Books for February

It’s (barely) the second week of February, and I have done so much re-reading already.  I’m not a massive re-reader (I seem to have grown out of the habit over the years, as my teenage bookshelves are filled with much-loved and dog-eared paperbacks), but I made an exception for two sequels out this month.

26036399CS Pacat’s KINGS RISING (fantasy M/M romance): I don’t have words to describe how much I was looking forward to the final book in the Captive Prince trilogy.  And I don’t have words to describe how much I loved this book.

A lot of my spare time over the past week was spent re-reading the previous two books (possibly multiple re-reads *clears throat*) in advance of KINGS RISING’s release, and I’m still all about Damen and Laurent and Akielos and Vere right now.  I’ve labelled the subgenre as fantasy romance, but that bland label doesn’t even begin to hint at the political intrigue, the slow unexpected reveals, and the sheer levels of tension (both sexual and otherwise) in these books.  KINGS RISING is the perfect ending to one of my favourite trilogies ever, I think.

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity – can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

Out now

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Layout 1Lois McMaster Bujold’s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (SF): It’s a good thing the e-ARC for this was released back in November, or I’d have really struggled choosing the first February release to read this month.  Despite having the e-version, I’ve splashed out and ordered the signed hardback book as well, because, well, Bujold.

Note SPOILERS in blurb for previous book, which was published four years ago, so I’m guessing the statute of limitations has expired…

Three years after her famous husband’s death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed Vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, Admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he’d never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his life.

Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor’s key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry, into a mystery he never anticipated; his own mother.

Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science-fiction social comedy, as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects, neither is the past.

Out now

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10493755Andrea K Höst’s THE SLEEPING LIFE (fantasy): The reason for the other re-read I’ve done this month.  I am a huge fan of Höst’s writing (understatement alert), and having a new book of hers this month is such a treat.  So obviously, I had to re-read the first Eferum book, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS, in preparation for this release – that was so not a hardship, and I’m kind of tempted to re-read her whole backlist now. 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the re-read for me!

(Oh, and TSL was definitely worth the wait.  What I love about Höst’s books is that her stories always feel fresh and new, and TSL was no exception.  It was interesting to see the aftermath of the events in the first book (both personal and on a larger scale), I enjoyed spending more time with the protagonists in the first book (and meeting new and fascinating characters), and although SGM is a self-contained story, I loved how Höst took the remaining plot strands and spun them neatly into a follow-up.  Really, this was one of the best ways to spend a Sunday.)

Also, 50% off both Eferum books @ Smashwords until 14 February using the coupon codes here.

Fallon DeVries has a sister who lives only in his mind. Paying the price of magic gone wrong, Aurienne is trapped watching a world she cannot touch, only able to communicate with her brother while he sleeps.

And it’s slowly killing him.

Fallon and Auri’s best chance of untangling their lives is to win the help of a mage of unparalleled ability. But how can they ask for help when the warped spell prevents him from speaking?

Besides, Rennyn Claire – once the most powerful mage in the world – is a shadow of her former self: ill, injured and unlikely to recover unless she can hunt down the monster who once tried to make her his slave. But that Wicked Uncle is nowhere to be found, and other dangers, once slumbering dormant, are stirring…

Out now

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27069828Jen Frederick’s JOCKBLOCKED (NA romance): Despite my general lack of sportiness, I love reading sports romances – possibly because characters come to life for me when I can believe that they have passions and interests outside the actual relationship, if that makes sense, and having sports as a backdrop can do the trick.  This was the case with the first Frederick I read, so am looking forward to the second in the series even though I know nothing about American football.

She’s always played it safe…

College junior Lucy Washington abides by one rule—avoid risk at all costs. She’s cautious in every aspect of her life, from her health, to her mock trial team, to the boring guys she dates. When a brash, gorgeous jock walks into the campus coffeeshop and turns his flirt on, Lucy is stunned by the force of attraction. For the first time ever, she’s willing to step out of her comfort zone, but can she really trust the guy who’s determined to sweep her off her feet?

He’s always played around…

Entering his last year of college eligibility, linebacker Matthew “Matty” Iverson has the team captaincy in his sights. And it’s his for the taking, if he can convince his quarterback Ace Anderson to give up the starting position. Luckily, Matty already has an edge—the hottie he’s lusting over just happens to be Ace’s childhood best friend. Getting Lucy on his side and in his bed? Hell yeah. Matty is more than confident he can have both, but when he falls hard for Lucy, it’s time for a new game plan: convince the woman of his dreams that she’s not sleeping with the enemy.

Out Feb 11

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28101707KA Mitchell’s GETTING HIM BACK (NA M/M romance): Possibly KA Mitchell’s first NA?  Though her protagonists tend to skew on the younger side, IIRC.  I usually like her writing, so I’m definitely grabbing this one.  This may be on the short side for a novel though, possibly novella-length.

An unexpected fresh start leads to an unlikely-but-absolutely-perfect pairing in this male/male new-adult novel from bestselling gay romance author K.A. Mitchell

Ethan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but he’s not going to let that stop him from exploring all his new life has to offer. Sex-only hookups, his photography, new friends and a campus-wide game of zombies vs humans all help keep his mind off his broken heart and move him toward building a new, better life without his ex.

And then there’s Wyatt. Mysterious, grouchy—hot. And possibly not gay. But Ethan’s not going to let that stand in the way of figuring out what makes Wyatt tick. New college goal? Get Wyatt into bed and into Ethan’s life.

Step one: arrange a “tutoring” date. Step two: “accidentally” bump into Wyatt as often as possible. Step three: explore the sexy body under that ever-present hoodie. And when their friendship deepens into something neither of them expect, convince Wyatt he’s not just a pity fling or a one-time hookup, but that Ethan is in it for the long haul.

Out Feb 15

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15816410Kalayna Price’s GRAVE VISIONS (UF): The last book in the Alex Craft series came out in 2012, so “much-anticipated” is definitely the right word for this fourth installment.  I was enjoying this UF series a lot, so I’m glad to see GRAVE VISIONS finally make it to print.

Grave Visions by Kalayna Price is the much-anticipated fourth installment in the kick-ass urban fantasy series about Alex Craft, a grave witch who can communicate with the dead.

If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a Grave Witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers, who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But now she’s the one fighting to keep her own secret. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that has surfaced in several of the spaces between the human and fae worlds.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep she loses her freedom.

Out Feb 25 in the UK (out now in the US, I believe)

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And then my maybe (or almost definitely) books – quite a few this month:

  • Kirsty Eagar’s SUMMER SKIN (NA): Only a maybe because of the difficulty in getting Aussie books over here. I really enjoyed her RAW BLUE when I read it back in 2011; SUMMER SKIN sounds just as good.
  • Jacey Bedford’s WINTERWOOD (fantasy): I’ve not read any of Jacey Bedford’s books before (she’s written a couple of SFs, which I’ve been meaning to pick up at some point), but this historical fantasy with a cross-dressing heroine sounds rather fun.
  • Megan Erikson and Santino Hassell’s STRONG SIGNAL (M/M contemporary romance): I’ve heard nothing but good things about Hassell’s writing, and have liked the Erikson NA books that I’ve read.
  • Brandon Sanderson’s CALAMITY (YA fantasy): Sanderson’s YA books are always good for a couple of hours’ entertainment, though I’ll probably get this from the library as I’ve liked but not loved the previous books in this series.
  • Shannon Stacey’s FULLY IGNITED (contemporary romance): I’ve enjoyed the previous books in Stacey’s Boston firefighters series, so I’ll end up buying this at some point.  And I’ve just realised this is Scott’s story, which means “at some point” is sooner rather than later…
  • JL Merrow’s LOVERS LEAP (M/M contemporary romance): Merrow’s books are always so British in feel and have a good dollop of humour to go with the story.  I’m only hesitating over this one as it’s being published by Riptide Publishing, and their prices tend to be higher than other publishers.
  • Rosie Claverton’s CAPTCHA THIEF (mystery): Claverton appears to have had a switch of publishers for this one (the previous two books were published by Carina Press).  I need to finish the second book, but will be getting this at some point.

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 April

Well.

I’m not quite sure where March went.  Or what I was doing.  Not much blogging, that’s for sure.  Not much reading either, I suspect.  Hopefully I break that streak in April.

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17404280Katherine Addison‘s THE GOBLIN EMPEROR (fantasy): I know I was not the only one anticipating this new book from Katherine Addison a.k.a. Sarah Monette, but I was surprised by the flood of (positive) reviews and mentions for this book.  I’m about halfway through and *whispers* it’s kind of living up to the hype.

On a side note, I think the cover is perfect for the book: at first glance, you see a typical fantasy palace – look again, and you see Maia, the (half-)goblin emperor peering out cautiously.  So fitting.

A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

This exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

Out now

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18006456Lynn Flewelling‘s SHARDS OF TIME (fantasy): I’ve a soft spot for this long-running fantasy series (the first book was out in 1996, according to Goodreads) – while I’ve found it uneven in places, I’ll be sad to see the end of the Nightrunner series.

Acclaimed author Lynn Flewelling brings her beloved Nightrunners series to a close—at least for now—with a thrilling novel of murder, mystery, and magic.

The governor of the sacred island of Korous and his mistress have been killed inside a locked and guarded room. The sole witnesses to the crime—guards who broke down the doors, hearing the screams from within—have gone mad with terror, babbling about ghosts . . . and things worse than ghosts.

Dispatched to Korous by the queen, master spies Alec and Seregil find all the excitement and danger they could want—and more. For an ancient evil has been awakened there, a great power that will not rest until it has escaped its otherworldly prison and taken revenge on all that lives. And only those like Alec—who have died and returned to life—can step between the worlds and confront the killer . . . even if it means a second and all too permanent death.

Out now

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18335221Jo Beverley‘s A SHOCKING DELIGHT (historical romance): Jo Beverley is an autobuy author for me, and this is her latest Company of Rogues regency. ‘Nuff said.

The man she shouldn’t want. The woman he shouldn’t marry…

David Kerslake, smuggling master from The Dragon’s Bride, is now Earl of Wyvern and must survive the ton as well as the Preventive Officers.

Lucy Potter, daughter of a wealthy merchant, is more interested in trade than in the men after her dowry. When forced to have a London season, she sets out to enjoy herself rather than to find a husband. But once she meets the notorious Earl of Wyvern, her resolve weakens, and when they kiss, it dissolves—even though her instincts warn he’s dangerous.

Wyvern has a dark secret, which means he must win a rich bride. Lucinda Potter seems ideal. Not for her beauty and her lively charm, but because at first meeting she seems unlikely to realize the truth.

As he comes to know her, however, as they spar and kiss, he realizes she’s too clever and honest by far. Marrying Lucy would mean living a lie with the woman he has come to love…

Out now

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20645592Allison Parr‘s IMAGINARY LINES (NA romance): I loved Allison Parr’s writing almost from the first page of her debut, RUSH ME, so I’m really looking forward to reading the latest in her New York Leopards series.

Also worth noting is that Carina Press is going after the sports romance niche in their April 14 release week – so other books I’m eyeing are Rebecca Crowley‘s LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS (obviously – it’s tennis!) and Kate Willoughby‘s ON THE SURFACE (hockey).  And I already have the first Kat Latham book (rugby) – just need the time to read it…

Side-note: Was 2013 the year New Adult officially became a proper genre?

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Out April 14

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18742420KA Mitchell‘s BAD INFLUENCE (m/m romance): Is it just me or has it been ages since the last KA Mitchell release?  She’s another autobuy of mine, so despite me not loving the previous books in this (loosely-related) series, I’m still buying.

The young man the world knew as Jordan Barnett is dead, killed as much by the rejection of his first love at his moment of greatest need, as by his ultra-conservative parents’ effort to deprogram the gay away.

In his place is Silver, a streetwise survivor who’s spent the last three years learning to become untouchable…unless you’re willing to pay for the privilege. He shies away from anything that might hold him down long enough for betrayal to find him again.

Zebediah Harris spent time overseas, trying to outrun the guilt of turning his back on the young man he loved. Now, almost the moment he sets foot back in Baltimore, he discovers Silver on a street corner in a bad part of town. His effort to make amends lands them both in jail.

Trapped together in a cell, Silver sits on his mountain of secrets and plans a seductive form of revenge, but finds that using a heart as a stepping stone is no way to move past the one man he can’t forgive, let alone forget.

Warning: Contains a surly hero. May cause angst. A prolonged delay in sexual situations may cause frustration. Author recommends a steady dose of familiar friends and characters to alleviate those symptoms. No actual teenagers were used during the construction of the backstory.

Out April 15

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20504851KJ CharlesNON-STOP TILL TOKYO (romantic suspense): KJ Charles is probably better known for her A Charm of Magpies series (that would be in the historical/paranormal/mystery/m/m romance sub-genre – not as much a niche as you’d think…), so this looks like a new direction for her.  Having loved her writing in those aforementioned books, I’m looking forward to reading this.

A man with a past is her only hope for the future.

Kerry Ekdahl’s mixed heritage and linguistics skills could have made her a corporate star. Instead, she’s a hostess in a high-end Tokyo bar, catering to businessmen who want conversation, translation and flirtation. Easy money, no stress. Life is good—until she’s framed for the murder of a yakuza boss.

Trapped in rural Japan with the gangsters closing in, Kerry doesn’t stand a chance. Then help arrives in the menacing form of Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude, a lot of secrets, and a mission she doesn’t understand.

Kerry doesn’t get involved with dangerous men. Then again, she’s never had one on her side before. And the big, taciturn fighter seems determined to save her life, even if they rub each other the wrong way.

Then her friends are threatened, and Kerry has no choice but to return to Tokyo and face the yakuza. Where she learns, too late, that the muscle man who’s got her back could be poised to stab it.

Out April 29

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Other April new releases I want to read, but probably via the library:

  • GAMES CREATURES PLAY, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner (urban fantasy): Their annual(?) anthology outing – a library book for me, as their previous anthologies tend to be more miss than hit for me.  But I still want to read the Mercedes Lackey, Seanan McGuire, and Brandon Sanderson contributions in this one.
  • Laini Taylor‘s DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS (YA fantasy): Despite the overwhelming love out there for this series, it’s never quite clicked for me.  I’ll still read this final book to find out how it all ends.

New Year, New Links

Recent links that have caught my eye:

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Ack – And a Couple of Links

I am so bad at remembering to return library books on time.  Which means it is probably a good thing I don’t borrow that many.  I’ve managed to renew one online, but someone else has put a hold on the second so I will have to cough up 10p tomorrow.  If I remember to bring it when I go out tomorrow.

Anyway, a couple of links of interest:

Borders have started what they are rather misleadingly calling an SF blog, Babel Clash.  I say misleading because the recent two contributors are Brandon Sanderson and Kim Harrison, both of whom write fantasy.

Speaking of Kim Harrison, she has formally confirmed she also writes as Dawn Cook in the May Locus magazine (which is billed as their urban fantasy issue).  I don’t think the magazine is distributed overseas, but there are some excerpts from her interview here

I have heard (and mentioned) the rumour that this was the case, but it has never been confirmed before.  I’m slightly surprised that she’s waited so long to come out, so to speak – there are so many authors out there who write under different pseudonyms (and don’t hide that fact) that it’s not really an issue at all. 

The magazine also has an interview with Patricia Briggs – again excerpts here.  There is an interesting quote when she talks about what she perceives as the difference between paranormal romance and urban fantasy:

You could take the romance out of any of my books and still have a book, with a plot and characters and things, but if you took magic out the book would fall apart. That’s the big difference between the paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

To me, that’s an interesting way of differentiating between the two.  I would say, though, that I’m not sure I would be such a big fan of her Mercy Thompson books if she took the romance – and romantic tension – out of her books, because they’re part of the reason I love the series so much.  Then again, that’s probably the romance fangirl in me.

Marjorie Liu is another author featured in the May issue, by the way.  It definitely sounds like a good one – has anyone read the full magazine?

Books for June

I’m v excited about some new releases due out this month.

First up is Jacqueline Carey‘s “Kushiel’s Mercy” (dark fantasy):  This completes the Imriel trilogy (previous books are “Kushiel’s Scion” and “Kushiel’s Justice”).  I admit I had doubts about Imriel as the protagonist for this trilogy, but they quickly faded as soon as I read the first book.  I can’t wait to see how she finishes off his story.

Excerpt here – warning: contains big spoiler for second book if you haven’t yet read it (out June 12)

 

Then there’s Diana Peterfreund‘s “Rites of Spring (Break)” (YA):  I read the first book in this series, “Secret Society Girl”, a couple of weeks back and immediately had a bit of a fan-girl squee about it.  I more or less zoomed through the second book (“Under the Rose”), and while I didn’t rate it as highly as the former (minor gripes – firstly, the novelty has worn off slightly, and secondly, I think there was more telling than showing), I still love the world Ms Peterfreund has created.  I can’t wait to read the third.  And surely she’s not teasing about the possible romance?

Excerpt here (out June 24)

 

Next is Lynn Flewelling‘s “Shadows Return” (fantasy):  I didn’t expect she would ever return to her her Nightrunners world, but am happy to be proven wrong!  This is the fourth book in the series (and her website says a fifth is scheduled for next year – yay!).  Okay, bear with me because it’s been a while since I’ve read them and my memory’s a bit sketchy, but these books basically revolve around the adventures of noble-cum-spy Seregil and his former-apprentice-now-lover Alec.  Think “saving the kingdom”-type fantasy.  Ms Flewelling writes a good story.

Various excerpts on Ms Flewelling’s Livejournal (out June 24)

 

Brandon Sanderson‘s “Mistborn: The Well of Ascension” (fantasy):  I am trying to rein in my spending (honest!), so I’ve been waiting for the paperback release of this book.  It’s the second in the Mistborn trilogy, which is a fantasy with an interesting almost-scientific magic system.  I did like the first book, and I’m impressed that I refrained from buying the hardcover.   I probably shouldn’t pat myself on the back yet though, because the third book “Mistborn: The Final Empire” is also out this month… (edited to correct: M:TFE is a re-release of the first book, the third book is out in October, which will help my wallet – thanks La Plume for the info!).

Excerpts and other bonus information here

 

And then there’s Janet Evanovich‘s “Fearless Fourteen” (mystery):  No, I haven’t yet managed to wean myself off Stephanie Plum (though I haven’t bought the St Patrick’s Day novella – it’s a step in the right direction, isn’t it?).  Despite the fact the Stephanie-Morelli-Ranger love triangle never goes anywhere (I’m a Morelli girl myself), I’m still a Plum addict.  It’s the offbeat humour that pulls me in – I almost always have at least one laugh-out-loud moment when reading Stephanie Plum.  I say “almost” because I thought the last book was actually a bit of a letdown.  So while I definitely am getting FF, it had better be good.

Excerpt here (out June 17)

 

Umm… and a maybe for Tanya Huff‘s “Heart of Valor” (military SF) – that’s Book 3 in the Confederation series.  But – and I know this sounds terrible – I can’t remember if I’ve already read it.  Arrrghhh.  I need to go and read a few pages in the bookstore.

Quickies

In an attempt to get on top of the books I’ve read in the past couple of months, here are some quick reviews of books I’ve enjoyed recently:

21mhyl5v2b5l__aa_sl160_.jpg“Mirror Prince” by Violette Malan (fantasy) – An impulse buy for me, I was drawn in by the Charlaine Harris blurb on the cover!  The plot?  The hero thinks he’s human, but he’s actually a prince exiled from Faerie, and his enemies are after him.  And without giving too much away, yes, there’s a love interest.

I thought the prologue was slightly disconnected from the main story – in fact, I picked this book up a few times, but never got past the first few pages.  Once I got past the slow start though, I was drawn into the story – I wanted to know how it would end.  It works as a standalone book, though there are hints of a sequel, and Ms Malan creates an interesting fantasy world.  The not-so-great bits:  I would have liked more character development – the characters never really came *alive* to me; and their names… aarrghhh.  Each character has two names, and keeping them straight was a nightmare.  Having said that though, it was a great debut novel and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for other books by this author.  Grade: B-

21j38ns2bvfl__aa_sl160_.jpg“Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson (fantasy) – This is a heist-style story set in a fantasy world with lots of political intrigue.  I loved the creative magical system in this book – magic is based on metals, and Mr Sanderson has an almost scientific approach to it (in a good way!).  Well-developed characters and great action scenes as well.  I didn’t like the random POVs he started introducing towards the end of the book, but according to his annotations (excellent btw – I read them after I finished the book, and thought it was a fantastic behind-the-scenes type bonus), he used them purposefully to introduce a sense of climax and chaos.  I’m still not entirely sure if it worked, but I did enjoy this book and will get the next one in this trilogy.  Grade: B+

21a5egw6lzl__aa_sl160_.jpg“An Affair Before Christmas” by Eloisa James (historical romance) – I’m a big Eloisa James fan, and well, I loved this.  It’s the second book in her “Desperate Duchesses” series.  This actually sat in my TBR pile for quite a bit – it came out early Nov, IIRC, but I only read it over Christmas.  In a way, I’m glad I waited for Christmas because it’s a nice and Christmassy book!  It’s a marriage-in-trouble setting – some may say a rather contrived problem.  So while I do like stories that focus on what happens *after* the wedding, this was probably the main reason I didn’t read it earlier – I was thinking “oh, no, it’s going to be boring!”.  It wasn’t, and this is one of the things I love about Ms James’ books – that she can take storylines that have been used a million times and make them her own.

I also loved the setting – I’m a sucker for Georgian settings and I thought the decadence and lushness of this era was conveyed better than the previous book, IMHO.  Also realistic, especially on the major beehives they wore back then!  To me, this book was classic Eloisa James – beautiful writing, sizzling sex scenes, and yes, a large cast of characters.  Now I like the ensemble-cast books – I love the fact that we get to know not just the main h/h, but everyone else as well – but I know it’s not to everyone’s taste.  I think I compared the Duke of Villiers unfavourably with Georgette Heyer’s Duke of Avon in the last book – this time around, I’m happy to say I wasn’t tempted to compare the two at all!  He definitely came into his own in this book and had quite a lot of page time.

In a way, Ms James reminds me of Suzanne Brockmann – the way she drags out this overall plot arc over the whole series.  I wonder when she’s going to write Jemma and Elijah’s story (and I really hope they end up together).  A keeper for me and I *want* the rest in this series.  Grade: A

So much for my August books

After listing all the books I want this month, I stopped by the bookstores today and couldn’t find a single one.  Yes, I know it is only the 5th of August, and most of them are coming out later in the month – but you know, wishful thinking…

Though I did see both Lois McMaster Bujold’s “The Sharing Knife: Legacy” and Julia Quinn’s “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” – both of which I cannot buy because I’ve ordered it from Amazon.  Aarrgghhh.  Especially since the only reason I ordered them from Amazon was that I couldn’t find them in the shops.  Double aaarrgghhh.  And it always always happens this way.  Ordering a book from Amazon is almost a guarantee I’ll see it the next time I go to the bookstore.

I didn’t leave empty-handed though (err… not that I usually do).  I picked up three books:

21j38ns2bvfl__aa_sl160_.jpgBrandon Sanderson‘s “Mistborn” – First in a fantasy trilogy.  I’ve been meaning to get this ever since I read his debut novel “Elantris”, which I really liked.  I forgot this was coming out in mass-market this month, so it was a pleasant surprise to see this sitting in the New Releases section.  There is actually a back cover blurb from Romantic Times (“An exceedingly satisfying book!”), so I’m guessing there is some romance in here as well.

21fvdx2y0dl__aa_sl160_.jpgLisa Cach‘s “A Babe in Ghostland” – Paranormal romance, ummm… I’m guessing almost chick-lit based on the cover?  Not normally the kind of book I’d pick up, but Rosario has been really liking it, and the first few pages I read in the store intrigued me.

21scz5daanl__aa_sl160_.jpgLisa Shearin‘s “Magic Lost, Trouble Found” – Fantasy.  I think this is her first novel.  And I err… liked the cover.  No, really, that wasn’t the whole reason I bought it – I think I’ve read an interview with her somewhere and she talked about why she renamed her book.  One sec – off to Google…  Yes, the original title was “Thief of Souls”, which rings a bell – I think she said that she was advised to change that to something lighter to suit the feel of the books more.  Or I be completely making that up because I really can’t find the original site.  Anyway, it sounds interesting – the heroine is a sorceress with the ability to find things, hence the title.  Her website has an excerpt.