Books for April

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

After all, what’s wrong with getting dirty?

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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Maybes this month

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

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

Books for November

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now

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

How does love begin?

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

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

Out Nov 9

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

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

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

Out Nov 13

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Nov 16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out Nov 17

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

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

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

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

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

Out Nov 24

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

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

Books for May

Quite a few May new releases on my radar this month (though having read through my list, it sounds like I’m not 100% sold on any of them – I am, really!):

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17666976Seanan McGuire‘s SPARROW HILL ROAD (fantasy):  I’m approaching this with slight caution, as her non-October Daye books have been a bit hit or miss for me, and I’m not a fan of ghost stories in general, but still, it is Seanan McGuire.  I’m expecting impressive world-building and a page-turning kind of story.

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Out now

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17936925Tammara Webber‘s BREAKABLE (NA romance): I’ve been on the fence about this retelling of EASY from Lucas’s POV – while I liked EASY well enough, I don’t really get different POV retellings (which appears to be a bit of a trend in the NA world – or am I generalising?).  But Tammara Webber is on that list of authors I stalk (not literally, and definitely not in a creepy way, I hasten to add) and I’m pretty sure Jane @ Dear Author tweeted this was a good one, so it’s on my Kindle.

He was lost and alone. Then he found her.
And the future seemed more fragile than ever.

As a child, Landon Lucas Maxfield believed his life was perfect and looked forward to a future filled with promise — until tragedy tore his family apart and made him doubt everything he ever believed.

All he wanted was to leave the past behind. When he met Jacqueline Wallace, his desire to be everything she needed came so easy…

As easy as it could be for a man who learned that the soul is breakable and that everything you hoped for could be ripped away in a heartbeat.

Out now

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20309995Joanna ChambersENLIGHTENED (historical m/m romance): This is the last of the trilogy – the previous books have ended with HFNs, so a HEA is well overdue… I usually struggle with historical realities when it comes to m/m romance, but I’ve felt that Joanna Chambers has got just the right balance between portraying social constraints of the times and giving the reader a believable romance.  Plus previous books have been set in Edinburgh, a bit of a change to the more usual London.

Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.

Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.

That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.

As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.

Out now

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20738173Josh Lanyon‘s STRANGER ON THE SHORE (m/m romance/mystery): Josh Lanyon is an autobuy for me, especially with his more  recent infrequent release schedule, so I’ve already bought AND read this.  Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work for me – the romance certainly did, especially when the h/h were on-page together, but that didn’t really happen until later in the book.  The mystery… started off strong and fizzled out towards the end, plus there were elements that felt out of place.  Still a decent read, but probably not a one I’ll recommend for someone new to Lanyon.

Twenty years ago young Brian Arlington, heir to Arlington fortune, was kidnapped. Though the ransom was paid, the boy was never seen again and is presumed dead. Pierce Mather, the family lawyer, now administers and controls the Arlington billions. He’s none too happy, and more than a little suspicious, when investigative journalist Griffin Hadley shows up to write about the decades-old mystery. Griff shrugs off the coldly handsome Pierce’s objections, but it might not be so easy to shrug off the objections of someone willing to do anything to keep the past buried.

Out now

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19486421Jim Butcher‘s SKIN GAME (UF): It’s hard to believe this is the 15th Dresden Files book, and the series is still going strong.  I’ve to say the major twist Jim Butcher introduced a few books back has made this series feel fresh again, so it’ll be interesting to see how Harry’s getting on in this one.

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful.

He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance…

Out May 27

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16156357Richelle Mead‘s THE IMMORTAL CROWN (fantasy?): It’s fair to say I was very surprised to see the cover of this one – it’s quite a departure to the cover of the first book, and I’m wondering if the redesign is to attract more of Richelle Mead’s core YA UF audience.  Speculation aside, I reviewed the first Age of X book when it came out last year, and while it took me a while to get into the story, I was impressed by the ambitious world-building – it’ll be interesting to see how she develops it in this book.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Out May 29

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Possibles:

 

Books for November

I know I said October had a lot of new releases – well, I feel as though November has even more.

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13578466Sharon Shinn‘s ROYAL AIRS (fantasy): I am so excited about this one, you have no idea.  I loved TROUBLED WATERS, the first book in this series (though I recall reviews were slightly mixed) – I’m glad she’s decided to revisit this world.

“Master storyteller Sharon Shinn created the thrilling and enchanting world of Welce in her acclaimed novel “Troubled Waters.” Return with her to that elemental universe in this tale of secrecy, romance, and a battle for power…”

Josetta is a princess of one of the Five Families. But she is far from the throne, so she is free to spend her days working in the poorest sections of the city.

Rafe Adova, an outcast since he was born, lives the life of a career gambler in those slums. He has no ambition other than cheating at the card tables—until the night he decides to help a girl named Corene, who looks like she’s stumbled into the wrong bar. She, too, is a princess—sister to Josetta, who finds her with Rafe. He fascinates her.

Josetta has never encountered anyone like him—someone seemingly devoid of elemental blessings. He is drawn to her, though he thinks they are unlikely to ever meet again—but their connection grows strong when she nurses him back to health after he is assaulted by foreign mercenaries.

And when they learn the reason he’s being hunted, they know that the truth about his history could endanger not only their love but also their very lives…

Out Nov 4

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13544081Sharon Lee & Steve Miller‘s TRADE SECRET (SF): I actually have this book already, thanks to Baen’s policy of releasing ebooks the month before the hardcover publication. While it’s another Liaden Universe book, it’s not part of the Korval storyline (I think, anyway) – I remember liking Jethri’s story in BALANCE OF TRADE, so I’m glad we get to see what happens next.

Star-spanning galactic trader Jethri Gobelyn’s story continues in the seventeenth entry in the Liaden Universe series by master storytellers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

In a universe full of interstellar intrigue and burgeoning commerce, novice Terran trader Jethri Gobelyn, adopted by a Liaden clan after an ill-directed bow of honor insulted the scion of a major Liaden house, is alive and whole to tell the tale. Convinced that the adoption has saved his life and made his future, he settles into a comfortable and even elite routine, a Trader’s Ring his goal.

Even as Jethri’s initiation into the mysteries and joys of Liaden Festival bring him to manhood, he’s forced to face Necessity and the facts of life: his adoption has also invigorated a net of unfinished Balance far more complex and potentially deadly than a simple Terran blood feud. He must embrace his Terran birthright as well as his Liaden connections while leaving behind the safety of the great Liaden trade ship Elthoria to defend his honor and that of shipmates past and present. Forced to sit Second Board as a back-up pilot on a Liaden Scout ship, Jethri’s convinced he’s already at wit’s end—when several familiar faces threaten all that he knows of himself, and all that he wishes to do.

Out Nov 5

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15724097Julia Spencer-Fleming‘s THROUGH THE EVIL DAYS (mystery): How long has it been since the last JSF?  More than two years apparently – it says a lot that just reading the blurb below has me remembering Clare, Russ, and Millers Kill vividly.

On a frigid January night, Chief of Police Russ Van Alstyne and Reverend Clare Fergusson are called to the scene of a raging fire, that quickly becomes a double homicide and kidnapping. Which is the very last thing Russ needs…Currently he’s struggling with the prospect of impending fatherhood. And his new wife is not at all happy with his proposal for their long-delayed honeymoon: a week in an unelectrified ice-fishing cabin. The vestry of St. Alban’s Church has called for the bishop to investigate Clare’s “unpriestly” pregnancy. She has one week to find out if she will be scolded, censured, or suspended from her duties. Officer Hadley Knox is having a miserable January as well. Her on-again-off-again lover, Kevin Flynn, has seven days to weigh an offer from the Syracuse Police Department that might take him half a state away.

As the days and hours tick by, Russ and Clare fight personal and professional battles they’ve never encountered. In the course of this one tumultuous week the lives of the Millers-Kill residents readers have come to love and cherish change forever.

Out Nov 5

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18392843Viv Daniels‘ ONE & ONLY (NA): Viv Daniels aka Diana Peterfreund aka author-of-one-of-my-favourite-ever-series… I’m so looking forward to seeing what she does with her self-pubbed venture into the New Adult genre.  Especially as she wrote NA even before it was labelled NA.

One night they can’t forget…

Tess McMann lives her life according to the secrets she’s sworn to keep: the father who won’t acknowledge her, the sister who doesn’t know she exists, and the mother who’s content playing mistress to a prominent businessman. When she meets the distractingly cute Dylan Kingsley at a prestigious summer program and falls in love, Tess allows herself to imagine a life beyond these secrets. But when summer ends, so does their relationship — Dylan heads off to Canton College while Tess enrolls at the state university.

One love they can’t ignore…

Two years later, a scholarship brings Tess to Canton and back into Dylan’s life. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but Dylan has a girlfriend…who also happens to be Tess’s legitimate half-sister. Tess refuses to follow in her mother’s footsteps, which leaves her only one choice: break the rules she’s always followed, or allow Dylan to slip away for a second time.

…And only one chance to get things right.

Out Nov 8

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18524333Julie Cross‘s RETURN TO SENDER (YA): Remember when I raved about LETTERS TO NOWHERE?  This is the follow up.  Fair warning: it’s going to be shorter than LoW – Julie Cross is doing shorter but more frequent releases to round off this series.  FYI I tweeted her to ask about the price point for this one and she reckoned $2.99, but with some $0.99 sales and potentially collecting these novellas in a couple of volumes at either $3.99 or $4.99.  I liked LoW so much that I’d probably pay full price.

If only summer could last forever…

Karen and Jordan might be out in the open with their relationship, but that doesn’t make it any easier for them to face events looming in the future. Like Jordan leaving for college halfway across the country. Or Karen’s win at a big international gymnastics competition setting the bar high for her future and adding pressure like she’s never experienced before.

But when Nina Jones (aka-US Gymnastics Dictator), makes plans for Karen and teammate Stevie to train at a gymnastics camp for a month—the same camp where Jordan coaches—romantic summer interludes replace their fears of being apart. Both Jordan and Karen know that when fall comes, some very tough decisions will have to be made, but for now, it’s stolen kisses, racing hearts, and whispered words.

Out now

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13431883Kelley Armstrong‘s WILD JUSTICE (suspense): If there’s a theme to this month’s releases, it appears to be long-awaited sequels finally turning up.  The last Nadia Stafford book was published in 2009 – I seem to recall talk of Kelley Armstrong considering self-pubbing this (though I could just be making that up), but it’s being released via the traditional route.

Protect the innocent. If there is any one principle that drives hit man Nadia Stafford, it’s this. In her own mind, when she was thirteen, she failed to protect her older cousin Amy from being murdered. Now she fails again, disastrously, when she botches a hit. To help her find her equilibrium, her mentor, Jack, brings her a gift: the location and new identity of the predator who killed her cousin and disappeared after the case against him failed.

Vengeance, justice? With the predator in her sights, nothing seems more right, more straightforward, more easy. But finding justice is never as simple as it seems.

Out Nov 26

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And that’s not all – other books I’m looking forward to:

  • Kelly Hunter‘s WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW (contemporary romance): I mentioned this last month’s list, as the M&B/Harlequin ebook release was last month, but the book goes on general sale 1 Nov.
  • Josh Lanyon‘s KICK START (m/m romantic suspense): I may think Josh Lanyon occasionally prices his self-pubbed works on the high side, but I’m a massive fan of his Dangerous Ground series, so I’m getting this for more Will & Taylor
  • Richelle Mead‘s THE FIERY HEART (YA UF):  The 4th installment in her Bloodlines series.  I’ll probably end up borrowing this from the library, as the previous books haven’t really blown me away.
  • A COSMIC CHRISTMAS 2 YOU edited by Hank Davis (SF anthology): It’s the Baen Christmas anthology – I suspect I’ll get this because of the familiar names on the list of contributors (including Wen Spencer and Sarah A Hoyt)

Richelle Mead’s GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS

13477883It feels as though it’s all about the Vampire Academy YA series when it comes to Richelle Mead nowadays – but IIRC, my first encounter with her writing was via her Georgina Kincaid adult UF series.  While the pacing could be uneven at times, Georgina/Seth’s on-off relationship and the ever-higher stakes kept me hooked and *whispers* I actually preferred it to the VA series/spin-offs.  So when I heard that Richelle Mead was kicking off a new SFF series aimed at adults, I was all excited about the first Age of X book, GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

First up, fair warning.  I found GAMEBOARD incredibly confusing to get into.  And I say this as someone who hates infodumps upfront – I love books that force you to figure out how the world works as you read, instead of explaining every nth detail in the first chapter.  But GAMEBOARD defeated me and after the first couple of chapters, I looked up Age of X’s history and background on Ms Mead’s blog.  I’m cutting some slack due to the whole first book-in-series thing, but still – I shouldn’t have to.

17926850As for the main characters, I took a while to warm up to both Mae and Justin.  Neither are shown in their best light at the start of the book, partly as they’re presented as diametrical opposites to maximise conflict, I’m guessing – but the slow reveal of their backstories gave them more dimension, and it’ll be good to see how they (and their relationship) develop.  Slightly ironically, seeing that I was looking forward to reading Mead’s adult POVs, Tessa, the teenager “adopted” by Justin, stole the show in this book for me, even if Justin’s sponsorship of Tessa came out of nowhere (or maybe I missed the reasoning while trying to puzzle my way through the first few chapters).  Apart from the fact that Tessa was portrayed the most sympathetically out of the three, she was also new to RUNA, and seeing the world through her eyes helped me understand it more.  The cast of supporting characters – Mae’s praetorian friends, Justin’s sister – added some light humour to the book – and oh, did I mention Justin’s invisible ravens?  I loved them.

Once I figured out how the pieces all fitted together, the story really got moving for me.  It’s a murder mystery/whodunnit at heart (one of my favourites!), wrapped up within an intriguing SFF hybrid setting.  Ms Mead’s futuristic world explicitly touches on racial identity (genetic mixing was enforced to deal with a virus that almost decimated the world) – it’s a brave play and I hope she doesn’t shy away from tackling the obvious questions around this in future books.  Religion, or rather, the official lack of, is also front and centre in this book, and sets the stage for some potentially interesting exploration.  There’s some fast-moving action towards the end of the book as the various strands come together, and it ended on a satisfying note with just enough questions to set up the next book.

Despite some patchy world-building, GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS worked for me and I closed the book looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Review based on an ARC courtesy of the publisher/NetGalley.

Books for June

There are quite a few June new releases on my radar, and they’re all due to be released in the first week of the month (according to Goodreads, anyway).

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17701728Nalini Singh‘s HEART OF OBSIDIAN (paranormal romance): The big build-up to the reveal of The Ghost’s identity in this 12th Psy-Changeling book was punctured when spoilers started floating around the interwebs – and yes, I was inadvertently spoiled.  At first, I was all %^^&*, but then I realised I didn’t really care.  The identity of the hero isn’t exactly a spoiler as to the plot, is it?

While we’re on the subject, Nalini Singh is doing a London signing (June 14th @ Forbidden Planet, if you’ve missed the news) for this book – I’m on the fence as to whether I’m going or not.  On one hand, it’s extremely rare that an author I love actually makes an appearance in my home city; on the other, I remember my pathetic fangirl showing when Kelley Armstrong did a signing here – I turned up at the bookstore, saw the (very) long queue, and promptly decided that I had better things to do that evening.  I know.

Step into New York Times bestseller Nalini Singh’s explosive and shockingly passionate Psy-Changeling world…

A dangerous, volatile rebel, hands stained bloodred.
A woman whose very existence has been erased.
A love story so dark, it may shatter the world itself.
A deadly price that must be paid.
The day of reckoning is here.

Out June 6

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12591719James SA Corey‘s ABADDON’S GATE (SF): James SA Corey is the pen name for Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck, and it’s a pretty seamless pairing, writing-wise.  I’ve enjoyed the first two books in their space opera series (trilogy, possibly?), and I’ll be surprised if I don’t end up saying the same about the third book – they do that page-turning kind of story-telling rather well, and the second book ended on an interesting note.

For generations, the solar system – Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt – was humanity’s great frontier. Until now. The alien artefact working through its program under the clouds of Venus has emerged to build a massive structure outside the orbit of Uranus: a gate that leads into a starless dark.

Jim Holden and the crew of the Rocinante are part of a vast flotilla of scientific and military ships going out to examine the artefact. But behind the scenes, a complex plot is unfolding, with the destruction of Holden at its core. As the emissaries of the human race try to find whether the gate is an opportunity or a threat, the greatest danger is the one they brought with them.

Out June 4

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13477883Richelle Mead‘s GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS (SF): Richelle Mead sets out in a new direction here, switching from urban fantasy to something a bit more futuristic.  I’ve actually liked her adult UFs better than her previous/current YA books, so I’m looking forward to this one.

In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of X series, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such mega-successes: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

Out June 4

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15702280Wen Spencer‘s EIGHT MILLION GODS (UF): I’m a big fan of Wen Spencer’s writing, although I don’t talk about her books a lot here (she’s not a massively prolific author, which may also play a part) – I like how her stories are distinctly different to other UFs out there.  This one is a standalone UF set in Japan, and I’ve already read it (as Baen releases the e-version the month before) – like all her other books, she drew me into her world from the start and I finished the book in a couple of sittings, though I thought the side-romance verged on the insta-love side of things.  The setting certainly felt authentic to me, but I admit to not knowing very much about Japanese culture, and I will be very curious to read reviews from Japan-based readers to see if they think it’s an accurate reflection.

A contemporary fantasy of mystery and death as American expats battle Japanese gods and monsters to retrieve an ancient artifact that can destroy the world.

On Saturday afternoon, Nikki Delany thought, “George Wilson, in the kitchen, with a blender.” By dinner, she had killed George and posted his gory murder to her blog. The next day, she put on her mourning clothes and went out to meet her best friend for lunch to discuss finding a replacement for her love interest.

Nikki is a horror novelist. Her choice of career is dictated by an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that forces her to write stories of death and destruction. She can’t control it, doesn’t understand it, but can use it to make money anywhere in the world. Currently “anywhere” is in Japan, hiding from her mother who sees Nikki’s OCD as proof she’s mentally unstable. Nikki’s fragile peace starts to fall apart when the police arrest her for the murder of an American expatriate. Someone killed him with a blender.

Reality starts to unravel around Nikki. She’s attacked by a raccoon in a business suit. After a series of blackouts, she’s accompanied by a boy that no one else can see, a boy who claims to be a god. Is she really being pursued by Japanese myths—or is she simply going insane?

What Nikki does know for sure is that the bodies are piling up, her mother has arrived in Japan to lock her up for the rest of her life—and her novels always end with everyone dead.

Out June 4 (ebook already available @ Baen Ebooks)

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15714476Cassandra Rose Clarke‘s THE PIRATE’S WISH (YA fantasy): This is the second in a duology – I read and liked the first book THE ASSASSIN’s CURSE last year, though I obviously haven’t blogged about it.  Anyway, based on my notes, I really liked the heroine (ticked the bright, independent, and brave boxes), the hero got on my nerves occasionally (intriguing, yes, but also verging on too-petulant at times), and although I thought the last third of the book dragged somewhat, I was looking forward to seeing their story wrapped up.  Plus, I like duologies.

After setting out to break the curse that binds them together, the pirate Ananna and the assassin Naji find themselves stranded on an enchanted island in the north with nothing but a sword, their wits, and the secret to breaking the curse: complete three impossible tasks. With the help of their friend Marjani and a rather unusual ally, Ananna and Naji make their way south again, seeking what seems to be beyond their reach.

Unfortunately, Naji has enemies from the shadowy world known as the Mists, and Ananna must still face the repercussions of going up against the Pirate Confederation. Together, Naji and Ananna must break the curse, escape their enemies — and come to terms with their growing romantic attraction.

Out June 4

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Other June books I may get:

  • Sarah Dessen‘s THE MOON AND MORE (YA romance): I loved the first Dessens that I read, but they lean towards the formulaic side (to be fair, similarities probably jump out more when you read five or so in a row, say).  Probably a library reservation for this one.
  • Kaje Harper‘s SOLE SUPPORT (m/m romance): I will probably buy this (unless reviews are totally meh). I enjoy her Life Lessons series, but her non-LL books haven’t really worked for me.

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17907041ETA: Elizabeth Wein‘s ROSE UNDER FIRE (companion to CODE NAME VERITY) is also out in the UK (June 3). Very much an auto-buy – CNV was a winner.

Rose Justice is a young American ATA pilot, delivering planes and taxiing pilots for the RAF in the UK during the summer of 1944. A budding poet who feels most alive while flying, she discovers that not all battles are fought in the air. An unforgettable journey from innocence to experience from the author of the best-selling, multi-award-nominated Code Name Verity. From the exhilaration of being the youngest pilot in the British air transport auxiliary, to the aftermath of surviving the notorious Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp, Rose’s story is one of courage in the face of adversity.

Mostly Urban Fantasy

Here’s the rest of what I read last September, including the last book in Richelle Mead’s Succubus series.  Yes, an UF series finally wraps up.  As usual, reviews originally on Goodreads, with additional comments in italics.

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The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16)The Affair by Lee Child (suspense)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A page-turner that kept me engrossed, which is exactly what I expect every time I open a Jack Reacher book. THE AFFAIR was set very early on in Reacher’s career – it was rather interesting to see Reacher when he was in the army (well, just about). Also, like the more recent books, another small-town setting – I think I prefer it when he does big cities, but that’s probably my city girl side coming out! One thing that did bother me slightly about this book was what struck me as lawlessness – everyone (including Reacher himself) seemed to run around killing without facing any consequences.

Lee Child is one of those authors who don’t necessarily write in chronological order series-wise (others include Lois McMaster Bujold, Catherine Asaro, and Elizabeth Peters).  I’ve mixed feelings about this – while I enjoy having a look at earlier events that played a part in shaping the main characters, another part of me  just wants to know what happens next.  

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Spell Bound (Women of the Otherworld, #12)Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have to admit I wasn’t wowed by this installment, even as a long-time Otherworld (and Savannah) fan. I get the feeling we’re heading towards a big-bang climax to the series (with the final book out in 2012), and this had the “middle-book-trilogy” feel to it for me. None of the plot threads were really resolved in this book, though action-wise, my heart was speeding up towards the end.

I found it hard to empathise with Savannah – I’m not sure why, it certainly wasn’t that she was “immature”, as was constantly emphasised in the book. I have to say I didn’t really view her as being that, just more of someone who has strong powers and relies on them, as you would expect! I did like seeing more of the Cabals – I find them a fascinating construct – and also Savannah’s “other” family in this book.

So not a keeper, but I have to say I’m looking forward to seeing how Kelley Armstrong wraps up this series with the next and final book, Thirteen, because I have a feeling she was setting things up for this.

Speaking of UF series wrapping up… this wasn’t my favourite of the series, but I hope Kelley Armstrong pulls something special out of the bag for THIRTEEN (or 13 – I’m not entirely sure what the official title is!).

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Bloodlines (Bloodlines, #1)Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up BLOODLINES with some trepidation, after Cassandra Clare’s revisit to her original trilogy where she basically undid the conclusion to her previous books.

But (surprisingly?) BLOODLINES was an enjoyable return to an already-familiar world – perhaps because the main characters in the original Vampire Academy trilogy weren’t a looming presence, we got to get to know the new protagonists without constantly making unfair comparisons to Rose, Lissa, Dmitri, et al.

By the end of this book, I could see Sydney beginning to unbend, and I would look up the next book, The Golden Lily, when it releases. Not a must-read, but a decent one.

Only one thing… no more love triangles please?

Spin-offs from established series appear to be getting increasingly popular – I thought Richelle Mead delivered a good story in this one.  Admittedly, I wasn’t massively into the original VA series, so I didn’t miss Rose and the original gang – others may feel differently.

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Succubus Revealed (Georgina Kincaid, #6)Succubus Revealed by Richelle Mead (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is sometimes just so satisfying to read a final book in a series, especially when it is a perfect wrap-up.

I loved how Richelle Mead managed to resolve the insurmountable hurdles keeping Georgina and Seth apart, and though there were parts which were somewhat predictable and corny, this book was a good one. Great plotting – I really liked how seemingly unrelated events and characters in other books ended up playing an important part in this book. I admit to some tears being shed towards the end, and can I just say the final courtroom scene rocked.

I remember reading the first book back in 2007 and really liking the world Richelle Mead created (gosh, that was a bit of a rambling review).  It’s been a good series. 

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One Salt Sea (October Daye, #5)One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire (urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best way to start a month is to read an October Daye book, IMO. I really liked this one – sleep deprivation was a fair price to pay on my part. Maybe a tad bit too much info-dumping in the story, but really, I savoured every word on each page and every bit of the world-building. I LOVE this series and this was a hugely satisfying instalment as we get to spend more time with Toby and her people (Quentin! Raj!) and more is revealed about Toby’s world. Yeah, sorry, nothing concrete to say – just some giddy fangirl gushing.

Speaking of good series, this is a fantastic one.  Admittedly, the early books were a bit patchy in places, but I think Seanan McGuire has hit her stride – this is probably my favourite UF series at the moment.

Free Extras for Physical Books? And Other Links

Kelley Armstrong‘s announced that the THIRTEEN hardcover (the final Otherworld book) will have a free Clay/Elena short story.  The short story won’t be in the ebook edition nor will it be released as a separate ebook, but will be included in a future anthology (she mentions 2016).

I’m quite not sure how I feel about this.  Ms Armstrong outlines her reasoning in her post – basically wanting to give her readers an extra for spending the additional money on getting the hardcover as opposed to the ebook, and also doing something special because it is the last book in the series.  I understand the latter argument, but the first one doesn’t really make sense – why would buying a hardcover edition be better for the author than buying an ebook?*

I get that publishers are still essentially experimenting with this ebook thing, and figuring out acceptable pricing points etc.  And there’s a precedent for including bonus material with new editions (Meljean Brook‘s mass market paperback release of THE IRON DUKE has a brand-new novella included – I am sort of tempted, but trying to wait until it comes out as a standalone e-short** and there are different reasons as to why it’s not included in the e-edition of the mass market).  But it’s frustrating that readers that choose to read ebooks don’t get access to the same material that people who buy the hardcover.

I suspect that I’ll probably end up borrowing the THIRTEEN hardcover from the library in order to read the Clay/Elena short.  And if I do, I’m in two minds about whether I end up buying the ebook on release date – unless the reviews are glowing, I can probably hold off until I get it from the library.  Which really  is not a win-win scenario.

*Royalties and bestseller lists are the two things that come to mind – on the first, I’ve read author posts that say they get more money from ebooks compared to paper editions, and on the second, surely e-sales count towards your rankings (agree this is more shrouded in mystery, but I have never really bought into the “buy during the first week of sales, don’t buy before this date, buy only from these retailers…” kind of mantra).

**Yes, I finally got around to reading THE IRON DUKE after winning a copy of the second book, HEART OF STEEL, in January.  I really liked it.  Amazing inventive world-building.  I will hopefully get around to writing a separate blog post about it.

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Right, that first item turned out to be longer than I expected it to be – I didn’t realise I felt that strongly about it.  Anyway, the next piece of news that caught my eye – Richelle Mead announced that she’s sold a new paranormal series (adult).

I really liked her Georgina Kincaid Succubus books (better than her Vampire Academy series, IMO), so am looking forward to this one:

NYT bestselling author Richelle Mead’s GAMEBOARD OF THE GODS, the first novel in her new adult paranormal series, Age of X, featuring an unlikely pair charged with investigating mystical phenomena in a futuristic world that was nearly destroyed by religious extremists…

Sounds really interesting.

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And finally, I liked this Austen v. Heyer blog post by Sherwood Smith at the Book View Cafe.  Apart from the fact that I’ve never heard the phrase “Silver Fork novel” before, she explains why Jane Austen’s romances are so different to Georgette Heyer’s – fascinating stuff.

Random Stuff

I’ve been re-reading Jane Austen‘s “Pride & Prejudice” on my phone in stops and starts recently.  I’ve always resisted reading on my phone, but after downloading the Kindle app a couple of months ago, I’m quite getting into reading while commuting.  I don’t think I would read a new-to-me book on it just because I need uninterrupted reading time to get into a book, but the twenty-odd minutes on the Tube is perfect for reading a couple of chapters.

And I had forgotten how romantic P&P is.  Swoon.

Apart from P&P, I’ve also read Richelle Mead‘s two latest releases – “Succubus Revealed”, the last in her Georgina Kincaid series, and “Bloodlines”, the first in her new Vampire Academy spin-off series.  I really liked Succubus – it’s been a book I’ve been waiting for quite a while, not least because I had no idea how she was going to pull off an ending that worked.  Without giving too much away, yeah, it was satisfying.

And I borrowed “Bloodlines” from the library with some trepidation – I wasn’t quite sure if revisiting an existing world was going to work (no names being mentioned here…).  But it proved to be an easy and entertaining read if not a ground-breaking one.  I’d pick up the next book in this series.

Some links:

Books for December

See, a timely post! Here are the new releases I’m planning to buy this month and then indulge in over the Christmas holidays:

Juliet Marillier‘s “Seer of Sevenwaters” (fantasy): I only discovered Juliet Marillier a couple of years ago, but her Sevenwaters books sit firmly on my keeper shelves.  So a new Sevenwaters book  is always a cause for celebration – the only fly in the ointment is that there is no UK release.  Why??!!!  Not happy, people.  The silver lining is that because of this, I pre-ordered the US edition from The Book Depository and just received an email saying it’s on the way.

The blurb from the author’s website (Sibeal’s story!):

Sibeal has always known that she is destined for a spiritual life, and is committed to it with all her heart. Before making her final vows, she travels to the northern island of Inis Eala to spend the summer with her sisters, Muirrin and Clodagh.

But Sibeal has barely set foot on the island when a freak storm out at sea sinks a ship before her eyes. In spite of frantic rescue efforts, only three survivors are fished alive from the water, and one of them, a man Sibeal names Ardal, clings to life by the merest thread.

As Ardal fights for his life, the island community discovers that there is something unusual about the three shipwrecked strangers. The beautiful Svala is mute and disturbed. Stalwart warrior Knut seems ashamed of his grieving wife. And Ardal has a secret he can’t remember … or won’t tell. When the astonishing truth comes out, Sibeal finds herself drawn into a perilous quest. At its end, she will face a decision that may break her heart.

Out Dec 7 (excerpt)

LB Gregg, ZA Maxfield, Josh Lanyon, and Harper Fox‘s “His for the Holidays” (m/m romance): This anthology from Carina Press is sounding like a very good one.  Each writer brings something different to the table, IMO – I love the slightly offbeat sense of humour in LB Gregg’s writing, the angst that Harper Fox excels in, and oh, pretty much all aspects of Josh Lanyon’s writing.  And ZA Maxfield is on my to-try list, so this anthology really ticks all the boxes.

Hope brightens a bleak Edinburgh December. A man gets a second chance with his high school crush. A decade-long game of cat and mouse comes to a passionate conclusion. And Santa Claus drives a red muscle car. Heat up your holidays with this collection of four festive tales from some of the top talent in the male/male genre.

Out Dec 6 (book page at Carina Press)

Richelle Mead‘s “Last Sacrifice” (YA urban fantasy): The last book in Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series,  though there will be a spin-off series in the same world.  I like these books, but haven’t fallen in love with the series – I’m not sure why.  Ms Mead has a massive fanbase for these books though, so I’m probably in a minority.  Having said that, I do find the VA series pretty addictive reading, and I will be getting this because I want to know what happens in the end.  Also, the UK cover?  Meh.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Murder. Love. Jealousy. And the ultimate sacrifice. Now, with Rose on trial for her life and Lissa first in line for the Royal Throne, nothing will ever be the same between them.

Out Dec 7 (excerpt)

Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway‘s “The Lady Most Likely…” (historical romance): Julia Quinn and Eloisa James are amongst the very few historical romance authors that remain autobuys for me (I probably have read some Connie Brockway before, but none of her books comes to mind immediately).  I’m never quite sure how a collaboration between different authors will turn out – sometimes it works, sometimes not – but I’ll still be getting this.  I’m also not sure exactly how this book is structured; the authors refer to it as “a novel in three parts” – does this mean three linked but separate stories, one story with three acts… anyone know?

From Ms James’ website:

Hugh Dunne, the Earl of Briarly, needs a wife, so his sister hands him a list of delectable damsels and promises to invite them—and a few other gentlemen—to her country house for what is sure to be the event of the season. Hugh will have time to woo whichever lady he most desires… Unless someone else snatches her first.

Out Dec 28 (excerpt)

Mercedes Lackey‘s “Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar” (fantasy): I don’t know why I always feel as though I have to justify my addiction to the Valdemar stories (she says, embarrassedly).  I think a new collection of Valdemar stories has been released at this time of the year for the past few years, so yay for more Heralds, white Companions, and all that.

Blurb from Amazon:

In March 1987, a young author from Oklahoma published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. This modest book about a magical land called Valdemar was the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles. Now readers can take a journey to the world of Valdemar-including Tanya Huff, Mickey Zucker Reichert, Fiona Patton, and Judith Tarr-each adding their own special touches.

Out Dec 7

“Love and Rockets” edited by Martin H Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes (SF romance): I was in two minds about whether to put up the cover or not, because DAW appears to have decided to enter this one into the “Worst Cover of the Year” award.  I like the monthly themed DAW anthologies, but I have no idea why their covers are so hit or miss.  There have been some rather striking ones, but equally some that make me think no one was that bothered, and some truly awful ones.  Cover aside, this is an SF-romance crossover anthology, which is a genre I’m quite keen on, so I’m hoping I come across some new-to-me authors in this one. I can’t find a list of contributors, though I know Lois McMaster Bujold has written an introduction.  Here is the table of contents, courtesy of contributor Steven H Silver.

Blurb from Amazon:

Space…the final frontier. Or is it? Many say there’s no frontier more forbidding than a romantic relationship between a man and a woman. But what if one’s a human, and the other’s an alien? Here is an original collection of space opera stories where authors take love (unrequited or not), on a spaceship, space station, or planetary colony, and add enough drama, confusion and mayhem to ensure that the path to true love-or short-term infatuation-is seldom free of obstacles.

Out Dec 7