Books for June

Another late-ish post, but June has honestly been a month of way-too-much-to-do-and-very-little-time.  The mini-heatwave we’ve had this week has not helped at all – I just wanted to collapse in the evenings after braving the London tube home.  London does not do heat well.

And a link for a good cause – Authors for Grenfell Tower is raising funds for the British Red Cross.  Signed books etc galore.  Auctions end Tuesday 27 June.

Onto the new releases this month:

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35171433 (1)Tanya Huff’s A PEACE DIVIDED (military SF): Tanya Huff is now an auto-buy author for me, regardless of what she writes.  I really enjoyed this one – she explores the aftermath of war in this series, and while it would help if you’ve some familiarity with the linked Confederation books, this works relatively well as a standalone series.  I’m always impressed by how Huff juggles multiple POVs with ease, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not officially touch. When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon with power beyond anything previously known. Torin must contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy, former enemies, to her team. She will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between “us” and “them” is anything but straight.

Out now

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32161804KJ Charles’s AN UNNATURAL VICE (historical romance): Another one I’ve already read.  I was a bit lukewarm about the first book in KJ Charles’s Victorian-set Sins of the City series, but this enemies-to-lovers story worked much better for me.  I liked all the spiritualist behind-the-scenes reveals and the London setting came alive (as always).

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Out now

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30691976Yoon Ha Lee’s RAVEN STRATAGEM (military SF): The first book in this series was incredibly absorbing, but also made my head hurt at times – however, all reviews indicate this follow-up is much more accessible.  I’ll still wait until I’ve a solid block of spare time to dive into this one.

War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies and resurrected by the hexarchate to put down a heretical insurrection, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh incursion by the enemy Hafn, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, appears able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev – or Brezan – trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Yoon Ha Lee’s critically acclaimed Machineries of Empire trilogy continues with Raven Stratagem, coming from Solaris Summer 2017.

Out now

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32967547Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s STAY (contemporary romance): My current read, and I’m totally loving this sports romance.  These writing duo are on fire.

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch—an anonymous virtual assistant service—is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting… until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth—that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.

But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Out now

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30364801Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT (paranormal romance): Quite possibly my next read.  I didn’t love the first book in this series (great start, but then fizzled out – possibly suffered a bit from having to set up the whole series), but he’s still an auto-buy for me.

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Out June 26

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Maybes for the month:

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell’s MATURE CONTENT (contemporary romance): Their Cyberlove series has a bit too much angst for me and overdoes the hurt/comfort trope, but I’ll probably end up buying this at some point.

Diana Gabaldon’s SEVEN STONES TO FALL (historical): Another of those short story collections with mostly previously-published material, but with a couple of new pieces.  I try to borrow these collections from the library.

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September Links

I thought I’d have more time for blogging now that summer’s over… and then Davis Cup happens.  It’s been an edge-of-seat type of TV spectating over the past couple of days.

Also, rugby.  I’m not a massive rugby fan (understatement of the year).  Let’s just say that I can barely describe the rules of the game (“you need to get the ball to the other side of the field and then you can kick it through the posts for a conversion” is pretty much the extent of my knowledge), but somehow, the fact the World Cup is taking place in the UK has meant I’ve been watching more rugby matches in the past two days than I have in the past year?

So that was a roundabout way of saying that I was planning on writing a couple of reviews*, but instead here are some links and musings…

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1277695Lois McMaster Bujold posted the new cover of FALLING FREE – the first book in her Vorkosigan series, if you go by internal chronological order.

I’d never recommend starting the series with FALLING FREE though – IMO it’s probably best read once you’ve finished all the other books because (a) it’s pretty stand-alone and (b) it’s not her best book by far.  It helps fill in some of the blanks and history, but I tend to suggest new readers start with THE WARRIOR’S APPRENTICE.  I started with CORDELIA’S HONOR myself (an omnibus version of the two books set before TWA) and while I liked both Aral and Cordelia, I didn’t feel the need to continue with the next books.  And then I read TWA, and pretty much devoured the entire series in a couple of months.

Anyway, new cover!  I like it a lot better than her previous self-pubbed versions – the cover artist, Ron Miller, posted in the thread:

…  As I told Lois, too many of her past covers have scarcely done her justice (and not just because they weren’t accurate in details—that’s not really a prime consideration—they were just plain bad art). After two or three false starts where I was going in a more realistic direction, I realized that what she was after was a graphic style that I’d always admired—and have had little opportunity to indulge in. Which made the whole project immensely fun and rewarding for me. The goal, of course, was to create images that were not only meaningful to existing readers, who would be already familiar with the stories, but also attractive to brand-new readers as well…a sometimes tricky balancing act. I can only hope we succeeded!

I totally agree LMB’s not had the greatest luck with covers (though I quite liked the CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE cover).  I’m glad she’s found an artist who can translate her vision into (hopefully) commercial covers – am looking forward to seeing the next set.

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I haven’t been watching the TV adaptation of Diana Gabaldon‘s OUTLANDER, mostly because it’s not on free-to-air TV here in the UK.  But from what I gather, it’s been a pretty good adaptation?  Also, casting appears pretty good in terms of matching the mental images I have of Claire and Jamie.

Diana Gabaldon’s writing the script for one of the Season 2 shows, and she posts about the experience here – it’s an interesting read, even if you haven’t been watching.  Also, funny:

P.S. I had breakfast with George R.R. Martin shortly after the agreement that I’d do a script, and mentioned it to him—knowing that he’d done a good deal of television writing before taking to novels. He laughed and said, “Oh, so you’re about to learn the Great Secret of screenwriting!”

“Reckon so,” I said. “And what’s that, George?” He leaned toward me conspiratorially and said, “It’s MUCH easier than writing a novel!”

No, I haven’t watched GoT either.  Yes, I live under a rock.

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I love the intricate world-building of Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye universe, and was thrilled to see her do more Q&As  about Toby’s world in the lead-up to the release of A RED-ROSE CHAIN.  It’s always fascinating to learn more about the fantastical world that she’s created, especially when it becomes obvious that we see in the books is only the tip of the iceberg.

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*One of those reviews is for Kate Elliott‘s COURT OF FIVES, which I won in a giveaway.  Notable as I very rarely win anything, and then a month later, I won Groupee’s Open Road Media SciFi bundle (offer’s closed now, but it was an excellent bundle).  It was a good month! I promise I’m not saying this because I won the Groupee giveaway, but I love Open Road’s SF/F catalogue.  They publish backlist SF/F, and whoever curates their selection has very good taste.

Books for June

It’s hard to believe it’s June already.  Though I probably suspect I feel like this at the start of every month.  I (sadly) don’t have a proper summer holiday planned, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put my summer reading list together!

So – June releases that have caught my eye:

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21798646Sarina Bowen‘s THE YEAR WE HID AWAY (NA romance): Sarina Bowen’s a new-to-me author who came to my attention when Diana Peterfreund did a cover reveal for the first in her series, THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN.  Which I read a couple of months back, and ended up liking quite a bit – I’ve a soft spot for the college setting (I get all nostalgic for my university days – it’s easy to remember just the good bits, isn’t it!), plus her characters grabbed my attention from the start.  So yes, I’m totally up for the second book.

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

Out now

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21523030Nalini Singh‘s SHIELD OF WINTER (paranormal romance): I dare you to name one PNR fan who’s not waiting on this book.  I’m actually really curious to see where she takes this series now, following the culmination of the main series arc to date in the last book.  And… I love the UK cover.

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Out now (or June 5 for the UK)

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21849648SUMMER RAIN, edited by Sarah Frantz (romance): I’m not usually a fan of romance shorts (I find it difficult to believe in a HEA – or even a HFN – in the space of a short story), but this is for a good cause, and I’ve been meaning to read some of these authors (ahem – Mary Ann Rivers) for quite a while.

What happens when love gets caught in the rain?

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god. Nine romance novelettes, edited by Sarah Frantz.

All proceeds from the volume will be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

Out June 9

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18755531Johanna Lindsey‘s STORMY PERSUASION (historical romance): Remember when I talked about how Justine Davis’ THE SKYPIRATE was my gateway to romance (and you all totally made fun of Dax Silverbrake’s name)?  Well, here’s another of my gateway romance authors – I must have read Johanna Lindsey’s Malory books a million times, and now she’s releasing a new one.  Yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve outgrown Lindsey and this is not going to live up to my expectations… but I’m going to buy it anyway.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Johanna Lindsey returns to the dazzlingly passionate world of the Malorys, an aristocratic family of rakehell adventurers and spirited ladies, in a thrilling new tale of unbridled desires.

James Malory sets sail for America to honor a promise he made to his in-laws: His and Georgina’s daughter, Jacqueline, will have her come-out in America. Judith and Jacqueline Malory are not simply cousins; they are inseparable best friends. Refusing to miss Jacqueline’s come-out in Connecticut, Judith convinces her parents to let her delay her London debut by a few weeks so she can accompany her cousin. Neither girl intends to fall in love during her first Season. But Judith’s plans are overturned when aboard ship she comes face-to-face with the ghost who has been haunting her dreams.

Unknown to the Malorys, deckhand Nathan Tremayne is a smuggler with a noose around his neck. Determined to carry out a covert mission in America that could gain him a pardon, Nathan senses that beautiful Judith Malory is trouble. Somehow the minx knows his secret—and now she’s blackmailing him into doing her bidding. While passions can soar on the high seas, Nathan knows this aristocratic beauty is merely amusing herself with a scoundrel like him.

When the unthinkable happens in Connecticut and the elder Malorys’ hands are tied, Nathan takes command of a dire situation. Captaining his own ship, he turns the tables on Judith, as he steers them into some intense Caribbean heat where he will fight with all his mettle to win the right to her heart.

Out June 10

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19425258Diana Gabaldon‘s WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (historical fantasy): Just how long has it been since a Jamie/Claire book?  That was rhetorical, by the way – it was 2009 according to Goodreads, which means it’s been five years or so since I had to prop up the latest Gabaldon tome on cushions in order to actually read it.  I’m so doing the Kindle version this time.   And no, I can’t really remember what happened in the previous book now – may have to go and search out spoilers.

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.

Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.

The best of historical fiction with a Moebius twist, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD weaves the fibers of a family’s life through the tapestry of historical drama.

Out June 10

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22304800Julie Cross‘s RETURN TO US (YA romance): Her latest Karen/Jordan novella – always a fun read (why yes, I’ve finished this one).  Julie Cross has said she’ll be collecting the novellas to date plus one more (so four in total, if I’ve my maths right) to release as a collection, if you’ve been hesitating about buying the individual installments.

Summer is definitely heating up…

So yeah, that really happened. Karen’s fist connecting with TJ’s face.

Not only is TJ dealing with a decent sized bruise on his face where Karen gave her best attempt at a knock-out match, now he’s got some explaining to do after Jordan finds out what happened.

Karen’s not ready to forgive TJ for his tough-love tactics to help get her bar routine back in full swing, but she is ready to figure out how to get through to Jordan. He’s being a complete idiot, not dealing with his health issues, forcing her to keep things a secret from Coach Bentley.

With her teammate, Stevie’s, help Karen comes up with a plan to steer Jordan in the right direction—all she needs is a night alone with him and the hiking and camping expedition he promised her weeks ago might be the perfect opportunity.

Or her plan could backfire and he could slip further away from her.

While Karen and Jordan are out playing lumberjack couple in the Pocono Mountains, TJ is dealing with a stranger trying to give him advice on his tumbling, some pretty overt advances from one of Nina Jones’ gymnasts (aka: off limits), and a random hook-up that will most likely end up being a big mistake.

Out now

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20870070LB Gregg‘s SAM AND AARON (m/m romance): It’s been a while since a new LB Gregg, IIRC.  Her books have always been quirky fun, so I’m pleased she’s writing again.

With our family’s legacy, Meyers B&B, in the flailing hands of me, Sam Meyers, and my sister Wynne, we’re determined to revive the place. We’ve started a series of blind-date cooking classes, and taken on our first boarder. Granddad is even now rolling in his grave.

Signed up for the class is our new guest, Aaron Saunders, a Californian transplant who’s distractingly handsome and clearly up to no good. I can’t quite figure him out. He blew into town and has been relentless in his search for…something.

The sexy sneak is intriguing. And we’ve had a steamy moment. Or two. But now I can’t stop wondering why he’s searching in secret. From the library, to the historical society, to my own backyard, Aaron leaves no stone unturned or record book unopened. He’s definitely gotten my attention. But that might not be the only thing he’s after.

Out June 16

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Other books on my radar:

  • Meljean Brook‘s self-published novella, FROZEN, to tide me over until the full release of THE KRAKEN KING
  • Maybe the latest anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois, ROGUES – unusually for a Martin/Dozois anthology, the theme and contributors haven’t really grabbed me this time.  Still sounds good though.

 

Books for December

The countdown to Christmas is in full swing and there are SO many things to do.  I’m ticking off the number of working days left in the year myself (ten more days here!) and trying to make time for the (very many) new releases I want to read this month.

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10487466Andrea K Höst‘s BONES OF THE FAIR (fantasy): She’s an auto-buy author for me, so this is really a no-brainer.  It’s a companion novel to CHAMPION OF THE ROSE – I’m looking forward to revisiting that world!

Darest stands on the verge of a Golden Age. The revival of the Rathen line and a blood price won from the Fair has drawn a flood of visitors eager to snatch their share of changing fortune – or at least one of the fabulous prizes offered at the Spring Festival.

Among those coaxed back to the once-failing kingdom is Gentian Calder, daughter of Shapers. Before she can decide whether to risk her life by staying, news arrives to put all other considerations aside. The Atlaran Ambassador and half the heirs of the western kingdoms have disappeared on Darest’s border.

Gentian agrees to join the Diamond Coeurveur and his apprentice in a rush to join the search. Will they find the missing? A plot against Darest? Or uncover older secrets, buried deep?

Out now

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15980677KICKING IT edited by Faith Hunter and Kalayna Price (UF): I love Kalayna Price’s writing, so she’s the main attraction for me in this one.  But I’m also keen to read the contributions by other authors and figure out if I should be trying any other UF series.

Featuring stories by FAITH HUNTER * KALAYNA PRICE * RACHEL CAINE * CHLOE NEILL * ROB THURMAN * SHANNON K. BUTCHER * LUCIENNE DIVER * CHRIS MARIE GREEN * CHRISTINA HENRY

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine has modern-day potions witches Holly and Andrew facing off against a firebrand politician who wears literally killer boots in a Texas-sized rodeo of trouble.

Boot-loving Cadogan vampire Lindsey must team up with off-again, on-again vampire partner Luc when a woman from her past is targeted by supernaturals in New York Times bestselling author Chloe Neill’s all-new adventure.

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman features Trixa Iktomi from her Trickster series dealing with magical vengeance and magical footwear.

Taking kick-ass urban fantasy literally, USA Today bestselling authors Kalayna Price and Faith Hunter bring together the best of the genre to once again prove when you’re fighting supernatural forces, it helps to keep your feet on the ground.

Out now

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16045296Miranda Kenneally‘s RACING SAVANNAH (NA): I’ve enjoyed all of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks books – she has this breezy writing style which sucks you straight into the story, and this should be no exception. Plus horse racing!

They’re from two different worlds.

He lives in the estate house, and she spends most of her time in the stables helping her father train horses. In fact, Savannah has always been much more comfortable around horses than boys. Especially boys like Jack Goodwin—cocky, popular and completely out of her league. She knows the rules: no mixing between the staff and the Goodwin family. But Jack has no such boundaries.

With her dream of becoming a horse jockey, Savannah isn’t exactly one to follow the rules either. She’s not going to let someone tell her a girl isn’t tough enough to race. Sure, it’s dangerous. Then again, so is dating Jack…

Out now

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17279560DANGEROUS WOMEN edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (UF): Every single GRRM/Dozois anthology makes me think “I want!” and this is no exception. It probably would be worth it just for the new Diana Gabaldon story (okay, and the new Jim Butcher), but there are also many others.

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn,  S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands.  Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

Out now

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17859577ELEMENTARY edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): Nothing says Christmas like a Lackey anthology – oh, is that just me?  This is the annual DAW anthology of stories set in one of Mercedes Lackey’s fantasy worlds – like last year, she’s chosen her Elemental Masters universe.  I would have preferred her Valdemar setting, but I’ll get this regardless…

In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book would be the beginning of a fantasy career that would span decades and more than a hundred novels, with no signs of slowing yet.

And among Ms. Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically-acclaimed and beloved as those of the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air and Earth.

Now the voices of other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner…

Out now

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18221555Kelley Armstrong‘s BRAZEN (UF): This is a Subterranean Press release – I’m glad they’re doing an ebook edition as well, because as beautifully-produced as their hardcovers are, I can’t really justify the shipping costs to the UK.

Nicholas Sorrentino knows everyone in the supernatural world considers him the Pack’s playboy, the pretty but not very useful werewolf whose only reputation involves his amorous exploits.

Usually, Nick couldn’t care less what anyone outside the Pack thinks of him. But when it affects his hunt for Malcolm Danvers, a psychotic bogeyman from the Pack’s past, it matters.

Necessity forces Nick to team up with mercenary half-demon Vanessa Callas to run Malcolm to ground in Detroit. Together, they discover Malcolm is more deadly than ever. And he wants to play.

It’s time for Nick to prove he’s not just a lover.

Out now

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Other books I want to get:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (contemporary romance): It’s a Kelly Hunter!  It’s also a novella, so I’m counting on this filling the need for  a quick satisfying read amidst the Christmas bustle.
  • EL Tettensor‘s DARKWALKER (fantasy): Jan brought this to my attention and I’m intrigued now – I’m a sucker for a fantasy/mystery.
  • Julie Cross‘ RETURN TO YOU (NA): The third installment in Julie Cross’s Letters to Nowhere series – I’m looking forward to catching up with Karen & co!
  • Harper Fox‘s TINSEL FISH (contemporary m/m romance): An unexpected sequel but welcome to ONCE UPON A HAUNTED MOOR.
  • Joanna Chambers‘ BEGUILED (historical m/m romance): Another sequel, this time to PROVOKED – I’m hoping for a HEA this time around.

Mini-Reviews: The Last of 2011

Another batch of reviews cross-posted from Goodreads with additional comments in italics – this time it’s the final set of books that I read during 2011.  Be warned: it’s a long-ish post as it was a bit of an uneven reading month and I couldn’t figure out how to split them up without having a post all about “just okay” books.

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Men Under the MistletoeMen Under the Mistletoe edited by Angela James (m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A really good collection of Christmas m/m romances – I loved the Josh Lanyon story (second chance romances always get me), the KA Mitchell contribution was funny-sweet-romantic, and Harper Fox’s story was just different and unusual. The only one that didn’t quite work for me was Ava March’s historical – it was a good read, but not a standout.

I don’t think I’ve ever been disappointed by Carina Press’s Christmas anthologies, and this was a good one with three out of four contributors being favourite authors of mine.  

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Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1)Carol of the Bellskis by Astrid Amara (m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An unexpectedly good read. I loved the inclusion of Jewish traditions in this story and found them fascinating. Romance-wise, I liked how Seth discovered new things about Lars and I believed in their relationship. A strong ending, and I just want to know what happens next now.

I think I have pretty much all of Astrid Amara’s backlist (though I’ve only finished her contemporaries to date). I really like her writing – I just checked as I don’t recall seeing any new releases from her lately, and found out that she’s been working on a romance set during an alternate-universe Crimean War.  Sounds very interesting. 

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McKettrick's Heart (McKettrick Men, #3) (McKettricks, #8)McKettrick’s Heart (McKettrick Men, #3) by Linda Lael Miller (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heart-warming story, though be warned, a bit of a tear-jerker. I did feel the climax was a bit of letdown after all the build-up, but a satisfying read overall. The relationship between Keegan and his cousins was hilarious, and I’ll be picking up their books.

I can go months without reading a Linda Lael Miller, and then I sometimes feel as though I need a LLM fix, even though she can be hit or miss for me.  I think I picked this off the shelves at random – it hit the right buttons. 

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Bad Boyfriend (Bad in Baltimore, #2)Bad Boyfriend by K.A. Mitchell (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After some slight confusion about exactly who was who, I got into the story – this was a romance with a nice dollop of angst, and there was a good build-up to a satisfying ending, though I’m not quite sure if Quinn’s relationship with his ex’s family had been properly resolved? Also, minor spoiler – click through to read.

I liked this, but not one of her standout books, IMO.  I’m hoping the new release works better for me. 

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Fate's Edge (The Edge, #3)Fate’s Edge by Ilona Andrews (paranormal romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I find the Edge world fascinating, and George and Jack, who play quite a large part in this book, pretty much stole the show whenever they appeared. As for the Kaldar/Audrey relationship, I liked them well enough and thought they suited each other.However, I never really got into this book – it may be that the writing just failed to capture my imagination completely. A good read, but not one of my favourite Ilona Andrews.

I bought (and read) all the Edge books, but they never quite worked as well for me as the Kate Daniels books.  I think part of it is because the world-building felt a bit more forced compared to the Kate Daniels’ alternate-Atlanta world.  It also may be due to the fact we get different h/h pairings for each book in this series – I certainly feel more invested in George and Jack as recurring characters… 

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Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner (Lord John Grey, #3)Lord John and the Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon (historical mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book kept me occupied during a very long plane journey. While there was more Jamie than I expected, I liked how the book filled in some of the gaps in the main Outlander story. I really enjoy the relationship between Lord John and his brother Hal – it’s not something we’re often given the chance to see. And as with all Diana Gabaldon’s books, this book is jam-packed with entertaining historical detail. I’m always glad to revisit the Outlander world, and this was a solid read.

Diana Gabaldon did a Q&A and cover reveal on the upcoming Outlander novel, if you missed it.  Part of me almost prefers her “shorter” side-novels about Lord John, because they’re not the epic Claire/Jamie sagas where I have to remember this large cast of characters, but I’m glad we finally get to find out what happened next. 

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Fire and Ice (Buchanan, #7)Fire and Ice by Julie Garwood (romantic suspense)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m at a loss as to why something that I would think endearing (possibly?) in a historical romance doesn’t translate to contemporary. In the book, the heroine says/thinks something along the lines of “He loves her (her being the best friend, IIRC) and I love her therefore he is okay” (yes, I’m paraphrasing wildly but it’s been a while and I don’t have the book to hand). And I sit there and think “naive girl”. Whereas I swear I have read something similar in Julie Garwood’s historicals and probably went “Awww…”.

So that aside, FIRE AND ICE was okay, nothing special.

Ha. I did struggle with this one.

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Promises in Death (In Death, #28)Promises in Death by J.D. Robb (futuristic romantic suspense)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I ended up skimming through most of this book, to be honest. It was an impulse buy, and as with the more recent In Death books I’ve read, I didn’t really get into the story – it may be that I’ve read too many of these books and they’re all starting to come across as too similar. I did find it interesting to get to know Morris in more depth (I have to say he was not what I imagined him to be) and yay, Eve gets a new car! Apart from that, Eve was Eve, Roarke was Roarke, etc etc – no earth-shaking developments in this book.

I think I’ve pretty much given up on this series.  Unless I read a review that says Nora Roberts has completely shaken things up.

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Trio of Sorcery (Diana Tregarde, #0.5) (Jennifer Talldeer, #2)Trio of Sorcery (Diana Tregarde, #0.5) by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was familiar with Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde and Jennifer Talldeer books and was keen to read more stories set in their world – they were good stories, but not particularly memorable. I did like how she explored “previous contemporary” settings in the first two stories – it brought a few nostalgic memories back. The third story featuring a new protagonist focused on computers (and I’m sure it’ll become “previous contemporary” quite quickly as well) – again, it was a decent read, but didn’t stand out. I’m glad I restrained myself and waited for the library request to come through. It’s possibly worth the price if you get it in paperback, but not worth the hardcover, IMO.

I remember being so tempted to get the hardcover for this one, primarily because of the new Diana Tregarde and Jennifer Talldeer stories. I’m glad common sense prevailed.  Nice to revisit these old settings though. 

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Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, #2)Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter (YA)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A fun, light read, but IMO, the book lacked substance and left me somewhat unsatisfied. I continue reading this series because it’s such a great concept (secret spy-school for girls!), but I’m not invested.

I keep requesting this series from the library because I want these books to click with me, dammit.  They end up being more mind-candy than anything else.

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A Stone Creek Christmas (Stone Creek, #4) (Silhouette Special Edition #1939)A Stone Creek Christmas (Stone Creek, #4) by Linda Lael Miller (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Not a massively memorable story – I bought it primarily because I was in the mood for Christmas stories. I think the talking-to-animals angle plus Kris Kringle required a suspension of disbelief that I couldn’t quite manage.

And this was a Linda Lael Miller miss.  Too cute-sy for me, IIRC.

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Legacies (Shadow Grail, #1)Legacies by Mercedes Lackey (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have a soft spot for academy/boarding school type stories, so was pleasantly surprised to find out that this was one. But at the end, I wasn’t quite sure where the overall story was going and I didn’t feel invested in the characters. There wasn’t enough pay-off to make me interested in the next book.

It’s been a while since a new Mercedes Lackey novel really worked for me, so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that this was no exception.  I noticed the final book in this trilogy is out this year, but I’m probably not going to bother. 

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Books for February

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you’re not really into the book you’re reading* but also too lazy to reach out and pick another book?  I’m hoping one of these new releases will get me out of this almost-but-not-quite reading slump (with the exception of the first, because I read that last month).

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15802940Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s NECESSITY’S CHILD (SF): It’s the 16th in the Liaden Universe series, but the authors have made a point of branding this as a “portal” book into the series.  I finished this back in January when Baen released the e-version, and while I agree it is a pretty standalone book, I don’t know if the story would have been compelling enough for me to search out the previous books in this series if I hadn’t read any of the Liaden books before.

Bonus link: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller did a Big Idea guest post about NECESSITY’S CHILD at John Scalzi’s blog, where they talk a bit more about the ideas and inspirations behind the story.

Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and clan intrigue – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers.

The kompani sees none as an enemy, and yet few as friend. The kompani exists in many places, living quietly in the shadows, thriving off the bounty that others have no wit to secure, nor skill to defend. Their private history is unwritten; their recall rooted in dance and dream.

The humans of Clan Korval is in many ways the opposite of the kompani. The interstellar trading clan is wealthy in enemies, fortunate in friends.  Korval protects itself with vigor, and teaches even its youngest children the art of war.

And when representatives of Clan Korval arrive on the planet Surebleak where the kompani has lived secret and aloof, it seems to the kompani that they are borne by the very winds of change.  Change can be a boon for in change lies opportunity.

But the arrival of Clan Korval, establishing itself upon Surebleak with its friends, its enemies, and, most of all, its plans may bring catastrophe, changing the culture and the kompani, forever.

In this time of change, the lives of three people intersect — Kezzi, apprentice to the kompani‘s grandmother; Syl Vor, Clan Korval’s youngest warrior; and Rys, a man without a world, or a past.

Out now (excerpt)

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13758481THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, edited by John Joseph Adams (SF/F): Even the title sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Plus some of my auto-buy authors are on the list of contributors (Seanan McGuire, Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novik).  I’m definitely checking this one out.

From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.

An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.

Out Feb 13 (book site with excerpts and interviews)

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15744557Jennifer Echols‘ STAR CROSSED (contemporary romance): Nath and Ames @ Breezing Through brought this to my attention when they posted their list of February new releases.  I’ve only read one Echols (I know, hides), but GOING TOO FAR most definitely left an impression.  And STAR CROSSED sounds like plain fun.

The first novel in the sizzling new Stargazer series about a public relations firm, the stars they represent, and everything they’d rather keep private.

He said . . . She said.

Publicist Wendy Mann has always competed hotly with her rival Daniel Blackstone, but this time they’re headed for a collision. Wendy’s job is on the line if she doesn’t save the image of a spoiled young starlet who’s posting provocative pictures of herself all over the Internet in a snarky attempt at revenge on her former boyfriend. Daniel is representing the ex, a onetime teen heartthrob who never grew up. With the feuding Hollywood pair scheduled to appear on the same Las Vegas awards show, Daniel and Wendy are determined to do whatever it takes to defend their own clients.

Unfortunately, the chemistry between Wendy and Daniel is even more explosive than that of their Hollywood stars. L-O-V-E was always a four-letter word for these two ultra-competitors; they never counted on the scorching heat that erupts between them. But Wendy’s high-gloss exterior hides a dark past—one that’s lurking behind the bright Vegas lights. Their careers are on the line, and so is Wendy’s life…

Out February 26

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13456081Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING (fantasy): I fangirl massively about all of AKH’s books, so I’m obviously thrilled we get a new one so soon after AND ALL THE STARS.  And I love what the author says about HUNTING:

“Hunting” was written in response to my extreme frustration with Georgette Heyer‘s Regency Buck. Much as I love Heyer’s books, on occasion she takes a promising young lady, and just…foils her at every turn. My need for a heroine capable of getting herself out of her own scrapes produced Ash Lenthard, who does not so much kick ass, as tap-dance across the heads of her enemies…

There’s a Goodreads giveaway happening at the moment, if you’re interested (although – *blinks* – with more than 7600 people entered, I’m not quite sure that it’s worth entering).

Ash Lenthard doesn’t call herself a vigilante. She’s merely prone to random acts of derring-do, and occasional exhibitions of tomfoolery. Her friends, the Huntsmen, have never stepped over the line while patrolling the streets of Luinhall.

That was before the murder of Ash’s beloved guardian, Genevieve.

Now, Ash Lenthard is out for blood and even when the hunt sends her to the palace, on a collision course with a past identity she would do anything to forget, Ash cannot, will not, back down.

Out February 28 (excerpt)

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*In case you were wondering, it’s LM Montgomery’s PAT OF SILVER BUSH.  I normally love LM Montgomery’s novels (and her Emily trilogy is up there on my list of all-time favourites), but I’m not really caring for Pat and her all-encompassing love for Silver Bush, and also struggling a bit with the way Judy’s thick accent is conveyed on the page.  Has anyone else read PAT and is it worth finishing?

Five Random Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books for November

I know.

It’s been a rather long time – and I swear I haven’t been reading Kelly Hunters the whole while!  Ahem.

Anyway, it is still (just) November, and here are new releases I have been eyeing.

Eileen WilksDEATH MAGIC (urban fantasy): I am a big fan of this admittedly long-running UF series, so was thrilled when Ms Wilks announced the November release date for the latest installment (there is usually just one book a year, and the previous one came out at the beginning of 2011).  The romance reader in me loves how the Lily/Rule partnership forms the backdrop of this series, and the overarching plot is starting to become more intriguing with every book.

Blurb from Goodreads:

DEATH MAGIC opens with Special Agent Lily Yu in Washington, D.C. with her fiancé–lupi prince Rule Turner—to testify before a Senate subcommittee about her role in the magical collapse of a mountain last month. She is not there to tell them about the strange legacy she carries from that event—or about the arcane bond between her and Rule–or what her boss in Unit Twelve of the FBI’s Magical Crimes Division is really up to. She sure won’t tell them that the lupi are at war with an Old One who wants to remake humanity in her own image.

Lily is managing the conflict between her duty as an officer of the law and the need for secrecy pretty well . . . until the rabidly anti-magic senator who chairs that committee is murdered. The line between right and wrong, always so clear to her, becomes hopelessly blurred as events catapult them all towards disaster, and prophecies of a cataclysmic end to the country she loves and serves–and to the entire race of lupi–seem well on their way to being fulfilled.

Ms Wilks also has a story in the anthology TIED WITH A BOW (together with Lora Leigh, Virginia Kantra, and Kimberley Frost) – I don’t read the other authors, but will probably cave in and get this one just for the Eileen Wilks contribution.

Out now

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Tanya Huff‘s THE WILD WAYS (urban fantasy): This is the sequel to last year’s THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM, which caught me by surprise as I was expecting a high fantasy, instead of an urban fantasy.  And then it turned out to be a really enjoyable read (albeit in a slightly twisted way), so a sequel?  Especially when completely unexpected?  Bonus.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Alysha Gale’s cousin Charlotte is a Wild Power, who allies herself with a family of Selkies in a fight against offshore oil drilling. The oil company has hired another of the Gale family’s Wild Powers, the fearsome Auntie Catherine, to steal the Selkies’ sealskins. To defeat her, Charlotte will have to learn what born to be Wild really means in the Gale family…

Out now

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Diana Gabaldon‘s LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER (historical mystery): I love this spin-off series because (a) a Gabaldon book I can actually finish within a week and (b) Lord John – need I say more…

Blurb from Goodreads:

In this highly-anticipated new novel, Diana Gabaldon brings back one of her most compelling characters: the unforgettable Lord John Grey – soldier, gentleman, and no mean hand with a blade. Set in the heart of the eighteenth century, Lord John’s world is one of mystery and menace. Diana Gabaldon brilliantly weaves together the strands of Lord John’s secret and public lives.

Out now

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Ilona AndrewsFATE’S EDGE (paranormal romance): I couldn’t help smiling when I read the blurb from Goodreads – if you’ve read the previous book, you’ll know exactly why… Kaldar, the hero of this one?  Excellent.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Audrey Callahan left behind her life in the Edge, and she’s determined to stay on the straight and narrow. But when her brother gets into hot water, the former thief takes on one last heist and finds herself matching wits with a jack of all trades…

Kaldar Mar-a gambler, lawyer, thief, and spy-expects his latest assignment tracking down a stolen item to be a piece of cake, until Audrey shows up. But when the item falls into the hands of a lethal criminal, Kaldar realizes that in order to finish the job, he’s going to need Audrey’s help…

Out now

Books for October

New month, new releases – here are the ones I’m getting:

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ANGELS OF DARKNESS anthology (fantasy): It’s rare when you’ve read all four authors in an anthology; it’s even rarer when you like all four.  But that’s the case with this one – Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, and Sharon Shinn all in one book. *happy dance*

I get my Shinn fix for the year (I don’t think she has a full-length novel out this year?) as she returns to the world of Samaria.  Ilona Andrews’ contribution is from the world of the Alphas mentioned on their blog every now and again – looking forward to finally reading it.  Nalini Singh contributes a Guild Hunter novella and Meljean Brook a Guardian one – I admit to stalling somewhat on both these series, so this may give me the impetus to continue.

The (slightly boring) blurb:

Tales of alpha angels…from four alpha authors.  They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.

Out Oct 4

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Erin McCarthy‘s SLOW RIDE (contemporary romance): I pretty much glommed the first three books in one go when I came across this stock-car racing series – it was the perfect combination of testosterone-filled settings and steamy romance.  However, the fourth and most recent (THE CHASE) didn’t really do it for me – I just didn’t get the relationship and found the plot a bit OTT.  Having said that, I’m still planning on getting this one just because of how much I liked the first three.

Blurb:

As a tribute to her late journalist father, Tuesday Jones is planning a career benefit, auctioning off racing memorabilia and meet-and-greets with drivers. Ex-racing star Diesel Lange has had his own brush with death, and is determined not to waste another minute of his life- especially when he meets Tuesday. He wants nothing more than to shift their romance into high gear, but he knows she’s still grieving. Can Diesel do the one thing he could never do on the track and take it slow?

Out Oct 4 (excerpt)

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Catherine Asaro‘s CARNELIANS (SF): Speaking of series stalling, I never quite got around to finishing the prequel to this book, DIAMOND STAR – not because it wasn’t good, but because I had a feeling it was going to go somewhere rather painful.  And I didn’t want to read that.  I know – stupid, huh?  Anyway, I now have to bite the bullet and finish that story because I really want to read the latest in her Skolian series.

Blurb:

Two emperors navigate an uneasy peace, while a powerful trader guild does everything in its power to bring on war. And as if Kelric, the Skolian Imperator, didn’t have enough problems, his own brother—who happens to be a rock star of galactic proportions—has a hit song that calls the traders out as the hidebound blueblood jerks they are, and pleads for an end to centuries of war. Kelric and his Eubian Trader Empire counterpart Jabriol attempt finally to meet in a public summit and sign a treaty that will save billions of lives and end the grinding, millennium-long war. But assassins lurk everywhere, and intrigue is afoot as the baroque old order has no intention of giving up its war-bought privilege and power without a fight to the death—and they don’t care if they take the rest of galactic civilization down with them.

Out now (excerpt)

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DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (urban fantasy): These two editors have a talent for attracting big names to their genre-crossover anthologies, and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS is no exception.  There’s Patricia Briggs, Diana Gabaldon (new Lord John Grey novella!), and Charlaine Harris amongst others.  And this time around, the theme is mysteries, so of course I’m going to cave and buy.

Blurb:

All new strange cases of death and magic in the city by some of the biggest names in urban fantasy.

In this all-new collection of urban fantasy stories, editors George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois explore the places where mystery waits at the end of every alley and where the things that go bump in the night have something to fear…

Out now

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Tamora Pierce‘s MASTIFF (YA fantasy): The previous book was published back in April 2009 – talk about a long wait for this trilogy to be wrapped up.  I’ll be honest – none of Tamora Pierce’s later books have yet displaced the original Alanna quartet from the top of my favourites list, but I’m always up for another visit to Tortall, especially when it’s set in the past and gives us tantalising peeks at how Alanna’s Tortall was shaped.

Blurb:

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

Out now