Books for December

I am so ready for the yearend holidays.  Most people in my office are taking the week between Christmas and New Year off, and I’m no exception – I’m looking forward to having a few lazy days once the Christmas festivities are over!  And happily, there will be quite a few December new releases to keep me company…

29011312Jen Frederick’s DOWNED (NA romance): I had a lot of fun reading the first book in this series (especially with its nods to old-school romance tropes!), but haven’t yet made time to read its sequel.  Still getting the third book though.

He’s the guy no one likes…

Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.

She’s the girl everyone loves…

Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.

Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.

Out now

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31421764Josh Lanyon’s THE CURSE OF THE BLUE SCARAB (M/M romance/mystery): While Lanyon is an autobuy author for me, her more recent releases have been of the hit-or-miss variety for me. So I’m feeling a bit nervous about this Edwardian-set story, which she describes as being “…very kooky”.

Who or what is responsible for the gruesome deaths of members of the secret society known as the Order of Osiris?

Dr. Armiston, an irascible, confirmed bachelor who believes in medicine not mysticism, is certain the deaths are only tragic accidents.

The members of the Order of Osiris suspect something more sinister is at work. They profess to believe an ancient curse has been visited upon their society. Handsome and mysterious Captain Maxwell requests Armiston’s help.

Tarot cards? Egyptology? Spiritualism? Armiston has little patience with the superficial and silly pastimes of the rich, but he does love a good puzzle. Or could it be that he is more drawn to young Captain Maxwell than he wishes to admit?

Either way, Armiston must solve the secret of the cursed sarcophagus very soon, for Captain Maxwell is the next slated to die…

Out Dec 9

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29345916Genevieve Cogman’s THE BURNING PAGE (fantasy): Now I’ve no doubts about this book.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past two books in this series and this one has been pre-ordered.

The third title in Genevieve Cogman’s clever and exciting The Invisible Library series, The Burning Page is an action-packed literary adventure!

Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she’s not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.

However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy – particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library’s destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted ‘join me or die’ job offer. Meanwhile, Irene’s old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.

Out Dec 15 (UK)

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28756485Ilona Andrews’ ONE FELL SWEEP (urban fantasy): I’ve heroically restrained from reading the online serialised version (okay, it wasn’t that much of an effort – I’m too much in favour of instant gratification to really do serials).

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has and may have to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that.

Out Dec 20

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30197317Jodi Taylor’s MY NAME IS MARKHAM (fantasy): I normally don’t buy standalone short stories, but I’ve totally loved Jodi Taylor’s time-travelling series this year.  It’s such brilliant, hilarious, heart-warming fun, and this Christmas short sounds fantastic.

Like a smaller and much scruffier Greta Garbo – finally – Markham speaks!

It’s Christmas and time for the first (and almost certainly last) St Mary’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party – attendance compulsory, by order of Dr Bairstow. Discovered practising his illegal reindeer dance and poo-dropping routine, our hero, along with fellow disaster-magnets Peterson and Maxwell, is despatched to Anglo-Saxon England to discover the truth about Alfred and the cakes.

In his own words, our hero reveals Major Guthrie’s six-point guide to a successful assignment and the Security Section’s true opinion of the History Department. And of historians in general. And of one historian in particular.

And, just to be clear, it is time travel, for God’s sake. Forget all that pretentious ‘investigating major historical events in contemporary time’ rubbish.

This is history without the capital ‘H’. Because this is the way the Security Section rolls!

Out Dec 25 (the perfect Christmas morning read!)

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31421768Josh Lanyon’s SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS (M/M romance): Speaking of not buying shorts… it’s an Adrien English story!  ‘Nuff said.

God Help You Merry Gentlemen…

Arriving home early after spending Christmas in jolly old England, sometimes amateur sleuth Adrien English discovers alarming developments at Cloak and Dagger Books–and an old acquaintance seeking help in finding his missing boyfriend.

Fortunately, Adrien just happens to know a really good private eye…

Out Dec 29

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And one maybe:

  • The fantasy anthology UNFETTERED II – while I’m trying to stop with the anthology buying, this is raising money for a good cause and also has some big-name contributors (including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, amongst others)…

I should probably mention Eileen Wilks’ DRAGON SPAWN is also a December release – it’s the latest in her World of the Lupi series, and would normally be in my list above.  However, I grabbed a copy when I saw it early on the shelves last week… and let’s just say it didn’t work for me.  It’s basically half a story, with a very abrupt cliffhanger ending, which was disappointing especially when the story itself took a while to get going.  I’ll still get the next book to see what happens next, but I’m starting to feel that this series is running out of steam.

 

Books for November

There are so many new releases in November that I want to read… and I’ve been reading quite a few of them, hence the radio silence.  I also caved and bought the eARC of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (there’s a really interesting (and spoilerific) discussion on Goodreads, with LMB participating) – my first eARC purchase and I have no regrets.  I figured that if I’d waited until the official February release, I would have been so excited about the book that there was no way GJRQ could have lived up to my expectations… you can see how I talked myself into buying the early version, right?  It’s fairly clean, if that helps, and by that, I mean I’ve read finished books with many more typos.

But enough about 2016 books and back to November new releases – this is a long one (with a couple of mini-reviews), so brace yourself.

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23453463Eileen WilksMIND MAGIC (urban fantasy): It’s hard to believe this is the 12th(!) book in the Lupi series.  And unlike some series which are in severe need of winding up, this series is still delivering.  I finished MIND MAGIC in one night, and really enjoyed it.  The start was a bit weak (with a new character’s POV taking up the first couple of chapters), but once Lily and Rule made an appearance, I was hooked.  It’s always fun to explore more of Wilks’ Lupi world, and while I’d loved to have seen more of the usual gang, Lily pretty much carried the book by herself.  As she tends to do.  Probably not one for new readers, but if you’re a long-time Lily and Rule fan, I suspect you’d be pleased.

FBI agent Lily Yu’s mind is a dangerous place to be in the latest Novel of the Lupi…

Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve—until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status—despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds–because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Out now

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18627947Karen Chance‘s REAP THE WIND (urban fantasy): Speaking of long-running UF series, this is “only” Karen Chance’s seventh Cassie Palmer book, but it feels like it should be a lot longer because of the wait between books.  It’s been two years since the last book, and I was a bit nervous starting RtW, because Chance does love her complicated plots combined with superfastnonstopaction.  And have I said it’s been two years?

I needn’t have worried though, because I quickly sank back into Cassie’s world and by the second chapter, I had remembered how much I love the way Chance mixes up time-travelling seers, vampires, and mages to give good story.  She still packs a lot of action into relatively few pages, but the plot held together just fine (not to mention that I found myself giggling madly at times – some lovely exchanges here!).  Best of all though, was the fact that Cassie finally gains some agency in this book and starts to take control of her life – I’m really looking forward to the next book now.

You’d think that being Chief Seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in and out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the time-line dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two…

Out now

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20980680Kate Elliott‘s BLACK WOLVES (fantasy): After reading Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES and finishing her Spiritwalker books in the space of a couple of weeks, I was looking forward to her new book.  Spoiler: it didn’t disappoint.

BLACK WOLVES felt like a modern spin on epic fantasy, if that makes sense – still very recognisably epic fantasy, but with refreshingly different takes on the more traditional fantasy tropes.  I loved her variety of protagonists (including two older POV characters, one male and one female), though the multiple POVs did make me feel slightly distanced from the characters.  I also liked how different cultures and backgrounds were deftly interwoven into the story, making the world feel like a living, breathing one.  There were some interesting writing choices, including the usage of present tense for flashbacks and a time-jump about a quarter(?) of the way through the book – all of these worked for me, and I’m looking forward to the next book.

What I’ve just found out is that BLACK WOLVES is set in the same world as her Crossroads trilogy, but several decades on.  Which is interesting in itself, but should I have read the Crossroads books first???  I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything, but I wonder if I’d have gotten more out of the story had I known any previous history…

For readers of Brent Weeks and fans of Netflix’s Marco Polo comes a rich and inspired fantasy tale of warriors and nobles who must take the most desperate gamble of all: awaken allies more destructive than the hated king they hope to overthrow. Kate Elliott’s new trilogy is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father’s fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix’s Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

Out now

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22567177Juliet Marillier‘s TOWER OF THORNS (fantasy): Onto the books I haven’t yet read… a new Marillier is always a cause for celebration, and we return to her Blackthorn & Grim world here.  While it’s not exactly Sevenwaters (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), I still really enjoyed the first book in this series.

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier’s “lavishly detailed”* Blackthorn & Grim series continues as a mysterious creature holds an enchanted and imperiled ancient Ireland in thrall.

Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

Out now

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21528313Sharon Shinn‘s JEWELED FIRE (fantasy): While I was a bit lukewarm about the second instalment in this series, I have a soft spot for this world. And I do love Shinn’s writing in general.

The national bestselling author of Troubled Waters and Royal Airs returns to her Elemental Blessings series with the story of a young princess who will need more than blessings to survive in a kingdom where everyone will do whatever it takes to claim the throne…

As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue—until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country.

After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress’s three nephews. But Corene is not the only foreign princess in search of a crown.

Unaccustomed to being anyone’s friend, Corene is surprised to find companionship among her fellow competitors. But behind Malinqua’s beautiful facade lie many secrets.

The visiting princesses are more hostages than guests. And as the deadly nature of the court is revealed, Corene must rely on both her new allies and Foley’s unwavering protection—for the game she has entered is far more perilous than she ever imagined…

Out now

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27271538HOW WE BEGAN (LGBT romance anthology): Yes, proceeds go to a good cause, but also contributors include Alexis Hall (he has a knack of bringing contemporary romance to life) and Amy Jo Cousins (I’ve really enjoyed her Bend or Break NA romance books).

How does love begin?

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

Out Nov 9

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19504964Ilona AndrewsSWEEP IN PEACE (urban fantasy): I’ve not read the free online serialised version, so this will be an all-new Ilona Andrews book for me. I found the first Innkeepers book good fun, so am looking forward to this.

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Out Nov 13

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25719256Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (NA M/M romance): I think this may be Josh Lanyon’s first NA romance?  Looks promising, and I love the cover that Carina Press produced.

In this fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper from multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon, twentysomething Jefferson Blythe gets lost, gets found, falls in love and comes out…all in the span of one wild summer

After his first relationship goes disastrously awry, Jeff Blythe uses his savings to tour Europe—the old-fashioned way. Armed with his grandfather’s 1960 copy of Esquire’s Europe in Style, Jeff sets off looking for adventure but finds much, much more than he bargained for…

In London, dodging questions from shady criminals about a mysterious package he most certainly does not have is simple. Losing the gunmen who are convinced he’s someone else is not. And when George, an old friend, offers him help—and a place to stay, and perhaps something more—things become complicated.

Is George really who he seems? And is Jeff finally ready to act on his attraction?

From Paris to Rome and back again, Jeff and George fall for each other, hard, while quite literally running for their lives. But trusting George at his word may leave Jeff vulnerable—in more ways than one.

Out Nov 16

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26400106Amy Jo CousinsREAL WORLD (M/M romance): I mentioned Amy Jo Cousins’ Bend or Break series above, and this is the latest instalment.  I requested an ARC of this because I liked the first few books so much, and this was a really sweet wrap-up to Tom/Reese’s story (which started in OFF CAMPUS).

Set several years later, while the initial conflict felt slightly forced (or perhaps I just wanted to thump Tom’s head for not learning from his previous mistakes), REAL WORLD ended up being a steamy read that gave me the warm fuzzies at the same time, if that’s something that’s possible.  It was lovely to see old friends pop up – I’m not sure if REAL WORLD isthe last book in this series, but if it is, it’s a fitting bookend to a strong NA series.

Also, what I love about Cousins’ Bend or Break books (or actually, her writing in general) is the way she deals with social issues – they’re front and centre, but the “message”, if that’s what it’s called, doesn’t detract from the story-telling nor the romance at all.  If anything, the current-day issues she highlights make her stories feel more real with added depth.

When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.

Out Nov 17

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25704796Joanna ChambersUNNATURAL (historical M/M romance): Joanna Chambers does historical romance well, and this one promises much. I think I read an excerpt on her website and added UNNATURAL to my must-get list immediately.

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Out Nov 24

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And that’s not quite all (I know).  The other November new releases that are maybes for me this month:

  • Astrid Amara‘s CRASH PLUS EXPENSES (M/M romance): I like her writing, not so sure about the premise of this one.
  • Richelle Mead‘s SOUNDLESS (YA fantasy): Mead’s been a bit hit-or-miss for me lately, and while I love(!) the cover of SOUNDLESS, I’m nervous this is going to be on the wrong side of the appropriation line?  I’m waiting on reviews before deciding.
  • Carla Kelly‘s DOING NO HARM (historical romance): I will cave and buy this sooner or later.
  • Janet Evanovich‘s TRICKY TWENTY-TWO (mystery): So, remember when I said some series should be brought to an end?  I err… will still likely request this from the library.
  • Sally Andrew‘s RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER (mystery): No idea what prompted me to add this to my to-read shelf (anyone review it recently?), but it sounds interesting.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal‘s WORD PUPPETS (fantasy): A collection of short stories (with gorgeous cover) – I really liked her “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” (free on tor.com), so would love to read more of her shorts.

Books for October

Hard to believe we’re heading into the final stretch of 2014, right?  Part of me hates that it’ll soon be dark by 4pm, I’ve to unearth my winter coats from the depths of my wardrobe, and it’s basically going to be miserably cold for the next few months (though the weekend was practically summer weather – what’s up with that?).  But hey, new books?  That always cheers me up.

October new releases on my radar:

The Understatement of the Year coverSarina Bowen‘s THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR (NA M/M romance): I’ve actually read an ARC of this one already, review coming in the next couple of days.  I’m loving her Harkness College series.

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

Out Oct 1

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16219338Josh Lanyon‘s THE BOY WITH THE PAINFUL TATTOO (M/M romance/mystery): A new Josh Lanyon!  It’s no secret I love his writing – he has a knack for getting feelings into the story so easily.  This is the third book in the Holmes & Moriarity mystery series – it’ll be good to see how Kit’s getting on, insecurities and all.

It’s moving day at Chez Holmes. Somehow, against Kit’s better instincts, he and J.X. are setting up house together. But while J.X. is off at a writing conference, Kit unpacks a crate that should contain either old books or new china. It doesn’t. Within the mounds of green Styrofoam popcorn is a dead body. A very dead body.

There goes the neighborhood.

Out Oct 5

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17340103Jacqueline Carey‘s POISON FRUIT (urban fantasy): Her UF series is starting to grow on me.  They’re no Kushiel books, but they are fun and fast-paced, and I don’t even mind that love triangle thing.

The hot-as-Hel series with the “Sookie Stackhouse type of vibe” (Paranormal Horizon) is back—but this time the paranormal Midwestern town of Pemkowet is feeling a frost in the air and the residents are frozen in fear…

The Pemkowet Visitors Bureau has always promoted paranormal tourism—even if it has downplayed the risks (hobgoblins are unpredictable). It helps that the town is presided over by Daisy Johanssen, who as Hel’s liaison is authorized by the Norse goddess of the dead to keep Pemkowet under control. Normally, that’s easier to do in the winter, when bracing temperatures keep folks indoors.

But a new predator is on the prowl, and this one thrives on nightmares. Daisy is on her trail and working intimately with her partner and sometime lover from the Pemkowet PD, sexy yet unavailable werewolf Cody Fairfax. But even as the creature is racking up innocent victims, a greater danger looms on Pewkowet’s horizon.

As a result of a recent ghost uprising, an unknown adversary—represented by a hell-spawn lawyer with fiery powers of persuasion—has instigated a lawsuit against the town. If Pemkowet loses, Hel’s sovereignty will be jeopardized, and the fate of the eldritch community will be at stake. The only one who can prevent it is Daisy—but she’s going to have to confront her own worst nightmare to do it.

Out Oct 7

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20757528Julie Cross‘s WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU (YA romance): You know how much I loved her LETTERS TO NOWHERE books, right?  Another YA romance from Julie Cross sounds exactly like what I need.

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

Out Oct 7

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20299706Eileen WilksUNBINDING (urban fantasy): Is it just me, or does it feel like ages since the last World of the Lupi novel?

In the newest Novel of the Lupi, the human and elven worlds are both about to come under attack…

After questing through the sidhe realms with her ex-hellhound lover, Nathan, Kai Tallman Michalski has finally returned home. But she knows Nathan will eventually be called back to serve his queen—and Kai will have to decide whether to enter her majesty’s service as well. Sure, the job comes with great bennies, but there’s one big downside: she would have to swear absolute fealty to the Queen of Winter.

For now, though, Kai is glad to be home, and glad that Nathan completed his mission for his queen with surprising ease. But what seemed to be a quick conclusion turns out to be anything but. The two of them helped thwart the sidhe god of chaos—and he is not happy about that. He’s got plans for them. Plans, too, for the sidhe who killed him some three millennia ago. Nor has he abandoned his plans for Earth, as they learn when chaos begins bursting out all over…

Out Oct 7

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21529170KJ CharlesFLIGHT OF MAGPIES (historical M/M romance/fantasy): The last Crane & Stephen!  I’m looking forward to seeing how KJ Charles ends their adventures.

With the justiciary understaffed, a series of horrifying occult murders to be investigated, and a young student who is flying—literally—off the rails, magical law enforcer Stephen Day is under increasing stress. And his relationship with his aristocratic lover, Lord Crane, is beginning to feel the strain.

Crane chafes at the restrictions of England’s laws, and there’s a worrying development in the blood-and-sex bond he shares with Stephen. A development that makes a sensible man question if they should be together at all.

When a thief strikes at the heart of Crane’s home, a devastating loss brings his closest relationships into bitter conflict—especially his relationship with Stephen. And as old enemies, new enemies, and unexpected enemies paint the lovers into a corner, the pressure threatens to tear them apart.

Warning: Contains hot-blooded sex, cold-blooded murder, sinister magical goings-on and a lot of swearing.

Out Oct 28

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20705702Ilona AndrewsBURN FOR ME (paranormal romance): A new series from this writing team.  I’m definitely getting, but as their previous paranormal romance series was a bit hit-or-miss for me, I am not entirely sure whether this one will work for me.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Out Oct 28

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Possibles:

  • FEARSOME MAGICS, edited by Jonathan Strahan (fantasy): I really liked the last anthology he edited (FEARSOME JOURNEYS) and the theme for this one sounds right up my alley.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER IN GROSVENOR SQUARE (historical mystery): I’ve finished all previous eight books in this series (I’ve not been talking very much about them, true), and I’m glad she’s still writing them.
  • MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance): Primarily because it’s edited by Stephanie Perkins, but lots of familiar YA names here, including Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, and Jenny Han (did I mention I loved her TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE?). Slightly offset by the fact I don’t think short stories and romance mix well together, but we’ll see.
  • Sarah Morgan‘s MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS (contemporary romance): I had mixed feelings on the previous two in this series, but I was very intrigued by Tyler, and you know, a Christmas book!

Books for September

Just where did summer go??  I can’t believe it’s September already.  And references to Christmas are starting to pop up.  Ack.

BUT – I am really excited about these September releases, so I can’t complain too much about seeing summer in the rear-view mirror…

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10184403Seanan McGuire‘s CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT (urban fantasy): It has been way too long since we last met up with Toby.  Way too long.

Things are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

Out Sept 3

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18368204Eileen WilksRITUAL MAGIC (urban fantasy): I’ve always loved this series, but Chachic’s recent series glom (complete with Goodreads status updates) has whetted my appetite even more for this 10th installment in the series (which, based on the back cover blurb, sounds both intriguing and terrifying in equal measures).

 In Eileen Wilks’s new Novel of the Lupi, FBI agent Lily Yu is about to confront a power even darker than magic…

On her 57th birthday, Lily’s mother suddenly loses all memory beyond the age of twelve. Lily knows her mother was attacked by something more than magic. More . . . and darker.

When Lily and Rule discover that others suffered the same, mysterious loss—at the same time on the same night—their investigation into the darkness begins. Joining them is someone Lily never thought she’d see again: Al Drummond, who once tried to destroy her. He also happens to be dead. But the mysterious attacks were caused by a power strong enough to affect matters beyond the world of the living.

With some victims losing years of memory and others their lives, Lily must discover what on earth—or beyond—connects them.

Out Sept 3

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18048366Tamora Pierce‘s BATTLE MAGIC (YA fantasy): Speaking of a long wait, the last new Tamora Pierce feels like ages ago.  She’s always an autobuy for me, and this excerpt has made me even more excited.  Boo to the fact no UK publishers picked this up though (seriously??!).

On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxi, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor’s summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxi, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor’s prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxi to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?

Out Sept 24

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17665110Sherry ThomasTHE BURNING SKY (YA fantasy): I’ve not read any Sherry Thomas novels before, though I’m pretty sure her debut historical romance novel is lurking in my TBR pile (okay, I know it is).  But her new YA fantasy sounds amazing – elemental mages, prophecies, and romance – what’s not to love?

It all began with a ruined elixir and an accidental bolt of lightning…

Iolanthe Seabourne is the greatest elemental mage of her generation—or so she’s being told. The one prophesied for years to be the savior of The Realm. It is her duty and destiny to face and defeat the Bane, the greatest mage tyrant the world has ever known. A suicide task for anyone let alone a sixteen-year-old girl with no training, facing a prophecy that foretells a fiery clash to the death.

Prince Titus of Elberon has sworn to protect Iolanthe at all costs but he’s also a powerful mage committed to obliterating the Bane to revenge the death of his family—even if he must sacrifice both Iolanthe and himself to achieve his goal.

But Titus makes the terrifying mistake of falling in love with the girl who should have been only a means to an end. Now, with the servants of the Bane closing in, he must choose between his mission and her life.

Out Sept 17

Short Reviews

Another lot of older reviews, this time from November 2011 – I (almost) finished a historical romance series, read my first Sarah Mayberry, and well, other books in various ongoing series (yes, no real theme here). As always, these are cross-posted from Goodreads, with additional comments added in italics.

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Tempt Me at Twilight (The Hathaways, #3)Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I forget why I abandoned Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaways series midway – I’m glad I returned to it though, as this was really good. I like the feel-good family element to this series, and having Harry be the proprietor of a hotel meant the setting was slightly unusual for a historical. I loved the humour, and Harry and Poppy’s relationship just worked for me. There was a bit of an obvious set-up for the next book – which I already had in my TBR pile, so I didn’t mind.

It had been a while since I’ve read a Lisa Kleypas historical, and I always wonder why I’ve left her books languishing in my TBR for so long.  I read the first book in the Hathaways series way back when, and bought the second book, but never got around to reading it.  And then I couldn’t find it, but refused to buy another copy.  Hence the skipping ahead to this book, the third in the series.

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Married By Morning (The Hathaways #4)Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this straight after Tempt Me at Twilight, so it was slightly strange seeing Leo in the role of hero at first, instead of the protective brother. While the plot and setting was not as unique as in the previous book, the romance was just as satisfying. Though it would have been perhaps more interesting if Cat hadn’t been revealed as hiding behind a governess disguise – why does the heroine always have to be a beauty?

And this was the fourth in the Hathaways series – nothing groundbreaking romance-wise, but I enjoyed it regardless (or maybe because of that).

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Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, #5)Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was dying to read this after the excerpt in the previous book, Married By Morning, which had Beatrix starting a correspondence under false pretences with the world-weary soldier on the battlefield (all for the very best of reasons, of course) – you just knew that there would be tears.

It was a good read, though it didn’t quite meet my (very) high expectations. I loved the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher, and I am a sucker for a wounded hero. I think the PTSD was slightly skimmed over though.

All in all, I’m glad I finished the Hathaways series, and I loved seeing the whole family together one more time – with the hint of changing times ahead.

Now this one wasn’t in my TBR pile and I had to go and track it down just because of the excerpt in the previous book.  With the exception of the second book (which I did find the other day), I’ve now finished Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaways series.  I much prefer her historicals to her current contemporary/magical realism books – I wonder if she’ll ever go back to historicals? 

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Red Glove (Curse Workers, #2)Red Glove by Holly Black (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like this twisty and imaginative world of Holly Black’s and this didn’t suffer from the “middle book in trilogy” syndrome. I think we got to know Cassel and Lila a lot better – I’m looking forward to the final book now.

I’ll post about it eventually (ahem), but I’ve now finished this trilogy.  As a whole, I liked it, but the books don’t have me rushing out to read the rest of Holly Black’s backlist (though I have heard very good things about her Modern Faerie Tale books).  I don’t know – perhaps it’s because there’s been quite a large gap between me reading each book and my overall experience suffered somewhat?

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Death Magic (World of the Lupi, #8)Death Magic by Eileen Wilks (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like how we get more and more reveals as this series progresses, giving you hints that Eileen Wilks is building up to something big. Having said that, while this was a good read, it wasn’t a standout one for me – I’m still looking forward to the next Lupi book though.

Eileen Wilks is an autobuy author for me – this was the eighth book in her Lupi series.  As you can tell, it wasn’t my favourite of her books, but I love this series as a whole.

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The Wild Ways (Gale Women, #2)The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book, but didn’t connect as much with Charlie and her story as I did with Allie in the previous book, The Enchantment Emporium. The eventual ending was great, but the fantastical elements of the world itself didn’t really capture my imagination this time around. I would have loved to have seen more of the family as well (loved the very teenage cousin Jack!).

All in all though, I hope Tanya Huff continues with this series – I want more of the Gale family.

The first Gale book caught me by surprise (in a good way), and I was hoping for more of the same in this book – it didn’t work quite as well as the first, but Tanya Huff is on my list of autobuy authors by now.

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The Vintage Vendetta (Wine Country Mysteries #5)The Vintage Vendetta by Ellen Crosby (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a bit of a break, I’ve returned to this series again – I tend to wait for the paperback release for these books.

I liked this – a tad too much re-capping throughout perhaps, but good mystery plot. The wine-making backdrop is interesting as always, and this time around, there’s some Washington DC politics thrown into the mix.

I guess the fact I wait for the paperback release of these books is pretty telling – they’re enjoyable mysteries, but I don’t get enough emotional payoff to want to pay hardcover prices for them.  I still would rec them for those on the lookout for cosy-type mysteries.

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Her Best FriendHer Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sarah Mayberry’s books, and they’re not unjustified. Talk about packing a punch – the friends-to-lovers theme is explored in-depth here and in a believable manner. I liked – I’ll need to explore her backlist more now.

I’ve always enjoyed the friends-to-lovers plotline and really loved what Sarah Mayberry did with it in this one.

Books for October

We’re into the final quarter of 2012, but there are still so many 2012 releases on my must-get list.  And a lot of them are coming out in October.

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Andrea K Höst‘s AND ALL THE STARS (YA SF): She’s an autobuy author for me, so yeah.  And Estara’s read it already and is busy convincing everyone else that they should read it.  Not that I needed any convincing.

Come for the apocalypse.

Stay for cupcakes.

Die for love.

Madeleine Cost is working to become the youngest person ever to win the Archibald Prize for portraiture. Her elusive cousin Tyler is the perfect subject: androgynous, beautiful, and famous. All she needs to do is pin him down for the sittings.

None of her plans factored in the Spires: featureless, impossible, spearing into the hearts of cities across the world – and spraying clouds of sparkling dust into the wind.

Is it an alien invasion? Germ warfare? They are questions everyone on Earth would like answered, but Madeleine has a more immediate problem. At Ground Zero of the Sydney Spire, beneath the collapsed ruin of St James Station, she must make it to the surface before she can hope to find out if the world is ending.

Out Oct 1 (excerpt)

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Karen Chance‘s FURY’S KISS (urban fantasy): Yet another author I love.  It’s been a while since there’s been a new Karen Chance, and I’ve pre-ordered FURY’S KISS, so you can tell how much I’m looking forward to this.  It’s the third book in her Dorina Basarab series, which is a spin-off from the main Cassie Palmer books, but really shouldn’t be read as a standalone series (have I confused you yet?).  Dory’s a lot more kick-ass than Cassie (and I mean that literally), plus there’s no love triangle in these books IIRC, so yes, should be a fun read.

Dorina Basarab is a dhampir—half-human, half-vampire. Subject to uncontrollable rages, most dhampirs live very short, very violent lives. But so far, Dory has managed to maintain her sanity by unleashing her anger on those demons and vampires who deserve killing… 

Dory is used to fighting hard and nasty. So when she wakes up in a strange scientific lab with a strange man standing over her, her first instinct is to take his head off. Luckily, the man is actually the master vampire Louis-Cesare, so he’s not an easy kill.

It turns out that Dory had been working with a Vampire Senate task force on the smuggling of magical items and weaponry out of Faerie when she was captured and brought to the lab. But when Louis-Cesare rescues her, she has no memory of what happened to her.

To find out what was done to her—and who is behind it—Dory will have to face off with fallen angels, the maddest of mad scientists, and a new breed of vampires that are far worse than undead…

Out Oct 2 (excerpt)

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Jacqueline Carey‘s DARK CURRENTS (urban fantasy): So… the last time one of my favourite fantasy authors wrote a UF, it didn’t work out too well.  And Jacqueline Carey’s more recent works haven’t wowed me.  However, that’s not going to stop me from checking out this book.

Jacqueline Carey, New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed Kushiel’s Legacy novels, presents an all-new world featuring a woman caught between the normal and paranormal worlds, while enforcing order in both. Introducing Daisy Johanssen, reluctant hell-spawn… 

The Midwestern resort town of Pemkowet boasts a diverse population: eccentric locals, wealthy summer people, and tourists by the busload; not to mention fairies, sprites, vampires, naiads, ogres and a whole host of eldritch folk, presided over by Hel, a reclusive Norse goddess.

To Daisy Johanssen, fathered by an incubus and raised by a single mother, it’s home. And as Hel’s enforcer and the designated liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, it’s up to her to ensure relations between the mundane and eldritch communities run smoothly.

But when a young man from a nearby college drowns—and signs point to eldritch involvement—the town’s booming paranormal tourism trade is at stake. Teamed up with her childhood crush, Officer Cody Fairfax, a sexy werewolf on the down-low, Daisy must solve the crime—and keep a tight rein on the darker side of her nature. For if she’s ever tempted to invoke her demonic birthright, it could accidentally unleash nothing less than Armageddon.

Out Oct 2 (excerpt)

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Eileen WilksMORTAL TIES (urban fantasy): There are so many things I like about Eileen Wilks’ UF series – how her Lupi world is distinctly different to the other werewolf books out there, that she has a main character who is Chinese-American (and both Lily Yu and her partner Rule rock) and best of all, there’s this overarching series plotline that is building up to a very promising climax.

“Eileen Wilks is a truly gifted writer,” (Romance Junkies) and her Novels of the Lupi have drawn readers into a seductive world of action, suspense, and passion. Now, FBI agent Lily Yu tracks a traitor into the darkest shadows yet…

FBI agent Lily Yu is living at Nokolai Clanhome with her fiancé, lupi Rule Turner, when an intruder penetrates their territory, stealing the prototpye of a magical device the clan hopes will be worth a fortune–if a few bugs can be worked out . . .

But the protoytpe can be dangerously erratic, discharging a bizarre form of mind magic—and it looks like the thief wants it for that very side effect. Worse, whoever stole the device didn’t learn about it by accident. There’s a Nokolai traitor in their midst. Lily and Rule have to find the traitor, the thief, and the prototype. One job proves easy when the thief calls them–and his identity rocks Rule’s world.

As they race to recover their missing property, they find Robert Friar’s sticky footprints all over the place. Robert Friar–killer, madman, and acolyte of the Old One the lupi are at war with–an Old One whose power is almost as vast as her ambition to rock the entire world…

Out Oct 2 (excerpt)

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Sean Kennedy‘s TIGERLAND (m/m romance): I loved Sean Kennedy’s first novel TIGERS AND DEVILS when I first read it a couple of years back.  Despite knowing next to nothing about Australian Rules football, I was completely caught up in the romance and fascinated by the very Australian setting.  So having an unexpected sequel feels like a bonus.

After an eventful and sometimes uncomfortably public courtship, Simon Murray and Declan Tyler settled into a comfortable life together. Now retired from the AFL, Declan works as a football commentator; Simon develops programs with queer content for a community television station.

Despite their public professional lives, Simon and Declan manage to keep their private life out of the spotlight. Their major concerns revolve around supporting their friends through infertility and relationship problems—until Greg Heyward, Declan’s ex-partner, outs himself in a transparent bid for attention.

Though Simon and Declan are furious with Greg and his media antics, they can’t agree on what to do about it. Declan insists they should maintain a dignified silence, but both he and Simon keep getting drawn into Heyward’s games. Simon and Declan will once again have to ride out the media storm before they can return their attention to what really matters: each other.

Out October 15 (publisher book page)

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Kaje Harper‘s HOME WORK (m/m romance): I haven’t really connected with Kaje Harper’s more recent releases, but I’ve enjoyed the previous two books in her Life Lessons series – this promises to be a good continuation of Mac and Tony’s story.

Mac and Tony thought the hard part was over. They’re together openly as a couple, sharing a home and building a life with their two children. It’s what they dreamed of. But daughter Anna struggles with the changes, Ben is haunted by old secrets, Mac’s job in Homicide still demands too much of his time, and Tony is caught in the middle. It’s going to take everything these men can give to create a viable balance between home and work. Especially when the outside world seems determined to throw obstacles in their way.

Out October 5 (author book page)

Random Linkage

I’m looking forward to Eileen Wilks‘ October release MORTAL TIES, the latest in her World of the Lupi series, and this short story about Rule whetted my appetite nicely.  It’s part of Literary Escapism’s School’s In series, and there are quite a few other authors participating.

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Kristin Cashore posted about her editor starting up her own imprint at Penguin:

Penguin Young Readers Group has announced the formation of Kathy Dawson Books, an imprint that will focus on “emotionally driven” middle grade and young adult fiction across a variety of genres.

It sounds interesting (a winter 2014 launch though) – equally interesting (if not more!) is the mention of Kristin Cashore working on a contemporary novel.

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I enjoyed reading Andrea K Höst‘s guest posts on classic mysteries at The Readventurer – her first post was on Agatha Christie books and the second on other classic mystery authors.  I’ve probably read every single Christie published (and multiple times too), but found the second post useful – she highlights less well-known (at least to me!) authors and provides pointers on where to start.

Re Agatha Christie, I loved Hercule Poirot from the start, but found the Miss Marple books a bit slow and boring when I first read them.  They’ve grown on me during re-reads though (maybe they weren’t for impatient teens), and Miss Marple’s now my favourite Christie detective.  As for the rest, I find Tommy and Tuppence engaging, don’t really get on with Ariadne Oliver (which is kind of amusing because she appears to be based on Agatha Christie herself), and really like the two Parker Pyne and Mr Quin short story collections.

Do you have any favourite Christies?

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This is very late, but Ilona Andrews posted the cover for the UK edition of GUNMETAL MAGIC.  They’re self-publishing the UK edition from what I gather (I can’t believe that UK publishers don’t want this series).

I’ve already bought the US edition, so probably won’t buy this when it comes out (though I am kind of torn on this – I want to support their UK sales, but don’t see the point of paying twice for a book). But I do like their image of Andrea – I think she looks harder than the model on the US cover, more ready to do battle and take you down.

 

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Finally, it’s hardly a secret that I’ve fallen for Tammara Webber‘s books recently (I gulped down her Between the Lines series after I finished EASY).  She posted her last rejection letter for the first Between the Lines book – the last because that’s when she decided to take the leap and self-publish.

It made me wonder how many fantastic books are out there unpublished because they’ve not found an agent (or publisher) who believed in them.  This whole e-publishing thing has opened up a new world.

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

January Reads

Alternative post title: Better late than never.

No, really, I have an excuse!  I’m still trying to figure out how to cross-post between Goodreads and here.  And I did get all my January reads eventually logged onto Goodreads, and then realised it would also make sense to get them here as well.

So, without further ado, here are the books I read in January – not full reviews as such, but pretty much my response to Goodreads’s question “What did you think?”.

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A Grand Deception (Signet Regency Romance)A Grand Deception by Elizabeth Mansfield (historical romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fun farce of hidden identities, though you’ve to suspend disbelief at times. It did go down the road of “love at first sight”, which is not a favourite trope of mine, but oh well. I liked the charity schoolmistress aspect – with the caveat I’m not a stickler for historical accuracy.

 

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Blood Challenge (World of the Lupi, #7)Blood Challenge by Eileen Wilks (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Definitely one of the stronger installments in this series – while I wouldn’t recommend this to someone new to the series, I thought this book built on existing relationships beautifully. More Rule/Lily, more Isen and his sons, and without going into too many details, I loved Arjenie and thought she was a breath of fresh air.

It’s funny how you love some books so much that aspects that would usually bother you otherwise don’t – here it was the info-dumping. Some scenes were pretty exclusively info-dumping sessions, but you know, I love, so Ms Wilks gets a pass.

I am a bit more meh about the “Great Bitch” plot arc, but having said that, I thought the book ended on a really good note and I can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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Angels' Blood (Guild Hunter, #1)Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh (paranormal romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A slightly shaky start to the book – a bit too much info-dumping and some rather over-the-top melodramatic scenes. However, once the hunt for the fallen archangel started in earnest, I was drawn into the story, and yeah, the sequels are now on my list of books to buy.

The angel twist – very unlike the angels in, say, Sharon Shinn‘s Samaria books. Instead, it was more of “right, what can be more bad-ass than a vampire… let’s have angels!”. Or archangels, rather.

I’d have liked more exploration of the angel mythology, possibly one for later books? And there was sequel-bait everywhere, not that I’m complaining – I vote for Ilium myself!

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The Magicians of Caprona (Chrestomanci, #4)The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones (children’s fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Fun read, but not as addictive as the first two Chrestomanci books, IMO.

I think this is partly to do with the numerous POV characters – I suspect I’m not quite the right audience for this book. Also, there was a slight lack of Chrestomanci himself in this book – sigh. I’ve a soft spot for that man.

It is a nice play on Romeo & Juliet and I loved the Marco/Rosa subplot. And like all DWJ books, very inventive storytelling and a villain that would probably have given me nightmares had I been younger.

On a sidenote: I borrowed my copy from my library and it dated back to the 1970s, IIRC, and had a totally old-school cover.

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Wings of EquityWings of Equity by Sean Kennedy (m/m fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

An imaginative setting – though I have to admit I’m still trying to get to grips with steampunk and am wondering if this is it? Certainly this book appears to be tagged as steampunk in various places.

It was a quick and easy read, but it’s the world, rather than the romance, that has left more of a lingering impression.

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Buffalo West Wing (White House Chef Mystery #4)Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, the bad first: Some of the secondary characters are very black and white, and really become very annoying in a frustrating way, as they appear to have no redeeming characteristics at all. I suppose this could be viewed as a plus point – the writing is good enough to actually have the characters annoy you?

I’m still loving the White House backdrop and the whole Presidency transition thing reminded me of Ellen Emerson White‘s President’s Daughter series, except from the other side of the fence, so to speak, which was intriguing.

The whole book built up to a rather fast-paced and action-filled climax, which I was not expecting, but it was in a good way! I am surprised Ms Hyzy is hinting at a new love interest, which is an interesting choice in a cozy mystery IMO – on the other hand, I don’t read that many cozies myself…

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The Fifth KissThe Fifth Kiss by Elizabeth Mansfield (historical romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one had a massively intriguing back cover blurb – the heroine kissing her brother-in-law. How does the author redeem both the heroine and hero after that?

A sweet regency (published in 1981), and I really enjoyed the romance. Not sure I was entirely comfortable with some of the underlying messages – she marries him to look after his children, six months after the wife/her sister died, but at the same time I did believe in the romance.

I’ve a soft spot for Elizabeth Mansfield and ended up buying quite a few off Better World Books over Christmas – I’m glad I’ve a few more to read!

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So that’s it for January.  And yes, I’m currently working on my February books list – but don’t hold your breath 😉

Books for January

I’m a bit late putting this post up, but there aren’t that many January new releases I’m excited about (for a change!).  The two that I’m getting are continuations of existing series:

Eileen Wilks“Blood Challenge” (urban fantasy): Eileen Wilks’ Lupi series appears to fly somewhat under the radar (or maybe I’m just hanging out in the wrong places?), as I don’t see them appearing on many review sites.  On the other hand, this is the seventh in the series, so it must have an audience.  It’s an autobuy for me – I love the Lily/Rule relationship and the Lupi world created by Ms Wilks.

Back cover blurb:

Lily Yu and Rule Turner’s engagement announcement is stirring up ugly passions in the Humans First camp. There’s hate mail. Death threats. Lily’s car is vandalized. But professionally, things are going smoothly . . . until a lupus in Tennessee goes on a killing spree.

Then Rule’s brother, Benedict, catches a lovely intruder–twice. The first time she’s sneaking around the home of the leader of Humans First. The second time, she sneaks into Nokolai Clanhome with a mysterious potion.

It may not be possible to deal with the rapidly escalating situation the way Lily always has: through the law. Especially when she’s pulled off the case due to an alleged conflict of interest. Lily’s loyalties will be stretched to the breaking point when she discovers that the deaths in Tennessee were only the opening skirmish in an all-out war.

Out now (excerpt)

Julie Hyzy‘s “Buffalo West Wing” (cosy mystery): I was more on the fence about this one, because while I loved the first of these White House Chef mysteries, the previous release, “Eggsecutive Orders”, didn’t quite work for me – I thought the story itself felt disjointed and Ollie, the main character, frustrated me with her unwillingness to trust other characters without any real reasons.  However, I recently read and enjoyed one of Julie Hyzy’s backlist books on the Kindle, which reminded me that I do like her writing.  And I really like how these mystery books gives us a peek behind the scenes at the White House.

Back cover blurb:

With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can’t afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a “no-wing” situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

Out now