Books for May

I know it’s been a bit quiet here over the past couple of months, but I feel like 2016 has been a really good year for new releases so far.  But it’s starting to calm down – there are a few books I want to get in May, but not as many as in previous months.

26067987Mary Balogh’s ONLY BELOVED (historical romance): I’ve been reading her Survivors’ Club series and enjoying it well enough, reflected by the fact I usually wait until my library reservations come through as opposed to buying.  This book wraps up the series – I’ve placed my library reservation!

From the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Only a Promise comes the final book in the rapturous Survivor’s Club series—as the future of one man lies within the heart of a lost but never-forgotten love…

For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.

Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.

For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?

Out now

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29244653Ashley Gardner’s THE ALEXANDRIA AFFAIR (historical mystery): I’ve had a soft spot for Egyptian settings ever since I fell for Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books (I’m still keeping a ear out for rumours as to her final unpublished manuscript), and I probably will pick this up at some point.

Lucius Grenville at last persuades Captain Lacey to join him in an expedition to Egypt, to visit various ancient sites. Lacey is excited to go, though torn about leaving his new family. He discovers, though, that the burgeoning market for antiquities has made Egypt’s ancient history open for plunder, bringing forth ruthless men who will not stop short of murder for the sake of a fortune.

Out May 17

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26242354Lisa Kleypas’s MARRYING WINTERBORNE (historical romance): There’s a (unusual) historical theme to this month’s new releases for me – I felt like Lisa Kleypas’s previous book spent a lot of time setting up the Helen/Winterborne romance (and overshadowing the main relationship), so hopefully this book lives up to the promise.

A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…

A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable…the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…

Marrying Mr. Winterborne

Out May 31

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17927395Sarah J Maas’s A COURT OF MIST AND FURY (YA fantasy): I am on the fence for this (very likely a library reservation too) – I had fun reading the previous one, but I remember the doormat-y heroine also infuriating me at times.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

Out now

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So not exactly a sterling month for new releases – any books you’re really excited about?

Books for June

June!  New books!  Need I say more.

Well, yes, actually, because I seem to have come out of my reading slump, and have been reading.  I hesitate to say that I’m reading a lot (pesky things like sleep and work are still getting in the way), but despite the fact it’s only the second week of June, I’ve finished reading quite a few new releases here.

22750124Martha WellsSTORIES OF THE RAKSURA VOLUME 2 (fantasy): This is Martha Wells’ second collection of novellas/short stories set in her Raksura world.  I loved this trilogy when I finally got around to reading these books last year (they were in my 2014 favourites) and I was delighted to hear that she was continuing to write more stories in the same universe.  This is one of the books I’ve raced through, and it may sound weird as they’re new-to-me stories, but they’re almost like comfort reads.  She delivers exactly what you’re expecting – there are no surprises, and I mean that in a good way.

Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically ignore genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Out now

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24397828Nalini Singh‘s SHARDS OF HOPE (paranormal romance): I was debating whether this book was a buy or borrow, right up to the last moment when I caved and bought the Kindle version.  And yes, I’ve read it.  I haven’t loved her more recent Psy-Changeling books (hence the internal debate), but I thought this was the best one since the Hawke/Sienna book (which was, gosh, published back in 2011 – time flies).  There was quite a bit of repetition and the story felt a bit padded out, I thought the level of violence was slightly OTT, but I liked Aden and Zaira’s story more than I thought I would.

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.

Rich, dark, sumptuous and evocative . . . bestselling author Nalini Singh is back with a stunning, dark and passionate new tale.

Out now

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25395582Sherwood Smith‘s LHIND THE SPY (YA fantasy): Sequel to her LHIND THE THIEF (which I’ve read – no idea why I haven’t reviewed it).  I’m reading this right now, and it’s actually taking some discipline to write this blog post as opposed to continuing with Lhind’s adventures.  Lots of fun so far.

In this sequel to Lhind the Thief, Lhind has gone from castoffs to silks, back alleys to palace halls—and is not having an easy time of it. That’s before she’s snatched by an angry prince she’d robbed twice, who is determined to turn her over to the enemy who frightens her most, the sinister Emperor Jardis Dhes-Andis.

When her own dear Hlanan comes to rescue her, it’s Lhind who has to do the rescuing, setting off a wild chase to fend off mercenaries and then to confront an entire army intent on invasion.

Lhind and Hlanan try to negotiate the perilous waters of a relationship while on the run—straight into a trap.

Just when Lhind is beginning to figure out where she might fit into the world, she finds herself alone again, surrounded by enemies, in one of the most dangerous courts in the world.

And she begins to find out who she really is.

Out now

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24684698KJ Charles‘ THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL (M/M historical romance): I’ll buy anything KJ Charles writes. ‘Nuff said.

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

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And then my maybes/library requests:

  • Erika Johansen‘s THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING (YA fantasy): Probably a library request.  I read the first book last year – thought it was a decent start, though over-hyped.
  • Garth Nix‘s TO HOLD THE BRIDGE (fantasy): A collection of his short stories.  I’ve read a few of his books (and liked), but have a few more unread on my Kindle – another one for the library.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER MOST HISTORICAL (mystery): Another collection of short stories.  I’ve liked her Captain Lacey historical mysteries (hey, I’ve read all nine of them), so I’ll get this at some point
  • Mary Balogh‘s ONLY A PROMISE (historical romance): I’ve requested this from the library.
  • Sophie Kinsella‘s FINDING AUDREY (YA): Ditto.  I’ve had good times reading her more recent releases, but I’m not entirely sure I want to splash out on a Kinsella hardcover, especially for her first(?) YA.

 

Mini-Reviews, Anyone?

It’s been quite a while since I’ve last cross-posted my Goodreads reviews.  I stared at these ones for ages trying to figure out a theme, but none sprang to mind.  I should probably figure out how to curate these better.

Anyway – here’s a mix of historical mystery, YA SF, urban fantasy, m/m romance, and NA paranormal romance.

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First up, two boxed sets of historical mysteries by Ashley Gardner a.k.a. Jennifer Ashley:

Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume One (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, #1-3)Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume One by Ashley Gardner (historical mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel as though I should love these books more than I did. Historical London + mystery whodunnits + a complicated nest of past relationships should be right up my alley… but the interpersonal side of things are not coming to life for me. I’m still not that invested in Lacey even when he’s playing for high stakes. But this is a decent boxset of historical mysteries (especially since I bought it on sale – around $1?), and I’ll continue with the series.

 

Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two (Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries, #4-6)Captain Lacey Regency Mysteries Volume Two by Ashley Gardner (historical mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I feel as though these stories could be more, but they are fun whodunnits. The mysteries are satisfying, and the secondary characters grow more three-dimensional as the series progresses – I’ll definitely keep reading.

The best way to sum these up is probably that I wouldn’t be upset if I never ever read another Captain Lacey book, but they’re decent mysteries and I don’t regret buying/reading them.  They’re worth buying if you’re into historical-set mysteries, especially if you’ve a Kobo coupon or similar to use.

I think I’ve read a couple of the books written under her Jennifer Ashley pen-name ages ago, but don’t really remember much.

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Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (YA SF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Trademark Brandon Sanderson writing, I thought – a really inventive magic system, combined with plot twists and lots of action. I didn’t care for the insta-love/lust/whatever, but I’ve never thought relationships were his strong point. I liked – while I wouldn’t run out to get the next book, I’m keeping this series on my to-read list.

Again, another author I enjoy reading but I don’t actively search out his books, though he obviously has a huge fan following. I think I bought this one when it was on sale.

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IndexingIndexing by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thought this was a really fun read – loved the various twists on standard fairy tales. Probably could have done without the romance elements though. Also thought the two male secondary characters felt a bit more two-dimensional compared to Sloane, who was pretty amazing.

This was originally released as a Kindle serial in the US, but only as a single book in the UK.  She’s doing a follow-up next year, which I’d probably get at some point.  You could tell this was originally written as a serial (recapping at the start of each chapter, etc), but I thought the story flowed pretty well as a whole.

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Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown (suspense)

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was painfully clunky – it felt as though the author was trying to cram in every single piece of related art history. The plot didn’t make sense at all, but the action scenes were relatively good in comparison. I should probably stop reading Dan Brown…

Uhhmmm.  In my defense, I read his books before The Da Vinci Code, and they were better.  Still predictable, yes, but there was plot. 

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Slide (Roads, #1)Slide by Garrett Leigh (m/m romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought there was too much “tell, not show” at the critical moments, and struggled to connect with the main characters. Considering the subject matter, I thought the romance was surprisingly quiet. In the end, the characters were just too much on the broken side for me, and I struggled to believe in a HEA, or even a HFN.

Rec’d by various reviewers, IIRC, but her writing didn’t work for me.

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King Hall (Forever Evermore, #1)King Hall by Scarlett Dawn (NA paranormal romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mind candy, in a nutshell. But I did have fun reading it, eye-rolling scenes and all, and there is a good story buried inside once you make it past the first chapters. Everything is a bit too obvious, but there’s both friendship and romance, and the ending sets up the next book well.

 

King Cave (Forever Evermore, #2)King Cave by Scarlett Dawn (NA paranormal romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I… am not convinced there was an actual plot here – it felt like everything, including the kitchen sink, was crammed into this one. Also can’t quite pinpoint exactly why, but it read slightly like fanfic – possibly because so many scenes felt like they were written specifically for wish-fulfilment? Having said that, I still want to read the conclusion to the trilogy – so, well.

The first one was a total impulse buy.  And it was kind of fun.  The second was a lot messier.  I try to stay away from saying a book needed editing, because I’ve no idea how many editing passes a book has had before it’s released, but it did feel like the author had free rein with the story in the second.  And I… still want to read the next book.  Help. 

Books for October

Hard to believe we’re heading into the final stretch of 2014, right?  Part of me hates that it’ll soon be dark by 4pm, I’ve to unearth my winter coats from the depths of my wardrobe, and it’s basically going to be miserably cold for the next few months (though the weekend was practically summer weather – what’s up with that?).  But hey, new books?  That always cheers me up.

October new releases on my radar:

The Understatement of the Year coverSarina Bowen‘s THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR (NA M/M romance): I’ve actually read an ARC of this one already, review coming in the next couple of days.  I’m loving her Harkness College series.

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

Out Oct 1

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16219338Josh Lanyon‘s THE BOY WITH THE PAINFUL TATTOO (M/M romance/mystery): A new Josh Lanyon!  It’s no secret I love his writing – he has a knack for getting feelings into the story so easily.  This is the third book in the Holmes & Moriarity mystery series – it’ll be good to see how Kit’s getting on, insecurities and all.

It’s moving day at Chez Holmes. Somehow, against Kit’s better instincts, he and J.X. are setting up house together. But while J.X. is off at a writing conference, Kit unpacks a crate that should contain either old books or new china. It doesn’t. Within the mounds of green Styrofoam popcorn is a dead body. A very dead body.

There goes the neighborhood.

Out Oct 5

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17340103Jacqueline Carey‘s POISON FRUIT (urban fantasy): Her UF series is starting to grow on me.  They’re no Kushiel books, but they are fun and fast-paced, and I don’t even mind that love triangle thing.

The hot-as-Hel series with the “Sookie Stackhouse type of vibe” (Paranormal Horizon) is back—but this time the paranormal Midwestern town of Pemkowet is feeling a frost in the air and the residents are frozen in fear…

The Pemkowet Visitors Bureau has always promoted paranormal tourism—even if it has downplayed the risks (hobgoblins are unpredictable). It helps that the town is presided over by Daisy Johanssen, who as Hel’s liaison is authorized by the Norse goddess of the dead to keep Pemkowet under control. Normally, that’s easier to do in the winter, when bracing temperatures keep folks indoors.

But a new predator is on the prowl, and this one thrives on nightmares. Daisy is on her trail and working intimately with her partner and sometime lover from the Pemkowet PD, sexy yet unavailable werewolf Cody Fairfax. But even as the creature is racking up innocent victims, a greater danger looms on Pewkowet’s horizon.

As a result of a recent ghost uprising, an unknown adversary—represented by a hell-spawn lawyer with fiery powers of persuasion—has instigated a lawsuit against the town. If Pemkowet loses, Hel’s sovereignty will be jeopardized, and the fate of the eldritch community will be at stake. The only one who can prevent it is Daisy—but she’s going to have to confront her own worst nightmare to do it.

Out Oct 7

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20757528Julie Cross‘s WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU (YA romance): You know how much I loved her LETTERS TO NOWHERE books, right?  Another YA romance from Julie Cross sounds exactly like what I need.

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

Out Oct 7

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20299706Eileen WilksUNBINDING (urban fantasy): Is it just me, or does it feel like ages since the last World of the Lupi novel?

In the newest Novel of the Lupi, the human and elven worlds are both about to come under attack…

After questing through the sidhe realms with her ex-hellhound lover, Nathan, Kai Tallman Michalski has finally returned home. But she knows Nathan will eventually be called back to serve his queen—and Kai will have to decide whether to enter her majesty’s service as well. Sure, the job comes with great bennies, but there’s one big downside: she would have to swear absolute fealty to the Queen of Winter.

For now, though, Kai is glad to be home, and glad that Nathan completed his mission for his queen with surprising ease. But what seemed to be a quick conclusion turns out to be anything but. The two of them helped thwart the sidhe god of chaos—and he is not happy about that. He’s got plans for them. Plans, too, for the sidhe who killed him some three millennia ago. Nor has he abandoned his plans for Earth, as they learn when chaos begins bursting out all over…

Out Oct 7

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21529170KJ CharlesFLIGHT OF MAGPIES (historical M/M romance/fantasy): The last Crane & Stephen!  I’m looking forward to seeing how KJ Charles ends their adventures.

With the justiciary understaffed, a series of horrifying occult murders to be investigated, and a young student who is flying—literally—off the rails, magical law enforcer Stephen Day is under increasing stress. And his relationship with his aristocratic lover, Lord Crane, is beginning to feel the strain.

Crane chafes at the restrictions of England’s laws, and there’s a worrying development in the blood-and-sex bond he shares with Stephen. A development that makes a sensible man question if they should be together at all.

When a thief strikes at the heart of Crane’s home, a devastating loss brings his closest relationships into bitter conflict—especially his relationship with Stephen. And as old enemies, new enemies, and unexpected enemies paint the lovers into a corner, the pressure threatens to tear them apart.

Warning: Contains hot-blooded sex, cold-blooded murder, sinister magical goings-on and a lot of swearing.

Out Oct 28

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20705702Ilona AndrewsBURN FOR ME (paranormal romance): A new series from this writing team.  I’m definitely getting, but as their previous paranormal romance series was a bit hit-or-miss for me, I am not entirely sure whether this one will work for me.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Out Oct 28

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Possibles:

  • FEARSOME MAGICS, edited by Jonathan Strahan (fantasy): I really liked the last anthology he edited (FEARSOME JOURNEYS) and the theme for this one sounds right up my alley.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER IN GROSVENOR SQUARE (historical mystery): I’ve finished all previous eight books in this series (I’ve not been talking very much about them, true), and I’m glad she’s still writing them.
  • MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance): Primarily because it’s edited by Stephanie Perkins, but lots of familiar YA names here, including Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, and Jenny Han (did I mention I loved her TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE?). Slightly offset by the fact I don’t think short stories and romance mix well together, but we’ll see.
  • Sarah Morgan‘s MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS (contemporary romance): I had mixed feelings on the previous two in this series, but I was very intrigued by Tyler, and you know, a Christmas book!

2013: The Summary

Happy New Year!

Here’s my annual wrap-up post for 2013 (2012 summary for comparison) – it’s a long one, so settle in.

My Very Favourite Books of 2013

I’ve felt like this year hasn’t been a fantastic reading year for me in terms of keeper books, and looking back at the list of books I’ve read this year, the number of 5-star reads support that feeling – I’ve only had seven (compared to the usual ten or more) books on this list.  It’s a personal list and I’d be the first to admit that these aren’t necessarily technically perfect, but they’re the stories that just… work for me – I kind of wander around for a few days afterwards just thinking about the world and characters (please say I’m not the only one!).

Interesting (to me, anyway) things about this list

  • They’re all by new-to-me authors, so either my usual favourite authors didn’t wow me with their 2013 books or I had too high expectations for their releases – I suspect the actual answer’s somewhere between the two.
  • Three of them are for the final books in their respective series/trilogies – so if I’m being honest, the 5 stars are really for the series as a whole, as opposed to the book listed here.
  • I’m going old-school with this list – four out of the seven were released prior to 2013 (as you can probably tell by the some of the covers – love them!).

Enough rambling – here are my favourite books of 2013 (in the order in which I read them, more or less):

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Allison Parr‘s RUSH ME (new adult): I actually gave this 4 stars to start off with, but then (a) I kept on thinking about Rachael and Ryan and (b) did a re-read (I usually never do re-reads, much less in the same year), and loved their romance so much that I ended up bumping up my grade.  Escapism romance + messiness of first love/lust + NYC brought to life = keeper.

CS Pacat‘s CAPTIVE PRINCE Vols 1 and 2 (M/M fantasy romance): Listing both together, as they’re two halves of the same book, IMO, though it was really Volume 2 that elevated this series to one of my favourites of the year.  I’m excited that Berkley snapped up these self-pubbed books because it’s an amazing story and deserves a wider audience.  Although be warned, these books aren’t for everyone – they’re certainly trigger-y (at least, the first book is), but that incredibly intriguing Damen/Laurent relationship combined with court intrigue and politics took over my head for a few days, and I cannot wait to see where Volume 3 takes us.

Debra Doyle & James D MacDonald‘s BY HONOR BETRAY’D (SF): I had the first book in the Mageworlds series in my TBR pile forever, and finally got around to reading it – and then promptly glommed the rest of the trilogy.  I’ve a soft spot for space opera in general, but what elevated these books above the rest was the sheer twistiness of plot reveals.  Clever and excellent fun.

PB Ryan‘s A BUCKET OF ASHES (historical mystery): The first book transported me straight into 1860s Boston, and I was immediately hooked on not just the mysteries, but a slow-burning (and surely impossible) romance.  This sixth and final book was the culmination of the series-long romance arc – and PB Ryan totally delivered.

Julie Cross‘s LETTERS TO NOWHERE (YA): I was not expecting to enjoy this YA as much as I did.  The elite gymnastics aspect wasn’t just wallpaper – everything rang true, especially that positive yet competitive friendships which were portrayed to perfection.  Plus sweet romance and feelings that left a lump in your throat.

Kate Elliott‘s JARAN (SF): I’m not sure how I’ve not read this before, but I loved this old-school epic SF/fantasy hybrid, which was the first in the Jaran series.  Not just Tess & Ilya’s relationship (though that obviously kept me up late reading), but this whole foreign world came to life for me.

Martha Wells‘ THE GATE OF GODS (fantasy): This was the final book in her Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy and proved to be one of those unputdownable books for me.  It was the perfect ending to the series, and like JARAN, I was left wondering how I managed to miss out on these books earlier.

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New-to-Me Authors I’m Glad I Read in 2013

Apart from all of those listed above, here are the other new-to-me authors I enjoyed during the year:

SF/F

  • Ankaret Wells: Self-pubbed author, intriguing world-building but plotlines tend to wander on a bit
  • Helen S. Wright: Another old-school space opera gem – I thought A MATTER OF OATHS was lots of fun
  • Marko Kloos: Originally self-pubbed, his military SF novels will be published by Amazon’s 47North in 2014
  • Emma Bull: Only read a short story of hers, but liked it – her WAR FOR THE OAKS is meant to be a UF classic (and is in my TBR!)
  • Katriena Knights: Her UF NECROMANCING NIM was both fast-paced and sexy, and begs for a sequel

Romance

  • Elle Kennedy: Ménage stories are somewhat out of my comfort zone, but she sold me with HOTTER THAN EVER
  • Joanna Chambers: Historical M/M romance that felt authentic, which is a bit of a rarity
  • Alexis Hall: His M/M romance debut GLITTERLAND promises much to look forward to
  • KJ Charles: M/M romance in a historical fantasy setting – I’m looking forward to more in her A Charm of Magpies series

New Adult / Young Adult

  • Scarlett Dawn: I suspect her paranormal Forever Evermore series will be my new guilty pleasure in 2014
  • Diane Stanley: YA-veering-on-MG (or vice versa) fantasy, liked her Silver Bowl books, but thought there was potential for so much more
  • Sherry Thomas: Kind of surprised it took me this long to read one of her books – and also that it was a YA fantasy, not historical romance

Mystery

  • Ashley Gardner: Her Regency-set Captain Lacey series kept me pretty much occupied over October, which leads nicely on to…

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Author Most Glommed in 2013

Apart from the authors in my favourites list (I’m sounding like a broken record, sorry), I read my way through the first six of Ashley Gardner‘s historical mystery books – while these didn’t capture my imagination the way that PB Ryan’s series did, they were solid and showed a different side of London to the more usual glittering balls of the ton (and the first three are available in an e-bundle for £0.77  at the moment – you’re welcome).

I also read five Mary Baloghs (I know, I kept quiet about both of these authors over 2013, didn’t I?), prompted by the 2-in-1 reissues of her backlist.  I’m not yet a Balogh die-hard, but I’m starting to understand why her historical romances are favourites amongst so many readers.

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The Statistics

 


2013 2012 2011 2010 2009
# of books read 150 164 144 141 115
# published during current year 90 (60%) 78 (48%) 73 (51%) 77 (55%) 55 (48%)
# of authors read 100 103 91 88 71
# of new-to-me authors 41 (41%) 31 (30%) 26 (29%) 29 (33%) 22 (30%)
# of library books 14 (9%) 28 (17%) 24 (17%) 20 (14%) n/a
space space space space space space

I’m not surprised my total is down from 2012 – I thought it would be a lot lower, to be honest.  Yay for the number of new-to-me authors I branched out and read this year (and I was obviously rewarded for that, based on my lengthy list above of new-to-me authors I enjoyed) .

I was dreading the library books percentage – I pretty much stopped using my local library during the last quarter of the year.  But I think that was also driven by me reading more digital-only releases and from smaller/indie pubs – I tend to use my library for the higher-profile new releases in hardback (i.e. when I’m not entirely sure I want the book and I know the library will be ordering it), and there was fewer of these in 2013 for me.

Genre-wise, romance and fantasy pretty much made up two-thirds of what I read over 2013 (61 and 44 books respectively) – I suspect there was a fair few books that could fit into either though, bearing in mind they’re two of my favourite genres.

And finally, here’s how the year looked like for me:

2013

And that’s it (I’m glad I only write this once a year)!

I’m still in the process of adding all my 2013 reads onto Goodreads (I’m up to September at the moment), but the full 2013 list will be here once I’m done.