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.

Books for October

I am loving the October new releases.

23734628Rainbow Rowell‘s CARRY ON (YA fantasy): Rainbow Rowell’s novels have been a bit hit-or-miss with me, but I adored her FANGIRL and was obviously going to read CARRY ON as soon as it was released.  (For those who haven’t read FANGIRL, CARRY ON is basically set in the universe that Cath, the main protaganist in FANGIRL, was writing fanfic in.  Very meta.)

And then I completely forgot about CARRY ON’s release date (it’s been one of those weeks) until it appeared on my Kindle – that seriously made my day.  Yes, I’ve read it.  So many thoughts, but main ones being: (1) I think you pretty much have to read FANGIRL first, else you’d be constantly wondering where the first five (or so) books are (2) It’s Rowell’s take on the Chosen One trope, and I love what she did with it (3) It’s so British that I was seriously wondering how I missed the fact Rowell was British* before (she references Ant and Dec!).

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

*Ummm… she isn’t.

Out now

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24611981Tanya Huff‘s AN ANCIENT PEACE (SF): I pretty much read anything Tanya Huff writes, which is good as she’s one of those incredibly versatile writers who can switch between genres with ease.  And does.  This time, it’s SF and back to her Confederation world.  It’s been a while.

The first book of a thrilling new military science fiction spin-off of Tanya Huff’s Confederation series.

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. But when she learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting, she left the military for good.

But Torin couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, she drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. Torin just hoped the one they were about to embark on wouldn’t be the death of them.

Ancient H’san grave goods are showing up on the black market—grave goods from just before the formation of the Confederation, when the H’san gave up war and buried their planet-destroying weapons…as grave goods for the death of war. Someone is searching for these weapons and they’re very close to finding them. As the Elder Races have turned away from war, those searchers can only be members of the Younger Races.

Fortunately, only the Corps Intelligence Service has this information. Unfortunately, they can do nothing about it—bound by laws of full disclosure, their every move is monitored.

Though Torin Kerr and her team are no longer a part of the military, the six of them tackling the H’san defenses and the lethally armed grave robbers are the only chance the Confederation has. The only chance to avoid millions more dead.

But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder Races and the Younger, the more she begins to fear war might be an unavoidable result.

Out now

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25357539Sarina Bowen‘s THE FIFTEENTH MINUTE (NA romance): Speaking of auto-buy authors, I cannot wait to read Sarina Bowen’s latest Ivy Years book.  Lianne was a pretty intriguing character in the previous book.

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

Out October 13

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17410991Sherry Thomas‘s THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS (YA fantasy): Sherry Thomas wraps up her YA fantasy trilogy (as an aside, she had the best covers for this series), so I obviously need to know how it all ends.  I haven’t loved the insta-love aspect of these books, but the adventure, yes.

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort….

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

Out Oct 13

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25494249Carla Kelly‘s CHRISTMAS EVE PROPOSAL (historical romance): I think this is a new Carla Kelly, but don’t hold me to it.  It’s a Harlequin Historical omnibus called IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS, and she’s listed as one of the contributors.  Possibly a novella?  Anyone know anything?

THREE HEARTWARMING REGENCY TALES OF CHRISTMASES GONE BY!

CHRISTMAS EVE PROPOSAL by Carla Kelly

Christmas gets more interesting when sailing master Ben Muir takes lodgings with Mandy Mathison! Because when her scandalous past is revealed, only he can save her future…

THE VISCOUNT’S CHRISTMAS KISS by Georgie Lee

Lily Rutherford is shocked to learn the man who snubbed her years before will be staying for Christmas. Can she forgive the viscount in time for a stolen kiss under the mistletoe?

WALLFLOWER, WIDOW…WIFE! by Ann Lethbridge

Penniless widow Cassandra Norton faces Christmas on the run with her two stepdaughters, until Adam Royston sweeps her off her feet and into his country estate!

Out Oct 20

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24431358Lisa Kleypas‘s COLD-HEARTED RAKE (historical romance): How long has it been since we could mention “Lisa Kleypas” and “new historical” in the same sentence?  I’m hoping her historicals are as good as I remember…

A twist of fate…

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills…

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

Out Oct 27

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So that’s me – have I missed any of your must-read new releases?

Books for May

Quite a few May new releases on my radar this month (though having read through my list, it sounds like I’m not 100% sold on any of them – I am, really!):

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17666976Seanan McGuire‘s SPARROW HILL ROAD (fantasy):  I’m approaching this with slight caution, as her non-October Daye books have been a bit hit or miss for me, and I’m not a fan of ghost stories in general, but still, it is Seanan McGuire.  I’m expecting impressive world-building and a page-turning kind of story.

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Out now

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17936925Tammara Webber‘s BREAKABLE (NA romance): I’ve been on the fence about this retelling of EASY from Lucas’s POV – while I liked EASY well enough, I don’t really get different POV retellings (which appears to be a bit of a trend in the NA world – or am I generalising?).  But Tammara Webber is on that list of authors I stalk (not literally, and definitely not in a creepy way, I hasten to add) and I’m pretty sure Jane @ Dear Author tweeted this was a good one, so it’s on my Kindle.

He was lost and alone. Then he found her.
And the future seemed more fragile than ever.

As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.

All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…

As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

Out now

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20309995Joanna ChambersENLIGHTENED (historical m/m romance): This is the last of the trilogy – the previous books have ended with HFNs, so a HEA is well overdue… I usually struggle with historical realities when it comes to m/m romance, but I’ve felt that Joanna Chambers has got just the right balance between portraying social constraints of the times and giving the reader a believable romance.  Plus previous books have been set in Edinburgh, a bit of a change to the more usual London.

Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.

Out now

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20738173Josh Lanyon‘s STRANGER ON THE SHORE (m/m romance/mystery): Josh Lanyon is an autobuy for me, especially with his more  recent infrequent release schedule, so I’ve already bought AND read this.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me – the romance certainly did, especially when the h/h were on-page together, but that didn’t really happen until later in the book.  The mystery… started off strong and fizzled out towards the end, plus there were elements that felt out of place.  Still a decent read, but probably not a one I’ll recommend for someone new to Lanyon.

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

Out now

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19486421Jim Butcher‘s SKIN GAME (UF): It’s hard to believe this is the 15th Dresden Files book, and the series is still going strong.  I’ve to say the major twist Jim Butcher introduced a few books back has made this series feel fresh again, so it’ll be interesting to see how Harry’s getting on in this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…

Out May 27

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16156357Richelle Mead‘s THE IMMORTAL CROWN (fantasy?): It’s fair to say I was very surprised to see the cover of this one – it’s quite a departure to the cover of the first book, and I’m wondering if the redesign is to attract more of Richelle Mead’s core YA UF audience.  Speculation aside, I reviewed the first Age of X book when it came out last year, and while it took me a while to get into the story, I was impressed by the ambitious world-building – it’ll be interesting to see how she develops it in this book.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Out May 29

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Possibles:

 

Books for March

I was debating between posting the March new releases I wanted and clearing out my “links that caught my eye” file.  The post title is probably a dead giveaway, but I figured the links would keep and I’m loving my new releases list this month.  Never say I don’t make the big decisions…

Onto the March releases:

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17563080Anne Bishop‘s MURDER OF CROWS (fantasy): So many people have already mentioned that the sequel to WRITTEN IN RED is out this month – and yes, it’s at the top of my to-buy list.  I have to say that as much as I enjoyed the first book, I was surprised by how many people mentioned WRITTEN IN RED in their Best of 2013 round-ups. It feels that Anne Bishop is getting a bit more air time for this series compared to her last major series, the Black Jewels books – possibly because it’s more accessible fantasy?

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Out March 4

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17667009Seanan McGuire‘s HALF OFF RAGNAROK (UF): I’m hoping this book in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series is when it finally starts to click for me.  Don’t get me wrong – the previous two books were lots of fun with that trademark in-depth world-building of McGuire’s… it’s just that they’re just missing the heart which I know she can deliver. New book, new protagonist, new start?

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

Out March 4

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night broken_front mech.inddPatricia BriggsNIGHT BROKEN (UF): The new Mercy Thompson installment!  I sometimes feel the Mercy books suffer from being released so early in the year that they don’t really stand out when I look back at all the books I read during that year. Nevertheless, I always look forward to a new Briggs – this time round, it sounds as though Mercy and Adam’s relationship takes centre-stage, which promises to be good as Patricia Briggs excels at relationships.

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Out March 11

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18689477Carla Kelly‘s THE WEDDING RING QUEST (historical romance): Carla Kelly is one of those historical romance authors that has a knack for evoking the feel of the period so perfectly – no wallpaper historicals here. She also excels at writing military (or ex-military in this case) men – she doesn’t romanticise war nor does she shy away from portraying both direct and indirect after-effects, but she always manages to infuse her stories with hope and humanity.

Searching for a ring…finding a family!

Penniless Mary Rennie knows she’s lucky to have a home with relatives in Edinburgh, but she does crave more excitement in her life. So when her cousin’s ring is lost in one of several fruitcakes heading around the country as gifts, Mary seizes the chance for adventure.

When widowed captain Ross Rennie and his son meet Mary in a coaching inn, they take her under their wing. After years of battling Napoleon, Ross’s soul is war weary, but Mary’s warmth and humor touch him deep inside. Soon, he’s in the most heart-stopping situation of his life— considering a wedding-ring quest of his own!

Out March 18

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18590125Julie Cross‘s THIRD DEGREE (new adult): I loved Julie Cross’s YA LETTERS TO NOWHERE – of course I’m giving her NA debut a go.  She wrote an interesting blog post about the “rules” of NA, and we had an exchange of comments which makes me even more curious to see her take on NA.

I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.

But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.

Out March 25

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18052956Eloisa JamesTHREE WEEKS WITH LADY X (historical romance): I… can’t even. So you may recall way back in the days, I loved Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses series (when I talked about them every other month or so?). And then she went off and did her historical fairy tale retellings – which were fine (and okay, I may have really liked a couple), but really, I preferred her Georgian-set historicals. And now she’s revisiting that world with the son of the Duke of Villiers (who pretty much carried that entire Desperate Duchesses series)… well, yes, I’m very definitely getting this (and you’ll probably see a post from me in a few months’ time cursing that sky-high expectations thing).

Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.

Exquisite, head-strong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.

But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.

Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option.

But there is only one thing that will make India his—the one thing Thorn can’t afford to lose…

His fierce and lawless heart.

Out March 25

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And if that’s not enough, a couple of other books on my radar:

  • Diana Peterfreund did a cover reveal for this NASabrina Bowen‘s THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN (out March 17).  Any book that remotely references Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series catches my attention – yes, I’m easy like that.
  • Teresa Grant‘s Malcolm & Suzanne books are always good if you’re in the mood for proper historical intrigue (though I admit they are twisty to the extent that my head sometimes hurts trying to figure out what’s happening) – THE BERKELEY SQUARE AFFAIR (out March 25) promises to deliver the more of the same (plus really pretty cover!)

Books for April

First up, Andrea K Höst‘s YA fantasy HUNTING is out (yes, the book that I’ve been going on about for the past couple of months) – with a Smashwords 50% off coupon valid until 12 April (bonus: Smashwords allows you to download your ebook in multiple formats).  I’m really enjoying HUNTING as it happens to have a lot of my favourite themes (girl-in-disguise, academy-type setting) wrapped up in a murder mystery with a sprinkling of romance… but then you wouldn’t really expect anything else, would you?

On to April new releases…

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15998118Sophie Kinsella‘s WEDDING NIGHT (contemporary romance): I never thought I’d be looking forward to a Kinsella book (I think I’d filed her and her Shopaholic novels under chick-lit, which doesn’t often work for me), but after unexpectedly enjoying her 2012 release I’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER, I’m definitely planning on reading this.

Lottie is tired of long-term boyfriends who don’t want to commit to marriage. When her old boyfriend Ben reappears and reminds her of their pact to get married if they were both still single at thirty, she jumps at the chance. There will be no dates and no engagement—just a straight wedding march to the altar! Next comes the honeymoon on the Greek island where they first met. But not everyone is thrilled with Lottie and Ben’s rushed marriage, and family and friends are determined to intervene. Will Lottie and Ben have a wedding night to remember or one to forget?

Out April 23

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16006196KA Mitchell‘s BAD ATTITUDE (m/m romance): KA Mitchell’s recent releases have been a bit uneven for me.  But you know, KA Mitchell.  I’ve certainly still giving this a go.

As the openly gay middle son of the most powerful family between Manhattan and Miami, Gavin Montgomery knows his role—look good in a tuxedo and don’t make waves.

Waves are the least of his worries when he tries and fails to keep a friend from jumping off a high bridge. His last thought as he falls in too is that someone else will have to take over as family disappointment…until he’s pulled from the water by a man with an iron grip, a sexy mouth and a chip on his shoulder the size of the national deficit.

Police rescue diver Jamie Donnigan finally has life the way he wants it. Okay, he could have done without losing his father, quitting smoking and watching his friends drift into couplehood. At least he’s managed to escape that particular trap.

When Gavin’s father turns Jamie’s routine rescue into a media circus, he figures if he’s going to suffer for his good deed, he might as well enjoy a roll in the sack. But Jamie’s not immune to Gavin’s cultivated charm…and all the risks that come along with giving in to it.

Warning: Includes above the recommended daily allowance for snark, attitude, stubbornness and a variety of scorching hot sex (even for this author).

Out April 23

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15703332Jaclyn Moriarty‘s A CORNER OF WHITE (YA fantasy):  I fell in love with Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield Australian YA novels, not least because she pulled off the epistolary-style delivery beautifully, so I’m looking forward to reading her new series.  Which sounds very different to the Ashbury/Brookfield books, but hopefully just different-different (as opposed to different-bad).

The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty!

This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world).

Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth.

As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses…

Out now

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16160071Carla Kelly‘s HER HESITANT HEART (historical romance): If you read Carla Kelly’s blog, you’ll know she gripes a lot about the covers and titles that Harlequin give her.  This time around, I don’t think she has anything to complain about.

Tired and hungry after two days of traveling, Susanna Hopkins is just about at the end of her tether when her train finally arrives in Cheyenne. She’s bound for a new life in a Western garrison town. Then she discovers she doesn’t even have enough money to pay for the stagecoach! Luckily for her, the compassionate Major Joseph Randolph is heading in the same direction.

As a military surgeon, Joe is used to keeping his professional distance. But, despite Susanna’s understated beauty, he’s drawn to this woman who carries loss and pain equal to his own and has a heart that is just as hesitant and wary…

Out April 23

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12905418Suzanne Brockmann‘s HEADED FOR TROUBLE (romantic suspense): I’ve a soft spot for her Troubleshooters books, so will most likely be getting this (I’m pretty sure this is a mixture of previously-published and new short stories).  Speaking of these books, Suzanne Brockmann mentions she’s working on a trilogy related to her Troubleshooters series in her latest newsletter (sorry, can’t find it online) – does that mean her paranormal/futuristic suspense series is on hold?  I didn’t care for the first book, FWIW.

New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann, whom USA Today calls “the reigning queen of military suspense,” breaks out a rapid-fire collection of pulse-pounding, heart-tugging stories and novellas featuring the intrepid men and women of Troubleshooters Inc., fiction’s hottest ultimate counterterrorism squad.

• Tough-as-nails Troubleshooters operative Sam Starrett learns the agony of loving someone in danger—and the hell of waiting on the home front—as his wife, Alyssa, hurtles into a foreign hotspot that’s about to boil over.

• Navy SEAL Frank O’Leary’s ill-fated holiday reunion with his older brother takes a turn for the better—when a chance encounter on a rainy New Orleans street gives Frank a reason to be thankful after all.

• In a maze of tunnels deep beneath a military base in Germany, Jules Cassidy, Alyssa Locke, and their comrades in arms match wits with terrorists on a mission with explosive consequences.

Plus more never-before-released adventures featuring Jenk, Izzy, Gillman, Lopez, Kenny, Savannah, and other members of SEAL Team 16—along with Suzanne Brockmann’s exclusive interviews with her beloved characters.

Looking for the best kind of trouble? You’ve found it!

Out April 30

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16074560Deanna Raybourn‘s A SPEAR OF SUMMER GRASS (historical romance): I am a bit on the fence about this because of mixed reviews, but I have the prequel novella “Far in the Wilds” on my Kindle, so will read that before deciding one way or other.

Paris, 1923

The daughter of a scandalous mother, Delilah Drummond is already notorious, even amongst Paris society. But her latest scandal is big enough to make even her oft-married mother blanch. Delilah is exiled to Kenya and her favorite stepfather’s savannah manor house until gossip subsides.

Fairlight is the crumbling, sun-bleached skeleton of a faded African dream, a world where dissolute expats are bolstered by gin and jazz records, cigarettes and safaris. As mistress of this wasted estate, Delilah falls into the decadent pleasures of society.

Against the frivolity of her peers, Ryder White stands in sharp contrast. As foreign to Delilah as Africa, Ryder becomes her guide to the complex beauty of this unknown world. Giraffes, buffalo, lions and elephants roam the shores of Lake Wanyama amid swirls of red dust. Here, life is lush and teeming-yet fleeting and often cheap.

Amidst the wonders-and dangers-of Africa, Delilah awakes to a land out of all proportion: extremes of heat, darkness, beauty and joy that cut to her very heart. Only when this sacred place is profaned by bloodshed does Delilah discover what is truly worth fighting for-and what she can no longer live without.

Mini-Reviews: Carla Kellys and New-to-Me Authors

More reviews originally posted on Goodreads (maybe I should speed up my cross-postings?) – as always, my in-hindsight-type comments in italics.  This time, a batch of Christmas-themed Carla Kellys and new-to-me authors from December 2011.

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Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a BedComing Home for Christmas: A Christmas in Paradise\O Christmas Tree\No Crib for a Bed by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this collection very much – it left me with warm fuzzy feelings (and slightly teary-eyed a couple of times throughout), and I would totally recommend it for anyone who wants to get into the Christmas mood (yes, I read this in December!).

I remain impressed at how versatile Carla Kelly’s writing is – each story was set in a different time period and location – and I loved the medical focus in this collection. I would have liked more to have been made of the family relationship that linked the three stories, but really, that’s just me being picky.

It’s rare I read newly-released Carla Kellys – for some reason, I tend to read from her backlist more, but this was (at that time) a new collection.  Beautiful Harlequin cover too.

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Carla Kelly's Christmas CollectionCarla Kelly’s Christmas Collection by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely collection of Carla Kelly’s previously-published short stories in various Christmas anthologies. Not many authors can do short stories that leave you feeling satisfied, but she appears to have a knack for it. This also reminded me of how much I like her depiction of historical wartime romances – realistic yet romantic.

I think I had a couple of the short stories in the original anthologies, but I was more than happy to re-read.  

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Marian's Christmas WishMarian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This had a lot more story than I expected – in a good way! I really liked this book.

The large age gap between the h/h bothered me slightly at first – or perhaps it was the age of the heroine (16 going on 17) – but I ended up going with it eventually, especially as you do see Marian mature throughout the book. I loved the close relationship between Marian and her siblings as well.

A really wonderful Christmas romance – one that leaves you with that feel-good feeling.

And I wrapped up my Carla Kelly mini-glom with this book – she’s been releasing a lot of her backlist in e, and they are usually well worth the money.

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Stand-In WifeStand-In Wife by Karina Bliss (series romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Karina Bliss – I’ve heard good things about her writing and I ended up really liking this book.

This was a twins/swapped identities storyline, which is always fun, and I totally believed in the relationship between Viv and Ross. I have to say I didn’t really care for the secondary romance (or should that be the secondary h/h?) in the book.

All in all though, a really good romance and I look forward to reading the other two related books.

I had completely forgotten about this mini-series. Must pick up again, especially as I’ve a sneaky suspicion I did end up buying more Karina Bliss after reading this book. 

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Point of Honour (Sarah Tolerance, #1)Point of Honour by Madeleine E. Robins (alternate-history mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an impulse buy, which turned out to be a rather enjoyable historical mystery.

The writing quickly took me back to the British regency era, albeit a slightly alternate-history version, with a protagonist, who, as a “Fallen Woman” now making her way as a private inquiry agent, provides an unusual viewpoint. While I haven’t completely warmed to Sarah Tolerance, I have a feeling I will in future books, and hopefully more about her past will be revealed.

I liked the London backdrop very much – being familiar with the places and streets mentioned, I found it fascinating to try and reconcile the Cheapside and Bow Lane as described in the book to their present-day incarnations. As for the mystery, I figured out one twist and was feeling quite smug – until the next one caught me by surprise.

Good read and I would look up the next books in this series – there is potential here.

I need to revisit this series as well.  I didn’t get around to reading the second book because I couldn’t find e-copies at a reasonable price, IIRC.

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Master of None (Gavyn Donatti, #1)Master of None by Sonya Bateman (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This debut book with djinns (one of the rarer paranormal creature sightings in UF) was packed full of fast-paced (if slightly gory) action, and it kept my attention throughout.

I found this slightly reminiscent of Jim Butcher‘s Harry Dresden books (or is that because it’s a wisecracking male protagonist in a UF book?). While a few things didn’t quite work for me (the rather confusing background to the conflicts (I skimmed), [spoiler – click through to read], and the slightly-too-neat wrap-up (and setup for the next books)), I’d still pick up the next book.

And three for three.  I never did get around to picking up the next book.  Although having just looked the author up, it looks as though there were only ever two books in this series.  Anyone know if that was planned or if the series was dropped?

Random Bits

You know, I was a bit grumpy last week when we missed out on a long bank holiday weekend, but this four-day weekend has probably made up for it.

Reading-wise, I started on Carla Kelly‘s new release, MARRIAGE OF MERCY, over the weekend – enjoying the historical setting and the quiet attraction between heroine/hero (not so much the compulsory evil cousin though).  I also got around to reading the new-ish Nora Roberts courtesy of my library – her romantic suspense standalone THE WITNESS.  This was more of a mixed bag –  I liked the suspense sections, but thought the pacing slacked off somewhat when I reached the romance part.  The library also came through with Isabelle Holland‘s TRELAWNY’S FELL – this was a proper old-school hardcover published in 1976, with original library cards still intact.  It got me into the right mood, and I loved the book – it had all the modern Gothic must-haves, including a spooky manor house with a maze of attics, identity-swapping, and a sprinkling of romance.

And links of interest I’ve come across:

I loved Ernest Cline‘s READY PLAYER ONE when I read it earlier this year (I know, I haven’t really been talking about books I loved this year, have I?), and That Cover Girl had a great post about the covers of the various editions.  While I had seen the hardcover edition in the bookstore, it was the paperback cover that made me grab it off the shelves.

I’ve enjoyed reading all the blog posts on this Unconventional Blog Tour.  They’ve been thought-provoking and informative – I especially liked Kate Hart’s post on Citing Your Sources.

Everyone’s probably seen this by now, but this Almack’s voucher posted by Jane @ Dear Author?  Ahhhh.  I’m guessing you can tell who the historical romance reader are by reactions (or lack of) to this picture.

Books for May

It doesn’t feel like May, does it?  Partly because it has been the gloomiest April ever, weather-wise, and I swear it still feels as though it’s winter.  Maybe it’ll stop raining in time for the Olympics.

But new releases always cheer me up – here are the ones I’m reading in May.

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Kristin Cashore‘s BITTERBLUE (fantasy): This is the final book in Kristin Cashore’s loosely-connected trilogy, and well, I loved it.  The reception has not been all positive – there appears to be a healthy mix of opinions on this book, but for me, it was the sort of story that held me completely enthralled.  Ms Cashore’s also put up some pre-BITTERBLUE letters on her blog (warning: spoilers for the first book GRACELING), which was a nice bonus!

Blurb:

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Out now (excerpt)

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Charlaine Harris‘s DEADLOCKED (urban fantasy): The penultimate Sookie Stackhouse book, IIRC.  I’ve not felt the urge to run out and buy it yet – I’ve been holding off and waiting for reviews, and to be honest, it’s looking like the library for me.  Still, it is a Sookie book, so I’ll end up reading it eventually.

Blurb:

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Out now (excerpt)

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Jordan Castillo Price‘s MNEVERMIND 1: THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY (m/m romance): Jordan Castillo Price is an autobuy author for me. I’ve no idea what this book is about, but I know it’ll be good.

Blurb:

Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

While forgetting your problems won’t solve them, it does seem like it would make life a heck of a lot easier. Daniel thought so once. Now he knows better. He and Big Dan have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like his father remembers.

They’re both professionals in the memory field—they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation seems to be sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.

Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel headed down the same path to fantasy-land as his old man?

Out now (excerpt)

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Carla Kelly‘s MARRIAGE OF MERCY (historical romance): It’s been a while since I’ve read a full-length Carla Kelly novel.  Or a newly-released one, come to that – I’ve been reading her re-released short story backlist mostly.  The author hates the title and wanted it called CHOOSING ROB INMAN – I’ve seen worse titles!

Blurb:

MARRYING THE WRONG GROOM… From riches to rags, Grace has had to swallow her pride and get a job as a baker.

But everything changes when she’s the beneficiary of a surprise inheritance. Her benefactor’s deal comes with a catch: give up her life of toil and live in luxury only if she marries his illegitimate son, a prisoner of war. It’s an offer she can’t afford to refuse. But her husband-to-be is dying, and he begs her to take one of his men instead-to marry purely out of mercy….

A marriage of convenience with a complete stranger…Could this arrangement ever work?

Out May 22 (excerpt)

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Lynn Flewelling‘s CASKET OF SOULS (fantasy): It has been a while since the last Nightrunner book, so I’m looking forward to this new one.  I remember when I read the first few books, and gay protagonists were such a ground-breaking concept – now, (almost) no one blinks.  Progress.  And she tells a good story.

Blurb:

More than the dissolute noblemen they appear to be, Alec and Seregil are skillful spies, dedicated to serving queen and country. But when they stumble across evidence of a plot pitting Queen Phoria against Princess Klia, the two Nightrunners will find their loyalties torn as never before. Even at the best of times, the royal court at Rhíminee is a serpents’ nest of intrigue, but with the war against Plenimar going badly, treason simmers just below the surface.

And that’s not all that poses a threat: A mysterious plague is spreading through the crowded streets of the city, striking young and old alike. Now, as panic mounts and the body count rises, hidden secrets emerge. And as Seregil and Alec are about to learn, conspiracies and plagues have one thing in common: The cure can be as deadly as the disease.

Out May 29 (excerpt)

*

Nalini Singh‘s TANGLE OF NEED (paranormal romance): I’ll be honest – I’m not quite sure anything could top last year’s KISS OF SNOW, so I have much lower expectations this time around.  Also, cover-wise?  Not entirely sure what they were thinking when it came to the US cover.  Granted, the UK cover is a bit on the bland side, but I much prefer it to the US one – too much going on there!

Blurb:

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past–one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

Out May 29 (excerpt)

And that’s it for me – any others on your radar?

Five Random Things

1) All of you must have downloaded Ilona Andrews‘ free Kate Daniels novella by now right?  If not, well – you probably have 10 days left to get MAGIC GIFTS.  I raced through it over Christmas – I loved visiting Kate and Curran again, and it’s got me all excited about their next book, GUNMETAL MAGIC.  It was a really generous and unexpected present from the authors and totally made my Christmas Eve.

2) I’m way behind on my 2011 book log.  Arrrghhh.  Serves me right for procrastinating.  I’m starting to get a bit panicky about this as I’ve been seeing everyone’s 2011 favourite books posts start popping up around the internets.  Ummm.  You won’t mind seeing my 2011 favourites sometime in 2012, would you?  At the rate I’m going, it may be summer.

I’m planning on spending some time on this over the next few days – so if you follow me on Goodreads, you may just get a flood of reviews from me.  Sorry.  I’m going to be reposting them here as well.  At some point.

3) Reading-wise, apart from MAGIC GIFTS, I have been taking full advantage of time off from work and just reveling in my TBR.  I have so many good books that are just waiting to be read and for once, I have the time to do so.  It has been rather blissful.  I’ve sniffled my way through Carla Kelly‘s COMING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, devoured the Carina Press m/m romance anthology MEN UNDER THE MISTLETOE, and finished Diana Gabaldon‘s THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.  Amongst many others.

4) New-to-me author: Sonya Bateman.  I picked up her novel MASTER OF NONE on impulse and liked.  I hesitate to compare it to Jim Butcher’s Dresden files just because it’s an urban fantasy with a wisecracking male protagonist but… well.  It has a slightly unusual UF twist – djinns (or genies) aren’t the most popular of supernatural creatures – and that together with some fast-paced action was enough to keep me engrossed.  It wasn’t perfect (I skimmed over the whole background to the conflict because it made my head hurt and I’m not really feeling the relationship) but I’ll probably pick up the next book soon-ish.

5) I love Sarah Rees Brennan‘s tumblr.  And cannot wait for her 2012 release UNSPOKEN.

Books for December

Ah yes, I do have a blog.

*dusts off cobwebs*

I have to say I have no idea where the latter part of this year went.  It’s Christmas this weekend!  How on earth did that happen?  I have ummm… six months of reading to add to my list of books read this year.  I am off work until the New Year though, so there is hope.

So – December books?  Good month.

UNDER THE VALE AND OTHER TALES OF VALDEMAR (fantasy anthology): It’s December!  And we get another Valdemar anthology.  No matter how much I moan about the latest books, I will always cave and buy them.  Because you know – white horses Companions, Heralds, magic Gifts… go ahead, make fun of me, but Valdemar is always going to hold a special place in my heart.

Blurb:

Under the Vale is the latest collection of short stories set in the world of Valdemar.

The Heralds of Valdemar are an ancient order, drawn from all across the land, from all walks of life, and at all ages, these unusual individuals are Gifted with abilities beyond those of normal men and women. They are Mindspeakers, FarSeers, Empaths, ForeSeers, Firestarters, FarSpeakers, and more. Sought and Chosen by mysterious horselike Companions, they are bonded for life to these telepathic, enigmatic creatures. With their Companions, the Heralds of Valdemar ride circuit throughout the kingdom protecting the peace and, when necessary, defending their land and monarch.

Now readers can travel to the world of Valdemar with Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, Rosemary Edghill, Judith Tarr, and others in these original stories, including an all-new novella from Mercedes Lackey.

Out now

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KA Mitchell‘s BAD BOYFRIEND (m/m romance):  I wasn’t wild about the first book in this series, BAD COMPANY, but I do like KA Mitchell’s writing, so I’m giving this series another shot.  This one sounds nice and angsty, which probably means I’ll like it.  I’m so easy.

Blurb:

After Eli Wright came out, his parents threw him out. In the five years since, he’s made his own way, lived by his own rules, determined to never change himself—not for anyone. He’s not against finding Mr. Right, but Mr. Right Now will do just fine.

Quinn Maloney’s reward for ten years of faithfully keeping his closeted boyfriend’s secrets? A hell of a wake-up call to go with his morning coffee. Not only did Peter have affairs, he went straight to marry his pregnant girlfriend—and Quinn was to never reveal their history.

With the baby’s baptism looming and Quinn expected to put on a polite front, he decides he’s had enough of playing the peacekeeper. One wink from a much younger, eyeliner-wearing guy in a bar, and Quinn’s found a perfectly outrageous date for the occasion.

The date goes better than he ever imagined. And so much worse, as Eli convinces everyone they’re madly in love. That wasn’t part of the plan, but the more Quinn learns about the man behind the makeup, the more he wishes it was true.

Warning: Contains an absolute bastard of an ex-boyfriend. Not responsible for sudden uncontrollable urges to punch him in the teeth. Also not responsible for any overheating or sudden urges brought about by explicit sex with a little BDSM thrown in.

Out now

*

Eloisa JamesWINNING THE WALLFLOWER (historical romance): I don’t exactly hide the fact I’m an Eloisa James fangirl.  This novella is probably to help promote her new release (see below!), but it’s most definitely on my list of things to read this month.

Blurb:

It could only happen in a fairy tale.

Lady Lucy Towerton:
Plain and tall. (According to the lady herself.)
Titled and irreproachably proper. (According to her fiancÉ.)

Until, overnight, she becomes

Lady Lucy Towerton:
Heiress. (Thanks to an aged aunt’s bequest.)
Belle of the ball. (So say the fortune hunters of the ton.)

In charge of her own destiny (finally!), Lucy breaks her engagement and makes up her mind never to be proper again…

Out now

*

Eloisa JamesTHE DUKE IS MINE (historical romance): After a bit of a rocky start, I’m now absorbed by this series of fairy-tale retellings.  I’m looking forward to this version of The Princess and the Pea.

Blurb:

He is a duke in search of a perfect bride. She is a lady—but a long way from perfect.

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.

Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Tarquin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.

To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…

Unless it’s already too late.

This sexy, witty version of The Princess and the Pea turns the classic fairy tale into an enticing, funny, and moving romance

Out Dec 27

 

Also, I have been on a ebook shopping spree – here are some that I’ve purchased recently.  The majority are short stories or novellas, which has suited my reading mood perfectly:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s WISH (contemporary romance): Kelly Hunter sucked me back into to the category romance genre this year and I totally glommed her entire backlist.  This is a brand-new novella that she’s self-published.
  • Tanya Huff‘s FEBRUARY THAW (fantasy): I really liked her first e-collection of backlist short stories, I’m thrilled she’s released another one.
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s HIDDEN (urban fantasy): If you’re not willing to splash out on the Subterranean Press paper versions, the ebook’s a good alternative.  I have to say it’s the shipping that puts me off – if I lived in the US, I would probably own quite a few SubPress editions already.
  • Carla Kelly‘s CHRISTMAS COLLECTION (historical romance): Estara brought this to my attention, and it kicked off a mini-Carla Kelly glom for me.  I tend to forget how much I like her writing in between reads, if that makes sense.
  • Carla Kelly‘s MARIAN’S CHRISTMAS WISH (historical romance):  Spurred on by the previous collection, I bought this re-release and well, really liked it.  Perfect for this time of the year as well.

And actually, that’s a nice Christmassy note to end with – I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!