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)

Books for December

Yes, this post is late, but on purpose this time!  There just haven’t been many December new releases that I’m interested in, so I’ve been holding off in the hope that I’d come across a few more.  Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case, so here’s the list of December releases on my radar – I will admit I’m fairly lukewarm on a few.

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13547361Sarah A Hoyt‘s DARKSHIP RENEGADES (SF): This is a follow-up to DARKSHIP THIEVES, an impulse borrow from my library a couple of years back and one I ended up liking very much.  I’m glad a sequel has finally been released, but my memory of the first book is somewhat hazy.  Also, this is published by Baen, so in theory, you should be able to purchase the e-version at both the Baen ebookstore or Amazon following their announcement last week.  I can see the price is now $8.99, as opposed to the original $6, so I’m assuming that’s gone through…

After rescuing her star pilot husband and discovering the dark secret of her own past on Earth, Athena Hera Sinistra returns to space habitat Eden to start life anew. Not happening. Thena and Kit are placed under arrest for the crime of coming back alive. The only escape from a death sentence: return to Earth and bring back the lost method for creating the Powertrees, the energy source of both Eden and Earth whose technological origins have been lost to war. But that mission is secondary to a greater imperative. Above all else, Thena must not get caught. If she does, then suicide is to be the only option.

With the odds heavily stacked against not only success, but survival, Thena comes to understand what her cynical accusers do not: it is not merely one woman’s life on the line anymore. For it’s on Earth where the adventure truly begins. Thena realizes that what is truly at stake is the fate of Eden and Earth alike, the continuance of the darkship fleet–and freedom for all in the Solar system–and beyond.

Out now (excerpt)

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13589141ELEMENTAL MAGIC, edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): December normally signals a new Valdemar anthology, but not this year – it’s the turn of Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series.  It’s the same concept as the Valdemar anthology – various authors (the usual suspects, plus a few others) contribute short stories set in Lackey’s world.  I always end up buying the Valdemar anthology, which tends to be a mixed bag (i.e. a couple I really like and the rest ranging from decent to mediocre), but then again, I have a soft spot for Valdemar stories in general.  I’m not as fond of her Elemental Masters books, but I suspect I’ll also end up buying this one.

Among Mercedes Lackey’s many novels, few are as critically acclaimed and beloved as those about the Elemental Masters. The novels in this series are loosely based on classic fairy tales, and take place in a fantasy version of turn-of-the-century London, where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Now other authors join Mercedes Lackey to add their own special touches to this delightful alternate history, in a world where magic is always just around the corner…

Out now

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1600621616007364Carina Press also has their Christmas (holiday?) anthologies out this month – the previous ones I’ve read have been good value for money, so I keep an eye out for them.  This year, their three anthology themes are contemporary romance (ROMANCING THE HOLIDAY), erotic romance (RED HOT HOLIDAY), and SF romance A GALACTIC HOLIDAY.  I’ve already bought the latter two based on generally positive reviews (and am especially excited about the SF one), and will probably get the contemporary one at some point.

Out now

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13561603Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway‘s A LADY MOST WILLING (historical romance): This is a follow-up to the previous collaboration between the same authors, which I haven’t read yet, but I’m guessing these three authors should have put together a pretty fun and Christmassy read.

During their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Scotland to visit their aged uncle in his decrepit castle, the Comte de Rocheforte and his cousin, Earl of Oakley, are presented with unique gifts: their uncle has raided an English lord’s Christmas party and kidnapped four lovely would-be brides for his heirs to choose from… as well as one very angry duke, Lord Bretton. As snow isolates the castle, and as hours grow into days, the most honourable intentions give away to temptations as surprising as they are irresistible.

Out Dec 26 (excerpt)

2010: Recap of My Reading Year Part 1

I’ve done an annual recap of books read for the past few years running – this time around, it’s taken a bit more than usual to start writing this (possibly tied to my general lack of blogging motivation this year, you think?).  But I like revisiting my reading year – both when writing the recap and also when re-reading them months later – so, well, here we go.

January

I read 11 books in January, and actually, looking at the list of books read, there were some very good ones to start off the year.  I finished Diana Gabaldon‘s “An Echo in the Bone”, mainly by dipping in and out over a period of several weeks, which in hindsight, was the best way to finish such a massive tome.  The story was so sprawling and epic that I’ve no memory as to what the book is about now, except that I enjoyed it immensely and it had a dratted cliffhanger ending.

As for new-to-me authors, I read Sean Kennedy‘s “Tigers and Devil” (m/m romance) after seeing it appear on so many Top Books of 2009 lists, and yes, that was totally well-deserved.  I loved the Australian setting and even got to grips with Australian Rules football – I think.   Steve Kluger‘s hilariously funny yet sweet “Almost Like Being in Love” (rec’d by Nath) was another hit.  And I read my first Sarah Dessen (YA contemporary), “The Truth About Forever”, which was very definitely not my last Dessen of the year.

February

14 books read during February – unfortunately, none really worked for me until the end of the month, when I read and loved both Jacqueline Carey‘s “Naamah’s Kiss” (the first in her latest Kushiel fantasy trilogy, which held me enthralled from beginning to end) and Mary Stewart‘s “Touch Not the Cat” (romantic suspense, and one of the few books I missed during my Stewart glom back in 2008).

I read a few more Dessens, but none really as good as TTAF.  And that was about it in terms of memorable reads.

March

Nine books read over the month, including two of Seanan McGuire‘s Toby Daye books, which takes my “Best New-to-Me Urban Fantasy Series of 2010” trophy – I have to include the new-to-me caveat, as the first book came out in 2009, but got buried in the glut of new UF releases. When I finally got around to reading “Rosemary & Rue”, I was totally captivated and promptly followed up with the second book, “A Local Habitation”.  Ms McGuire’s Faerie/San Francisco world is incredibly refreshing and real, Toby is developing into a heroine you can properly get behind (character growth, I love you), and there is Tybalt.  The King of Cats.  Ahhh.

Apart from that, I read my first Jennifer Echols, “Going Too Far” – more YA contemporary!  It was good – strong characterisation, compelling believable romance – and I wanted more.

April

I was back up to 11 books this month (as an aside, I’m surprised I was reading as much as I’ve been over the months) and it was a good one.

I loved Lisa Lutz‘s “The Spellmans Strike Again”, the latest madcap adventure in The Spellman Files books and oh-so-satisfying (character growth!), and also Patricia Briggs‘ “Silver Borne” (I have not read a lacklustre Mercy Thompson book yet).  And Jim Butcher‘s latest Dresden Files book, “Changes”, was great storytelling, as always.  Elizabeth Peters released a new Amelia Peabody (I have no words to describe how much I was anticipating this one) and while it was not one of the best Peabody books, it was just so good to revisit the whole cast of characters again.  Finally, a new-to-me author this month was Sarah A Hoyt and her “Darkship Thieves” (which Janicu has just reviewed), which was an excellent blend of space opera and romance.

Probably a good time to stop – next post, the next four months…

Sarah A Hoyt’s “Darkship Thieves”

I am crazy jealous of all those people who attended BEA and/or the RT convention (or both!) and came away with massive book hauls.  Sort of silly really, because I have waaaay too many books that I have not yet read, and the last thing I need is yet more books.  Oh well, who said jealousy was rational.

Anyway, in an attempt to focus my mind on how many books I have not read, I decided to spend this lovely chilly damp Bank Holiday afternoon updating my list of books read in 2010 – grand total of 55 to date – and realised I never blogged about Sarah A Hoyt’s “Darkship Thieves”, which I picked up at random during one of my library visits and enjoyed tremendously.

51TB1RUC2ZL._SL160_ Ignore the cover depicting a half-naked woman (why, oh why, Baen) because there is a wonderful SF romance lurking inside.  Actually, the cover art works both ways – it caught my eye as an obviously Baen cover on the library display, hence me taking a closer look.  So I picked it up, began reading the first few pages, and knew I wanted to take it home…

Blurb from the publisher’s website:

Athena Hera Sinistra never wanted to go to space.  Never wanted see the eerie glow of the Powerpods.  Never wanted to visit Circum Terra.  Never had any interest in finding out the truth about the DarkShips.  You always get what you don’t ask for.  Which must have been why she woke up in the dark of shipnight, within the greater night of space in her father’s space cruiser, knowing that there was a stranger in her room.  In a short time, after taking out the stranger—who turned out to be one of her father’s bodyguards up to no good, she was hurtling away from the ship in a lifeboat to get help.  But what she got instead would be the adventure of a lifetime—if she managed to survive…

I was in the mood for a SF romance and this fitted the bill perfectly.  Athena – the only remaining heir of her Patrician family – escapes from her father’s ship after what appeared to be a mutiny by her father’s bodyguards, and lands in the hands of Kit, one of the infamous darkship thieves.  Chaos and confusion ensues (is her father really in trouble, who can she trust?), and Athena has no choice but to flee to Kit’s homeworld, and begins to slowly unravel her family history and its secrets in an attempt to return home.

It’s an entertaining adventure-packed romp, Athena grows into a pretty impressive heroine, and Kit is a wonderfully charismatic hero right from the start.  The plot, while not incredibly original, was twisty enough to keep me engrossed, and if I say I went looking for a sequel as soon as I finished the book, that should give you an idea of how much I enjoyed “Darkship Thieves”.

A passage from Chapter Four, when Athena comes face-to-face with Kit for the first time after fleeing her father’s ship:

I’d be damned if I was going to meet it while cramped and bent in here.  I pushed down the door opening release very fast, then pushed the lifepod open, in one move, while holding my slip—what remained of it—closed with my other hand.

And found myself facing someone who looked utterly alien.  Oh, not alien like with tentacles and stuff like the bad mid twenty-first-century senses. I mean, those were not really scary.  What’s so scary about a squid or an octopus?  Even if it’s walking on land?

No.  This . . . creature was scary because he was human, undeniably and certainly of the same human stock I was—bipedal, general body shape of human male.  Truth be told, wonderful body shape of human male.  He was tall, with broad, straight shoulders, a narrow waist, the muscular legs of a dancer or runner.  All of which were clearly visible because he was wearing what could have been a dancer’s costume—bright red and made of some material that molded every inch and possibly every pore.

I noticed that first, but then I looked up.  And above the neck . . . Oh, don’t misunderstand me.  He didn’t look deformed.  Just familiar and different in an unbearable combination.  His face was that of a human male, in bone and skin—a broad face, with a hint of the Nordic and a square chin, that would not have looked out of place on a redhead.

Only the hair above the face was not red.  It was . . . calico, like a cat’s.  A mixture of blond and brown and red, bright enough to be visible in this dim light.  And his eyes, broad and bright, had no sclera at all.  They were green like a cat’s and, like a cat’s, slanted and shining in the dark.

"Cat got your tongue?" he asked, and seemed to see this as the epitome of humor.

I have another of Ms Hoyt’s books in my TBR pile, and am aiming to get around to it soon.

Lengthy excerpt for “Darkship Thieves” available here. Ms Hoyt also posts free short stories at Sarah’s Corner Booth, with a couple of stories set in the Darkship Thieves universe.