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

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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

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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

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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.
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2016: My Favourite Books

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Books for October

New month, new books!  Here are the new releases I’m getting:

28504482Lynn Kurland’s THE WHITE SPELL (fantasy romance): The first trilogy in Lynn Kurland’s Nine Kingdom series was such fun – I’ve since ploughed through the rest in the series (still fun, but not as absorbing as the first) and have pre-ordered the new one.

The New York Times bestselling Nine Kingdoms Saga continues in a land where light and dark magic vie, and where a reluctant hero and seemingly defenseless stable maid must join forces against an encroaching evil.

Acair of Ceangail, youngest bastard son of the worst black mage in history, has followed in his father’s footsteps, wreaking havoc throughout the world and leaving powerful enemies in his wake. After a year of reparation, he owes a final bit of penance: twelve months spent working in a barn without using his magic.

Léirsinn of Sàraichte understands horses, stable work, and how to judge men’s hearts.  When she starts seeing shadows where there should only be light, she knows there is evil afoot. Unfortunately, it’s something she can’t fight on her own.

Acair’s attempts to aid Léirsinn only draw the notice of dangerous mages against whom he is currently defenseless. With only each other to rely on, Acair and Léirsinn find themselves suddenly in a race to save the world before it’s consumed by darkness…

Out Oct 4

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31195675Alexis Hall’s PANSIES (M/M contemporary romance):  There’s this thing I have with Alexis Hall’s books… I always feel kind of lukewarm after reading the book description, and then I finally get around to reading the book and end up loving it.  So maybe I’ll learn from my previous experiences and buy the book on release day this time?

Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie’s never met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

Out Oct 10

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24909346Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s GEMINA (YA SF): I suspect this will be on a lot of people’s lists.  Angie deemed this one bibliocrack-worthy, so really, that’s all I need to know

The highly anticipated sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller that critics are calling “out-of-this-world awesome.”

Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminaecontinues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and theHypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless

Out Oct 18

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30364774Santino Hassell’s INTERBOROUGH (M/M contemporary romance): I flew through the earlier books in this NYC-set series earlier this year, and I’m glad I didn’t have to wait too long for a new book.

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.

Out Oct 24

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29087466Sarina Bowen’s KEEPSAKE (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s having a prolific year, isn’t she?  Not that I’m complaining – this is the final book in her True North series, and the previous two entries have been solid ones.

Lark Wainright, 23, has nightmares. She used to be fearless. But while overseas for her nonprofit employer, she was kidnapped and held at gunpoint in a dusty shack. Everyone has an opinion about what might have happened to here there, but she’s not saying much. She’s too consumed by guilt to talk about it.

When her best friend offers her a stay at the Shipley orchard in exchange for help at the farmers’ markets, Lark jumps into her little car and heads to Vermont. Unfortunately, the night terrors don’t stop. Desperate to keep her fragile state a secret from those who know her best, she relies on the most soft-spoken resident of Orange County, Vermont, to calm her down when her dreams prove too much.

Zachariah, 23, is a survivor of a different kind. It’s been three years since he was tossed aside by the polygamist cult out west, and the only home he’d ever known. In Vermont, he’s found a peaceful place in the bunkhouse at the Shipley’s farm. He’s good with animals, and he’s good with his hands. But getting thrown away by your own people at nineteen leaves a mark on a guy. And he doesn’t always know what to make of a world where apps and movie quotes are the primary means of communication. Before hitchhiking to Vermont, he’d never watched TV. He’d never spoken on the phone.

Actually, there are still a lot of things he’s never done.

Zach and Lark slowly grow to trust one another. One night they become even closer than they’d planned. But Lark may still be too broken to trust anyone. When she shoves Zach away, he will have to prove to himself that he’s good for more than farm labor.

Out Oct 25

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And a couple more October releases on my radar:

  • Kelley Armstrong‘s Otherworld short story collection, OTHERWORLD CHILLS, though I’ll probably request from the library as it contains some previously-published material.
  • The contemporary romance anthology YOU HAD ME AT CHRISTMAS (though isn’t it a bit too early for Christmas?!) with a Karina Bliss story – her contribution is set in her Rock Solid world, and I did love the previous book.

 

Good Books!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Books for August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

Out Aug 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Aug 23

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

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

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

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

Out Aug 29

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

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

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

Out Aug 30

Books for November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

How does love begin?

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

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

Out Nov 9

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

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

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

Out Nov 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Nov 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Nov 17

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

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

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

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

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

Out Nov 24

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

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