Books for June

I’d apologise for my absence, but it was a reading v. blogging thing!  I’ve just inhaled all seven books (plus a couple of short stories) of Jodi Taylor‘s madcap time-travel series.  Post to follow, hopefully, but it’s a solid recommend just in case you were wondering…

Now that I’m sadly caught up with The Chronicles of St Mary’s series, here are the June new releases I’m planning on getting – it’s a short list, but there are some good ones.

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SUMMER DAYS, SUMMER NIGHTS, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance anthology): This sounds like the perfect summer beach read (or for those of us unlikely to make it to beaches in the next few months, the perfect err… summer balcony read?).  Some big-name YA authors in this anthology, including Leigh Bardugo (loved her SIX OF CROWS) and obviously Perkins herself.

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Out now

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28161530Sarina Bowen’s BITTERSWEET (contemporary romance): I’m excited about this new series from Sarina Bowen.  I love her writing, and I’m intrigued by lumbersexual farmers!  Also, we debated the covers at Nath’s – mixed reaction to the covers themselves, but everyone’s getting the books…

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Out June 14

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28375943Nalini Singh’s ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR (paranormal romance): I think Nalini Singh’s referred to this one as an “ensemble book”, and it’s meant to wrap up the current series arc?  I’m looking forward to catching up with the usual suspects here.

The ‘unparalleled romantic adventure’* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world . . .

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy . . . and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable – and save Trinity – no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honour even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

Out June 16

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28348234Naomi Novik’s LEAGUE OF DRAGONS (historical fantasy): The final book in the Temeraire series!  If I’m honest, I think this series jumped the shark a while ago – the recent books have felt more like historical travelogues than anything else – but I’m obviously going to read the final book to see how the story’s wrapped up.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all – if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country – and the ferals, loyal only to themselves – vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa – and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready – one that that may win him the war, and the world.

Out June 14

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30245656Eloisa James’ A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS (historical romance): I feel like Eloisa James has been experimenting with several formats recently and this one is a novellette set in the world of her Essex Sisters series.  I remember posting about this series way back when I first started blogging – I’ve just looked up that post, and I’m both cringing and laughing at my enthusiastic review of the books.  I’ve debated whether to link it, but why not – here’s my take on the Essex Sisters series (I am so tempted to edit that post, but have restrained – you get the warts and all version!).

A witty and sparkling Regency romance novella by Eloisa James, author of My American Duchess, linked to the bestselling Essex Sisters series

Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again . . . and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.

When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.

Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behaviour . . . once again.

Out June 28

Any big June releases that I’ve missed?

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Books for January

Happy New Year – here’s to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2016!  January has usually been a quiet time for new releases that I’m interested in, but not this time.  I’ve no idea why January 2016 is different to previous years, but hey, I’m not complaining.

(Seriously, the number of new releases this month is astounding.)

25361847Julie Hyzy‘s FOREIGN ECLAIRS (cosy mystery): I’ve always said that January signals a new White House Chef mystery.  Sadly, this is the last time I’ll be saying that, as this is the last book in the series (written by Julie Hyzy anyway).  It’s an interesting link, even if you haven’t been reading the series – I had no idea how the book packaging world worked.  I’ve had my ups and downs with this series, but I’ll be sorry to read the last page.

White House executive chef Ollie Paras has served plenty of meals to foreign dignitaries from around the world. But someone is ready to serve her an ice-cold dish of revenge…

Things are about to really heat up for Ollie. News of a bombing and attempted breakout at a federal prison reveals that the brother of a terrorist she helped defeat is back with a vengeance. And after she gets mugged on her way home from work, the Secret Service won’t leave her side, fearing she is now a target.

When a White House staff member is murdered, officials rush to action over a possible security breach. It may be time for Ollie to trade in her apron for a bullet-proof vest as she becomes part of a bold strategy to make sure this terrorist gets his just desserts…

Out Jan 5

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26262453Harper Fox‘s COLD FUSION (M/M contemporary romance): Harper Fox is one of my auto-buy authors (I love the sense of place her books evoke) and this looks to be a good one.

Their love is the catalyst that could save the planet…or cost their lives.

As an environmental activist for Peace Warrior, Kier Mallory never hesitated to throw himself into dangerous situations. Until his hotheadedness costs the lives of two fellow crewmembers on an anti-whaling mission.

He finds no refuge in his hometown on Scotland’s north coast, where everyone knows what this son of a broken fisherman has done. Effectively homeless, Mal returns to one of his favorite places—Spindrift, a rustic colony of artist and crafter huts.

Spindrift is dilapidated and empty, save for a lone resident. Vivian Calder, a brilliant but emotionally detached scientist who appears to have done the impossible—mastered cold fusion. A clean, free, limitless source of power.

Despite Viv’s aversion to contact, a fragile bond forms between them, seemingly one atom at a time. Until Mal, determined to redeem himself by revealing Viv’s accomplishment to the world, brings down the wrath of an oil-dependent establishment, risking not only their love, but Viv’s life.

Warning: Contains a disgraced environmentalist and an autistic genius who go from strangers to lovers-for-life in thirteen days. Don’t believe in miracles? We’ll make you.

Out Jan 5

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21414439Susan Dennard‘s TRUTHWITCH (YA fantasy): A new-to-me author, but there’s been a lot of hype over this YA fantasy.  And yeah, it sounds good.

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Out Jan 5

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28168696KA Mitchell‘s RISK EVERYTHING ON IT (M/M contemporary romance): Second in her latest Ready or Knot series and there was sufficient sequel-bait in the previous book to reel me in.

Former child star and deeply closeted adult actor Jax Conlon needs a boost to his flagging career. He promised his mom, just before she died. He hopes he’s found it in a guest spot with the latest directorial prodigy, but his research for the role gets derailed by an encounter with a handsome stranger with more… hands-on experience.

Oz Parsons is a devoted dad to two amazing little girls. Maybe a little too devoted—he hasn’t had anything resembling a personal life since his ex left, leaving Oz and the girls with broken hearts and abandonment issues. So a hookup with a hot guy is just what he needs to let off some pent-up steam without any complications. There’s something about Jax, though, that’s got him finding reasons to draw things out.

With their goals and families pulling them in two different directions, Oz and Jax have to figure if white-hot chemistry and desire that won’t quit is enough to roll the dice and risk now on forever.

Out Jan 8

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27252717Elle Kennedy‘s THE SCORE (NA romance): Finally, the next book in this highly-enjoyable ice hockey romance series.  I devoured the first two books (when I finally got around to reading them), so I’m thrilled we get more.

He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition,girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to befriends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

Out Jan 11

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23111882Seanan McGuire‘s REFLECTIONS (urban fantasy): I really enjoyed the twisted take on fairytales that was INDEXING so I’m looking forward to its sequel.  (Also, Amazon – when are you going to do Kindle Serials in the UK?)

“For her to love me, she had to be willing to kill me. Anything else would show that her heart was untrue.”

The struggle against not-so-charming storybook narratives isn’t the only complicating factor in Henrietta “Henry” Marchen’s life. As part of the ATI Management Bureau team protecting the world from fairy tales gone awry, she’s juggling her unwanted new status as a Snow White, dealing with a potentially dangerous Pied Piper, and wrangling a most troublesome wicked stepsister—along with a budding relationship with Jeff, her teammate.

But when a twisted, vicious Cinderella breaks out of prison and wreaks havoc, things go from disenchanted to deadly. And once Henry realizes someone is trying to use her to destroy the world, her story becomes far from over—and this one might not have a happily ever after.

Indexing: Reflections is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s continuing new urban fantasy, where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.

Out Jan 12

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25362841Kelley Armstrong‘s THE CITY OF THE LOST (suspense): Another novel that was originally released as an e-serial.  I know Kelley Armstrong can do suspense, so this promises to be a good one.

New York Times and Globe and Mail bestselling author Kelley Armstrong delivers us to Rockton, a secret little town in the far north where the hunted go to hide. And where a hunter has now come to play.

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. Since then she’s become a talented police detective, tethered only to her job, her best friend, Diana, and the occasional evening with her sexy, no-strings-attached ex-con lover, Kurt. But then Diana’s abusive ex finds her again, despite all Casey has done to help her disappear. And Casey’s own dark past begins to catch up with her. The two women need to run—and Diana’s heard of a place where they won’t be found, a town especially for people like them…

Out Jan 14

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22065067Kathy MacMillan‘s SWORD AND VERSE (YA fantasy): Another new-to-me author (and yes, another YA fantasy with lots of hype – I’m predictable), but again, I’m loving the back cover blurb.

Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.

Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.

Out Jan 19

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27260565JL Merrow‘s OUT! (M/M contemporary romance): I’ve really been enjoying her Shamwell Tales books, with its slightly off-beat humour and small-town English feel, so hurrah for the third in series.

When the costs are added up, will love land in the black?

Mark Nugent has spent his life in the closet—at least, the small part of it he hasn’t spent in the office. Divorced when he could no longer deny his sexuality, he’s sworn off his workaholic ways and moved to Shamwell with his headstrong teen daughter to give her a stable home environment.

His resolve to put his love life on hold is severely tested when he joins a local organization and meets a lively yet intense young man who tempts him closer to the closet threshold.

Patrick Owen is an out-and-proud charity worker with strong principles—and a newly discovered weakness for an older man. One snag: Mark is adamant he’s not coming out to his daughter, and Patrick will be damned if he’s going to start a relationship with a lie.

Between Mark’s old-fashioned attitudes and a camp, flirtatious ex-colleague who wants Mark for himself, Patrick wonders if they’ll ever be on the same romantic page. And when Mark’s former career as a tax advisor clashes with Patrick’s social conscience, it could be the one stumbling block they can’t get past.

Product Warnings: Contains historically inaccurate Spartan costumes, mangled movie quotes, dubious mathematical logic and a three-legged pub crawl.

Out Jan 19

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15993203Alison Goodman‘s THE DARK DAYS CLUB (YA fantasy): Alison Goodman’s perhaps better known for her East Asian-inspired YA fantasy duology, Eon, but this one sounds equally intriguing.

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

Out Jan 26

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26063084Eloisa JamesMY AMERICAN DUCHESS (historical romance): A new Eloisa James!  Happy days.

The arrogant Duke of Trent intends to marry a well-bred Englishwoman. The last woman he would ever consider marrying is the adventuresome Merry Pelford— an American heiress who has infamously jilted two fiancés.

But after one provocative encounter with the captivating Merry, Trent desires her more than any woman he has ever met. He is determined to have her as his wife, no matter what it takes. And Trent is a man who always gets what he wants.

The problem is, Merry is already betrothed, and the former runaway bride has vowed to make it all the way to the altar. As honor clashes with irresistible passion, Trent realizes the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. In his battle to save Merry and win her heart, one thing becomes clear:

All is fair in love and war.

Out Jan 26

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I wasn’t joking about the number of new releases this month, right?  What new releases do you have your eye on?

This and That

I’ve had one of those periods where it feels as though I haven’t read an actual book for ages. I think it’s because I’m a bit of a late-night reader and work has been totally killing me these past couple of weeks, so I’ve been falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow instead of opening my latest book.

24358527But there’s light at the end of the tunnel – I just picked up Marko Kloos‘ ANGLES OF ATTACK, and it’s the kind of story that quickly draws you in, which makes sense as it’s fast-paced MilSF that drops you into the action right from the start.  So my mini reading slump might be ending.  I also admit I feel a bit better about picking up his third book after he withdrew his acceptance for the Best Novel Hugo nomination – I’ve been reading some of the SP/RP arguments over the past few weeks (yes, as opposed to reading books!) and some posts just make me feel, well, icky.  I’m looking forward to the publication of the Hugos longlist when Worldcon rolls around – I think we’ll see which works got pushed off the Hugo shortlist because of the SP/RP slate, which would give me a better idea of what 2014-published books I’ve missed off my reading list.

To stop this from being purely a whiny woe-is-me post, here are two books I enjoyed over the past month (evidenced by over-usage of the word “fun” over the next few paragraphs – sorry).

21416690One was by a new-to-me author, Genevieve Cogman – I’d heard lots of buzz over her THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY (let’s face it, the title alone would make it an easy sell to the book-loving community) but only picked it up when the e-version was on sale earlier in the year.   Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

So – this book was just so fun.

I loved pretty much everything about this book – character-wise, we had Irene with her steadfast loyalty to the Library and its mission, her sidekick Kai (full of youthful exuberance, but also with secrets), and while I’m not usually one for Great Detectives, Vale started to grow on me as well. And then you have the Library itself, the secret librarian Language, and an action-packed romp through alternate-London in pursuit of a mysterious book.

The most tantalising part, though, is the hint that the next books in this series get a bit deeper than just superficial spooks-with-magic fun – I’m looking forward to them.

21331590The other book was Eloisa James‘ recent historical romance release, FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE.  This one… I think you’ve to be in a certain mood so it’s not for everyone, but if you’re in the right mood, it’d be just ridiculously OTT fun.  The last third of the book was unfortunately the weakest part for me – too many misunderstandings (rinse repeat), but it did leave me with a smile on my face.

25321367Oh, and Martha Wells also released a collection of her short stories and novelettes – one new story, with the rest previously-published.  Most, possibly all, were new-to-me, and I really enjoyed revisiting her Ile-Rien and Cineth worlds.  This one was part of a recent Kickstarter, by the way – I passed on it as I was really only interested in Martha Wells’ contribution, so I’m glad she’s released her collection as a standalone.  Definitely worth picking up if you’re a Wells fan, and I suspect they’ll also work well as an introduction for those who haven’t read her Ile-Rien/Cineth books before.

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).

 

April Reading…

For a book blogger, I don’t actually post that often on what I’m currently reading.  Which is weird, because I love reading posts about what other people are reading.  So here are some of my April reads so far:

20645592I’ve just finished Allison Parr‘s IMAGINARY LINES – yes, my “currently reading” book got bumped aside when this arrived on my Kindle on Monday.  Her New York Leopards NA series is an auto-buy for me, and this one didn’t disappoint – Abe and Tamar were charming, and there was more of both the NYC setting and football backdrop which made me fall in love with the series in the first place.  I do think Allison Parr’s prose veers towards the purple on occasion, but the emotional impact more than makes up for that.  However, I was frustrated by the handful of copy-editing errors in the text – both because I think Parr deserves better and also maybe I expect more from Carina Press?

15715406And oh!  Remember that list of my TBR books to read during 2014 that I posted a while back?  I am so pleased to say that I tackled the Susanna Kearsley that has been sitting on my shelves for years now.  And even better?  I loved THE SHADOWY HORSES – it was somehow so crazily romantic and yet quiet at the same time.  My favourite kind of romance.  I also really liked the archaeological details and the well-rounded secondary characters, plus I felt the touch of paranormal suited the story perfectly – and if you know me, I don’t often say that when the paranormal intrudes into my contemporary.  Obviously, I’m now making plans to get my hands on her extensive backlist.  I’ve also placed the Juliet Marillier book from that aforementioned list on my bedside table – buoyed by the success of the Kearsley read, I’m keen to dive into the Bridei Chronicles series.

1805295618335221To get my fix of historical romance, I’ve also read both the new Eloisa James (THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X) and Jo Beverley (A SHOCKING DELIGHT).  The Eloisa James started off slow, but once I got into it, the story really hit the right emotional buttons for me.  It’s ever so slightly OTT and (minor) misunderstandings abound, but I was in just the right mood for that kind of story.   And as I suspected (due to the blatant sequel bait), she’s just announced a follow-up – I’m totally up for it.  The Jo Beverley was less successful for me – it started off well, then started meandering around a bit too much in the middle and never quite recovered, plus there was a bit too indulgence Rogues-wise, even for a long-time reader like me.  Still, a decent read and I appreciated the less usual City of London and Devon settings.

What about you – tell me your current reads?

Books for March

I was debating between posting the March new releases I wanted and clearing out my “links that caught my eye” file.  The post title is probably a dead giveaway, but I figured the links would keep and I’m loving my new releases list this month.  Never say I don’t make the big decisions…

Onto the March releases:

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17563080Anne Bishop‘s MURDER OF CROWS (fantasy): So many people have already mentioned that the sequel to WRITTEN IN RED is out this month – and yes, it’s at the top of my to-buy list.  I have to say that as much as I enjoyed the first book, I was surprised by how many people mentioned WRITTEN IN RED in their Best of 2013 round-ups. It feels that Anne Bishop is getting a bit more air time for this series compared to her last major series, the Black Jewels books – possibly because it’s more accessible fantasy?

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murders of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders whether their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or of a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Out March 4

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17667009Seanan McGuire‘s HALF OFF RAGNAROK (UF): I’m hoping this book in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series is when it finally starts to click for me.  Don’t get me wrong – the previous two books were lots of fun with that trademark in-depth world-building of McGuire’s… it’s just that they’re just missing the heart which I know she can deliver. New book, new protagonist, new start?

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

Out March 4

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night broken_front mech.inddPatricia BriggsNIGHT BROKEN (UF): The new Mercy Thompson installment!  I sometimes feel the Mercy books suffer from being released so early in the year that they don’t really stand out when I look back at all the books I read during that year. Nevertheless, I always look forward to a new Briggs – this time round, it sounds as though Mercy and Adam’s relationship takes centre-stage, which promises to be good as Patricia Briggs excels at relationships.

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Out March 11

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18689477Carla Kelly‘s THE WEDDING RING QUEST (historical romance): Carla Kelly is one of those historical romance authors that has a knack for evoking the feel of the period so perfectly – no wallpaper historicals here. She also excels at writing military (or ex-military in this case) men – she doesn’t romanticise war nor does she shy away from portraying both direct and indirect after-effects, but she always manages to infuse her stories with hope and humanity.

Searching for a ring…finding a family!

Penniless Mary Rennie knows she’s lucky to have a home with relatives in Edinburgh, but she does crave more excitement in her life. So when her cousin’s ring is lost in one of several fruitcakes heading around the country as gifts, Mary seizes the chance for adventure.

When widowed captain Ross Rennie and his son meet Mary in a coaching inn, they take her under their wing. After years of battling Napoleon, Ross’s soul is war weary, but Mary’s warmth and humor touch him deep inside. Soon, he’s in the most heart-stopping situation of his life— considering a wedding-ring quest of his own!

Out March 18

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18590125Julie Cross‘s THIRD DEGREE (new adult): I loved Julie Cross’s YA LETTERS TO NOWHERE – of course I’m giving her NA debut a go.  She wrote an interesting blog post about the “rules” of NA, and we had an exchange of comments which makes me even more curious to see her take on NA.

I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.

But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.

Out March 25

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18052956Eloisa JamesTHREE WEEKS WITH LADY X (historical romance): I… can’t even. So you may recall way back in the days, I loved Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses series (when I talked about them every other month or so?). And then she went off and did her historical fairy tale retellings – which were fine (and okay, I may have really liked a couple), but really, I preferred her Georgian-set historicals. And now she’s revisiting that world with the son of the Duke of Villiers (who pretty much carried that entire Desperate Duchesses series)… well, yes, I’m very definitely getting this (and you’ll probably see a post from me in a few months’ time cursing that sky-high expectations thing).

Having made a fortune, Thorn Dautry, the powerful bastard son of a duke, decides that he needs a wife. But to marry a lady, Thorn must acquire a gleaming, civilized façade, the specialty of Lady Xenobia India.

Exquisite, head-strong, and independent, India vows to make Thorn marriageable in just three weeks.

But neither Thorn nor India anticipate the forbidden passion that explodes between them.

Thorn will stop at nothing to make India his. Failure is not an option.

But there is only one thing that will make India his—the one thing Thorn can’t afford to lose…

His fierce and lawless heart.

Out March 25

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And if that’s not enough, a couple of other books on my radar:

  • Diana Peterfreund did a cover reveal for this NASabrina Bowen‘s THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN (out March 17).  Any book that remotely references Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series catches my attention – yes, I’m easy like that.
  • Teresa Grant‘s Malcolm & Suzanne books are always good if you’re in the mood for proper historical intrigue (though I admit they are twisty to the extent that my head sometimes hurts trying to figure out what’s happening) – THE BERKELEY SQUARE AFFAIR (out March 25) promises to deliver the more of the same (plus really pretty cover!)

Shorts & E-Publishing

I drafted this post a couple of months ago, and then promptly forgot about it.  I stumbled upon it earlier this month, but figured it was slightly out-of-date as both the serials I talk about have finished.  And then John Scalzi posted today that the two extra short stories in the hardcover of THE HUMAN DIVISION was now available for free on Tor.com, which kind of makes this post relevant again.

So with some minor edits, here are my thoughts on serials – or rather, e-publishing experiments, because that’s what they really are – and some updates below on my current position now that both the John Scalzi and Eloisa James serials have been completed.

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I’m a sucker for short stories and anthologies.  The number of themed anthologies I have is well into double digits (I blame the editors for coming up with amazing ideas and tossing in a few must-read contributors – they know me so well), and yet, the “theme-iness” of anthologies sometimes doesn’t work for me. I’m still halfway through Jonathan Strachan’s UNDER MY HAT anthology because I can’t read too many witch stories at one go without thinking “oh no, not another witch”.

With the advent of e-publishing, it gets a lot easier to release single short stories, but yet I don’t find myself hitting that Buy button for very many standalone shorts.  I’ve been pondering the reasons, and here are some rather rambly thoughts on what short stories work for me, pricing, and whether the serial format would work in any other genre.

15698479On the first, you may have seen some of my mentions of John Scalzi‘s THE HUMAN DIVISION serialisation – we’re now up to week 7 (update: the last episode was released April 9) and I’m still eagerly turning on my Kindle every Tuesday evening to get the latest episode.  Reasons why this set of shorts is working well (and specifically) for me:

  • Each episode is self-contained enough for me to feel entertained and satisfied when I turn off my Kindle.  There aren’t any cliffhangers – sure, there are points to speculate about in each episode, but there is no “To Be Continued…” kind of ending.   
  • The weekly gap between episodes feels right.  I’ll caveat that by saying this may be due to the fact I’m not invested enough in the overall story or characters to the extent that I feel I *must* know what happens next. I do like the recurring characters, especially Harry Wilson and Hart Schmidt, but I don’t feel short-changed if they don’t show up in an episode.
  • The time commitment works.  They’re not ultra-short stories (though the length varies), but I know I don’t have to find a spare hour in my day to finish the story.  
  • Most importantly, the price feels right – £0.63 (or £0.64 for the latter ones (I’ve no idea why the 1p increase but I’m guessing the exchange rate, boo). 

Which brings me to the price point question. The good old “coffee v an ebook” price debate made its rounds a couple of months ago, but we won’t go into that.  I think the not-very-helpful answer is that the “right” price point for me as a reader is the point at which I feel I get value for money, which in turn is tied to how much enjoyment I get out from the story (and I have some thoughts on that and recent self-pubbed releases by auto-buy authors… but that would be another post).  That’s a rather vague answer – talking specifics, why am I happy to pay £0.63 for each Scalzi episode?

I can’t help comparing the price of a short story to that of an anthology – take John Joseph Adams’ THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION anthology for example.  It retails on Amazon UK for £7.20 and has 22 short stories in it – I make that 33p each.  Jonathan Strachan’s UNDER MY HAT, which I mentioned above, is £7 for 18 stories, so again approximately 38p each.  So each story is half the price of the Scalzi series, but on the other hand, I know I’ll have hits and misses with an anthology. I’m not going to love every story in this book; heck, I may not even like any of them.

With the Scalzi shorts, I know I like his writing and he’s been consistent.  For 13 episodes, I’m paying around £8.30* – that’s more expensive than a mass-market paperback, but probably what I would pay for a hardcover (including discounts).  And THE HUMAN DIVISION is being released as a hardcover at the end of the serial run, so I don’t feel short-changed, even for the shorter episodes.  If it was £0.99 an episode, I think I would hesitate because of cost – that’s 3x the cost of a short story in an anthology.

The other point I was thinking about was if an SF serial works for me, would it would work for another genre, such as romance? 

17660428I find it hard to imagine a romance novel published serially in such a way that would leave me feeling satisfied after each installment, yet with a HEA that I would believe in.   I did notice Eloisa James is doing an online serial for her new novella(?) WITH THIS KISS – it looks as though it’s £0.99 for each installment (three in total) or £4.49 for the entire book AS YOU WISH, which will also include a previously-published e-short.  I’m hesitating – partly because I’m not sure if the length will be right for £0.99, but also because I’m thinking cliffhanger-type endings based on the descriptions.  I’m looking forward to seeing how successful it is, though.

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Update 28 May:

  • I still haven’t bought Eloisa James’ serialised story, and that’s really due to pricing.  As much as I love her writing,  I’m balking at the price for three short stories, which (based on Goodreads reviews) aren’t complete stories in themselves – it sounds like one story split into three, which is slightly different to the Scalzi serialisation. I’m not saying never – I may feel like an EJ fix one day, and decide to splash out on it, but it’d be a special occasion kind of purchase.
  • I finished THE HUMAN DIVISION and liked it well enough (I rated the majority of the shorts 3 stars on GRs, with a couple of 4s, IIRC) – would I buy the second “season”?  It’s interesting, because I don’t think I would have bought the hardcover of THD (John Scalzi’s more of a wait-for-the-paperback-release kind of author for me), but that’s essentially what I ended up doing by signing up to the serialised version.  I probably would buy the next serialisation, just because I thought it was good value for money.  However, I would have answered differently if you had asked me the same question back in April – see next (and final) point.  
  • I was annoyed when it was announced that the hardback version of THE HUMAN DIVISION would have exclusive extras not available to the purchasers of the online serial, but held my peace.  Obviously I didn’t feel strongly enough about THD to blog about it, though I have posted previously about my feelings when “extras” are only available in either hardcover or mass market paperback (hint: it really annoys me).  However, the fact that Tor is now offering the additional shorts for free a couple of months after the hardcover release makes me a lot happier – I would have voted with my cash otherwise (as I’ve done when publishers have offered exclusive content specific to certain formats) and not bought the sequel.

So, your thoughts – do serialised releases work for you or not?  Did you buy either (or both) of the John Scalzi or Eloisa James serials?  

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*One could also argue we get 13 pieces of cover art for the serialised version. Or that editing 20 short stories written by 20 different authors is more overhead than editing 20 short stories by a single author. I don’t know.

Books for May

May = TWO Bank Holiday weekends.  And these new releases.  What’s not to love?

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12106940Charlaine Harris‘s DEAD EVER AFTER (urban fantasy): The final Sookie Stackhouse book.  It feels a bit like the end of an era; Sookie was one of the first UF heroines out there, and I still remember devouring the first few Bon Temps books when I first stumbled across them.  But if I’m honest, it also feels like Charlaine Harris has run out of steam in the more recent books, so I’m more than ready for Sookie’s story to come to an end.  I’m avoiding spoilers, BTW (or at least trying to), but I’m also trying to prepare myself based on the rumours.

Sookie Stackhouse has one last adventure in store.

Life has taken her from a waitress in Merlotte’s Bar, Bon Temps, to part owner; from social outcast to the heart of her community; from a vampire’s girlfriend to the wife of one of the most powerful vampires in the state. She has survived earthquakes, revolutions and attempts on her life. Sookie has endured betrayal, heartbreak and grief… and she has emerged a little stronger, and little wiser, every time.

But with life comes new trials…

The question is, in the end: who will love, who will live, and who will be dead ever after?

Sookie finds it easy to turn down the request of former barmaid Arlene when she wants her job back at Merlotte’s. After all, Arlene tried to have Sookie killed. But her relationship with Eric Northman is not so clearcut. He and his vampires are keeping their distance…and a cold silence. And when Sookie learns the reason why, she is devastated. Then a shocking murder rocks Bon Temps, and Sookie is arrested for the crime.  But the evidence against Sookie is weak, and she makes bail. Investigating the killing, she’ll learn that what passes for truth in Bon Temps is only a convenient lie. What passes for justice is more spilled blood. And what passes for love is never enough…

Out May 7

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13108289Eloisa James‘s ONCE UPON A TOWER (historical romance): Eloisa James is an auto-buy author for me, so a definite yes to this one, even though I haven’t been reading that much historical romance lately. Having said that, I’ve just bought Tessa Dare’s novella ONCE UPON A WINTER’S EVE as it was only £0.40.  I need to watch that impulse buy thing.

Once upon a time…

A duke fell in love

Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross, values order and self-control above all else. So when he meets a lady as serene as she is  beautiful, he promptly asks for her hand in marriage.

With a lady

Edie—whose passionate temperament is the opposite of serene—had such a high fever at her own debut ball that she didn’t notice anyone, not even the notoriously elusive Duke of Kinross. When her father accepts his offer… she panics.

And when their marriage night isn’t all it could be, she pretends.

In a tower.

But Edie’s inability to hide her feelings makes pretending impossible, and when their marriage implodes, she retreats to a tower—locking Gowan out.

Now Gowan faces his greatest challenge. Neither commands nor reason work with his spirited young bride. How can he convince her to give him the keys to the tower…

When she already has the keys to his heart?

Out May 28

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17453991Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold‘s DEATH BY SILVER (LGBT fantasy/mystery): Hilcia’s review @ Impressions of a Reader piqued my interest – it sounds right up my alley.

His practice newly established, metaphysician Ned Mathey can’t afford to turn away any clients. But the latest Londoner to seek Ned’s magical aid gives him pause: Mr Edgar Nevett, an arrogant banker, is the father of the bully who made Ned’s life hell at boarding school. Nevertheless, Ned accepts the commission to ensure the Nevett family silver bears no ancient or modern curses, and then prepares to banish the Nevett family to unpleasant memory again. Until Edgar Nevett is killed by an enchanted silver candlestick—one of the pieces Ned declared magically harmless.

Calling on his old school friend Julian Lynes—private detective and another victim of the younger Nevett—Ned races to solve the murder, clear the stain on his professional reputation, and lay to rest the ghosts of his past.

Assisted by Ned’s able secretary Miss Frost, who has unexpected metaphysical skills of her own, Ned and Julian explore London’s criminal underworld and sodomitical demimonde, uncover secrets and scandals, confront the unexpected murderer and the mysteries of their own relationship.

In Death by Silver, veteran authors Melissa Scott and Amy Griswold introduce a Victorian London where magic works, influencing every aspect of civilized life, and two very appealing detectives.

Out May 25

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16130663FEARSOME JOURNEYS edited by Jonathan Strachan (fantasy): Jonathan Strachan describes FEARSOME JOURNEYS as “…an anthology of adventure fantasy, with a slight emphasis on military fantasy and swords and sorcery” (and has the full table of contents at his blog).  It sounds fantastic, with a great mix of new-to-me authors and familiar names.

An amazing array of the most popular and exciting names in Fantasy are set to appear in the first in a brand new series of Fantasy anthologies featuring original fiction, from the master editor Jonathan Strahan. The authors appearing in the launch volume include Trudi Canavan, Elizabeth Bear, Daniel Abraham, Kate Elliott, Saladin Ahmed, Glen Cook, Scott Lynch, Ellen Klages, Ellen Kushner & Ysabeau Wilce, Jeffrey Ford, Robert Redick and KJ Parker.

Out May 28

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17834453

ETA: Totally forgot to add this digital-only release from Entangled Publishing!

WHEN HONEY GOT MARRIED by Kimberly Lang, Anna Cleary, Kelly Hunter, and Ally Blake (contemporary romance): I wasn’t expecting anything new from Kelly Hunter so soon, so finding out she was a contributor in this anthology was an excellent surprise (and I’ve already bought and finished the book). It’s the romance equivalent of a shared-world anthology (I’m pretty sure there’s a specific term for it, but can’t remember for the life of me) – the other three authors are new-to-me, but as you’d expect, I loved Ms Hunter’s contribution and am already searching out more by Ally Blake.

Four high school friends and a high society bride reunite to celebrate the wedding of the year with the sexy, successful men who steal their hearts and set their skin aflame… A wedding planner should never mix business and pleasure, but Grace couldn’t resist breaking rule number one for a hot night with her high school crush!

Eve hoped to make one last play for the groom-who-got-away…but instead the down-on-her-romantic-luck actress instead found herself in dark corners with his successful, seductive cousin.

The sister of the bride needed a date of convenience and who better than her hazel-eyed, mysterious co-worker? If only Nina could keep her hands off his perfect body until she learned his true identity…

The groom proposed to her eight years earlier, but it was the steamy kiss that Pippa shared with his brother the night she left town that haunted her memories.  Now she’s back and sharing much more than just kisses.

Nothing was going to ruin Honey’s wedding to the man of her dreams.  And she has just the wedding surprise for her beloved groom!

Out now

Books for March

Here’s a pretty long list of March releases that I’m eyeing (plus a whole load of maybes).  Also, Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING is now scheduled for a March release, so lots of book goodness this month.

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11035657Patricia BriggsFROST BURNED (UF): *inarticulate noise* Yes, I’m that excited about a new Mercy Thompson story.  It’s been one of the very few books I’ve actually pre-ordered this year.  I’m wondering if we’re going to see the repercussions of the events in the last Anna & Charles book in FROST BURNED – I hope so.

Mercy Thompson’s life has undergone a seismic change. Becoming the mate of Adam Hauptman—the charismatic Alpha of the local werewolf pack—has made her a stepmother to his daughter Jesse, a relationship that brings moments of blissful normalcy to Mercy’s life. But on the edges of humanity, what passes for a minor mishap on an ordinary day can turn into so much more…

After an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy and Jesse can’t reach Adam—or anyone else in the pack for that matter. They’ve all been abducted.

Through their mating bond, all Mercy knows is that Adam is angry and in pain. With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam’s disappearance may be related—and that he and the pack are in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Out March 5 (excerpt)

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12551082Miranda Kenneally‘s THINGS I CAN’T FORGET (YA romance): Miranda Kenneally’s CATCHING JORDAN was an unexpectedly good read when I stumbled upon it last year, so I’m all up for a new book in her Hundred Oaks setting (this is termed a companion book, which appears to be a quiet trend in the YA space).

Kate has always been the good girl. Too good, according to some people at school—although they have no idea the guilty secret she carries. But this summer, everything is different…

This summer she’s a counselor at Cumberland Creek summer camp, and she wants to put the past behind her. This summer Matt is back as a counselor too. He’s the first guy she ever kissed, and he’s gone from a geeky songwriter who loved The Hardy Boys to a buff lifeguard who loves to flirt…with her.

Kate used to think the world was black and white, right and wrong. Turns out, life isn’t that easy…

Out now (excerpt)

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13501633Seanan McGuire‘s MIDNIGHT BLUE-LIGHT SPECIAL (UF): So I didn’t quite love the first InCryptid novel, but this is Seanan McGuire.  I’m giving this series another go.

Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: “monster.”

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity–and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn’t quite work out that way…

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city’s readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there’s no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity’s apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ–assuming there’s anyone left standing when all is said and done. It’s a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit…and carnage.

Out March 5 (excerpt)

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13414149QUEEN VICTORIA’S BOOK OF SPELLS, edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (YA fantasy): The subtitle is An Anthology of Gaslamp Fantasy, which just intrigues me.

“Gaslamp Fantasy,” or historical fantasy set in a magical version of the nineteenth century, has long been popular with readers and writers alike. A number of wonderful fantasy novels, including Stardust by Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and The Prestige by Christopher Priest, owe their inspiration to works by nineteenth-century writers ranging from Jane Austen, the Brontës, and George Meredith to Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and William Morris. And, of course, the entire steampunk genre and subculture owes more than a little to literature inspired by this period.

Queen Victoria’s Book of Spells is an anthology for everyone who loves these works of neo-Victorian fiction, and wishes to explore the wide variety of ways that modern fantasists are using nineteenth-century settings, characters, and themes. These approaches stretch from steampunk fiction to the Austen-and-Trollope inspired works that some critics call Fantasy of Manners, all of which fit under the larger umbrella of Gaslamp Fantasy. The result is eighteen stories by experts from the fantasy, horror, mainstream, and young adult fields, including both bestselling writers and exciting new talents such as Elizabeth Bear, James Blaylock, Jeffrey Ford, Ellen Kushner, Tanith Lee, Gregory Maguire, Delia Sherman, and Catherynne M. Valente, who present a bewitching vision of a nineteenth century invested (or cursed!)

Out March 19 (publisher page)

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15714478Teresa Grant‘s THE PARIS AFFAIR (historical mystery): I’m a long-time fan of Teresa Grant’s books and am looking forward to a new installment in Suzanne and Malcolm’s life.  Her novels are packed full of historical detail and political intrigue; add the rather complicated relationship between Suzanne and Malcolm and you get a very satisfying read.

Warning: SPOILER in book description for previous books(!):

From the ashes of war rise the secrets of its darkest hearts…

In the wake of the Battle of Waterloo, Paris is a house divided. The triumphant Bourbons flaunt their victory with lavish parties, while Bonapartists seek revenge only to be captured and executed. Amid the turmoil, British attaché and intelligence agent Malcolm Rannoch and his wife, Suzanne, discover that his murdered half sister, Princess Tatiana Kirsanova, may have borne a child—a secret she took to the grave. And Malcolm suspects there was more than mere impropriety behind her silence…

As Malcolm and Suzanne begin searching for answers, they learn that the child was just one of many secrets Tatiana had been keeping. The princess was the toast of Paris when she arrived in the glamorous city, flirting her way into the arms of more than a few men—perhaps even those of Napoleon himself—and the father must be among them. But in the mêlée of the Napoleonic Wars, she was caught up in a deadly game of court intrigue, and now Malcolm and Suzanne must race against time to save his sister’s child from a similar fate…

Out March 26 (excerpt)

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And then my maybes:

Anne Bishop‘s WRITTEN IN RED (YA UF): I’ve skipped her more recent fantasy releases, but may pick up her YA UF debut. (ETA: This is not a YA according to commenters – no idea where I got my original impression from!)

Jennifer Nielsen‘s THE RUNAWAY KING (MG/YA fantasy): I liked but didn’t love the first book in this trilogy (THE FALSE PRINCE) so this is on my library reservation request list.

Nalini Singh‘s WILD INVITATION (paranormal romance): Another library reservation request, I think – primarily because I’ve read both of the previously-published short stories in this anthology.  I’m not keen on paying full price for two new stories.

Eloisa James‘ WITH THIS KISS (historical romance): Normally Eloisa James is an autobuy author, but I’m not sure this serial-in-three-parts will work for me.  I’ll wait on reviews.

Jacqueline Winspear‘s LEAVING EVERYTHING MOST LOVED (historical mystery): Her Maisie Dobbs books are hits or misses with me, so I’ll probably play safe and borrow a copy from the library.

Books for December

Yes, this post is late, but on purpose this time!  There just haven’t been many December new releases that I’m interested in, so I’ve been holding off in the hope that I’d come across a few more.  Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case, so here’s the list of December releases on my radar – I will admit I’m fairly lukewarm on a few.

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13547361Sarah A Hoyt‘s DARKSHIP RENEGADES (SF): This is a follow-up to DARKSHIP THIEVES, an impulse borrow from my library a couple of years back and one I ended up liking very much.  I’m glad a sequel has finally been released, but my memory of the first book is somewhat hazy.  Also, this is published by Baen, so in theory, you should be able to purchase the e-version at both the Baen ebookstore or Amazon following their announcement last week.  I can see the price is now $8.99, as opposed to the original $6, so I’m assuming that’s gone through…

After rescuing her star pilot husband and discovering the dark secret of her own past on Earth, Athena Hera Sinistra returns to space habitat Eden to start life anew. Not happening. Thena and Kit are placed under arrest for the crime of coming back alive. The only escape from a death sentence: return to Earth and bring back the lost method for creating the Powertrees, the energy source of both Eden and Earth whose technological origins have been lost to war. But that mission is secondary to a greater imperative. Above all else, Thena must not get caught. If she does, then suicide is to be the only option.

With the odds heavily stacked against not only success, but survival, Thena comes to understand what her cynical accusers do not: it is not merely one woman’s life on the line anymore. For it’s on Earth where the adventure truly begins. Thena realizes that what is truly at stake is the fate of Eden and Earth alike, the continuance of the darkship fleet–and freedom for all in the Solar system–and beyond.

Out now (excerpt)

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13589141ELEMENTAL MAGIC, edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): December normally signals a new Valdemar anthology, but not this year – it’s the turn of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series.  It’s the same concept as the Valdemar anthology – various authors (the usual suspects, plus a few others) contribute short stories set in Lackey’s world.  I always end up buying the Valdemar anthology, which tends to be a mixed bag (i.e. a couple I really like and the rest ranging from decent to mediocre), but then again, I have a soft spot for Valdemar stories in general.  I’m not as fond of her Elemental Masters books, but I suspect I’ll also end up buying this one.

Among Mercedes Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically acclaimed and beloved as those about the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Now other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner…

Out now

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1600621616007364Carina Press also has their Christmas (holiday?) anthologies out this month – the previous ones I’ve read have been good value for money, so I keep an eye out for them.  This year, their three anthology themes are contemporary romance (ROMANCING THE HOLIDAY), erotic romance (RED HOT HOLIDAY), and SF romance A GALACTIC HOLIDAY.  I’ve already bought the latter two based on generally positive reviews (and am especially excited about the SF one), and will probably get the contemporary one at some point.

Out now

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13561603Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway‘s A LADY MOST WILLING (historical romance): This is a follow-up to the previous collaboration between the same authors, which I haven’t read yet, but I’m guessing these three authors should have put together a pretty fun and Christmassy read.

During their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Scotland to visit their aged uncle in his decrepit castle, the Comte de Rocheforte and his cousin, Earl of Oakley, are presented with unique gifts: their uncle has raided an English lord’s Christmas party and kidnapped four lovely would-be brides for his heirs to choose from… as well as one very angry duke, Lord Bretton. As snow isolates the castle, and as hours grow into days, the most honourable intentions give away to temptations as surprising as they are irresistible.

Out Dec 26 (excerpt)