Books for September

Well, summer’s flown past, hasn’t it?  It doesn’t feel like it should be autumn yet (I’m sure I’ll change my mind as soon as it gets a bit cooler and starts raining every other day).

September’s a good month for new releases – here are the ones on my radar:

15748538Seanan McGuire’s ONCE BROKEN FAITH (UF): I read this earlier than expected due to the UK release date, but it’s now out everywhere!  If you’re a Toby fan, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this one – Toby plays detective, and standard mayhem ensues (with royalty in attendance as bonus).

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches.

Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Because there are worse fates than sleeping for a hundred years.

Out now

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31223642Sarina Bowen’s ROOKIE MOVE (contemporary romance): I’m just finishing up this one, and am loving the professional hockey backdrop (also, it’s loosely connected to her Ivy Years NA series). A solid romance, and one that totally reinforces her status as one of my autobuy authors.

A brand new sporty, sexy series from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.
Georgia Worthington and Leo Trevi were the golden couple of their high school. He was the hockey team captain, she was a tennis star. Until graduation, when tragedy pulled them apart.

Five years later, everything’s coming together for Leo. His dreams of playing professional hockey seem to be coming true as he’s called up from the minors to play for the NHL’s newest team. The only problem? The team’s publicist is the woman who broke his heart.

As she tries to prove herself as the senior PR specialist for a major NHL franchise, the last thing Georgia needs is the distraction of her former flame. But when Leo arrives at the press conference that can make or break her career, Georgia realizes that the man she put her on ice might still be able to melt her heart.

Out now

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27840861Leigh Bardugo’s CROOKED KINGDOM (YA fantasy): I dragged my feet when it came to reading SIX OF CROWS and regretted it – I’ll be grabbing this on release day.

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Out Sept 27

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28220973Julie Cross’s CHASING TRUTH (YA romance): A new series from Julie Cross!  Intriguing blurb – it sounds slightly OTT, but I’ll give it a go because it’s Cross.

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Out Sept 27

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28262024Elle Kennedy’s THE GOAL (NA romance): Another series I discovered late, but better late than never!  I’m always up for more of her NA romance.

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

Out Sept 26

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17333174Ilona Andrews’ MAGIC BINDS (UF): Hurrah for a new Kate Daniels!  It’s been a while.

Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this…

Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar…

Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead.

The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

Out Sept 20

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Maybes for this month:

  • Wen Spencer’s PROJECT ELFHOME (fantasy): Wen Spencer’s usually an autobuy for me, but I’m not wholly sold on a short story collection.  I’ll probably get it soon (and despite the cover – Baen has really outdone themselves this time).
  • Courtney Milan’s THE YEAR OF THE CROCODILE (romance): A short story/novella(?) in her Cyclone series – I enjoyed the first book a lot, so I’ll most likely grab this at some point.
  • Connie Willis’s CROSSTALK (SF romance): Connie Willis is now firmly on my list of authors to read after a couple of you rec’d her books when I posted about the cover of this one.  Not sure if I’ll start with this book though.

 

 

Good Books!

Don’t you love it when you get a run of good books, especially if it happens when you’re on holiday and have the luxury of being able to stay up late reading without any guilt?

15748538I started off with Seanan McGuire’s ONCE BROKEN FAITH, the latest October Daye book.  (I hadn’t realised the UK release was a few days before the US one, so it was a very pleasant surprise when the book appeared on my Kindle!)

I’m always up for more Toby, so needless to say, it was a very enjoyable read- we had Toby being very Toby, Tybalt doing his King of Cats thing, Quentin (and family!), plus a magical whodunnit mystery plot.  I’ll be honest though – if you’re not into Toby’s world, this is not the book for you.  There were some rather self-indulgent passages, info-dumping galore, and McGuire’s plotting probably doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny.  But I can forgive much when it comes to this series, and ONCE BROKEN FAITH was a solid installment.

30175057Next up was Alexis Hall’s newest, LOOKING FOR GROUP.  This, I loved.  It had the dubious honour of being the book I was reading while wandering around the most picturesque of settings, and I probably spent half my time sitting in various cafes ignoring the views (I can only apologise to my travel companions).  I’m not a gamer at all, but was wholly absorbed by Hall’s sweet romance, set partly in the alternate reality of an MMO.

I was a bit nervous going in (see: not a gamer), but having to work out online gaming shorthand was not dissimilar to having to get my bearings in a fantasy novel.  I loved how Hall explored online (and offline) relationships, celebrated the gaming culture, and managed to cover the whole growing-up/going-to-university thing all in one book.  LOOKING FOR GROUP was diverse, nerdy, and quite possibly one of my favourite books of the year.

22349087And then I read Jodi Taylor’s THE NOTHING GIRL. I keep on saying that I’m going to do a proper blog post on her Chronicles of St Mary’s time-travel series because they are utterly brilliant, packed full of laugh-out-loud moments and yet totally grounded in history, but despite me making the time to read all seven novels (and numerous short stories) in the space of four weeks, I haven’t managed to even draft a post.  So take this as a very strong recommendation for the books, even if you don’t normally care for time-travel stories; I would not have classified myself as a fan, but these books proved me wrong.

Anyway, I grabbed THE NOTHING GIRL when Kobo had their recent 50% off sale. I wasn’t sure how her writing would translate to contemporary romance, but Jacey Bedford’s review persuaded me to give it a go.  If LOOKING FOR GROUP reminded me of READY PLAYER ONE (for the sheer celebration of geek culture), THE NOTHING GIRL was faintly reminiscent of LM Montgomery’s standalones – the quiet protagonist who’s set apart slightly from everyone else, a small-town setting, and of course, a man with a not-entirely-unearned reputation. I went in having no idea of the plot, and enjoyed the story tremendously – layer upon layer of reveals unfolded as I got to know each character, and if I guessed the ending a bit ahead of the final pages, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment one bit.

(And I’m currently reading Sarina Bowen’s ROOKIE MOVE – she does sports romance so well, it’s shaping up to be a good one!)

So that’s me – tell me your recent good reads?

 

Different Strokes

It’s been a very long time since I did a UK v. US book cover post, but the contrast between these covers grabbed my attention.

So, Connie Willis’s CROSSTALK – UK cover on the left, US on the right.

I’d seen the US cover around previously, and thought it was an interesting choice for an SF book; it reminded me of YA romance (for instance, Julie Cross’s TEMPEST) so my guess was that the publisher was trying to widen the audience for this book.  The UK cover, on the other hand, comes across as much more retro and adult, and if I’d seen this in the New Releases section of the bookstore, I’m not sure I’d have connected it with SF if it wasn’t for Connie Willis’s name.

Even the back cover copy gives out different vibes – here’s the UK copy:

Briddey is about to get exactly what she thinks she wants . . .

Briddey is a high-powered exec in the mobile phone industry, overseeing new products from concept (‘anything to beat the new apple phone’) to delivery. And she works with her wonderful partner, Trent. They’ve been together for six magical weeks, in a whirlwind of flowers, dinners, laughter and now comes the icing on the cake: not a weekend away or a proposal but something even better. An EDD. A procedure which will let them sense each other’s feelings. Trent doesn’t just want to tell her how much he loves her – he wants her to feel it.

The trouble is, Briddey can’t breathe a word of it to anyone (difficult, when the wholeoffice is guessing) until she’s had two minutes to call her family. And they’re hounding her about the latest family drama.

The race is on: not just for new, cutting-edge technology, but also for a shred of privacy in a public world and – for Briddey – a chance for love at the heart of it all.

And then the US version:

In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior to a marriage proposal—to enjoy better emotional connection and a perfect relationship with complete communication and understanding. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and Briddey finds herself connected to someone else entirely—in a way far beyond what she signed up for.

It is almost more than she can handle—especially when the stress of managing her all-too-eager-to-communicate-at-all-times family is already burdening her brain. But that’s only the beginning. As things go from bad to worse, she begins to see the dark side of too much information, and to realize that love—and communication—are far more complicated than she ever imagined.

The UK version feels a bit chicklit (SF-style) to me, while the US one reads both younger and more romance-y.

What do you think?

(I should say that the UK cover came to my attention because of a Goodreads giveaway email – it’s here if you’re interested in entering, UK-only though).

Summer Check-in

We’re currently in the middle of the second mini-heatwave of summer, which feels like it should be some sort of record for London.  I’m also in a post-Olympics slump, and trying to remind myself what I did before there was cycling/diving/pentathlon on TV every evening…

26853604The Olympics has meant I’ve done very little reading during August.  I did finish Kate Elliott’s brand-new release POISONED BLADE though, which I count as a win!

It’s the sequel to her YA debut COURT OF FIVES and even better than the first, IMO. I felt COURT OF FIVES was more straightforward adventure; in POISONED BLADE, she brought the layers of complexity I expect from an Elliott book, while continuing to build on the relationships established in the first book.  The slight threads of romance (or attraction?) worked better for me as well, perhaps because more ambiguity and growth (on all sides) was introduced.  At times though, there was so much arguing between Jessamy and other characters that it frustrated me.  But maybe that’s what I’m meant to feel – anger is tiring, and the conversations made sense in the larger context of the story. TL;DR: Good installment and I look forward to the next book!

Links of interest:

 

Books for August

I think I’ve made peace with the fact that this blog goes on semi-hiatus during the summer months.  Right now, I’m spending too much time watching the Olympics, especially considering the evening sessions start at 2am here.

But I’m still reading.  Kind of.  I had a quick look at the July new releases I listed in my last blog post (talk about infrequent posting), and am rather stupidly pleased that I’ve read all of them!  All were decent reads, though none outstanding.

Of the lot, I probably enjoyed ALLIANCE OF EQUALS best, but I’m very much not a fan of one of the authors telling reviewers not to say “…don’t start [with this book]…” in their reviews.  Partly because authors telling reviewers what to say/not to say tends to rub me the wrong way generally, but also I genuinely think starting with the wrong book can put someone off an author/series for good.  For this particular book, I do believe the emotional payoff is diluted if you’re brand-new to the universe and the new reader may think there’s too many POV changes and not much story, but what the heck, what do I know – start wherever you like.

Err… rant over.  Maybe I should blog more, I’ve obviously wanted to get that off my chest for a while.  Moving on, here are the books I’m planning on getting this month (spoiler: August is a great month for new releases).

lgcover.9781460397459KA Mitchell’s BOYFRIEND MATERIAL (NA M/M romance): I’m a long-time fan of KA Mitchell’s writing and I enjoyed the first in this series, which was also her NA debut.  College setting as bonus!

Physically, it’s easy for Ethan and Wyatt to be together—well, if “easy” means stolen moments when Ethan’s roommate is away, or sneaking away to a hidden nook in the library. Privacy is hard to come by in a dorm, but finding ways to connect is half the fun.

Emotionally, though, that’s a different story. Wyatt isn’t sure if a relationship is something he can make last—years of having to hide his emotions have left him with a shaky sense of self-confidence. And when it’s time to head home for the holidays, their steamy on-campus connection may not translate so well to the real world…

Out now

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27969076Julie Cross and Mark Perini’s YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE (YA romance): I’ve really enjoyed Julie Cross’s YA romances (her LETTERS TO NOWHERE was one of my all-time favourites, and a strong recommend if you’re looking for a sports-themed read for the Olympics), but I was not a fan of her last collaboration with Mark Perini. So basically, a long-winded way of saying I’m going to give this a go at some point.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her “good girl” persona, so she’ll try Eddie on for size.

New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the “good girl” stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He’s shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie’s bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

Out now

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26225506Foz Meadows’ AN ACCIDENT OF STARS (fantasy): I’ve not read any of her fiction before (she started as a blogger, IIRC), but there are some very good reviews floating around for this portal fantasy.  Plus Kate Elliott and Martha Wells blurbs – I’m sold.

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

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

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

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

Out now

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28438133Kelley Armstrong’s BETRAYALS (UF): This has been an uneven series for me – liked the first two, but thought the last book was a bit of a mess.  I’m still continuing with the series though.

Olivia Jones knows a lot about betrayal – most of her life has been a lie. On the eve of her wedding, she discovered she was adopted – and that her biological parents were convicted serial killers.

Liv has found sanctuary in her new home of Cainsville, but she’s learned not to trust the town’s mysterious elders. So when her biker boyfriend Ricky Gallagher is linked to a series of murders, she’s reluctant to ask for their help. Meanwhile things have grown increasingly complicated with Gabriel Walsh, her boss and sometime friend. The fact that their fraught relationship is connected to an ancient myth in which they were passionate lovers doesn’t help matters, either…

As Liv fights to clear Ricky’s name, she discovers that her own life is at serious risk. Soon Ricky, Liv and Gabriel are tangled in a web of a betrayals. In order to survive, they will have to trust one another. But given their dark history, is that even possible? Or wise…?

Out now

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26116636Rachel Aaron’s NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED (UF): Another series where I really liked the first book, but was a bit underwhelmed with the second (am I being a bit grumpy today?).  Having said that, this is my current book on my Kindle.

When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

Out now

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26853604Kate Elliott’s POISONED BLADE (YA fantasy): Speaking of Kate Elliott!  I’ve pre-ordered this one.  I won the first book in an author giveaway last year, and liked it a whole lot.

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes’s traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…She must become a warrior.

Out Aug 16

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31288118Nalini Singh’s WILD EMBRACE (paranormal romance): The other book I’ve got on the go (the days when I only read one book at a time is long gone…) is Nalini Singh’s latest release ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR – I’ve only just started, so reserving judgement, but she wasn’t kidding when she described it as an ensemble book, was she?  Anyway, a few more novellas in the Psy-Changeling world here.

The ‘alpha author of paranormal romance’* presents a stunningly sensual collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas, in which taboos are broken, boundaries are crossed, and instincts prove irresistible . . .

Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander . . .

Dorian
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration – until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play . . .

Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him . . .

Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries . . .

Out Aug 23

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30175057Alexis Hall’s LOOKING FOR GROUP (M/M contemporary romance): Alexis Hall has such a talent for writing.  Each of his books have had unique voices – I’m not a gamer, but I’m totally getting this one.

So, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

Out Aug 29

25558608Sabaa Tahir’s A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT (YA fantasy): I thought the buzz around her debut was well-deserved (though could have done without the love triangle/rectangle) and this is very much on my to-buy list.

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Out Aug 30

Books for July

There’s quite a few new releases on my radar this month.

22846823Miranda Kenneally’s DEFENDING TAYLOR (YA romance): I’ve always enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s sports romance books (my very favourite being BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, and the latest in her Hundred Oaks series is out this month.

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Out now

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23510834Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s ALLIANCE OF EQUALS (SF): This is my current book on the go, and it’s keeping me occupied (in between watching tennis points!).  Some of the plot threads from previous books appear to be coming to fruition in this one, so hurrah.

A new novel in the popular and exciting science fiction Liaden Universe® series. Over a half million Liaden Universe® books sold with an audience that keeps growing!

Beset by the angry remnants of the Department of the Interior, challenged at every turn by opportunists on their new homeworld of Surebleak, and somewhat low on funds, Clan Korval desperately needs to reestablish its position as one of the top trading clans in known space. To this end, Master Trader Shan yos’Galan, aboard Korval’s premier trade ship, Dutiful Passage, is on a mission to establish new business associations and to build a strong primary route that links well with existing Loops and secondary routes.

But reestablishing trade and preserving the lives of the few remaining members of the clan aren’t all of Korval’s problems. Matters come to a head as Dutiful Passage, accustomed to being welcomed and feted at those ports on its call-list, finds itself denied docking, and blacklisted, while agents of the DOI mount armed attacks on others of Korval’s traders, under the very eyes of port security systems.

Traveling with Dutiful Passage on this unsettling journey is Padi yos’Galan, the master trader’s heir and his apprentice. Padi is eager to make up for time lost due to Korval’s unpleasantness with the Department of the Interior. She is also keeping a secret so intense that her coming of age, and perhaps her very life, is threatened by it.

Out now

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29087455Sarina Bowen’s STEADFAST (contemporary romance): The first book in this trilogy, BITTERSWEET, came out last month, and it totally whetted my appetite for Jude’s story.  I could get on board with this trend of releasing books in quick succession…

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

Out July 12

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30651327Rachel Caine’s PAPER AND FIRE (YA fantasy): I had a good time with the first book in this series so bring on the second.  Also obviously – libraries.

LET THE WORLD BURN

With an iron fist, the Great Library ruthlessly controls the knowledge of the world, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but his life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered for ever. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe any more. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or a Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control …

Out July 21 in the UK (think the US version is out now)

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29536947JL Merrow’s BLOW DOWN (M/M contemporary romance): I find my experience with JL Merrow’s books a bit hit-or-miss, but her Plumber’s Mate series has definitely been on the hit side so far.

Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.

The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Book 4

The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.

Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.

As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.

Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.

Out July 12

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27804510Megan Derr’s THE PIRATE OF FATHOMS DEEP (M/M fantasy romance): I’m not usually one for fluffy romance, especially fluffy fantasy romance, but the first book in this series somehow hit the right buttons for me.

High Commander Lesto Arseni is the most feared man in the Harken Empire. None but the High King dares risk his wrath—and a pirate who once punched him in the middle of the imperial pavilion. A pirate who later snuck away with Lesto to an empty room, touched him in ways far more memorable. And then immediately bolted like a man who’d gotten what he wanted.

Shemal just wants to live a normal life, leave his pirating days behind him and prove that he’s respectable now. The last thing he needs is the two idiots who show up wanting his help with the noble they’ve kidnapped—the very man Shemal had been hoping to prove himself to, the man he hasn’t forgotten since Shemal punched him a year and a half ago.

Out July 13

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So, that’s my list – what’s on yours?

A Couple of New Releases

You know you haven’t been reviewing for a while when you forget how to use your tagging system at Goodreads.  And it wasn’t even that complicated to start with…

Anyway, I had grand plans to start posting more regularly, and then I remembered why my posting frequency dips (even more) over the summer – Wimbledon starts this week!  As I type, I’ve “Today at Wimbledon” in the background (thank goodness the BBC got rid of last year’s trying-too-hard highlights show “Wimbledon 2day”).

So before I get too caught up in the tennis (with the Olympics coming up next), here are a couple of recent reads.

28161530I’ve just finished Sarina Bowen‘s newest release BITTERSWEET.  Talk about foodie heaven!  And she accomplishes that without the dreaded infodump. It also takes skill to weave such a cosy and close-knit small-town (farm?) picture without ever veering into saccharine territory, and again, Bowen manages that with ease.  Obviously Griff and Audrey’s chemistry was off the charts and the relationship worked for me.

However, in what is becoming a familiar pattern in Bowen’s books, I spotted the major flashpoint a mile away and spent most of the book waiting for the axe to fall.  Which is why I happily abandoned the book halfway through for about a week before finishing it in a single gulp.  And a minor niggle – there were a few typos scattered throughout.  Not many, but enough to catch my attention.

29607276An unexpected new release read for me was Linda Howard‘s TROUBLEMAKER – I was expecting to wait a few months for my library reservation to come through.  Let’s get this out of the way – it’s not up to the standard of vintage Howard.  Then again, maybe it’s time to adjust expectations when it comes to Howard.

Janine’s review @ Dear Author said that the heroine’s dog, Tricks, was a Mary Sue character, which made me laugh because I’d scribbled in my notes that it felt like a love story between Bo (the heroine) and Tricks.  But it was suspenseful enough, though I think Howard overdid the dark damaged hero somewhat.  I felt there were some slightly anachronistic notes in what’s meant to be a modern romance, for instance, Bo thinking that she needed to buy “guy foods” for Morgan (and similar thinking in Morgan’s mind, IIRC).  Overall, the perfect commute-type read for me – it made the time pass quickly enough, but I never needed to know what happened next.

 

 

Personal/Politics

I try to keep this blog mostly book-related, but it seems weird not to acknowledge that we just had a once-in-a-lifetime event here in the UK. I work for an organisation that will 100% be affected by the Brexit vote, and it was a very strange morning yesterday.

You may have seen that London was very pro-Remain.  I went to bed pretty convinced that Remain would win the vote, that Friday would be a bit of a damp squib following the buildup, and we would all have a good laugh over the over-the-top contingency planning.

And then I woke up to the news that it was an Out vote; as I walked into work, David Cameron was resigning.

Wow.

Not much work got done during the morning at all. There was a lot bit of black humour, I think most people were stunned by the result and trying to figure out the implications. By mid-afternoon, the reality had settled in somewhat, and I do expect it to be pretty much business-as-usual on Monday.

Like everyone else in the UK, I’ve no idea what it means for me. There are so many ramifications, and all of them will take time to play through.  I’d be surprised if anything crystallises in the next few weeks (then again, I’ve obviously proved a failure at reading the tea leaves).

I won’t lie.  The massive uncertainty is worrying.  But there’s nothing I can do about it right now, and I don’t want to stress myself out imagining worst-case scenarios.  So let’s wait and see what happens – it will be an interesting few months, I suspect.  (And I may have to severely limit my time on social media!)

One thing I need to get off my chest before I wrap up: I find myself biting my tongue when someone says they voted without understanding the consequences. Seriously?

It doesn’t matter which way you voted, but voting on something as momentous as this without taking the time to think, or even worse, voting arbitrarily because “oh, one vote doesn’t count”? Arrrrgghhhhh.

But what’s done is done. We have to unite to move forward, and on a personal level, me ranting IRL at people is not going to help at all. So consider this my rant in a private space, and hopefully I won’t fall out with the next person who says they didn’t really think before voting.

That’s it – usual service will be resumed shortly!

Books for June

I’d apologise for my absence, but it was a reading v. blogging thing!  I’ve just inhaled all seven books (plus a couple of short stories) of Jodi Taylor‘s madcap time-travel series.  Post to follow, hopefully, but it’s a solid recommend just in case you were wondering…

Now that I’m sadly caught up with The Chronicles of St Mary’s series, here are the June new releases I’m planning on getting – it’s a short list, but there are some good ones.

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SUMMER DAYS, SUMMER NIGHTS, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance anthology): This sounds like the perfect summer beach read (or for those of us unlikely to make it to beaches in the next few months, the perfect err… summer balcony read?).  Some big-name YA authors in this anthology, including Leigh Bardugo (loved her SIX OF CROWS) and obviously Perkins herself.

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Out now

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28161530Sarina Bowen’s BITTERSWEET (contemporary romance): I’m excited about this new series from Sarina Bowen.  I love her writing, and I’m intrigued by lumbersexual farmers!  Also, we debated the covers at Nath’s – mixed reaction to the covers themselves, but everyone’s getting the books…

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Out June 14

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28375943Nalini Singh’s ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR (paranormal romance): I think Nalini Singh’s referred to this one as an “ensemble book”, and it’s meant to wrap up the current series arc?  I’m looking forward to catching up with the usual suspects here.

The ‘unparalleled romantic adventure’* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world . . .

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy . . . and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable – and save Trinity – no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honour even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

Out June 16

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28348234Naomi Novik’s LEAGUE OF DRAGONS (historical fantasy): The final book in the Temeraire series!  If I’m honest, I think this series jumped the shark a while ago – the recent books have felt more like historical travelogues than anything else – but I’m obviously going to read the final book to see how the story’s wrapped up.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all – if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country – and the ferals, loyal only to themselves – vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa – and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready – one that that may win him the war, and the world.

Out June 14

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30245656Eloisa James’ A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS (historical romance): I feel like Eloisa James has been experimenting with several formats recently and this one is a novellette set in the world of her Essex Sisters series.  I remember posting about this series way back when I first started blogging – I’ve just looked up that post, and I’m both cringing and laughing at my enthusiastic review of the books.  I’ve debated whether to link it, but why not – here’s my take on the Essex Sisters series (I am so tempted to edit that post, but have restrained – you get the warts and all version!).

A witty and sparkling Regency romance novella by Eloisa James, author of My American Duchess, linked to the bestselling Essex Sisters series

Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again . . . and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.

When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.

Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behaviour . . . once again.

Out June 28

Any big June releases that I’ve missed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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