Weekend Links

31944679A random collection of links for your weekend reading:

Lady Business interviews Kate Elliott.  It’s a nice in-depth interview.  I am slowly making my way through Kate Elliott’s backlist, but that may take a few more years.

Sarah Rees Brennan talks about the changes she made when revising her TURN OF THE STORY serial to become IN OTHER LANDS.  Which, by the way, is very definitely one of my favourite books of 2017, so much so that I’m seriously considering shelling out for a hardcover version to grace my shelves.

I re-read Mary Stewart’s THE IVY TREE earlier this year (I think, the months have flown past) and re-confirmed its place as one of my favourite Stewarts.  This was a lovely review of the book.

Non book-related, but I found this fascinating: Anne Helen Peterson wrote about how she goes about writing celebrity profiles.  And here’s the resulting Charlize Theron profile, if you’re interested.

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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.

Summer Check-in

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

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

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

Links of interest:

 

Books for August

I think I’ve made peace with the fact that this blog goes on semi-hiatus during the summer months.  Right now, I’m spending too much time watching the Olympics, especially considering the evening sessions start at 2am here.

But I’m still reading.  Kind of.  I had a quick look at the July new releases I listed in my last blog post (talk about infrequent posting), and am rather stupidly pleased that I’ve read all of them!  All were decent reads, though none outstanding.

Of the lot, I probably enjoyed ALLIANCE OF EQUALS best, but I’m very much not a fan of one of the authors telling reviewers not to say “…don’t start [with this book]…” in their reviews.  Partly because authors telling reviewers what to say/not to say tends to rub me the wrong way generally, but also I genuinely think starting with the wrong book can put someone off an author/series for good.  For this particular book, I do believe the emotional payoff is diluted if you’re brand-new to the universe and the new reader may think there’s too many POV changes and not much story, but what the heck, what do I know – start wherever you like.

Err… rant over.  Maybe I should blog more, I’ve obviously wanted to get that off my chest for a while.  Moving on, here are the books I’m planning on getting this month (spoiler: August is a great month for new releases).

lgcover.9781460397459KA Mitchell’s BOYFRIEND MATERIAL (NA M/M romance): I’m a long-time fan of KA Mitchell’s writing and I enjoyed the first in this series, which was also her NA debut.  College setting as bonus!

Physically, it’s easy for Ethan and Wyatt to be together—well, if “easy” means stolen moments when Ethan’s roommate is away, or sneaking away to a hidden nook in the library. Privacy is hard to come by in a dorm, but finding ways to connect is half the fun.

Emotionally, though, that’s a different story. Wyatt isn’t sure if a relationship is something he can make last—years of having to hide his emotions have left him with a shaky sense of self-confidence. And when it’s time to head home for the holidays, their steamy on-campus connection may not translate so well to the real world…

Out now

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27969076Julie Cross and Mark Perini’s YOU BEFORE ANYONE ELSE (YA romance): I’ve really enjoyed Julie Cross’s YA romances (her LETTERS TO NOWHERE was one of my all-time favourites, and a strong recommend if you’re looking for a sports-themed read for the Olympics), but I was not a fan of her last collaboration with Mark Perini. So basically, a long-winded way of saying I’m going to give this a go at some point.

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her “good girl” persona, so she’ll try Eddie on for size.

New York City model Finley is fed up with hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the “good girl” stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He’s shallow, predictable…and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie’s bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder.

Out now

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26225506Foz Meadows’ AN ACCIDENT OF STARS (fantasy): I’ve not read any of her fiction before (she started as a blogger, IIRC), but there are some very good reviews floating around for this portal fantasy.  Plus Kate Elliott and Martha Wells blurbs – I’m sold.

When Saffron Coulter stumbles through a hole in reality, she finds herself trapped in Kena, a magical realm on the brink of civil war.

There, her fate becomes intertwined with that of three very different women: Zech, the fast-thinking acolyte of a cunning, powerful exile; Viya, the spoiled, runaway consort of the empire-building ruler, Vex Leoden; and Gwen, an Earth-born worldwalker whose greatest regret is putting Leoden on the throne. But Leoden has allies, too, chief among them the Vex’Mara Kadeja, a dangerous ex-priestess who shares his dreams of conquest.

Pursued by Leoden and aided by the Shavaktiin, a secretive order of storytellers and mystics, the rebels flee to Veksh, a neighboring matriarchy ruled by the fearsome Council of Queens. Saffron is out of her world and out of her depth, but the further she travels, the more she finds herself bound to her friends with ties of blood and magic.

Can one girl – an accidental worldwalker – really be the key to saving Kena? Or will she just die trying?

Out now

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28438133Kelley Armstrong’s BETRAYALS (UF): This has been an uneven series for me – liked the first two, but thought the last book was a bit of a mess.  I’m still continuing with the series though.

Olivia Jones knows a lot about betrayal – most of her life has been a lie. On the eve of her wedding, she discovered she was adopted – and that her biological parents were convicted serial killers.

Liv has found sanctuary in her new home of Cainsville, but she’s learned not to trust the town’s mysterious elders. So when her biker boyfriend Ricky Gallagher is linked to a series of murders, she’s reluctant to ask for their help. Meanwhile things have grown increasingly complicated with Gabriel Walsh, her boss and sometime friend. The fact that their fraught relationship is connected to an ancient myth in which they were passionate lovers doesn’t help matters, either…

As Liv fights to clear Ricky’s name, she discovers that her own life is at serious risk. Soon Ricky, Liv and Gabriel are tangled in a web of a betrayals. In order to survive, they will have to trust one another. But given their dark history, is that even possible? Or wise…?

Out now

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26116636Rachel Aaron’s NO GOOD DRAGON GOES UNPUNISHED (UF): Another series where I really liked the first book, but was a bit underwhelmed with the second (am I being a bit grumpy today?).  Having said that, this is my current book on my Kindle.

When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

Out now

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26853604Kate Elliott’s POISONED BLADE (YA fantasy): Speaking of Kate Elliott!  I’ve pre-ordered this one.  I won the first book in an author giveaway last year, and liked it a whole lot.

Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes’s traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…She must become a warrior.

Out Aug 16

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31288118Nalini Singh’s WILD EMBRACE (paranormal romance): The other book I’ve got on the go (the days when I only read one book at a time is long gone…) is Nalini Singh’s latest release ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR – I’ve only just started, so reserving judgement, but she wasn’t kidding when she described it as an ensemble book, was she?  Anyway, a few more novellas in the Psy-Changeling world here.

The ‘alpha author of paranormal romance’* presents a stunningly sensual collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas, in which taboos are broken, boundaries are crossed, and instincts prove irresistible . . .

Echo of Silence
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander . . .

Dorian
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration – until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play . . .

Partners in Persuasion
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him . . .

Flirtation of Fate
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries . . .

Out Aug 23

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30175057Alexis Hall’s LOOKING FOR GROUP (M/M contemporary romance): Alexis Hall has such a talent for writing.  Each of his books have had unique voices – I’m not a gamer, but I’m totally getting this one.

So, yeah, I play Heroes of Legend, y’know, the MMO. I’m not like obsessed or addicted or anything. It’s just a game. Anyway, there was this girl in my guild who I really liked because she was funny and nerdy and a great healer. Of course, my mates thought it was hilarious I was into someone I’d met online. And they thought it was even more hilarious when she turned out to be a boy IRL. But the joke’s on them because I still really like him.

And now that we’re together, it’s going pretty well. Except sometimes I think Kit—that’s his name, sorry I didn’t mention that—spends way too much time in HoL. I know he has friends in the guild, but he has me now, and my friends, and everyone knows people you meet online aren’t real. I mean. Not Kit. Kit’s real. Obviously.

Oh, I’m Drew, by the way. This is sort of my story. About how I messed up some stuff and figured out some stuff. And fell in love and stuff.

Out Aug 29

25558608Sabaa Tahir’s A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT (YA fantasy): I thought the buzz around her debut was well-deserved (though could have done without the love triangle/rectangle) and this is very much on my to-buy list.

A Torch Against the Night takes readers into the heart of the Empire as Laia and Elias fight their way north to liberate Laia’s brother from the horrors of Kauf Prison. Hunted by Empire soldiers, manipulated by the Commandant, and haunted by their pasts, Laia and Elias must outfox their enemies and confront the treacherousness of their own hearts.

In the city of Serra, Helene Aquilla finds herself bound to the will of the Empire’s twisted new leader, Marcus. When her loyalty is questioned, Helene finds herself taking on a mission to prove herself—a mission that might destroy her, instead.

Out Aug 30

2015: My Favourite Books

I was going to start off by saying I felt that I had read fewer books over 2015 that had really captured my imagination compared to previous years. These are the books where I find it hard to let go of the characters and their world after the last page, and they’re the ones that end up on my annual favourites list.

Then I looked at my previous years’ summaries (this is obviously why I do them), and in 2013, I “only” had seven on my list.  So having eight* in 2015 hasn’t been that bad considering.

*I also have 30 books which would occupy the Honourable Mentions spots (if I had them!) so I’m not feeling that bad.

My Very Favourite Books Read During 2015 (in random-ish order)

Kate Sherwood‘s MARK OF CAIN (M/M contemporary romance): This one narrowly missed my cutoff for 2014 favourites – I think it was one of the first books I read in 2015.  Sherwood made a really unlikely pairing (Mark’s a gay priest, Lucas’s an ex-con who was jailed for killing Mark’s brother) more than work for me.  (Also, this one prompted a rather large glom of Sherwood’s backlist.)

Naomi Novik‘s UPROOTED (fantasy): This very lovely fantasy is making the rounds of the Best Of lists, and it’s made mine too. UPROOTED was an unexpected surprise from the author of the very different Temeraire books, and earned a place on my keeper shelf.

Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy‘s HIM (M/M NA romance): I already knew I loved Sarina Bowen’s writing; I discovered I loved Elle Kennedy’s writing as well this year.  And this collaboration more than lived up to its promise.  It was funny, sexy, and romantic (plus sports romance – always a bonus!).  I’m thrilled there will be a sequel in 2016.

KJ CharlesA FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE and A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR (M/M historical romance): KJ Charles’ writing is always pitch-perfect, regardless of genre.  I fell hard for the first two installments of her Regency trilogy – both packed full of political intrigue and tension – and am eagerly awaiting the third.

Kate Elliott‘s COLD STEEL (fantasy): I was not convinced by the first book in this trilogy at all. But I kept reading and was amply rewarded by the final book.  COLD STEEL brought the entire story together – I was totally engrossed in the rich fantasy world dreamt up by Elliott, and rooting for Cat and Vai (and Bee!) all the way.

Lois McMaster Bujold‘s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (SF): Slightly cheating here as this is technically a 2016 release, but I bought the e-ARC direct from Baen because well, a new Vorkosigan.  I don’t know if it’s my favourite in the series (MEMORY probably still holds that spot), but because of the significance of this book to the series arc as a whole, it could not not be on this list.

Lynn Kurland‘s PRINCESS OF THE SWORD (fantasy romance): I finally got around to starting Lynn Kurland’s much-loved Nine Kingdoms series this year, and well, why did I wait so long?  PRINCESS wraps up the first trilogy in the series – I adored the humour and the chemistry between the two leads in these books, and spent quite a few late nights reading just one more page.

Finally, not on this list because they’re technically re-reads, but ahead of Manna Francis‘s new Administration 2015 release, I splashed out and bought the series as ebooks (most of the stories are also available for free online). They’re probably not stories for the super-squeamish as sex and violence abound in this SF dystopian series, but the story, the character arcs, and yes, the romance kept me engrossed and living in Toreth and Warrick’s world for a good few weeks.  There are hints of another sequel, and I cannot wait.

Books for November

There are so many new releases in November that I want to read… and I’ve been reading quite a few of them, hence the radio silence.  I also caved and bought the eARC of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (there’s a really interesting (and spoilerific) discussion on Goodreads, with LMB participating) – my first eARC purchase and I have no regrets.  I figured that if I’d waited until the official February release, I would have been so excited about the book that there was no way GJRQ could have lived up to my expectations… you can see how I talked myself into buying the early version, right?  It’s fairly clean, if that helps, and by that, I mean I’ve read finished books with many more typos.

But enough about 2016 books and back to November new releases – this is a long one (with a couple of mini-reviews), so brace yourself.

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23453463Eileen WilksMIND MAGIC (urban fantasy): It’s hard to believe this is the 12th(!) book in the Lupi series.  And unlike some series which are in severe need of winding up, this series is still delivering.  I finished MIND MAGIC in one night, and really enjoyed it.  The start was a bit weak (with a new character’s POV taking up the first couple of chapters), but once Lily and Rule made an appearance, I was hooked.  It’s always fun to explore more of Wilks’ Lupi world, and while I’d loved to have seen more of the usual gang, Lily pretty much carried the book by herself.  As she tends to do.  Probably not one for new readers, but if you’re a long-time Lily and Rule fan, I suspect you’d be pleased.

FBI agent Lily Yu’s mind is a dangerous place to be in the latest Novel of the Lupi…

Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve—until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status—despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds–because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Out now

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18627947Karen Chance‘s REAP THE WIND (urban fantasy): Speaking of long-running UF series, this is “only” Karen Chance’s seventh Cassie Palmer book, but it feels like it should be a lot longer because of the wait between books.  It’s been two years since the last book, and I was a bit nervous starting RtW, because Chance does love her complicated plots combined with superfastnonstopaction.  And have I said it’s been two years?

I needn’t have worried though, because I quickly sank back into Cassie’s world and by the second chapter, I had remembered how much I love the way Chance mixes up time-travelling seers, vampires, and mages to give good story.  She still packs a lot of action into relatively few pages, but the plot held together just fine (not to mention that I found myself giggling madly at times – some lovely exchanges here!).  Best of all though, was the fact that Cassie finally gains some agency in this book and starts to take control of her life – I’m really looking forward to the next book now.

You’d think that being Chief Seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in and out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the time-line dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two…

Out now

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20980680Kate Elliott‘s BLACK WOLVES (fantasy): After reading Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES and finishing her Spiritwalker books in the space of a couple of weeks, I was looking forward to her new book.  Spoiler: it didn’t disappoint.

BLACK WOLVES felt like a modern spin on epic fantasy, if that makes sense – still very recognisably epic fantasy, but with refreshingly different takes on the more traditional fantasy tropes.  I loved her variety of protagonists (including two older POV characters, one male and one female), though the multiple POVs did make me feel slightly distanced from the characters.  I also liked how different cultures and backgrounds were deftly interwoven into the story, making the world feel like a living, breathing one.  There were some interesting writing choices, including the usage of present tense for flashbacks and a time-jump about a quarter(?) of the way through the book – all of these worked for me, and I’m looking forward to the next book.

What I’ve just found out is that BLACK WOLVES is set in the same world as her Crossroads trilogy, but several decades on.  Which is interesting in itself, but should I have read the Crossroads books first???  I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything, but I wonder if I’d have gotten more out of the story had I known any previous history…

For readers of Brent Weeks and fans of Netflix’s Marco Polo comes a rich and inspired fantasy tale of warriors and nobles who must take the most desperate gamble of all: awaken allies more destructive than the hated king they hope to overthrow. Kate Elliott’s new trilogy is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father’s fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix’s Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

Out now

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22567177Juliet Marillier‘s TOWER OF THORNS (fantasy): Onto the books I haven’t yet read… a new Marillier is always a cause for celebration, and we return to her Blackthorn & Grim world here.  While it’s not exactly Sevenwaters (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), I still really enjoyed the first book in this series.

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier’s “lavishly detailed”* Blackthorn & Grim series continues as a mysterious creature holds an enchanted and imperiled ancient Ireland in thrall.

Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

Out now

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21528313Sharon Shinn‘s JEWELED FIRE (fantasy): While I was a bit lukewarm about the second instalment in this series, I have a soft spot for this world. And I do love Shinn’s writing in general.

The national bestselling author of Troubled Waters and Royal Airs returns to her Elemental Blessings series with the story of a young princess who will need more than blessings to survive in a kingdom where everyone will do whatever it takes to claim the throne…

As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue—until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country.

After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress’s three nephews. But Corene is not the only foreign princess in search of a crown.

Unaccustomed to being anyone’s friend, Corene is surprised to find companionship among her fellow competitors. But behind Malinqua’s beautiful facade lie many secrets.

The visiting princesses are more hostages than guests. And as the deadly nature of the court is revealed, Corene must rely on both her new allies and Foley’s unwavering protection—for the game she has entered is far more perilous than she ever imagined…

Out now

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27271538HOW WE BEGAN (LGBT romance anthology): Yes, proceeds go to a good cause, but also contributors include Alexis Hall (he has a knack of bringing contemporary romance to life) and Amy Jo Cousins (I’ve really enjoyed her Bend or Break NA romance books).

How does love begin?

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

Out Nov 9

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19504964Ilona AndrewsSWEEP IN PEACE (urban fantasy): I’ve not read the free online serialised version, so this will be an all-new Ilona Andrews book for me. I found the first Innkeepers book good fun, so am looking forward to this.

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Out Nov 13

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25719256Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (NA M/M romance): I think this may be Josh Lanyon’s first NA romance?  Looks promising, and I love the cover that Carina Press produced.

In this fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper from multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon, twentysomething Jefferson Blythe gets lost, gets found, falls in love and comes out…all in the span of one wild summer

After his first relationship goes disastrously awry, Jeff Blythe uses his savings to tour Europe—the old-fashioned way. Armed with his grandfather’s 1960 copy of Esquire’s Europe in Style, Jeff sets off looking for adventure but finds much, much more than he bargained for…

In London, dodging questions from shady criminals about a mysterious package he most certainly does not have is simple. Losing the gunmen who are convinced he’s someone else is not. And when George, an old friend, offers him help—and a place to stay, and perhaps something more—things become complicated.

Is George really who he seems? And is Jeff finally ready to act on his attraction?

From Paris to Rome and back again, Jeff and George fall for each other, hard, while quite literally running for their lives. But trusting George at his word may leave Jeff vulnerable—in more ways than one.

Out Nov 16

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26400106Amy Jo CousinsREAL WORLD (M/M romance): I mentioned Amy Jo Cousins’ Bend or Break series above, and this is the latest instalment.  I requested an ARC of this because I liked the first few books so much, and this was a really sweet wrap-up to Tom/Reese’s story (which started in OFF CAMPUS).

Set several years later, while the initial conflict felt slightly forced (or perhaps I just wanted to thump Tom’s head for not learning from his previous mistakes), REAL WORLD ended up being a steamy read that gave me the warm fuzzies at the same time, if that’s something that’s possible.  It was lovely to see old friends pop up – I’m not sure if REAL WORLD isthe last book in this series, but if it is, it’s a fitting bookend to a strong NA series.

Also, what I love about Cousins’ Bend or Break books (or actually, her writing in general) is the way she deals with social issues – they’re front and centre, but the “message”, if that’s what it’s called, doesn’t detract from the story-telling nor the romance at all.  If anything, the current-day issues she highlights make her stories feel more real with added depth.

When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.

Out Nov 17

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25704796Joanna ChambersUNNATURAL (historical M/M romance): Joanna Chambers does historical romance well, and this one promises much. I think I read an excerpt on her website and added UNNATURAL to my must-get list immediately.

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Out Nov 24

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And that’s not quite all (I know).  The other November new releases that are maybes for me this month:

  • Astrid Amara‘s CRASH PLUS EXPENSES (M/M romance): I like her writing, not so sure about the premise of this one.
  • Richelle Mead‘s SOUNDLESS (YA fantasy): Mead’s been a bit hit-or-miss for me lately, and while I love(!) the cover of SOUNDLESS, I’m nervous this is going to be on the wrong side of the appropriation line?  I’m waiting on reviews before deciding.
  • Carla Kelly‘s DOING NO HARM (historical romance): I will cave and buy this sooner or later.
  • Janet Evanovich‘s TRICKY TWENTY-TWO (mystery): So, remember when I said some series should be brought to an end?  I err… will still likely request this from the library.
  • Sally Andrew‘s RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER (mystery): No idea what prompted me to add this to my to-read shelf (anyone review it recently?), but it sounds interesting.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal‘s WORD PUPPETS (fantasy): A collection of short stories (with gorgeous cover) – I really liked her “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” (free on tor.com), so would love to read more of her shorts.

Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES

I’m a late starter when it comes to Kate Elliott’s writing.  She’s a fairly prolific author, but I somehow never got around to reading her works when I was in my teenage read-all-the-fantasy stage.  I finally read JARAN back in 2013 (can’t remember why now, though very likely it was this conversation between Kerry and Estara), and promptly fell for Tess’s story – old-school SF/F it may have been, but the fascinating matriachal society of Rhui combined with the romance of Tess/Ilya’s relationship made JARAN one of my favourite reads of 2013. I then made my way through the rest of the Jaran books, her Highroad trilogy, and was starting on her Spiritwalker books… and then I must have gotten distracted because COLD MAGIC is still mostly unread on my Kindle (not for long, though – more on this in a bit).

18068907So, a long-winded way of saying although I’m relatively new to Kate Elliott’s works, I’m doing my best to make up for it!  Not easy when she’s continuing to release more books – COURT OF FIVES, her debut YA fantasy, came out a couple of months ago, and she has another new book coming out in November.

I won COURT OF FIVES in a author giveaway a month or so ago (kind of still pinching myself, because I never win anything and then to win a book which was not out in the UK at that point of time – yeah, happy dance).

On the Fives court, everyone is equal.

And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

IIRC, COURT OF FIVES was marketed as “Little Women meets Game of Thrones” – while this probably was a great PR tagline, I have to say that any comparison is superficial at best (the Little Women comparison probably being strongest in the opening scene).  If anything, it was Sharon Shinn that sprung to my mind as I was reading COURT OF FIVES.  It took me a while to pin down why, but I think it’s partly to do with the thoughtful way that race is brought to the table (as in Shinn’s HEART OF GOLD specifically, with similar themes in some of her YAs as well).  Another loose connection is the Fives game, which somehow was reminiscent of Shinn’s worldbuilding in the Elemental Blessings series.  They’re not the same at all, mind (some people may say not at all!), but the skill challenges and obstacles in the Fives courts reminded me of the way Shinn constructed her world around the elemental blessings.

Like most of her other books, Elliott drops the reader into this new world with little information, and I had to do some work to figure out how the pieces all fit together, and especially just how much Jes and her interracial family stand out in the very traditional Patreon society.  It was a slightly slow start, but when Jes stops reacting and starts doing, when she gains agency, and when the action ramps up – that’s when I became totally absorbed in her world.

The story was familiar, yet different enough for me to feel unsure of where Jes would end up.  Elliott is one of those writers who adds depth to tropes that could easily feel a bit too worn out in other hands.  And the book did finish with a bang – I liked that there was no easy solution, because moral dilemmas aren’t usually clear-cut, and family ties and loyalties can be complicated.  I probably could have done without the hints of romance… though I’m thinking that this may not necessarily go where it seems to be going in future books.

Because yes, I’m totally up for the next book.

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Also – slight digression, but Kate Elliott has referenced how writing a YA was different to writing an “adult” fantasy.  Having now restarted the aforementioned COLD MAGIC, which has a protagonist in her early 20s (I think!) but was not written as YA, I can tell there’s a difference between COLD MAGIC and COURT OF FIVES.  Not one that I can pinpoint easily – I hesitate to say simplified because that’s not the right word and implies YA needs to be dumbed-down, but they’re certainly different.

I ended up doing a quick search to see if Elliott had talked about this in more depth and came up trumps – she did an interview @ The Book Wars where she talks about the very thing: more immediate pacing and more focused world-building appear to be the elements she focused on for YA (I paraphrase, probably not very well).  It makes sense, and I certainly found her Spiritwalker trilogy harder to get into at the beginning (it paid off though!).

Books for August

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out Aug 11

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

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

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

Out Aug 11

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

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

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

Out Aug 18

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

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

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

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

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

Out Aug 20

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

TRUST NO ONE

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

RISK EVERYTHING

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

FACE THE TRUTH

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

Out Aug 20

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

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

Out Aug 25

A Collection of Links

I’m not quite sure how we’re in the last week of February – just where has the month gone?  I had a quick glance at my reading log for the month and it has a grand total of four books on it, with half of those (i.e. two) read this weekend (Brandon Sanderson‘s FIREFIGHT and KJ CharlesJACKDAW, if you’re curious).

It’s just been a really hectic month, so let’s wrap up February with links, shall we?

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I always find Rachel Aaron/Bach‘s posts about the writing industry interesting – she compares the promotional benefits of Bookbub v. Amazon’s Kindle Big Deal in this one.  I subscribe to Bookbub and occasionally click through to purchase a cheap-ish book or get a free one, so I guess it works.  But I tend to see a lot of the Bookbub promos (or those that I’m interested in, anyway) also mentioned in daily deal posts/forums so I’m not convinced it reaches new audiences – then again, I’m probably not the average reader.

22162129I loved Kate Elliott‘s cover for her short story collection THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOTT – so this sketch to final cover post @ A Dribble of Ink was a fun read.  Julie Dillon is an amazing artist, and her covers always make me take a second look.

Courtney Milan compares the research she does for her historicals v. her contemporaries.  Fascinating, and not something I’d have thought of before, but it does make a lot of sense.

An interview @ Time magazine with Rainbow Rowell, where she talks a bit about her upcoming novel CARRY ON (how many days is it until October again?).  I kind of think she’ll be spending the intervening months answering questions like this:

TIME: So what do you call a book like this?

Rainbow Rowell: I think it’s just straight-up fiction. Some people have said, “Oh, you’re writing fanfiction for your own book!” I don’t think it’s fanfiction, I think it’s more like canon! Because even though Simon Snow is fictional inside of Fangirl, I still had to make him up. He still feels like he’s my character.

And finally, a bit late, but this post at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books about their new Lady was fantastic – love the peek behind the scenes, and the amount of effort that went into making the image just right sounds incredible.

Books for February

There is something rather uplifting about leaving work when it’s still light outside.  (I’m pretending the freezing temperatures don’t exist.)  It’s felt like a very long dark gloomy January, and even the tiniest signs of spring cheer me up. So yay for a new month… and of course, new releases.

Here are the ones for February that have caught my attention:

22162129Kate Elliott‘s THE VERY BEST OF KATE ELLIOT short story collection (fantasy): I’m slowly making my way through Kate Elliott’s backlist (JARAN has been my favourite so far), and this one sounds like a must-read.

Also, the 10/10 review by Ana @ The Book Smugglers didn’t hurt.

Strong heroines and riveting storytelling are the hallmark of groundbreaking fantasy author Kate Elliott (“Crown of Stars,” “Crossroads”). Elliott is a highly-compelling voice in genre fiction, an innovative author of historically-based narratives set in imaginary worlds. This first, retrospective collection of her short fiction is the essential guide to Elliott’s shorter works. Here her bold adventuresses, complex quests, noble sacrifices, and hard-won victories shine in classic, compact legends.

In “The Memory of Peace,” a girl’s powerful emotions rouse the magic of a city devastated by war. Meeting in “The Queen’s Garden,” two princesses unite to protect their kingdom from the blind ambition of their corrupted father. While “Riding the Shore of the River of Death” a chieftain’s daughter finds an unlikely ally on her path to self-determination.

Elliott’s many readers, as well as fantasy fans in search of powerful stories featuring well-drawn female characters, will revel in this unique gathering of truly memorable tales.

Out Feb 10

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23524359Amy Bai‘s SWORD (YA fantasy): I admit it was the cover that made me take a second look, but the back cover blurb makes this book sound right up my alley.  Debut novel, I think.

Sword shall guide the hands of men . . .

For over a thousand years the kingdom of Lardan has been at peace: isolated from the world, safe from the wars of its neighbors, slowly forgetting the wild and deadly magic of its origins. Now the deepest truths of the past and the darkest predictions for the future survive only in the verses of nursery rhymes.

For over a thousand years, some of Lardan’s fractious provinces have been biding their time.

Kyali Corwynall is the daughter of the Lord General, a child of one of the royal Houses, and the court’s only sword-wielding girl. She has known for all of her sixteen years what the future holds for her–politics and duty, the management of a House, and protecting her best friend, the princess and presumed heir to the throne. But one day an old nursery rhyme begins to come true, an ancient magic wakes, and the future changes for everyone. In the space of a single night her entire life unravels into violence and chaos. Now Kyali must find a way to master the magic her people have left behind, or watch her world–and her closest friends–fall to a war older than the kingdom itself.

Out Feb 10

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22885333KJ Charles‘s JACKDAW (M/M paranormal romance): KJ Charles is an autobuy author for me – I love how she gets the balance between romance and conflict just right, regardless of whether she’s doing historical, contemporary, or paranormal. Plus I’m guessing we get to see the protagonists of her Charm of Magpie series from a different perspective in this book.

If you stop running, you fall.

Jonah Pastern is a magician, a liar, a windwalker, a professional thief…and for six months, he was the love of police constable Ben Spenser’s life. Until his betrayal left Ben jailed, ruined, alone, and looking for revenge.

Ben is determined to make Jonah pay. But he can’t seem to forget what they once shared, and Jonah refuses to let him. Soon Ben is entangled in Jonah’s chaotic existence all over again, and they’re running together—from the police, the justiciary, and some dangerous people with a lethal grudge against them.

Threatened on all sides by betrayals, secrets, and the laws of the land, can they find a way to live and love before the past catches up with them?

This story is set in the world of the Charm of Magpies series.

Warning: Contains a policeman who should know better, a thief who may never learn, Victorian morals, heated encounters, and a very annoyed Stephen Day.

Out Feb 17

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12390040Andrea K. Höst‘s THE PYRAMIDS OF LONDON (fantasy): I really don’t want to get my hopes up, but this has a release date of Feb 28 on Goodreads.  Another auto-buy author for me, if you hadn’t figured that out already.

In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt’s vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia’s fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air.

But the peace of recent decades is under threat. Rome’s automaton-driven wealth is waning along with the Imperium’s supply of power crystals, while Sweden uses fear of Rome to add to her Protectorates. And Prytennia is under attack from the wind itself. Relentless daily blasts destroy crops, buildings, and lives, and neither the weather vampires nor Prytennia’s Trifold Goddess have been able to find a way to stop them.

With events so grand scouring the horizon, the deaths of Eiliff and Aedric Tenning raise little interest. The official verdict is accident: two careless automaton crafters, killed by their own construct.

The Tenning children and Aedric’s sister, Arianne, know this cannot be true. Nothing will stop their search for what really happened.

Not even if, to follow the first clue, Aunt Arianne must sell herself to a vampire.

Out Feb 28 (fingers and everything else crossed)

And then the possible buys

  • Elizabeth Harmon‘s PAIRING OFF (contemporary romance): Remember when I mentioned my fondness for sports romances?  Here’s one featuring figure-skating Olympians by a new-to-me author. I’m tempted.
  • Viv DanielsISLAND BORN (NA romance): I’ve the (free) prequel ISLAND ESCAPE still sitting unread on my Kindle, so I’m holding off until I’ve read that. Also, it’s a series of four books – I’ve no idea how they link together and want to avoid cliffhangers if any…