Books for July

I’ve totally failed at blogging this summer.  I generally post much less frequently during summer – it’s that fatal combination of long summer evenings, the tennis (following Roland Garros/Queens/Wimbledon basically takes over my life for a few weeks), holidays, and ah, just summer being summer.  But I have to admit this year has been pretty abysmal blogging-wise, even by my low standards.

But enough self-flagellation – here are the new releases for July that I’ll be reading (or have read, in a few cases).

34748555JL Merrow’s SPUN! (contemporary romance): I love the ever-so-British feel of JL Merrow’s and this one promises to be a fun summer read.

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

Out now

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29750595Kate Elliott’s BURIED HEART (YA fantasy): I’m so excited for this conclusion to her Court of Fives trilogy, and the book just appeared on my Kindle today.  Hurrah for pre-ordering magic.

The explosive finale to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s captivating, New York Times bestselling young adult series

In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!

Out now

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32855152Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess’s THE PAINTED QUEEN (historical mystery): Speaking of being excited.  The very last Amelia Peabody book!  While there had been rumours of a final book, I had pretty much given up hope after several years, so confirmation of this was incredibly thrilling.  Joan Hess finished writing the novel based on a partially-written manuscript by Elizabeth Peters, so it may not be quite like the original, but I don’t really care…  I’m glad we see Amelia one last time.

Egypt, 1912—Amelia Peabody and her dashing archaeologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, are once again in danger as they search for a priceless, stolen bust of legendary Queen Nefertiti and Amelia finds herself the target of assassins in this long-awaited, eagerly anticipated final installment of Elizabeth Peters’s bestselling, beloved mystery series

Arriving in Cairo for another thrilling excavation season, Amelia Peabody is relaxing in a well-earned bubble bath in her elegant hotel suite in Cairo, when a man with knife protruding from his back staggers into the bath chamber and utters a single word—“Murder”—before collapsing on the tiled floor, dead. Among the few possessions he carried was a sheet of paper with Amelia’s name and room number, and a curious piece of pasteboard the size of a calling card bearing one word: “Judas.” Most peculiarly, the stranger was wearing a gold-rimmed monocle in his left eye.

It quickly becomes apparent that someone saved Amelia from a would-be assassin—someone who is keeping a careful eye on the intrepid Englishwoman. Discovering a terse note clearly meant for EmersonWhere were you?”—pushed under their door, there can be only one answer: the brilliant master of disguise, Sethos.

But neither assassins nor the Genius of Crime will deter Amelia as she and Emerson head to the excavation site at Armana, where they will witness the discovery of one of the most precious Egyptian artifacts: the iconic Nefertiti bust. In 1345 B.C. the sculptor Thutmose crafted the piece in tribute to the great beauty of this queen who was also the chief consort of Pharaoh Akhenaten and stepmother to King Tutankhamun.

For Amelia, this excavation season will prove to be unforgettable. Throughout her journey, a parade of men in monocles will die under suspicious circumstances, fascinating new relics will be unearthed, a diabolical mystery will be solved, and a brilliant criminal will offer his final challenge . . . and perhaps be unmasked at last.

Out now

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28960325Martha Wells’s THE HARBORS OF THE SUN (fantasy): This is the final book in her Three Worlds Raksura series, which is a bit bittersweet.  I’m glad that we get an ending to Moon’s story, but I’m going to miss this world.

A former friend has betrayed the Raksura and their groundling companions, and now the survivors must race across the Three Worlds to rescue their kidnapped family members. When Moon and Stone are sent ahead to scout, they quickly encounter an unexpected and potentially deadly ally, and decide to disobey the queens and continue the search alone. Following in a wind-ship, Jade and Malachite make an unlikely alliance of their own, until word reaches them that the Fell are massing for an attack on the Reaches, and that forces of the powerful Empire of Kish are turning against the Raksura and their groundling comrades.

But there may be no time to stage a rescue, as the kidnapped Raksura discover that their captors are heading toward a mysterious destination with a stolen magical artifact that will cause more devastation for the Reaches than anything the lethal Fell can imagine. To stop them, the Raksura will have to take the ultimate risk and follow them into forbidden territory.

The Harbors of the Sun, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, is the thrilling follow-up to The Edge of Worlds, and the conclusion of a new Three Worlds duology of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

Out now

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27422533Ilona Andrews’s WILDFIRE (paranormal romance): I don’t love this Hidden Legacy series as much as other people, but the books are fun reads, and I’m looking forward to this one.

Just when Nevada Baylor has finally come to accept the depths of her magical powers, she also realizes she’s fallen in love. Connor “Mad” Rogan is in many ways her equal when it comes to magic, but she’s completely out of her elements when it comes to her feelings for him. To make matters more complicated, an old flame comes back into Rogan’s life…

Rogan knows there’s nothing between him and his ex-fiance, Rynda Sherwood. But as Nevada begins to learn more about her past, her power, and her potential future, he knows she will be faced with choices she never dreamed of and the promise of a life spent without him.

As Nevada and Rogan race to discover the whereabouts of Rynda’s kidnapped husband and are forced to confront Nevada’s grandmother, who may or may not have evil motives, these two people must decide if they can trust in each other or allow everything to go up in smoke.

Out now

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34293313Rachel Caine’s ASH AND QUILL (YA fantasy): I have mixed feelings on this one.  I enjoyed the first couple of books (alt-world fantasy centred around libraries and books – what’s not to like?), and was looking forward to the conclusion of the trilogy.  Then it was announced that the series would be extended to five books, and  well, it kind of showed here.  Not enough story IMO, and drama for the sake of drama got a bit tiring after a while.  But I’m invested in the world and the characters, so I’ll still get the next book…

Held prisoner by the Burner forces in Philadelphia, Jess and his friends struggle to stay alive in the face of threats from both sides … but a stunning escape guarantees worse is coming. The Library now means to stop them by any means necessary, and they’ll have to make dangerous allies and difficult choices to stay alive.

They have only two choices: face the might of the Great Library head on, or be erased from life, and the history of the world, for ever.

Win or die.

Out now

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Maybes for the month:

Rachel Aaron’s A DRAGON OF A DIFFERENT COLOR (UF): I loved the first Heartstrikers book, but have stalled with the third book.  It’s sitting half-read on my Kindle, so I’m not sure when (or if) I’ll buy this fourth installment in the series.

Miranda Kenneally’s COMING UP FOR AIR (YA romance): A bit of a trend here.  Sport romances are my weakness and I loved the first few books in her Hundred Oaks series (also, her BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE was one of my favourite books of 2014), but I haven’t really connected with her more recent releases.  I’ll still get this at some point though.

Kalayna Price’s GRAVE RANSOM (UF): I don’t think this series has quite recovered from the long break between the third and fourth books yet.  I suspect I’d be a lot more invested in the characters if I started this series today.

Suzanne Brockman’s SOME KIND OF HERO (romantic suspense): Ah, I really don’t know here.  I loved her Troubleshooters books, but her recent spin-offs have not worked for me at all, and I regretted shelling out for hardcovers.  Now that she’s back to her Troubleshooters world, just maybe the old magic’s back?  I’ll probably wait for a price drop.

Sarina Bowen’s HELLO FOREVER (contemporary romance): Normally Sarina Bowen’s an autobuy for me, but the first book in this duology didn’t really work for me.  It was all a bit too neat and tidy, with the end conflict feeling rather manufactured.   I’ll hold fire for now, but will probably buy at some point.

Kylie Scott’s TRUST (NA romance): I’m feeling a bit burnt out on NA romance at the moment, but I do like Kylie Scott’s writing.

Books for February

It’s (barely) the second week of February, and I have done so much re-reading already.  I’m not a massive re-reader (I seem to have grown out of the habit over the years, as my teenage bookshelves are filled with much-loved and dog-eared paperbacks), but I made an exception for two sequels out this month.

26036399CS Pacat’s KINGS RISING (fantasy M/M romance): I don’t have words to describe how much I was looking forward to the final book in the Captive Prince trilogy.  And I don’t have words to describe how much I loved this book.

A lot of my spare time over the past week was spent re-reading the previous two books (possibly multiple re-reads *clears throat*) in advance of KINGS RISING’s release, and I’m still all about Damen and Laurent and Akielos and Vere right now.  I’ve labelled the subgenre as fantasy romance, but that bland label doesn’t even begin to hint at the political intrigue, the slow unexpected reveals, and the sheer levels of tension (both sexual and otherwise) in these books.  KINGS RISING is the perfect ending to one of my favourite trilogies ever, I think.

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity – can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

Out now

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Layout 1Lois McMaster Bujold’s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (SF): It’s a good thing the e-ARC for this was released back in November, or I’d have really struggled choosing the first February release to read this month.  Despite having the e-version, I’ve splashed out and ordered the signed hardback book as well, because, well, Bujold.

Note SPOILERS in blurb for previous book, which was published four years ago, so I’m guessing the statute of limitations has expired…

Three years after her famous husband’s death, Cordelia Vorkosigan, widowed Vicereine of Sergyar, stands ready to spin her life in a new direction. Oliver Jole, Admiral, Sergyar Fleet, finds himself caught up in her web of plans in ways he’d never imagined, bringing him to an unexpected crossroads in his life.

Meanwhile, Miles Vorkosigan, one of Emperor Gregor’s key investigators, this time dispatches himself on a mission of inquiry, into a mystery he never anticipated; his own mother.

Plans, wills, and expectations collide in this sparkling science-fiction social comedy, as the impact of galactic technology on the range of the possible changes all the old rules, and Miles learns that not only is the future not what he expects, neither is the past.

Out now

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10493755Andrea K Höst’s THE SLEEPING LIFE (fantasy): The reason for the other re-read I’ve done this month.  I am a huge fan of Höst’s writing (understatement alert), and having a new book of hers this month is such a treat.  So obviously, I had to re-read the first Eferum book, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS, in preparation for this release – that was so not a hardship, and I’m kind of tempted to re-read her whole backlist now. 2016 is shaping up to be the year of the re-read for me!

(Oh, and TSL was definitely worth the wait.  What I love about Höst’s books is that her stories always feel fresh and new, and TSL was no exception.  It was interesting to see the aftermath of the events in the first book (both personal and on a larger scale), I enjoyed spending more time with the protagonists in the first book (and meeting new and fascinating characters), and although SGM is a self-contained story, I loved how Höst took the remaining plot strands and spun them neatly into a follow-up.  Really, this was one of the best ways to spend a Sunday.)

Also, 50% off both Eferum books @ Smashwords until 14 February using the coupon codes here.

Fallon DeVries has a sister who lives only in his mind. Paying the price of magic gone wrong, Aurienne is trapped watching a world she cannot touch, only able to communicate with her brother while he sleeps.

And it’s slowly killing him.

Fallon and Auri’s best chance of untangling their lives is to win the help of a mage of unparalleled ability. But how can they ask for help when the warped spell prevents him from speaking?

Besides, Rennyn Claire – once the most powerful mage in the world – is a shadow of her former self: ill, injured and unlikely to recover unless she can hunt down the monster who once tried to make her his slave. But that Wicked Uncle is nowhere to be found, and other dangers, once slumbering dormant, are stirring…

Out now

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27069828Jen Frederick’s JOCKBLOCKED (NA romance): Despite my general lack of sportiness, I love reading sports romances – possibly because characters come to life for me when I can believe that they have passions and interests outside the actual relationship, if that makes sense, and having sports as a backdrop can do the trick.  This was the case with the first Frederick I read, so am looking forward to the second in the series even though I know nothing about American football.

She’s always played it safe…

College junior Lucy Washington abides by one rule—avoid risk at all costs. She’s cautious in every aspect of her life, from her health, to her mock trial team, to the boring guys she dates. When a brash, gorgeous jock walks into the campus coffeeshop and turns his flirt on, Lucy is stunned by the force of attraction. For the first time ever, she’s willing to step out of her comfort zone, but can she really trust the guy who’s determined to sweep her off her feet?

He’s always played around…

Entering his last year of college eligibility, linebacker Matthew “Matty” Iverson has the team captaincy in his sights. And it’s his for the taking, if he can convince his quarterback Ace Anderson to give up the starting position. Luckily, Matty already has an edge—the hottie he’s lusting over just happens to be Ace’s childhood best friend. Getting Lucy on his side and in his bed? Hell yeah. Matty is more than confident he can have both, but when he falls hard for Lucy, it’s time for a new game plan: convince the woman of his dreams that she’s not sleeping with the enemy.

Out Feb 11

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28101707KA Mitchell’s GETTING HIM BACK (NA M/M romance): Possibly KA Mitchell’s first NA?  Though her protagonists tend to skew on the younger side, IIRC.  I usually like her writing, so I’m definitely grabbing this one.  This may be on the short side for a novel though, possibly novella-length.

An unexpected fresh start leads to an unlikely-but-absolutely-perfect pairing in this male/male new-adult novel from bestselling gay romance author K.A. Mitchell

Ethan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but he’s not going to let that stop him from exploring all his new life has to offer. Sex-only hookups, his photography, new friends and a campus-wide game of zombies vs humans all help keep his mind off his broken heart and move him toward building a new, better life without his ex.

And then there’s Wyatt. Mysterious, grouchy—hot. And possibly not gay. But Ethan’s not going to let that stand in the way of figuring out what makes Wyatt tick. New college goal? Get Wyatt into bed and into Ethan’s life.

Step one: arrange a “tutoring” date. Step two: “accidentally” bump into Wyatt as often as possible. Step three: explore the sexy body under that ever-present hoodie. And when their friendship deepens into something neither of them expect, convince Wyatt he’s not just a pity fling or a one-time hookup, but that Ethan is in it for the long haul.

Out Feb 15

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15816410Kalayna Price’s GRAVE VISIONS (UF): The last book in the Alex Craft series came out in 2012, so “much-anticipated” is definitely the right word for this fourth installment.  I was enjoying this UF series a lot, so I’m glad to see GRAVE VISIONS finally make it to print.

Grave Visions by Kalayna Price is the much-anticipated fourth installment in the kick-ass urban fantasy series about Alex Craft, a grave witch who can communicate with the dead.

If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She’s a Grave Witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers, who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But now she’s the one fighting to keep her own secret. She’s not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that has surfaced in several of the spaces between the human and fae worlds.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she’s dragged so deep she loses her freedom.

Out Feb 25 in the UK (out now in the US, I believe)

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And then my maybe (or almost definitely) books – quite a few this month:

  • Kirsty Eagar’s SUMMER SKIN (NA): Only a maybe because of the difficulty in getting Aussie books over here. I really enjoyed her RAW BLUE when I read it back in 2011; SUMMER SKIN sounds just as good.
  • Jacey Bedford’s WINTERWOOD (fantasy): I’ve not read any of Jacey Bedford’s books before (she’s written a couple of SFs, which I’ve been meaning to pick up at some point), but this historical fantasy with a cross-dressing heroine sounds rather fun.
  • Megan Erikson and Santino Hassell’s STRONG SIGNAL (M/M contemporary romance): I’ve heard nothing but good things about Hassell’s writing, and have liked the Erikson NA books that I’ve read.
  • Brandon Sanderson’s CALAMITY (YA fantasy): Sanderson’s YA books are always good for a couple of hours’ entertainment, though I’ll probably get this from the library as I’ve liked but not loved the previous books in this series.
  • Shannon Stacey’s FULLY IGNITED (contemporary romance): I’ve enjoyed the previous books in Stacey’s Boston firefighters series, so I’ll end up buying this at some point.  And I’ve just realised this is Scott’s story, which means “at some point” is sooner rather than later…
  • JL Merrow’s LOVERS LEAP (M/M contemporary romance): Merrow’s books are always so British in feel and have a good dollop of humour to go with the story.  I’m only hesitating over this one as it’s being published by Riptide Publishing, and their prices tend to be higher than other publishers.
  • Rosie Claverton’s CAPTCHA THIEF (mystery): Claverton appears to have had a switch of publishers for this one (the previous two books were published by Carina Press).  I need to finish the second book, but will be getting this at some point.

Books for December

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

They’re from two different worlds.

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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Other books I want to get:

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

Books for August

So, dragging myself away from the Olympics (though I’m keeping half an eye on the rhythmic gymnastics – there are some jaw-dropping routines), here are the August new releases that I plan to get.

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JC Daniel‘s BLADE SONG (urban fantasy): It’s not often I’m tempted by an urban fantasy debut.  But JC Daniel is actually Shiloh Walker using a pseudonym and while I’ve never read any of her books before, she generally gets good reviews around the internets.  So I was curious, read the excerpt, and the book’s now sitting on my Kindle.

Blurb:

Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.

So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.

Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead.

If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee…

Out now (excerpt)

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Sherwood Smith‘s THE SPY PRINCESS (children’s fantasy): A new Sherwood Smith!  One for younger readers, but that rarely stops me.  From a quick glance through the excerpt, this seems to be set in her main (only?) fantasy universe.

Blurb:

When twelve-year-old Lady Lilah decides to disguise herself and sneak out of the palace one night, she has more of an adventure than she expected–for she learns very quickly that the country is on the edge of revolution. When she sneaks back in, she learns something even more surprising: her older brother Peitar is one of the forces behind it all. The revolution happens before all of his plans are in place, and brings unexpected chaos and violence. Lilah and her friends, leaving their old lives behind, are determined to help however they can. But what can four kids do? Become spies, of course!

Out now (excerpt)

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KA Mitchell‘s BUT MY BOYFRIEND IS (m/m romance): KA Mitchell is one of my autobuy authors, so while I’m hoping this isn’t a GFY plot (not one of my favourite tropes), I’m definitely getting this.

Blurb:

The most dangerous lies are the ones you tell yourself.

Dylan Williams is not gay. Sometimes he gets off with other guys, but so what? He plans to get married someday—really married, like with a wife and kids. And he’s determined that his future family’s life will be the normal one he and his brothers never had.

Mike Aurietta is gay, but his job keeps him in the closet. He doesn’t usually risk frequenting infamous cruising places like Webber Park. But when he’s cutting through one night, he finds himself defending a victim from gay bashers.

It’s all Dylan can do to process the shock that anyone would want to hurt his quiet twin brother. At first he needs Mike’s eyewitness report to satisfy the gut-wrenching desire for revenge. Then he finds himself needing Mike’s solid, comforting presence…and the heat that unexpectedly flares between them.

In the aftermath, Mike quickly learns not to expect too much from his conflicted lover. Though he never thought his good deed would come back to bite him in the ass. Or that hanging on to the possibility of love could force too many secrets out of the closet—and cost them both everything.

Warning: Contains more denial than you can float a barge on, bigger issues than a special end-of-the-year compilation of your favorite magazine, and better sex than most people deserve. After all, it takes place in Texas.

Out August 21 (excerpt)

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Eloisa JamesTHE UGLY DUCHESS (historical romance): Speaking of autobuy authors, I’m all excited about this one.  Yes, fairytale retellings are not something I rush out to get, but Eloisa James spins a magical love story.

Blurb:

How can she dare to imagine he loves her…when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess ?

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke’s passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime…until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding; it’s scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that for a man with the soul of a pirate, All’s Fair in Love—or War.

Out 28 August (excerpt)

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UNDER MY HAT: TALES OF THE CAULDRON edited by Jonathan Strahan (YA fantasy): And I’m also excited about this anthology.  I’m not entirely sure that it’s all new stories (in fact, I’m pretty sure I recognise some of the titles in this one) [ETA: They’re all looking like brand-new stories, so I take that back] but it’s a great collection of YA fantasy authors.

Blurb:

A stellar cast of acclaimed fantasy writers weave spellbinding tales that bring the world of witches to life. Boasting over 70 awards between them, including a Newbery Medal, five Hugo Awards and a Carnegie Medal, authors including Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Holly Black delve into the realms of magic to explore all things witchy… From familiars that talk, to covens that offer dark secrets to explore, these are tales to tickle the hair on the back of your neck and send shivers down your spine.

Introduction: Looking Under the Hat”, Jonathan Strahan
“Stray Magic”, Diana Peterfreund
“Payment Due”, Frances Hardinge
“A Handful of Ashes”, Garth Nix
“Little Gods”, Holly Black
“Barrio Girls”, Charles de Lint
“Felidis”, Tanith Lee
“Witch Work”, Neil Gaiman (poem)
“The Education of a Witch”, Ellen Klages
“The Threefold World”, Ellen Kushner
“The Witch in the Wood”, Delia Sherman
“Which Witch”, Patricia A. McKillip
“The Carved Forest”, Tim Pratt
“Burning Castles”, M. Rickert
“The Stone Witch”, Isobelle Carmody
“Andersen’s Witch”, Jane Yolen
“B Is for Bigfoot”, Jim Butcher
“Great-Grandmother in the Cellar”, Peter S. Beagle
“Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow”, Margo Lanagan

Out August 28 (though sadly October 4 in the UK)

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Kalayna Price‘s THIRD BLOOD (urban fantasy): I am rapidly becoming a bit of a Kalayna Price fangirl.  I think her other series (the Alex Craft grave witch books) is marginally better, but these Haven books are addictive fun too.

Blurb (WARNING: spoilers for first two books):

Going home after five years is difficult. It’s harder still if you’ve changed species in the interim.

Kita Nekai, once the smallest shifter in Firth but now the newest vampire in the city of Haven, has no intention of returning home or informing her father and clan what she’s become. Not that she has a choice. When the mage who holds her death certificate in his hands demands Kita return to Firth as his errand runner, she has to comply. Of course, there is no leaving her sire, Nathanial, behind. Which means introducing daddy dearest to the man—well, vampire—she may be falling for and confessing that she’s lost the ability to shift. Talk about awkward.

Her homecoming goes from bad to worse when an attempt is made on her life, and Kita finds herself facing an unknown threat in a hostile world she never fit into in the first place. Can she survive long enough to complete the judge’s task, stand trial before the elders for the rogues she created while on the run, and help defend her father’s territory from an encroaching band of misfit shifters? Or is this cat down to her last life?

Out this month, but unfortunately no firm release date

Books for July

It feels as though the first half of 2012 has just raced past.  Seriously.  But on the other hand, July releases – yay!  And gosh, these are good ones.

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Kalayna Price‘s GRAVE MEMORY (urban fantasy): This is the third book  in the Alex Craft books, and I’m hoping it’ll be just as good as the previous ones.  While we’re on the subject of Kalayna Price, I finally picked up her other series after resisting for a very long time (I’ve been feeling burnt out on shapeshifters and vampires) and well, I’m kinda hooked.  On paper, the Haven books sound like a complete mishmash of everything popular in UF – apart from the previously-mentioned shapeshifters and vampires, you also have mages and demons, portals, other worlds etc etc – but she makes it work.  It’s addictive.  Sorry.

Anyway, back to GRAVE MEMORY, here’s the back cover blurb:

When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen…

As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.

But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…

Out now (book page)

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Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan‘s TEAM HUMAN (YA urban fantasy): It’s not exactly a secret that I’m a massive fan of SRB’s books – her writing is laugh-out-loud funny (as is her blog), her characters have heart, and she just tells plain good stories.  So it’s a given that I’m getting her collaboration with Justine Larbalestier, and what promises to be a unique take on vampires in the YA genre.

Blurb:

Just because Mel lives in New Whitby, a city founded by vampires, doesn’t mean she knows any of the blood-drinking undead personally. They stay in their part of town; she says in hers. Until the day a vampire shows up at her high school. Worse yet, her best friend, Cathy, seems to be falling in love with him. It’s up to Mel to save Cathy from a mistake she might regret for all eternity.

On top of trying to help Cathy (whether she wants it or not), Mel is investigating a mysterious disappearance for another friend and discovering the attractions of a certain vampire wannabe. Combine all this with a cranky vampire cop, a number of unlikely romantic entanglements, and the occasional zombie, and soon Mel is hip-deep in an adventure that is equal parts hilarious and touching.

Acclaimed authors Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan team up to create a witty and poignant story of cool vampires, warm friendships, and the changes that test the bonds of love.

Out now (excerpt)

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Kelley Armstrong‘s THIRTEEN (urban fantasy): The FINAL book in her Women of the Otherworld trilogy.  Yes, that deserves capitals.  This was one of the very first UF series I started reading way back then.  This was when UF had yet to become mainstream – heck, I’m not sure if the term “urban fantasy” had yet been coined – and way before I started blogging.  I haven’t loved all the books in the series, but quite a few have made it onto my keeper shelf.  However, I do have a slight peeve with this release – only the hardcover has a bonus story, which means I’ll be waiting for my library reservation to come in.

Blurb:

A war is brewing—the first battle has been waged and Savannah Levine is left standing, albeit battered and bruised. She has rescued her half brother from supernatural medical testing, but he’s fighting to stay alive. The Supernatural Liberation Movement took him hostage, and they have a maniacal plan to expose the supernatural world to the unknowing.

Savannah has called upon her inner energy to summon spells with frightening strength, a strength she never knew she had, as she fights to keep her world from shattering. But it’s more than a matter of supernaturals against one another—both heaven and hell have entered the war; hellhounds, genetically modified werewolves, and all forces of good and evil have joined the fray.

Uniting Savannah with Adam, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and other lost-but-not-forgotten characters in one epic battle, Thirteen is a grand, crowd-pleasing closer for Armstrong’s legions of fans.

Out July 24 (book page)

Ilona AndrewsGUNMETAL MAGIC (urban fantasy): I’ve realised it’s urban fantasy all the way for me this month.  It’s obviously one of those months.  So this isn’t quite a Kate & Curran book, but let’s face it – Andrea and Raphael are almost quite as fascinating.  Perhaps even slightly more fascinating, as they’re both grappling with that unresolved sexual tension thing.  I’m looking forward to reading their story.

Blurb:

Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea’s whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels.

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea’s former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate … and must work with Raphael. As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world…

Out July 31 (excerpt)

Slightly Longer Thoughts

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

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

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

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

My annual Dresden fix.

Books for July

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

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

Out now (excerpt)

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

Out now

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

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

Blurb:

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

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

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

Out July 29 (excerpt)