My Reading List for the 2019 Hugo Awards

I’ve a supporting membership for Dublin 2019, which gives me access to this year’s Hugo Awards voter packet (basically a collection of most of the shortlisted works in a mix of e-formats).

The packet came out over the weekend, so here are my musings about what I want to read between now and August (end July being the voting deadline).

Err… it’s ambitious to say the least.

Best Novel

  • Naomi Novik’s SPINNING SILVER is the only one I’ve read so far in this category (in fact, it was one of my favourite reads in 2018).
  • I already have the Becky Chambers but in paperback, so am grateful to get my hands on the e-version which makes it ever-so-slightly more convenient to read.  I think RECORD OF A SPACEBORN FEW is a companion book as opposed to a sequel, so I don’t have to read her other two books (which are both included in the Hugo packet as she also has a nomination for Best Series, and err… I also own but not read).
  • I also already have Yoon Ha Lee’s REVENANT GUN, but haven’t yet read the second book RAVEN STRATEGEM (which is queued up on my Kindle – okay, yes, I do have a TBR problem).  This is definitely a trilogy, so I should really try to finish both.
  • I’m more on the fence for Catherynne M Valente’s SPACE OPERA (tried an excerpt previously and it didn’t work for me), but hey, it is Eurovision this weekend so I may be in the mood for it!
  • Rebecca Roanhorse’s TRAIL OF LIGHTNING has been on my to-buy list for a while, so I’m really pleased the full book’s in the packet.  The only reason I haven’t one-clicked it yet was because I heard it straddles the fantasy-horror boundary and horror isn’t really my thing, but on the other hand, it’s had really good reviews.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal’s THE CALCULATING STARS is provided only in PDF format, which is an utter pain.  I’ve had a go at converting this via Calibre, so we’ll see if it’s worked.  I haven’t bought this one because umm… it sounds stupid but it’s a prequel to her short story “The Lady Astronaut of Mars”, which I loved, and therefore I didn’t really want to read the run-up to the events in the short.  Ha.  I’ve enjoyed her novels previously, so I will try to read this – it’s also recently had a UK release so my library may have a copy.

So that’s four books I’m definitely going to read + possibly the Valente and Kowal, depending on whether I bounce off the former and if I can get a readable version of the latter + the two other Becky Chambers for the Best Series nom.

Best Novella

  • Again, I’ve only read one of the shortlist previously (the Aliette de Bodard).
  • I’ve Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti trilogy in hardback, so will definitely make time to read all three novellas.
  • Martha Wells’s ARTIFICIAL CONDITION is currently retailing for around £7, hence me being delighted to see it in the Hugo packet (I’ve just whizzed through it).
  • I’ve been interested in the P. Djèlí Clark and Kelly Robson novellas for a while, so ditto on being happy to see them included.
  • And I’ve the first of the Seanan McGuire novellas, so I probably should read it before BENEATH A SUGAR SKY?  Loosely-connected though.

Possibly seven more novellas to get through here – all have been highly-rated though, so I suspect I’ll fly through them!

Best Series

  • Okay, the first thing to say is that ALL TWELVE of Seanan McGuire’s October Daye books are in the Hugo packet (via NetGalley so time-limited admittedly, but still!).  The second thing to say is that I own all of them already (you know I adore Toby, right?)… definitely a top contender for my vote.
  • I’ve not heard of Malka Older’s Centenal Cycle books before, but definitely keen to give them a go – all three are included.
  • I’ve eyed the Charles Stross series previously but have never read them – I think four novellas are provided, so will see what they’re like before deciding if I want to get hold of the novels.
  • I’ll be covering the Becky Chambers and Yoon Ha Lee books as part of the Best Novel reads (useful overlap, this!)
  • I think I may have read a few of Aliette de Bodard’s Xuya works before.  I like but don’t love them, so we’ll see.

So really it’s only the Older and Stross works here for me to read, perhaps some of de Bodard’s stories as well.

Lodestar Award (Best YA)

  • Ha, broken record but again, I’ve read only one book in this category (Holly Black’s THE CRUEL PRINCE).  The publisher’s provided an excerpt for the packet, so that’s rather fortunate on my part (also I thought it was rather generic YA fantasy, so not top of my list).
  • Rachel Hartman and Tomi Adeyemi’s books are provided via NetGalley, so yay – I haven’t read either one and want to read both.
  • Dhonielle Clayton’s is marked “To be provided” so perhaps something will follow?
  • Peadar O’Guilin’s duology comes across as more horror to me, I’ll give his books a a go, but they may not really be my thing.

I’ve not really read much YA fantasy recently (or so I think anyway!), will definitely read at least two here.

And as for the other categories

  • I’ve read most of the shortlisted works in the Novelette and Short Story categories already – I just need to have a think!
  • Campbell Award – I’ve read SA Chakraborty, have the first Katherine Arden book, and may read RF Kuang’s THE POPPY WAR (apparently grimdark-ish?).
  • No real thoughts about the rest of the categories, I’ll read through the pieces provided in the packet to decide on my votes.

So that’s me (it may be an SFF-heavy couple of months…) – if you’ve signed up for Dublin 2019 and plan on voting, what are your thoughts?

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Thoughts of the Rambling Type

In no particular order:

43208022You may have noticed that I’ve given up on posting a monthly list of new releases I’m planning to buy – while that was a useful reference point, it was, well, too much like enforced blogging for me (if you want to see my list though, I basically use Goodreads to keep track).  However, two upcoming April releases that I have to mention as they have me rubbing my hands together in glee (and also releasing within a few days of each other, help!) are Lucy Parker’s THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK (her h/hs just spark off each other) and Jodi Taylor’s HOPE FOR THE BEST (it’s the 10th book in, and the series is still as madcap fun as ever).

*****

40957180Related to this, I’ve been meaning for a while to do a post about passion in books and why I need it to connect with the characters… no, not that kind of passion.  Lucy Parker and Jodi Taylor’s books could not be more different in genre and plots – the former is contemporary romance, while the latter is slightly futuristic time-travel.  But I love both equally and the common theme is passion.  Parker’s characters are passionate about theatre and performing, Taylor’s are passionate about history and discovery.

It was a Twitter comment by an author that clarified this for me (apologies, can’t remember who now), who said something along the lines of “people care about things and so should your characters”.  Like if I was putting myself in a book, even if it had nothing to do with the plot, I’d make sure to reference my slightly obsessive love for bookstores.  I think this explains why I sometimes bounce so badly off a book – the characters may be doing and saying the right things, but there’s no depth.  It also explains why I love Lois McMaster Bujold’s SF books and Elizabeth Peters’ historical mysteries equally, despite them being shelved in completely different areas in bookstores – Miles Vorkosigan and Amelia Peabody have their own obsessions, and they propel the story forward.

Is this another term for character-driven stories?  Maybe.  I’m just late to the party!

******

Finally, a topic that has been done to death, I know, but price points for e-books – I was all excited about Alexis Hall’s fantastical take on Sherlock Holmes and was ready to pre-order… then I saw the £9.99 price, and came to a screeching halt.  Eeeuurrrghh.  For a trusted author, and I’m talking known quantities so really, an ongoing series that I’m loving, I would pay around £6?  Okay, perhaps £7 max.  Scanning down my recent Kindle orders list (and it’s a very long one), I think I’m probably averaging around £3 per ebook – some higher, others lower.

What I do when an expensive e-book lands on my radar is either:

  • Place the book on my ereaderiq price watch list – this is a free service that tracks Kindle price drops.  They run on donations, and I donate as they save me so much money!  The link is to the UK version and they also have US and Canada versions. More often that not, the initial price will drop, either when a new book in the series is released, or when the mass paperback version is released.
  • Reserve the book from my local library – a bit hit or miss, as they usually only purchase books if there’s a UK publisher.  Also they’ve changed their reservation system, which means you can’t reserve pre-orders, only when the books actually arrive, which in turn means I’ve to really remember to do this.

What I don’t do is pay full price.  And if by the time the price drops come through, I’ve forgotten my initial excitement about the release, I don’t buy – there are so many books out there.  I know this sounds a bit me, me, me and people must be buying enough e-editions at £10 to make the pricing strategy worthwhile, but it’s one I really struggle with.

Gloms Galore

It’s barely March and I’ve flown through the backlists of three authors so far this year.  That has to be some kind of a record.  I will caveat this by saying most of the books have been in Kindle Unlimited, which helps!

31311850The first author is probably no surprise if you’ve read my previous post.  I started Rachel Neumeier’s BLACK DOG on an outward-bound flight, and by the time I flew back from holiday, I’d read all three novels in the series, plus the two short story collections.  I’ve had the first book on my Kindle for ages (I suspect I picked it up when it was free at some point), and for some reason, it’s never really appealed – it’s a rather unevocative title, perhaps?  But once I opened the book, Natividad’s story grabbed me and I was hooked.  This is Neumeier doing urban fantasy, so it’s not your standard UF – I loved it.  Yes, there are werewolves and action, but it’s full of feels and relationships, and of course, great worldbuilding.

And having read all Neumeier’s KU books, I’ve tracked down the rest of her backlist in print, mostly because the (traditionally published) e-versions are being listed at silly prices, and umm… the covers are beautiful.  I’m easily swayed like that.  I’m now the proud owner of four Neumeier hardcover/trade paperbacks, which is probably the most print books I’ve bought for a while.  Totally worth it, I have to say.

73764Having finished with Rachel Neumeier’s backlist, I then picked up Mary Burchell’s MASQUERADE WITH MUSIC, partly because Jayne @ Dear Author had been singing Burchell’s praises for a while and also because it was free.  It turned out to be the twelfth book in what is rather grandly titled “The Warrender Saga”, but is really a loosely-connected series with the main characters from the first book making appearances (sometimes cameos, sometimes more) in the following books.

Needless to say, I inhaled the whole series (and yes, all in KU) – there was something about the old-fashioned charm and romance in these books, combined with the author’s very evident love and knowledge of music, which was just what I needed.  Reading all thirteen books in one go makes Burchell’s favoured plots quite obvious – there is liberal use of the Big Misunderstanding (which I quite like), as well as ones where the heroine deliberately conceals the truth and it all comes unravelled at some point (this, I like much less).  The books were written over the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and so are period-contemporary in nature; I love discovering books like these as I feel they give more of an unfiltered perspective on the era as opposed to being written through a modern perspective – does that make sense?

And finally, my latest explorations have been within Jonathan P Brazee’s military SF backlist.  He caught my eye when one of his stories was nominated for the Nebula awards, and I noticed most of his MilSF books were in KU.  It’s going to sound like damning with faint praise (and maybe it is!), but they’re fast-paced and undemanding reading, and the kind of books I need right now.

2018: Lists and Numbers

It’s time for my annual navel-gazing post – indulge me as I look back at my year in reading…

2018 new-to-me authors

I read 45 new-to-me authors over 2018, a huge jump from 2017’s 36 (which in turn was way up on 2016’s 21).  A large part of that was due to my Kindle Unlimited subscription, which was a cheap way (cost-wise, if not time) of trying new authors.

Of this group, the authors I’m really glad I discovered over 2018:

Robyn Bennis: Loving her steampunk-ish mil-fantasy series, and cannot wait for the next ones

Anna Butler: I’m potentially starting to sound a bit like a broken record, but I suspect I’ll read anything she writes in any genre.

Aster Glenn Gray: Her Beauty and the Beast retelling appears to be her only release at the moment, fingers crossed for more from her.

Rachel Neumeier: I know.  I could have sworn I’ve read her books before, but no.  Love her style of fantasy (and they’re standalone books as well!).

Megan Reddaway: I finished her take on Pride & Prejudice on Dec 31, and it was the best way to end the year.

Author most glommed over 2018

MCA Hogarth – I read ten books of hers (and yes, that boxset thing applies, so technically twelve?).

Next was Glynn Stewart (who topped my 2017 list) with nine books – I thought I had swept through his backlist in 2017, but he somehow managed to release nine(!) new books in 2018.  I’m not complaining.

Also worth mentioning is Mercedes Lackey – I (re-)read eight of her books (or technically ten – those boxsets are really messing up my counts!).  I did go on a bit of a Valdemar re-read spree over 2018 with mixed results – some were as good as I remembered, others less so

Kindle Unlimited usage

I’m sneaking this in as a new section, as last year was the first full year of KU for me.

As I said earlier, it was a low-risk way to try new-to-me authors, but I also had quite a few duds (and DNFs).  I read books by 23 KU authors, of which eleven were new-to-me – that’s a pretty high proportion.

I finished 43 KU books over 2018 – at £7.99/month, that equates to around £2.30 a book (not counting DNFs, which I don’t track).  Rating-wise, around a quarter was 4* or higher reads for me, so I think that’s a win!

I do suspect I finished a lot more 2* books than I normally would have though.  I’m going to make sure that I’m better in 2019 at calling it quits as opposed to forcing myself to finish a book (or series even).

And as for the numbers…

I read 179 books (give or take a few boxsets and short stories/novellas), slightly down on last year, but still a relatively high number for me.  Just over half of these were published before 2018 – yay for the backlist.

Breakdown by genre and numbers over 2018:

2018

And finally 2018 v. previous years – I’ve basically rediscovered my love for SF over the past couple of years:

overall

And that’s it – another annual tradition completed!  If you want to have a look at my 2018 reads in more detail, my Goodreads summary is here, with a few more random stats.

2018: My Favourite Books

Happy New Year – may 2019 be a happy, healthy, and safe one for all of you.

This is the time of the year when my TBR pile pretty much explodes as I read through everyone’s best-of lists.  Which, for the record, is perfectly fine – I’m of the firm belief that one cannot have too many books.

So to add to the lists, here are my very favourite books of 2018, in no particular order:

Jodi Taylor’s AN ARGUMENTATION OF HISTORIANS (fantasy): I swear that I’ve learnt more about history from her books than I did at school.  There’s maximum entertainment in this one, with some suspenseful moments and lovely touches on the relationships front – start with the first book if you’ve not read this series yet, and you won’t regret it.

Kate Stradling’s BRINE AND BONE (fantasy): The loveliest retelling of THE LITTLE MERMAID – this one stayed on my mind for days after.

MCA Hogarth’s Her Instruments trilogy (SF): Technically three books and a novella, but I read it as a boxset and it made a very long flight pass very quickly.  This was pretty much everything I love – a fast-paced space opera centered around found family, plus a slow-burn romance with a stoic and mysterious hero.

MCA Hogarth’s FROM RUINS (SF): Also by MCA Hogarth, also set in the same universe, but wildly different in tone.  FROM RUINS caps off her Princes’ Game series – it’s darker than I would normally care for, but she pulled it off and in a entirely satisfying manner.

Anna Butler’s THE JACKAL’S HOUSE (romance): Anna Butler’s a new-to-me author and I’ve pretty much flown through her backlist this year.  This steampunk-ish historical fantasy was the perfect follow-up to The Gilded Scarab, but with more adventure, romance, and politicking.

KJ Charles’s BAND SINISTER (romance): Of course I would love KJ Charles’s take on a Heyer-esque romance.  She nailed it with this one – somehow combining big dramatic gestures with a quiet and wholly satisfying romance.

KJ Charles’s THE HENCHMEN OF ZENDA (romance): And of course, I would love KJ Charles’s take on a classic.  This was an utter joy to read from start to finish – sniping and swordfights, friendships and loyalty, and oh yes, the romance.

Naomi Novik’s SPINNING SILVER (fantasy): A magical fairytale retelling, with some swooningly romantic moments.

So in total, eight books (or twelve, depending on how you count boxsets!) and six authors.  I’ve listed the main genre, but all of them have a strong thread of romance running through them – I’m entirely consistent that way!

To follow – more general thoughts about 2018 reading-wise, plus my usual number-crunching.

A Rec, Plus New Kindle Paperwhite Impressions

33266523So off the back of the recommendations from the KJ Charles tor.com article I mentioned last week, I grabbed Anna Butler’s SF novel GRYFALCON – free on Kindle is always a great price.  With the caveat I’m still around the three-quarters mark, I’m loving it.

I found the first chapter was a bit hard-going, I admit.  It’s one of those openings where you’re dropped in the middle of so much action, and find it hard to figure out what’s going on or why you should care about the characters.  Plus she has this narrative quirk where she repeats scenes from different POVs, which confused me at first.

But there is excellent emotional pay-off, and I am also a sucker for space opera-type adventures.  I’ve already bought the second (it’s a five-book series) and I suspect I will fly through the series.

Also my new Kindle Paperwhite has arrived! I bought the basic wifi-only version as I thought the 3G-enabled version was way too expensive, especially since I am rarely in a place without wifi and I’ll probably use my old 3G Paperwhite when travelling.

First impressions – if your older Paperwhite is working well, you don’t need this one.

It’s definitely lighter, and possibly faster when it comes to opening books (there’s more storage space and my old Kindle was reaching its limit).  There are more fonts available (I think?) but I’m a creature of habit, and tend to stay with the default one.  Setup is very straightforward, as it’s been with all my Kindles to date.

I’m still getting used to the touchscreen – am occasionally flicking back on accident when I mean to flick forward, possibly because the screen is flat with no raised edges.  No issues with the backlight nor with charging (so far anyway).

Overall, I’ve no regrets about getting this version as my older one was starting to slow down, especially as it was discounted, but it’s not a must-have upgrade if you’ve one of the more recent Paperwhites IMO.

Recent Re-Reads

I’ve said before that I’ve fallen out of the habit of re-reading.  I used to re-read my books all the time, evidenced by some of my teenage favourites that are on the verge of falling apart and have spines that are pretty much only sticky tape.  But then – and I suspect this probably coincided with the time I started getting a monthly pay cheque and therefore could spend without (much) guilt – my TBR pile started growing, and re-reading became a casualty of too many books, too little time…

But ebooks!  I succumbed to a few too-good-to-pass-up Kindle offers recently, and in addition to the assorted paper versions on my shelves, I now have e-copies of quite a few Georgette Heyers, Mercedes Lackeys, and Mary Stewarts (yes, I appreciate that is a fairly mixed bag).   It has been years since I’ve read these books (in the case of Lackey, nearing two decades), and I wondered how they would stand up to the test of time – more on that to follow.  What really struck me about my recent binge of re-reads was how much I had actually forgotten about the actual plot.  I kind of loved that I had a vague memory of where the story ends up, but still got caught by surprise by the actual events unfolding on the page.

176797First up, Mercedes Lackey – I started with her Vows and Honor omnibus (and I have to say, I am the biggest fan ever of ebooks, but there is no replacement for the sheer awesome-ness of the original covers – I mean, look at Tarma and Kethry on this DAW cover).  The good: old-school Lackey is so much better than current Lackey in terms of world-building, story-telling, and pacing, and the magic that drew me into her Valdemar world was still very much there.  The bad: Did I never notice how rape-y this series was?  Gendered violence galore, some very stereotyped thinking, and I ended up skipping the Tarma/Kethry origin short story, because I just couldn’t.

Having said all that, I definitely want to re-read the sort-of sequel BY THE SWORD and am currently in the middle of her Exiles of Valdemar omnibus, which I don’t believe I have actually read before (I lost interest in the series about the time Alberich’s story came out, IIRC).  I also want to re-read the Elspeth books, but haven’t bought that e-omnibus (yet!).

32108And as for the Georgette Heyers – there are a handful of Heyers that I re-read every now and again (COTILLION, FREDERICA, THE GRAND SOPHY, and VENETIA spring to mind), but equally, there’s a huge list of Heyers I’ve read only once or twice.  So having bought a whole heap of her e-editions (the only criteria being that they were £0.99 or less), THE TOLL-GATE was the first one I cracked open, and ah, Heyer’s love of period slang, whether real or not, was in full evidence here.  There’s a good story buried underneath with some very engaging characters, but I found it hard-going and there’s obviously a reason why it’s in my lesser-read Heyer pile.

THE TALISMAN RING, though, was much better, with an implausible setup which Heyer carried off with style.  Totally farcical comedy, but with heart; I loved the inevitable romance, and it had a perfect last page.

2017: Lists and Numbers

It’s only two weeks into 2018, and typing 2017 is starting to feel so old-school.  Or is that just me?

Before I bid a final farewell to the year, I wanted to log my annual reading stats for (online) posterity – here’s my 2017 in lists and numbers.

2017 new-to-me authors

I read a total of 36 new-to-me authors this year (up from 21 last year – go me!).  There’s nothing like discovering authors who write stuff that speaks to you, and here are the authors I’m really glad I discovered over the year:

Glynn Stewart: I read pretty much his entire backlist in the space of two months, and trust me, it was a sizeable list.  Plus his December release was one of my favourites of 2017.

Intisar Khanani, Kate Stradling, and WR Gingell: All of their books made (my version of) honourable mentions of 2017 – I’ve loved their take on the fantasy genre.

MCA Hogarth: Okay, I admit it – I was a bit lukewarm on the one book of hers I read in 2017.  Then I read the Her Instruments series (conveniently packaged in a box set) in the first week of the new year, and am now reading through her backlist.  Non-stop.

SK Dunstall: Another one of my 2017 honourable mentions, and seeing I read their books way back at the start of 2017, this author pairing doesn’t feel like a new-to-me one!

Tansy Rayner Roberts: I really enjoyed her SF gender-swapped interpretation of Three Musketeers.

Authors most glommed during 2017

Err… Glynn Stewart by a mile – I read 22 of his books over the year.  Ahem.  The fact his books are in Kindle Unlimited* definitely helped, but I would have probably one-clicked them anyway.

My second most-read author was Megan Derr – I read 12 of her books, mostly during the first quarter of the year, I think.

*I posted about my early experience with KU a month or so after I subscribed, but want to do a follow-up (including a proper cost-benefits analysis!) in a few months.  I read somewhere that KU is more about discovering new authors as opposed to reading old favourites, and I definitely see that happening.

And the numbers…

I read *drumroll* 192 books over 2017, which is by far the highest annual number of books that I’ve read for a while (I usually average around 150, with last year being even lower than usual).

Why the leap in volumes?  It’s not what I was expecting, especially as 2017 has been incredibly full-on (both good and not-so-good), and I’ve felt like I’ve been running on empty for a good few months of the year.  So perhaps there’s nothing like escaping into a make-believe world for a few hours.

For the record, just under half of the books I read last year were published before 2017 (hurrah for backlists!), and about 60% of books read were published via non-traditional channels (this is the exact opposite of 2016, when that percentage was 40%).

Breakdown of genre and numbers over 2017 (obviously it was the fourth quarter that made all the difference):

2017 1

I should say my fantasy/SF genre split is rather subjective, as quite a few authors appear to be writing fantasy disguised as SF – or vice versa…

Finally – here’s my 2017 compared to previous years:

2017 2

And that’s it!  I’ve managed to log all my books in Goodreads (majority sans any actual review (for now, anyway), but with a rating) so here’s the fancy Goodreads summary.

2017: My Favorite Books

Happy New Year everyone!

I’ve done my by-now traditional collation of reading stats – numbers to follow in a separate post, but I will say that despite everything (or perhaps because of) 2017 threw at me, I’ve read more books during the past year than I have in previous years.  By far.  Obviously, there’s nothing like comfort reading.

Having said that, the list of my favourite 2017 reads is shorter than previous years.  In no particular order, these were my very favourite books I read during the year:

Lucy Parker’s PRETTY FACE (contemporary romance): You know when you keep re-reading passages in a book because you really want to savour the words properly?  That was PRETTY FACE for me.  Her leads had an amazing connection with chemistry a-plenty, the dialogue sparkled, and the London setting rang so true.  Basically the perfect romance for me.

Sarah Rees Brennan’s IN OTHER LANDS (fantasy):  I loved this portal fantasy when she serialised it on her blog, and this polished and expanded version is even better.  There’s hidden depths underneath the trademark SRB snark, and social commentary and humour are combined with ease.  Elliot shines as the pacifist hero who grows up but never loses his sense of wonder.

CS Pacat’s THE ADVENTURES OF CHARLS, THE VERETIAN CLOTH MERCHANT (fantasy): Yes, it’s very much a short story (26 pages according to Goodreads), and no, it wouldn’t work for anyone who hasn’t read the Captive Prince trilogy.  But for those who have, this was the perfect capstone to the trilogy, packed full of humour and emotional pay-offs – Charls is the most excellent of narrators, and Laurent and Lamen are on form throughout.

Glynn Stewart’s OPERATION MEDUSA (SF): For an author I only discovered in October, I’ve done a really good job of flying through Glynn Stewart’s backlist (helped very much by Kindle Unlimited, I admit).  OPERATION MEDUSA was packed full of action and suspense, and ended his Castle Federation series in the most satisfying way.

*****************

Ah, because that was such a short list, here are some other books/authors I had a lot of fun reading over 2017:

All of WR Gingell’s books, which is very much the kind of fantasy that appeals to me (intrepid yet sensible heroines, strong friendships, slow-burn romances… you know what I mean).  A few of her books that I liked especially: Shards of a Broken Swords trilogy, WOLFSKIN, and MASQUE.

Ditto for Kate Stradling – again, I read her entire backlist over 2017.  Specific recs: GOLDMAYNE, A FAIRY TALE (a take on a rather obscure fairytale), the duology A BOY CALLED HAWK and A RUMOR OF REAL IRISH TEA (inventive and twisty YA, give it a go even if you’ve been dystopian-ed out), and her Ruses duology (in theory standalone fantasy, but reading the first gives the second much more depth).

Another YA fantasy series I’ve enjoyed is Intisar Khanani’s Sunbolt Chronicles – there’s two books so far.  The first is offered as a freebie now and again so keep an eye out for it, but be warned, it has a rather abrupt ending.  The second, MEMORIES OF ASH, is more of a complete story in itself, and I’m looking forward to the next book.

SK Dunstall’s Linesman books made up a really fun space opera trilogy, with intriguing world-building that hooked me from the start.  I read all three back-to-back, and wasn’t disappointed.

Sports romances are my catnip, and I’m loving the author pairing of Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy.  Despite my initial misgivings about the title of the series, I’ve really liked GOOD BOY and STAY.

Last but not least, KJ Charles nailed it with SPECTRED ISLE, her M/M historical romance set in the aftermath of WWI.  She interweaves the paranormal with the ordinary so seamlessly, and always gets the period feel just right.

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.


randombookrec

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.