Recent and Upcoming Reads

Andrea K Höst, whose books are an autobuy for me, posted a couple of weeks ago about hitting 15000 stars on Goodreads.

I’d been meaning to re-read her backlist this year (fitted in between all the new books that I really need to stop buying*) and that was just the prompt I needed.  I was going to start with the Touchstone series, which are probably the most popular of her books, but ended up picking HUNTING because I was in the mood for a standalone fantasy.

13456081This was one of those re-reads where I’d only had a vague memory of the plot outline, and it was a joy to refamiliarise myself with the world and its characters.   HUNTING is packed full of my favourite things really – it’s filled with secret identities and half-truths, murder mysteries and red herrings, all alongside the rekindling of old friendships and making of new allies (and potentially more), so of course I ended up staying up way too late to finish the book.  Now if only there was a sequel…

*Pre-orders that have appeared on my Kindle over the past week (nicely-timed for the Easter weekend, I have to say)

Alex Acks‘s WIRELESS AND MORE STEAM-POWERED ADVENTURES (steampunk fantasy) – the first collection of stories was so much fun, so I’m really looking forward to diving into this one

Jordan Castillo Price‘s MURDER HOUSE (paranormal romance) – I wasn’t blown away by the more recent installments, but I have loved previous PsyCop books so we’ll see!

 

Books for August

August appears to be an seriously good month for new releases.  And I mean seriously.

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25635416Rachel Aaron‘s ONE GOOD DRAGON DESERVES ANOTHER (UF): The second in Rachel Aaron’s self-pubbed series was released last weekend, and I’ve already read it.  I didn’t love it as much as the first book, if I’m honest – the plot setup felt overly-complicated to me and the pacing slightly off in places.  A lack of tension, perhaps?  Good action set pieces though.

After barely escaping the machinations of his terrifying mother, two all knowing seers, and countless bloodthirsty siblings, the last thing Julius wants to see is another dragon. Unfortunately for him, the only thing more dangerous than being a useless Heartstriker is being a useful one, and now that he’s got an in with the Three Sisters, Julius has become a key pawn in Bethesda the Heartstriker’s gamble to put her clan on top.

Refusal to play along with his mother’s plans means death, but there’s more going on than even Bethesda knows, and with Estella back in the game with a vengeance, Heartstriker futures disappearing, and Algonquin’s dragon hunter closing in, the stakes are higher than even a seer can calculate. But when his most powerful family members start dropping like flies, it falls to Julius to defend the clan that never respected him and prove that, sometimes, the world’s worst dragon is the best one to have on your side.

Out now

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23590296ML Brennan‘s DARK ASCENSION (UF): One of the stronger UF series at the moment, IMO.  I stumbled across an early copy at my local bookstore and snapped it up.  I felt that this one had more romance in the mix, and less of the internal family politicking and secrets that really intrigued me in the earlier books.  It was a good installment in the series, but there was nothing unexpected in how the plot unfolded, if that makes sense.  Or maybe I’m just being hard to please.

As the “wickedly clever” (Publishers Weekly) series continues, reluctant, slacker vampire Fortitude Scott learns that nothing is more important than family—or more deadly….

After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up.

Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into the middle of an uncomfortable and dangerous battle for succession. His older sister, Prudence, is determined to take over the territory. But Fort isn’t the only one wary of her sociopathic tendencies, and allies, old and new, are turning to him to keep Prudence from gaining power.

Now, as Fort fights against his impending transition into vampire adulthood, he must also battle to keep Prudence from destroying their mother’s kingdom—before she takes him down with it….

Out now

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17333171Ilona AndrewsMAGIC SHIFTS (UF): This is next up on my reading list!  It’s always nice to return to Kate and Curran.

In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Out now

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18126966Lisa Kleypas‘s BROWN-EYED GIRL (contemporary romance): It feels like it’s been forever since my last Kleypas.  I stopped reading her recent Friday Harbour books because the magical realism elements didn’t work for me, but I’m all for a return to her Travis family.  Plus she has a new historical(!) coming out soon.

Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn’t believe in love–at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can’t resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can’t afford distractions. She’s been hired to plan the wedding of the year–a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he’s not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything–including her well-guarded heart–will she find out what matters most.

Out Aug 11

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23834716KJ CharlesA FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE (M/M romance): KJ Charles is so an auto-buy author for me.  I’d read anything she writes.  Plus I adored the short story that’s set in the same world as this book, so really, a no-brainer.

In the first novel of an explosive new series from K. J. Charles, a young gentleman and his elegant mentor fight for love in a world of wealth, power, and manipulation.
 
When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.

After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.

Out Aug 11

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18068907Kate Elliott‘s COURT OF FIVES (YA fantasy): I’m still making my way through Kate Elliott’s backlist, but this one sounds like a total winner.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Out Aug 18

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23601046Aliette de Bodard‘s THE HOUSE OF SHATTERED WINGS (fantasy): Aliette de Bodard’s a new-to-me author, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about her writing.  And the fact that “murder mystery” is mentioned in the first sentence below tipped the balance for me.

A superb murder mystery, on an epic scale, set against the fall out – literally – of a war in Heaven.

Paris has survived the Great Houses War – just. Its streets are lined with haunted ruins, Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine runs black with ashes and rubble. Yet life continues among the wreckage. The citizens continue to live, love, fight and survive in their war-torn city, and The Great Houses still vie for dominion over the once grand capital.

House Silverspires, previously the leader of those power games, lies in disarray. Its magic is ailing; its founder, Morningstar, has been missing for decades; and now something from the shadows stalks its people inside their very own walls.

Within the House, three very different people must come together: a naive but powerful Fallen, a alchemist with a self-destructive addiction, and a resentful young man wielding spells from the Far East. They may be Silverspires’ salvation. They may be the architects of its last, irreversible fall…

Out Aug 20

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23006161Kelley Armstrong‘s DECEPTIONS (urban fantasy): I’ve really enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s previous two Cainsville books, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she wraps the story up.  Ummm… assuming this is a trilogy.

TRUST NO ONE

Olivia Jones is desperate for the truth. The daughter of convicted serial killers, she has begun to suspect that her parents are innocent of their crimes. But who can she trust, in a world where betrayal and deception hide in every shadow?

RISK EVERYTHING

Liv does have one secret weapon: a mysterious sixth sense that helps her to anticipate danger. The trouble is, this rare power comes with its own risks. There are dark forces that want to exploit Liv’s talents – and will stop at nothing to win her to their side.

FACE THE TRUTH

Now Liv must decide, before it’s too late. Who does she love? Who is really on her side? And can she save herself without burning down everything that matters most?

Out Aug 20

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25912719CHARMED AND DANGEROUS (M/M paranormal romance anthology): This sounds like a whole load of fun, with an amazing line-up of authors – KJ Charles (see above), Jordan Castillo Price, Ginn Hale, Astrid Amara… to name but a few.  An excellent way to round off the month.

Magic takes many forms. From malignant hexes to love charms gone amok, you’ll find a vast array of spells and curses, creatures and conjurings in this massive collection—not to mention a steamy dose of man-on-man action. Charmed and Dangerous features all-new stories of gay paranormal romance, supernatural fiction and urban fantasy by ten top m/m paranormal authors.

Out Aug 25

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 May

It doesn’t feel like May, does it?  Partly because it has been the gloomiest April ever, weather-wise, and I swear it still feels as though it’s winter.  Maybe it’ll stop raining in time for the Olympics.

But new releases always cheer me up – here are the ones I’m reading in May.

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Kristin Cashore‘s BITTERBLUE (fantasy): This is the final book in Kristin Cashore’s loosely-connected trilogy, and well, I loved it.  The reception has not been all positive – there appears to be a healthy mix of opinions on this book, but for me, it was the sort of story that held me completely enthralled.  Ms Cashore’s also put up some pre-BITTERBLUE letters on her blog (warning: spoilers for the first book GRACELING), which was a nice bonus!

Blurb:

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck’s reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle—disguised and alone—to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck’s reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn’t yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Out now (excerpt)

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Charlaine Harris‘s DEADLOCKED (urban fantasy): The penultimate Sookie Stackhouse book, IIRC.  I’ve not felt the urge to run out and buy it yet – I’ve been holding off and waiting for reviews, and to be honest, it’s looking like the library for me.  Still, it is a Sookie book, so I’ll end up reading it eventually.

Blurb:

With Felipe de Castro, the Vampire King of Louisiana (and Arkansas and Nevada), in town, it’s the worst possible time for a body to show up in Eric Northman’s front yard—especially the body of a woman whose blood he just drank.

Now, it’s up to Sookie and Bill, the official Area Five investigator, to solve the murder. Sookie thinks that, at least this time, the dead girl’s fate has nothing to do with her. But she is wrong. She has an enemy, one far more devious than she would ever suspect, who’s out to make Sookie’s world come crashing down.

Out now (excerpt)

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Jordan Castillo Price‘s MNEVERMIND 1: THE PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY (m/m romance): Jordan Castillo Price is an autobuy author for me. I’ve no idea what this book is about, but I know it’ll be good.

Blurb:

Every day, Daniel Schroeder breaks his father’s heart.

While forgetting your problems won’t solve them, it does seem like it would make life a heck of a lot easier. Daniel thought so once. Now he knows better. He and Big Dan have always been close, which makes it all the more difficult to break the daily news: the last five years were nothing like his father remembers.

They’re both professionals in the memory field—they even run their own memory palace. So shouldn’t they be able to figure out a way to overwrite the persistent false memory that’s wreaking havoc on both of their lives? Daniel thought he was holding it together, but the situation seems to be sliding out of control. Now even his own equipment has turned against him, reminding him he hasn’t had a date in ages by taunting him with flashes of an elusive man in black that only he can see.

Is it some quirk of the circuitry, or is Daniel headed down the same path to fantasy-land as his old man?

Out now (excerpt)

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Carla Kelly‘s MARRIAGE OF MERCY (historical romance): It’s been a while since I’ve read a full-length Carla Kelly novel.  Or a newly-released one, come to that – I’ve been reading her re-released short story backlist mostly.  The author hates the title and wanted it called CHOOSING ROB INMAN – I’ve seen worse titles!

Blurb:

MARRYING THE WRONG GROOM… From riches to rags, Grace has had to swallow her pride and get a job as a baker.

But everything changes when she’s the beneficiary of a surprise inheritance. Her benefactor’s deal comes with a catch: give up her life of toil and live in luxury only if she marries his illegitimate son, a prisoner of war. It’s an offer she can’t afford to refuse. But her husband-to-be is dying, and he begs her to take one of his men instead-to marry purely out of mercy….

A marriage of convenience with a complete stranger…Could this arrangement ever work?

Out May 22 (excerpt)

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Lynn Flewelling‘s CASKET OF SOULS (fantasy): It has been a while since the last Nightrunner book, so I’m looking forward to this new one.  I remember when I read the first few books, and gay protagonists were such a ground-breaking concept – now, (almost) no one blinks.  Progress.  And she tells a good story.

Blurb:

More than the dissolute noblemen they appear to be, Alec and Seregil are skillful spies, dedicated to serving queen and country. But when they stumble across evidence of a plot pitting Queen Phoria against Princess Klia, the two Nightrunners will find their loyalties torn as never before. Even at the best of times, the royal court at Rhíminee is a serpents’ nest of intrigue, but with the war against Plenimar going badly, treason simmers just below the surface.

And that’s not all that poses a threat: A mysterious plague is spreading through the crowded streets of the city, striking young and old alike. Now, as panic mounts and the body count rises, hidden secrets emerge. And as Seregil and Alec are about to learn, conspiracies and plagues have one thing in common: The cure can be as deadly as the disease.

Out May 29 (excerpt)

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Nalini Singh‘s TANGLE OF NEED (paranormal romance): I’ll be honest – I’m not quite sure anything could top last year’s KISS OF SNOW, so I have much lower expectations this time around.  Also, cover-wise?  Not entirely sure what they were thinking when it came to the US cover.  Granted, the UK cover is a bit on the bland side, but I much prefer it to the US one – too much going on there!

Blurb:

Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past–one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.

For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.

Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.

Out May 29 (excerpt)

And that’s it for me – any others on your radar?

Books for March

I know.  This is really rather late for a new releases post.  But there are so many March releases that I have been anticipating – well, it’s been hard to drag myself away from the actual books.  Added to that is the fact I am totally glomming Andrea K Host‘s fantasy novels (I’ve just finished the last of her backlist *sigh*) – let’s put it this way, at least it still is March…

So the books I’ve been waiting for:

Patricia BriggsFAIR GAME (paranormal romance): Yes, me and everyone else.  It’s a toss up as to whether I like the Anna & Charles books better than the Mercy Thompson ones – and having read this one, I still can’t decide.  I like the Omega twist on the kick-ass UF heroine stereotype, and I love how Patricia Briggs gives us a very different relationship to the Mercy/Adam one.  But we’ve had three more books to get to know Mercy better and I feel more invested in her story… good thing I don’t actually have to choose.

Blurb from Goodreads:

They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can’t afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father’s dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.

Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…

Out now (excerpt)

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Seanan McGuire‘s DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON (urban fantasy): It’s no secret that I’m a diehard fan of Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye books, and when she started talking about a new UF series, I was incredibly excited.  With the Toby books moving to a yearly release schedule (the twice-yearly releases were such a plus!), I’m hoping her Incryptid books fill the gap.  They do sound great and from the A-Z countdown posts on her livejournal, I’ve a feeling the world-building will be just as complex and thorough as the Toby world.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night… The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family’s old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone’s spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city…

Out now (book page)

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Naomi Novik‘s CRUCIBLE OF GOLD (historical fantasy): While I thought the previous Temeraire book meandered somewhat (that never-ending journey through the wilds of Australia!), there is something about the world and writing that always pulls me in as soon as I start reading.  More globe-trotting for Will and Temeraire – this time, they’re in South America.  It’ll be a whole new world for me as I’ve no idea what was happening there during this era in history – I’m looking forward to reading her take on it.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Captain Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly—and sometimes not-so-friendly—fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason.

For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. But perhaps they are no longer alone in this opinion. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.

And now the government that sidelined them has decided they have the best chance at negotiating a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio—and thus offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.

Nonetheless, the pair embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that force them to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Incan empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers.

Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor’s edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk—for one bold enough to grasp it.

Out now (excerpt)

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Jordan Castillo Price‘s THE STARVING YEARS (m/m urban fantasy): Jordan Castillo Price is an autobuy author for me, even when the blurb sounds slightly out there.  That’s probably the definition of an autobuy author, isn’t it?  Blind trust that they’ll deliver the story…

Blurb from Goodreads:

Imagine a world without hunger. In 1960, a superfood was invented that made starvation a thing of the past. Manna, the cheaply manufactured staple food, is now as ubiquitous as salt in the world’s cupboards, pantries and larders.

Nelson Oliver knows plenty about manna. He’s a food scientist—according to his diploma, that is. Lately, he’s been running the register at the local video rental dive to scrape together the cash for his exorbitantly priced migraine medication.

In a job fair gone bad, Nelson hooks up with copywriter Javier and his computer-geek pal Tim, who whisks them away from the worst of the fiasco in his repurposed moving truck. At least, Nelson thinks the those two are acquainted, but they’re acting so evasive about it, he’s not sure how they know each other, exactly. Javier is impervious to Nelson’s flirting, and Tim’s name could appear in the dictionary under the entry for “awkward.” And with a riot raging through Manhattan and yet another headache coming on, it doesn’t seem like Nelson will get an answer anytime soon. One thing’s for sure, the tension between the three of them is thick enough to cut with a knife…even one of those dull plastic dealies that come in the package with Mannariffic EZ-Mealz.

Out now (excerpt)

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Kaje Harper‘s THE REBUILDING WORLD (m/m romance): Kaje Hunter was a new discovery for me last year, and I think I’ve finished her (sadly short) backlist, so yay for a new release.

Blurb from Goodreads:

A few excruciating minutes pinned in a burning building cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, isn’t an option. Compared to the alternative, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper are simple.

Until he realizes he’s falling in love with his housemate, and things take a turn for the complicated.

John Barrett knows about loss. After moving twice to stay in touch with his kids, he could only watch as his ex-wife whisked them away to California. Offering Ryan a room seems better than rattling around the empty house, but as casual friendship moves to something more, and a firestorm of emotions ignites, the big old house feels like tight quarters.

It’s nothing they can’t learn to navigate, though. But when dead bodies start turning up on campus—and one of the guys is a suspect—their first taste of real love could go up in smoke.

Out now (excerpt)

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Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale, and Astrid Amara‘s IRREGULARS (m/m romance): A shared-world anthology with some of my favourite authors?  I didn’t have to think twice.    I think this is Josh Lanyon’s only new release this year (sadface).  As for Ginn Hale, I’ve loved the novellas she’s written – I still have THE RIFTER serial and WICKED GENTLEMEN in my TBR pile (I know, I know – I really need to get to them).  And I read a couple of Astrid Amara’s books last year and moved her to my authors-to-keep-an-eye-on list.

Blurb from Goodreads:

It’s a secret international organization operating in cities on every continent. It polices relations between the earthly realm and those beyond this world, enforcing immigration laws, the transfers of magical artifacts, and crimes against humanity.

The agents who work for the NATO Irregular Affairs Division can’t tell anyone what they do, or how hard they work to keep us safe. It brings a colorful collection of men together:

Agent Henry Falk, the undead bum. Agent Keith Curry, former carnivore chef turned vegetarian; Agent Rake, Babylonian demon with a penchant for easy living; and Agent Silas August, uncompromising jerk.

Four cities, four mysteries, four times the romance. Is your security clearance high enough to read on?

Out now  (excerpt – PDF)

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Suzanne Brockmann‘s BORN TO DARKNESS (romantic suspense): This is the first book in Suzanne Brockmann’s new series set in the near-future.   I had mixed feelings when she announced the Troubleshooter series was coming to an end and she was starting a new one with paranormal elements – while it was perhaps time to draw things to a close, I wasn’t quite sure on the need to introduce the woo-woo stuff.  But the short story prequel (SHANE’S LAST STAND) had the trademark Brockmann goodness, so I’m quite looking forward to this now.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Dishonorably discharged, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin is down to his last ten bucks when he finally finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, a little-known and believed-to-be-fringe scientific research facility. When he enters the OI compound, he is plunged into a strange world where seemingly mild-mannered scientists—including women half his size—can kick his highly skilled ass.

Shane soon discovers that there are certain individuals who possess the unique ability to access untapped regions of the brain with extraordinary results—including telekinesis, super strength, and reversal of the aging process. Known as “Greater-Thans,” this rare breed is recruited by OI, where they are rigorously trained using ancient techniques to cultivate their powers and wield them responsibly.

But in the depths of America’s second Great Depression, where the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown even wider, those who are rich—and reckless—enough have a quick, seductive alternative: Destiny, a highly addictive designer drug that can make anyone a Greater-Than, with the power of eternal youth. The sinister cartel known as The Organization has begun mass-producing Destiny, and the demand is epidemic. But few realize the drug’s true danger, and fewer still know the dirty secret of Destiny’s crucial ingredient.

Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie knows the ugly truth. And as one of the Obermeyer Institute’s crack team of operatives, she’s determined to end the scourge of Destiny. But her kick-ass attitude gets knocked for a loop when she finds that one of the new test subjects is none other than Shane, the same smoldering stranger who just rocked her world in a one-night stand. Although Shane isn’t a Greater-Than like Mac, as an ex-SEAL, he’s got talents of his own. But Mac’s got powerful reasons to keep her distance from him—and reasons that are just as strong to want him close. She’s used to risking her life, but now, in the midst of the ultimate war on drugs, she must face sacrificing her heart.

Out March 20 (excerpt)

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Harper Fox‘s SCRAP METAL (m/m romance): Last but definitely not least, Harper Fox has a new release.  She does such great angst-y romantic relationships, and this sounds like no exception.

Blurb from Goodreads:

One year ago, before Fate took a wrecking ball to his life, Nichol was happily working on his doctorate in linguistics. Now he’s hip deep in sheep, mud and collies. His late brother and mother had been well suited to life on Seacliff Farm. Nichol? Not so much.

As lambing season progresses in the teeth of an icy north wind, the last straw is the intruder Nichol catches in the barn. He says his name is Cam, and he’s on the run from a Glasgow gang. Something about the young man’s tired resignation touches Nichol deeply, and instead of giving him the business end of a shotgun, he offers Cam a blanket and a place to stay.

Somehow, Cam quickly charms his way through Nichol’s defenses and into his heart. Even his grandfather takes to the cheeky city boy, whose hard work and good head for figures help set the farm back on its feet.

As the cold Scottish springtime melts into summer, Nichol finds himself falling in love. When tragedy strikes, Cam’s resolutely held secret is finally revealed and Nichol must face the truth. He’s given his heart away, and it’s time to pay the price.

Out March 27 (excerpt)

Right, that’s it – I am off to read now!  Have I missed any of your March must-gets?

February Reads

I may just title these posts Monthly Reads and leave the exact month to your imagination 😉

Here’s what I read back in February (I’ve almost finished logging my March books, though don’t hold your breath…).

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Mixed Magics (Chrestomanci, #7)Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones (children’s fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I fell in love with Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books last year, and this collection of four short stories was the one remaining Chrestomanci book that I hadn’t read yet.

It’s a slim book, but with trademark DWJ story-telling and sly humour throughout – “Stealer of Souls” with Cat and Tonino was my favourite short because of all the previous characters who make an appearance, and yeah, it was just plain fun to see Cat and Tonino again.

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The Salisbury KeyThe Salisbury Key by Harper Fox (contemporary m/m romance)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very good story that pushed the right buttons for me – I was completely engrossed from beginning to end.

I generally love Harper Fox’s stories, and this was another winner. It’s a lot of story to pack into one book, but she manages it rather well. You have the emotional arc – the book starts off with Daniel dealing with the suicide of his partner, working (very painfully) through the aftermath, fumbling through the start of a new relationship – combined with a rather complicated mystery plot (when Daniel’s lover’s legacy brings a decades-old cover-up to light), which in turn then kicks the action elements into full gear.

In style, this book was rather similar to Harper Fox’s Driftwood – lots of angst and emotion to start off with, before segueing into some rather OTT action scenes, and then a slightly prolonged ending, with the loose ends tied up just a tad bit too neatly and conveniently (though satisfyingly!).

I very much connected with Daniel – this book is in his first-person POV, and there is no getting away from the raw emotions evoked by his partner’s suicide. And Rayne, the uptight soldier who becomes an unexpected rock in Daniel’s grief, was incredibly appealing and engaging. The chemistry was there and very believable. And as with her other books, the Britishness of the setting comes to life.

One of my favourite reads for this year.

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The Warrior's Path (Sisters of the Sword)The Warrior’s Path by Maya Snow (children’s)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up due to Thea’s review at The Book Smugglers. I probably didn’t love this book as much as Thea did, but it was an enjoyable read and I would get the next book, especially if the series grows in complexity.

I really liked the Japanese setting and traditions, which lent depth to the story. Kimi is a great heroine – I found myself rooting for her throughout – and I loved her relationship with her sister, Hana, as well.

Niggles I had: I hate foreshadowing, and this book does it in spades throughout (especially in the epilogue!). And there was possibly too much time spent on fighting scenes for me, but I can definitely see its appeal to younger readers.

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Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of TalesTortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A mix of previously-published and new stories from Tamora Pierce – of course I was going to buy this collection, being a long-time fan of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall stories.

I admit I was secretly hoping for an Alanna story, but oh well. We got Alanna’s daughter, Aly, instead – it was interesting to have a glimpse into Aly and Nawat’s married life and what happened after Trickster’s Queen.

Funnily enough, I think I liked the contemporary non-fantasy story, “Testing”, best. I’m not sure short stories are Tamora Pierce’s forte, but this was worth buying, and the sneak peek for her next novel, “Mastiff”, reminded me of how much I am looking forward to that coming out.

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The High King's Tomb (Green Rider, #3)The High King’s Tomb by Kristen Britain (fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I did finish this book, but it took a while. I was in the sort of reading mood where I just wanted to read a couple of chapters a day, and this probably suited the pacing of this book, because it was rather slow-moving all the way until the last few chapters.

Too many POVs meant I never really connected with the characters. The main character, Karigan, came across as a bit Mary Sue-ish and I don’t think she was charismatic enough to carry the book – much more a plot-driven than character-driven book, IMO. The most fascinating aspects of the world came at the end, when Karigan & co explored the underground tombs – this was possibly explored more in previous books, but I admit I can’t recall much about them.

All in all, the book suited my mood at the time, but I doubt I’ll pick up the next book in the series when it comes out.

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Barnburner (Jennifer Pierce Maine Mystery #1)Barnburner by Sharon Lee (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the retro contemporariness of this book (yes, I just made that phrase up)… it’s set in the late 1980s and you have dial-up modems! Local BBSs! Cameras with actual film! Old-style computer menus!

Okay, I’ll stop now. That aside (though those details really made the book for me), this was an enjoyable mystery and I loved the fact that Jennifer was not a TTSL heroine. The resolution sort of snuck up on me – I was not expecting the (e)book to finish when it did as I was so busy taking in – and just plain enjoying – the small-town Maine setting and the characters.

And yeah, I bought its sequel Gunshy as soon as I finished.

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Speed Dating (Harlequin Nascar)Speed Dating by Nancy Warren (category romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One of the free reads offered by Mills & Boon/Harlequin, I downloaded this because I enjoyed Erin McCarthy‘s stock car racing books and was hoping this would be in a similar vein.

While I liked the initial setup (and having a heroine as an actuary), the romance lacked zing and I never connected with the characters. Quick way to spend an hour, but not really a memorable romance*.

*Obviously proven by the fact I said I hadn’t read a category romance in years when I posted last week.

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GhosTV (PsyCop, #6)GhosTV by Jordan Castillo Price (paranormal m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the strongest PsyCop books so far, IMO – though not one to start off with.

I love reading series that have a long-running relationship over the course of several books as you get to see what happens after the initial HEA, which to me, is equally as interesting, if not more, than the initial attraction and falling in love part.

And we have this in GhosTV – Vik and Jacob’s relationship continues to develop, there’s still strong chemistry combined with vulnerability on both sides, which makes for great relationship dynamics. And of course, with Vik being an excellent protagonist of the smart-ass type, this makes for a wonderfully funny and satisfying read.

The mystery plot was strong too, and I have to say that I was still thinking about the PsyCop world a day later, which just shows how much this world has captured my imagination.