Books for October

Hard to believe we’re heading into the final stretch of 2014, right?  Part of me hates that it’ll soon be dark by 4pm, I’ve to unearth my winter coats from the depths of my wardrobe, and it’s basically going to be miserably cold for the next few months (though the weekend was practically summer weather – what’s up with that?).  But hey, new books?  That always cheers me up.

October new releases on my radar:

The Understatement of the Year coverSarina Bowen‘s THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR (NA M/M romance): I’ve actually read an ARC of this one already, review coming in the next couple of days.  I’m loving her Harkness College series.

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

Out Oct 1

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16219338Josh Lanyon‘s THE BOY WITH THE PAINFUL TATTOO (M/M romance/mystery): A new Josh Lanyon!  It’s no secret I love his writing – he has a knack for getting feelings into the story so easily.  This is the third book in the Holmes & Moriarity mystery series – it’ll be good to see how Kit’s getting on, insecurities and all.

It’s moving day at Chez Holmes. Somehow, against Kit’s better instincts, he and J.X. are setting up house together. But while J.X. is off at a writing conference, Kit unpacks a crate that should contain either old books or new china. It doesn’t. Within the mounds of green Styrofoam popcorn is a dead body. A very dead body.

There goes the neighborhood.

Out Oct 5

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17340103Jacqueline Carey‘s POISON FRUIT (urban fantasy): Her UF series is starting to grow on me.  They’re no Kushiel books, but they are fun and fast-paced, and I don’t even mind that love triangle thing.

The hot-as-Hel series with the “Sookie Stackhouse type of vibe” (Paranormal Horizon) is back—but this time the paranormal Midwestern town of Pemkowet is feeling a frost in the air and the residents are frozen in fear…

The Pemkowet Visitors Bureau has always promoted paranormal tourism—even if it has downplayed the risks (hobgoblins are unpredictable). It helps that the town is presided over by Daisy Johanssen, who as Hel’s liaison is authorized by the Norse goddess of the dead to keep Pemkowet under control. Normally, that’s easier to do in the winter, when bracing temperatures keep folks indoors.

But a new predator is on the prowl, and this one thrives on nightmares. Daisy is on her trail and working intimately with her partner and sometime lover from the Pemkowet PD, sexy yet unavailable werewolf Cody Fairfax. But even as the creature is racking up innocent victims, a greater danger looms on Pewkowet’s horizon.

As a result of a recent ghost uprising, an unknown adversary—represented by a hell-spawn lawyer with fiery powers of persuasion—has instigated a lawsuit against the town. If Pemkowet loses, Hel’s sovereignty will be jeopardized, and the fate of the eldritch community will be at stake. The only one who can prevent it is Daisy—but she’s going to have to confront her own worst nightmare to do it.

Out Oct 7

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20757528Julie Cross‘s WHATEVER LIFE THROWS AT YOU (YA romance): You know how much I loved her LETTERS TO NOWHERE books, right?  Another YA romance from Julie Cross sounds exactly like what I need.

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

Out Oct 7

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20299706Eileen WilksUNBINDING (urban fantasy): Is it just me, or does it feel like ages since the last World of the Lupi novel?

In the newest Novel of the Lupi, the human and elven worlds are both about to come under attack…

After questing through the sidhe realms with her ex-hellhound lover, Nathan, Kai Tallman Michalski has finally returned home. But she knows Nathan will eventually be called back to serve his queen—and Kai will have to decide whether to enter her majesty’s service as well. Sure, the job comes with great bennies, but there’s one big downside: she would have to swear absolute fealty to the Queen of Winter.

For now, though, Kai is glad to be home, and glad that Nathan completed his mission for his queen with surprising ease. But what seemed to be a quick conclusion turns out to be anything but. The two of them helped thwart the sidhe god of chaos—and he is not happy about that. He’s got plans for them. Plans, too, for the sidhe who killed him some three millennia ago. Nor has he abandoned his plans for Earth, as they learn when chaos begins bursting out all over…

Out Oct 7

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21529170KJ CharlesFLIGHT OF MAGPIES (historical M/M romance/fantasy): The last Crane & Stephen!  I’m looking forward to seeing how KJ Charles ends their adventures.

With the justiciary understaffed, a series of horrifying occult murders to be investigated, and a young student who is flying—literally—off the rails, magical law enforcer Stephen Day is under increasing stress. And his relationship with his aristocratic lover, Lord Crane, is beginning to feel the strain.

Crane chafes at the restrictions of England’s laws, and there’s a worrying development in the blood-and-sex bond he shares with Stephen. A development that makes a sensible man question if they should be together at all.

When a thief strikes at the heart of Crane’s home, a devastating loss brings his closest relationships into bitter conflict—especially his relationship with Stephen. And as old enemies, new enemies, and unexpected enemies paint the lovers into a corner, the pressure threatens to tear them apart.

Warning: Contains hot-blooded sex, cold-blooded murder, sinister magical goings-on and a lot of swearing.

Out Oct 28

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20705702Ilona AndrewsBURN FOR ME (paranormal romance): A new series from this writing team.  I’m definitely getting, but as their previous paranormal romance series was a bit hit-or-miss for me, I am not entirely sure whether this one will work for me.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career—a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan—a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Out Oct 28

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Possibles:

  • FEARSOME MAGICS, edited by Jonathan Strahan (fantasy): I really liked the last anthology he edited (FEARSOME JOURNEYS) and the theme for this one sounds right up my alley.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER IN GROSVENOR SQUARE (historical mystery): I’ve finished all previous eight books in this series (I’ve not been talking very much about them, true), and I’m glad she’s still writing them.
  • MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance): Primarily because it’s edited by Stephanie Perkins, but lots of familiar YA names here, including Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, and Jenny Han (did I mention I loved her TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE?). Slightly offset by the fact I don’t think short stories and romance mix well together, but we’ll see.
  • Sarah Morgan‘s MAYBE THIS CHRISTMAS (contemporary romance): I had mixed feelings on the previous two in this series, but I was very intrigued by Tyler, and you know, a Christmas book!

Books for April

Well.

I’m not quite sure where March went.  Or what I was doing.  Not much blogging, that’s for sure.  Not much reading either, I suspect.  Hopefully I break that streak in April.

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17404280Katherine Addison‘s THE GOBLIN EMPEROR (fantasy): I know I was not the only one anticipating this new book from Katherine Addison a.k.a. Sarah Monette, but I was surprised by the flood of (positive) reviews and mentions for this book.  I’m about halfway through and *whispers* it’s kind of living up to the hype.

On a side note, I think the cover is perfect for the book: at first glance, you see a typical fantasy palace – look again, and you see Maia, the (half-)goblin emperor peering out cautiously.  So fitting.

A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

This exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

Out now

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18006456Lynn Flewelling‘s SHARDS OF TIME (fantasy): I’ve a soft spot for this long-running fantasy series (the first book was out in 1996, according to Goodreads) – while I’ve found it uneven in places, I’ll be sad to see the end of the Nightrunner series.

Acclaimed author Lynn Flewelling brings her beloved Nightrunners series to a close—at least for now—with a thrilling novel of murder, mystery, and magic.

The governor of the sacred island of Korous and his mistress have been killed inside a locked and guarded room. The sole witnesses to the crime—guards who broke down the doors, hearing the screams from within—have gone mad with terror, babbling about ghosts . . . and things worse than ghosts.

Dispatched to Korous by the queen, master spies Alec and Seregil find all the excitement and danger they could want—and more. For an ancient evil has been awakened there, a great power that will not rest until it has escaped its otherworldly prison and taken revenge on all that lives. And only those like Alec—who have died and returned to life—can step between the worlds and confront the killer . . . even if it means a second and all too permanent death.

Out now

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18335221Jo Beverley‘s A SHOCKING DELIGHT (historical romance): Jo Beverley is an autobuy author for me, and this is her latest Company of Rogues regency. ‘Nuff said.

The man she shouldn’t want. The woman he shouldn’t marry…

David Kerslake, smuggling master from The Dragon’s Bride, is now Earl of Wyvern and must survive the ton as well as the Preventive Officers.

Lucy Potter, daughter of a wealthy merchant, is more interested in trade than in the men after her dowry. When forced to have a London season, she sets out to enjoy herself rather than to find a husband. But once she meets the notorious Earl of Wyvern, her resolve weakens, and when they kiss, it dissolves—even though her instincts warn he’s dangerous.

Wyvern has a dark secret, which means he must win a rich bride. Lucinda Potter seems ideal. Not for her beauty and her lively charm, but because at first meeting she seems unlikely to realize the truth.

As he comes to know her, however, as they spar and kiss, he realizes she’s too clever and honest by far. Marrying Lucy would mean living a lie with the woman he has come to love…

Out now

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20645592Allison Parr‘s IMAGINARY LINES (NA romance): I loved Allison Parr’s writing almost from the first page of her debut, RUSH ME, so I’m really looking forward to reading the latest in her New York Leopards series.

Also worth noting is that Carina Press is going after the sports romance niche in their April 14 release week – so other books I’m eyeing are Rebecca Crowley‘s LOVE IN STRAIGHT SETS (obviously – it’s tennis!) and Kate Willoughby‘s ON THE SURFACE (hockey).  And I already have the first Kat Latham book (rugby) – just need the time to read it…

Side-note: Was 2013 the year New Adult officially became a proper genre?

Tamar Rosenfeld has been in love with New York Leopards linebacker Abraham Krasner since they were twelve years old. She’d always considered it destiny that they’d end up together…until Abe was drafted and she professed her feelings in a moment of blind excitement. The sting of his rejection was like nothing she’d ever felt before, and it’s nothing she’ll ever forget.

Older and wiser, Tamar has landed a dream job as a reporter for one of New York’s premier athletic websites. Determined to stop being the safe, boring girl she’s felt like for most of her life, Tamar makes a list of all the things she wants to do and see in her new city, and Getting Over Abraham is priority number one.

But destiny has finally chosen to interfere. Just as Tamar’s decided to move on, Abe’s realized she’s the only woman for him. When he confides the truth, Tamar has to decide if she can put her crush behind her, or take a chance on the very man who’s been holding her back all these years.

Out April 14

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18742420KA Mitchell‘s BAD INFLUENCE (m/m romance): Is it just me or has it been ages since the last KA Mitchell release?  She’s another autobuy of mine, so despite me not loving the previous books in this (loosely-related) series, I’m still buying.

The young man the world knew as Jordan Barnett is dead, killed as much by the rejection of his first love at his moment of greatest need, as by his ultra-conservative parents’ effort to deprogram the gay away.

In his place is Silver, a streetwise survivor who’s spent the last three years learning to become untouchable…unless you’re willing to pay for the privilege. He shies away from anything that might hold him down long enough for betrayal to find him again.

Zebediah Harris spent time overseas, trying to outrun the guilt of turning his back on the young man he loved. Now, almost the moment he sets foot back in Baltimore, he discovers Silver on a street corner in a bad part of town. His effort to make amends lands them both in jail.

Trapped together in a cell, Silver sits on his mountain of secrets and plans a seductive form of revenge, but finds that using a heart as a stepping stone is no way to move past the one man he can’t forgive, let alone forget.

Warning: Contains a surly hero. May cause angst. A prolonged delay in sexual situations may cause frustration. Author recommends a steady dose of familiar friends and characters to alleviate those symptoms. No actual teenagers were used during the construction of the backstory.

Out April 15

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20504851KJ CharlesNON-STOP TILL TOKYO (romantic suspense): KJ Charles is probably better known for her A Charm of Magpies series (that would be in the historical/paranormal/mystery/m/m romance sub-genre – not as much a niche as you’d think…), so this looks like a new direction for her.  Having loved her writing in those aforementioned books, I’m looking forward to reading this.

A man with a past is her only hope for the future.

Kerry Ekdahl’s mixed heritage and linguistics skills could have made her a corporate star. Instead, she’s a hostess in a high-end Tokyo bar, catering to businessmen who want conversation, translation and flirtation. Easy money, no stress. Life is good—until she’s framed for the murder of a yakuza boss.

Trapped in rural Japan with the gangsters closing in, Kerry doesn’t stand a chance. Then help arrives in the menacing form of Chanko, a Samoan-American ex-sumo wrestler with a bad attitude, a lot of secrets, and a mission she doesn’t understand.

Kerry doesn’t get involved with dangerous men. Then again, she’s never had one on her side before. And the big, taciturn fighter seems determined to save her life, even if they rub each other the wrong way.

Then her friends are threatened, and Kerry has no choice but to return to Tokyo and face the yakuza. Where she learns, too late, that the muscle man who’s got her back could be poised to stab it.

Out April 29

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Other April new releases I want to read, but probably via the library:

  • GAMES CREATURES PLAY, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner (urban fantasy): Their annual(?) anthology outing – a library book for me, as their previous anthologies tend to be more miss than hit for me.  But I still want to read the Mercedes Lackey, Seanan McGuire, and Brandon Sanderson contributions in this one.
  • Laini Taylor‘s DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS (YA fantasy): Despite the overwhelming love out there for this series, it’s never quite clicked for me.  I’ll still read this final book to find out how it all ends.

Mini-Reviews – Or What I Read Last Year, Part II

Maybe I should speed  up my Goodreads cross-postings?  It’s a mixed batch this time – some long-time favourites (I need more Skolian books), a couple of new-to-me authors, and some former autobuy authors.

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Diamond Star (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #13)Diamond Star by Catherine Asaro (SF)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I started reading this way back when it was first released (yes, we’re talking 2009 here) and then stopped halfway – not entirely sure why now, but I think it was to do with the fact I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go where I thought the book was going (and hopefully that makes sense to you – I’m not sure it makes sense to me!). Anyway, as the next book in the series, Carnelians, had been released, and I’ve an aversion to reading books out of order, I bit the bullet and picked up DIAMOND STAR again.

With the caveat I started reading from where I stopped, as opposed to restarting the whole book, I ended up really liking DIAMOND STAR. The story wasn’t as dark as I thought it was going to be, but perhaps not everything was fully resolved.

I have a very soft spot for the SF world that Catherine Asaro has created, and so while the bubbles and colours (and incestous relationships) feel slightly dated, I can’t help but give them a pass because I love the Skolian universe so much.

This book is not one for new readers to the Skolian series, but if you’re a long-term fan, it was satisfying to see more of the tangled family relationships resolved, and particularly Del stepping out of his family’s shadow and making his life his own.

All in all, DIAMOND STAR is a slightly heavy-handed coming-of-age story, but I’m glad I finally got around to finishing it, and now I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

I’m kind of surprised I haven’t cross-posted this review before (or if this sounds familiar, maybe I have!).  Catherine Asaro’s Skolian series is one of my favourite space opera series, and although some elements do feel dated, they’re ultimately comfort reads for me.

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Carnelians (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #14)Carnelians by Catherine Asaro (SF)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s a good thing I read this straight after finishing the previous book, Diamond Star. It’s definitely not one for readers new to the series, and without a knowledge of the story so far, I think the key moments would lack impact somewhat.

I loved this book – I stayed up very late to finish it, and it totally delivered on the satisfaction front. It’s not a technically perfect book, but that emotional impact thing? A million times yes. [Click through to GR review for spoiler]

This book wraps up one of the main arcs in the series – all I can say is when is the next book coming out?

I obviously jumped straight to the next Skolian installment, which turned out to be one of my favourites of 2012, IIRC.  Catherine Asaro said she signed a contract with Baen for SF mysteries set in the Skolian Empire universe – I cannot wait.

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The Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro Trilogy #1)The Next Always by Nora Roberts (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I read a Nora Roberts (I think) and this book didn’t really make me regret not picking it up sooner.

This came across as a quiet-ish romance, with a slightly OTT stalker plot that felt a bit out of place. I liked the relationship between Beckett and his brothers – one thing Nora Roberts does very well, I think. And Claire’s kids were fun, if a little on the overly-sweet side. A bit too much page-time was spent on the inn construction (and in a way, it was weird knowing the inn and the bookstore were real-life places). And unfortunately, the ending [click through to GR review for spoiler] made me roll my eyes.

I used to haunt the bookstore for the new Nora Roberts release.  Now – well, it’s a possible library borrow if I see it on the shelves.  I suspect it’s a “me, not you” thing – I’ve grown too familiar with her writing style, characters, and plots, and they don’t feel as fresh or exciting anymore.

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Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was both great story-telling and writing. Karou’s story felt so immediate, keeping me on the edge of my seat, and the setting was so different and imaginative. While a bit predictable towards the end (and I wasn’t expecting the abrupt ending), I was completely drawn into Laini Taylor’s world and am looking forward to see how the story continues.

Oh, there was a lot of hype around this one.  I didn’t fall in love, but there were a lot of good things here.

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The Sleeping Beauty (Five Hundred Kingdoms, #5)The Sleeping Beauty by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I stopped reading this series a while ago, but was persuaded to pick this one up because of good reviews. And this was generally a good read.

I do like Mercedes Lackey’s take on The Tradition – it’s clever and delivers an entertaining twist on the traditional fairy tale, while the same fairy tale elements somehow means I can give the “too-perfectness” of the protagonists a bit of a pass, because it fits the worldbuilding (whereas the same aspect just tends to frustrate me in other recent Lackey books). Having said that, I found it difficult to differentiate between the heroes/heroines, and as a result, never really empathised with the characters. A good, if not memorable, read.

That Nora Roberts bookstore haunting thing I used to do for new releases? 10x that for a Mercedes Lackey release.  Reading a Lackey is usually a nostalgic thing for me nowadays. 

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Hot Head (Head, #1)Hot Head by Damon Suede (m/m romance)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this, but did not thoroughly get (or connect with?) the main characters. Maybe the plot driver behind h/h getting together (i.e. the posing for the gay website) didn’t work for me. However, I loved the friends-to-lovers part.

New-to-me author – again a lot of buzz around this release, IIRC.  I was not entirely won over (one day, I’m sure I’ll be telling you about a new release that lived up to the hype for me!).

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Books for November

It’s been a tad quiet here, but I’ve been too busy diving into the November new release goodness to post (excuses, eh?).  Here are the ones on my must-get list – warning: it’s long and pretty much all fantasy.  What are yours?

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Juliet Marillier‘s FLAME OF SEVENWATERS (fantasy): This is one of the books that has been occupying my time over the past week.  I have such love for these books.  Which meant I approached this book with slight trepidation – knowing that it was (very likely) the last in the series, I was dreading that FLAME wouldn’t quite live up to expectations. But I shouldn’t have been worried – from the very first paragraph, I was drawn into the captivating world of Sevenwaters that I’ve grown to know and love over the past five books.  The choice of Maeve as the protagonist was an inspired one – Juliet Marillier writes such strong heroines, and I liked how she didn’t shy away from tackling Maeve’s disability and its impact.  And the ending was very fitting, for both the book and the series.

Maeve, daughter of Lord Sean of Sevenwaters, was badly burned as a child and carries the legacy of that fire in her crippled hands. After ten years she’s returning home as a courageous, forthright woman with a special gift for taming difficult animals. But while her body’s scars have healed, her spirit remains fragile, as she fears the shadows of her past.

Sevenwaters is in turmoil. The fey prince Mac Dara has become desperate to see his only son, who is married to Maeve’s sister, return to the Otherworld. To force Lord Sean’s hand, Mac Dara has caused a party of innocent travelers on the Sevenwaters border to vanish

When Maeve finds one of the missing travelers murdered in the woods, she and her brother Finbar embark on a journey that may bring about the end of Mac Dara’s reign — or lead to a hideous death. But if she is successful, Maeve may open a door to a future she has not dared to believe possible…

Out now (excerpt)

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Tanya Huff‘s THE SILVERED (fantasy): And this is the book that’s currently keeping me up very late.  I don’t want to say very much and jinx things, because I’m only halfway through, but if it continues the way it started off, this could be a fantastic book. Yes, there are werewolves and mages in THE SILVERED, but it is so not your standard shapeshifter fantasy (so don’t stop reading here!).  For one, it isn’t urban fantasy – it’s this really interesting fantasy world, and gah, I really can’t describe it so I’m just going to grab the author’s one-sentence description from her LJ: “New standalone book, created world fantasy, with werewolves as the good guys, Naploeonic tech level…”.  I know, I’m so articulate.

On a side note, Tanya Huff has become an auto-buy author for me over the years – I wasn’t completely won over by her early fantasy books, but have loved her more recent works.  I am also very impressed by her versatility – she writes with such ease across high fantasy, urban fantasy, and military SF genres.

The Empire has declared war on the small, were-ruled kingdom of Aydori, capturing five women of the Mage-Pack, including the wife of the were Pack-leader. With the Pack off defending the border, it falls to Mirian Maylin and Tomas Hagen—she a low-level mage, he younger brother to the Pack-leader—to save them. Together the two set out on the kidnappers’ trail, racing into the heart of enemy territory. With every step the odds against them surviving and succeeding soar…

Out now (excerpt)

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Ilona AndrewsSTEEL’S EDGE (paranormal romance): I’m guessing I’m not the only one counting down the days to this release.  Even better, Ilona Andrews has promised a UK ebook release.  I am keeping my fingers crossed that they decide to release with a placeholder cover, instead of holding off the release until they get the proper series covers.  I mean, it’s the content that counts, isn’t it?  We can always get the cover later…

While I am more fond of their Kate Daniels books, the Edge series has some incredibly creative world-building happening.  I’m looking forward to whatever they decide to write next, now that they’ve wrapped this series up.

The Edge lies between worlds, on the border between the Broken, where people shop at Wal-Mart and magic is a fairy tale—and the Weird, where blueblood aristocrats rule, changelings roam, and the strength of your magic can change your destiny…

Charlotte de Ney is as noble as they come, a blueblood straight out of the Weird. But even though she possesses rare magical healing abilities, her life has brought her nothing but pain. After her marriage crumbles, she flees to the Edge to build a new home for herself. Until Richard Mar is brought to her for treatment, and Charlotte’s life is turned upside down once again.

Richard is a swordsman without peer, future head of his large and rambunctious Edger clan—and he’s on a clandestine quest to wipe out slavers trafficking humans in the Weird. So when his presence leads his very dangerous enemies to Charlotte, she vows to help Richard destroy them. The slavers’ operation, however, goes deeper than Richard knows, and even working together, Charlotte and Richard may not survive…

Out Nov 27 (excerpt)

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Sharon Shinn‘s STILL LIFE WITH SHAPESHIFTER (urban fantasy): It’s probably fair to say that I wasn’t in love with Sharon Shinn’s first foray into urban fantasy.  But as it wasn’t the writing I had problems with, I’m going to give this companion book a shot.  I’ve taken a quick peek at the early reviews, and they seem to be fairly positive…

Melanie Landon and her half-sister share a unique bond. For her entire life, Melanie has hidden the fact that Ann is a shape-shifter. The never-ending deception is a heavy weight to bear, but Melanie is determined to keep Ann’s secret and protect her from a world that simply wouldn’t understand.

For months, Melanie hasn’t seen or heard from Ann, in either of her forms. When a man shows up saying he’s there about her sister, Melanie fears the worst. But Brody Westerbrook doesn’t have information about Ann—he’s in search of it.

A freelance writer, Brody intends to include Ann in a book he’s writing about the existence of shape-shifters. While Melanie is immediately drawn to the stranger on her doorstep, she denies his claims, knowing that trusting him isn’t an option.

But when Ann finally appears looking thin and sick, Melanie realizes exposure is the least of their worries. Protecting her sister has always been such an enormous part of Melanie’s life, but as Ann’s health rapidly deteriorates, Melanie must come to grips with the fact that saving her may mean letting go…

Out now (excerpt)

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Laini Taylor‘s DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT (YA fantasy): Sequel to DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE, this one appears to be on everyone’s November reading list.  I loved the imaginative world-building in the first book, and want to see where the story goes next.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Out now (excerpt)

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Jim Butcher‘s COLD DAYS (urban fantasy): Speaking of books on everybody’s November list… the recent Dresden Files books have taken Harry’s story to a different level, and COLD DAYS promises to be as much of a page-turner as the previous books.  I know I keep grumbling around the lack of feeling in Harry’s relationships, but the story-telling makes up for the somewhat out-of-the-box female characters.

Spoiler-y description if you haven’t read the previous books, so I’ll skip this part.

Out Nov 27 (excerpt)

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Kevin Hearne‘s TRAPPED (urban fantasy): And speaking of Harry Dresden…  I’ve been meaning to pick up Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series for quite a while (the first three was released in quick succession towards the end of last year, IIRC) as I’ve been hearing good things – and usually combined with a “If you like the Dresden books…”.

While I would love to be original, yep, that’s a pretty good comparison, though with the plus of a refreshing take on various pantheons and mythologies.  I finally got around to reading these books while I was on holiday earlier in the year, and was just about to file them in my Pleasant-But-Not-Groundbreaking-UF bucket, when at the end of the third book, Hearne raises the stakes.  I love it when that happens in a series.  So yes, I’m planning on reading this one.

After twelve years of secret training, Atticus O’Sullivan is finally ready to bind his apprentice, Granuaile, to the earth and double the number of Druids in the world. But on the eve of the ritual, the world that thought he was dead abruptly discovers that he’s still alive, and they would much rather he return to the grave.

Having no other choice, Atticus, his trusted Irish wolfhound, Oberon, and Granuaile travel to the base of Mount Olympus, where the Roman god Bacchus is anxious to take his sworn revenge—but he’ll have to get in line behind an ancient vampire, a band of dark elves, and an old god of mischief, who all seem to have KILL THE DRUID at the top of their to-do lists.

Out Nov 27 (book page)