2017: My Favorite Books

Happy New Year everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books for January

A bit late, but here are the January new releases on my radar:

33191880Sarina Bowen’s HARD HITTER (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s quickly become an autobuy author for me, and she excels at sports romances.  I’ve already read this one, and it’s a solid romance.  As always, I learn something new about ice hockey – who knew fights were an actual part of the game?

He’s a scrapper in the rink, but he’s about to learn that playing nice can help you score…

As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O’Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of fighting, O’Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He hides his pain from the coaching staff, but when his chronic muscle strain becomes too obvious to ignore, he’s sent for treatment with the team’s massage therapist.

After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini needs a timeout from men. She’s focusing only on work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O’Doul is easy on the eyes but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O’Doul heal, but as the tension between them starts to simmer, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good…

Out now

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33230173CS Pacat’s THE SUMMER PALACE (M/M fantasy romance): It may be a short story, but I can’t get enough of Laurent and Damen.  It was the perfect series epilogue.  *happy sigh*

(I obviously read this the second it downloaded onto my Kindle.)

“When all this is over, we could take horses and stay a week in the palace…”

Set after the events of the Captive Prince trilogy, The Summer Palace is a story about Damen and Laurent. It’s an epilogue of sorts to the Captive Prince series.

Out now

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31225405KJ Charles’s WANTED, A GENTLEMAN (historical M/M romance): If we’re talking autobuy authors (and this post is full of them), here’s another.  Her historicals have proper depth to them.

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring

a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber

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In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

Out now

30747137Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s GOOD BOY (contemporary romance): I’m not sure what’s up with two Bowen releases in the space of a month, but I’m not complaining.  I love her collaborations with Elle Kennedy.

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody (nobody!) can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Caution: May cause accidental aspiration of tea or coffee. Do not read in a public place where loud laughter is inappropriate. Contains hot but hilarious hockey players, puppy cuddling and a snarky pair of underwear.

Out Jan 31

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33650339And oh, I almost forgot to mention Andrea K Höst’s surprise New Year’s Day release, IN ARCADIA.  She very kindly sent me a copy, and it was the perfect way to start off the new year.

It’s an epilogue of sorts to the Touchstone books, and as per my Goodreads review:

Well, this was a lovely and satisfying “slice-of-life” addition to the Touchstone series.

If you wanted more than just the Gratuitous Epilogue (I know I did!), then this is the perfect read. It was so good to see Cass and the whole gang again, and I loved the quiet romance that unfolded between Laura and Gidds Selkie. Now all I want to do is re-read the entire series…

I will say this will work much better for those who have read the original trilogy, as opposed to a truly standalone read.

 

So that’s me – which January releases do you have on your lists?


randombookrec
Sharon Shinn’s SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN: Sharon Shinn gets the blend of romance with fantasy just right. And this has a place on my keeper shelves.

2016: My Favourite Books

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

A Couple of Cover Reveals (and Links)

I will stop linking all the cover design articles at tor.com one day, promise.  Just not today.

AnAccidentOfStars-CoverHere’s a Julie Dillon cover for this upcoming novel by Foz Meadows. AN ACCIDENT OF STARS sounds really intriguing – one for my to-read list, I think:

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

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

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

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

8-Sand_Malice_Front_Cover_FinalAnd I’ve not read any of Bradley P Beaulieu‘s books before, but enjoyed reading this post about the making of his cover for OF SAND AND MALICE MADE.  Love the title too (and have noted the Robin Hobb blurb!).  I think I’ve a book of his in my very large e-TBR pile, will have to dig it out now.

And in non-cover linkage:

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.

Links of the Spoilerific Kind

The book blogosphere is doing its best to keep life interesting, huh? I thought I’d seen it all with plagarism, piracy, and other scandal-of-the-week-type events, but obviously not.

However, not all unexpected events are unpleasant ones – there still are surprises of the pleasant book kind!  Specifically in this case, the new Vorkosigan book from Lois McMaster Bujold as well as the upcoming third book in CS Pacat‘s CAPTIVE PRINCE trilogy.

2jebdwjLinks for the latter first:

As for the LMB Vorkosigan book – well, the non-spoilery bit first:

I was practically bouncing in glee when I read LMB’s post about the new Vorkosigan book, GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN.  I’d pretty much thought the series had come to an end, especially as LMB has been refusing to comment on the possibility of a new book for quite a while.  It’s one of my all-time favourite series – up there with Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books.  I love so much about her stories – the sheer pace of her plots, this knack of hers for capturing that quiet moment that reveals so much, how her characters live and breathe… well, I could go on and on.

And then I read the spoilers coming out from her first reading, and O_o doesn’t even begin to reflect my reactions.  I cannot wait for next February.

Spoiler links follow. I mean it.  Don’t click unless you want to be spoiled….

Continue reading

Things That Caught My Eye Recently(-ish)

Otherwise known as random links:

A Few Links for a Bank Holiday Weekend

And a very wet Bank Holiday at that!  Though it’s been a fairly productive weekend for me – I finally finished adding all my 2013 reads to Goodreads (yes, only eight months late – I think I just had a blogging slump during the middle of the year).

Some links I’ve been meaning to post for a while:

A (Partial) 2013 Survey + Looking Ahead to 2014

I managed to start off the year by accidentally marking all posts in my feed reader as read.  Whoops!  While it’s hopefully not an omen for the year ahead, it’s kind of refreshing to look at Feedly and think I’m completely up-to-date with everyone’s posts 😉

best-books-2013

Anyway, I’ve been seeing the 2013 End of Year Survey hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner pop up around the internets.  I wanted to do it – I even started drafting the post, but then realised that most of the answers would be along the lines of Parr, Pacat, Doyle & MacDonald, Wells, Elliott, Cross, Ryan… rinse & repeat…

I’m serious.

And while I’d love to gush a bit more about how I loved all their books, it would make for a pretty boring post.  So I decided that I’m going to cheat a bit and only answer the questions where the answers WEREN’T any of those above.  I know.  I’m a rebel, right?

Here goes:


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Well.

I feel like this is sort of a negative way to start off the post, but then again, I skipped question #1, which was Best Books You Read in 2013.  Serves me right.

I mentioned this in my annual wrap-up post, but most of the series books I was anticipating just didn’t hit it out of the park for me.  Not that they were letdowns or anything, but I WANTED MORE.

So while an answer could be most of them, that’s only because I had really high expectations for a lot of books (and to be fair, I marked most of them as 4 star reads on GR anyway).  However, one book that didn’t quite work for me was Sharon Lee & Steve’s Miller‘s TRADE SECRET, which was depressing because I’d been looking forward to a sequel to BALANCE OF TRADE for so long.  But I never connected with the main protagonist nor cared enough to follow the obscure-ish plot(s).  I eventually finished the book, but it was a bit of a drag.

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7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Elle Kennedy‘s HOTTER THAN EVER – I don’t think I’ve ever read a ménage à trois book before, but I was convinced by the Dear Author review.

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10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

13578466I love this Goodreads covers view of my 2013 books (even though I’m still in the process of listing all my 2013 reads).  I actually think most of the covers are fantastic, and there’s a real mix of styles – from retro to romantic, from atmospheric to just plain intriguing.

If I had to pick one (and obviously it would be one that I haven’t added to GR yet), it would probably be Sharon Shinn‘s ROYAL AIRS, and not just because the colours match my blog…  I love the ethereal feel, which contrasts quite nicely with that steely look of determination on Josetta’s face.

Jonathan Barkat was listed as the cover illustrator – I think he also did the cover for the previous book, TROUBLED WATERS.

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13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? and 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling

I grouped these two questions together as Elizabeth Wein‘s WWII novel ROSE UNDER FIRE would be the answer to both.  ROSE was hard-hitting and powerful in ways I didn’t anticipate, and I closed the book thinking “lest we forget”.  I’m glad she wrote it, and I’m glad I read it.

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19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

All my very favourite books for the year were from new-to-me authors, so here are two I haven’t mentioned yet: Anne Bishop‘s WRITTEN IN RED (not perfect and problematic in places, but it hit the right spot) and Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING (added to the list of YA fantasies I’d recommend).

And to be honest, pretty much everything Ilona Andrews and Kelly Hunter released in 2013.

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25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Seanan McGuire‘s INDEXING was a very fun and imaginative take on fairytales – and I say that as someone who generally does not get on with fairytale retellings.  It was released as a Kindle serial in the US, but only in book form in the UK – while I grumbled about not having the weekly episodes, I’m glad I got to read the entire story in one go!

Speaking of serials, I did read John Scalzi‘s THE HUMAN DIVISION in serial form, and Episode #7, “The Dog King”, was hilarious.

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And looking ahead to 2014:

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

Ann Leckie‘s ANCILLARY JUSTICE – everyone and their mother appears to be loving this debut SF.  It’s on my Kindle now, so no excuses!

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2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

What, just one?  Here are four:

A new Andrea K Höst hopefully, fingers crossed – though she’s said that she may not release anything during 2014.

The next New York Leopards book by Allison Parr (I swear I read somewhere it’s Abe’s book – I hope so!).  Oh, I’ve obviously lifted my moratorium on mentioning these authors for 2014 😉

Sarah Rees Brennan‘s TELL THE WIND AND FIRE is a YA fantasy retelling of A TALE OF TWO CITIES, which sounds incredibly fun.

And Anne Bishop‘s MURDER OF CROWS (the follow-up to WRITTEN IN RED) is due out in March.

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3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I don’t really track debut authors, so I’m totally going to cheat and say Katherine Addison‘s THE GOBLIN EMPEROR (April 2014).  This is Addison’s debut work, but it’s Sarah Monette writing under a new name.

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4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

CS Pacat‘s conclusion to her Captive Prince trilogy – I’m really hoping this is a 2014 release.

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5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

Umm… the usual.  Post more, comment more, read more from that TBR mountain of mine…

Self-Pubs (Current and Ex)

It’s no secret that I really like how e-publishing has given so many more authors the ability to put their stories out in the world without having to go down the traditional publishing route.  I don’t deny that there are quality issues out there (it’s “buyer beware” and I’ve definitely been bitten a couple of times), but on the other hand, I’ve read (and loved) stories that I may never have encountered had they been written ten years ago because agents and/or editors didn’t think there was a market for them.

Here are a couple of self-pubbed books that fall into that category (though one is no longer a self-pub!).

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17619479I was in the mood for military SF, and Marko Kloos‘s TERMS OF ENLISTMENT was mentioned in a self-pubbed recs post on Sherwood Smith’s blog – I picked it up and ending up really liking it.

My three-sentence review on Goodreads:

Picked this up following a rec from Sherwood Smith’s LJ and have no regrets. Fast-paced read, compelling story-telling, and certainly came across as authentic MilSF. The relationship strand struck me as a bit weak, but that aside, I’m hoping we get a next book to find out what happens next.

If you want a proper review, Jan posted her review of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT @ Notes from a Readerholic (yes – I did the pushing).  The author was planning on releasing its sequel LINES OF DEPARTURE this month (although TERMS works as a standalone), and I was looking forward to it. 

But – Mr Kloos has just announced a book deal with Amazon’s 47North imprint, which is fantastic news.  I thought the book was great, and this means it’ll be available to a much larger audience (and the 47North version is now available on Amazon).  The not-so-good news for readers like me is that the sequel has been pushed back to early 2014.

I’m thrilled for the author, but it’s going to be a loooong wait.

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If you follow me on Goodreads, you’ll see that I finally got around to reading SU Pacat‘s CAPTIVE PRINCE Volumes 1 and 2 (kind of hard to categorise, but I’ll go for m/m fantasy romance).  These books caused a bit of a buzz around the internets (or at least on the blogs I frequent) a month or so ago now – as is the norm, the hype convinced me to buy the first book, but put me off actually reading them until now.

Unfortunately, now that I’ve picked them up, all I can do is add to the hype and say I loved them.  I will say they’re not for everyone (I’m not joking about my trigger warnings mention below), but it’s the sort of story that lingered in my mind for days after I finished the books.  The story’s available as a free read on the author’s LJ, so you can give her writing a whirl before committing.

Here’s what I posted on Goodreads about them:

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Captive Prince: Volume One (Captive Prince, #1)Captive Prince: Volume One by S.U. Pacat

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If I listed trigger warnings, I dread to think what the list would be like for the first half of this book… so take that as fair warning.

However, I ended up really falling for this story – it starts off a bit uneven (and there are definitely some problematic bits), but once I got into it, I couldn’t put the book down. Layers and layers of intrigue and politics, plus a very complicated (and compelling) relationship – I dived into the next book immediately after finishing this.

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Captive Prince: Volume Two (Captive Prince, #2)Captive Prince: Volume Two by S.U. Pacat

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A supremely satisfying story – we move out of the Veretian court to their borders, but while the political intrigue and treachery remain as present as ever amidst the preparation for war, the story is really about Damen/Laurent’s relationship. Talk about unresolved sexual tension – this probably sets the benchmark for best use of UST ever.

The ending was of the good cliffhanger kind – I’m very impatiently waiting for the third and final volume.

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Have you come across any self-pubbed gems* recently?  Tell me!

* You all know my Andrea K Höst weakness, so really, read that as any other self-pubbed authors apart from Ms Höst.