Books for June

I’d apologise for my absence, but it was a reading v. blogging thing!  I’ve just inhaled all seven books (plus a couple of short stories) of Jodi Taylor‘s madcap time-travel series.  Post to follow, hopefully, but it’s a solid recommend just in case you were wondering…

Now that I’m sadly caught up with The Chronicles of St Mary’s series, here are the June new releases I’m planning on getting – it’s a short list, but there are some good ones.

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SUMMER DAYS, SUMMER NIGHTS, edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA romance anthology): This sounds like the perfect summer beach read (or for those of us unlikely to make it to beaches in the next few months, the perfect err… summer balcony read?).  Some big-name YA authors in this anthology, including Leigh Bardugo (loved her SIX OF CROWS) and obviously Perkins herself.

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Featuring stories by Leigh Bardugo, Francesca Lia Block, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Brandy Colbert, Tim Federle, Lev Grossman, Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, Veronica Roth, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E. Smith.

Out now

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28161530Sarina Bowen’s BITTERSWEET (contemporary romance): I’m excited about this new series from Sarina Bowen.  I love her writing, and I’m intrigued by lumbersexual farmers!  Also, we debated the covers at Nath’s – mixed reaction to the covers themselves, but everyone’s getting the books…

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the orchard.

The last person Griffin Shipley expects to find stuck in a ditch on his Vermont country road is his ex-hookup. Five years ago they’d shared a couple of steamy nights together. But that was a lifetime ago.

At twenty-seven, Griff is now the accidental patriarch of his family farm. Even his enormous shoulders feel the strain of supporting his mother, three siblings and a dotty grandfather. He doesn’t have time for the sorority girl who’s shown up expecting to buy his harvest at half price.

Vermont was never in Audrey Kidder’s travel plans. Neither was Griff Shipley. But she needs a second chance with the restaurant conglomerate employing her. Okay—a fifth chance. And no self-righteous lumbersexual farmer will stand in her way.

They’re adversaries. They want entirely different things from life. Too bad their sexual chemistry is as hot as Audrey’s top secret enchilada sauce, and then some.

Out June 14

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28375943Nalini Singh’s ALLEGIANCE OF HONOUR (paranormal romance): I think Nalini Singh’s referred to this one as an “ensemble book”, and it’s meant to wrap up the current series arc?  I’m looking forward to catching up with the usual suspects here.

The ‘unparalleled romantic adventure’* of Nalini Singh’s New York Times bestselling series continues as a new dawn begins for the Psy-Changeling world . . .

The Psy-Changeling world has undergone a staggering transformation and now stands at a crossroads. The Trinity Accord promises a new era of cooperation between disparate races and groups. It is a beacon of hope held together by many hands: Old enemies. New allies. Wary loners.

But a century of distrust and suspicion can’t be so easily forgotten and threatens to shatter Trinity from within at any moment. As rival members vie for dominance, chaos and evil gather in the shadows and a kidnapped woman’s cry for help washes up in San Francisco, while the Consortium turns its murderous gaze toward a child who is the embodiment of change, of love, of piercing hope: A child who is both Psy . . . and changeling.

To find the lost, protect the vulnerable – and save Trinity – no one can stand alone. This is a time of loyalty across divisions, of bonds woven into the heart and the soul, of heroes known and unknown standing back to back and holding the line. But is an allegiance of honour even possible with traitors lurking in their midst?

Out June 16

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28348234Naomi Novik’s LEAGUE OF DRAGONS (historical fantasy): The final book in the Temeraire series!  If I’m honest, I think this series jumped the shark a while ago – the recent books have felt more like historical travelogues than anything else – but I’m obviously going to read the final book to see how the story’s wrapped up.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia has been roundly thwarted. But even as Capt. William Laurence and the dragon Temeraire pursue the retreating enemy through an unforgiving winter, Napoleon is raising a new force, and he’ll soon have enough men and dragons to resume the offensive. While the emperor regroups, the allies have an opportunity to strike first and defeat him once and for all – if internal struggles and petty squabbles don’t tear them apart.

Aware of his weakened position, Napoleon has promised the dragons of every country – and the ferals, loyal only to themselves – vast new rights and powers if they fight under his banner. It is an offer eagerly embraced from Asia to Africa – and even by England, whose dragons have long rankled at their disrespectful treatment.

But Laurence and his faithful dragon soon discover that the wily Napoleon has one more gambit at the ready – one that that may win him the war, and the world.

Out June 14

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30245656Eloisa James’ A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS (historical romance): I feel like Eloisa James has been experimenting with several formats recently and this one is a novellette set in the world of her Essex Sisters series.  I remember posting about this series way back when I first started blogging – I’ve just looked up that post, and I’m both cringing and laughing at my enthusiastic review of the books.  I’ve debated whether to link it, but why not – here’s my take on the Essex Sisters series (I am so tempted to edit that post, but have restrained – you get the warts and all version!).

A witty and sparkling Regency romance novella by Eloisa James, author of My American Duchess, linked to the bestselling Essex Sisters series

Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again . . . and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.

When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.

Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behaviour . . . once again.

Out June 28

Any big June releases that I’ve missed?

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2015: My Favourite Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weekend Links

I had forgotten it was WorldCon this weekend (or a whole year since LonCon3!).  I didn’t pay much attention to the Hugo award shortlists this year – with the Sad/Rabid Puppies pushing full slates, I was much more interested in the Hugo longlists, which have just been released (pdf link).

20518872I’ve to admit the Best Novel longlist didn’t really excite me.  Of the books I haven’t already read, I have Cixin Liu‘s THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM on my Kindle (free via the Amazon Kindle for Samsung programme), John Scalzi‘s LOCK IN doesn’t really appeal (though I’ve his newest THE END OF ALL THINGS also on my Kindle – I couldn’t resist the £2.99 price point), and I DNF’d Andy Weir‘s THE MARTIAN (I know, sorry).  I’ve heard good things about Robert Jackson Bennett‘s CITY OF STAIRS though, so I may see if my library has it.

I don’t have much to say about the rest of the awards (apart from good result?), though I’m really pleased Julie Dillon won Best Professional Artist – love her art.

A few other (non-related) links that caught my attention recently-ish:

Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED

Sometimes all you need is a really good book to get you out of a reading slump.

I’ve been seeing mentions of Naomi Novik‘s new fantasy release around the blogosphere, but wasn’t that interested because I haven’t been that convinced by the more recent installations of her Temeraire series and wasn’t sure if UPROOTED would be worth the hardcover price.

But I just so happened to be in a bookstore the other weekend, and they had UPROOTED on their display stands.  The cover caught my attention (I admit to an unashamed bias towards the UK cover) and so I flipped it over and read the back cover blurbs.  Guess what sold me?

Uprooted Back

 

So – I’m a sucker for pretty covers and blurbs from my favourite authors… sounds about right.  I’ve been caught out before, but this time around, both were reliable predictors of a really good read.

Uprooted-The back cover description:

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, ambitious wizard, known only as the Dragon, to keep the wood’s powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman must be handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as being lost to the wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows – everyone knows – that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia – all the things Agnieszka isn’t – and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But no one can predict how or why the Dragon chooses a girl. And when he comes, it is not Kasia he will take with him.

This was basically one of those books I gulped down, staying up very late to finish “just one more chapter…”.  Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED is that rare thing in today’s fantasy – a wonderful standalone novel that leaves you completely satisfied at the last page.

The story drew me in from the first, right from the point the Dragon made his surprising choice, and I was enthralled all the way to the end.  Novik manages to make UPROOTED feel familiar and yet unfamiliar at the same time.  It was familiar enough that I had enough of an inkling as to how Agnieska’s story would unfold, but the various twists and turns – both in terms of plot and characterisation – kept this from being a tale I’ve read before.  The final reveal and eventual resolution managed to be both unexpected yet logical, tying together all the various hints dropped throughout.

[Slight spoilers follow]

I so appreciated the strong female characters in this book here, and loved the strong friendship between Agnieska and Kasia.  It’d have been so easy to set up Kasia and Agnieska to be on opposing sides and to paint Kasia in an unflattering light – I’m glad Novik didn’t choose that route.  Also, the Dragon – I don’t want to spoil too much, but I enjoyed seeing Agnieska’s perception of him evolve throughout the book as he moves from being the all-powerful Dragon to, well, still a very powerful magician, but also a human being.

Only niggling negative for me is the body count – let’s just say the numbers climb quite a bit.  Most happen (slightly) off-page to be fair, and create this atmosphere of ever-higher stakes as things reach a climax.  This contributed towards the fairytale-like aspects of the book for me – I always feel that fairytales have this veneer of pretty glossiness over some very scary and grim bits.

But this is probably one of the very few books where I’ve paid full retail price for a while (and hardcover prices at that), and I don’t regret that one bit.  UPROOTED is a really lovely fantasy, and without a doubt, one of my favourite books this year.

Fantasy x 3

It wasn’t all fantasy last year despite appearances… but here are three more fantasy novels I did read – spoiler: all three were winners.  As usual, reviews originally posted at Goodreads, but with additional thoughts here in italics.

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MedairMedair by Andrea K. Höst (fantasy)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I probably do sound like a bit of a broken record when it comes to Andrea K Höst, but I have fallen in love with pretty much all of her books.

MEDAIR has adventure, magic, and love (with a healthy dollop of angst), and I was drawn into Medair’s world from the start. I loved the premise of “what happens if the hero(ine) fails to save the world” combined with the Sleeping Beauty spin – Medair emerges from her version of an enchanted sleep half a century after the war. The world is much changed and the battles and Medair herself are part of history, but for her, it was only yesterday when the country was on the verge of war.

Perhaps a tad too much time was spent revisiting the debate on right v. wrong and the grey areas in between; however, that didn’t stop me from being completely immersed in Medair’s story and wondering how it could all end happily. The intricate world-building and the examination of complex cultures was an added bonus. And gosh, the ending – it was a surprise, but not quite a surprise at the same time. In hindsight, the seeds were laid throughout the book and I don’t think the ending could have worked any other way.

Yes, I loved this one.

This is on my to-reread list, and considering how FEW books I actually reread, that says a lot.  Also, this may be redundant considering the gushy-ness of the above (I may have over-used the word “love”?), but MEDAIR was very definitely one of my favourite books of 2012.

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Champion of the RoseChampion of the Rose by Andrea K. Höst (fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Andrea Höst has given me consistently good storytelling, and I loved the concept of CHAMPION: a king’s champion who has essentially been made redundant and whose main purpose is purely decorative… and then suddenly everything changes and Soren is thrust blinking into the spotlight. And this is the story of how she faces up to the challenge.

I liked how Andrea Höst colours in her characters – the shades-of-grey villain, the true “otherness” of fae, and so on. Also unusual was how the practicalities of rescuing a failing kingdom were considered – its issues may have been caused by magic, but trade becomes a way of bringing the country back to life. Having said that, traditional fantasy elements were also present and perhaps the most disturbing was the use of magic to bring about the loss of free will.

The ending, perhaps, was a little too easy and I’m dying for a sequel to find out more about certain characters. And as there will be one, I’m all excited.

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Not really relevant but it’s probably a sign of how engrossed I was in the story that I didn’t realise until 3/4s of the way through that Strake’s position was almost the same as Medair‘s in that both of them had returned to a land that has moved on. Obviously the stories are not the same at all, but that makes it even more fascinating.

I’ve probably said this a million times already, but what I really like about Andrea Höst’s stories is the fact that her plots are DIFFERENT – she always gives me a story that I’ve never read before (umm… obviously I don’t mean that literally). Plus her characters live and breathe.  And… I really would like a new Höst novel now.

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Crucible of Gold (Temeraire, #7)Crucible of Gold by Naomi Novik (fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

CRUCIBLE had a lot of what I loved in the early Temeraire books – plenty of action and adventure, with fantasy melded seamlessly with historical fact. I found the pacing in CRUCIBLE much better than in previous book – it took me a couple of chapters to sink into the rhythm of Naomi Novik’s prose, but once I did, I was engrossed in the story.

I liked how Ms Novik gave us a peek into the very different dragon society of the Incas, and I can see this experience certainly shaping Temeraire’s thinking in future books! The human-dragon culture clashes provided some humorous moments as always, though there were some sombre undertones with Will still dealing with the consequences of his actions a couple of books back, and an incident reminding you of the dangers of travel back then. There was a lot of Iskierka/Granby in this book, and while she’s gradually grown on me (and it was great to see Granby finally standing his ground), an appearance of old friends late in the book made me realise how much I miss the camaraderie in the earlier books.

One of the better installments in this series, I think.

Naomi Novik’s more recent Temeraire books have been a bit hit-or-miss for me, but this one worked (the previous felt like an endless travelogue, IIRC).  I haven’t yet gotten around to reading the latest installment that came out this year – any views on that?

Books for August

August new releases on my radar:

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17158158Tammara Webber‘s HERE WITHOUT YOU (NA romance): The first book in Tammara Webber’s Between The Lines series ended up being one of my favourite reads of 2012, and I promptly glommed the next two towards the end of last year.  So it feels like quite a while since I’ve last had my BTL fix – I’m very much looking forward to this final book in the series.

Everyone has secrets.
Some are buried so deep, their existence is forgotten.
But a secret never told can turn into a lie.
And in love, a lie is one thing:
Poison.

Reid’s in love with Dori, though she hasn’t told her parents that she’s fallen hard for the guy they’d forbidden her to see. Now she’s leaving for college, and Reid’s promise not to push her to go public is wearing thin, especially when she can’t – or won’t – return those three important words he wants to hear.

Five years ago, Brooke and Reid were a Thing. That relationship is long gone, detonated amid allegations of cheating – but they still share a secret that would stun everyone they know and alter public perception of them both if it ever comes out. And it’s about to do just that.

Out Aug 6

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11431896Rae Carson‘s THE BITTER KINGDOM (YA fantasy): I didn’t love the first book, but the second intrigued me enough that I’ll probably spring for the third (I borrowed the first two from my trusty local library).  Judging by the early reviews of THE BITTER KINGDOM, this trilogy may be ending on a high. On a side note, I have to say that the UK cover is excellent, IMO.

The epic conclusion to Rae Carson’s Fire and Thorns trilogy. The seventeen-year-old sorcerer-queen will travel into the unknown realm of the enemy to win back her true love, save her country, and uncover the final secrets of her destiny.

Elisa is a fugitive in her own country. Her enemies have stolen the man she loves in order to lure her to the gate of darkness. As she and her daring companions take one last quest into unknown enemy territory to save Hector, Elisa will face hardships she’s never imagined. And she will discover secrets about herself and her world that could change the course of history. She must rise up as champion-a champion to those who have hated her most.

Out Aug 27 (UK release 19 Sept)

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15801763Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNTOLD (YA urban fantasy): I’m not a fan of the change in cover design (I loved the original UNSPOKEN cover, and the revised covers scream generic UF to me), but if it helps these books sell better…*shrugs* I liked a lot about UNSPOKEN, and I’m hoping UNTOLD delivers.

It’s time to choose sides… On the surface, Sorry-in-the-Vale is a sleepy English town. But Kami Glass knows the truth. Sorry-in-the-Vale is full of magic. In the old days, the Lynburn family ruled with fear, terrifying the people into submission in order to kill for blood and power. Now the Lynburns are back, and Rob Lynburn is gathering sorcerers so that the town can return to the old ways.

But Rob and his followers aren’t the only sorcerers in town. A decision must be made: pay the blood sacrifice, or fight. For Kami, this means more than just choosing between good and evil. With her link to Jared Lynburn severed, she’s now free to love anyone she chooses. But who should that be?’

Out Aug 29

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17612868Lee Child‘s NEVER GO BACK (suspense): I’m a Jack Reacher fan, even if I’ve found the recent installments growing more formulaic and violence-heavy.  Intriguing blurb.

After an epic and interrupted journey all the way from the snows of South Dakota, former military cop Jack Reacher has finally made it to Virginia. His destination: a sturdy stone building a short bus ride from Washington D.C., the headquarters of his old unit, the 110th MP. It was the closest thing to a home he ever had.

Why? He wants to meet the new commanding officer, Major Susan Turner. He liked her voice on the phone. But the officer sitting behind his old desk isn’t a woman. Is Susan Turner dead? In Afghanistan? Or in a car wreck?

What Reacher doesn’t expect to hear is that Turner has just been fired from her command. Nor that he himself is in big trouble, accused of a sixteen-year-old homicide. And he certainly doesn’t expect to hear these words: ‘You’re back in the army, Major. And your ass is mine.’

Will he be sorry he went back? Or – will someone else?

Out Aug 29

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16156292Naomi Novik‘s BLOOD OF TYRANTS (fantasy): This is the penultimate book in the Temeraire series according to Goodreads.  I do think it’s time this series is wrapped up – it’s starting to feel a bit unwieldy and rambling in places – but I’ll still probably get around to reading it soon.

Shipwrecked and cast ashore in Japan with no memory of Temeraire or his own experiences as an English aviator, Laurence finds himself tangled in deadly political intrigues that threaten not only his own life but England’s already precarious position in the Far East. Age-old enmities and suspicions have turned the entire region into a powder keg ready to erupt at the slightest spark—a spark that Laurence and Temeraire may unwittingly provide, leaving Britain faced with new enemies just when they most desperately need allies instead.

For to the west, another, wider conflagration looms. Napoleon has turned on his former ally, the emperor Alexander of Russia, and is even now leading the largest army the world has ever seen to add that country to his list of conquests. It is there, outside the gates of Moscow, that a reunited Laurence and Temeraire—along with some unexpected allies and old friends—will face their ultimate challenge…and learn whether or not there are stronger ties than memory.

Out Aug 13

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12140024Kelley Armstrong‘s OMENS (UF): I can’t be the only one pleased that Kelley Armstrong is starting a new series.  I’ve skipped her newer MG/YA books, but I’ve high hopes for this one.

Twenty-four-year-old Olivia Taylor Jones has the perfect life. The only daughter of a wealthy, prominent Chicago family, she has an Ivy League education, pursues volunteerism and philanthropy, and is engaged to a handsome young tech firm CEO with political ambitions.

But Olivia’s world is shattered when she learns that she’s adopted. Her real parents? Todd and Pamela Larsen, notorious serial killers serving a life sentence. When the news brings a maelstrom of unwanted publicity to her adopted family and fiancé, Olivia decides to find out the truth about the Larsens.

Olivia ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, an old and cloistered community that takes a particular interest in both Olivia and her efforts to uncover her birth parents’ past.

Aided by her mother’s former lawyer, Gabriel Walsh, Olivia focuses on the Larsens’ last crime, the one her birth mother swears will prove their innocence. But as she and Gabriel start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies. Because there are darker secrets behind her new home, and powers lurking in the shadows that have their own plans for her.

Out Aug 20

 

Books for February

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you’re not really into the book you’re reading* but also too lazy to reach out and pick another book?  I’m hoping one of these new releases will get me out of this almost-but-not-quite reading slump (with the exception of the first, because I read that last month).

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15802940Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s NECESSITY’S CHILD (SF): It’s the 16th in the Liaden Universe series, but the authors have made a point of branding this as a “portal” book into the series.  I finished this back in January when Baen released the e-version, and while I agree it is a pretty standalone book, I don’t know if the story would have been compelling enough for me to search out the previous books in this series if I hadn’t read any of the Liaden books before.

Bonus link: Sharon Lee and Steve Miller did a Big Idea guest post about NECESSITY’S CHILD at John Scalzi’s blog, where they talk a bit more about the ideas and inspirations behind the story.

Space ships, action, adventure – all tied together with a strong dollop of romance and clan intrigue – make this a compelling series for a wide range of readers, from romance to military SF lovers.

The kompani sees none as an enemy, and yet few as friend. The kompani exists in many places, living quietly in the shadows, thriving off the bounty that others have no wit to secure, nor skill to defend. Their private history is unwritten; their recall rooted in dance and dream.

The humans of Clan Korval is in many ways the opposite of the kompani. The interstellar trading clan is wealthy in enemies, fortunate in friends.  Korval protects itself with vigor, and teaches even its youngest children the art of war.

And when representatives of Clan Korval arrive on the planet Surebleak where the kompani has lived secret and aloof, it seems to the kompani that they are borne by the very winds of change.  Change can be a boon for in change lies opportunity.

But the arrival of Clan Korval, establishing itself upon Surebleak with its friends, its enemies, and, most of all, its plans may bring catastrophe, changing the culture and the kompani, forever.

In this time of change, the lives of three people intersect — Kezzi, apprentice to the kompani‘s grandmother; Syl Vor, Clan Korval’s youngest warrior; and Rys, a man without a world, or a past.

Out now (excerpt)

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13758481THE MAD SCIENTIST’S GUIDE TO WORLD DOMINATION, edited by John Joseph Adams (SF/F): Even the title sounds like fun, doesn’t it?  Plus some of my auto-buy authors are on the list of contributors (Seanan McGuire, Diana Gabaldon, Naomi Novik).  I’m definitely checking this one out.

From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by insane plans for world domination and the madmen who devise them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of good guys. This anthology, however, explores the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses—from their own wonderfully twisted point of view.

An all-star roster of bestselling authors—including Diana Gabaldon, Daniel Wilson, Austin Grossman, Naomi Novik, and Seanan McGuire…twenty-two great storytellers all told—have produced a fabulous assortment of stories guaranteed to provide readers with hour after hour of high-octane entertainment born of the most megalomaniacal mayhem imaginable.

Everybody loves villains. They’re bad; they always stir the pot; they’re much more fun than the good guys, even if we want to see the good guys win. Their fiendish schemes, maniacal laughter, and limitless ambition are legendary, but what lies behind those crazy eyes and wicked grins? How—and why—do they commit these nefarious deeds? And why are they so set on taking over the world?

If you’ve ever asked yourself any of these questions, you’re in luck: It’s finally time for the madmen’s side of the story.

Out Feb 13 (book site with excerpts and interviews)

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15744557Jennifer Echols‘ STAR CROSSED (contemporary romance): Nath and Ames @ Breezing Through brought this to my attention when they posted their list of February new releases.  I’ve only read one Echols (I know, hides), but GOING TOO FAR most definitely left an impression.  And STAR CROSSED sounds like plain fun.

The first novel in the sizzling new Stargazer series about a public relations firm, the stars they represent, and everything they’d rather keep private.

He said . . . She said.

Publicist Wendy Mann has always competed hotly with her rival Daniel Blackstone, but this time they’re headed for a collision. Wendy’s job is on the line if she doesn’t save the image of a spoiled young starlet who’s posting provocative pictures of herself all over the Internet in a snarky attempt at revenge on her former boyfriend. Daniel is representing the ex, a onetime teen heartthrob who never grew up. With the feuding Hollywood pair scheduled to appear on the same Las Vegas awards show, Daniel and Wendy are determined to do whatever it takes to defend their own clients.

Unfortunately, the chemistry between Wendy and Daniel is even more explosive than that of their Hollywood stars. L-O-V-E was always a four-letter word for these two ultra-competitors; they never counted on the scorching heat that erupts between them. But Wendy’s high-gloss exterior hides a dark past—one that’s lurking behind the bright Vegas lights. Their careers are on the line, and so is Wendy’s life…

Out February 26

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13456081Andrea K Höst‘s HUNTING (fantasy): I fangirl massively about all of AKH’s books, so I’m obviously thrilled we get a new one so soon after AND ALL THE STARS.  And I love what the author says about HUNTING:

“Hunting” was written in response to my extreme frustration with Georgette Heyer‘s Regency Buck. Much as I love Heyer’s books, on occasion she takes a promising young lady, and just…foils her at every turn. My need for a heroine capable of getting herself out of her own scrapes produced Ash Lenthard, who does not so much kick ass, as tap-dance across the heads of her enemies…

There’s a Goodreads giveaway happening at the moment, if you’re interested (although – *blinks* – with more than 7600 people entered, I’m not quite sure that it’s worth entering).

Ash Lenthard doesn’t call herself a vigilante. She’s merely prone to random acts of derring-do, and occasional exhibitions of tomfoolery. Her friends, the Huntsmen, have never stepped over the line while patrolling the streets of Luinhall.

That was before the murder of Ash’s beloved guardian, Genevieve.

Now, Ash Lenthard is out for blood and even when the hunt sends her to the palace, on a collision course with a past identity she would do anything to forget, Ash cannot, will not, back down.

Out February 28 (excerpt)

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*In case you were wondering, it’s LM Montgomery’s PAT OF SILVER BUSH.  I normally love LM Montgomery’s novels (and her Emily trilogy is up there on my list of all-time favourites), but I’m not really caring for Pat and her all-encompassing love for Silver Bush, and also struggling a bit with the way Judy’s thick accent is conveyed on the page.  Has anyone else read PAT and is it worth finishing?

Books for March

I know.  This is really rather late for a new releases post.  But there are so many March releases that I have been anticipating – well, it’s been hard to drag myself away from the actual books.  Added to that is the fact I am totally glomming Andrea K Host‘s fantasy novels (I’ve just finished the last of her backlist *sigh*) – let’s put it this way, at least it still is March…

So the books I’ve been waiting for:

Patricia BriggsFAIR GAME (paranormal romance): Yes, me and everyone else.  It’s a toss up as to whether I like the Anna & Charles books better than the Mercy Thompson ones – and having read this one, I still can’t decide.  I like the Omega twist on the kick-ass UF heroine stereotype, and I love how Patricia Briggs gives us a very different relationship to the Mercy/Adam one.  But we’ve had three more books to get to know Mercy better and I feel more invested in her story… good thing I don’t actually have to choose.

Blurb from Goodreads:

They say opposites attract. And in the case of werewolves Anna Latham and Charles Cornick, they mate. The son-and enforcer-of the leader of the North American werewolves, Charles is a dominant alpha. While Anna, an omega, has the rare ability to calm others of her kind.

Now that the werewolves have revealed themselves to humans, they can’t afford any bad publicity. Infractions that could have been overlooked in the past must now be punished, and the strain of doing his father’s dirty work is taking a toll on Charles.

Nevertheless, Charles and Anna are sent to Boston, when the FBI requests the pack’s help on a local serial killer case. They quickly realize that not only the last two victims were werewolves-all of them were. Someone is targeting their kind. And now Anna and Charles have put themselves right in the killer’s sights…

Out now (excerpt)

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Seanan McGuire‘s DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON (urban fantasy): It’s no secret that I’m a diehard fan of Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye books, and when she started talking about a new UF series, I was incredibly excited.  With the Toby books moving to a yearly release schedule (the twice-yearly releases were such a plus!), I’m hoping her Incryptid books fill the gap.  They do sound great and from the A-Z countdown posts on her livejournal, I’ve a feeling the world-building will be just as complex and thorough as the Toby world.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night… The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren’t for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family’s old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone’s spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city…

Out now (book page)

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Naomi Novik‘s CRUCIBLE OF GOLD (historical fantasy): While I thought the previous Temeraire book meandered somewhat (that never-ending journey through the wilds of Australia!), there is something about the world and writing that always pulls me in as soon as I start reading.  More globe-trotting for Will and Temeraire – this time, they’re in South America.  It’ll be a whole new world for me as I’ve no idea what was happening there during this era in history – I’m looking forward to reading her take on it.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Naomi Novik’s beloved series returns, with Captain Will Laurence and his fighting dragon Temeraire once again taking to the air against the broadsides of Napoleon’s forces and the friendly—and sometimes not-so-friendly—fire of British soldiers and politicians who continue to suspect them of divided loyalties, if not outright treason.

For Laurence and Temeraire, put out to pasture in Australia, it seems their part in the war has come to an end just when they are needed most. But perhaps they are no longer alone in this opinion. Newly allied with the powerful African empire of the Tswana, the French have occupied Spain and brought revolution and bloodshed to Brazil, threatening Britain’s last desperate hope to defeat Napoleon.

And now the government that sidelined them has decided they have the best chance at negotiating a peace with the angry Tswana, who have besieged the Portuguese royal family in Rio—and thus offer to reinstate Laurence to his former rank and seniority as a captain in the Aerial Corps. Temeraire is delighted by this sudden reversal of fortune, but Laurence is by no means sanguine, knowing from experience that personal honor and duty to one’s country do not always run on parallel tracks.

Nonetheless, the pair embark for Brazil, only to meet with a string of unmitigated disasters that force them to make an unexpected landing in the hostile territory of the Incan empire, where they face new unanticipated dangers.

Now with the success of the mission balanced on a razor’s edge, and failure looking more likely by the minute, the unexpected arrival of an old enemy will tip the scales toward ruin. Yet even in the midst of disaster, opportunity may lurk—for one bold enough to grasp it.

Out now (excerpt)

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Jordan Castillo Price‘s THE STARVING YEARS (m/m urban fantasy): Jordan Castillo Price is an autobuy author for me, even when the blurb sounds slightly out there.  That’s probably the definition of an autobuy author, isn’t it?  Blind trust that they’ll deliver the story…

Blurb from Goodreads:

Imagine a world without hunger. In 1960, a superfood was invented that made starvation a thing of the past. Manna, the cheaply manufactured staple food, is now as ubiquitous as salt in the world’s cupboards, pantries and larders.

Nelson Oliver knows plenty about manna. He’s a food scientist—according to his diploma, that is. Lately, he’s been running the register at the local video rental dive to scrape together the cash for his exorbitantly priced migraine medication.

In a job fair gone bad, Nelson hooks up with copywriter Javier and his computer-geek pal Tim, who whisks them away from the worst of the fiasco in his repurposed moving truck. At least, Nelson thinks the those two are acquainted, but they’re acting so evasive about it, he’s not sure how they know each other, exactly. Javier is impervious to Nelson’s flirting, and Tim’s name could appear in the dictionary under the entry for “awkward.” And with a riot raging through Manhattan and yet another headache coming on, it doesn’t seem like Nelson will get an answer anytime soon. One thing’s for sure, the tension between the three of them is thick enough to cut with a knife…even one of those dull plastic dealies that come in the package with Mannariffic EZ-Mealz.

Out now (excerpt)

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Kaje Harper‘s THE REBUILDING WORLD (m/m romance): Kaje Hunter was a new discovery for me last year, and I think I’ve finished her (sadly short) backlist, so yay for a new release.

Blurb from Goodreads:

A few excruciating minutes pinned in a burning building cost Ryan Ward his job as a firefighter, the easy camaraderie of his coworkers, his girlfriend, and damn near cost him his left leg. Giving up, though, isn’t an option. Compared to the alternative, choosing a new profession, going back to school, and renting a room from the college groundskeeper are simple.

Until he realizes he’s falling in love with his housemate, and things take a turn for the complicated.

John Barrett knows about loss. After moving twice to stay in touch with his kids, he could only watch as his ex-wife whisked them away to California. Offering Ryan a room seems better than rattling around the empty house, but as casual friendship moves to something more, and a firestorm of emotions ignites, the big old house feels like tight quarters.

It’s nothing they can’t learn to navigate, though. But when dead bodies start turning up on campus—and one of the guys is a suspect—their first taste of real love could go up in smoke.

Out now (excerpt)

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Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon, Ginn Hale, and Astrid Amara‘s IRREGULARS (m/m romance): A shared-world anthology with some of my favourite authors?  I didn’t have to think twice.    I think this is Josh Lanyon’s only new release this year (sadface).  As for Ginn Hale, I’ve loved the novellas she’s written – I still have THE RIFTER serial and WICKED GENTLEMEN in my TBR pile (I know, I know – I really need to get to them).  And I read a couple of Astrid Amara’s books last year and moved her to my authors-to-keep-an-eye-on list.

Blurb from Goodreads:

It’s a secret international organization operating in cities on every continent. It polices relations between the earthly realm and those beyond this world, enforcing immigration laws, the transfers of magical artifacts, and crimes against humanity.

The agents who work for the NATO Irregular Affairs Division can’t tell anyone what they do, or how hard they work to keep us safe. It brings a colorful collection of men together:

Agent Henry Falk, the undead bum. Agent Keith Curry, former carnivore chef turned vegetarian; Agent Rake, Babylonian demon with a penchant for easy living; and Agent Silas August, uncompromising jerk.

Four cities, four mysteries, four times the romance. Is your security clearance high enough to read on?

Out now  (excerpt – PDF)

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Suzanne Brockmann‘s BORN TO DARKNESS (romantic suspense): This is the first book in Suzanne Brockmann’s new series set in the near-future.   I had mixed feelings when she announced the Troubleshooter series was coming to an end and she was starting a new one with paranormal elements – while it was perhaps time to draw things to a close, I wasn’t quite sure on the need to introduce the woo-woo stuff.  But the short story prequel (SHANE’S LAST STAND) had the trademark Brockmann goodness, so I’m quite looking forward to this now.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Dishonorably discharged, former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin is down to his last ten bucks when he finally finds work as a test subject at the Obermeyer Institute, a little-known and believed-to-be-fringe scientific research facility. When he enters the OI compound, he is plunged into a strange world where seemingly mild-mannered scientists—including women half his size—can kick his highly skilled ass.

Shane soon discovers that there are certain individuals who possess the unique ability to access untapped regions of the brain with extraordinary results—including telekinesis, super strength, and reversal of the aging process. Known as “Greater-Thans,” this rare breed is recruited by OI, where they are rigorously trained using ancient techniques to cultivate their powers and wield them responsibly.

But in the depths of America’s second Great Depression, where the divide between the haves and the have-nots has grown even wider, those who are rich—and reckless—enough have a quick, seductive alternative: Destiny, a highly addictive designer drug that can make anyone a Greater-Than, with the power of eternal youth. The sinister cartel known as The Organization has begun mass-producing Destiny, and the demand is epidemic. But few realize the drug’s true danger, and fewer still know the dirty secret of Destiny’s crucial ingredient.

Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie knows the ugly truth. And as one of the Obermeyer Institute’s crack team of operatives, she’s determined to end the scourge of Destiny. But her kick-ass attitude gets knocked for a loop when she finds that one of the new test subjects is none other than Shane, the same smoldering stranger who just rocked her world in a one-night stand. Although Shane isn’t a Greater-Than like Mac, as an ex-SEAL, he’s got talents of his own. But Mac’s got powerful reasons to keep her distance from him—and reasons that are just as strong to want him close. She’s used to risking her life, but now, in the midst of the ultimate war on drugs, she must face sacrificing her heart.

Out March 20 (excerpt)

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Harper Fox‘s SCRAP METAL (m/m romance): Last but definitely not least, Harper Fox has a new release.  She does such great angst-y romantic relationships, and this sounds like no exception.

Blurb from Goodreads:

One year ago, before Fate took a wrecking ball to his life, Nichol was happily working on his doctorate in linguistics. Now he’s hip deep in sheep, mud and collies. His late brother and mother had been well suited to life on Seacliff Farm. Nichol? Not so much.

As lambing season progresses in the teeth of an icy north wind, the last straw is the intruder Nichol catches in the barn. He says his name is Cam, and he’s on the run from a Glasgow gang. Something about the young man’s tired resignation touches Nichol deeply, and instead of giving him the business end of a shotgun, he offers Cam a blanket and a place to stay.

Somehow, Cam quickly charms his way through Nichol’s defenses and into his heart. Even his grandfather takes to the cheeky city boy, whose hard work and good head for figures help set the farm back on its feet.

As the cold Scottish springtime melts into summer, Nichol finds himself falling in love. When tragedy strikes, Cam’s resolutely held secret is finally revealed and Nichol must face the truth. He’s given his heart away, and it’s time to pay the price.

Out March 27 (excerpt)

Right, that’s it – I am off to read now!  Have I missed any of your March must-gets?

Books for January

Or maybe book.  I’m not sure why, but January tends to be a really slow month for new releases that interest me.

So there’s only one book this month that I’m thinking of getting (and note the thinking, because previous books in this series have been a bit hit-or-miss for me:

Julie Hyzy‘s AFFAIRS OF STEAK (cosy mystery): I love the White House setting of this series, but the characters sometimes grate on my nerves.  I’ll still probably get a copy when this books comes out though.

Blurb:

White House chef Olivia Paras and her arch nemesis, White House Sensitivity Director Peter Everett Sargeant, must work together to solve the double murder of one of the First Lady’s assistants and the Chief of Staff-before they become the next victims of a merciless assassin with a secret agenda.
Out Jan 3
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And yeah – that’s it.  However, I’ve recently discovered Fantasy (and now Lightspeed Science Fiction & Fantasy) online magazine – I’m enjoying browsing their free stories.  The Naomi Novik one (“Vici”) was previously published in THE DRAGON BOOK anthology and I’ve read it already, but it was a lovely funny re-read.  And there’s a Seanan McGuire contribution, “Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage”, which combines loving pokes at old-school fantasy adventures with a bit of a haunting twist. And well, lots more which I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

New Glom and Links

I am on a bit of a Kelly Hunter glom.

I’m not sure what’s happened – I’ve suddenly doubled the number of M&Bs I’ve read in a year within a fortnight (though to be fair, it was a rather low number to start off with).  I’ve loved all three of Ms Hunter’s Bennett Family series that I’ve read so far – she pulls off very convincing romances, combined with dialogue that makes me laugh and some crazy chemistry between the hero and the heroine.  And she puts her own spin on tried-and-tested tropes, making them feel fresh and new to me – and that’s no easy thing, bearing in mind the number of M&Bs I’ve read over the years.

The first book is WIFE FOR A WEEK if any of you are interested – there were passages that made me smile right from the start and the eventual reveal appealed to my sense of the ridiculous.  There’s no obvious sequel-bait in these books, but I’m liking the sibling relationship between the four brothers and one sister and am looking forward to finishing the series.

I’m just annoyed because I can’t download the remaining two Bennett books I bought from the Mills & Boon UK website.  Grrrr.  I’ve emailed their customer services and hopefully will get a response tomorrow, though I’m very tempted to ask for a refund and repurchase from Amazon instead.  Yes, that’s how much I want to read them.

Anyway, apart from my glom, I’ve been browsing the internets.  Did you know Naomi Novik has a redesigned website?  And a cover for the next Temeraire book (CRUCIBLE OF GOLD out March 2012)?  And there’s a prologue?

And then there’s a couple of ebook-only releases.  I think 2011 is the year the ebook finally went mainstream.

Tracy Grant‘s re-released one of her backlist books.  DARK ANGEL’s an historical romance – I’ve only read her current series, which is more historical mystery/suspense, so it’ll be interesting to see if it’s very different.

And Tanya Huff‘s released a collection of short stories.  I’ve bought NIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE & OTHER STORIES off Amazon UK, so I’m assuming it’s now available widely.