Books for September

Now that summer’s almost over (yes, some denial here…), I’m hoping to settle back into more of a regular blogging schedule around here.  It’s been a busy few months – I’m not sure why, but when it’s still bright at nine in the evening, I feel as though I can cram more into my day?

I’ve also been reading a lot of books over the past couple of months…  Maybe I’ll actually talk about them at some point, but first, the new releases for September that I need to read.  All nine of them.

25615305Zen Cho‘s SORCEROR TO THE CROWN (fantasy): This one has had such good buzz.  I’ve been enjoying Zen Cho’s posts about her publishing journey on her blog – this is her debut novel.

In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Out now

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25958273Deanna Raybourn‘s A CURIOUS BEGINNING (historical mystery): It’s been a while since I’ve read a Raybourn.  I stopped reading when she moved on from her Lady Julia books, but this start to a new series sounds intriguing.

In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Out now (Oct 1 in the UK)

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23664710Lee Child‘s MAKE ME (suspense): Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books are always on my autumn reading list.  Though this looks like another small town setting, which always makes me feel claustrophobic…

“Why is this town called Mother’s Rest?” That’s all Reacher wants to know. But no one will tell him. It’s a tiny place hidden in a thousand square miles of wheat fields, with a railroad stop, and sullen and watchful people, and a worried woman named Michelle Chang, who mistakes him for someone else: her missing partner in a private investigation she thinks must have started small and then turned lethal.

Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, and there’s something about Chang . . . so he teams up with her and starts to ask around. He thinks: How bad can this thing be? But before long he’s plunged into a desperate race through LA, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Francisco, and through the hidden parts of the internet, up against thugs and assassins every step of the way—right back to where he started, in Mother’s Rest, where he must confront the worst nightmare he could imagine.

Walking away would have been easier. But as always, Reacher’s rule is: If you want me to stop, you’re going to have to make me.

Out now

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22095547Cindy Pon‘s SERPENTINE (YA fantasy): I love the cover.  Also, I read her Big Idea post over at Whatever, and was hooked.

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

Out now

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26084594KA Mitchell‘s PUT A RING ON IT (M/M romance): KA Mitchell’s pretty much an autobuy author for me.  And it’s been a while since her last book.

Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via a NYC Times Square Flash mob.

Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms…

Out now

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24453021Seanan McGuire‘s A RED-ROSE CHAIN (UF): New Toby always makes me happy.

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Out now

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17564519Rae Carson‘s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER (YA fantasy): I quite liked Rae Carson’s previous trilogy, and this one sounds even better.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance.

Out Sept 22

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24876258Jim Butcher‘s THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS (fantasy): Jim Butcher does something that’s not Dresden-related.  Okay, slightly unfair, as he did write the Codex Alera fantasy series… anyway, this looks like a take on steampunk?

 Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Out Sept 29

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25388580Kelley Armstrong‘s THE UNQUIET PAST (fantasy): I’ve no idea what this book is (looks like a shared-world series?), but I’ll give it a shot because, well, Kelley Armstrong.

You can only hide from the truth for so long.

Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.

Out Sept 29

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And then the maybes:

  • Fran Wilde‘s UPDRAFT (fantasy): I’ve been hearing good things about this one.  Has anyone read this yet?
  • Mercedes Lackey‘s HUNTER (fantasy): I’ll always have a soft spot for some Lackey.
  • Holly Black & Cassandra Clare‘s THE COPPER GAUNTLET (YA fantasy): I read the first book, THE IRON TRIAL, recently – it was good fun, though a bit slow in parts.  And I’m a sucker for academy-type stories anyway.
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s LED ASTRAY (UF): More Armstrong, this time an anthology of mostly previously-published short stories, but with two new ones.  Which would be why I want the book…
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Books for February

Not a massive number of new releases on my list this month, which means I can ramble on a bit more?

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17874997Suzanne Brockmann‘s DO OR DIE (romantic suspense): Pre-ebooks (yes, in those long ago days), the big decision when it came to new releases was whether I would (a) pre-order and get the online discount, but wait a bit longer to get my hands on them or (b) haunt my local bookstore on the off-chance they actually had them in on release date, and pay full price.

With Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter books, I usually went with option (b) – that was how much I loved them.  After the 16th (or so) book, she wrapped up that series (to be fair, it was probably about time) and ventured into a near-futuristic world, which was umm… a bust for me (to put it mildly), and I resigned myself to the fact that I was just not loving her books anymore.  And then she announced she was starting a Troubleshooters spin-off series – I guess I’m not the only one who didn’t love her new series?  So new protagonists etc but a (semi-)familiar world – I’m hoping this one has both the action-packed story, humour, and chemistry that her Troubleshooter books always brought to the table.

TL;DR version: I pre-ordered the ebook and am reading it right now.

Navy SEAL Ian Dunn went rogue in a big way when he turned his talents to a lawless life of jewel heists and con jobs. Or so the world has been led to believe. In reality, the former Special Ops warrior is still fighting for good, leading a small band of freelance covert operatives who take care of high-stakes business in highly unofficial ways. That makes Ian the hands-down choice when the U.S. government must breach a heavily guarded embassy and rescue a pair of children kidnapped by their own father, a sinister foreign national willing to turn his own kids into casualties. Shockingly, Ian passes on the mission… for reasons he will not–or cannot–reveal.

But saying no is not an option. Especially not to Phoebe Kruger, Ian’s bespectacled, beautiful, and unexpectedly brash new attorney. Determined to see the abducted children set free, she not only gets Ian on board but insists on riding shotgun on his Mission: Impossible-style operation, whether he likes it or not.

Though Phoebe has a valuable knack for getting out of tight spots, there’s no denying the intensely intimate feelings growing between Ian and Phoebe as the team gears up for combat. But these are feelings they both must fight to control as they face an array of cold-blooded adversaries, including a vindictive mob boss who’s got Ian at the top of his hit list and a wealthy psychopath who loves murder as much as money. As they dodge death squads and play lethal games of deception, Ian and Phoebe will do whatever it takes to save the innocent and vanquish the guilty.

Or die trying.

Out now

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18143924Sharon Lee‘s CAROUSEL SUN (urban fantasy): Or small-town fantasy.  I mentioned this in my January new releases because Baen releases the ebook a month early, so although technically a February release, I’ve already read this.  I was looking forward to this follow-up to CAROUSEL TIDES – I had a couple of minor niggles around pacing and voice (which I mentioned in the comments to Laura’s GR review – and will get my own review up at some point…), but overall a decent read and I really like the unusual (for a UF) setting.

 A gripping contemporary fantasy thriller from master storyteller Sharon Lee, award-winning co-creator of the highly-popular Liaden Universe® saga.

When magic meets mundane, sparks fly: these are exciting times in Archers Beach, Maine! A unprecedented Early Season has united townies and carnies in an effort to expand into a twelve-month resort, recapturing the town’s former glory.

Kate Archer, owner-operator of the vintage wooden carousel, is caught up in the excitement—and is quite possibly the cause of it. Because Kate leads a double life, as carny, and as Guardian of the land. Her recent return to the home she had forsaken has changed the town’s luck—for the better—and energized the trenvay—earth and water spirits who are as much citizens of the Beach as their mundane counterparts.

But the town’s new energy isn’t the only change afoot. Joe Nemeier, the local drug lord, whose previous magical consultant was vanquished by Kate, has acquired a new ally—and this one plays with fire.

Out now

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085286-fc222Diana Wynne Jones & Ursula JonesTHE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA (MG fantasy): I had to double-check the publication date on this as I think the US version is out later in April, but yes, the UK version looks to be pubbed end of February.  This is the book that Diana Wynne Jones was in the midst of writing when she passed away, and I believe her sister finished it.  So I’m not entirely sure it will be “proper” DWJ – but the plot sounds totally DWJ and I cannot wait to read it.

The brand new and final novel from the magical and whimsical pen of ‘the Godmother of Fantasy’, Diana Wynne Jones; co-authored with her sister Ursula Jones.

Aileen was supposed to grow up magical – just like the other women in her family. Unfortunately, she’s just found out that the magic seems to have skipped a generation… but that’s not her biggest problem right now.

In her world, there are four Islands of Chaldea. The largest and most magical island has been cut off from the other three for decades – and is slowly draining the magic from them.

But now a prophecy has come to light. Someone from Aileen’s island will gather a man from each of the three islands, bring down the magical barrier, and unite them with the fourth island again. And according to the king, that someone is Aileen’s Aunt – who insists on dragging Aileen along. AND the boy Aileen is sure she’ll marry (one day); AND the local boy with more brawn then brain. Someone seems to want to stop them too… someone with an interest in keeping the Islands apart. But still, with magic on their side, nothing can go wrong. Right?

Out Feb 27 (UK)

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Other books I’m interested in:

Tell me about your February new releases list – any must-gets I’m missing?

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.

The Weekly Update?

It’s going to feel strangely quiet once the Olympics wraps up in just over a week’s time.  What are we going to do without having three (or more) TV channels screening different events with countless other streams online plus that live BBC text commentary?  Everyone’s been following the Olympics – I suspect productivity is not what it could have been.  And oh, the drama.  My favourite moment is probably when both the TV commentators at the men’s gymnastics team event practically screamed in (unplanned) unison that “…Great Britain has the silver medal!!!”.  However, that was followed five minutes later by Japan’s successful appeal and GB’s demotion to bronze.  Which was still the first medal in years and completely unexpected.  Good times.

Transport-wise (because I know you’re all dying for an update), it’s actually been good.  That first Monday of the Olympics felt a bit like a weekend morning – while quite not empty, peak-hour trains were not exactly packed.  It’s starting to get busier now, especially since the athletics have started, but the issue now is that shops and restaurants in central London are complaining that both visitors and locals have been scared away by the travel warnings and they’re losing business.  Ha.  And yes, since you ask, I’m still madly jealous of the people I see at the stations waving around their Olympics tickets.

Links – I tweeted these, but with more commentary:

And finally, reading!  I am having a good week – primarily because I’ve started reading Ilona Andrews‘ GUNMETAL MAGIC.  I am totally loving Andrea.  And Raphael.  And Ascanio.  And well, just about everyone else.  I was (ever so) slightly dubious about this book – sure, I liked Andrea, but would she be able to carry her own book?  The answer is an emphatic YES.  I’m about 2/3s through and only stopped because I was literally falling asleep last night.  And on that cross-genre thing, although GUNMETAL MAGIC probably sits in UF, it is very much a romance.

I also finished Wen Spencer‘s ELFHOME (ignore the cover, btw – oh Baen!).  I’m a fan of Wen Spencer, ever since I glommed her Ukiah Oregon series way back when, but I haven’t read any of her books for a long time.  ELFHOME is the third book in her Tinker series – here’s where I admit I thought I had read the second book, but realised probably about a quarter of the way through ELFHOME that I hadn’t.  Ooops.  By that time, I was too engrossed in the story that I didn’t want to put it down and find the second book, which probably gives you quite a good indication that Wen Spencer can tell a story.  The Tinker world is a unusual amalgamation of magic and technology, with both elves and computers coming together in a not-quite-Pittsburgh setting (and this was probably more unique when the first book was released back in 2003 than it is now).  ELFHOME had a good-triumphing-over-evil, feel-good story line – I really enjoyed it.

And I kind of think if I’m going to be doing this weekly wrap-up posts going forward, I’m going to have to think up a catchy title for them 😉

Books for June

Yes, a woefully late post.  But there were so many good books coming out in the first half of June and only so much time… so well, reading won out over blogging.

So here are this month’s new releases that have been taking up my time:

Suzanne Brockmann‘s “When Tony Met Adam” (m/m romance): The final (short) story in Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters universe (unless she chooses to return to this series in the future) – I believe this was first provided as a freebie for the “Breaking the Rules” virtual signing earlier this year, and now has been released in ebook format.

Blurb:

Tony Vlachic, a ruggedly handsome Navy SEAL, has kept his sexuality a secret for years under the threat of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. That is, until he meets Adam Wyndham, a charismatic yet troubled film star. Tony knows that by approaching Adam in front of his teammates he’s jeopardizing his military career. And Adam, nursing a broken heart, has no interest in a relationship. Still, neither man can deny their instant attraction.

Tony didn’t become a SEAL by accepting rejection, and his pursuit of Adam leads to one unforgettable night. But the next morning, Tony is ordered to ship out to Afghanistan, and he’s forced to leave Adam with too much left unsaid. As Tony enters a dangerous war zone, Adam, back in Los Angeles, struggles with the demons of his past, while dealing with the very real possibility that Tony could be killed in action. Half a world apart, both men must face their feelings for each other—and decide if what they’ve found is worth risking everything in the name of love.

Out now (book page on author’s website)

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Karen Chance‘s “Hunt the Moon” (urban fantasy): Karen Chance is an autobuy author for me, and it has been way too long since she’s had a new book out (18 months, not that I’m counting or anything).  This is book #5 in her Cassie Palmer series, so probably not a good place to jump in, but if you can make it past the breakneck speed of her first couple of books, this world of clairvoyants, vampires, and mages, with a time-travelling twist is a good one.

Blurb:

Cassandra Palmer recently defeated a god, which you’d think would buy a girl a little time off. But it doesn’t work that way when your job description is Pythia-the world’s chief clairvoyant. Cassie is busier than ever, trying to learn about her power, preparing for her upcoming coronation, and figuring out her relationship with the enigmatic sexy master vampire, Mircea.

But someone doesn’t want Cassie to become Pythia, and is willing to go to any lengths to make sure the coronation ceremony never happens- including attacking her mother before Cassie is even born.

Out now (excerpt)

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Sarah Rees Brennan‘s “The Demon’s Surrender” (YA urban fantasy): Now I was going to save my commentary on each of these books for a separate post, because this post is going to be long enough as it is, but I’m going to have to say that (a) I stayed up until 3am reading this book (b) this is possibly the BEST book I’ve read this year.  When I think back to how lukewarm I was about the first book, I am so glad I picked up the second book and SURRENDER  just wraps up the trilogy in the most perfect way.  Sarah Rees Brennan is not afraid of taking her characters to very dark places, which just makes it all the more satisfying when they triumph – a heart-wrenchingly wonderful sort of book.  I loved.

Blurb (with SPOILERS for the previous books):

The Goblin Market has always been the center of Sin’s world. But now the Market is at war with the magicians, and Sin’s place is in danger. Thrown out of the Market she loves, Sin is thrown together with brothers Nick and Alan – whom she’s always despised.

Alan has been marked by a magician and is being tortured so that the magicians can get to Nick. As Sin watches Alan struggle to protect the demon brother he loves, she begins to see him in a new light – but she and Mae are locked in a fierce rivalry over who will inherit the leadership of the Goblin Market, and a decisive battle with the Aventurine Circle is looming. Mae’s brother, Jamie, is holed up with the magicians, his loyalties in question. And Nick – well, who knows what a demon might do to save his brother? How far will Nick go to save Alan – and what will it cost them all?

Out now (excerpt)

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Josh Lanyon‘s “Come Unto These Yellow Sands” (m/m romance): Another autobuy author for me (I did say it was a good month).  I open a Josh Lanyon book expecting a good read, and am rarely disappointed.

Blurb:

Sometimes the adventure chooses you.

Lover of fine poetry and lousy choose-your-own-adventure novels, Professor Sebastian Swift was once the bad-boy darling of the literati. The only lines he does these days are Browning, Frost and Cummings. Even his relationship with the hot, handsome Wolfe Neck Police Chief Max Prescott is healthy.

When one of his most talented students comes to him bruised and begging for help, Swift hands over the keys to his Orson Island cabin—only to find out that the boy’s father is dead and the police are suspicious. In an instant, the stable life Swift has built for himself hangs on finding the boy and convincing him to give himself up before Max figures out Swift’s involvement in the case.

Max enjoys splitting an infinitive or two with his favorite nutty professor, but he’s not much for sonnets or Shakespeare. He likes being lied to even less. Yet his instincts—and his heart—tell him his lover is being played. Max can forgive lies and deception, but a dangerous enemy may not stop until Swift is heading up his own dead poet’s society.

Out now (excerpt)

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Deanna Raybourn‘s “The Dark Enquiry” (historical mystery): I’m looking forward to returning to this Victorian-era mystery series, even though the last book left me slightly unsettled.

Blurb:

Partners now in marriage and in trade, Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane have finally returned from abroad to set up housekeeping in London. But merging their respective collections of gadgets, pets and servants leaves little room for the harried newlyweds themselves, let alone Brisbane’s private enquiry business.

Among the more unlikely clients: Julia’s very proper brother, Lord Bellmont, who swears Brisbane to secrecy about his case. Not about to be left out of anything concerning her beloved—if eccentric—family, spirited Julia soon picks up the trail of the investigation.

It leads to the exclusive Ghost Club, where the alluring Madame Séraphine holds evening séances…and not a few powerful gentlemen in thrall. From this eerie enclave unfolds a lurid tangle of dark deeds, whose tendrils crush reputations and throttle trust.

Shocked to find their investigation spun into salacious newspaper headlines, bristling at the tension it causes between them, the Brisbanes find they must unite or fall. For Bellmont’s sake and more, they’ll face myriad dangers born of dark secrets, the kind men kill to keep….

Out June 21 (excerpt)

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Jacqueline Carey‘s “Naamah’s Blessing” (fantasy): This book wraps up Jacqueline Carey’s third D’Angeline trilogy.  I have to admit that Moirin’s story hasn’t grabbed me as much as the previous two trilogies, but I’ll be getting this just to see how her story ends.

Blurb:

Returning to Terre d’Ange, Moirin finds the royal family broken. Wracked by unrelenting grief at the loss of his wife, Queen Jehanne, King Daniel is unable to rule. Prince Thierry, leading an expedition to explore the deadly jungles of Terra Nova, is halfway across the world. And three year old Desirée is a vision of her mother: tempestuous, intelligent, and fiery, but desperately lonely, and a vulnerable pawn in a game of shifting political allegiances.

As tensions mount, King Daniel asks that Moirin become Desirée’s oath-sworn protector. Navigating the intricate political landscape of the Court proves a difficult challenge, and when dire news arrives from overseas, the spirit of Queen Jehanne visits Moirin in a dream and bids her undertake an impossible quest.

Another specter from the past also haunts Moirin. Travelling with Thierry in the New World is Raphael de Mereliot, her manipulative former lover. Years ago, Raphael forced her to help him summon fallen angels in the hopes of acquiring mystical gifts and knowledge. It was a disastrous effort that nearly killed them, and Moirin must finally bear the costs of those bitter mistakes.

Out June 29 (excerpt)

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And the maybes: Janet Evanovich‘s “Sizzling Seventeen” (out June 21) will probably be a library borrow – I can’t convince myself to pay hardcover prices for the Stephanie Plum books anymore and I no longer have the must-read-immediately urge.  And two urban fantasy anthologies I want: “Hexed” (out now) purely because of the Ilona Andrews story, and “Chicks Kick Butt” (also out now), this one mainly because of the Karen Chance contribution, but there are a few other familiar names.

Sort of Here

Be forewarned, this is a post about nothing really.

I’m recovering from a bout of the flu that came out of nowhere – after smugly avoiding the array of colds and coughs that have swept the office over the past few months, I get taken out by a virus that no one else seems to have (and I swear it’s not one too many Christmas drinks!).

Besides lying in bed for the past few days feeling rather sorry for myself, I haven’t really mustered up the energy to do anything.  I was sort of thinking I could get my list of books read in 2010 up to date – my latest update was back in October, ouch – but that appears to take mental energy which is somewhat lacking at the moment.

I have been reading though – I finished Juliet Marillier‘s latest Sevenwaters book, “Seer of Sevenwaters”, my thoughts paralleling Thea’s review at The Book Smugglers quite closely.  Bear in mind I was reading in stops and starts, but I thought Seer lacked the sense of epic-ness that previous Sevenwaters books had, with slightly uneven pacing throughout the first half of the book. Maybe it was the fact the book wasn’t set in Sevenwaters itself (though I don’t think all the previous ones were?), or that the two protagonists, Sibeal and Felix, never really had the same presence that other lead characters have had in previous books, I’m not sure, but this book failed to capture my imagination in the same way the other Sevenwaters novels have.  I’ve more to say (and not all just comparisons to previous books in this series!), but can’t quite string very many coherent thoughts together (or rather, I could, but then I’d probably still be sitting here at midnight trying to polish it all up), so we’ll leave it at “I enjoyed it, but didn’t love”.

I also finally got around to reading Deanna Raybourn‘s “Dark Road to Darjeeling”, which is the Lady Julia Grey historical mystery that came out back in October.  It’s not exactly what I would call a feel-good book, but certainly a well-told story.  I skimmed most of the reviews when the book came out, not wanting to be spoilt, so I can’t remember if anyone was left feeling ever-so-slightly unsettled and disturbed by the closing events?  Probably not a book I’ll re-read, but I’m looking forward to more Julia and Brisbane though, as they negotiate their life together.

Heh.  I actually managed to talk books.  Though that took more concentration that I thought it would…

Books for October

Yes, I’m aware that sidebar to the right still reads August Books I Want.  How on earth did October sneak up on me?

The new releases this month that I’m all excited about:

 

51J4L3Ke1ZL._SL160_ Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Cryoburn” (SF): I know, after all that agonising about whether to buy the e-ARC from Baen, I managed to hold off.  More to do with lack of free time than anything to do with willpower, I hasten to add.  And probably also helped along by the fact the release date has been moved up to Oct 19.

The first edition of the hardcover is somewhat insanely accompanied with a CD that pretty much holds Ms Bujold’s entire backlist and more.  I’m serious – you apparently get all the Vorkosigan books, except “Memory” (which actually is one of my favourites), various essays, speeches, and interviews. 

The back cover blurb:

Kibou-daini is a planet obsessed with cheating death. Barrayaran Imperial Auditor Miles Vorkosigan can hardly disapprove—he’s been cheating death his whole life, on the theory that turnabout is fair play. But when a Kibou-daini cryocorp—an immortal company whose job it is to shepherd its all-too-mortal frozen patrons into an unknown future—attempts to expand its franchise into the Barrayaran Empire, Emperor Gregor dispatches his top troubleshooter Miles to check it out.

On Kibou-daini, Miles discovers generational conflict over money and resources is heating up, even as refugees displaced in time skew the meaning of generation past repair. Here he finds a young boy with a passion for pets and a dangerous secret, a Snow White trapped in an icy coffin who burns to re-write her own tale, and a mysterious crone who is the very embodiment of the warning Don’t mess with the secretary. Bribery, corruption, conspiracy, kidnapping—something is rotten on Kibou-daini, and it isn’t due to power outages in the Cryocombs. And Miles is in the middle—of trouble!

Out Oct 19 (excerpt)

 

51Z7J7ZRV3L._SL160_ Deanna Raybourns “Dark Road to Darjeeling” (historical mystery): I admit Deanna Raybourn’s previous standalone book, “The Dead Travel Fast”, is still sitting in my TBR pile (no idea why – must get to it soon), but I’m planning on bumping the latest book in her Lady Julia Grey mystery series to the top of the pile.

Note that there are slight spoilers in blurb for previous books in the back cover blurb:

For Lady Julia Grey and Nicholas Brisbane, the honeymoon has ended…but the adventure is just beginning.

After eight idyllic months in the Mediterranean, Lady Julia Grey and her detective husband are ready to put their investigative talents to work once more. At the urging of Julia’s eccentric family, they hurry to India to aid an old friend, the newly-widowed Jane Cavendish. Living on the Cavendish tea plantation with the remnants of her husband’s family, Jane is consumed with the impending birth of her child—and with discovering the truth about her husband’s death. Was he murdered for his estate? And if he was, could Jane and her unborn child be next?

Amid the lush foothills of the Himalayas, dark deeds are buried and malicious thoughts flourish. The Brisbanes uncover secrets and scandal, illicit affairs and twisted legacies. In this remote and exotic place, exploration is perilous and discovery, deadly. The danger is palpable and, if they are not careful, Julia and Nicholas will not live to celebrate their first anniversary.

Out now (excerpt)

 

511JdeLKGvL._SL160_ Sharon Shinn’s “Troubled Waters” (fantasy): I’m not entirely sure if this is the start of a new series or not, but I’ll read anything Sharon Shinn writes.  I fell in love with her writing with the Samaria books, and although it took me a while to settle into her Twelve Houses universe, it’s now one of my favourite fantasy series.  So new Shinn fantasy book = must-get.

The back cover blurb:

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king’s fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It’s there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood—and the secrets of the royal family—she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.

Out now (PDF excerpt)

 

612xamlJyjL._SL160_ (1) Mercedes Lackey’s “Intrigues” (fantasy): I’m one of those girls who grew up reading about talking white horses (and completely swooning over angst-y Vanyel), so yes, I am a total sucker for a new Valdemar book, faults and all.  The previous book, “Foundation”, kicked off the Collegium Chronicles series, and while it wasn’t quite the same as the early Valdemar books, I’m still getting this one.

The back cover blurb:

Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy.

But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is "recognized" by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie’s parents-who is he, really? Can Mags solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?

Out now (book details on author’s site)

 

51lfKgVNNFL._SL160_ Mercedes Lackey’s “Trio of Sorcery” (urban fantasy): And look, a second Mercedes Lackey book, but something quite different.  Ms Lackey is one of those authors who wrote urban fantasy before we named it as such, and this book comprises three novellas, two with existing characters and one new.  I remember enjoying her Diana Tregarde books, so am glad she’s starting to write in these universes again.

The back cover blurb:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mercedes Lackey presents three exciting short urban fantasy novels featuring three resourceful heroines and three different takes on the modern world and on magics both modern and ancient.

Arcanum 101:  Diana Tregarde, practicing witch, romance novelist, Guardian of the Earth. Studying at Harvard, Diana is approached by Joe O’Brian, a young cop who has already seen more than one unusual thing during his budding career. The distraught mother of a kidnap victim is taking advice from a “psychic” and interfering in the police investigation. Will Diana prove that the psychic is a fake? Unfortunately, the psychic is not a fake, but a very wicked witch—and the child’s kidnapper.

Drums:  Jennifer Talldeer, shaman, private investigator, member of the Osage tribe. Most of Jennie’s work is regular PI stuff, but Nathan Begay brings her a problem she’s never seen before. His girlfriend, Caroline, is Chickasaw to his Navaho, but that’s not the problem. Somehow, Caroline has attracted the attention of an angry Osage ghost. Thwarted in love while alive, the ghost has chosen Caroline to be his bride in death.

Ghost in the Machine:  Ellen McBridge: computer programmer extraordinaire, techno-shaman. The programmers and players of a new MMORPG find that the game’s “boss,” a wendigo, is “killing” everyone—even the programmers’ characters with their god-like powers. A brilliant debugger, Ellen discoveres that the massive computing power of the game’s servers have created a breach between the supernatural world and our own. This wendigo isn’t a bit of code, it’s the real thing . . . and it’s on the brink of breaking out of the computers and into the real world.

Out Oct 26 (excerpt)

Books for March

Though I was bemoaning the lack of new releases in February, March more than makes up for it.  Seriously.  Here are the books I’m getting this month:

 

51srWbCExCL._SL160_ Deanna Raybourn’s “The Dead Travel Fast” (historical mystery): I’m a big fan of her Silent books, and while I’m ever-so-slightly disappointed that this new book isn’t the latest installment in that series, it sounds just as wonderfully gothic and fascinating:

A husband, a family, a comfortable life: Theodora Lestrange lives in terror of it all.

With a modest inheritance and the three gowns that comprise her entire wardrobe, Theodora leaves Edinburgh — and a disappointed suitor — far behind. She is bound for Roumania, where tales of vampires are still whispered, to visit an old friend and write the book that will bring her true independence.

She arrives at a magnificent, decaying castle in the Carpathians replete with eccentric inhabitants: the ailing dowager; the troubled steward; her own fearful friend, Cosmina. But all are outstripped in dark glamour by the castle’s master, Count Andrei Dragulescu.

Bewildering and bewitching in equal measure, the brooding nobleman ignites Theodora’s imagination and awakens passions in her that she can neither deny nor conceal. His allure is superlative, his dominion over the superstitious town, absolute — Theodora may simply be one more person under his sway.

Before her sojourn is ended — or her novel completed — Theodora will have encountered things as strange and terrible as they are seductive. For obsession can prove fatal…and she is in danger of falling prey to more than desire.

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51hl6F3qqL._SL160_ Lisa Lutz’s “The Spellmans Strike Again” (mystery): I became addicted to this off-the-wall series last year – I liked the first book well enough, but it was the second book that hooked me.  They’re hilarious with heart, and as a reader, I’m very invested in Izzy and her family.  “The Spellmans Strike Again” is the fourth in the series and here’s the blurb:

At the ripe old age of 32, former wild child Isabel "Izzy" Spellman has finally agreed to take over the family business. Let’s just say the transition won’t be a smooth one.

Her first priorities as head of Spellman Investigations are to dig up some dirt on the competition—slippery ex-cop Rick Harkey—and to track down a stolen screenplay called The Snowball Effect. Next, faced with a baffling missing-persons case at the home of an aging millionaire, Izzy hires an actor friend to infiltrate the mansion as an undercover butler. Only he enjoys the role a little too much.

Meanwhile, Izzy is being blackmailed by her mother, who threatens to distribute photographic evidence of Prom Night 1994 unless Izzy commits to regular blind dates with promising professionals—an arrangement that doesn’t thrill Connor, an Irish bartender on the brink of becoming ex-boyfriend #12.

At Spellman headquarters, it’s business as unusual. Doorknobs and light fixtures are disappearing every day, Mom’s been spotted crying in the pantry, and a series of increasingly demanding Spellman Rules (Rule #27: No Speaking Today) can’t quite hold the family together. Izzy also has to decipher weekly "phone calls from the edge" from her octogenarian lawyer Morty, as well as Henry Stone’s mysterious interest in rekindling their relationsh … well, whatever it was.

Just when it looks like things can’t go more haywire, little sister Rae’s internship, researching pro bono legal cases leads the youngest Spellman to launch a grass-roots campaign that could get an innocent man out of jail—or land her in it.

Out March 16 (excerpt here)

 

41xrXP7zSL._SL160_ Patricia Briggs“Silver Borne” (urban fantasy): I’ve already pre-ordered it (and yes, I’ve gone for the UK paperback, even though I’m madly envious about those who get the US hardcover version – I’ll just lust over the cover online).  It’s a close call between the Mercy series and the Anna & Charles one for me at the moment, but Mercy just edges it, so to say I’m madly excited about this fifth book is probably an understatement.

Being a mechanic is hard work. Mercy Thompson, for instance, just spent the last couple of months trying to evade the murderous queen of the local vampire seethe, and now the leader of the werewolf pack – who’s maybe-more-than-just-a-friend – has asked for her help. A book of fae secrets has come to light and they’re all about to find out how implacable – and dangerous – the fae can be. OK, so maybe her troubles have nothing to do with the job. But she sure could use a holiday…

Out March 30 (excerpt here)

 

51VgbfEvzTL._SL160_ Megan Whalen Turner’s “A Conspiracy of Kings” (YA fantasy): Speaking of wildly excited, I cannot wait to get my hands on the latest book in MWT’s Thief series (or whatever the “official” series name is).  I completely appreciate that I’ve only had to wait a year or so (probably less, actually) whereas die-hard fans have been waiting years for this, but still!  Just reading the blurb gives rise to this massive sense of anticipation:

Sophos, under the guidance of yet another tutor, practices his swordplay and strategizes escape scenarios should his father’s villa come under attack. How would he save his mother? His sisters? Himself? Could he reach the horses in time? Where would he go? But nothing prepares him for the day armed men, silent as thieves, swarm the villa courtyard ready to kill, to capture, to kidnap. Sophos, the heir to the throne of Sounis, disappears without a trace.

In Attolia, Eugenides, the new and unlikely king, has never stopped wondering what happened to Sophos. Nor has the Queen of Eddis. They send spies. They pay informants. They appeal to the gods. But as time goes by, it becomes less and less certain that they will ever see their friend alive again.

Across the small peninsula battles are fought, bribes are offered, and conspiracies are set in motion. Darkening the horizon, the Mede Empire threatens, always, from across the sea. And Sophos, anonymous and alone, bides his time. Sophos, drawing on his memories of Gen, Pol, the magus—and Eddis—sets out on an adventure that will change all of their lives forever.

Out March 23 (excerpt here)

 

51NsvV6rNNL._SL160_ Anne Bishop’s “Shalador’s Lady” (fantasy): I’m getting this one because I’m a long-time Black Jewels fan, but I will admit her more recent books have not quite done it for me.  Still, I do want to see where this storyline goes (this book is the sequel to last year’s “The Shadow Queen”) and I’ve been hearing good things about this one.  The blurb:

For years the Shalador people suffered the cruelties of the corrupt Queens who ruled them, forbidding their traditions, punishing those who dared show defiance, and forcing many more into hiding. And even though the refugees found sanctuary in Dena Nehele, they have never been able to call it home.

Now that Dena Nehele has been cleansed of tainted Blood, the Rose-Jeweled Queen, Lady Cassidy, makes it her duty to restore the land and prove her ability to rule. She knows that undertaking this task will require all her heart and courage as she summons the untested power within her, a power capable of consuming her if she cannot control it.

And even if Lady Cassidy survives her trial by fire, other dangers await. For the Black Widows see visions within their tangled webs that something is coming that will change the land—and Lady Cassidy—forever…

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51MD6vXXEIL._SL160_ Richelle Mead’s “Succubus Shadows” (urban fantasy): Ms Mead’s Vampire Academy YA series seem to be getting more attention nowadays, but I read her Succubus books first.  A lot has happened since the first book – heck, a lot happens in each book, and I really want to know what happens next. 

Georgina Kincaid has formidable powers. Immortality, seduction, shape-shifting into any human form she desires, walking in heels that would cripple mere mortals—all child’s play to a succubus like her.

Helping to plan her ex-boyfriend’s wedding is a different story. Georgina isn’t sure which is worse—that Seth is marrying another woman, or that Georgina has to run all over Seattle trying on bridesmaid dresses. Still, there are distractions. Georgina’s roommate, Roman, is cluttering her apartment with sexual tension. Then there’s Simone, the new succubus in town, who’s intent on corrupting Seth.

But the real danger lies in the mysterious force that’s visiting her thoughts, trying to draw her into a dark, otherworldly realm. Sooner or later, Georgina knows she’ll be too weak to resist. And when that happens, she’ll discover who she can trust, who she can’t—and that Hell is far from the worst place to spend eternity…

Out March 18 UK,  March 30 US (excerpt here)

 

And the maybes? 

Jenna Black’s fifth book in her Morgan Kingsley series, “The Devil’s Playground” (urban fantasy, out March 23) – this series has been a bit hit or miss for me, with more misses than hits recently.  I have heard this is the final book in the series (though I can’t remember where now, and could be completely wrong), so I may get it to see how it all pans out.

Lee Child’s latest Jack Reacher book (suspense), “61 hours”, is out in the UK on March 18.  I usually end up buying these books sooner or later, though the recent ones haven’t grabbed me the way the earlier ones did.

“Warriors”, a fantasy anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois, with some excellent contributors, including Diana Gabaldon and Naomi Novik.  The reason I’m hesitating on this one is the price, it’s showing up as £21 on The Book Depository.  And as much as I love those two authors, that’s a bit too pricey for me – fingers crossed for a UK edition.

2009: Recap of My Reading Year Part I

This time last year, I posted an epic series of posts about my reading year (okay, five – that counts as epic for me).  This time around, not that many, I swear.

Looking back at the first half of 2009:

 

January

31JSQpzMt2L._SL160_ I started the year off with a bang, falling in love with Juliet Marillier’s “Heir to Sevenwaters” (warning: very spoiler-y post) and officially becoming a Marillier fangirl.  I then somehow started on LM Montgomery’s short stories and really, couldn’t stop – I pretty much spent the latter half of January immersed in LM Montgomery’s turn-of-the-century Prince Edward Island.

Eleven books read in total, counting the six LM Montgomery short story collections – I did say I was addicted, didn’t I?

 

February

4114F4Y9TuL._SL160_ Standout book of the month was Patricia Briggs’ “Bone Crossed” (urban fantasy) – did you even have to ask?  She has a gift for storytelling and I can’t get enough of her Mercy Thompson books.

And it was obviously quality, not quantity, that counted in February, because while I only read five books (seriously, what was I doing?), I also read and loved Lois McMaster Bujold’s “Horizon” (fantasy), which was a note-perfect ending to her Sharing Knife series, and Josh Lanyon & Laura Baumbach’s “Mexican Heat” (romantic suspense m/m), which I thought delivered both romance and suspense in spades.

 

March

51kxH6Hh-AL._SL160_ Not a massively exciting month reading-wise, with seven books read over the course of the month.  I mostly read the latest books in various ongoing series, including Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent in the Moor” (historical mystery, with a wonderfully Gothic atmosphere) and Kelley Armstrong’s “Made to be Broken” (romantic suspense, and a solid read, as per my expectations).

But swept away in a wave of nostalgia after reading LM Montgomery back in January, I started re-reading Elinor M Brent-Dyer’s Chalet School books, and gosh, this brought back so many memories – I adored them as a kid and wanted to go to boarding school so badly.  I loved doing these re-reads, and even invested in some new-to-me Chalet School books – and ouch, these are expensive nowadays.

 

April

Now April was an excellent month for reading. 

51IdzKI1TYL._SL160_Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Strikes” (urban fantasy) wowed me – from a rather so-so first book, the Kate Daniels series has grown into one of the best UF series out there, IMO.  I also loved Sarah Monette’s “Corambis” (fantasy), an incredibly satisfying finale to her Doctrine of Labyrinths series.

51Vk0dfT6IL._SL160_And then there was Karen Chance’s “Curse the Dawn” and Jim Butcher’s “Turn Coat”, both immensely enjoyable installments in the Cassie Palmer and Dresden Files urban fantasy series respectively. 

I read nine books this month, very much dominated by the fantasy genre, but also including two Agatha Christie mystery short story collections, which had a nice mixture of new-to-me stories and old favourites.

 

May

Ah, May.  I read seven books in total, but there were two standouts for me. 

tagfinalcoverDiana Peterfreund’s “Tap & Gown” brought her Secret Society Girl series to a close, and did so in the most perfect manner possible. 

51veKT4RdvL._SL160_And I finally got my hands on Eva Ibbotson’s “Magic Flutes”, thanks to Young Picador re-releasing her backlist in the UK.  Her historical romances are pure joy to read – some of her turns of phrase are almost magical, and I am in love with her ever-so-slightly exotic continental European settings.   And of course, the enchanting characters.

 

 

June

somebody_killed Well.  I did a minor Josh Lanyon glom, reading three of his novellas (“Lovers and Other Strangers”, “Someone Killed His Editor”, and “Don’t Look Back”) in quick succession, all which had his trademark wry humour and wonderful characterisation.

And read two more books, neither of which I fell in love with, and then I sort of went into a reading slump.

 

 

So that was the first half of my reading year: 44 books read in total, with some excellent ones in there, but ending on a bit of a downer.  However, things improved substantially in the next month…

To be continued…

Books for March

I can’t believe we’re already well into March.  What happened to February?

There are quite a few new releases I’m planning on getting this month:

51qM3v6Y2KL._SL160_ Anne Bishop’s “The Shadow Queen” (dark fantasy):  I’m one of her many Black Jewels fans and can’t wait to revisit this world.  “The Shadow Queen” follows the descendants of the main h/h in “The Invisible Ring” (a standalone Black Jewels novel), which happens to be one of my favourites – so yay!

And the back cover blurb sounds great:

Dena Nehele is a land decimated by its past. Once it was ruled by corrupt Queens who were wiped out when the land was cleansed of tainted Blood. Now, only one hundred Warlord Princes stand—without a leader and without hope…

Theran Grayhaven is the last of his line, desperate to find the key that reveals a treasure great enough to restore Dena Nehele. But first he needs to find a Queen who knows Protocol, remembers the Blood’s code of honor, and lives by the Old Ways.

Languishing in the Shadow Realm, Lady Cassidy is a Queen without a court, a castoff. She is not beautiful. She thinks she is not strong. But when she is chosen to rule Dena Nehele, she must convince bitter men to serve once again.

Theran’s cousin Gray is a Warlord Prince who was damaged in mind and body by the vicious Queens who once ruled Dena Nehele. Yet something about Cassidy makes him want to serve—and makes him believe he can be made whole once again.

And only Cassidy can prove to Gray—and to herself—that wounds can heal and even the whisper of a promise can be fulfilled.

Excerpt here (out now)

 

518h68WxCdL._SL160_ Cassandra Clare’s “City of Glass” (YA urban fantasy):  I’ve mentioned before how much I like Ms Clare’s Mortal Instruments books, and “City of Glass” wraps up the trilogy.  I’ve even ordered the US version, because the UK release is only in July (I hate it when publishers do that).  While I’ve had to shell out for the US hardcover price, I get the added benefit of the much better US cover (left) – I really hope the UK version (right) looks better IRL because at the moment, the only positive thing I can think of is that it will probably stand out on the shelves!

Excerpt here (out March 24, July 6 UK)

 

51IdzKI1TYL._SL160_ Ilona Andrews’ “Magic Strikes” (urban fantasy):  I wasn’t completely sold on the first book in this series (“Magic Bites”) and so took a while to get around to the second, “Magic Burns”.  And then I got really excited about this series  🙂

The covers have been good so far, and this one is no exception.

Excerpt here (out March 31)

 

51FOQDKj2nL._SL160_ 51U3eRs-NhL._SL160_Deanna Raybourn’s “Silent on the Moor” (historical mystery):  I loved the first two Lady Julia Grey novels (“Silent in the Grave” and “Silent in the Sanctuary” respectively) and can’t wait to read this one.  I’ve got my fingers crossed for lots of Brisbane, and based on the back cover blurb, I suspect I won’t be disappointed.

Despite his admonitions to stay away, Lady Julia arrives in Yorkshire to find Brisbane as remote and maddeningly attractive as ever. Cloistered together, they share the moldering house with the proud but impoverished remnants of an ancient family—the sort that keeps their bloodline pure and their secrets close. Lady Allenby and her daughters, dependent upon Brisbane and devastated by their fall in society, seem adrift on the moor winds, powerless to change their fortunes. But poison does not discriminate between classes….
A mystery unfolds from the rotten heart of Grimsgrave, one Lady Julia may have to solve alone, as Brisbane appears inextricably tangled in its heinous twists and turns. But blood will out, and before spring touches the craggy northern landscape, Lady Julia will have uncovered a Gypsy witch, a dark rider and a long-buried legacy of malevolence and evil.

Oh, and I think in the battle of US v. UK covers, it’s US 2 UK 0.  This is a pink travesty.

Excerpt here (out now US, June 19 UK)

 

51PNBLPIiLL._SL160_ Nalini Singh’s “Angel’s Blood” (paranormal romance):  Ms Singh’s Psy-Changeling paranormal romance books are autobuys for me, so getting this one is a no-brainer for me.  Reviews so far have generally been really positive too.  I still haven’t bought the e-novella that came out a couple of weeks back, “Angel’s Pawn”, so maybe I’ll get that before reading “Angel’s Blood”.

Excerpt here (out now)