Books for May

I feel like the month of May just flew past.  This is less an upcoming book releases post, more of a “hey, here are all the new releases that came out over May and what I thought of them”.

32758901Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED (SF): This novella totally lived up to the promise of the initial excerpt we got a couple of months ago.  How could you not fall for a (self-named) MurderBot who really just wants to be left alone to watch the latest soap operas.  There’s definitely a second in the series, and a potential third and fourth – fingers crossed she sells them.

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that blends HBO’s Westworld with Iain M. Banks’ Culture books.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Out now

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30658022Jenny Han’s ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN (YA): I adored the first book, and was delighted when Jenny Han decided Lara Jean’s story wasn’t quite complete.  This is the last of the books, and it wraps up the now-trilogy quite nicely.  If I’m honest, I found ALWAYS AND FOREVER less successful than the previous two (there were times I wanted to give Lara Jean a bit of a shake), but overall, it caps off a lovely set of books that brings to life the rollercoaster of emotions that high school was.

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Out now

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30753671Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s THE GATHERING EDGE (SF): The twentieth book in the Liaden series… and it didn’t really work for me.  What I wanted was some sort of resolution (or at least progression) on the plot threads left dangling from previous books.  What I got was Theo and crew hanging around on their ship in space.  For a whole book.  YMMV, but I wish I’d waited for the next book and then read both THE GATHERING EDGE and the sequel in one go (because things have to happen in the next book, surely?).

The luck runs rough around Theo Waitley. Not only are people trying to kill her and capture the self-aware intelligent ship Bechimo to whom Theo is bonded, they’re also trying to arrest her crew members, and throw the dignity of an important passenger, the duly-constituted norbear ambassador Hevelin, into question.

No wonder Theo and her crew felt the need of a break, and retired to what Bechimo refers to as “safe space.” Unfortunately, safe space may not be so safe, anymore.  It seems that things are leaking through from another universe, and another time. In fact, whole spaceships are coming through.  One of those ships is a blasted battleship seemingly fleeing a long-lost war. What’s more, its crew may be members of Theo’s ancient ancestral line—her relatives. It’s certain that they are in dire need of help. Theo has a choice to make. It seems that Bechimo’s “safe space” is about to become deadly perilous.

Out now

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34593693Elizabeth Wein’s THE PEARL THIEF (historical YA): And here’s the first new release that I haven’t read yet.  I’m really looking forward to this, but it’s a matter of too many books, too little time, and I want to take the time to savour this one.  Also, I love the cover, BTW.

Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. It is not an idyllic return to childhood. Her grandfather’s death has forced the sale of the house and estate and this will be a summer of goodbyes. Not least to the McEwen family – Highland travellers who have been part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember – loved by the family, loathed by the authorities. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. Suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens but Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.

This beautiful and evocative novel is the story of the irrepressible and unforgettable Julie, set in the year before the Second World War and the events of Code Name Verity. It is also a powerful portrayal of a community under pressure and one girl’s determination for justice.

Out now

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8306741Megan Whalen Turner’s THICK AS THIEVES (YA fantasy): Speaking of books I want to savour!  I have the actual hardcover in my possession (and trust me, that is rare), but have not yet cracked open the pages.  Partly due to lack of spare time, but also, it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I’m considering doing a series re-read before I dive into this.  We’ll see.

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

Out now

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon’s at her best when she does the FBI agent thing, and hurrah, this is one of them.  There’s been a Kindle edition mix-up which means I’m still waiting for Amazon to push the correct version to my ereader, so I’m practising delayed gratification on this one.

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Out now

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22303684Ilona Andrews’ WHITE HOT (paranormal romance): It’s been a while since the first Hidden Legacy book.  Despite that, I’ve only read good things about WHITE HOT.

The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot.

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

Out May 30

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As for other May releases that have also caught my eye:

SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS, edited by Paula Guran (fantasy): I’m a sucker for swords and sorcery-type stories, and this sounds like a promising curation of stories.

Sarina Bowen’s PIPE DREAMS (contemporary romance): I’ve read this, and while I normally love Bowen’s work, especially when it comes to sports romance, this one was one of the weaker ones for me.  Possibly because the narration uses flashbacks as part of the story, and I really don’t care for them.  I wasn’t onboard for one of the main plot points as well.  YMMV.

Joanna Chambers & Annika Martin’s ENEMIES LIKE YOU (romantic suspense): I loved the free prequel they released, but all the tension and promise kind of fizzled out for me when it came to the actual story.  Too much internalising, not enough action, and the twist was fairly obvious.

Lee Child’s NO MIDDLE NAME (suspense): This is a collection of Reacher short stories, most are previously-published but there’s one new novella.  A library request for me, I think, as I’ve probably read most of the shorts already.

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Books for July

There’s quite a few new releases on my radar this month.

22846823Miranda Kenneally’s DEFENDING TAYLOR (YA romance): I’ve always enjoyed Miranda Kenneally’s sports romance books (my very favourite being BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE, and the latest in her Hundred Oaks series is out this month.

There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?

Out now

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23510834Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s ALLIANCE OF EQUALS (SF): This is my current book on the go, and it’s keeping me occupied (in between watching tennis points!).  Some of the plot threads from previous books appear to be coming to fruition in this one, so hurrah.

A new novel in the popular and exciting science fiction Liaden Universe® series. Over a half million Liaden Universe® books sold with an audience that keeps growing!

Beset by the angry remnants of the Department of the Interior, challenged at every turn by opportunists on their new homeworld of Surebleak, and somewhat low on funds, Clan Korval desperately needs to reestablish its position as one of the top trading clans in known space. To this end, Master Trader Shan yos’Galan, aboard Korval’s premier trade ship, Dutiful Passage, is on a mission to establish new business associations and to build a strong primary route that links well with existing Loops and secondary routes.

But reestablishing trade and preserving the lives of the few remaining members of the clan aren’t all of Korval’s problems. Matters come to a head as Dutiful Passage, accustomed to being welcomed and feted at those ports on its call-list, finds itself denied docking, and blacklisted, while agents of the DOI mount armed attacks on others of Korval’s traders, under the very eyes of port security systems.

Traveling with Dutiful Passage on this unsettling journey is Padi yos’Galan, the master trader’s heir and his apprentice. Padi is eager to make up for time lost due to Korval’s unpleasantness with the Department of the Interior. She is also keeping a secret so intense that her coming of age, and perhaps her very life, is threatened by it.

Out now

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29087455Sarina Bowen’s STEADFAST (contemporary romance): The first book in this trilogy, BITTERSWEET, came out last month, and it totally whetted my appetite for Jude’s story.  I could get on board with this trend of releasing books in quick succession…

She’s the only one who ever loved him—and the only one he can never have.

Jude lost everything one spring day when he crashed his car into an apple tree on the side of the road. A man is dead, and there’s no way he can ever right that wrong. He’d steer clear of Colebury, Vermont forever if he could. But an ex-con in recovery for his drug addiction can’t find a job just anywhere.

For Sophie Haines, coming face to face with the man who broke her heart is gut-wrenching. Suddenly, he’s everywhere she turns. It’s hard not to stare at how much he’s changed. The bad boy who used to love her didn’t have big biceps and sun-kissed hair. And he’d never turn up volunteer in the church kitchen.

She knows it’s foolish to yearn for the man who returned all the heartsick letters she wrote him in prison. But the looks he sends her now speak volumes.

No one wants to see Sophie and Jude back together, least of all Sophie’s police chief father. But it’s a small town. And forbidden love is a law unto itself.

Out July 12

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30651327Rachel Caine’s PAPER AND FIRE (YA fantasy): I had a good time with the first book in this series so bring on the second.  Also obviously – libraries.

LET THE WORLD BURN

With an iron fist, the Great Library ruthlessly controls the knowledge of the world, forbidding the personal ownership of books in the name of the greater good.

Jess Brightwell has survived his introduction to the sinister, seductive world of the Library, but his life and the lives of those he cares for have been altered for ever. Embarking on a mission to save one of their own, Jess and his band of allies suddenly find themselves hunted by the Library’s deadly automata and forced to flee Alexandria.

But Jess’s home isn’t safe any more. The Welsh army is coming, London is burning, and soon Jess must choose between his friends, his family, or a Library willing to sacrifice anything and anyone in the search for ultimate control …

Out July 21 in the UK (think the US version is out now)

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29536947JL Merrow’s BLOW DOWN (M/M contemporary romance): I find my experience with JL Merrow’s books a bit hit-or-miss, but her Plumber’s Mate series has definitely been on the hit side so far.

Death is what happens while you’re making other plans.

The Plumber’s Mate Mysteries, Book 4

The last thing newly engaged plumber Tom Paretski needs is to stumble over another dead body. He’s got enough on his mind already as the reality of his impending marriage sinks in. Not only is his family situation complicated, his heroism at a pub fire made him a local celebrity. Now everyone and their uncle wants a piece of his psychic talents.

Hired to find a missing necklace, Tom and his fiancé, private investigator Phil Morrison, wind up trying to unmask a killer—and there’s no shortage of suspects, up to and including the local bishop himself.

As Tom and Phil try to uncover the truth, they find themselves pulled in all directions by the conflicting pressures of their families and their own desires. But the murderer they’re up against is a ruthless schemer who won’t hesitate to kill again. If Tom and Phil aren’t careful, their love—and all their plans for the future—could be blown down like a house of straw.

Warning: Contains a bishop of questionable Christian charity, a necklace of questionable taste, and a plumber of questionable nationality who may be running out of time.

Out July 12

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27804510Megan Derr’s THE PIRATE OF FATHOMS DEEP (M/M fantasy romance): I’m not usually one for fluffy romance, especially fluffy fantasy romance, but the first book in this series somehow hit the right buttons for me.

High Commander Lesto Arseni is the most feared man in the Harken Empire. None but the High King dares risk his wrath—and a pirate who once punched him in the middle of the imperial pavilion. A pirate who later snuck away with Lesto to an empty room, touched him in ways far more memorable. And then immediately bolted like a man who’d gotten what he wanted.

Shemal just wants to live a normal life, leave his pirating days behind him and prove that he’s respectable now. The last thing he needs is the two idiots who show up wanting his help with the noble they’ve kidnapped—the very man Shemal had been hoping to prove himself to, the man he hasn’t forgotten since Shemal punched him a year and a half ago.

Out July 13

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So, that’s my list – what’s on yours?

New Year, New Links

Recent links that have caught my eye:

Clearing Out My Links File

13515074Tanya Huff‘s THE SILVERED was one of my favourites of 2012.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that she’ll be inspired to revisit that world (because well, so many possible stories!), but in the meanwhile, there’s a tantalising first line snippet from the next Gale Girls book plus more in this interview @ Toasted Cheese.

And Jan just reviewed the first Gale Girls book, THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM, and reminded me of how much I enjoyed that one.

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16033642I’ve posted a couple of recent links about anthology editing – well, here’s another one.  Deborah J Ross talks about that very topic @ Book View Cafe.

Which reminds me – I’ve been meaning to check out her recent DAW release THE SEVEN-PETALED SHIELD, partly because I’m shallow and love the title, but also because Sherwood Smith’s review piqued my curiosity (could do without the cliffhanger ending, though).  Has anyone read it?

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12594400It’s no secret I’m a massive Andrea K Höst fangirl (or if it is, I’ve obviously not mentioned her enough in the past few months).  She did an interesting post about her sales to date, breaking down the numbers by book and year.

I’ll be hard-pressed to name my favourite Höst – possibly MEDAIR?  Though the Touchstone books are obviously up there, and CHAMPION OF THE ROSE had the most intriguing anti-hero.

Ha – I’ve just noticed I glommed her backlist in the first quarter of last year, so I should be posting about them on my blog ummm… shortly.

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Do you do Kickstarter?  I’ve backed a handful of projects, all for SFF ebooks (or rather, I’ve backed them at the ebook reward levels) because I figure I’d buy the ebook anyway.  I’ve not been tempted by non-writing projects, but the other challenge is actually identifying projects I want to back – there are so many out there.

Here’s an interesting interview @ SF Signal with the author Bradley P Beaulieu about his experience running Kickstarters for his novels.

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Sharon Lee posts about what’s next on the writing schedule for Sharon Lee & Steve Miller writing team.  I’m actually looking most forward to CAROUSEL SUN – I’ve always been a fan of her books.  But it’s good to know the plans for the Liaden series.

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)

Around the Web

Another set of links, old and new:

Books for February

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out now (excerpt)

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

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

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

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

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

Out Feb 13 (book site with excerpts and interviews)

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

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

He said . . . She said.

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

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

Out February 26

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out February 28 (excerpt)

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

Linkage for the Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s my technology tip of the day!

Catching Up

I’m back!  Well, not that I was actually away, though it may have appeared to be the case – I’ve just been spending way too much time watching tennis.  And with the Olympics coming up, I suspect this rather infrequent posting schedule is set to continue for a while.  Bear with me.

Not very many things have caught my eye around the internets recently – though a free Archers Beach story by Sharon Lee @ Splinter Universe was one of them.  I haven’t read it yet, but as I really enjoyed CAROUSEL TIDES, which was set in the same universe, I’m expecting to like it.  And also looking forward to the upcoming sequels.

I also liked this interview with Kristin Cashore @ Helen Lowe’s blog – she talks more about BITTERBLUE, and there are some excellent questions and equally fantastic answers.

And as for what I’ve been reading – I finished Lisa Shearin‘s Raine Benares fantasy series.  Confession: I stalled a few years ago in the middle (or so I thought) of the third book, but as the sixth and final book in the series had just been released, I wanted to know how it ended and decided to re-visit the book that had been giving me trouble.  So I dived back into THE TROUBLE WITH DEMONS and was surprised to find out that I had actually stopped in the second chapter.  I could have sworn I was much further in.  Oh well.

I’ll get around to posting reviews eventually, but while the books were generally an easy read, they wouldn’t be a re-read for me.  I’ve been pondering why I’ve failed to connect with the series – it has a lot of things going for it, not least the modern urban fantasy-like take on the traditional sword-and-sorcery fantasy genre.  I think it probably boils down to what I see as lack of character growth or development in Raine.  Five books in, and she’s still in the same place mentally (generally long-winded internal debate around the lines of “arrrghhh, I’ll be evil and corrupted forevermore if I use the Sarghred’s powers” followed by “but I have to protect the weak and defenceless” – major paraphrasing but you get the idea) as she was in the first books.  At least the dreaded love triangle was resolved in the fourth book.

I also read Veronica Roth‘s DIVERGENT (SF YA), primarily because of all the hype around the release of the second book.   I can see why it’s getting a lot of attention, and I was certainly fascinated by her dystopian world.  Ultimately though, the story fizzled out for me towards the end – I wasn’t invested enough in the main characters and the romance felt a bit forced to me.  I’ll probably get around to reading the sequel, but am in no rush.

So a pretty quiet couple of weeks when it comes to reading – I’ve not fallen in love with any new books, but haven’t hated any either.  What about you – any recs or rants?

Link Love

I know, I’ve been AWOL here recently.  I’ve quite a few links to share (some probably woefully out-of-date) – here’s what’s caught my attention over the past week or so:

And… I think that’s it!  I should post more frequently, huh?