Books for August

I can’t believe we’re getting towards the end of summer.

There are four new releases that interest me this month, of which I’ve read three.  Which is pretty good going considering my severe lack of reading time recently…

35118935KJ Charles’s SPECTRED ISLE (historical paranormal): KJ Charles is 100% an autobuy author for me.  She has this knack of interweaving the paranormal with the ordinary so seamlessly, while getting the period feel just right.  This series promises much.

Archaeologist Saul Lazenby has been all but unemployable since his disgrace during the War. Now he scrapes a living working for a rich eccentric who believes in magic. Saul knows it’s a lot of nonsense…except that he begins to find himself in increasingly strange and frightening situations. And at every turn he runs into the sardonic, mysterious Randolph Glyde.

Randolph is the last of an ancient line of arcanists, commanding deep secrets and extraordinary powers as he struggles to fulfil his family duties in a war-torn world. He knows there’s something odd going on with the haunted-looking man who keeps turning up in all the wrong places. The only question for Randolph is whether Saul is victim or villain.

Saul hasn’t trusted anyone in a long time. But as the supernatural threat grows, along with the desire between them, he’ll need to believe in evasive, enraging, devastatingly attractive Randolph. Because he may be the only man who can save Saul’s life—or his soul.

Out now

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31944679Sarah Rees Brennan’s IN OTHER LANDS (YA fantasy): I devoured this portal fantasy when she serialised it on her blog a while back.  This polished and expanded version is even better – it’s definitely one of my favourites of the year, with hidden depths underneath all the snark.  I loved how SRB combines social commentary with humour, and Elliot shines here as the pacifist hero who grows up but never loses his sense of wonder.

Sometimes it’s not the kid you expect who falls through to magicland, sometimes it’s . . . Elliot. He’s grumpy, nerdy, and appalled by both the dearth of technology and the levels of fitness involved in swinging swords around. He’s a little enchanted by the elves and mermaids. Despite his aversion to war, work, and most people (human or otherwise) he finds that two unlikely ideas, friendship and world peace, may actually be possible.

Out now

34346381Santino Hassell’s ILLEGAL CONTACT (contemporary romance): I’m a sucker for sports romance, and I really like how Santino Hassell grounds his books in current-day New York.  This was the perfect summer escapist read, and I’m really looking forward to the next in this series.

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel. 

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Out now

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33541039Megan Derr’s THE HEART OF THE LOST STAR (fantasy romance): I went on a Megan Derr glom earlier this year, and am still buying pretty much all of her new releases.  Her books are best described as total comfort reads.

Kamir is on the verge of losing everything. Knowing full well he can’t meet the ultimatum his parents have issued, he instead finally puts in motion his plans to live completely independent of them. His plans are interrupted, however, by the unexpected return of his despised ex-husband—and thrown even further into upheaval when he ends up comforting the man he’s secretly loved for years.

Jader may not know where he comes from, but he knows where he belongs and what he wants—until he helps rescue some stranded Bentan travelers, one of whom look almost exactly like Jader, throwing his life and everything he thought he knew into tumult. Scared and overwhelmed, Jader flees—and lands unexpectedly in the arms of a man he’s always seen, but never really noticed.

Out now

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(I probably should say that Karen Chance’s latest Cassie Palmer, RIDE THE STORM, also came out this month.  I’ve been a long-standing fan of this UF series, but RtS was such a dragged-out mess.  I really struggled to finish it, and I may have just given up on Cassie)

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Books for June

Another late-ish post, but June has honestly been a month of way-too-much-to-do-and-very-little-time.  The mini-heatwave we’ve had this week has not helped at all – I just wanted to collapse in the evenings after braving the London tube home.  London does not do heat well.

And a link for a good cause – Authors for Grenfell Tower is raising funds for the British Red Cross.  Signed books etc galore.  Auctions end Tuesday 27 June.

Onto the new releases this month:

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35171433 (1)Tanya Huff’s A PEACE DIVIDED (military SF): Tanya Huff is now an auto-buy author for me, regardless of what she writes.  I really enjoyed this one – she explores the aftermath of war in this series, and while it would help if you’ve some familiarity with the linked Confederation books, this works relatively well as a standalone series.  I’m always impressed by how Huff juggles multiple POVs with ease, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not officially touch. When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon with power beyond anything previously known. Torin must contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy, former enemies, to her team. She will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between “us” and “them” is anything but straight.

Out now

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32161804KJ Charles’s AN UNNATURAL VICE (historical romance): Another one I’ve already read.  I was a bit lukewarm about the first book in KJ Charles’s Victorian-set Sins of the City series, but this enemies-to-lovers story worked much better for me.  I liked all the spiritualist behind-the-scenes reveals and the London setting came alive (as always).

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Out now

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30691976Yoon Ha Lee’s RAVEN STRATAGEM (military SF): The first book in this series was incredibly absorbing, but also made my head hurt at times – however, all reviews indicate this follow-up is much more accessible.  I’ll still wait until I’ve a solid block of spare time to dive into this one.

War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies and resurrected by the hexarchate to put down a heretical insurrection, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh incursion by the enemy Hafn, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, appears able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev – or Brezan – trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Yoon Ha Lee’s critically acclaimed Machineries of Empire trilogy continues with Raven Stratagem, coming from Solaris Summer 2017.

Out now

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32967547Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s STAY (contemporary romance): My current read, and I’m totally loving this sports romance.  These writing duo are on fire.

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch—an anonymous virtual assistant service—is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting… until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth—that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.

But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Out now

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30364801Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT (paranormal romance): Quite possibly my next read.  I didn’t love the first book in this series (great start, but then fizzled out – possibly suffered a bit from having to set up the whole series), but he’s still an auto-buy for me.

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Out June 26

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Maybes for the month:

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell’s MATURE CONTENT (contemporary romance): Their Cyberlove series has a bit too much angst for me and overdoes the hurt/comfort trope, but I’ll probably end up buying this at some point.

Diana Gabaldon’s SEVEN STONES TO FALL (historical): Another of those short story collections with mostly previously-published material, but with a couple of new pieces.  I try to borrow these collections from the library.

A Links Post

I really need to start closing my browser tabs.  Here are some (book-ish) links that caught my attention recently:

25241403I adored this guest review of KJ Charles’s A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR @ Smart Bitches Trashy Books.  Part of me wants to be able to write reviews like that, the other part is more than happy to just sit back and read them.

Awards season has started, and I always keep an eye out for new recs.  Here are the nominations for the Aurealis Awards (for Australian SF/F and horror writers) and the Nebula Awards.  Also, an analysis of the Nebulas by author Cora Buhlert.

A fun interview with editor Anne Sowards on working with Patricia Briggs @ Unbound Worlds.  She edits some of my favourite authors.

And finally a Tumblr link – this post on “Coexisting With The Fair Folk Who Have Taken Up Residence In/Around/Beneath Your University: A How-To Guide” was amazing.  I would totally read a whole book based on this premise.


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Lucy Parker’s PRETTY FACE: I know, I know, it’s a brand-new release with lots of buzz.  But I utterly loved it, and it’ll definitely be on my 2017 favourites list.  I don’t have many contemporary romance auto-buy authors (maybe only Kelly Hunter?), but Lucy Parker is now one of them.

Books for February

There are quite a few February new releases on my radar – most of which I’m definitely buying, with a couple of maybes.  Help.

The definites:

30753493Wen Spencer’s THE BLACK WOLVES OF BOSTON (urban fantasy): I may not love all her books, but Wen Spencer writes so very readable characters, while always delivering something a bit different.  I’ve already finished this, and although I had trouble keeping up with the multiple POVs and also some reservations about one of the central couples, it was fun, and her werewolves and vampires weren’t the bog-standard UF ones.  I’ll be picking up the next book.

REBUILD A LIFE, SAVE A CITY

Silas Decker had his world destroyed when he was attacked by vampires outside of New Amsterdam. He rebuilt his life a dozen times in the last three hundred years—each time less and less successfully. Now he lives alone, buried under a hoarding habit, struggling to find some reason to wake up with the setting of the sun.

Eloise is a Virtue, pledged to hunting evil.  What she doesn’t know is how to live alone in a city full of strangers who know nothing about monsters.

Seth is the sixteen-year old Prince of Boston, ward of the Wolf King.  Now he is left in a city that desperately needs his protection with enemies gathering all around.

Joshua believes he is a normal, college-bound high school senior.  His life is shattered when he wakes up in a field, covered with blood, and the prom committee scattered in pieces about him like broken dolls.

These four must now come together to unravel a plot by Wickers, witches who gain power from human sacrifices and have the power to turn any human into their puppet. Four people who lost everything struggle to save Boston by saving each other.

Out now

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33642764Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell’s HARD WIRED (contemporary romance): I’ve really enjoyed Santino Hassell’s Five Borough series, but this co-authored Cyberlove series started off on a too-angsty note for me.  I liked the second book more though, and have already bought this one.  I find the tech angle in these books fascinating – I’m not a Luddite by any means, but online gaming is pretty much a different world for me.

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There’s a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I’ve known online for years. And he’d known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we’re back online, and he’s acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don’t plan to let him forget.

Out now

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25670396Jacqueline Carey’s MIRANDA AND CALIBAN (fantasy): I keep on changing my mind on this one.  On one hand, I usually buy every book Jacqueline Carey writes.  And it’s a Shakespearean retelling, which makes it even more intriguing.

On the other hand (!!sorry, kind of spoiler-ish!!), apparently it’s not exactly a HEA (to be fair, the back cover copy refers to Miranda and Caliban’s “doomed relationship” and I suspect the retelling will stay close to the original).  Not that I need a HEA in a fantasy, but I kind of want to read uplifting books at this point in time. I’ll probably wait on more reviews before deciding.

We all know the tale of Prospero’s quest for revenge, but what of Miranda? Or Caliban, the so-called savage Prospero chained to his will?

In this incredible retelling of the fantastical tale, Jacqueline Carey shows readers the other side of the coin–the dutiful and tenderhearted Miranda, who loves her father but is terribly lonely. And Caliban, the strange and feral boy Prospero has bewitched to serve him. The two find solace and companionship in each other as Prospero weaves his magic and dreams of revenge.

Always under Prospero’s jealous eye, Miranda and Caliban battle the dark, unknowable forces that bind them to the island even as the pangs of adolescence create a new awareness of each other and their doomed relationship.

Miranda and Caliban is bestselling fantasy author Jacqueline Carey’s gorgeous retelling of The Tempest. With hypnotic prose and a wild imagination, Carey explores the themes of twisted love and unchecked power that lie at the heart of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, while serving up a fresh take on the play’s iconic characters.

Out Feb 14

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32613865Lucy Parker’s PRETTY FACE (contemporary romance): Speaking of uplifting books, this has to be one, right?  There was (deserved) buzz around Lucy Parker’s debut, and I’m looking forward to reading this.

The play’s the fling

It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Out Feb 20

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31368090Lisa Kleypas’s DEVIL IN SPRING (historical romance): I ended up DNF’ing the second book in this series (possibly a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing), but I’ve high hopes for Evie and Sebastien’s son’s story.

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy-and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven…

Out Feb 21

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30517107KJ Charles’s AN UNSEEN ATTRACTION (historical romance): A new KJ Charles is always a treat, even more so when it’s the first of a trilogy.

A slow-burning romance and a chilling mystery bind two singular men in the suspenseful first book of a new Victorian series from K. J. Charles.

Lodging-house keeper Clem Talleyfer prefers a quiet life. He’s happy with his hobbies, his work—and especially with his lodger Rowley Green, who becomes a friend over their long fireside evenings together. If only neat, precise, irresistible Mr. Green were interested in more than friendship…

Rowley just wants to be left alone—at least until he meets Clem, with his odd, charming ways and his glorious eyes. Two quiet men, lodging in the same house, coming to an understanding… it could be perfect. Then the brutally murdered corpse of another lodger is dumped on their doorstep and their peaceful life is shattered.

Now Clem and Rowley find themselves caught up in a mystery, threatened on all sides by violent men, with a deadly London fog closing in on them. If they’re to see their way through, the pair must learn to share their secrets—and their hearts.

Out Feb 21

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31141489Julianna Keyes’s UNDECLARED (new adult romance): Julianna Keyes’s UNDECIDED was an unexpected reading gem last year, and I’m glad she’s writing more in the NA genre.

Kellan McVey is Burnham College’s most prolific athlete, partier, and ladies’ man—and that’s just how he likes it. Returning to reign for his third year, he wants nothing to change. Then Andrea Walsh shows up.

It wasn’t too long ago that Andi and Kellan were lifelong friends, mortal enemies, and, for one hot summer, more. Then Kellan left and Andi stayed behind.

Kellan thought he’d moved past that last summer’s heartbreak, but with Andi sitting next to him in class, befriending his friends, and battling for the same once-in-a-lifetime job opportunity, he’s starting to remember why he hated her…and why he loved her.

Kellan has a long list of reasons that falling for Andi again is a terrible idea, though every new moment together challenges that theory. But Andi’s all too familiar with Kellan’s love ’em and leave ’em approach—and she’s found someone else to get serious about.

Burnham’s campus king has never had to fight for a girl, but if he wants Andi to give him another chance, he’ll have to do the one thing he’s never had the nerve to do: admit it.

Out Feb 27

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30255973Ellen Emerson White’s A SEASON OF DARING GREATLY (YA): Angie’s review means that this book is pretty much a must-read for me.  I loved EEW’s The President’s Daughter series, and this reminds me that I’ve a couple of her backlist titles sitting in my TBR pile.

Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.

On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?

This literary and engrossing story of a young woman trying to mark out a place for herself in a male-dominated world will captivate fans of Friday Night Lights, The Art of Fielding, John Corey Whaley, and Laurie Halse Anderson.

Out now

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25538649Julie Cross’s OFF THE ICE (YA romance): And another sports YA!  I adored Julie Cross’s gymnastics-centred Letters to Nowhere series, so keen to see what she does with ice hockey.

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

Out Feb 28

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30243858Marko Kloos’s FIELDS OF FIRE (SF): And an SF to round things off.  I’ve an ARC of this, so will be posting a fuller review shortly.  It’s a solid installment in the series, and long-time readers won’t be disappointed.

The time has come to take the fight to the Lankies.

Mars has been under Lanky control for more than a year. Since then, the depleted forces of Earth’s alliances have rebuilt their fleets, staffing old warships with freshly trained troops. Torn between the need to beat the Lankies to the punch and taking enough time to put together an effective fighting force, command has decided to strike now.

Once again, seasoned veterans Andrew and Halley find themselves in charge of green troops and at the sharp tip of the spear as the combined military might of Earth goes up against the Lankies. But if there’s one constant in war, it’s that no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy…and the Lankies want to hold on to Mars as badly as humanity wants to reclaim it.

Out Feb 28

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And finally, the ones I’ll be (hopefully) requesting from the library:

Kelley Armstrong’s A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE (mystery): It’s a follow-up to last year’s CITY OF THE LOST, which I liked but didn’t love.

Sophie Kinsella’s MY (NOT SO) PERFECT LIFE: Her books are a bit hit or miss with me, so it’s a library request (especially as it’s a hardcover).


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Patricia C Wrede & Caroline Stevermer’s CECELIA AND KATE: OR THE ENCHANTED CHOCOLATE POT (fantasy): I wandered over to scan my bookshelves for this pick.  I adore this utterly charming fantasy, in which the story unfolds through letters between the above-mentioned Cecelia and Kate.

Three Links

I try to keep this blog focused purely on book-related stuff, but… it’s been a grim start to 2017, hasn’t it?

This tweet helped though:

On to other links that have caught my attention:

13515074A good source of book recs for me are award longlists – the RT Book Reviews Award Nominees list was released recently.  Despite the title, it’s not just romance titles – their SF/F lists are always worth a read.

Tanya Huff is one of my autobuy authors (THE SILVERED was one of my favourites).  She’s also very versatile, switching between SF, high fantasy and urban fantasy with ease, and this Reddit author appreciation thread is an incredibly comprehensive summary of her work.

And finally, this post by KJ Charles titled “Your Politics Are Showing” was smart and on point.


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Kate Sherwood’s SACRATI: Sherwood’s books are a bit hit or miss.  Some of them really work for me, while others leave me cold.  SACRATI is in the former camp, as you may have guessed – it’s a M/M fantasy romance, with a lot more depth and world-building than I expected going in.

Books for January

A bit late, but here are the January new releases on my radar:

33191880Sarina Bowen’s HARD HITTER (contemporary romance): Sarina Bowen’s quickly become an autobuy author for me, and she excels at sports romances.  I’ve already read this one, and it’s a solid romance.  As always, I learn something new about ice hockey – who knew fights were an actual part of the game?

He’s a scrapper in the rink, but he’s about to learn that playing nice can help you score…

As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O’Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of fighting, O’Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He hides his pain from the coaching staff, but when his chronic muscle strain becomes too obvious to ignore, he’s sent for treatment with the team’s massage therapist.

After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini needs a timeout from men. She’s focusing only on work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O’Doul is easy on the eyes but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O’Doul heal, but as the tension between them starts to simmer, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good…

Out now

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33230173CS Pacat’s THE SUMMER PALACE (M/M fantasy romance): It may be a short story, but I can’t get enough of Laurent and Damen.  It was the perfect series epilogue.  *happy sigh*

(I obviously read this the second it downloaded onto my Kindle.)

“When all this is over, we could take horses and stay a week in the palace…”

Set after the events of the Captive Prince trilogy, The Summer Palace is a story about Damen and Laurent. It’s an epilogue of sorts to the Captive Prince series.

Out now

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31225405KJ Charles’s WANTED, A GENTLEMAN (historical M/M romance): If we’re talking autobuy authors (and this post is full of them), here’s another.  Her historicals have proper depth to them.

By the good offices of Riptide Publishing
KJ Charles’s new Entertainment

WANTED, A GENTLEMAN
Or, Virtue Over-Rated

the grand romance of

Mr. Martin St. Vincent . . . a Merchant with a Mission, also a Problem
Mr. Theodore Swann . . . a humble Scribbler and Advertiser for Love

Act the First:

the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London
where Lonely Hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling

Act the Second:

a Pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts)

featuring

a speedy Carriage
sundry rustic Inns
a private Bed-chamber

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In the course of which are presented

Romance, Revenge, and Redemption
Deceptions, Discoveries, and Desires

the particulars of which are too numerous to impart

Out now

30747137Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy’s GOOD BOY (contemporary romance): I’m not sure what’s up with two Bowen releases in the space of a month, but I’m not complaining.  I love her collaborations with Elle Kennedy.

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody (nobody!) can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Caution: May cause accidental aspiration of tea or coffee. Do not read in a public place where loud laughter is inappropriate. Contains hot but hilarious hockey players, puppy cuddling and a snarky pair of underwear.

Out Jan 31

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33650339And oh, I almost forgot to mention Andrea K Höst’s surprise New Year’s Day release, IN ARCADIA.  She very kindly sent me a copy, and it was the perfect way to start off the new year.

It’s an epilogue of sorts to the Touchstone books, and as per my Goodreads review:

Well, this was a lovely and satisfying “slice-of-life” addition to the Touchstone series.

If you wanted more than just the Gratuitous Epilogue (I know I did!), then this is the perfect read. It was so good to see Cass and the whole gang again, and I loved the quiet romance that unfolded between Laura and Gidds Selkie. Now all I want to do is re-read the entire series…

I will say this will work much better for those who have read the original trilogy, as opposed to a truly standalone read.

 

So that’s me – which January releases do you have on your lists?


randombookrec
Sharon Shinn’s SUMMERS AT CASTLE AUBURN: Sharon Shinn gets the blend of romance with fantasy just right. And this has a place on my keeper shelves.

2016: My Favourite Books

I’m joining in with the general sigh of relief that 2016 is finally over – happy new year everyone!

Here are my very favourite books of 2016, in no particular order:

 

Beth Brower’s THE Q (fantasy): This fantasy had the perfect amount of charm and romance swirled into the mix, and was the highlight of my December reading.

CS Pacat’s KINGS RISING (M/M fantasy romance): So much anticipation for this final book in the trilogy, and you know what?  She delivered in spades.

KJ Charles’s A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION (M/M historical romance): Having read hundreds of historical romances, it’s rare for one to blow me away – but this one did.

Harper Fox’s MARTY AND THE PILOT (M/M contemporary romance): Harper Fox has a knack for getting the chemistry between her leads just right.

Leigh Bardugo’s CROOKED KINGDOM (YA fantasy): Full of twists and turns, full of feelings.

Santino Hassell’s SUTPHIN BOULEVARD (M/M contemporary romance): His Five Borough series have a real sense of place, and there’s no lack of romance (or angst, come to think of it).

Alexis Hall’s LOOKING FOR GROUP (M/M NA romance): This was full of sweet geeky goodness of the best sort.

 

Not on this list, but Jodi Taylor’s The Chronicles of St Mary’s novels also deserves a mention – they were totally addictive, and I finished the whole seven-book series in the space of a month (which is probably why no one particular book stood out, come to think of it…).

Books for April

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

After all, what’s wrong with getting dirty?

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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Maybes this month

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

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

KJ Charles’s A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR

I’m pretty much an official* KJ Charles fangirl, so unsurprisingly, I’m loving this series so much. Yes, this would be one of the books where I just want to ❤ ❤ ❤ all over, and I’m doing my best to write something vaguely coherent.

I’ve said previously how Charles always brings the setting to life in her stories, be they fantastical, historical, or contemporary.  This time round, it’s the politics of early 19th-century Britain that breath passion into A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR (one of my favourite reads of 2015).

25241403A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR is the second book in her Society of Gentlemen series, and while it does work as a standalone romance, I do think you really have to read the preceding book to appreciate the full depth of the story here – events in the previous book continue to play out in this one.

K. J. Charles turns up the heat in her new Society of Gentlemen novel, as two lovers face off in a sensual duel that challenges their deepest beliefs.
 
Silas Mason has no illusions about himself. He’s not lovable, or even likable. He’s an overbearing idealist, a Radical bookseller and pamphleteer who lives for revolution . . . and for Wednesday nights. Every week he meets anonymously with the same man, in whom Silas has discovered the ideal meld of intellectual companionship and absolute obedience to his sexual commands. But unbeknownst to Silas, his closest friend is also his greatest enemy, with the power to see him hanged—or spare his life.

A loyal, well-born gentleman official, Dominic Frey is torn apart by his affair with Silas. By the light of day, he cannot fathom the intoxicating lust that drives him to meet with the Radical week after week. In the bedroom, everything else falls away. Their needs match, and they are united by sympathy for each other’s deepest vulnerabilities. But when Silas’s politics earn him a death sentence, desire clashes with duty, and Dominic finds himself doing everything he can to save the man who stole his heart.

Dom and Silas’s beliefs form the backbone of who they are.  Both have such similar principles and yet diametrically-opposing politics; add in the fact that homosexual acts were illegal and secrecy therefore paramount, and the stage is set for a romance so impossible that you have to hold your breath as Dom and Silas try for their happily-ever-after.  And trust me about the suspense – there were scenes of such high tension that I found myself flipping several pages forward to get reassurance that it would all work out.

And the book wasn’t just about Dom and Silas in isolation.  The network of relationships that Dom and Silas have is fully-realised and plays a large part in the resolution of the plot – the Ricardians from previous books make an appearance (as always, I love seeing old friends from different POVs – Julius from A FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE is such a dandy!), plus we get to know a few more new characters in this book.  I appreciate how Charles populates her books with diverse characters – it may be 19th-century Britain, but that doesn’t mean only white males existed then.

A SEDITIOUS AFFAIR was worth the wait – it’s one of those rare historical romances that both bring history to life and are truly romantic, and I cannot wait for the third book. (I mean that – I read the preview of A GENTLEMAN’S POSITION, and I kind of need it right now.  May seems a very very long time away.)

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*Just joking – I don’t think there’s actually such a thing.  

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.