required for a free book, it’s probably safe to say Kobo’s not going to be giving away many of them.  Still early days though.


Filed under Random Thoughts

Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES

I’m a late starter when it comes to Kate Elliott’s writing.  She’s a fairly prolific author, but I somehow never got around to reading her works when I was in my teenage read-all-the-fantasy stage.  I finally read JARAN back in 2013 (can’t remember why now, though very likely it was this conversation between Kerry and Estara), and promptly fell for Tess’s story – old-school SF/F it may have been, but the fascinating matriachal society of Rhui combined with the romance of Tess/Ilya’s relationship made JARAN one of my favourite reads of 2013. I then made my way through the rest of the Jaran books, her Highroad trilogy, and was starting on her Spiritwalker books… and then I must have gotten distracted because COLD MAGIC is still mostly unread on my Kindle (not for long, though – more on this in a bit).

18068907So, a long-winded way of saying although I’m relatively new to Kate Elliott’s works, I’m doing my best to make up for it!  Not easy when she’s continuing to release more books – COURT OF FIVES, her debut YA fantasy, came out a couple of months ago, and she has another new book coming out in November.

I won COURT OF FIVES in a author giveaway a month or so ago (kind of still pinching myself, because I never win anything and then to win a book which was not out in the UK at that point of time – yeah, happy dance).

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

IIRC, COURT OF FIVES was marketed as “Little Women meets Game of Thrones” – while this probably was a great PR tagline, I have to say that any comparison is superficial at best (the Little Women comparison probably being strongest in the opening scene).  If anything, it was Sharon Shinn that sprung to my mind as I was reading COURT OF FIVES.  It took me a while to pin down why, but I think it’s partly to do with the thoughtful way that race is brought to the table (as in Shinn’s HEART OF GOLD specifically, with similar themes in some of her YAs as well).  Another loose connection is the Fives game, which somehow was reminiscent of Shinn’s worldbuilding in the Elemental Blessings series.  They’re not the same at all, mind (some people may say not at all!), but the skill challenges and obstacles in the Fives courts reminded me of the way Shinn constructed her world around the elemental blessings.

Like most of her other books, Elliott drops the reader into this new world with little information, and I had to do some work to figure out how the pieces all fit together, and especially just how much Jes and her interracial family stand out in the very traditional Patreon society.  It was a slightly slow start, but when Jes stops reacting and starts doing, when she gains agency, and when the action ramps up – that’s when I became totally absorbed in her world.

The story was familiar, yet different enough for me to feel unsure of where Jes would end up.  Elliott is one of those writers who adds depth to tropes that could easily feel a bit too worn out in other hands.  And the book did finish with a bang – I liked that there was no easy solution, because moral dilemmas aren’t usually clear-cut, and family ties and loyalties can be complicated.  I probably could have done without the hints of romance… though I’m thinking that this may not necessarily go where it seems to be going in future books.

Because yes, I’m totally up for the next book.


Also – slight digression, but Kate Elliott has referenced how writing a YA was different to writing an “adult” fantasy.  Having now restarted the aforementioned COLD MAGIC, which has a protagonist in her early 20s (I think!) but was not written as YA, I can tell there’s a difference between COLD MAGIC and COURT OF FIVES.  Not one that I can pinpoint easily – I hesitate to say simplified because that’s not the right word and implies YA needs to be dumbed-down, but they’re certainly different.

I ended up doing a quick search to see if Elliott had talked about this in more depth and came up trumps – she did an interview @ The Book Wars where she talks about the very thing: more immediate pacing and more focused world-building appear to be the elements she focused on for YA (I paraphrase, probably not very well).  It makes sense, and I certainly found her Spiritwalker trilogy harder to get into at the beginning (it paid off though!).


Filed under Reviews

Books for October

I am loving the October new releases.

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

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

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

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

*Ummm… she isn’t.

Out now


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

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

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

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

Out October 13


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

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

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

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

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

Out Oct 13


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



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


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


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

Out Oct 20


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

A twist of fate…

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

A clash of wills…

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

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

Out Oct 27


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


Filed under New Releases

Links: New McGrath Cover and Book Promos

GhostTalkers_comp_webHappy October!

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

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

Oh, and the book itself sounds pretty good too.


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


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

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

None of these are affiliate links or sponsored, BTW.


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


Filed under Links & News

September Links

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Filed under Links & News

Books for September

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

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

Out now (Oct 1 in the UK)


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

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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

Out now


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

Things are looking up.

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

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

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

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Out now


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

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

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

Out Sept 22


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

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

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

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

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

Out Sept 29


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

You can only hide from the truth for so long.

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

Out Sept 29


And then the maybes:

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


Filed under New Releases

Weekend Links

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

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

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

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


Filed under Links & News

Books for August

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


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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

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

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

Out now


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

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

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

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

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

Out Aug 11


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

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

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

Out Aug 11


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

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

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

Out Aug 18


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

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

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

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

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

Out Aug 20


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


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


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


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

Out Aug 20


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

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

Out Aug 25


Filed under New Releases