Books for June

June!  New books!  Need I say more.

Well, yes, actually, because I seem to have come out of my reading slump, and have been reading.  I hesitate to say that I’m reading a lot (pesky things like sleep and work are still getting in the way), but despite the fact it’s only the second week of June, I’ve finished reading quite a few new releases here.

22750124Martha WellsSTORIES OF THE RAKSURA VOLUME 2 (fantasy): This is Martha Wells’ second collection of novellas/short stories set in her Raksura world.  I loved this trilogy when I finally got around to reading these books last year (they were in my 2014 favourites) and I was delighted to hear that she was continuing to write more stories in the same universe.  This is one of the books I’ve raced through, and it may sound weird as they’re new-to-me stories, but they’re almost like comfort reads.  She delivers exactly what you’re expecting – there are no surprises, and I mean that in a good way.

Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically ignore genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Out now

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24397828Nalini Singh‘s SHARDS OF HOPE (paranormal romance): I was debating whether this book was a buy or borrow, right up to the last moment when I caved and bought the Kindle version.  And yes, I’ve read it.  I haven’t loved her more recent Psy-Changeling books (hence the internal debate), but I thought this was the best one since the Hawke/Sienna book (which was, gosh, published back in 2011 – time flies).  There was quite a bit of repetition and the story felt a bit padded out, I thought the level of violence was slightly OTT, but I liked Aden and Zaira’s story more than I thought I would.

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.

Rich, dark, sumptuous and evocative . . . bestselling author Nalini Singh is back with a stunning, dark and passionate new tale.

Out now

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25395582Sherwood Smith‘s LHIND THE SPY (YA fantasy): Sequel to her LHIND THE THIEF (which I’ve read – no idea why I haven’t reviewed it).  I’m reading this right now, and it’s actually taking some discipline to write this blog post as opposed to continuing with Lhind’s adventures.  Lots of fun so far.

In this sequel to Lhind the Thief, Lhind has gone from castoffs to silks, back alleys to palace halls—and is not having an easy time of it. That’s before she’s snatched by an angry prince she’d robbed twice, who is determined to turn her over to the enemy who frightens her most, the sinister Emperor Jardis Dhes-Andis.

When her own dear Hlanan comes to rescue her, it’s Lhind who has to do the rescuing, setting off a wild chase to fend off mercenaries and then to confront an entire army intent on invasion.

Lhind and Hlanan try to negotiate the perilous waters of a relationship while on the run—straight into a trap.

Just when Lhind is beginning to figure out where she might fit into the world, she finds herself alone again, surrounded by enemies, in one of the most dangerous courts in the world.

And she begins to find out who she really is.

Out now

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24684698KJ Charles‘ THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL (M/M historical romance): I’ll buy anything KJ Charles writes. ‘Nuff said.

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

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And then my maybes/library requests:

  • Erika Johansen‘s THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING (YA fantasy): Probably a library request.  I read the first book last year – thought it was a decent start, though over-hyped.
  • Garth Nix‘s TO HOLD THE BRIDGE (fantasy): A collection of his short stories.  I’ve read a few of his books (and liked), but have a few more unread on my Kindle – another one for the library.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER MOST HISTORICAL (mystery): Another collection of short stories.  I’ve liked her Captain Lacey historical mysteries (hey, I’ve read all nine of them), so I’ll get this at some point
  • Mary Balogh‘s ONLY A PROMISE (historical romance): I’ve requested this from the library.
  • Sophie Kinsella‘s FINDING AUDREY (YA): Ditto.  I’ve had good times reading her more recent releases, but I’m not entirely sure I want to splash out on a Kinsella hardcover, especially for her first(?) YA.

 

Good Books are like Buses (Almost)

Can I paraphrase that buses saying here – you know, good books are like buses, you wait for ages for one and then three come along at once.  And even better, the first two were impulse buys in bookstores – something I find myself doing fairly infrequently nowadays, so bonus!  Here are my thoughts on three YA books – one being a space opera adventure, the second a contemporary romance, and the third a futuristic romance.

The first serendipitous finding was Garth Nix‘s A CONFUSION OF PRINCES, which turned out to be an imaginative YA SF romp through space.  I hadn’t heard of this book before, though having done a quick blog search since, there appears to have been a spate of reviews when it was released earlier this year, which I obviously completely ignored. The engaging (and totally self-centred) narrator, Prince Khemli, made this book for me, and although I normally hate the foreshadowing device, having Khemli announce at the start that this is the story of how he has died three times adds a certain something.

Khemli may be a prince, but in an empire that has ten million princes and all of them vying to be the next Emperor, the title has less meaning than you would expect.  So Khemli needs to figure out just how he can put himself into contention for the Imperial throne – and solve various mysteries on the side, like just why has he, of all the millions of princes, has been assigned a Master of Assassins (head bodyguard, in other words) who is more than competent (not that he’s complaining)?

This is the kind of story where the protagonist manages to get himself slowly but surely entangled in what appears to be a no-win situation, and I had no idea how Khemli was going to pull it off until the very end.  Perhaps as a trade-off for the strong and charismatic first-person narrative, the secondary characters felt less well-drawn, and the love interest was probably the weakest part of this book (I found it difficult to believe that it was the forever kind of love), but all in all, an unexpectedly fun and enjoyable SF story that I finished in one go.  I’d love to read more set in this world, and also really need to get around to reading Garth Nix’s SABRIEL.

The next book won’t be a surprise for those who have seen my recent Goodreads updates as I’ve been busy adding the rest of Miranda Kenneally‘s books to my To Read shelf.  CATCHING JORDAN was another impulse purchase, but this time what tipped me into buying the book was that I recalled seeing positive reviews around the blogosphere for this YA romance centred around American football.

Despite knowing next to nothing about American football*, CATCHING JORDAN really worked for me – I loved that Jordan was so passionate about her sport, I loved her positive relationships with her guy friends on the football team (and her eventual realisation that girl friends were equally as good), and I loved her close family ties (there may have been a few sniffles at the end as Jordan and her father figured each other out).  And while there was potential for too much annoying obliviousness when it came to the “right” love interest, it didn’t drag on for too long, and the eventual romance was swoon-worthy.  I want more, and I’m looking forward to reading the companion book STEALING PARKER.

*Or perhaps because of that – I’ve noted some reviews that feel the sports element wasn’t that realistic.

And the third – Diana Peterfreund‘s FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS.  This wasn’t an impulse buy – I’d been planning to read it ever since it was released back in June.  But I was never quite in the mood for post-apocalyptic YA fiction until now (and if I’m really honest, I don’t think I was really in that mood – I just wanted to get a book off my TBR pile).  So I cracked open FDSTS and started reading Elliot and Kai’s correspondence to each other… and didn’t surface for air until the very last page, which was when I heaved a sigh of pure satisfaction.

I adored this re-interpretation of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION – FDSTS was a perfect translation of not just the romance, but also the unstoppable march of change, to this strange new world of Luddites and Posts.  While the basic bones of the plot owed its inspiration to Austen, Elliot and Kai’s own story had quite a few twists – some which I suspected, and others that caught me by surprise (yet made complete sense in retrospect).

I understood Elliot’s strong sense of duty as part of her inherited obligations as a Luddite. I understood Kai’s frustration with the status quo for Posts and his need for something different.  With an excess of stubbornness and pride on both sides, the scene was set for a memorable love story. But FDSTS was also so much more than just a romance.  I loved the thought that had gone into creating a distant future that could be, providing a backdrop against which age-old money and power conflicts played out.   And there were some scenes… picturing Kai and Donovan’s daredevil stunts when reading the cliff scene made me feel as though I had vertigo, and I think I was actually holding my breath as I read Kai’s final letter to Elliot.

So a good run of books – and getting even better as Lois McMaster Bujold‘s CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE has hit the e-shelves at Baen *happy dance*