Summer Check-in

We’re currently in the middle of the second mini-heatwave of summer, which feels like it should be some sort of record for London.  I’m also in a post-Olympics slump, and trying to remind myself what I did before there was cycling/diving/pentathlon on TV every evening…

26853604The Olympics has meant I’ve done very little reading during August.  I did finish Kate Elliott’s brand-new release POISONED BLADE though, which I count as a win!

It’s the sequel to her YA debut COURT OF FIVES and even better than the first, IMO. I felt COURT OF FIVES was more straightforward adventure; in POISONED BLADE, she brought the layers of complexity I expect from an Elliott book, while continuing to build on the relationships established in the first book.  The slight threads of romance (or attraction?) worked better for me as well, perhaps because more ambiguity and growth (on all sides) was introduced.  At times though, there was so much arguing between Jessamy and other characters that it frustrated me.  But maybe that’s what I’m meant to feel – anger is tiring, and the conversations made sense in the larger context of the story. TL;DR: Good installment and I look forward to the next book!

Links of interest:

 

Books for April

A bit of a late post, but better late than never?  Here are the April new releases on my radar (and in a couple of cases, that I’ve already devoured).

25893424KJ Charles’s A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION (M/M historical romance): I have utterly loved the previous two (and a half) books in this Regency series, and this one was no exception.  I’ve read hundreds of regency romances before (no hyperbole, I promise – I pretty much read historicals exclusively when I started reading romance) and KJ Charles managed to bring something new to the table.  She juggles questions of privilege, the politics of the era, and sexual tension a-plenty with ease here – and it’s probably the most suspenseful non-romantic suspense novel I’ve ever read.  Can you tell I loved it?

Power, privilege, and the rigid rules of class leave two hearts yearning for connection in the sizzling new Society of Gentlemen novel from K. J. Charles.
 
Among his eccentric though strictly principled group of friends, Lord Richard Vane is the confidant on whom everyone depends for advice, moral rectitude, and discreet assistance. Yet when Richard has a problem, he turns to his valet, a fixer of unparalleled genius—and the object of Richard’s deepest desires. If there is one rule a gentleman must follow, it is never to dally with servants. But when David is close enough to touch, the rules of class collide with the basest sort of animal instinct: overpowering lust.

For David Cyprian, burglary and blackmail are as much in a day’s work as bootblacking—anything for the man he’s devoted to. But the one thing he wants for himself is the one thing Richard refuses to give: his heart. With the tension between them growing to be unbearable, David’s seemingly incorruptible master has left him no choice. Putting his finely honed skills of seduction and manipulation to good use, he will convince Richard to forget all about his well-meaning objections and give in to sweet, sinful temptation.

Out now

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25648897Marko Kloos’s CHAINS OF COMMAND (military SF): I downloaded an ARC of this one by accident – well, kind of (courtesy of the author linking to a Netgalley widget on his blog – the downloading part was all me, because I just couldn’t resist).

I’ve been avoiding ARCs for a while.  When you don’t have enough time to blog regularly, the last thing you need is to commit to writing actual reviews, right?

But I have no regrets about this one – I’ve enjoyed Marko Kloos’s writing ever since his self-pubbed debut, and CHAINS OF COMMAND was a satisfying installment in his series.  Fuller review to come, but it’s a fast-paced read that hit the right MilSF buttons for me (and a lot less angsty than the blurb below suggests).

The assault on Earth was thwarted by the destruction of the aliens’ seed ship, but with Mars still under Lanky control, survivors work frantically to rebuild fighting capacity and shore up planetary defenses. Platoon sergeant Andrew Grayson must crash-course train new volunteers—all while dulling his searing memories of battle with alcohol and meds.

Knowing Earth’s uneasy respite won’t last, the North American Commonwealth and its Sino-Russian allies hurtle toward two dangerous options: hit the Lanky forces on Mars or go after deserters who stole a fleet of invaluable warships critical to winning the war. Assigned to a small special ops recon mission to scout out the renegades’ stronghold on a distant moon, Grayson and his wife, dropship pilot Halley, again find themselves headed for the crucible of combat—and a shattering new campaign in the war for humanity’s future.

Out now

25898527Martha Wells’s THE EDGE OF WORLDS (fantasy): So. I really want this one.  Martha Wells’ Raksura books are the epitome of adventure fantasy for me, and I’ve loved all previous books/novellas in this series (also, I’m slightly impressed by the fact I appear to have actually posted reviews for all of them on Goodreads – it’s been a while since I’ve done that). But.

The UK ebook is £17(!), and I can’t justify that price for an ebook.  At least not yet – ask me another day when I’m feeling a bit weaker…

An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors, the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.

Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.

The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

Out now

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25671827Kylie Scott’s DIRTY (contemporary romance): Another auto-buy author for me, this time with the first of a spin-off series (from her rockstar romance Stage Dive books).  Very possibly my next read.

 The last thing Vaughan Hewson expects to find when he returns to his childhood home is a broken hearted bride in his shower, let alone the drama and chaos that comes with her.

Lydia Green doesn’t know whether to burn down the church or sit and cry in a corner. Discovering the love of your life is having an affair on your wedding day is bad enough. Finding out it’s with his best man is another thing all together. She narrowly escapes tying the knot and meets Vaughan only hours later.

Vaughan is the exact opposite of the picture perfect, respected businessman she thought she’d marry. This former musician-turned-bartender is rough around the edges and unsettled. But she already tried Mr. Right and discovered he’s all wrong-maybe it’s time to give Mr. Right Now a chance.

After all, what’s wrong with getting dirty?

Out now

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16221851Sarah Rees Brennan’s TELL THE WIND AND FIRE (YA fantasy): Sarah Rees Brennan’s wickedly funny writing + retelling of A TALE OF TWO CITIES = very promising read.

However, another ebook issue is holding me back from having read this, this time of the geographical limitations variety.  I know – #firstworldproblems.

In a city divided between opulent luxury in the Light and fierce privations in the Dark, a determined young woman survives by guarding her secrets.

Lucie Manette was born in the Dark half of the city, but careful manipulations won her a home in the Light, celebrity status, and a rich, loving boyfriend. Now she just wants to keep her head down, but her boyfriend has a dark secret of his own—one involving an apparent stranger who is destitute and despised.

Lucie alone knows of the deadly connection the young men share, and even as the knowledge leads her to make a grave mistake, she can trust no one with the truth.

Blood and secrets alike spill out when revolution erupts. With both halves of the city burning, and mercy nowhere to be found, can Lucie save either boy—or herself?

Celebrated author Sarah Rees Brennan tells a magical tale of romance and revolution, love and loss.

Out now

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23253083Cinda William Chima’s FLAMECASTER (YA fantasy): After a slow start, I ended up adoring Cinda William Chima’s Seven Realms quartet, so a spin-off set a generation later was always going to grab my attention.  I’m easy like that.

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

Out now

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Maybes this month

  • Stephanie Burgis’s MASKS AND SHADOWS – this is a historical fantasy centred around opera, which is intriguing in itself.  Also, good buzz, and I love the cover.
  • Jo Beverley’s A VISCOUNT NEEDS A WIFE – I hate to put this with the maybes as Jo Beverley’s one of my long-time autobuy authors, but I haven’t felt a spark with her recent historicals.  I will probably end up buying this though.
  • Richelle Mead’s THE GLITTERING COURT – I loved her earlier books, but her more recent books have been more misses than hits for me.  This is a start of a new series, however, so I’ll probably wait on reviews before deciding.

Well – that was a bit longer than I expected, I obviously need to get reading.  What April new releases are you buying (or have bought!)?

Books for April

April – finally.  It’s about time Spring arrived.

It’s also awards nominees season in genre-land – both the RITA (romance) and Hugo (SFF) award nominees have been announced. I haven’t had time to look at either list in detail yet, but from the buzz around both, it seems that the RITA list is more diversified than ever, while the Hugos have taken a step backwards?  So yay and boo respectively.

But back to new releases, here are the April ones I want…

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22891368Jo Beverley‘s TOO DANGEROUS FOR A LADY (historical romance): I haven’t adored her more recent releases, but she still remains one of my very few historical romance auto-buy authors.  Her romances tend to be on the quieter side, but it’s the realistic period feel that draws me in.

The new novel in the Rogue Series from the New York Timesbestselling author—and five-time RITA Award winner…

Lady Hermione Merryhew, daughter of an impoverished marquess, already has her share of problems. The last thing she needs is an intruder in her bedroom, especially not a fugitive thief. She should scream, but the shabby rascal is a man from her past.

Six years ago, at her first ball, dashing Lieutenant Mark Thayne failed to steal a kiss, but succeeded in stealing a little of her heart. She’s older and wiser now. She can’t toss him to the wolves. Besides, she wants that kiss.

Now Viscount Faringay, Mark has never forgotten Lady Hermione, but he mustn’t involve her in his dangerous life. He’s infiltrated the Crimson Band, violent revolutionaries who plan a bloodbath in London, and if he survives the night he will be able to destroy them. Hermione is involved, however, and only he can protect her.

Out April 7

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22221136Susanna Kearsley‘s A DESPERATE FORTUNE (romance): Was it only last year when I fell for her amazingly romantic stories?  I’m not usually a fan of time-slip romances, but I make an exception for her books.

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread — its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects.

It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise.

When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.

As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home.

Out April 7

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24358527Marko Kloos‘s ANGLES OF ATTACK (SF): IIRC, I read the first book in this series when it was self-pubbed, so before it was picked up by Amazon’s 47North imprint.  Last year’s sequel is part of the slightly-controversial Hugo finalist slate I referenced above – FWIW, I enjoyed it though I’m surprised it finalled.  Politics aside, I’m looking forward to the third book.

The alien forces known as the Lankies are gathering on the solar system’s edge, consolidating their conquest of Mars and setting their sights on Earth. The far-off colony of New Svalbard, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the Lanky blockade, teeters on the verge of starvation and collapse. The forces of the two Earth alliances have won minor skirmishes but are in danger of losing the war. For battle-weary staff sergeant Andrew Grayson and the ragged forces of the North American Commonwealth, the fight for survival is entering a catastrophic new phase.

Forging an uneasy alliance with their Sino-Russian enemies, the NAC launches a hybrid task force on a long shot: a stealth mission to breach the Lanky blockade and reestablish supply lines with Earth. Plunging into combat against a merciless alien species that outguns, outmaneuvers, and outfights them at every turn, Andrew and his fellow troopers could end up cornered on their home turf, with no way out and no hope for reinforcement. And this time, the struggle for humanity’s future can only end in either victory or annihilation.

Out April 21

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24283222Tammara Webber‘s SWEET (NA): If I’m honest, I prefer Tammara Webber’s Between the Lines books to this series – I liked EASY well enough, but the spin-off BREAKABLE didn’t really do it for me.  But I really like her writing, so this is on the to-buy list for me.

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:
Sweet.

Out April 27

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So that’s it for my new releases this month – a short and sweet list! Any new releases you’re really looking forward to?

 

 

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 April

Well.

I’m not quite sure where March went.  Or what I was doing.  Not much blogging, that’s for sure.  Not much reading either, I suspect.  Hopefully I break that streak in April.

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17404280Katherine Addison‘s THE GOBLIN EMPEROR (fantasy): I know I was not the only one anticipating this new book from Katherine Addison a.k.a. Sarah Monette, but I was surprised by the flood of (positive) reviews and mentions for this book.  I’m about halfway through and *whispers* it’s kind of living up to the hype.

On a side note, I think the cover is perfect for the book: at first glance, you see a typical fantasy palace – look again, and you see Maia, the (half-)goblin emperor peering out cautiously.  So fitting.

A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

This exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

Out now

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18006456Lynn Flewelling‘s SHARDS OF TIME (fantasy): I’ve a soft spot for this long-running fantasy series (the first book was out in 1996, according to Goodreads) – while I’ve found it uneven in places, I’ll be sad to see the end of the Nightrunner series.

Acclaimed author Lynn Flewelling brings her beloved Nightrunners series to a close—at least for now—with a thrilling novel of murder, mystery, and magic.

The governor of the sacred island of Korous and his mistress have been killed inside a locked and guarded room. The sole witnesses to the crime—guards who broke down the doors, hearing the screams from within—have gone mad with terror, babbling about ghosts . . . and things worse than ghosts.

Dispatched to Korous by the queen, master spies Alec and Seregil find all the excitement and danger they could want—and more. For an ancient evil has been awakened there, a great power that will not rest until it has escaped its otherworldly prison and taken revenge on all that lives. And only those like Alec—who have died and returned to life—can step between the worlds and confront the killer . . . even if it means a second and all too permanent death.

Out now

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18335221Jo Beverley‘s A SHOCKING DELIGHT (historical romance): Jo Beverley is an autobuy author for me, and this is her latest Company of Rogues regency. ‘Nuff said.

The man she shouldn’t want. The woman he shouldn’t marry…

David Kerslake, smuggling master from The Dragon’s Bride, is now Earl of Wyvern and must survive the ton as well as the Preventive Officers.

Lucy Potter, daughter of a wealthy merchant, is more interested in trade than in the men after her dowry. When forced to have a London season, she sets out to enjoy herself rather than to find a husband. But once she meets the notorious Earl of Wyvern, her resolve weakens, and when they kiss, it dissolves—even though her instincts warn he’s dangerous.

Wyvern has a dark secret, which means he must win a rich bride. Lucinda Potter seems ideal. Not for her beauty and her lively charm, but because at first meeting she seems unlikely to realize the truth.

As he comes to know her, however, as they spar and kiss, he realizes she’s too clever and honest by far. Marrying Lucy would mean living a lie with the woman he has come to love…

Out now

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20645592Allison Parr‘s IMAGINARY LINES (NA romance): I loved Allison Parr’s writing almost from the first page of her debut, RUSH ME, so I’m really looking forward to reading the latest in her New York Leopards series.

Also worth noting is that Carina Press is going after the sports romance niche in their April 14 release week – so other books I’m eyeing are Rebecca Crowley‘s LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS (obviously – it’s tennis!) and Kate Willoughby‘s ON THE SURFACE (hockey).  And I already have the first Kat Latham book (rugby) – just need the time to read it…

Side-note: Was 2013 the year New Adult officially became a proper genre?

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Out April 14

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18742420KA Mitchell‘s BAD INFLUENCE (m/m romance): Is it just me or has it been ages since the last KA Mitchell release?  She’s another autobuy of mine, so despite me not loving the previous books in this (loosely-related) series, I’m still buying.

The young man the world knew as Jordan Barnett is dead, killed as much by the rejection of his first love at his moment of greatest need, as by his ultra-conservative parents’ effort to deprogram the gay away.

In his place is Silver, a streetwise survivor who’s spent the last three years learning to become untouchable…unless you’re willing to pay for the privilege. He shies away from anything that might hold him down long enough for betrayal to find him again.

Zebediah Harris spent time overseas, trying to outrun the guilt of turning his back on the young man he loved. Now, almost the moment he sets foot back in Baltimore, he discovers Silver on a street corner in a bad part of town. His effort to make amends lands them both in jail.

Trapped together in a cell, Silver sits on his mountain of secrets and plans a seductive form of revenge, but finds that using a heart as a stepping stone is no way to move past the one man he can’t forgive, let alone forget.

Warning: Contains a surly hero. May cause angst. A prolonged delay in sexual situations may cause frustration. Author recommends a steady dose of familiar friends and characters to alleviate those symptoms. No actual teenagers were used during the construction of the backstory.

Out April 15

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20504851KJ CharlesNON-STOP TILL TOKYO (romantic suspense): KJ Charles is probably better known for her A Charm of Magpies series (that would be in the historical/paranormal/mystery/m/m romance sub-genre – not as much a niche as you’d think…), so this looks like a new direction for her.  Having loved her writing in those aforementioned books, I’m looking forward to reading this.

A man with a past is her only hope for the future.

Kerry Ekdahl’s mixed heritage and linguistics skills could have made her a corporate star. Instead, she’s a hostess in a high-end Tokyo bar, catering to businessmen who want conversation, translation and flirtation. Easy money, no stress. Life is good—until she’s framed for the murder of a yakuza boss.

Trapped in rural Japan with the gangsters closing in, Kerry doesn’t stand a chance. Then help arrives in the menacing form of Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude, a lot of secrets, and a mission she doesn’t understand.

Kerry doesn’t get involved with dangerous men. Then again, she’s never had one on her side before. And the big, taciturn fighter seems determined to save her life, even if they rub each other the wrong way.

Then her friends are threatened, and Kerry has no choice but to return to Tokyo and face the yakuza. Where she learns, too late, that the muscle man who’s got her back could be poised to stab it.

Out April 29

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Other April new releases I want to read, but probably via the library:

  • GAMES CREATURES PLAY, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner (urban fantasy): Their annual(?) anthology outing – a library book for me, as their previous anthologies tend to be more miss than hit for me.  But I still want to read the Mercedes Lackey, Seanan McGuire, and Brandon Sanderson contributions in this one.
  • Laini Taylor‘s DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS (YA fantasy): Despite the overwhelming love out there for this series, it’s never quite clicked for me.  I’ll still read this final book to find out how it all ends.

Sunday Thoughts

I was really sad when I heard of Barbara Mertz‘s (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels) passing (link via Janicu @ SpecFicRomantic).  She was 85, and lived life to the full from all accounts – I loved this line from her website:

Shortly before her death, she had written a line to be posted on this webpage: “At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin.”

I remember discovering her Amelia Peabody mystery series back in 2007 and visiting pretty much every bookstore in central London to get my hands on the complete series (yes, those pre-ebook days).  I’d always seen numerous recommendations for her books whenever anyone asked about mysteries with strong romantic elements, but had discounted them, thinking that I’d never be interested in Egyptian archaeology – yes, I know.

I picked up the first book, CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, on a whim one day, and while it wasn’t necessarily instant love, there was something about her writing that meant I kept on reading, and before I knew it, I was hooked.  Her love of Egypt shone through her writing, and as for the Peabody family – addictive doesn’t even begin to describe their adventures as they pursue archaeological treasures in turn-of-the-century Egypt.  Her books are the main reason why I want to visit Egypt one day and sail down the Nile on a dahabeeyah.  She brought this previously-unknown world alive for me, which is really what books are all about – giving you a window into places that you’d never have imagined otherwise.  Here’s a review I posted for third Amelia Peabody, THE MUMMY CASE a few years back – the first paragraph may give you a feel for how highly I rate this series if it wasn’t obvious already…

Thank you for the many happy hours of reading, and RIP Barbara Mertz.

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I’ve recently discovered a new-to-me historical mystery series that I’m really enjoying – PB Ryan‘s Nell Sweeney series:

The Nell Sweeney historical mysteries, which are set in post-Civil War Boston, star a young Irish-born governess and her employer’s black sheep son, the dissolute, wounded, dangerously charming Will Hewitt. If you like twisty-turny mysteries with a breathless whisper of romantic tension, you’ve come to the right place.

I couldn’t describe them any better myself – 1860s Boston comes to life, Nell is a very engaging heroine, and her relationship with Will is filled with chemistry from the very first book.  The first book, STILL LIFE WITH MURDER, is usually on sale for a lower introductory price, but I ended up buying the omnibus collection of all six novels.

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I posted last week about the August new releases on my list, and then realised I’d missed two – here they are:

15808437Jo Beverley‘s SEDUCTION IN SILK (historical romance): I always say Jo Beverley remains one of my few auto-buy authors in the historical romance genre, and that’s still true.  This one is linked to her Malloren world, which means Georgian historical!

Peregrine Perriam, son of an earl, has no desire to marry, but when he’s named heir to Perriam Manor, he finds he has only a month to persuade a stranger, Claris Mallow, to the altar or the property will be lost to his family forever, and his line will be cursed.

Having survived her parents’ tormented marriage, Claris prefers poverty to any husband. When a high-born stranger demands her hand, she drives him off at pistol point.

Perry finds weapons of his own, however, and soon Claris is compelled to accept his proposal. But she does so on her own terms—especially that the marriage be in name only. Once mistress of Perriam Manor, however, she discovers she isn’t immune to Perry’s charms. Perhaps a real marriage might be worth the risk—including a real marriage bed…

Out now

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18294089Sherwood Smith‘s WHISPERED MAGICS (SF/fantasy): This is a BVC-published collection of short stories, with an MG slant. All previously-published, I think, as majority were not new-to-me, but I had fun re-reading them and it was nice to have all of them in a single e-edition.  Sherwood Smith talks about WHISPERED MAGICS briefly on her LJ.

As a child, Sherwood Smith was always on the watch for magic: no fog bank went unexplored, no wooden closet unchecked for a false back, no possible magical token left on the ground or in the gutter. In these nine stories, the impossible becomes possible, magic is real, aliens come visiting. How would our lives change?

Out now

 

 

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Books for September

This is one of those posts that fall into the “better late than never” category – here are the September new releases that I’m getting.

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Seanan McGuire‘s ASHES OF HONOR (urban fantasy): If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (or even for the past few weeks, come to think of it), you know I’ve been a big fan of Toby Daye ever since the first book.  Somehow Seanan McGuire gets better and better with each installment, and I’ve been so caught up in Toby’s story that it’s hard to believe this is the sixth book in the series already.  I’ve already finished ASHES OF HONOR – without wanting to spoil things, it’s oh-so-satisfying on so many levels.

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

Out now (author’s book page)

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Meljean Brook‘s RIVETED (paranormal romance): This is the third book in her Iron Seas series.  I hesitated a long time before I picked up the first book, THE IRON DUKE, because I stalled a couple of books into her other series (I do need to give them another go one day), but I really shouldn’t have.  Her steampunk world is so intricately crafted (Hilcia referred to these books as social science fiction, which is an excellent description) and she gives good romance.

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home . . . but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard

Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam…

Out now (excerpt)

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Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNSPOKEN (YA paranormal): I’ve such love for Sarah Rees Brennan’s stories and this first book of the Lynburn Legacy trilogy sounds like a must-have.  I mean, modern YA Gothic?  Count me in, especially if the story’s laced with her unique brand of humour, which never fails to make me laugh out loud.

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Out now (author’s book page)

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Lee Child‘s A WANTED MAN (suspense): I’m always excited about a new Jack Reacher (and admit that I am planning to see the movie, despite the Tom Cruise thing).  I think the recent Reacher books have been a bit hit or miss (and have amped up the violence), but Lee Child’s still an auto-buy author for me.

Four people in a car, hoping to make Chicago by morning. One man driving, eyes on the road. Another man next to him, telling stories that don’t add up. A woman in the back, silent and worried. And next to her, a huge man with a broken nose, hitching a ride east to Virginia.

An hour behind them, a man lies stabbed to death in an old pumping station. He was seen going in with two others, but he never came out. He has been executed, the knife work professional, the killers vanished. Within minutes, the police are notified. Within hours, the FBI descends, laying claim to the victim without ever saying who he was or why he was there.

All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat—to both sides at once.

In Lee Child’s white-hot thriller, nothing is what it seems, and nobody is telling the truth. As the tension rises, the twists come fast and furious, keeping readers guessing and gasping until the explosive finale.

Out Sept 25 (excerpt)

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Finally, there are a number of books I’ve been eyeing:

  • The annual(?) anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner – this one is titled AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE and has an Ilona Andrews contribution.  I’ve requested this from my library because I can’t justify buying a hardcover when I really only want to read one story
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  • I really liked Joanne Dobson‘s Karen Pelletier mystery series, which was set in a New England college campus.  She’s co-authoring a new series called Wartime in New York, and the first is out this month (FACE OF THE ENEMY) – I’m always a sucker for historical mysteries.
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  • I read Rae Carson‘s YA fantasy debut THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS earlier this year and liked it well enough, though I think the positive hype led me to have overly-high expectations.  The second, THE CROWN OF EMBERS, is out this month and while I do want to read it, I will most probably wait for the paperback.
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  • There’s a Christmas anthology called MISCHIEF AND MISTLETOE (less than 100 days to Christmas!) coming out this month – I wanted to get it until I realised it was around £8.  Contributors are the historical romance authors who blog at Word Wenches, including Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, so again, I’ll probably get it when it drops to a lower price point.

My Auto-buy Authors: The 2012 Romance Edition

Auto-buy Authors definition: You don’t have to know anything about their latest book, you just buy.  As soon as the release hits the shelves.

My auto-buy authors have changed a lot over the years, partly as my genre preferences have changed, but also because the internet has opened my eyes to numerous new-to-me authors out there.  You can probably guess at my list from either my monthly new releases posts (they’re always on there!) or my sidebar with authors I’ve blogged about, but I thought it would be interesting to pull both past and present together in a single post.  And then I decided to break it down by genre, else it would be a bit of an epic post.

So first up, romance.

Historical romance

There was a time when historicals made up the majority of my reading, now it is very rare that I run out to buy one on the day of release.  So the authors I still buy: Eloisa James (true fangirl here), Jo Beverley (primarily for her Georgian settings), Julia Quinn, possibly Lisa Kleypas (if she ever returns to historicals).

Old favourites who I’ve stopped buying: Amanda Quick, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood , Mary Jo Putney, Stephanie Laurens. Their recent releases (recent being relative here) feel as though they’ve lost the magic that their early books had.

Authors who have sadly passed away: Georgette Heyer – I’ve all her books, both romances and mysteries; Elizabeth Mansfield – I’ve a lot of her books and her backlist is being released in e-format (yay!); Eva Ibbotson, though I don’t think of her as “traditional” historical romance

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Contemporary romance

It’s not a genre that I read a lot, but if you include category romances in this subgenre, Kelly Hunter was my 2011 discovery.  And I used to read Lynne Graham as my guilty pleasure, but either my tastes have changed or her writing has.   Oh, Suzanne Brockmann – though does it count as an auto-buy if you only like certain series?  Her new paranormal/suspense series is not working for me.

I used to love Jayne Ann Krentz and Linda Howard.  Past tense being the operative word – I liked JAK’s straight contemps, but her recent releases with paranormal themes just leave me cold.  And it’s been years since I’ve loved a new Howard.  Who else?  I follow Erin McCarthy’s stockcar racing series, but don’t read all her books, so I wouldn’t really count her as an autobuy author.

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M/M romance

Josh Lanyon.  I’ve only started reading m/m romance in the past few years, but he is one of my all-time favourite authors regardless of genre.  Other auto-buy authors?  KA Mitchell. Harper Fox. Jordan Castillo Price.

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Paranormal romance

Ummm… it’s a lot more series-specific here.  Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changeling books. Meljean Brook‘s Iron Seas series – I abandoned her Guardians series a couple of books in (okay, one and a half books in) and have yet to go back.  Though seeing I’ve really liked her steampunk romance book, I should give it another go.  Ilona Andrews for their Edge series (I classify the Kate Daniels books as UF).

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Fantasy romance

Drawing a blank here.  I think I lean more towards romantic fantasy, which I’ll save for the fantasy post (which I suspect will be longer).  There is Elizabeth Vaughan, but I wouldn’t call her an auto-buy author.

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YA romance

I’ve loved both of Stephanie Perkins‘ books, so I’m guessing she probably counts as an auto-buy now.  I enjoy Sarah Dessen’s books though they do come across as a bit same-y after a while, and the one Jennifer Echols book I’ve read, but I don’t think that qualifies them as auto-buys for me.  This is probably the subgenre I read least.

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I think that’s it for romance – how do your auto-buys compare to mine?

Books for February

Compared to the one new January release I wanted, there are a few more new releases this month that I’m planning to get…

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Jo Beverley‘s A SCANDALOUS COUNTESS (historical romance): Jo Beverley remains on my auto-buy list – despite me not falling in love with her more recent releases, they’re still solid readable historicals.  And they’re not wallpaper historicals by any means – she has a knack for bringing the time period to life in her books.

Back cover blurb:

Georgia, Countess of Maybury has it all, but then her husband is killed in a duel and she loses her homes, most of her possessions, and her reputation as well. Innocent of all charges, she returns to the beau monde determined to regain all through a second brilliant marriage, but a scarred ex-naval officer threatens to tempt her in a different direction…

Out Feb 7 (excerpt)

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BRAVE NEW LOVE, edited by Paula Guran (YA dystopian romance): An anthology of 15 stories from a mix of authors I recognise (and love) and some new-to-me names.  I’m probably most excited about the Diana Peterfreund contribution, but there are a couple of other authors in there that I’m keen to read too.

ETA: Diana Peterfreund makes a good point about other reasons why this anthology should be standing out from the crowd (apart from the excellent line-up, of course 😉 ).  Some of you may remember the uproar last year when an editor of a YA anthology asked Jessica Verday to rewrite her short story featuring a same-sex romance, and change the m/m relationship to a m/f one (FYI Ms Verday has since released her original story as a standalone e-book).  

BRAVE NEW WORLD, while not the anthology in question, had the same editor and was pulled from the schedule.  From Diana Peterfreund’s blog:

“… what ended up happening was that the anthology lost half its line up and the editor was removed from the project. We got a new editor, and a new line-up (an AMAZING line up, if I say so myself), and the publisher pledged to donate the proceeds to a homeless shelter for LGBT youth.  The new anthology includes several LGBT stories. I’ve read them, they’re great.”

Which is really rather cool and while NOT the reason why I’ll be getting this anthology (that would be for the stories), is the reason why I bought the UK edition today (yep, it’s already out here in the UK).

Back cover blurb:

Young love has always had its challenges, but even so, the world falling apart at its seams is a pretty big obstacle. This stellar collection of YA dystopian tales explores survival of the fittest in terms of love, passion, and humanity. When the survival of the human race is at stake, what will it take for the bond between two people to hold strong together?

Featuring some of the most well known and best-selling names of the dystopian genre, as well as the hottest up-and-coming authors, this anthology includes works from Jeanne DuPrau (City of Ember), Kiera Cass (The Selection), William Sleator (Interstellar Pig), Jesse Karp (Those That Wake), Diana Peterfreund (Secret Society Girl), Carrie Vaughn (The Kitty Norville Series), and Carrie Ryan (New York Times bestseller The Forest of Hands and Teeth).

Out Feb 14

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Lisa Kleypas‘s RAINSHADOW ROAD (contemporary romance): I’m guessing I’m not the only person looking forward to this release.  It’s been a while since a new Kleypas made an appearance, and while I was not blown away by the first in this series (the novella CHRISTMAS EVE AT FRIDAY HARBOUR), I’m willing to give this series another go because hey, that was a novella.

However, I’ve heard that this can be classified as magical realism though, and that gives me a slight pause for thought because (a) I’ve never quite figured out what is magical realism exactly (I know Sarah Addison Allen‘s books are often mentioned in this category – but (confession time) I’ve never read any of her books despite the glowing reviews) and (b) if magical realism means random woo-woo elements (like Jayne Ann Krentz’s Arcane Society books), well, I may just go away and sulk in a corner.  I’m reserving judgement until I’ve read this one though!

Back cover blurb:

Lucy Marinn is a glass artist living in mystical, beautiful, Friday Harbor, Washington. She is stunned and blindsided by the most bitter kind of betrayal: her fiancé Kevin has left her. His new lover is Lucy’s own sister. Lucy’s bitterness over being dumped is multiplied by the fact that she has constantly made the wrong choices in her romantic life. Facing the severe disapproval of Lucy’s parents, Kevin asks his friend Sam Nolan, a local vineyard owner on San Juan Island, to “romance” Lucy and hopefully loosen her up and get her over her anger. Complications ensue when Sam and Lucy begin to fall in love, Kevin has second thoughts, and Lucy discovers that the new relationship in her life began under false pretenses. Questions about love, loyalty, old patterns, mistakes, and new beginnings are explored as Lucy learns that some things in life—even after being broken—can be made into something new and beautiful.

Out Feb 28 (excerpt)

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Lisa Lutz‘s TRAIL OF THE SPELLMANS (mystery): And the best is saved for last!  I am madly excited about this one  as I’ve loved the previous books in this series.  I’m wondering where Lisa Lutz takes Izzy this time around – and if they’re anything like the previous books, I’m expecting hilarious times.  Also, all the covers of the series have been redesigned – while I liked the previous covers (especially the UK ones), I think the new graphics are really clever and suit the story better.

(Rather long) back cover blurb:

For the first time in Spellman history, Isabel Spellman, PI, might be the most normal member of her family. As always, the Spellman clan has yet to settle into any kind of status quo. Mom, Olivia, has taken on an outrageous assortment of extracurricular activities, seemingly without motive. Dad, Albert, has a secret. Her brother and sister, David and Rae, are at war, but neither will reveal the source of the conflict. And Izzy’s niece, Sydney, keeps saying banana even though she hates bananas. That’s not to say that Izzy isn’t without her own troubles. Henry Stone keeps wanting “to talk,” a prospect Isabel evades by going out with her new drinking buddy, none other than Gertrude Stone, Henry’s mother. While domestic disturbances abound, there is one source of sanity in the Spellman household: Demetrius Merriweather, now employee of the month for 18 months straight (the entire tenure of his employment).

Things aren’t any simpler on the business side of Spellman Investigations. First, parents hire the firm to follow their daughter. Rae is assigned the case, only to fake the surveillance reports. Then a math professor hires Izzy to watch his immaculate apartment while he unravels like a bad formula. A socialite has Isabel follow her husband, despite a conspicuous lack of suspicion. A man in a sweater vest hires the firm to follow his sister, who turns out to be the socialite. Isabel wants to get to the bottom of all this, but her father erects a Chinese wall to protect the clients’ wishes. As the questions pile up, Izzy won’t stop hunting for the answers-even when they threaten to shatter both the business and the family.

Once again, it’s up to her to pull the Spellmans back from the brink.

Out Feb 28 (excerpt)