Books for July

I’ve totally failed at blogging this summer.  I generally post much less frequently during summer – it’s that fatal combination of long summer evenings, the tennis (following Roland Garros/Queens/Wimbledon basically takes over my life for a few weeks), holidays, and ah, just summer being summer.  But I have to admit this year has been pretty abysmal blogging-wise, even by my low standards.

But enough self-flagellation – here are the new releases for July that I’ll be reading (or have read, in a few cases).

34748555JL Merrow’s SPUN! (contemporary romance): I love the ever-so-British feel of JL Merrow’s and this one promises to be a fun summer read.

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

Out now

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29750595Kate Elliott’s BURIED HEART (YA fantasy): I’m so excited for this conclusion to her Court of Fives trilogy, and the book just appeared on my Kindle today.  Hurrah for pre-ordering magic.

The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series

In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!

Out now

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32855152Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess’s THE PAINTED QUEEN (historical mystery): Speaking of being excited.  The very last Amelia Peabody book!  While there had been rumours of a final book, I had pretty much given up hope after several years, so confirmation of this was incredibly thrilling.  Joan Hess finished writing the novel based on a partially-written manuscript by Elizabeth Peters, so it may not be quite like the original, but I don’t really care…  I’m glad we see Amelia one last time.

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archaeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’s bestselling, beloved mystery series

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia Peabody is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—“Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for EmersonWhere were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Armana, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

Out now

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28960325Martha Wells’s THE HARBORS OF THE SUN (fantasy): This is the final book in her Three Worlds Raksura series, which is a bit bittersweet.  I’m glad that we get an ending to Moon’s story, but I’m going to miss this world.

A former friend has betrayed the Raksura and their groundling companions, and now the survivors must race across the Three Worlds to rescue their kidnapped family members. When Moon and Stone are sent ahead to scout, they quickly encounter an unexpected and potentially deadly ally, and decide to disobey the queens and continue the search alone. Following in a wind-ship, Jade and Malachite make an unlikely alliance of their own, until word reaches them that the Fell are massing for an attack on the Reaches, and that forces of the powerful Empire of Kish are turning against the Raksura and their groundling comrades.

But there may be no time to stage a rescue, as the kidnapped Raksura discover that their captors are heading toward a mysterious destination with a stolen magical artifact that will cause more devastation for the Reaches than anything the lethal Fell can imagine. To stop them, the Raksura will have to take the ultimate risk and follow them into forbidden territory.

The Harbors of the Sun, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, is the thrilling follow-up to The Edge of Worlds, and the conclusion of a new Three Worlds duology of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

Out now

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27422533Ilona Andrews’s WILDFIRE (paranormal romance): I don’t love this Hidden Legacy series as much as other people, but the books are fun reads, and I’m looking forward to this one.

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

Out now

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34293313Rachel Caine’s ASH AND QUILL (YA fantasy): I have mixed feelings on this one.  I enjoyed the first couple of books (alt-world fantasy centred around libraries and books – what’s not to like?), and was looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.  Then it was announced that the series would be extended to five books, and  well, it kind of showed here.  Not enough story IMO, and drama for the sake of drama got a bit tiring after a while.  But I’m invested in the world and the characters, so I’ll still get the next book…

Held prisoner by the Burner forces in Philadelphia, Jess and his friends struggle to stay alive in the face of threats from both sides … but a stunning escape guarantees worse is coming. The Library now means to stop them by any means necessary, and they’ll have to make dangerous allies and difficult choices to stay alive.

They have only two choices: face the might of the Great Library head on, or be erased from life, and the history of the world, for ever.

Win or die.

Out now

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Maybes for the month:

Rachel Aaron’s A DRAGON OF A DIFFERENT COLOR (UF): I loved the first Heartstrikers book, but have stalled with the third book.  It’s sitting half-read on my Kindle, so I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll buy this fourth installment in the series.

Miranda Kenneally’s COMING UP FOR AIR (YA romance): A bit of a trend here.  Sport romances are my weakness and I loved the first few books in her Hundred Oaks series (also, her BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE was one of my favourite books of 2014), but I haven’t really connected with her more recent releases.  I’ll still get this at some point though.

Kalayna Price’s GRAVE RANSOM (UF): I don’t think this series has quite recovered from the long break between the third and fourth books yet.  I suspect I’d be a lot more invested in the characters if I started this series today.

Suzanne Brockman’s SOME KIND OF HERO (romantic suspense): Ah, I really don’t know here.  I loved her Troubleshooters books, but her recent spin-offs have not worked for me at all, and I regretted shelling out for hardcovers.  Now that she’s back to her Troubleshooters world, just maybe the old magic’s back?  I’ll probably wait for a price drop.

Sarina Bowen’s HELLO FOREVER (contemporary romance): Normally Sarina Bowen’s an autobuy for me, but the first book in this duology didn’t really work for me.  It was all a bit too neat and tidy, with the end conflict feeling rather manufactured.   I’ll hold fire for now, but will probably buy at some point.

Kylie Scott’s TRUST (NA romance): I’m feeling a bit burnt out on NA romance at the moment, but I do like Kylie Scott’s writing.

Books for June

Another late-ish post, but June has honestly been a month of way-too-much-to-do-and-very-little-time.  The mini-heatwave we’ve had this week has not helped at all – I just wanted to collapse in the evenings after braving the London tube home.  London does not do heat well.

And a link for a good cause – Authors for Grenfell Tower is raising funds for the British Red Cross.  Signed books etc galore.  Auctions end Tuesday 27 June.

Onto the new releases this month:

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35171433 (1)Tanya Huff’s A PEACE DIVIDED (military SF): Tanya Huff is now an auto-buy author for me, regardless of what she writes.  I really enjoyed this one – she explores the aftermath of war in this series, and while it would help if you’ve some familiarity with the linked Confederation books, this works relatively well as a standalone series.  I’m always impressed by how Huff juggles multiple POVs with ease, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not officially touch. When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon with power beyond anything previously known. Torin must contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy, former enemies, to her team. She will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between “us” and “them” is anything but straight.

Out now

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32161804KJ Charles’s AN UNNATURAL VICE (historical romance): Another one I’ve already read.  I was a bit lukewarm about the first book in KJ Charles’s Victorian-set Sins of the City series, but this enemies-to-lovers story worked much better for me.  I liked all the spiritualist behind-the-scenes reveals and the London setting came alive (as always).

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Out now

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30691976Yoon Ha Lee’s RAVEN STRATAGEM (military SF): The first book in this series was incredibly absorbing, but also made my head hurt at times – however, all reviews indicate this follow-up is much more accessible.  I’ll still wait until I’ve a solid block of spare time to dive into this one.

War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies and resurrected by the hexarchate to put down a heretical insurrection, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh incursion by the enemy Hafn, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, appears able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev – or Brezan – trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Yoon Ha Lee’s critically acclaimed Machineries of Empire trilogy continues with Raven Stratagem, coming from Solaris Summer 2017.

Out now

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32967547Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s STAY (contemporary romance): My current read, and I’m totally loving this sports romance.  These writing duo are on fire.

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch—an anonymous virtual assistant service—is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting… until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth—that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.

But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Out now

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30364801Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT (paranormal romance): Quite possibly my next read.  I didn’t love the first book in this series (great start, but then fizzled out – possibly suffered a bit from having to set up the whole series), but he’s still an auto-buy for me.

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Out June 26

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Maybes for the month:

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell’s MATURE CONTENT (contemporary romance): Their Cyberlove series has a bit too much angst for me and overdoes the hurt/comfort trope, but I’ll probably end up buying this at some point.

Diana Gabaldon’s SEVEN STONES TO FALL (historical): Another of those short story collections with mostly previously-published material, but with a couple of new pieces.  I try to borrow these collections from the library.

Books for May

I feel like the month of May just flew past.  This is less an upcoming book releases post, more of a “hey, here are all the new releases that came out over May and what I thought of them”.

32758901Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED (SF): This novella totally lived up to the promise of the initial excerpt we got a couple of months ago.  How could you not fall for a (self-named) MurderBot who really just wants to be left alone to watch the latest soap operas.  There’s definitely a second in the series, and a potential third and fourth – fingers crossed she sells them.

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that blends HBO’s Westworld with Iain M. Banks’ Culture books.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Out now

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30658022Jenny Han’s ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN (YA): I adored the first book, and was delighted when Jenny Han decided Lara Jean’s story wasn’t quite complete.  This is the last of the books, and it wraps up the now-trilogy quite nicely.  If I’m honest, I found ALWAYS AND FOREVER less successful than the previous two (there were times I wanted to give Lara Jean a bit of a shake), but overall, it caps off a lovely set of books that brings to life the rollercoaster of emotions that high school was.

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Out now

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30753671Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s THE GATHERING EDGE (SF): The twentieth book in the Liaden series… and it didn’t really work for me.  What I wanted was some sort of resolution (or at least progression) on the plot threads left dangling from previous books.  What I got was Theo and crew hanging around on their ship in space.  For a whole book.  YMMV, but I wish I’d waited for the next book and then read both THE GATHERING EDGE and the sequel in one go (because things have to happen in the next book, surely?).

The luck runs rough around Theo Waitley. Not only are people trying to kill her and capture the self-aware intelligent ship Bechimo to whom Theo is bonded, they’re also trying to arrest her crew members, and throw the dignity of an important passenger, the duly-constituted norbear ambassador Hevelin, into question.

No wonder Theo and her crew felt the need of a break, and retired to what Bechimo refers to as “safe space.” Unfortunately, safe space may not be so safe, anymore.  It seems that things are leaking through from another universe, and another time. In fact, whole spaceships are coming through.  One of those ships is a blasted battleship seemingly fleeing a long-lost war. What’s more, its crew may be members of Theo’s ancient ancestral line—her relatives. It’s certain that they are in dire need of help. Theo has a choice to make. It seems that Bechimo’s “safe space” is about to become deadly perilous.

Out now

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34593693Elizabeth Wein’s THE PEARL THIEF (historical YA): And here’s the first new release that I haven’t read yet.  I’m really looking forward to this, but it’s a matter of too many books, too little time, and I want to take the time to savour this one.  Also, I love the cover, BTW.

Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. It is not an idyllic return to childhood. Her grandfather’s death has forced the sale of the house and estate and this will be a summer of goodbyes. Not least to the McEwen family – Highland travellers who have been part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember – loved by the family, loathed by the authorities. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. Suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens but Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.

This beautiful and evocative novel is the story of the irrepressible and unforgettable Julie, set in the year before the Second World War and the events of Code Name Verity. It is also a powerful portrayal of a community under pressure and one girl’s determination for justice.

Out now

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8306741Megan Whalen Turner’s THICK AS THIEVES (YA fantasy): Speaking of books I want to savour!  I have the actual hardcover in my possession (and trust me, that is rare), but have not yet cracked open the pages.  Partly due to lack of spare time, but also, it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I’m considering doing a series re-read before I dive into this.  We’ll see.

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

Out now

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon’s at her best when she does the FBI agent thing, and hurrah, this is one of them.  There’s been a Kindle edition mix-up which means I’m still waiting for Amazon to push the correct version to my ereader, so I’m practising delayed gratification on this one.

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

Well, here they were.

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

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

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

Out now

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22303684Ilona Andrews’ WHITE HOT (paranormal romance): It’s been a while since the first Hidden Legacy book.  Despite that, I’ve only read good things about WHITE HOT.

The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot.

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

Out May 30

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As for other May releases that have also caught my eye:

SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS, edited by Paula Guran (fantasy): I’m a sucker for swords and sorcery-type stories, and this sounds like a promising curation of stories.

Sarina Bowen’s PIPE DREAMS (contemporary romance): I’ve read this, and while I normally love Bowen’s work, especially when it comes to sports romance, this one was one of the weaker ones for me.  Possibly because the narration uses flashbacks as part of the story, and I really don’t care for them.  I wasn’t onboard for one of the main plot points as well.  YMMV.

Joanna Chambers & Annika Martin’s ENEMIES LIKE YOU (romantic suspense): I loved the free prequel they released, but all the tension and promise kind of fizzled out for me when it came to the actual story.  Too much internalising, not enough action, and the twist was fairly obvious.

Lee Child’s NO MIDDLE NAME (suspense): This is a collection of Reacher short stories, most are previously-published but there’s one new novella.  A library request for me, I think, as I’ve probably read most of the shorts already.

Sunday Thoughts and Links

(Alternative title: I couldn’t really think of a blog post title)

Really late (it’s back to sporadic blogging now), but I’m liking the Hugo Awards shortlist.  I think it’s back to being a source of new-to-me authors, instead of being hijacked by personal vendettas.  My thoughts on the Best Novel finalists FWIW:

  • ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY by Charlie Jane Anders: I admit I keep on changing my mind on this one.  One review makes the book sound like something I’d really enjoy, and then the next review makes me think it wouldn’t speak to me at all.  I guess there’s only one way to find out…
  • A CLOSED AND COMMON ORBIT by Becky Chambers: I’ve the first book on my Kindle, I guess I should really get around to reading it?  I’ve only read good things about this series.
  • DEATH’S END by Cixin Liu: Ditto re first book, Kindle.
  • NINEFOX GAMBIT by Yoon Ha Lee: Oh hey, I’ve read this one.  I’ve mixed feelings – I can see why it’s earned its place on the shortlist (it is brilliant), but I also found it genuinely difficult to understand (and it’s rare I say that about a fiction book!).  I did get into the story eventually, and will definitely get the sequel, but it’s one of those books where you really have to pay attention at the start.
  • THE OBELISK GATE by N. K. Jemisin: Err, I can only repeat that I’ve been meaning to read her books for ages.  This may be the spur I need.
  • TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING by Ada Palmer: I was really interested in reading it, but the price of the hardback put me off.  And then I’ve read not-so-great reviews of the second book.  So this is probably in the same category for me as the Charlie Jane Anders. for me.

And a couple of links that caught my attention recently:

153784Tamora Pierce is one of my favourite YA fantasy authors – her Alanna books have a special space in my heart.  I found her Margaret A Edwards Awards speech really interesting – she talks about Alanna (of course), but also how she came up with Keladry’s story, and how she wanted Kel to be different to Alanna.  Also:

Kel’s story is more political than Alanna’s because I have grown more political over the years[…]

Yes.

Speaking of favourite authors, Elizabeth Mansfield also wrote some of the most well-loved Regency romances on my shelves (and I’ve been grabbing the e-versions as they become available).  Her daughter has posted some of unpublished anecdotes on her website – they’re wickedly funny and well worth a read.


randombookrec

Intisar Khanani’s SUNBOLTMEMORIES OF ASH: A YA with a strong female lead in a wonderfully-realised fantasy world – this ticks a lot of boxes for me.  Fair warning, SUNBOLT is more of a lead-in novella than a standalone story – it doesn’t quite end on a cliffhanger, but I was left wondering what happens next.  MEMORIES OF ASH more than ably answers that question, and I stayed up (very) late following Hitomi on her adventures with my heart in my mouth.

Books for April

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But they do know that Clive Ronan is back.

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

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

Out now

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

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

Out now

*

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

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

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

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

Out now

*

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

*

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

Rules are made to be broken . . .

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

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

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

Out April 16

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

Bad luck is the least of their worries…

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

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

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

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

Out April 17

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

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

Well, here they were.

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

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

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

Out April 25

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

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

Life doesn’t come with a syllabus.

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

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

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

Out now

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And the maybes:

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

Books for March

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

One final game of cat and mouse… 

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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And the maybes:

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

 


randombookrec

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

New (to-me) Find

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

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

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

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

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

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


randombookrec

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

A Links Post

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

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

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

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

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


randombookrec

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

Books for February

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

The definites:

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

REBUILD A LIFE, SAVE A CITY

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Feb 14

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

The play’s the fling

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

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

Out Feb 20

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

An eccentric wallflower…

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

A cynical rake…

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

A perilous plot…

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

Out Feb 21

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

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

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

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

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

Out Feb 21

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Feb 27

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

All is fair in love and hockey…

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

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

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

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

Out Feb 28

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

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

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

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

Out Feb 28

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

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

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


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

Reading Updates

Three random reading updates:

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

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

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

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

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

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


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