Books for November

It’s a strong month for new releases, which really means that I want some of these books RIGHT NOW. Fortunately for me (though not necessarily for my bank account), a lot of them are already out.

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17305016Juliet Marillier‘s DREAMER’S POOL (fantasy): Gorgeous cover aside (because it is truly one of the prettiest I’ve seen this year), a brand-new Juliet Marillier is always a cause for celebration.  Plus first in a new series – I’m excited to explore the new world she’s imagined here.

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

Out now

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20893315Tanya Huff‘s THE FUTURE FALLS (urban fantasy):  Tanya Huff’s become an auto-buy author for me in recent years.  I’ve always read her SFF books back since, well, forever, but they used to be of the take-it-or-leave-it variety.  I’m not sure whether it’s my reading tastes or her writing style that have changed over the years (possibly both), but her books have been hitting all the right buttons for me lately.

When Auntie Catherine warns the family of an approaching asteroid, the Gales scramble to keep humans from going the way of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for the world, they’re wielding a guitar and a dragon.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, which has caused some supernaturally complicated family shenanigans in the past. So when NASA and Doomsday Dan confirm Auntie Catherine’s dire prediction, Charlotte “Charlie” Gale turns to the family for help.

But Allie is unavailable because the universe seems determined to have her produce the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son of a Gale.  And the Aunties can’t help because they’re tied to the earth – although they are happy to provide their delicious, trademark pies.  And in the end, all Charlie has is a guitar…

…and Jack. The Dragon Prince, and a Sorcerer.

But Charlie might like Jack just a little too much, and Jack might like Charlie a little too much in return. Actually, between Allie’s hormones, the Aunties trying to force her and Jack into ritual, the Courts having way too much fun at the end of days, and Jack’s sudden desire to sacrifice himself for the good of the many, Charlie’s fairly certain that the asteroid is the least of her problems.

The Gales are going to need more than pie to save the world from an incoming asteroid. But together there isn’t anything they can’t deal with – except possibly each other.

Out now

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15788727Meljean Brook‘s THE KRAKEN KING (fantasy):  I adore her steampunk Iron Seas series (in fact, it’s the only steampunk series that works for me), but I stayed away from the serial release of this story earlier this year.  I’d see all the 5-star reviews pop up for each installment and had to force myself to stay away from that one-click button because I knew I’d want all the stories in one go. (It’s the same with Ilona Andrews and their Innkeepers Chronicles – I’m  waiting for the full novel to be released later this year…)

A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…

After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes.

But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…

Out now

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21840287ML Brennan‘s TAINTED BLOOD (urban fantasy): The second book was better than the first (which didn’t exactly suck), so I’ve high hopes for this book.  Fort’s family dynamics has been one of the more intriguing elements of this series so far, and this one looks to be all about family.

In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…

Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.

So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.

But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…

Out now

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21880559Josh Lanyon‘s FAIR PLAY (m/m romance):  Okay, I admit it – I love sequels.  Stand-alones are great, but when you get further books to learn more about the characters you fell in love with?  Nothing better.

Fifty years ago, Roland Mills belonged to a violent activist group. Now, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from publishing his memoirs.

When ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills is called out to examine the charred ruins of his childhood home, he quickly identifies the fire for what it is–arson. A knee injury may have forced Elliot out of the Bureau, but it’s not going to stop him from bringing the man who wants his father dead to justice.

Agent Tucker Lance is still working to find the serial killer who’s obsessed with Elliot and can’t bear the thought of his lover putting himself in additional danger. Straightlaced Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much–“opposing political viewpoints” is an understatement–but they’re united on this: Elliot needs to leave the case alone. Now.

Tucker would do nearly anything for the man he loves, but he won’t be used to gain Elliot access to the FBI’s resources. When the past comes back to play and everything both men had known to be true is questioned, their fragile relationship is left hanging in the balance.

Out Nov 10

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Hot sexy fit man leaning against treeViv Daniels‘ HEAR ME (paranormal NA): A surprise Christmas story from Viv Daniels (a.k.a. Diana Peterfreund)?  Count me in.

Listen… the bells have stopped ringing.

Once upon a time, Ivy belonged to Archer, body, heart, and soul. They spent long summer days exploring the forest, and long summer nights exploring each other. But that was before dark magic grew in the depths of the wilderness, and the people of Ivy’s town raised an enchanted barrier of bells to protect themselves from the threat, even though it meant cutting off the forest people—and the forest boy Ivy loved—forever.

And there’s a naked man lying in the snow.

Three years later, Ivy keeps her head down, working alone in her tea shop on the edge of town and trying to imagine a new future for herself, away from the forest and the wretched bells, and the memory of her single, perfect love. But in the icy heart of winter, a terrifying magic blooms—one that can reunite Ivy and Archer, or consume their very souls.

Out Nov 14

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21857389NIGHT SHIFT (urban fantasy): And to round off the month, novellas from Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Milla Vane (a.k.a. Meljean Brook), and Lisa Shearin.  Lisa Shearin’s contribution looks to be part of her new-ish series, which I haven’t read, so it’ll be a good taster.  There’s been buzz about Milla Vane’s barbarian romance, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out… and I don’t think I need to say anything about the first two authors.

Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark…

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight , as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella,Magic Steals , when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn’t a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

It’s seer Makenna Frazier’s first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.

Out Nov 25

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Books for June

It’s hard to believe it’s June already.  Though I probably suspect I feel like this at the start of every month.  I (sadly) don’t have a proper summer holiday planned, but that doesn’t mean I can’t put my summer reading list together!

So – June releases that have caught my eye:

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21798646Sarina Bowen‘s THE YEAR WE HID AWAY (NA romance): Sarina Bowen’s a new-to-me author who came to my attention when Diana Peterfreund did a cover reveal for the first in her series, THE YEAR WE FELL DOWN.  Which I read a couple of months back, and ended up liking quite a bit – I’ve a soft spot for the college setting (I get all nostalgic for my university days – it’s easy to remember just the good bits, isn’t it!), plus her characters grabbed my attention from the start.  So yes, I’m totally up for the second book.

She’s hiding something big. He’s hiding someone small.

Scarlet Crowley’s life was torn apart the day father was arrested for unspeakable crimes. Now the shock has worn off, but not the horror.

It’s a safe bet that Scarlet is the only first year at Harkness College who had to sneak past TV news trucks parked on her front lawn just to leave town. But college will be Scarlet’s fresh start. Clutching a shiny new student ID — with a newly minted name on it — she leaves it all behind. Even if it means lying to the boy she’s falling for.

Bridger McCaulley is a varsity hockey star known for being a player both on and off the ice. But a sobering family crisis takes that all away. Protecting his sister means a precarious living arrangement and constant deception. The only bright spot in his week is the few stolen hours he spends with Scarlet.

The two form a tentative relationship based on the understanding that some things must always be held back. But when grim developments threaten them both, going it alone just won’t work anymore. And if they can’t learn to trust one another now, the families who let them down will take everything they’ve struggled to keep.

Out now

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21523030Nalini Singh‘s SHIELD OF WINTER (paranormal romance): I dare you to name one PNR fan who’s not waiting on this book.  I’m actually really curious to see where she takes this series now, following the culmination of the main series arc to date in the last book.  And… I love the UK cover.

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to stifle her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

Out now (or June 5 for the UK)

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21849648SUMMER RAIN, edited by Sarah Frantz (romance): I’m not usually a fan of romance shorts (I find it difficult to believe in a HEA – or even a HFN – in the space of a short story), but this is for a good cause, and I’ve been meaning to read some of these authors (ahem – Mary Ann Rivers) for quite a while.

What happens when love gets caught in the rain?

In this romance anthology, RITA-Award winning author Molly O’Keefe shows us the power of a city thunderstorm from the top of a skyscraper, while Amy Jo Cousins soaks us in a rain in Spain. New York Times bestselling author Ruthie Knox’s heroine is devastated by a winter storm, while a summer thunderstorm grants Alexandra Haughton’s hero and heroine a second chance at love. Rain sparks self-awareness in the robot in Charlotte Stein’s story and allows Mary Ann Rivers’s heroine to fall in love with her hero and her own art. Rain causes romance between the college students in Audra North’s and Shari Slade’s stories, while romance causes rain in Cecilia Tan’s myth-inspired tale of a sacrifice to a demi-god. Nine romance novelettes, edited by Sarah Frantz.

All proceeds from the volume will be donated to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org), the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the United States.

Out June 9

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18755531Johanna Lindsey‘s STORMY PERSUASION (historical romance): Remember when I talked about how Justine Davis’ THE SKYPIRATE was my gateway to romance (and you all totally made fun of Dax Silverbrake’s name)?  Well, here’s another of my gateway romance authors – I must have read Johanna Lindsey’s Malory books a million times, and now she’s releasing a new one.  Yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve outgrown Lindsey and this is not going to live up to my expectations… but I’m going to buy it anyway.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Johanna Lindsey returns to the dazzlingly passionate world of the Malorys, an aristocratic family of rakehell adventurers and spirited ladies, in a thrilling new tale of unbridled desires.

James Malory sets sail for America to honor a promise he made to his in-laws: His and Georgina’s daughter, Jacqueline, will have her come-out in America. Judith and Jacqueline Malory are not simply cousins; they are inseparable best friends. Refusing to miss Jacqueline’s come-out in Connecticut, Judith convinces her parents to let her delay her London debut by a few weeks so she can accompany her cousin. Neither girl intends to fall in love during her first Season. But Judith’s plans are overturned when aboard ship she comes face-to-face with the ghost who has been haunting her dreams.

Unknown to the Malorys, deckhand Nathan Tremayne is a smuggler with a noose around his neck. Determined to carry out a covert mission in America that could gain him a pardon, Nathan senses that beautiful Judith Malory is trouble. Somehow the minx knows his secret—and now she’s blackmailing him into doing her bidding. While passions can soar on the high seas, Nathan knows this aristocratic beauty is merely amusing herself with a scoundrel like him.

When the unthinkable happens in Connecticut and the elder Malorys’ hands are tied, Nathan takes command of a dire situation. Captaining his own ship, he turns the tables on Judith, as he steers them into some intense Caribbean heat where he will fight with all his mettle to win the right to her heart.

Out June 10

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19425258Diana Gabaldon‘s WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD (historical fantasy): Just how long has it been since a Jamie/Claire book?  That was rhetorical, by the way – it was 2009 according to Goodreads, which means it’s been five years or so since I had to prop up the latest Gabaldon tome on cushions in order to actually read it.  I’m so doing the Kindle version this time.   And no, I can’t really remember what happened in the previous book now – may have to go and search out spoilers.

WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD is the eighth novel in the world-famous OUTLANDER series. In June of 1778, the world turns upside-down. The British army withdraws from Philadelphia, George Washington prepares to move from Valley Forge in pursuit, and Jamie Fraser comes back from the dead to discover that his best friend has married Jamie’s wife. The ninth Earl of Ellesmere discovers to his horror that he is in fact the illegitimate son of the newly-resurrected Jamie Fraser (a rebel _and_ a Scottish criminal!) and Jamie’s nephew Ian Murray discovers that his new-found cousin has an eye for Ian’s Quaker betrothed.

Meanwhile, Claire Fraser deals with an asthmatic duke, Benedict Arnold, and the fear that one of her husbands may have murdered the other. And in the 20th century, Jamie and Claire’s daughter Brianna is thinking that things are probably easier in the 18th century: her son has been kidnapped, her husband has disappeared into the past, and she’s facing a vicious criminal with nothing but a stapler in her hand. Fortunately, her daughter has a miniature cricket bat and her mother’s pragmatism.

The best of historical fiction with a Moebius twist, WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART’S BLOOD weaves the fibers of a family’s life through the tapestry of historical drama.

Out June 10

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22304800Julie Cross‘s RETURN TO US (YA romance): Her latest Karen/Jordan novella – always a fun read (why yes, I’ve finished this one).  Julie Cross has said she’ll be collecting the novellas to date plus one more (so four in total, if I’ve my maths right) to release as a collection, if you’ve been hesitating about buying the individual installments.

Summer is definitely heating up…

So yeah, that really happened. Karen’s fist connecting with TJ’s face.

Not only is TJ dealing with a decent sized bruise on his face where Karen gave her best attempt at a knock-out match, now he’s got some explaining to do after Jordan finds out what happened.

Karen’s not ready to forgive TJ for his tough-love tactics to help get her bar routine back in full swing, but she is ready to figure out how to get through to Jordan. He’s being a complete idiot, not dealing with his health issues, forcing her to keep things a secret from Coach Bentley.

With her teammate, Stevie’s, help Karen comes up with a plan to steer Jordan in the right direction—all she needs is a night alone with him and the hiking and camping expedition he promised her weeks ago might be the perfect opportunity.

Or her plan could backfire and he could slip further away from her.

While Karen and Jordan are out playing lumberjack couple in the Pocono Mountains, TJ is dealing with a stranger trying to give him advice on his tumbling, some pretty overt advances from one of Nina Jones’ gymnasts (aka: off limits), and a random hook-up that will most likely end up being a big mistake.

Out now

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20870070LB Gregg‘s SAM AND AARON (m/m romance): It’s been a while since a new LB Gregg, IIRC.  Her books have always been quirky fun, so I’m pleased she’s writing again.

With our family’s legacy, Meyers B&B, in the flailing hands of me, Sam Meyers, and my sister Wynne, we’re determined to revive the place. We’ve started a series of blind-date cooking classes, and taken on our first boarder. Granddad is even now rolling in his grave.

Signed up for the class is our new guest, Aaron Saunders, a Californian transplant who’s distractingly handsome and clearly up to no good. I can’t quite figure him out. He blew into town and has been relentless in his search for…something.

The sexy sneak is intriguing. And we’ve had a steamy moment. Or two. But now I can’t stop wondering why he’s searching in secret. From the library, to the historical society, to my own backyard, Aaron leaves no stone unturned or record book unopened. He’s definitely gotten my attention. But that might not be the only thing he’s after.

Out June 16

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Other books on my radar:

  • Meljean Brook‘s self-published novella, FROZEN, to tide me over until the full release of THE KRAKEN KING
  • Maybe the latest anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois, ROGUES – unusually for a Martin/Dozois anthology, the theme and contributors haven’t really grabbed me this time.  Still sounds good though.

 

Recent Reading + Links

œF$¿Æ‘$8Òò¤»däå¸R8BII can admit when I’m wrong and this is one of those times.

Some time back, Rachel Bach‘s new SF trilogy started making the rounds with some rather positive buzz.  Me… well, I kind of sniffed and said I read her debut fantasy novel (as Rachel Aaron) and wasn’t massively impressed.

But Nathan, and Jan, and Hils kept on talking up this series, and when I spotted the first book in my library, I caved and picked FORTUNE’S PAWN off the shelf.  And this is really me surfacing briefly from the third book to say that umm… everyone else was right, and this is a brilliant fast-paced space opera (with a fairly solid romance subplot – that can make or break the deal for me) and a protagonist that just grabbed me from the first chapter.  Lots of fun and if you’re in the mood for a SF, this would fit the bill quite nicely.

There is a silver lining to every cloud – the whole trilogy is now out, so I’ve been able to dive straight into the next book as soon as I’ve finished one.  I love my Kindle.

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Elsewhere, Meljean Brook‘s serial, THE KRAKEN KING, is being released – I’m determinedly avoiding all the (positive) reviews as I’m holding out for the full novel.  Mainly because I don’t think I’m a serial girl at heart (I rambled on a bit about my experience with reading John Scalzi‘s THE HUMAN DIVISION serial a while back), but I’ve been liking her various posts, especially this one about what actually constitutes a cliffhanger.  There was some discussion about narrative turning points – I said I thought they were cliffhangers, which I detest (as you may be aware!).

So interestingly (to me) and coincidentally, the first of the Rachel Bach trilogy ended with one of those turning points – and that didn’t annoy me that much.  I’m thinking that it was because I had the second book bought and downloaded onto my Kindle, so I didn’t have to wait to find out the outcome, plus regardless of that event *trying to be vague here*, I’d want to know what happens next.

FWIW, I didn’t care for the twist, but then I don’t really care for that kind of twist in general *trying to be even vaguer*.

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And two final links with less commentary:

I really liked this post by Liz de Jager @ tor.com on how she (and her agent) sold her debut novel (the book itself also sounds very interesting and I’m looking forward to its release).

Totally non-newsy, but I came across Kristin Cashore‘s cover gallery, with all her international covers – I’ve always loved the more commonly-seen US and UK covers, but enjoyed looking at the very different interpretations across the board.  Especially the Japanese cover for GRACELING (about one-fifth of the way down) and the German ones.

Romance, Mystery, and a Bit of Fantasy

I’ve been pretty bad at cross-posting my Goodreads reviews here – I think I heaved a sigh of relief when I finished with my 2011 reads, and then promptly forgot to continue cross-posting.  Here’s what I read in January 2012 (talk about a trip down memory lane) – additional thoughts in italics.

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Sleeping Partner (Modern Romance Series Extra) (Modern Romance Series Extra)Sleeping Partner (Modern Romance Series Extra) by Kelly Hunter (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sexy, sweet, yet sentimental romance – what more could you ask for? The humorous banter between Mia and Ethan made me laugh, and I loved the side interactions between Ethan and his father. The setting was fantastic – the local colour provided additional depth to the story, which was really all about complicated messy family ties and love.

The last of my Kelly Hunter backlist glom, IIRC. Her next release (finally!) is out in November 2013 – she posted a teaser scene on her blog and is calling WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW a “…friends-to-lovers, fake marriage amnesia story”.  How many more tropes can you pack into a category romance?  Obviously, I cannot wait. 

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Naked Once MoreNaked Once More by Elizabeth Peters (mystery)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book compulsively readable, just like all my other Elizabeth Peters – there was a lot of “just one more chapter” bargaining with myself.

As Jacqueline Kirby, the protagonist, is an author, I inevitably spent some time wondering how much of the publishing industry experience described is true and how much was just loving(?) parody. Jacqueline is the sort of person you either love or hate – I think I would detest her in real life, but as a heroine in a book, she is hilarious and her self-confidence rather impressive!

There were enough twist and turns in the plot to completely bamboozle me, and while I lost track of who was who occasionally (there is, or it feels as though there is, a cast of thousands in this book), it all came together in the end. And while there are also some side plots that don’t contribute very much to the main story, they just made this book all the more entertaining.

This was my last unread Elizabeth Peters mystery.  Jacqueline Kirby is no Amelia Peabody, but this mini-series of four books is still fun.

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His Untamed InnocentHis Untamed Innocent by Sara Craven (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was an impulse purchase – I liked the premise and recall liking some of Sara Craven’s previous books. While the setting felt current enough, Marin came across as being too much on the naive side, and I never got into their romance. Nothing wrong really with this story, but it doesn’t deliver anything fresh either.

I don’t really remember very much about this book unfortunately.  Standard category romance fare.

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The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am very late to the party on this one judging from the number of GR reviews. I’m not quite sure what took me so long to pick this up, but winning the second book Heart of Steel in a giveaway hosted by the author finally prompted me to start reading THE IRON DUKE.

And you know what? I really really liked it.

I loved the incredibly imaginative, in-depth, and consistent world-building. There wasn’t just a passing nod to steampunk – instead, everything, including the mindset and behaviour of the characters, came across as note-perfect, making this alternate-history world feel real and believable.

The plot itself is not a complicated one – it’s a murder mystery with political undertones, combined with some old-school romance. But combined with the refreshingly unique backdrop, this was an thoroughly entertaining and satisfying read.

I know this book generated some controversy, which I do want to mention [click through to GR review to see spoiler].

I’m glad I have HEART OF STEEL in my TBR pile, because I need to know more about this world.

I never quite got into Meljean Brook’s Guardians series (read the first, stumbled to a halt halfway through the second, and am pretty sure I still have the third (and possibly the fourth – what can I say…) in my TBR pile somewhere) but THIS – I love her Iron Seas world.

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Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meljean Brook has probably done the impossible with this series – that is, I’m actually reading (and loving) zombie books. To be fair, it is more that I’m reading books that just happen to have zombies in them, but still, that’s more than any other author has done.

After the first book, The Iron Duke, I admit to secretly wanting to see more of alternate-world England in HEART OF STEEL. While I was initially disappointed that this was not to be the case, Yasmeen and Archimedes made such a fitting h/h pairing and I was rapidly caught up in their story. I liked that the author did not shy away from the more difficult parts – Yasmeen would not have become a mercenary ship captain by being all sweetness and light, and Meljean Brook showed the brutality that Yasmeen would have had demonstrated over her career. And yet somehow, there was still humour and charm in this story, and I was firmly rooting for Yasmeen and Archimedes to get their HEA.

This is such a fantastic (and fantastical) world, and I’m excited about the next Iron Seas book.

*In the interest of transparency, note that I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Meljean Brook. I can safely say this hasn’t influenced my review or rating (though I do get a feeling of glee when I look at my personalised copy).

Ummm… giveaways work?  Seriously, I’m glad I entered (and won), else it would have probably taken me a couple of years more to stumble upon this series.

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Majesty, Mistress...Missing HeirMajesty, Mistress…Missing Heir by Caitlin Crews (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this one up after hearing good things about the author. The Yorkshire setting appealed and I liked how she played around with the accidental pregnancy plotline. Having said that, I never really connected with the h/h, and it ended up being a so-so read. I did like Caitlin Crews’ writing and I would probably try another of her books though.

Another middle-of-the-road category romance.

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Affairs of Steak (A White House Chef Mystery, #5)Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve had both hits and misses with this series, so was slightly cautious when I started this book, but ended up liking it overall.

I was glad that we got to see a different side to Sargeant, who has been a pretty one-dimensional villain in previous books (though Virgil now appears to have taken his place!). There was some genuinely suspenseful moments in this book, and all in all, it was a pretty good story. As usual, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek into the running of the White House and Secret Service. And Ollie’s new romantic interest is slowly starting to grow on me.

These books tend to be released around January, so they’re starting to signal New Year to me.  Probably the only cosy mystery series I’m following now.  

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February ThawFebruary Thaw by Tanya Huff (fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love that Tanya Huff has been re-releasing her short story backlist, and I enjoyed every single one in this collection (which, trust me, is a rather rare occurrence).

Standouts for me were A Midsummer’s Night Dream Team (a hilarious take on what happens when elves decide they’re interested in the Olympics!) and February Thaw (a marital falling out between Hades and Persephone), but the other five shorts were good reads too.

I’m not quite sure when Tanya Huff turned into an auto-buy author – I think she kind of snuck up on me.  I’ve read her books since forever, I think, but it’s only fairly recently I’ve started stalking out her new releases page.  

A Bit of Everything

I’m starting to realise I actually read a lot last October, despite doing what I thought were 15-hour working days.  Here’s what else ended up on my Goodreads shelves (as always, additional commentary in italics).

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Angels of DarknessAngels of Darkness by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

ANGELS was an anthology that was worth the money for me. Usually anthologies tend to have at least one author I’m indifferent to, but this one had the bonus of me liking (if not loving) all four contributors.

I loved the peek into Ilona Andrews’ new Alpha world – more please? It was definitely darker and scarier compared to their Kate/Curran books, more reminiscent of their The Edge universe somehow. Sharon Shinn’s Samaria novella – well, I’m a total Samaria fangirl and while this was not the strongest story ever, just being able to revisit the world made the story worth it for me. And I liked Meljean Brook’s Guardian contribution despite me having stalled out early in her series (I suspect I would have gotten a whole lot more out of this story if I had known the full backstory), while Nalini Singh’s novella was enjoyable even though I haven’t loved her latest Guild Hunter books.

I think this was one of the anthologies I was most excited about last year, especially as it had a Samaria story.  I didn’t regret splashing out on the trade paperback edition.

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Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum, #18)Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich (mystery)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It used to be I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the next Stephanie Plum book. Nowadays, I put in a library request and it sits unread until close to the due date.

I didn’t care for Smokin’ Seventeen but EIGHTEEN surprised me – and in a good way. Alongside the usual zany antics from Lula et al plus the usual Morelli-or-Ranger dilemma, there was actually a plot that made sense. Yes, the usual suspects turn up, but Stephanie has actually developed some skills – both in bounty-hunting and self-defense AND she may – just may – be taking responsibility for her own actions.

I’m cautiously optimistic about the next book (but I’m still getting it from the library).

Ha.  I have just put in my library reservation for NOTORIOUS NINETEEN, as it happens.  I will keep you posted on whether the slight upwards trend continues (probably in a year’s time at the rate I’m going).

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Shadow Kin (The Half-Light City, #1)Shadow Kin by M.J. Scott (fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t quite sure if this was urban fantasy or not when I picked it up – answer: it’s not, despite the very UF-like cover. Which was a bonus, because I was in the mood for something different.

And this was different – to an extent. I liked the magic system, especially sunmages, but struggled with the incorporation of vampires and beastkin (i.e. shapeshifters/werewolves). I think the world-building suffered somewhat from the too-many-paranormal-creatures syndrome. The story is told in alternating POVs, which was slightly confusing as I really couldn’t tell the difference between the voices. I finally figured out that the symbols at the start of each section indicated the narrator, which helped – but I shouldn’t really need visual cues to tell POV.

However, good ending and I ended up liking this story well enough. I would probably get the next book to see how the writing and story develops.

I’ve not picked up the sequel actually.  I saw BLOOD KIN in the bookstore and was considering it, then I remembered the lack of distinct voices in the POV shifts in this book, and decided I didn’t really need to know what happens next.  Unless of course, one of you has read it and think it’s worth picking up?  

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Canyons of Night (The Arcane Society,#12, Looking Glass Trilogy,#3,  Harmony, #8)Canyons of Night by Jayne Castle (paranormal romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jayne Ann Krentz (and her various pseudonyms) used to be an autobuy for me – however, the only books of hers I regularly read nowadays are the Jayne Castle ones. I suspect it’s because the paranormal aspects that so annoy me when they appear in her historicals and contemporaries fit in nicely with her futuristic romances.

If you’ve read other Harmony books, you know exactly what to expect from CANYONS OF NIGHT. Hero meets heroine, they argue, then realise their talents dovetail perfectly together, and have a HEA (after getting rid of the bad guys). Having said that, I liked how Slade and Charlotte had a bit of a history, the chemistry between the two, and the small-town atmosphere. The suspense angle? Didn’t work for me.

And Rex the dust-bunny (for a change, belonging to the hero, not the heroine) and his fondness for sparkly objects? Love. Yep, I may be just reading this series for the dust-bunnies.

I know, I know.  This is futuristic romance-LITE, but I can’t help myself.  

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What Happened To GoodbyeWhat Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen (YA romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was engrossed in this book from start to finish. Sarah Dessen can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, and if you read too many in one go, her plots can start to feel slightly recycled. But WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE was complicated in the way the best YAs are. The beginning chapters hinted at hidden mysteries in Mclean’s life – the different names, the must-orders from the restaurant’s menu… they all promised a good story and I wasn’t disappointed. Mclean’s relationship with her parents came across as realistic – love mixed in with resentment and confusion – and at the end, I admit to a few sniffles. This book left me with warm fuzzy feelings.

I slightly overdosed on Sarah Dessen when I first stumbled over her books and did a Dessen glom, but this reminded me of how good her books can be.

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Mastiff (Beka Cooper, #3)Mastiff by Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A really long book that could have possibly done with some additional editing as it dragged in places. I’m glad to have Beka’s story completed (and the linkage between her family and Alanna’s explained!), though I would have liked to have spent more time with Beka’s friends and family who we met in the first book. [Slight spoiler – highlight to read: The twist at the end left me slightly bemused and sad – I suppose it was part of Beka’s growing up but, well.] All in all, I’ve liked this glimpse into Tortall’s history, but I’ll probably wouldn’t re-read the trilogy.

I tend to be a diehard Tortall fangirl, but this was not my favourite of the books, unfortunately.  On the other hand, the Mark Reads chapter-by-chapter reviews for her Alanna books are reminding me what a fantastic series that was.

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Quarter Share (Golden Age of the Solar Clipper, #1)Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell (SF)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this following a suggestion when I asked for space opera recs, with the caveat this wasn’t exactly space opera with big battles etc, but focusing on the trading side of things.

And it’s a easy read – a coming-of-age academy-type story, but this time, the academy being a merchant spaceship. Interesting world, and I can see myself getting the next to follow Ishmael on his adventures.

I did buy the next book, but have stalled a couple of chapters in.

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Slow Ride (Fast Track, #5)Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I liked SLOW RIDE more than the previous book The Chase, which perhaps isn’t saying too much.

What I liked about this one? Tuesday and Kendall’s interactions – having female friendships amidst the testosterone-fueled atmosphere is always a nice contrast. And you felt that they were real friends. I also liked how Tuesday’s journalistic background was incorporated through the articles and gossip columns inserts – they were fun. And (not that I’m saying I have first-hand experience or anything – ahem), the drunken scenes came across as being spot on… [Slight spoiler – highlight to read: Although was alcoholism an actual problem for Tuesday? I’m not quite sure – and while I did think that Erin McCarthy was trying to tackle a serious issue, I’m not quite sure if it worked. Which probably means it didn’t.]

What I didn’t really care for: I did wonder why Kendall and Elec’s storyline had pivotal scenes in this book – this isn’t their story and really, it should have been wrapped up in the previous book. And while this series has a reputation for having some really steamy sex scenes (and I have loved the first few books), I felt this book had too many sex scenes scattered throughout that didn’t really advance the plot. However, it was interesting to see (very light) BDSM in a mainstream contemporary romance – a sign of the times?

Tuesday came across as a bit of a caricature at times, and too much on the laddish side – does anyone really ever describe themselves as “looking like ass”? Eh. And finally, the final argument was a bit OTT and I admit I lost respect for Tuesday at that point – drunk or not, she should have known better. I think it just came off as Diesel/Daniel being too nice for her.

So the jury’s still out on this series – I’ll still be reading the next, but not rushing out to buy.

I bought the next book FAST TRACK, but again stalled in the first couple of chapters – the hero came across as being incredibly condescending and the heroine had zero self-esteem.  Though I have seen relatively good reviews around, so I may return to the book at some point… 

Books for September

This is one of those posts that fall into the “better late than never” category – here are the September new releases that I’m getting.

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Seanan McGuire‘s ASHES OF HONOR (urban fantasy): If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (or even for the past few weeks, come to think of it), you know I’ve been a big fan of Toby Daye ever since the first book.  Somehow Seanan McGuire gets better and better with each installment, and I’ve been so caught up in Toby’s story that it’s hard to believe this is the sixth book in the series already.  I’ve already finished ASHES OF HONOR – without wanting to spoil things, it’s oh-so-satisfying on so many levels.

It’s been almost a year since October “Toby” Daye averted a war, gave up a county, and suffered personal losses that have left her wishing for a good day’s sleep. She’s tried to focus on her responsibilities—training Quentin, upholding her position as Sylvester’s knight, and paying the bills—but she can’t help feeling like her world is crumbling around her, and her increasingly reckless behavior is beginning to worry even her staunchest supporters.

To make matters worse, Toby’s just been asked to find another missing child…only this time it’s the changeling daughter of her fellow knight, Etienne, who didn’t even know he was a father until the girl went missing. Her name is Chelsea. She’s a teleporter, like her father. She’s also the kind of changeling the old stories warn about, the ones with all the strength and none of the control. She’s opening doors that were never meant to be opened, releasing dangers that were sealed away centuries before—and there’s a good chance she could destroy Faerie if she isn’t stopped.

Now Toby must find Chelsea before time runs out, racing against an unknown deadline and through unknown worlds as she and her allies try to avert disaster. But danger is also stirring in the Court of Cats, and Tybalt may need Toby’s help with the biggest challenge he’s ever faced.

Toby thought the last year was bad. She has no idea.

Out now (author’s book page)

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Meljean Brook‘s RIVETED (paranormal romance): This is the third book in her Iron Seas series.  I hesitated a long time before I picked up the first book, THE IRON DUKE, because I stalled a couple of books into her other series (I do need to give them another go one day), but I really shouldn’t have.  Her steampunk world is so intricately crafted (Hilcia referred to these books as social science fiction, which is an excellent description) and she gives good romance.

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home . . . but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard

Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam…

Out now (excerpt)

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Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNSPOKEN (YA paranormal): I’ve such love for Sarah Rees Brennan’s stories and this first book of the Lynburn Legacy trilogy sounds like a must-have.  I mean, modern YA Gothic?  Count me in, especially if the story’s laced with her unique brand of humour, which never fails to make me laugh out loud.

Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?

Out now (author’s book page)

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Lee Child‘s A WANTED MAN (suspense): I’m always excited about a new Jack Reacher (and admit that I am planning to see the movie, despite the Tom Cruise thing).  I think the recent Reacher books have been a bit hit or miss (and have amped up the violence), but Lee Child’s still an auto-buy author for me.

Four people in a car, hoping to make Chicago by morning. One man driving, eyes on the road. Another man next to him, telling stories that don’t add up. A woman in the back, silent and worried. And next to her, a huge man with a broken nose, hitching a ride east to Virginia.

An hour behind them, a man lies stabbed to death in an old pumping station. He was seen going in with two others, but he never came out. He has been executed, the knife work professional, the killers vanished. Within minutes, the police are notified. Within hours, the FBI descends, laying claim to the victim without ever saying who he was or why he was there.

All Reacher wanted was a ride to Virginia. All he did was stick out his thumb. But he soon discovers he has hitched more than a ride. He has tied himself to a massive conspiracy that makes him a threat—to both sides at once.

In Lee Child’s white-hot thriller, nothing is what it seems, and nobody is telling the truth. As the tension rises, the twists come fast and furious, keeping readers guessing and gasping until the explosive finale.

Out Sept 25 (excerpt)

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Finally, there are a number of books I’ve been eyeing:

  • The annual(?) anthology edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni LP Kelner – this one is titled AN APPLE FOR THE CREATURE and has an Ilona Andrews contribution.  I’ve requested this from my library because I can’t justify buying a hardcover when I really only want to read one story
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  • I really liked Joanne Dobson‘s Karen Pelletier mystery series, which was set in a New England college campus.  She’s co-authoring a new series called Wartime in New York, and the first is out this month (FACE OF THE ENEMY) – I’m always a sucker for historical mysteries.
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  • I read Rae Carson‘s YA fantasy debut THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS earlier this year and liked it well enough, though I think the positive hype led me to have overly-high expectations.  The second, THE CROWN OF EMBERS, is out this month and while I do want to read it, I will most probably wait for the paperback.
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  • There’s a Christmas anthology called MISCHIEF AND MISTLETOE (less than 100 days to Christmas!) coming out this month – I wanted to get it until I realised it was around £8.  Contributors are the historical romance authors who blog at Word Wenches, including Jo Beverley and Mary Jo Putney, so again, I’ll probably get it when it drops to a lower price point.

Linkage for the Week

My post for Holly‘s Seven Days for Sevenwaters is up today – go read why I didn’t really think Juliet Marillier‘s books were for me (spoiler: I was so wrong).  Big thanks to Holly for organising the event and for letting me ramble in her space – I’ve really loved all the other posts this week.  Some were touching, others hilarious, but all heartfelt – plus a wonderful bonus: a post by Juliet Marillier herself offering up her version of Oscars for the series.

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I had a bit of a dilemma this week when both Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNSPOKEN and Meljean Brook’s RIVETED appeared simultaneously (well, almost – I think UNSPOKEN arrived a few seconds earlier) on my Kindle.  After much umm-ing and ahh-ing, I went for RIVETED (and then my Kindle promptly died, which is a story for another time – it is now working, so all is right with the world again).  But this is really a very roundabout way of telling you that although I haven’t yet read UNSPOKEN, there is another free Lynburn Legacy story available, which is making me very excited about actually starting on UNSPOKEN.

Also while on UNSPOKEN, I love this post about its cover so much.  It’s how I first heard about “cut-paper art” and I think Beth White (the cover artist) has incredible talent.

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And speaking of covers (note the smooth segue), this Dear Author post about digital publishing and covers was fascinating.

In a way, covers are less important to me than they were a few years back, because I rely so much more on blog recommendations as opposed to random bookstore browsing.  And with the rise of self-publishing, I’ve stopped automatically associating poorly-designed covers with bad stories.  There could be a wonderful story lurking behind that horrible cover with Comic Sans font (I know, cover snob much?).

But there is something about a great cover that makes me happy (and yes, sometimes acts as a tipping point for a purchase) and it was really interesting having a bit more insight into cover design decisions, especially for digital-only editions.

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I liked this review of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller‘s DRAGON SHIP by Liz Bourke at Tor.com, though I think she liked the book marginally more than I did.  Like her, I thought DRAGON SHIP was more of a bridging book, one that was setting up the next chapter to be told in this series, but I was left slightly unsatisfied by the number of plot threads still left dangling at the end of the book.  Having said that, it’s always nice to revisit the Liaden universe, so I’m glad that they’ve sold five (FIVE!!) new books in the series to Baen.  Happy times.

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Finally, if you’re like me and avoid Facebook like the plague, but still want a way to keep up with the authors who post updates on their Facebook page, here’s what you need to get their Facebook RSS feed so you can read updates in your feed reader.  I just discovered this and it works like a dream.

There’s also a way to get the Twitter RSS feed into your feed reader – use this URL:

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/%5Busername%5D.rss

So if you want to follow my (not very exciting) Twitter feed without actually being on Twitter yourself – you would subscribe to this link:

http://twitter.com/statuses/user_timeline/meandmybooks.rss

That’s my technology tip of the day!

My Auto-buy Authors: The 2012 Romance Edition

Auto-buy Authors definition: You don’t have to know anything about their latest book, you just buy.  As soon as the release hits the shelves.

My auto-buy authors have changed a lot over the years, partly as my genre preferences have changed, but also because the internet has opened my eyes to numerous new-to-me authors out there.  You can probably guess at my list from either my monthly new releases posts (they’re always on there!) or my sidebar with authors I’ve blogged about, but I thought it would be interesting to pull both past and present together in a single post.  And then I decided to break it down by genre, else it would be a bit of an epic post.

So first up, romance.

Historical romance

There was a time when historicals made up the majority of my reading, now it is very rare that I run out to buy one on the day of release.  So the authors I still buy: Eloisa James (true fangirl here), Jo Beverley (primarily for her Georgian settings), Julia Quinn, possibly Lisa Kleypas (if she ever returns to historicals).

Old favourites who I’ve stopped buying: Amanda Quick, Judith McNaught, Julie Garwood , Mary Jo Putney, Stephanie Laurens. Their recent releases (recent being relative here) feel as though they’ve lost the magic that their early books had.

Authors who have sadly passed away: Georgette Heyer – I’ve all her books, both romances and mysteries; Elizabeth Mansfield – I’ve a lot of her books and her backlist is being released in e-format (yay!); Eva Ibbotson, though I don’t think of her as “traditional” historical romance

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Contemporary romance

It’s not a genre that I read a lot, but if you include category romances in this subgenre, Kelly Hunter was my 2011 discovery.  And I used to read Lynne Graham as my guilty pleasure, but either my tastes have changed or her writing has.   Oh, Suzanne Brockmann – though does it count as an auto-buy if you only like certain series?  Her new paranormal/suspense series is not working for me.

I used to love Jayne Ann Krentz and Linda Howard.  Past tense being the operative word – I liked JAK’s straight contemps, but her recent releases with paranormal themes just leave me cold.  And it’s been years since I’ve loved a new Howard.  Who else?  I follow Erin McCarthy’s stockcar racing series, but don’t read all her books, so I wouldn’t really count her as an autobuy author.

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M/M romance

Josh Lanyon.  I’ve only started reading m/m romance in the past few years, but he is one of my all-time favourite authors regardless of genre.  Other auto-buy authors?  KA Mitchell. Harper Fox. Jordan Castillo Price.

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Paranormal romance

Ummm… it’s a lot more series-specific here.  Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changeling books. Meljean Brook‘s Iron Seas series – I abandoned her Guardians series a couple of books in (okay, one and a half books in) and have yet to go back.  Though seeing I’ve really liked her steampunk romance book, I should give it another go.  Ilona Andrews for their Edge series (I classify the Kate Daniels books as UF).

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Fantasy romance

Drawing a blank here.  I think I lean more towards romantic fantasy, which I’ll save for the fantasy post (which I suspect will be longer).  There is Elizabeth Vaughan, but I wouldn’t call her an auto-buy author.

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YA romance

I’ve loved both of Stephanie Perkins‘ books, so I’m guessing she probably counts as an auto-buy now.  I enjoy Sarah Dessen’s books though they do come across as a bit same-y after a while, and the one Jennifer Echols book I’ve read, but I don’t think that qualifies them as auto-buys for me.  This is probably the subgenre I read least.

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I think that’s it for romance – how do your auto-buys compare to mine?

Links of Interest

I nearly missed a typo and the post title was almost Kinks of Interest – which may have attracted more attention admittedly.  LINKS to items that have caught my attention recently:

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Courtney Milan put up a post about royalties received from her self-published v. traditionally published novellas so far – fascinating reading.  Ebooks have completely changed the publishing landscape from where it was a few years ago.

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Congratulations to Mary Jo Putney on her marriage – I loved her wedding post and pictures @ Word Wenches.

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Kristin Cashore answers some BITTERBLUE questions on her blog – be warned as there are spoilers about GRACELING, but I definitely appreciate the thought she put into the answers.

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John Scalzi puts up a thought-provoking post about straight white males and umm… privilege – having just read (and loved) Ernest Cline‘s READY PLAYER ONE, it was an interesting (and timely to me) analogy he chose to use (and comments are worth reading too).

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Sourcebooks’ Discover a New Love is doing a cover vote for the re-release of Patricia Rice‘s MUST BE MAGIC historical romance – both options based on very different concepts.  I’m not massively keen on either (the elements in the non-traditional option don’t feel cohesive enough, while the more period version is on the boring side), but if pushed, would probably go for the second.

Speaking of Discover a New Love, has anyone signed up for their monthly subscription package?  I was briefly tempted, but not all their books would be available to international readers, and I wasn’t sure if the more limited selection would work for me.

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Meljean Brook has had a website redesign and is giving away ten copies of THE IRON DUKE (UK edition) to celebrate (and for feedback on the new website) – I read this earlier in the year and was completely caught up in the world she created.

She’s also put up the UK cover for the third book, RIVETED, which is out later this year – I love.  I’m really pleased these books are being released in the UK as well.

Books for October

New month, new releases – here are the ones I’m getting:

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ANGELS OF DARKNESS anthology (fantasy): It’s rare when you’ve read all four authors in an anthology; it’s even rarer when you like all four.  But that’s the case with this one – Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, and Sharon Shinn all in one book. *happy dance*

I get my Shinn fix for the year (I don’t think she has a full-length novel out this year?) as she returns to the world of Samaria.  Ilona Andrews’ contribution is from the world of the Alphas mentioned on their blog every now and again – looking forward to finally reading it.  Nalini Singh contributes a Guild Hunter novella and Meljean Brook a Guardian one – I admit to stalling somewhat on both these series, so this may give me the impetus to continue.

The (slightly boring) blurb:

Tales of alpha angels…from four alpha authors.  They soar through the night, unearthly creatures of legends and lore. Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance explore the rapture of the heavens above, and the darkness below in four all-new stories of angels and guardians, and good and evil.

Out Oct 4

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Erin McCarthy‘s SLOW RIDE (contemporary romance): I pretty much glommed the first three books in one go when I came across this stock-car racing series – it was the perfect combination of testosterone-filled settings and steamy romance.  However, the fourth and most recent (THE CHASE) didn’t really do it for me – I just didn’t get the relationship and found the plot a bit OTT.  Having said that, I’m still planning on getting this one just because of how much I liked the first three.

Blurb:

As a tribute to her late journalist father, Tuesday Jones is planning a career benefit, auctioning off racing memorabilia and meet-and-greets with drivers. Ex-racing star Diesel Lange has had his own brush with death, and is determined not to waste another minute of his life- especially when he meets Tuesday. He wants nothing more than to shift their romance into high gear, but he knows she’s still grieving. Can Diesel do the one thing he could never do on the track and take it slow?

Out Oct 4 (excerpt)

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Catherine Asaro‘s CARNELIANS (SF): Speaking of series stalling, I never quite got around to finishing the prequel to this book, DIAMOND STAR – not because it wasn’t good, but because I had a feeling it was going to go somewhere rather painful.  And I didn’t want to read that.  I know – stupid, huh?  Anyway, I now have to bite the bullet and finish that story because I really want to read the latest in her Skolian series.

Blurb:

Two emperors navigate an uneasy peace, while a powerful trader guild does everything in its power to bring on war. And as if Kelric, the Skolian Imperator, didn’t have enough problems, his own brother—who happens to be a rock star of galactic proportions—has a hit song that calls the traders out as the hidebound blueblood jerks they are, and pleads for an end to centuries of war. Kelric and his Eubian Trader Empire counterpart Jabriol attempt finally to meet in a public summit and sign a treaty that will save billions of lives and end the grinding, millennium-long war. But assassins lurk everywhere, and intrigue is afoot as the baroque old order has no intention of giving up its war-bought privilege and power without a fight to the death—and they don’t care if they take the rest of galactic civilization down with them.

Out now (excerpt)

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DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS anthology edited by George RR Martin and Gardner Dozois (urban fantasy): These two editors have a talent for attracting big names to their genre-crossover anthologies, and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS is no exception.  There’s Patricia Briggs, Diana Gabaldon (new Lord John Grey novella!), and Charlaine Harris amongst others.  And this time around, the theme is mysteries, so of course I’m going to cave and buy.

Blurb:

All new strange cases of death and magic in the city by some of the biggest names in urban fantasy.

In this all-new collection of urban fantasy stories, editors George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois explore the places where mystery waits at the end of every alley and where the things that go bump in the night have something to fear…

Out now

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Tamora Pierce‘s MASTIFF (YA fantasy): The previous book was published back in April 2009 – talk about a long wait for this trilogy to be wrapped up.  I’ll be honest – none of Tamora Pierce’s later books have yet displaced the original Alanna quartet from the top of my favourites list, but I’m always up for another visit to Tortall, especially when it’s set in the past and gives us tantalising peeks at how Alanna’s Tortall was shaped.

Blurb:

Beka and her friends will face their greatest and most important challenge ever when the young heir to the kingdom vanishes. They will be sent out of Corus on a trail that appears and disappears, following a twisting road throughout Tortall. It will be her greatest Hunt—if she can survive the very powerful people who do not want her to succeed in her goal.

Out now