Books for March

New month, new releases!  Here are the books I’m planning on buying this month.

(Also, WordPress tells me it’s been three weeks since I last blogged.  I think my blogging muse has disappeared on an extended holiday.)

26030141Patricia Briggs’ FIRE TOUCHED (urban fantasy): A new Mercy Thompson book!  Mercy is one of the original trailblazing UF heroines for me, and I’m glad this series is still going strong.  I’ve pre-ordered this book, and this is basically my weekend plans sorted.

Mercy Thompson is back, and she’ll soon discover that when the fae stalk the human world, it’s the children who suffer . . .

Tensions between the fae and humans are coming to a head. And when coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her Alpha werewolf mate, Adam, are called upon to stop a rampaging troll, they find themselves with something that could be used to make the fae back down and forestall out-and-out war: a human child stolen long ago by the fae.

Defying the most powerful werewolf in the country, the humans and the fae, Mercy, Adam and their pack choose to protect the boy no matter what the cost. But who will protect them from a boy who is fire touched?

Out March 8

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22062202Anne Bishop’s MARKED IN FLESH (urban fantasy): I’m eyeing this one with a bit more trepidation.  I enjoyed the first book in the series, but had more mixed results with the second and third.  Still going to buy it though.

For centuries, the Others and humans have lived side by side in uneasy peace. But when humankind oversteps its bounds, the Others will have to decide how much humanity they’re willing to tolerate—both within themselves and within their community…

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

Out March 8

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29283273Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s US (NA M/M romance): I’m thrilled we get a sequel to HIM, one of my favourite books of 2015.  This is where my weekend plans start getting a bit complicated…

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves–Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes, and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

Out March 8

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28464968Amy Jo Cousins’ BETWEEN A ROCK AND HARD PLACE (NA M/M romance): Two more novellas in Cousins’ Bend or Break NA series.  On a (kind of) related note, I’m sad that Samhain Publishing’s closing – some of my favourite authors debuted there, and I always thought of them as one of the better indie publishing houses.

When friends lose the benefits, can the friendship be saved?

Love Me Like A Rock

With the right art tools, there’s almost nothing Austin can’t make real. Except an official relationship with his best friend, rowing teammate and occasional hookup, Vinnie.

Emotional and sexual frustration fuel a spark between Austin and Sean, the nude model in drawing class. After a quick and very dirty encounter, all the reasons Austin has been waiting for Vinnie go fuzzy in his mind.

But if Austin can’t get his head and his heart on the same page, he could lose both his friend, and his lover.

Hard Candy

Vincent always assumed he and Austin would eventually end up together. But now that Austin’s in love with another man, Vinnie is at a loss.

After the world’s most awkward one-night stand with Bryan, a dance major, Vinnie is drawn to his vibrant spirit and calm center.

Physically, the rowing jock and the glittery dancer can match each other stroke for booty pop. But for the lovers to meet on common ground, they’ll have to find a way to get moving in the same direction.

Out March 22

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25657772Julia Quinn’s BECAUSE OF MISS BRIDGERTON (historical romance): Thoughts on Julia Quinn’s return to the Bridgertons?  I’m not sure.  I’m going to get this because it’s a Bridgerton book, but I haven’t loved her more recent historicals.  Good reviews on Goodreads though.

Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected of places…

This is not one of those times.

Everyone expects Billie Bridgerton to marry one of the Rokesby brothers. The two families have been neighbors for centuries, and as a child the tomboyish Billie ran wild with Edward and Andrew. Either one would make a perfect husband… someday.

Sometimes you fall in love with exactly the person you think you should…

Or not.

There is only one Rokesby Billie absolutely cannot tolerate, and that is George. He may be the eldest and heir to the earldom, but he’s arrogant, annoying, and she’s absolutely certain he detests her. Which is perfectly convenient, as she can’t stand the sight of him, either.

But sometimes fate has a wicked sense of humor…

Because when Billie and George are quite literally thrown together, a whole new sort of sparks begins to fly. And when these lifelong adversaries finally kiss, they just might discover that the one person they can’t abide is the one person they can’t live without…

Out March 29

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And my maybes:

  • Seanan McGuire’s CHAOS CHOREOGRAPHY: I’m a die-hard Toby Daye fan, but haven’t connected with McGuire’s InCryptid series.  I think I’m a book behind already, though I’ve heard this book is better than the previous one.
  • Alwyn Hamilton’s REBEL OF THE SANDS: New-to-me author, and I can’t remember where I first saw this now, but it’s YA fantasy and you know I’m a sucker for those.
  • Jaclyn Moriarty’s A TANGLE OF GOLD: I loved Jaclyn Moriarty’s Ashbury/Brookfield YA series, but you know what?  I still haven’t read any of The Colours of Madeleine books because it’s so difficult to get these books here.

 

Links, Anyone?

Yes, I’m slightly distracted by the French Open.  And will be for the next week or so.  Fortunately, I’ve a whole collection of links I’ve neglected to post over the past few weeks.

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15793208I’ve not entirely made my mind up over Mary Robinette Kowal‘s Glamourist History series – I admire how she’s managed to blend fantasy with the Regency setting pretty much seamlessly, but the characters left me slightly lukewarm in the first book.  However, I recently borrowed the third from my library on a whim (okay, it was the pretty cover) and ended up enjoying it more than I expected – so maybe I’ll get her most recent release?  My not-very-helpful ramblings on her books aside, she’s one of those authors with an online presence that impresses, and I really liked her blog series on debut author lessons (link to the one on covers).  Lots of interesting stuff there.

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It’s no secret that I’m a Sarah Rees Brennan fan, and I love the free online serial she’s been posting at semi-random intervals.  Even though I’m not a serial kind of person.  She totally tricked me into loving this one. Anyway,  two new installments of TURN OF THE STORY recently(-ish) popped up – Elliot is such a character.  I hope she releases a full-length book when she finishes the serial – I would definitely buy.

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589979Author Tansy Rayner Roberts is doing a re-read of Raymond Feist & Janny Wurts‘ Empire trilogy at tor.com.  THIS BRINGS BACK SUCH MEMORIES.  Sorry, but that totally deserved capitals.  I remember diving into Feist’s Magician books during my teenage years, and then I discovered this trilogy he co-authored with Janny Wurts – and I must have just lived and breathed those books for umm… however long it took me to read them.  I haven’t re-read them for YEARS, and I’m kind of nervous as to whether the story holds up to the test of time, but just reading the first couple of posts makes me want to join in the re-read…

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Interview with Tamora Pierce @ The Speculative Craft – there’s a great bit where she talks about how the publishing industry has changed since the early 1980s and how it’s affected her approach to writing.  Plus her biggest writing regret:

[…] I regret that I didn’t have more space with the Alanna and Daine books to develop the characters, I concentrated more on the plots. I don’t feel like I do plots well and I would have liked to have expanded on the characters more in those books, but in those days they were holding us to a 200 manuscript page per book limit, very strictly, so it’s not like I had the chance then and could have done it.

You know what?  I’d love to see what she would have done with the Alanna books had she not had a page limit.

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And to close off because it’s turned out to be a bit of a nostalgic collection of links: It’s 20 years since Julia Quinn‘s first historical romance was accepted by Avon – loved this letter she posted.  This is like a piece of romance history.  I totally fell for her Bridgerton books – admittedly, I haven’t been as enamoured of her more recent Smythe-Smith books, but they’re still good frothy fun.

 

Books for October

So many October new releases… seriously.

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12528745Karen Chance‘s TEMPT THE STARS (urban fantasy): A new Cassie Palmer!  It’s only been, oh, two years or so since the last one, although we did get a Dory book to tide us over.  I may need a bit of a refresher as to what’s been happening, but a new installment in one of my favourite UF series always makes me happy.

Being a goddess is a lot less fun than you might think. Especially when you’re only a half goddess, and you only found out about it recently, and you still don’t know what you’re doing half the time. And when you’ve just used your not-so-reliable powers to burglarize the booby-trapped office of a vampire mob boss.

Yeah, that part sucks.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Cassandra Palmer, aka the Pythia, the freshly minted chief seer of the supernatural world. After all, Cassie still has to save a friend from a fate worse than death, deal with an increasingly possessive master vampire, and prevent a party of her own acolytes from unleashing a storm of fury upon the world. Totally just your average day at the office, right?

Out Oct 1

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17340100Jacqueline Carey‘s AUTUMN BONES (urban fantasy): I’m a fan of Jacqueline Carey’s writing and enjoyed the first in this series (though I now take back what I said about Norse mythology being uncommon!).  Fingers crossed that the love triangle thing is not played up in this book.

Fathered by an incubus, raised by a mortal mother, and liaison to the Pemkowet Police Department, Daisy Johanssen pulled the community together after a summer tragedy befell the resort town she calls home. Things are back to normal—as normal as it gets for a town famous for its supernatural tourism, and presided over by the reclusive Norse goddess Hel.

Not only has Daisy now gained respect as Hel’s enforcer, she’s dating Sinclair Palmer, a nice, seemingly normal human guy. Not too shabby for the daughter of a demon. Unfortunately, Sinclair has a secret. And it’s a big one.

He’s descended from Obeah sorcerers and they want him back. If he doesn’t return to Jamaica to take up his rightful role in the family, they’ll unleash spirit magic that could have dire consequences for the town. It’s Daisy’s job to stop it, and she’s going to need a lot of help. But time is running out, the dead are growing restless, and one mistake could cost Daisy everything

Out Oct 1

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16102412Diana Peterfreund‘s ACROSS A STAR-SWEPT SEA (YA fantasy): The companion book, FOR DARKNESS SHOWED THE STARS, was one of my standout reads of 2012, so I’m looking forward to revisiting Elliot’s world and reading Diana Peterfreund’s re-interpretation of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL.  Speaking of which, I’ve never read it, though I’m pretty sure I downloaded a (public domain – free!) copy a while back – hmmm… to read or not to read?

Centuries after wars nearly destroyed civilization, the two islands of New Pacifica stand alone, a terraformed paradise where even the Reduction—the devastating brain disorder that sparked the wars—is a distant memory. Yet on the isle of Galatea, an uprising against the ruling aristocrats has turned deadly. The revolutionaries’ weapon is a drug that damages their enemies’ brains, and the only hope is rescue by a mysterious spy known as the Wild Poppy.

On the neighboring island of Albion, no one suspects that the Wild Poppy is actually famously frivolous aristocrat Persis Blake. The teenager uses her shallow, socialite trappings to hide her true purpose: her gossipy flutternotes are encrypted plans, her pampered sea mink is genetically engineered for spying, and her well-publicized new romance with handsome Galatean medic Justen Helo… is her most dangerous mission ever.

Though Persis is falling for Justen, she can’t risk showing him her true self, especially once she learns he’s hiding far more than simply his disenchantment with his country’s revolution and his undeniable attraction to the silly socialite he’s pretending to love. His darkest secret could plunge both islands into a new dark age, and Persis realizes that when it comes to Justen Helo, she’s not only risking her heart, she’s risking the world she’s sworn to protect.

In this thrilling adventure inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, Diana Peterfreund creates an exquisitely rendered world where nothing is as it seems and two teens with very different pasts fight for a future only they dare to imagine.

Out Oct 15

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18141373Allison Parr‘s RUNNING BACK (NA): Remember when I had a bit of a fangirl-y moment earlier this year about Allison Parr’s debut RUSH ME? Yes, me too.  Companion book alert, and this sounds promising.

Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O’Connor, popular NFL running back.

On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she’s not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…

Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.

Out Oct 21

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17900241Kelly Hunter‘s WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW (contemporary romance): Okay, sneaking this in as this is technically a November release – but Harlequin will release the ebook version on its site on 1 Oct.

Shh…it’s a secret!

Special ops expert Trig Sinclair is a man’s man, and that means he knows the cardinal rule of the bro code—no matter how dynamite Lena West is, as his best friend’s younger sister, she’s strictly off-limits!

But when a secret mission to Istanbul sees Lena and Trig pretending to be married (and sharing a bed!), he finds himself in a whole new world of sweet torture. But if Trig thinks playing the honor-bound hero is tough, it’s got nothing on how Lena feels when she discovers what her “groom” is really hiding…

Out Nov 1 (but Oct 1 on the Harlequin site)

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And that’s not all – other books I’m eyeing:

  • Julia Quinn‘s THE SUM OF ALL KISSES (historical romance): I still have the second Smythe-Smith book in my TBR pile, but Quinn is a safe bet for when I’m in the mood for a fun and witty romance, so I’ll probably end up getting this third book sooner rather than later
  • Diane Stanley‘s THE CUP AND THE CROWN (YA fantasy): The first book, THE SILVER BOWL, was one of those books that left me smiling, but I’ve actually been practising my self-restraint for a change and waiting for the second book to be released in paperback.  Which it will be on Oct 1.
  • Mary Kay AndrewsCHRISTMAS BLISS (contemporary romance): Is October too early for a Christmas story?  I may save this for a December read…
  • AD Robertson‘s CAPTIVE (romance): I received a review copy, so you’ll be reading more about this soon, but this is YA author Andrea Cremer writing under a different name – same world as her YA books, but with the “steamier” bits included apparently.  Is this a trend?

Books for December

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

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

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

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

Out now (excerpt)

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

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

Out now

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

Out now

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

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

Out Dec 26 (excerpt)

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?

A Short Reading Month

Picking up where we left off, here are books I read in August last year.   And I only read four during the ENTIRE month.  Huh.  It also looks to have been a bit of a romance month.

As always, reviews were posted on Goodreads originally, but with additional comments in italics this time around.

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Regency StingRegency Sting by Elizabeth Mansfield (regency romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really like Elizabeth Mansfield’s historicals – she gives good romance within the length constraints dictated by categories. This was a traditional regency with an American heir being the main plot point. It was a decent read – I liked the relationship between the h/h and how the story eventually played out. Yes, it was a bit predictable and the secondary romance didn’t do anything for me, but overall, I enjoyed this.

And the rating of three stars probably holds true, i.e. I liked.  Or in other words, I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but only have a vague memory of the plot and characters eight months later.

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Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1)Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn (historical romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, it’s a Julia Quinn so it has to be a fun read – it delivered on that front, her trademark Quinn humour made me smile. I liked revisiting the Bridgertons (it’s been too long!) and loved seeing the Smythe-Smiths from another angle. However, I struggled somewhat trying to remember the h/h a couple of weeks later. Fun and frothy, but not necessarily memorable.

Julia Quinn is still an auto-buy author for me, but I don’t rush out to buy her books on the first day of release any more.  Her Bridgerton books are still my favourites. 

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Life Lessons (Life Lessons, #1)Life Lessons by Kaje Harper (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A slightly convoluted murder mystery with a rather unbelievable villain. However, while the story started slowly, it built up to an ending that had me buying the next book, Breaking Cover, to find out what happens next.

This was my first Kaje Harper, and I suspect I picked this up based on a rec on a review site somewhere.  I liked it, but it was the second book (below) that sealed the deal.

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Breaking Cover (Life Lessons, #2)Breaking Cover by Kaje Harper (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The setup reminded me slightly of Josh Lanyon‘s Adrien English series – and comparisons against the AE series always leave the other books looking slightly lacking. Having said that, I thought the suspense was balanced well against the romance elements in this book. Generally, the relationship was more angst-y than the prequel Life Lessons, which is always a plus for me!

I did like this book, and have added Kaje Harper to my list of authors to read.

I think there’ll be another book in this series coming out soon – I hope so, as this is shaping up to be a good romantic suspense type of series.  Then again, my weak spot is relationships that develop over the course of several books, as opposed to insta-love + HEA in one book.

Books for May

I can’t believe it’s May already – on the other hand, yay for the May releases finally arriving!

Ilona Andrews“Magic Slays” (urban fantasy): Well.  Insert inarticulate gurgling noises here.  Yeah, I’m madly excited about this one, could you tell?  I love this UF series, it’s up there with hmmm… Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye and Patricia Briggs‘ Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega books for me.  Have you read the Curran POV for the last scenes in “Magic Bleeds” on the authors’ blog, by the way?  It’s whetted my appetite very nicely for this.

Blurb:

Plagued by a war between magic and technology, Atlanta has never been so deadly. Good thing Kate Daniels is on the job.

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be—now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price…

Out May 31 (excerpt)

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Nalini Singh‘s “Kiss of Snow” (paranormal romance): Second set of inarticulate gurgling noises.  And if you’re going “Huh?”, you obviously haven’t been reading the Psy/Changeling books.  We finally get Sienna and Hawke’s story, and I cannot wait to see how their romance plays out – they have pretty much stolen all the scenes where they’ve made an appearance in previous books.

Blurb:

Since the moment of her defection from the PsyNet and into the SnowDancer wolf pack, Sienna Lauren has had one weakness. Hawke. Alpha and dangerous, he compels her to madness.

Hawke is used to walking alone, having lost the woman who would’ve been his mate long ago. But Sienna fascinates the primal heart of him, even as he tells himself she is far too young to handle the wild fury of the wolf.

Then Sienna changes the rules-and suddenly, there is no more distance, only the most intimate of battles between two people who were never meant to meet. Yet as they strip away each other’s secrets in a storm of raw emotion, they must also ready themselves for a far more vicious fight…

A deadly enemy is out to destroy SnowDancer, striking at everything they hold dear, but it is Sienna’s darkest secret that may yet savage the pack that is her home-and the alpha who is its heartbeat.

Out May 31 (excerpt)

*

Charlaine Harris“Dead Reckoning” (urban fantasy): It’s the eleventh book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, and well, I’m still reading.  IMO, the last three or so books have been slightly uneven, but there’s something about Sookie’s world that reels me in.  I am loving the quirky and charming US cover art as always, and will probably go out of my way to get my hands on this edition – I don’t think I have yet bought any of the UK editions (which feature the “True Blood” cast).  Also, did Ms Harris say she was wrapping up the series soon, or did I just make that up?

Blurb:

With her knack for being in trouble’s way, Sookie witnesses the firebombing of Merlotte’s, the bar where she works. Since Sam Merlotte is now known to be two-natured, suspicion falls immediately on the anti-shifters in the area. But Sookie suspects otherwise and she and Sam work together to uncover the culprit – and the twisted motive for the attack. But her attention is divided. Though she can’t ‘read’ vampires, Sookie knows her lover Eric Northman and his ‘child’ Pam well – and she realises that they are plotting to kill the vampire who is now their master. Gradually, she is drawn into the plot -which is much more complicated than she knows. Caught up in the politics of the vampire world, Sookie will learn that she is as much of a pawn as any ordinary human – and that there is a new Queen on the board . .

Out May 3 (excerpt)

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Julia Quinn‘s “Just Like Heaven” (historical romance): A new Julia Quinn is always something to look forward to, and I admit that part of me is happy she’s returning to her Bridgertons world.  Or okay, officially this is the start of The Smythe-Smith Quartet.  I was going to have a moan about the UK version (cover on the right) being out later, and then realised it was only a couple of days (May 31 v. June 2 for the UK edition) – yeah, need some sleep.

(Cute) blurb:

HONORIA SMYTHE-SMITH IS:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed “Bug” as a child
C) NOT in love with her older brother’s best friend
D) All of the above

MARCUS HOLROYD IS:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) NOT in love with his best friend’s younger sister
D) All of the above

TOGETHER THEY:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND world’s worst musical performance
C) fall quite desperately in love.

It’s Julia Quinn at her best, so you KNOW the answer is…

D) All of the above

Out May 31 (excerpt)

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And my maybes for May – Kevin Hearne‘s “Hounded”, which I heard of when Nath added it to her wishlist, and Thea Harrison‘s “Dragon Bound”, which has had the romance blogosphere buzzing.

2010: Recap of My Reading Year Part 2

Continuing my month-by-month recap of 2010 (the first third of the year covered here):

May

Amongst the ten books I read in May was the excellent “Magic Bleeds” by Ilona Andrews.   This series has grown in leaps and bounds – I remember not being impressed by the first book way back when, but am rather glad I persevered.  I think if I had to name my top three UF series, it would be this one, together with Patricia Briggs‘ Mercy books and Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye series.

Nothing else stands out during May.  Scanning the titles I’ve jotted down show that I ranked all the rest as “Glad I read”, which is pretty much what it says – I’m glad I read the book, it wasn’t a waste of time (or money!) but it’s not one that really stood out for me.

Oh, I’ve experimented with a new grading system this year (it was a very quiet experiment and I don’t think I mentioned it anywhere!), moving on from letter grades (A, B, C, etc) to a statement-based one (“Glad I read”, “Wish I’d passed”, and so on).  This was because I never really used the full extent of the letter-based grading scale, and wanted to try something more meaningful as opposed to marking everything a B grade (obviously I’ve just moved on to “Glad I read” instead).

Seriously, I’ve found this more useful, but I’m thinking of moving to the equivalent of 1 to 5 stars in the New Year because I’ve started a Goodreads account (err… one review and one friend – hi Estara! – at last count, so don’t all rush over at once).  We’ll see – I don’t shout very loudly about what grades I give books and it took me a couple of years to actually change my grading system, so it’ll probably continue being rather unobtrusive here on the blog…

June

After that slight detour into my grading system, back to books read… I read ten books this month, unusually two re-reads amongst them, though very different ones – Louisa May Alcott‘s “Eight Cousins” and Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s “Conflict of Honors”.

“Eight Cousins” was inspired by Angie’s review of its sequel “Rose in Bloom”, and it was fascinating to re-read this as an adult – it is very much a product of its times (1875), for example, when talking about what a woman’s role should be, but at the same time, surprisingly modern in its views on, say, fresh air and exercise.

“Conflict of Honors”, on the other hand, is very much a comfort read for me, and re-reading this book straight after the authors’ latest release “Mouse & Dragon” gave me a slightly different perspective – I’ve always loved how the authors somehow manage to combine space opera with a fantasy of manners, but this time around, having just read the prequel, the events just prior to the start of this book (avoiding spoilers!) felt more immediate and hard-hitting, so there was more of an emotional impact.

New-to-me author – I read Meg Burden‘s “Northlander”, again based on an Angie rec, which turned out to be the type of coming-of-age YA fantasy that presses all the right buttons for me.  Loved.

Oh, and I think I may have finally kicked my Laurell K Hamilton‘s Anita Blake habit this month as well.

July

There were some good ones in the nine books I read this month.  I remember very much enjoying Julia Quinn‘s “What Happened in London”, even though I actually had to go and look up the book to try and remember what the plot was about.  Ahem.  I do recall liking it very much at the time, and thinking it had her trademark Quinn humour.

I loved Sarah Rees Brennan‘s “The Demon’s Covenant”, so much so it was one of the very few books I actually blogged about this year – bearing in mind how much I blogged this year, you know I really really liked it if I posted about it.  Oh, and I enjoyed Kelley Armstrong‘s latest Otherworld novel, “Walking the Witch”, though points deducted for yet another blasted cliffhanger ending.  Seriously.  I have stopped reading series before because of cliffhanger endings – I completely detest them.

August

Wrapping up a post that turned out to be slightly longer than anticipated – I read another nine books in August, including my first books from Carina Press, which has been an excellent addition to the epublishing scene.  I loved both Josh Lanyon‘s “Fair Game” and new-to-me author Harper Fox‘s “Life After Joe” – Josh Lanyon was already an autobuy m/m romance author, and Harper Fox’s lyrical writing and fantastic sense of place makes her another one for me.

I also got around to reading my second Steve Kluger, “My Most Excellent Year”, which was just as good as the first – a very feel-good book.

And I finally read Suzanne Collins‘ Hunger Games trilogy, all three in a month – it didn’t exactly disappoint, but I’m not entirely sure it lived up to all the hype.  On the other hand, what book could?  I ended up liking the middle book, “Catching Fire”, best, but all three were very good summer reading.

So that was the middle third of 2010 – final four months next…

Books for December

See, a timely post! Here are the new releases I’m planning to buy this month and then indulge in over the Christmas holidays:

Juliet Marillier‘s “Seer of Sevenwaters” (fantasy): I only discovered Juliet Marillier a couple of years ago, but her Sevenwaters books sit firmly on my keeper shelves.  So a new Sevenwaters book  is always a cause for celebration – the only fly in the ointment is that there is no UK release.  Why??!!!  Not happy, people.  The silver lining is that because of this, I pre-ordered the US edition from The Book Depository and just received an email saying it’s on the way.

The blurb from the author’s website (Sibeal’s story!):

Sibeal has always known that she is destined for a spiritual life, and is committed to it with all her heart. Before making her final vows, she travels to the northern island of Inis Eala to spend the summer with her sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh.

But Sibeal has barely set foot on the island when a freak storm out at sea sinks a ship before her eyes. In spite of frantic rescue efforts, only three survivors are fished alive from the water, and one of them, a man Sibeal names Ardal, clings to life by the merest thread.

As Ardal fights for his life, the island community discovers that there is something unusual about the three shipwrecked strangers. The beautiful Svala is mute and disturbed. Stalwart warrior Knut seems ashamed of his grieving wife. And Ardal has a secret he can’t remember … or won’t tell. When the astonishing truth comes out, Sibeal finds herself drawn into a perilous quest. At its end, she will face a decision that may break her heart.

Out Dec 7 (excerpt)

LB Gregg, ZA Maxfield, Josh Lanyon, and Harper Fox‘s “His for the Holidays” (m/m romance): This anthology from Carina Press is sounding like a very good one.  Each writer brings something different to the table, IMO – I love the slightly offbeat sense of humour in LB Gregg’s writing, the angst that Harper Fox excels in, and oh, pretty much all aspects of Josh Lanyon’s writing.  And ZA Maxfield is on my to-try list, so this anthology really ticks all the boxes.

Hope brightens a bleak Edinburgh December. A man gets a second chance with his high school crush. A decade-long game of cat and mouse comes to a passionate conclusion. And Santa Claus drives a red muscle car. Heat up your holidays with this collection of four festive tales from some of the top talent in the male/male genre.

Out Dec 6 (book page at Carina Press)

Richelle Mead‘s “Last Sacrifice” (YA urban fantasy): The last book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series,  though there will be a spin-off series in the same world.  I like these books, but haven’t fallen in love with the series – I’m not sure why.  Ms Mead has a massive fanbase for these books though, so I’m probably in a minority.  Having said that, I do find the VA series pretty addictive reading, and I will be getting this because I want to know what happens in the end.  Also, the UK cover?  Meh.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice. Now, with Rose on trial for her life and Lissa first in line for the Royal Throne, nothing will ever be the same between them.

Out Dec 7 (excerpt)

Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway‘s “The Lady Most Likely…” (historical romance): Julia Quinn and Eloisa James are amongst the very few historical romance authors that remain autobuys for me (I probably have read some Connie Brockway before, but none of her books comes to mind immediately).  I’m never quite sure how a collaboration between different authors will turn out – sometimes it works, sometimes not – but I’ll still be getting this.  I’m also not sure exactly how this book is structured; the authors refer to it as “a novel in three parts” – does this mean three linked but separate stories, one story with three acts… anyone know?

From Ms James’ website:

Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them—and a few other gentlemen—to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season. Hugh will have time to woo whichever lady he most desires… Unless someone else snatches her first.

Out Dec 28 (excerpt)

Mercedes Lackey‘s “Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar” (fantasy): I don’t know why I always feel as though I have to justify my addiction to the Valdemar stories (she says, embarrassedly).  I think a new collection of Valdemar stories has been released at this time of the year for the past few years, so yay for more Heralds, white Companions, and all that.

Blurb from Amazon:

In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Valdemar was the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now readers can take a journey to the world of Valdemar-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-each adding their own special touches.

Out Dec 7

“Love and Rockets” edited by Martin H Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (SF romance): I was in two minds about whether to put up the cover or not, because DAW appears to have decided to enter this one into the “Worst Cover of the Year” award.  I like the monthly themed DAW anthologies, but I have no idea why their covers are so hit or miss.  There have been some rather striking ones, but equally some that make me think no one was that bothered, and some truly awful ones.  Cover aside, this is an SF-romance crossover anthology, which is a genre I’m quite keen on, so I’m hoping I come across some new-to-me authors in this one. I can’t find a list of contributors, though I know Lois McMaster Bujold has written an introduction.  Here is the table of contents, courtesy of contributor Steven H Silver.

Blurb from Amazon:

Space…the final frontier. Or is it? Many say there’s no frontier more forbidding than a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. But what if one’s a human, and the other’s an alien? Here is an original collection of space opera stories where authors take love (unrequited or not), on a spaceship, space station, or planetary colony, and add enough drama, confusion and mayhem to ensure that the path to true love-or short-term infatuation-is seldom free of obstacles.

Out Dec 7

Books for May

Yes, I know there’s only about a week left in May, but gosh, I feel as though I’ve been playing catch-up for the whole month.  Especially today, when I didn’t actually hit Snooze on my alarm clock this morning.  Yep, I turned it right off.  I did make it into work at a reasonable time (ahem), but I’m now going to be incredibly paranoid about hitting the right button in the mornings!

 

Anyway, here’s the list of May releases on my radar:

41o2vJWxcYL._SL160_ Richelle Mead’s “Spirit Bound” (YA urban fantasy): Fifth in her incredibly popular Vampire Academy series.  It’s like the new Twilight.  Well, not quite, but the impression I get is that she has a massive fanbase.  I’m getting this book, because I want to know what happens next, but I think her Georgina Kincaid books win out for me.  She’s a pretty prolific writer (I mean, three series on the go), rather impressive.

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51Sc1e-DC3L._SL160_ Kelley Armstrong’s “The Reckoning” (YA urban fantasy): Final book in her Darkest Powers trilogy, though she is going to write a spin-off trilogy, IIRC.  I have this one already, but I haven’t read it yet.

Out now (excerpt here)

 

51RhfpnfQ8L._SL160_ Charlaine Harris’s “Dead in the Family” (urban fantasy): Latest in her Sookie Stackhouse series, how many books is it now?  I’m probably going to buy, but I haven’t had the urge to run out and get it on release date. 

I’m hoping that’s not the UK cover, though it is what came up on Amazon UK.  I know some people think the US covers are a bit cute-sy, but I love them.  Especially the glittery bits 😉

 

Out now (excerpt here – PDF)

 

51EUA1gwnTL._SL160_ 518mPPRSpcL._SL160_ And then two historical romances that I want to get, but I still have the previous book sitting in my TBR pile, which means I really shouldn’t: Julia Quinn’s “Ten Things I Love About You” (out May 25) and Lisa Kleypas’s “Married By Morning” (also out May 25). 

Ack.  I may actually even be two books behind in the Kleypas series.  Sigh.  I think I may have to wave the white flag at my TBR pile.  The good news is that I love the UK covers for both of these, and the UK release dates are June and October respectively.  I never thought I would be glad for a later UK release date.