Books for November

Happy… November?  It’s almost Christmas! *ducks and hides*

I had a look at my Goodreads to-read shelf for November, and the list seems shorter than in previous months.  Though that’s possibly a good thing as I decided to go though my Kindle in an attempt to clear out my books…  let’s just say I’m very glad that a virtual TBR pile takes up no physical space at all!

The November new releases that I’ll be getting:

28941103SHADOWED SOULS, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L Hughes (urban fantasy): I know, I know.  I keep on saying I’m not a short story fan, and then I promptly run out to buy more anthologies.  This one has some UF big names – I’m most keen on the Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire and Tanya Huff.

In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals with some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters .

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES BY

Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *

Out now

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28953458Sharon Shinn’s UNQUIET LAND (fantasy): Her Elemental Blessings series has been a bit uneven for me (really liked the first, the second was so-so, and the third somewhere between the two), but Sharon Shinn remains an auto-buy for me.  And I really like the world-building in this series.

From the national bestselling author of Jeweled Fire and Royal Airs comes the latest novel in the Elemental Blessings series.

Leah Frothen has returned home. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned by regent Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in…

Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.

But when the regent asks her to spy on ambassadors from a visiting nation, Leah soon learns that everyone—her regent, her lover, and even her daughter—have secrets that could save the nation, but might very well break her heart.

Out now

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28230419Karina Bliss’s FALL (contemporary romance): I really enjoyed the first book in this rockstar romance series, and her linked story in the You Had Me at Christmas anthology was one of the rare romance shorts that worked for me.

Keep Rage together at all costs…

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage’s nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She’s supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it. But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.

Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they’re hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they’re all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he’s almost convinced, too.

Out Nov 15

Maybes:

  • Juliet Marillier’s DEN OF WOLVES (fantasy): She’s normally an auto-buy for me, but I’ve not managed to get into these Blackthorn & Grim books.  This is the last of the trilogy and I’ll probably wait for the paperback edition.  Beautiful covers though.
  • Stephanie Burgis’s CONGRESS OF SECRETS (fantasy): I’ve enjoyed her short stories, but never read a full-length novel of hers yet – maybe this will be the first!  Again, fab cover.
  • Lee Child’s NIGHT SCHOOL (suspense): I haven’t yet weaned myself off the Jack Reacher books despite the recent less-than-suspenseful plots, though this may be one I get from the library.

 

 

Checking In

November’s been such a hectic month – whatever happened to winding down for the year?  I admit that despite my best intentions, I’ve spent a good amount of time on the internet hitting that One-Click button over the past couple of days.  I’m not sure what’s happened (I suspect some price-matching algorithm going haywire), but my inbox has been flooded with price drop emails* over the weekend.  I’ve been fairly good, but the 50% rebate at AllRomanceEbooks (today only (30 Nov)!) may be the tipping point.  Who needs Christmas presents anyway, right?

I wanted to post about a couple of my recent reads before I completely forgot what I’ve been reading over November – because despite the busy-ness that was November, I’ve been getting through quite a few books.

24876258Most recently, Jim Butcher‘s foray into “steampunk” fantasy, THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS.  I borrowed this from the library as his more recent Dresden Files books (his very long-running UF series) have been just okay for me, and his other fantasy series felt very much like fantasy-by-numbers (entertaining fantasy-by-numbers, to be fair, but still, nothing groundbreaking).

But you know what?  I actually ended up enjoying this book a whole lot.  And I liked it precisely of what it wasn’t.

1) It wasn’t Harry Dresden in a steampunk setting, and by that, I mean the story didn’t feature a snarky dude with tendencies towards heroism, and transplanted into a fantasy setting.  (Also interestingly, this appears to be a negative in some of the reviews I’ve read.)

2) It wasn’t steampunk (hence the inverted commas above). Although this was branded as steampunk on Butcher’s website, the most steampunk-ish angle was probably the goggles the aeronauts wore, oh, and some passing references to steam engines?  The energy sources for his airships appeared to be magic crystals of the hand-wavey type, which kind of contradicts the whole basis for steampunk setting (not that I’m an expert or anything).

And this is a good thing how, you ask?  Because despite my best intentions (I feel like I should like steampunk, you know?), I’ve never really gotten steampunk as a genre (I adore Meljean Brooks’ IRON SEA series, but I suspect that’s more a testimony to her world-building skills than anything else), and I was more than fine with a fast-moving military/adventure fantasy with an intriguing setting and some surprisingly strong female POVs.

THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS isn’t a perfect read – there are quite a few POVs to get to grips with, especially at the start, and it doesn’t exactly challenge any fantasy conventions, but it’s lots of fun and I’m looking forward to the next book.

To wrap up, a couple more November reads I liked:

  • Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (M/M NA): I usually enjoy Lanyon’s books, and this was no exception – she has a way of hitting the right buttons for me.  This was branded as a caper-style story, and was very definitely one.  However, it did have the (trademark Lanyon) abrupt ending, and I’d liked to have a bit more (also, I kept on wondering how Jefferson could afford the many last-minute jaunts between London and the continent – train travel isn’t exactly cheap…).
  • Zen Cho‘s SPIRITS ABROAD (fantasy collection): I didn’t love her debut novel SORCEROR TO THE CROWN as much as I thought I would (I appreciated how she made the story feel current, for instance, we had everyday microaggressions translated in a fantasy Regency context, and also how Britain’s colonial history was woven into the story, but overall, never quite connected with the characters).  But I thought the short story length in this collection worked really well across the board, and I loved how fantastical and traditional elements were all transposed into a modern setting.

 

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*Not a sponsored nor affiliate link – eReaderIQ has just saved me so much money over the past couple of years.  They earn a % of any purchases you make by clicking on their links, though you could probably remove/change the affiliate tags if you really really wanted to.

Books for September

Now that summer’s almost over (yes, some denial here…), I’m hoping to settle back into more of a regular blogging schedule around here.  It’s been a busy few months – I’m not sure why, but when it’s still bright at nine in the evening, I feel as though I can cram more into my day?

I’ve also been reading a lot of books over the past couple of months…  Maybe I’ll actually talk about them at some point, but first, the new releases for September that I need to read.  All nine of them.

25615305Zen Cho‘s SORCEROR TO THE CROWN (fantasy): This one has had such good buzz.  I’ve been enjoying Zen Cho’s posts about her publishing journey on her blog – this is her debut novel.

In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

Out now

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25958273Deanna Raybourn‘s A CURIOUS BEGINNING (historical mystery): It’s been a while since I’ve read a Raybourn.  I stopped reading when she moved on from her Lady Julia books, but this start to a new series sounds intriguing.

In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

Out now (Oct 1 in the UK)

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23664710Lee Child‘s MAKE ME (suspense): Lee Child’s Jack Reacher books are always on my autumn reading list.  Though this looks like another small town setting, which always makes me feel claustrophobic…

“Why is this town called Mother’s Rest?” That’s all Reacher wants to know. But no one will tell him. It’s a tiny place hidden in a thousand square miles of wheat fields, with a railroad stop, and sullen and watchful people, and a worried woman named Michelle Chang, who mistakes him for someone else: her missing partner in a private investigation she thinks must have started small and then turned lethal.

Reacher has no particular place to go, and all the time in the world to get there, and there’s something about Chang . . . so he teams up with her and starts to ask around. He thinks: How bad can this thing be? But before long he’s plunged into a desperate race through LA, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Francisco, and through the hidden parts of the internet, up against thugs and assassins every step of the way—right back to where he started, in Mother’s Rest, where he must confront the worst nightmare he could imagine.

Walking away would have been easier. But as always, Reacher’s rule is: If you want me to stop, you’re going to have to make me.

Out now

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22095547Cindy Pon‘s SERPENTINE (YA fantasy): I love the cover.  Also, I read her Big Idea post over at Whatever, and was hooked.

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

Out now

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26084594KA Mitchell‘s PUT A RING ON IT (M/M romance): KA Mitchell’s pretty much an autobuy author for me.  And it’s been a while since her last book.

Kieran Delaney-Schwartz—adoptee, underachiever, and self-professed slacker IT guy—lives his under-the-radar life by the motto: Don’t try, don’t fail. His adopted siblings are all overachievers thanks to his driven, liberal parents, but Kieran has elected to avoid disappointing anyone by not getting their hopes up. He’s coasting through his early twenties when he’s hit head-on by Theo. The successful decade-older Broadway producer sweeps him off his feet for a whirlwind thirteen months that are pretty sweet until it all comes screeching to a halt on Valentine’s Day, with an unexpected proposal via a NYC Times Square Flash mob.

Now everyone wants in on the wedding, except the grooms…

Out now

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24453021Seanan McGuire‘s A RED-ROSE CHAIN (UF): New Toby always makes me happy.

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Out now

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17564519Rae Carson‘s WALK ON EARTH A STRANGER (YA fantasy): I quite liked Rae Carson’s previous trilogy, and this one sounds even better.

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance.

Out Sept 22

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24876258Jim Butcher‘s THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS (fantasy): Jim Butcher does something that’s not Dresden-related.  Okay, slightly unfair, as he did write the Codex Alera fantasy series… anyway, this looks like a take on steampunk?

 Jim Butcher, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Dresden Files and the Codex Alera novels, conjures up a new series set in a fantastic world of noble families, steam-powered technology, and magic-wielding warriors…

Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.

Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy’s shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion—to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.

And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity’s ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake…

Out Sept 29

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25388580Kelley Armstrong‘s THE UNQUIET PAST (fantasy): I’ve no idea what this book is (looks like a shared-world series?), but I’ll give it a shot because, well, Kelley Armstrong.

You can only hide from the truth for so long.

Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.

Out Sept 29

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And then the maybes:

  • Fran Wilde‘s UPDRAFT (fantasy): I’ve been hearing good things about this one.  Has anyone read this yet?
  • Mercedes Lackey‘s HUNTER (fantasy): I’ll always have a soft spot for some Lackey.
  • Holly Black & Cassandra Clare‘s THE COPPER GAUNTLET (YA fantasy): I read the first book, THE IRON TRIAL, recently – it was good fun, though a bit slow in parts.  And I’m a sucker for academy-type stories anyway.
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s LED ASTRAY (UF): More Armstrong, this time an anthology of mostly previously-published short stories, but with two new ones.  Which would be why I want the book…

Books for May

Quite a few May new releases on my radar this month (though having read through my list, it sounds like I’m not 100% sold on any of them – I am, really!):

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17666976Seanan McGuire‘s SPARROW HILL ROAD (fantasy):  I’m approaching this with slight caution, as her non-October Daye books have been a bit hit or miss for me, and I’m not a fan of ghost stories in general, but still, it is Seanan McGuire.  I’m expecting impressive world-building and a page-turning kind of story.

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Out now

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17936925Tammara Webber‘s BREAKABLE (NA romance): I’ve been on the fence about this retelling of EASY from Lucas’s POV – while I liked EASY well enough, I don’t really get different POV retellings (which appears to be a bit of a trend in the NA world – or am I generalising?).  But Tammara Webber is on that list of authors I stalk (not literally, and definitely not in a creepy way, I hasten to add) and I’m pretty sure Jane @ Dear Author tweeted this was a good one, so it’s on my Kindle.

He was lost and alone. Then he found her.
And the future seemed more fragile than ever.

As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.

All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…

As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

Out now

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20309995Joanna ChambersENLIGHTENED (historical m/m romance): This is the last of the trilogy – the previous books have ended with HFNs, so a HEA is well overdue… I usually struggle with historical realities when it comes to m/m romance, but I’ve felt that Joanna Chambers has got just the right balance between portraying social constraints of the times and giving the reader a believable romance.  Plus previous books have been set in Edinburgh, a bit of a change to the more usual London.

Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.

Out now

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20738173Josh Lanyon‘s STRANGER ON THE SHORE (m/m romance/mystery): Josh Lanyon is an autobuy for me, especially with his more  recent infrequent release schedule, so I’ve already bought AND read this.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me – the romance certainly did, especially when the h/h were on-page together, but that didn’t really happen until later in the book.  The mystery… started off strong and fizzled out towards the end, plus there were elements that felt out of place.  Still a decent read, but probably not a one I’ll recommend for someone new to Lanyon.

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

Out now

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19486421Jim Butcher‘s SKIN GAME (UF): It’s hard to believe this is the 15th Dresden Files book, and the series is still going strong.  I’ve to say the major twist Jim Butcher introduced a few books back has made this series feel fresh again, so it’ll be interesting to see how Harry’s getting on in this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…

Out May 27

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16156357Richelle Mead‘s THE IMMORTAL CROWN (fantasy?): It’s fair to say I was very surprised to see the cover of this one – it’s quite a departure to the cover of the first book, and I’m wondering if the redesign is to attract more of Richelle Mead’s core YA UF audience.  Speculation aside, I reviewed the first Age of X book when it came out last year, and while it took me a while to get into the story, I was impressed by the ambitious world-building – it’ll be interesting to see how she develops it in this book.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Out May 29

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Possibles:

 

Books for December

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

They’re from two different worlds.

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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Other books I want to get:

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

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Books for November

It’s been a tad quiet here, but I’ve been too busy diving into the November new release goodness to post (excuses, eh?).  Here are the ones on my must-get list – warning: it’s long and pretty much all fantasy.  What are yours?

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Juliet Marillier‘s FLAME OF SEVENWATERS (fantasy): This is one of the books that has been occupying my time over the past week.  I have such love for these books.  Which meant I approached this book with slight trepidation – knowing that it was (very likely) the last in the series, I was dreading that FLAME wouldn’t quite live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have been worried – from the very first paragraph, I was drawn into the captivating world of Sevenwaters that I’ve grown to know and love over the past five books.  The choice of Maeve as the protagonist was an inspired one – Juliet Marillier writes such strong heroines, and I liked how she didn’t shy away from tackling Maeve’s disability and its impact.  And the ending was very fitting, for both the book and the series.

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home as a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for taming difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, as she fears the shadows of her past.

Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, who is married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish

When Maeve finds one of the missing travelers murdered in the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign — or lead to a hideous death. But if she is successful, Maeve may open a door to a future she has not dared to believe possible…

Out now (excerpt)

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Tanya Huff‘s THE SILVERED (fantasy): And this is the book that’s currently keeping me up very late.  I don’t want to say very much and jinx things, because I’m only halfway through, but if it continues the way it started off, this could be a fantastic book. Yes, there are werewolves and mages in THE SILVERED, but it is so not your standard shapeshifter fantasy (so don’t stop reading here!).  For one, it isn’t urban fantasy – it’s this really interesting fantasy world, and gah, I really can’t describe it so I’m just going to grab the author’s one-sentence description from her LJ: “New standalone book, created world fantasy, with werewolves as the good guys, Naploeonic tech level…”.  I know, I’m so articulate.

On a side note, Tanya Huff has become an auto-buy author for me over the years – I wasn’t completely won over by her early fantasy books, but have loved her more recent works.  I am also very impressed by her versatility – she writes with such ease across high fantasy, urban fantasy, and military SF genres.

The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen—she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader—to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. With every step the odds against them surviving and succeeding soar…

Out now (excerpt)

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Ilona AndrewsSTEEL’S EDGE (paranormal romance): I’m guessing I’m not the only one counting down the days to this release.  Even better, Ilona Andrews has promised a UK ebook release.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to release with a placeholder cover, instead of holding off the release until they get the proper series covers.  I mean, it’s the content that counts, isn’t it?  We can always get the cover later…

While I am more fond of their Kate Daniels books, the Edge series has some incredibly creative world-building happening.  I’m looking forward to whatever they decide to write next, now that they’ve wrapped this series up.

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive…

Out Nov 27 (excerpt)

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Sharon Shinn‘s STILL LIFE WITH SHAPESHIFTER (urban fantasy): It’s probably fair to say that I wasn’t in love with Sharon Shinn’s first foray into urban fantasy.  But as it wasn’t the writing I had problems with, I’m going to give this companion book a shot.  I’ve taken a quick peek at the early reviews, and they seem to be fairly positive…

Melanie Landon and her half-sister share a unique bond. For her entire life, Melanie has hidden the fact that Ann is a shape-shifter. The never-ending deception is a heavy weight to bear, but Melanie is determined to keep Ann’s secret and protect her from a world that simply wouldn’t understand.

For months, Melanie hasn’t seen or heard from Ann, in either of her forms. When a man shows up saying he’s there about her sister, Melanie fears the worst. But Brody Westerbrook doesn’t have information about Ann—he’s in search of it.

A freelance writer, Brody intends to include Ann in a book he’s writing about the existence of shape-shifters. While Melanie is immediately drawn to the stranger on her doorstep, she denies his claims, knowing that trusting him isn’t an option.

But when Ann finally appears looking thin and sick, Melanie realizes exposure is the least of their worries. Protecting her sister has always been such an enormous part of Melanie’s life, but as Ann’s health rapidly deteriorates, Melanie must come to grips with the fact that saving her may mean letting go…

Out now (excerpt)

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Laini Taylor‘s DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT (YA fantasy): Sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, this one appears to be on everyone’s November reading list.  I loved the imaginative world-building in the first book, and want to see where the story goes next.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Out now (excerpt)

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Jim Butcher‘s COLD DAYS (urban fantasy): Speaking of books on everybody’s November list… the recent Dresden Files books have taken Harry’s story to a different level, and COLD DAYS promises to be as much of a page-turner as the previous books.  I know I keep grumbling around the lack of feeling in Harry’s relationships, but the story-telling makes up for the somewhat out-of-the-box female characters.

Spoiler-y description if you haven’t read the previous books, so I’ll skip this part.

Out Nov 27 (excerpt)

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Kevin Hearne‘s TRAPPED (urban fantasy): And speaking of Harry Dresden…  I’ve been meaning to pick up Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series for quite a while (the first three was released in quick succession towards the end of last year, IIRC) as I’ve been hearing good things – and usually combined with a “If you like the Dresden books…”.

While I would love to be original, yep, that’s a pretty good comparison, though with the plus of a refreshing take on various pantheons and mythologies.  I finally got around to reading these books while I was on holiday earlier in the year, and was just about to file them in my Pleasant-But-Not-Groundbreaking-UF bucket, when at the end of the third book, Hearne raises the stakes.  I love it when that happens in a series.  So yes, I’m planning on reading this one.

After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.

Out Nov 27 (book page)

Books for June

It’s that time of the year when I write blog posts while keeping an eye on the tennis on telly.  Wimbledon remains my favourite Grand Slam, but there is something to be said for Slams that are held in your time zone.

Summer is well and truly here (and that is not a sentence I thought I would use anytime soon).  And here are the June books I want.

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HEX APPEAL edited by PN Elrod (urban fantasy): PN Elrod has come up with some pretty good urban fantasy anthologies previously, and HEX APPEAL looks to be no different.  With contributors including Ilona Andrews and Jim Butcher, this is very much on my to-buy-asap list.

Blurb:

Fall under the intoxicating spell of their hex appeal…

In the magical world that lies hidden beneath our own, witches and conjurers play deadly games. They know just the right spell to kill a man with one kiss—or raise him back again. And they’re not afraid to exact sweet revenge on those who dare to cross them. But what if you’re the unlucky soul who falls victim to a conjurer’s curse? And if you had the power to cast a magic spell of your own, would you use it?

In this bewitching collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors tell all-new, otherworldly tales. Spellbinding stories featuring bigfoot, albino vampires, professional wizards, resurrected boyfriends and even a sex droid from the twenty- third century named Silicon Lily. But as our conjurers are about to discover, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hexed. And sometimes, even the best spun spells can lead to complete and utter mayhem.

Includes stories from: Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, Carole Nelson Douglas, P. N. Elrod, Simon R. Green, Lori Handeland, Erica Hayes, Carrie Vaughn

Out June 5

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Erin McCarthy‘s JACKED UP (contemporary romance): I haven’t loved the last couple of installments in this stock-car racing series as much as the first three, but I’m willing to give this one last go.

Blurb:

She’s holding tight. He’s hanging loose.

Eve Monroe is a stock-car PR pro who puts her career first—until an on-track wardrobe malfunction reveals more than the sexy smile of her race-car brother’s jack-man, Nolan Ford. The video’s become an internet sensation, and it’s Eve’s job to calm the sponsors and put a spin on the unexpected exposure. It may be purely a public relations job, but now that Eve’s seen what’s under Nolan’s crew suit, it’s gotten a little personal—and after a few dates she has Nolan pretty revved up. If only she’d learn to relax and enjoy it…

And they both have the same drive.

Nolan’s sure that the spontaneous birthday bash he’s throwing for Eve in Las Vegas should loosen her up. It does more than that. Somewhere between cocktails and a smoking-hot motel-room derby, Eve and Nolan wake up hitched, thanks to a post-sex-high detour to a Vegas chapel. A hangover marriage to a virtual stranger isn’t good for anyone’s image, so Eve plans to play the happy wife long enough to satisfy the press, and then quietly part ways. Now all she has to do is convince her new personal jack-man. But Nolan has plans of his own…

Out June 5 (excerpt)

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Diana Peterfreund‘s FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS (YA dystopian SF): There’s been a lot of buzz about this post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, and seeing that I loved Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl books, I’m definitely getting this.

Blurb:

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

Out June 12 (book page)

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Julia Quinn‘s A NIGHT LIKE THIS (historical romance): Julia Quinn is a bit of a comfort read for me.  You always know what you’re getting with a Quinn – delightful romance with sparkling dialogue, if a bit on the frothy side.  Her latest release doesn’t appear to be a departure from this tried-and-tested formula.

Blurb:
Anne Wynter’s job as governess to three highborn young ladies can be a challenge – in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he’s the first man who has truly tempted her, and it’s getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith might be in mortal danger, but that’s not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family’s annual musicale, he vows to pursue her. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending…

Out June 7 (excerpt)

Slightly Longer Thoughts

The rest of the books I read during July 2011 – this time, I actually liked all of them.  Non-Goodreads comments in italics…

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One Was a Soldier (Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries, #7)One Was a Soldier by Julia Spencer-Fleming (mystery)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was totally engrossed in this book, even though it’s been ages since I read the last one, I Shall Not Want (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery, #6). Raw, painful, though ever-so-slightly predictable – it was a good read and I’m looking forward to the next Clare/Russ book.

Though I don’t exactly rush out to buy the latest on release date, I know Julia Spencer-Fleming always delivers a good read and is worth the hardcover splurge.  

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Grave Dance (Alex Craft, #2)Grave Dance by Kalayna Price (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the books that make you think “Oh, actually, no, I do want more of X” when you could have sworn you had enough of the genre. For me, GRAVE DANCE is one of these and had me rethinking my supposed overdose of urban fantasy in recent years.

I liked the first book in this series (Grave Witch (Alex Craft, #1)), and DANCE has me really getting into the series – there is great storytelling and world-building here. I loved how Kalayna Price explained the concept of indebtness for fae – having Alex feel the imbalance shift as you thank someone or apologise made total sense. Though I could have done without the love triangle (sigh… if I could ban one plot device, it would be the love triangle), I have to admit both the romantic interests are intriguing, and I want to see what happens next – I’m looking forward to the next book.

I liked this one – can you tell?  This is one of the very few new(-ish) UF series I get excited about.  I haven’t read her other series though – has anyone?

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Naamah's Blessing (Kushiel's Legacy, #9)Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey (fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

NAAMAH’S BLESSING has not been my favourite of Jacqueline Carey’s three Kushiel trilogies (Moirin and her travels just hasn’t engaged me as much as Phedre or Imriel did), though having said that, I finished this in one sitting despite its length. There’s good storytelling here with genuinely scary parts. And there was a good-wins-out-in-the-end type of ending, which did leave me feeling satisfied.

Gosh, I recall some squeam-ish moments towards the end in this book.  I loved Ms Carey’s Kushiel books but her more recent releases haven’t worked that well for me.  Though having said that, her more contemporary UF, SANTA OLIVIA, is still in my TBR pile.  I should get started on that. 

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Prove ItProve It by Chris Owen (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the friends-to-lovers plot, though I’m not quite sure that the device of having a 3rd (or 4th person) explain relationship truths to the h/h really worked because (a) it’s sort of awkward unless yes, they’re very very close and have been a spectator to all your relationships and (b) it would have been more satisfying if the h/h had worked it out for themselves.

I did like the writing and would read more by Chris Owen.

New-to-me author here, IIRC.  And despite my problems with the plot device used, it was a good read. 

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Ghost Story (The Dresden Files,  #13)Ghost Story by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, talk about story-telling. I’m not entirely sure the book left me completely satisfied as a reader, but it certainly kept me hooked, with Jim Butcher blatantly tugging on my heartstrings throughout. The title of the previous book, Changes (The Dresden Files, #12), was certainly a good prophecy for this book and I will definitely be picking up the next.

My annual Dresden fix.

Books for July

The July new releases on my To Buy pile (and in a couple of cases, my Bought pile):

Kalayna Price‘s “Grave Dance” (urban fantasy):  I bought the first book in this series (“Grave Witch”) on an impulse and liked it enough to buy “Grave Dance”.  After reading Dance, I am now officially hooked on this new UF series – a phrase I didn’t think to find myself uttering anytime soon, not with the glut of urban fantasies flooding the market.

But the world of Alex Craft, grave witch, is just different enough to be refreshing and yes, although there’s the dreaded love triangle as implied in the back cover blurb below – I’m willing to sit back and watch Alex work through her tangled professional and love life.  I need to know what happens next…

Blurb:

Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.

Out now (excerpt)

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“Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy” edited by Ellen Datlow (urban fantasy): I have this love-hate thing with anthologies.  I get so ridiculously excited about the ideas, the themes, the contributors, and then I actually get my hands on the book, realise I need to be in the right mood for short stories, and the anthology ends up languishing half-read on my bedside table.

This one?  Yes, I’ve splurged on the hardcover and have read the Jim Butcher (whetted my appetite nicely for the next Harry Dresden), the Patricia Briggs (good, but sort of creepy), and the Delia Sherman (surprisingly delightful)… fingers crossed I make it through the whole book!

Blurb:

In this thrilling collection of original stories some of today’s hottest paranormal authors delight, thrill and captivate readers with otherworldly tales of magic and mischief. In Jim Butcher’s ”Curses” Harry Dresden investigates how to lift a curse laid by the Fair Folk on the Chicago Cubs. In Patricia Briggs’ “Fairy Gifts,” a vampire is called home by magic to save the Fae who freed him from a dark curse. In Melissa Marr’s “Guns for the Dead,” the newly dead Frankie Lee seeks a job in the afterlife on the wrong side of the law. In Holly Black’s “Noble Rot,” a dying rock star discovers that the young woman who brings him food every day has some strange appetites of her own.

Featuring original stories from 20 authors, this dark, captivating, fabulous and fantastical collection is sure to have readers coming back for more.

Out now

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Kelley Armstrong‘s “Spell Bound” (urban fantasy): The penultimate book in Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld series… it feels sort of funny writing that, because I’ve been faithfully buying her latest Otherworld  release every year ever since I stumbled upon her books years ago.  I’ve mixed feelings – I’ve grown fond of the Otherworld characters and will miss reading about them.  On the other hand, I’m glad that there is an End and this series isn’t going to meander on and on, losing that special something – unlike others I could name!

So, anyway, “Spellbound” is Savannah’s book (and I love Savannah) and oh, it had better be good after that cliffhanger ending in the last one…

Blurb:

Savannah Levine is in terrible danger, and for once she’s powerless to help herself. At the conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would help a young girl. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise.

And now, witch hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell casting talent, the thing she counts on most. In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Spell Bound gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and others, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

Out July 26 (book page on author’s site)

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Jim Butcher‘s “Ghost Story” (urban fantasy): And finally the latest Harry Dresden (yes, I’m aware it’s an all UF new releases month for me).  So autobuy series, because you know, addictive storytelling.  I just wish he would crack the relationship element in his writing because everything works for me except for that.

Blurb:

When we last left the mighty wizard detective Harry Dresden, he wasn’t doing well. In fact, he had been murdered by an unknown assassin.

But being dead doesn’t stop him when his friends are in danger. Except now he has no body, and no magic to help him. And there are also several dark spirits roaming the Chicago shadows who owe Harry some payback of their own.

To save his friends — and his own soul — Harry will have to pull off the ultimate trick without any magic…

Out July 29 (excerpt)