Playing Catch-Up: Books for October, November, and December

It has been a busy few months indeed.  But better late than never – here are the new releases for the last quarter of 2017 on my want list.  Brace yourselves, it’s a long post.

34670092Genevieve Cogman’s THE LOST PLOT (fantasy): I’m really excited about this one – I love the Invisible Library world and the stakes keep on getting higher in Irene’s adventures.

A covert mission
A royal demand
And a race against time

The fourth title in Genevieve Cogman’s witty and wonderful The Invisible Library series, The Lost Plot is an action-packed literary adventure.

In a 1930s-esque Chicago, Prohibition is in force, fedoras, flapper dresses and tommy guns are in fashion, and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon vs dragon contest. It seems a young librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him there could be serious political repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai find themselves trapped in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail and fiendish security systems. And if this doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences for Irene’s job. And, incidentally, for her life…

Out Dec 14

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36535656Sarina Bowen and Tanya Eby’s MAN HANDS (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s an autobuy author and I’m keen to see how this collaboration works out.

He puts the “screw” in screwball comedy…

BRYNN

At thirty-four, I’m reeling from a divorce. I don’t want to party or try to move on. I just want to stay home and post a new recipe on my blog: Brynn’s Dips and Balls.

But my friends aren’t having it. Get out there again, they say. It will be fun, they say. I’m still taking a hard pass.

Free designer cocktails, they say. And that’s a game-changer.

Too bad my ex shows up with his new arm candy. That’s when I lose my mind. But when my besties dare me to leap on the first single man I see, they don’t expect me to actually go through with it.

TOM

All I need right now is some peace and quiet while my home renovation TV show is on hiatus. But when a curvy woman in a red wrap dress charges me like she’s a gymnast about to mount my high bar, all I can do is brace myself and catch her. What follows is the hottest experience of my adult life.

I want a repeat, but my flying Cinderella disappears immediately afterward. She doesn’t leave a glass slipper, either—just a pair of panties with chocolate bunnies printed on them.

But I will find her.

Out Dec 11

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34099086Sarina Bowen’s BOUNTIFUL (contemporary romance): She’s a rather prolific writer!  Despite the fact this came out in October, it’s still waiting for me on my Kindle – it’ll be a Christmas holiday read for me.

No last names. No life stories. Those were the rules.

Once upon a time a cocky, copper-haired tourist sauntered into Zara’s bar. And even though she knew better, Zara indulged in a cure for the small-town blues. It was supposed to be an uncomplicated fling—a few sizzling weeks before he went back to his life, and she moved on.

Until an accidental pregnancy changed her life.

Two years later, she’s made peace with the notion that Dave No-Last-Name will never be found. Until one summer day when he walks into her coffee shop, leveling her with the same hot smile that always renders her defenseless.

Dave Beringer has never forgotten the intense month he spent with prickly Zara. Their nights together were the first true intimacy he’d ever experienced. But the discovery of his child is the shock of a lifetime, and his ugly past puts relationships and family out of reach.

Or does it? Vermont’s countryside has a way of nurturing even tortured souls. The fields and the orchards—and hard won love—are Bountiful.

Out now

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35495782Santino Hassell’s CITYWIDE (contemporary romance): His Five Boroughs series brings New York City to life, and I’m always up for more.  Even though reading about a heatwave right now strikes me as particularly unseasonable.

A record-breaking heatwave engulfs the Five Boroughs, and emotions run as hot as the temperatures.

In Rerouted, Chris Mendez is trying to live a drama-free life. That doesn’t include another threesome with Jace and Aiden Fairbairn. But then a citywide blackout leaves them trapped together, and Chris is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about relationships and his own heart.

In Gridlocked, former Marine Tonya Maldonado is keeping real estate heiress Meredith Stone on permanent ignore. Mere isn’t Tonya’s type. Not even close. Who cares if she kisses like a dream and has the filthiest mouth this side of the East River? But then a security detail at a summer party ends with her saving Mere’s life and discovering they have more chemistry than she’d ever imagined.

In Derailed, Stephanie Quinones escapes the heat and her complicated love life by going on a company retreat. Trouble is, it’s a couples’ retreat, and she lied about having a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the only person willing to play pretend is her on-again/off-again fling, Angel León. They’re currently “off again,” but after a week in the woods, Stephanie realizes she wouldn’t mind them being permanently on.

Out now

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33020122Eloisa James’s WILDE IN LOVE (historical romance): While I’m not that into historical romance anymore, I’m still getting this one.  As bonus, Georgian historical!

Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy. . . .

The first book in Eloisa James’s dazzling new series set in the Georgian period glows with her trademark wit and sexy charm—and introduces a large, eccentric family. Readers will love the Wildes of Lindow Castle!

Out now

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35722751Elizabeth Wein’s COBALT SQUADRON (SF): How cool is this – Elizabeth Wein writing a Star Wars graphic novel!  Obviously timed to coincide with the release of The Last Jedi (yes, I’ve already bought my tickets…).

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire) journeys to a galaxy far, far away to bring readers the harrowing story of the courageous bomber pilots and technicians of Cobalt Squadron!

Out Dec 15

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17312145Tamora Pierce’s TORTALL: A SPY’S GUIDE (fantasy): Not quite a new Tortall book (that’s next year!), but I caved and bought this hardcover.  And I don’t regret it one bit.  This is only a must-have if you’re a Tortall fan, but if you know one, it’s the perfect Christmas present.

The secrets of Tortall are revealed. . . .

As Tortall’s spymaster, George Cooper has sensitive documents from all corners of the realm. When Alanna sends him a surprising letter, he cleans out his office and discovers letters from when King Jonathan and Queen Thayet first ascended the throne, notes on creating the Shadow Service of spies, threat-level profiles on favorite characters, Daine’s notes on immortals, as well as family papers, such as Aly’s first report as a young spy and Neal’s lessons with the Lioness. This rich guide also includes the first official timeline of Tortallan events from when it became a sovereign nation to the year Aly gives birth to triplets. Part history, part spy training manual, and entirely fascinating, this beautiful guide makes a perfect gift and is ideal for anyone who loves Alanna, King Jonathan, Queen Thayet, Kel, Neal, Aly, Thom, Daine, Numair, and the unforgettable world of Tortall!

Out now

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36103416Jodi Taylor’s CHRISTMAS PAST (fantasy): It may only be a short story, but I adore her St Mary’s books.  A Christmas Day treat!

Max, Leon and Matthew – together at last for Christmas at St Mary’s – a time of conspicuous consumption, riotous misbehaviour and the traditional illegal Christmas jump. And this time, it’s inter-generational.

Donning her unfamiliar mother hat, Max takes Matthew back to 19th century London, where they plan to deliver a parcel of Christmas cheer to his former friends, but find themselves confronting the terrifying Old Ma Scrope in the process.

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

It’s also the season of goodwill towards all mankind.

Pity no one told Max.

Out Dec 25

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33798968Josh Lanyon’s THE GHOST HAD A EARLY CHECK-OUT (romance): Another Christmas Day treat perhaps?  I can’t quite remember the first book, so may do a re-read ahead of this release.

Sequel to The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks

To live and draw in L.A.

Now living in Los Angeles with former navy SEAL Nick Reno, artist Perry Foster comes to the rescue of elderly and eccentric Horace Daly, the legendary film star of such horror classics as Why Won’t You Die, My Darling?

Horace owns the famous, but now run-down, Hollywood hotel Angels Rest, rumored to be haunted. But as far as Perry can tell, the scariest thing about Angels Rest is the cast of crazy tenants–one of whom seems determined to bring down the final curtain on Horace–and anyone else who gets in the way.

Out Dec 25

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And then the longlist of ones that are maybes (as well as the ones that I’ve read and am lukewarm about):

Melissa Caruso’s THE TETHERED MAGE (fantasy): I’ve read so many good reviews of this debut.  Perhaps one to try and get from the library.

KJ Charles’s AN UNSUITABLE HEIR (historical romance): KJ Charles is an autobuy author, but the romance in this final book in her Sins of the Cities trilogy wasn’t entirely successful for me.  I really love the diverse historical backdrops in her books though.

Ginn Hale’s THE LONG PAST & OTHER STORIES (fantasy): I’d get this if I wasn’t on a short story buying ban.  I have so many half-finished anthologies and collections that I’m trying out a one-out one-in thing – let’s see how successful I am…

THE BOOK OF SWORDS, edited by Gardner Dozois (fantasy): Speaking of anthologies, here’s another one I kind of want.  I’ve a soft spot for the sword & sorcery kind of fantasy, and there’s a Kate Elliott in here.

INFINITE STARS, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt (SF): And I may as well list the final anthology I want.  This one is space opera and military SF – so another subgenre I love.  I think this one is mostly previously-published short stories though.

Jen Frederick’s PLAYED (NA romance): I’ll get this once I’m all caught up with the series.  I adored the romance in the first book, but the second one is still sitting unread on my Kindle.

Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT and SIGHTLINES (paranormal romance): I wasn’t won over by the first in this trilogy, but I still have books two and three sitting on my Kindle.

Lynn Kurland’s THE DREAMER’S SONG (fantasy romance): I’ve learnt to wait until Kurland finishes the three-book arc within the series before picking up the books as she’s a habit of cliffhanger-ish endings.  By my count, this is book two, so I’m waiting until next year’s release.

Alexis Hall’s HOW TO BLOW IT WITH A BILLIONAIRE (contemporary romance): I’m slightly torn on this one – again, it’s book two of three, and the author has warned that that the HEA is only in book three.  I’ll probably wait until the final book, and read both at the same time.

Tammara Webber’s BRAVE (NA romance): Is it just me or has it been a while since the last new Webber novel?  I didn’t love the last in this series, but I’ll keep an eye out for this.

And that’s it!  I’m all caught up now – well, until 2018…

Books for May

I feel like the month of May just flew past.  This is less an upcoming book releases post, more of a “hey, here are all the new releases that came out over May and what I thought of them”.

32758901Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED (SF): This novella totally lived up to the promise of the initial excerpt we got a couple of months ago.  How could you not fall for a (self-named) MurderBot who really just wants to be left alone to watch the latest soap operas.  There’s definitely a second in the series, and a potential third and fourth – fingers crossed she sells them.

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that blends HBO’s Westworld with Iain M. Banks’ Culture books.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Out now

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30658022Jenny Han’s ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN (YA): I adored the first book, and was delighted when Jenny Han decided Lara Jean’s story wasn’t quite complete.  This is the last of the books, and it wraps up the now-trilogy quite nicely.  If I’m honest, I found ALWAYS AND FOREVER less successful than the previous two (there were times I wanted to give Lara Jean a bit of a shake), but overall, it caps off a lovely set of books that brings to life the rollercoaster of emotions that high school was.

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Out now

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30753671Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s THE GATHERING EDGE (SF): The twentieth book in the Liaden series… and it didn’t really work for me.  What I wanted was some sort of resolution (or at least progression) on the plot threads left dangling from previous books.  What I got was Theo and crew hanging around on their ship in space.  For a whole book.  YMMV, but I wish I’d waited for the next book and then read both THE GATHERING EDGE and the sequel in one go (because things have to happen in the next book, surely?).

The luck runs rough around Theo Waitley. Not only are people trying to kill her and capture the self-aware intelligent ship Bechimo to whom Theo is bonded, they’re also trying to arrest her crew members, and throw the dignity of an important passenger, the duly-constituted norbear ambassador Hevelin, into question.

No wonder Theo and her crew felt the need of a break, and retired to what Bechimo refers to as “safe space.” Unfortunately, safe space may not be so safe, anymore.  It seems that things are leaking through from another universe, and another time. In fact, whole spaceships are coming through.  One of those ships is a blasted battleship seemingly fleeing a long-lost war. What’s more, its crew may be members of Theo’s ancient ancestral line—her relatives. It’s certain that they are in dire need of help. Theo has a choice to make. It seems that Bechimo’s “safe space” is about to become deadly perilous.

Out now

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34593693Elizabeth Wein’s THE PEARL THIEF (historical YA): And here’s the first new release that I haven’t read yet.  I’m really looking forward to this, but it’s a matter of too many books, too little time, and I want to take the time to savour this one.  Also, I love the cover, BTW.

Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. It is not an idyllic return to childhood. Her grandfather’s death has forced the sale of the house and estate and this will be a summer of goodbyes. Not least to the McEwen family – Highland travellers who have been part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember – loved by the family, loathed by the authorities. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. Suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens but Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.

This beautiful and evocative novel is the story of the irrepressible and unforgettable Julie, set in the year before the Second World War and the events of Code Name Verity. It is also a powerful portrayal of a community under pressure and one girl’s determination for justice.

Out now

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8306741Megan Whalen Turner’s THICK AS THIEVES (YA fantasy): Speaking of books I want to savour!  I have the actual hardcover in my possession (and trust me, that is rare), but have not yet cracked open the pages.  Partly due to lack of spare time, but also, it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I’m considering doing a series re-read before I dive into this.  We’ll see.

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

Out now

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon’s at her best when she does the FBI agent thing, and hurrah, this is one of them.  There’s been a Kindle edition mix-up which means I’m still waiting for Amazon to push the correct version to my ereader, so I’m practising delayed gratification on this one.

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Out now

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22303684Ilona Andrews’ WHITE HOT (paranormal romance): It’s been a while since the first Hidden Legacy book.  Despite that, I’ve only read good things about WHITE HOT.

The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot.

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

Out May 30

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As for other May releases that have also caught my eye:

SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS, edited by Paula Guran (fantasy): I’m a sucker for swords and sorcery-type stories, and this sounds like a promising curation of stories.

Sarina Bowen’s PIPE DREAMS (contemporary romance): I’ve read this, and while I normally love Bowen’s work, especially when it comes to sports romance, this one was one of the weaker ones for me.  Possibly because the narration uses flashbacks as part of the story, and I really don’t care for them.  I wasn’t onboard for one of the main plot points as well.  YMMV.

Joanna Chambers & Annika Martin’s ENEMIES LIKE YOU (romantic suspense): I loved the free prequel they released, but all the tension and promise kind of fizzled out for me when it came to the actual story.  Too much internalising, not enough action, and the twist was fairly obvious.

Lee Child’s NO MIDDLE NAME (suspense): This is a collection of Reacher short stories, most are previously-published but there’s one new novella.  A library request for me, I think, as I’ve probably read most of the shorts already.

Books for March

So – it was only two months ago when I was having a bit of a moan about the dearth of new releases?  March more than makes up for it.

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23524861Patricia BriggsDEAD HEAT (UF): Sadly, we don’t get the Dan dos Santos cover here in the UK.  It’s the inside that counts, anyway. Or so I keep on telling myself.  The important thing is that we finally get more Anna and Charles. Right?

For once, mated werewolves Charles and Anna are not traveling because of Charles’s role as his father’s enforcer. This time, their trip to Arizona is purely personal, or at least it starts out that way . . .

Charles and Anna soon discover that a dangerous Fae being is on the loose, replacing human children with simulacrums. The Fae’s cold war with humanity is about to heat up – and Charles and Anna are in the cross fire.

Out March 5 (for the UK anyway), March 3 for those lucky enough to get the Dan dos Santos cover…

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21457243Anne Bishop‘s VISION IN SILVER (UF): I’ve seen this third book in Anne Bishop’s The Others series appearing on a lot of March want lists.  I stumbled across an early copy in my bookstore the other day, and grabbed it (obviously).  I hate to say this… but I didn’t love it.  Anyone else read it yet and want to discuss?

The Others freed the  cassandra sangue  to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before—both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

Out March 3

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22729664Elizabeth Wein‘s BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN (historical fiction): Both of Elizabeth Wein’s previous historicals left a lasting impression on me, and I suspect this one won’t be any different.  Also, unusual subject matter – it promises much!

Emilia and Teo’s lives changed in a fiery, terrifying instant when a bird strike brought down the plane their stunt pilot mothers were flying. Teo’s mother died immediately, but Em’s survived, determined to raise Teo according to his late mother’s wishes-in a place where he won’t be discriminated against because of the color of his skin. But in 1930s America, a white woman raising a black adoptive son alongside a white daughter is too often seen as a threat.

Seeking a home where her children won’t be held back by ethnicity or gender, Rhoda brings Em and Teo to Ethiopia, and all three fall in love with the beautiful, peaceful country. But that peace is shattered by the threat of war with Italy, and teenage Em and Teo are drawn into the conflict. Will their devotion to their country, its culture and people, and each other be their downfall or their salvation?

In the tradition of her award-winning and bestselling Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein brings us another thrilling and deeply affecting novel that explores the bonds of friendship, the resilience of young pilots, and the strength of the human spirit.

Out March 5 (UK), March 31 for the US (I like to think of this as payback for the DEAD HEAT cover *tongue firmly in cheek*)

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16085457Rachel Hartman‘s SHADOW SCALE (YA fantasy): While I didn’t love SERAPHINA, it was a refreshing take on a dragon-centred fantasy, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Rachel Hartman does as a follow-up.

Seraphina took the literary world by storm with 8 starred reviews and numerous “Best of” lists. At last, her eagerly awaited sequel has arrived—and with it comes an epic battle between humans and dragons.

The kingdom of Goredd: a world where humans and dragons share life with an uneasy balance, and those few who are both human and dragon must hide the truth. Seraphina is one of these, part girl, part dragon, who is reluctantly drawn into the politics of her world. When war breaks out between the dragons and humans, she must travel the lands to find those like herself—for she has an inexplicable connection to all of them, and together they will be able to fight the dragons in powerful, magical ways.

As Seraphina gathers this motley crew, she is pursued by humans who want to stop her. But the most terrifying is another half dragon, who can creep into people’s minds and take them over. Until now, Seraphina has kept her mind safe from intruders, but that also means she’s held back her own gift. It is time to make a choice: Cling to the safety of her old life, or embrace a powerful new destiny?

Out March 10

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24580376Sarina Bowen‘s SHOOTING FOR THE STARS (contemporary romance): I think this release was temporarily derailed by Harlequin stopping its Harlequin E programme (anyone know what happened there?).  I’m glad Sarina Bowen’s self-pubbing this.

For one night she had everything.

Pro snowboarder Stella Lazarus has always loved her brother’s best friend. But the one time she tried to show him, she was shot down faster than you can say “competitor disqualified.”

Until one blissful night in Tahoe, when Stella finally gets her man.

Or does she? In the morning, Stella and Bear wake up to horrible news. The sort that sends them racing back to Vermont, and straight into the arms of guilt and family obligations.

For all of Bryan “Bear” Barry’s life, three natural laws held true: his best friend Hank was destined for greatness, Hank’s sister Stella was off-limits, and Bear would always manage to negotiate the rocky paths that life threw his way. In the space of two days, that’s all shattered.

Bear can’t believe he slipped up so badly with Stella. Even if his best friend wasn’t lying broken in a hospital bed, it would still be unforgivable. Determined to do better, he devotes himself to his friend’s recovery, denying himself the very person he loves. And the very thing he needs.

Out March 16

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18461986Kylie Scott‘s DEEP (contemporary romance): It’s no secret I totally fell for Kylie Scott’s Stage Dive rock star romance series last year, and I’m very excited about the final book in this series.

Positive. With two little lines on a pregnancy test, everything in Lizzy Rollins’ ordinary life is about to change forever. And all because of one big mistake in Vegas with Ben Nicholson, the irresistibly sexy bass player for Stage Dive. So what if Ben’s the only man she’s ever met who can make her feel completely safe, cherished, and out of control with desire at the same time? Lizzy knows the gorgeous rock star isn’t looking for anything more permanent than a good time, no matter how much she wishes differently.

Ben knows Lizzy is off limits. Completely and utterly. She’s his best friend’s little sister now, and no matter how hot the chemistry is between them, no matter how sweet and sexy she is, he’s not going to go there. But when Ben is forced to keep the one girl he’s always had a weakness for out of trouble in Sin City, he quickly learns that what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay there. Now he and Lizzie are connected in the deepest way possible…but will it lead to a connection of the heart?

Out March 31

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21331590Eloisa JamesFOUR NIGHTS WITH A DUKE (historical romance): I may not read a lot of historical romance nowadays, but Eloisa James is still very much on my autobuy list.

As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him—so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.

Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia’s audacious proposal, but there’s one thing he won’t give his inconvenient wife: himself.

Instead, he offers Mia a devil’s bargain…he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.

Which Mia will never do.

Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart—and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can’t afford to lose.

Out March 31

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Maybes

  • I usually enjoy JL Merrow‘s Brit-flavoured stories, and she has a new M/M romance/mystery this month – HEAT TRAP  (out March 17).
  • Seanan McGuire‘s POCKET APOCALYPSE (out March 3) – I’ve not loved her InCryptid books the same way I adore her Toby Daye series, but I’ll probably get around to reading this at some point.  Not running out to buy it though.
  • Ebook bundle FIERCE: A FANTASY COLLECTION is one of those multiple-author boxed sets that I’m trying to stop buying, but for $0.99, you get 16 stories, including one by Mercedes Lackey (which I’ve probably read already, to be fair).  I’ve been meaning to read Kate SparkesBOUND (after this review @ Fantasy Review Barn), so that’s my excuse (out March 10, for a limited period of time).
  • Kate Meader‘s FLIRTING WITH FIRE (contemporary romance) – her novella in the Christmas anthology BABY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE was its one saving grace for me, so I’ve got her full-length novel on my radar (out March 24).

 

A Post to Keep Me Honest

Also known as a list of books in my TBR pile that I really need to read over 2014, as opposed to just saying I’m going to read them 😉

Pulling this list together has highlighted a bit of a pattern – they’re mostly hefty tomes (or at least I imagine them to be!) and/or the start of a series, and the (possibly imaginary) time commitment is putting me off a bit.  I’ve read Elizabeth Wein, Martha Wells, and Juliet Marillier (obviously!) before, but these are new series and… I’m a bit daunted.

In no particular order:

17333324Ann Leckie‘s ANCILLARY JUSTICE (SF): I mentioned this in my year-end wrap up posts, but I have not read a single negative review of Ann Leckie’s debut SF novel.  That’s pretty amazing in itself.

Elizabeth Wein‘s THE WINTER PRINCE (historical fantasy): Chachic’s EWein Special Ops week back in December convinced me I had to make time for Elizabeth Wein’s Lion Hunters series, and so it’s the most recently-acquired on this list…

127455Scott Lynch‘s THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA (fantasy): Everything about this series sounds great – except possibly for the fact it isn’t finished yet?  The third book in the Gentleman Bastard series came out last year, and reminded me that I’ve the first book still to read.

Patrick Rothfuss‘s THE NAME OF THE WIND (fantasy): There are a lot of diehard Rothfuss fans out there, and I picked up this book when the Kindle version was on offer last year.

112077Dorothy Dunnett‘s THE GAME OF KINGS (fantasy historical fiction – thanks Nathan!): Hang out in romancelandia long enough, and you’ll see references to Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, usually accompanied with the “must read if you’re in the mood for twisty complicated protagonists” kind of recs.  My excuse has been they were difficult to buy – not any more as they’ve been released in digital format, and the first one is on my Kindle…

Elizabeth Bear‘s DUST (SF): Another book I’ve had for ages, plus I’ve been meaning to explore Bear’s backlist in more depth.

Martha WellsRaksura trilogy (fantasy): I’ve pretty much devoured her older backlist books – don’t ask me why I’ve not yet cracked open her newer trilogy.

13122293Emma Bull‘s WAR FOR THE OAKS (urban fantasy): I’ve heard this described as the first-ever urban fantasy.  So it’s obviously on the must-read list, right?  Even if it’s just so I can say I’ve read it.  Just joking.

Susanna Kearsley’s THE SHADOWY HORSES (romance): Every time someone posts a glowing (and yes, it’s always glowing) Susanna Kearsley review, I eye that Kearsley lurking on my bookshelves and swear I’m going to read it.  I haven’t yet.

Juliet Marillier‘s THE DARK MIRROR (fantasy): I usually haunt the bookstore for Juliet Marillier’s new releases – there’s no reason why I haven’t started her older Bridei Chronicles… except I haven’t.

So that’s mine – do you have similar books lurking in your TBR pile?  Or tell me something to convince me to pick up one of these!

A (Partial) 2013 Survey + Looking Ahead to 2014

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

best-books-2013

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

I’m serious.

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

Here goes:


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

Well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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And looking ahead to 2014:

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

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

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

What, just one?  Here are four:

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

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

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

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

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3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

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

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4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

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

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

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

Post-Christmas Linkage

For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderfully festive time with friends and family.

I love this period between Christmas and New Year – it always struck me as a quiet (and much-needed) lull before the year starts in earnest.  I’m usually still off work (using up those days before the end of the year – every year I say I’ll plan my holidays better…), but the mad Christmas rush is over, and the most stressful thing on my plate is checking out the Boxing Day sales – usually from the peace and quiet of my living room as opposed to tackling the crowds on the high street 😉

And of course, I can ease back into that blogging habit…

A couple of time-sensitive links to start off with:

ewein-special-ops

Other links that caught my eye over the past month or so: