Books for June

June!  New books!  Need I say more.

Well, yes, actually, because I seem to have come out of my reading slump, and have been reading.  I hesitate to say that I’m reading a lot (pesky things like sleep and work are still getting in the way), but despite the fact it’s only the second week of June, I’ve finished reading quite a few new releases here.

22750124Martha WellsSTORIES OF THE RAKSURA VOLUME 2 (fantasy): This is Martha Wells’ second collection of novellas/short stories set in her Raksura world.  I loved this trilogy when I finally got around to reading these books last year (they were in my 2014 favourites) and I was delighted to hear that she was continuing to write more stories in the same universe.  This is one of the books I’ve raced through, and it may sound weird as they’re new-to-me stories, but they’re almost like comfort reads.  She delivers exactly what you’re expecting – there are no surprises, and I mean that in a good way.

Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically ignore genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

Out now

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24397828Nalini Singh‘s SHARDS OF HOPE (paranormal romance): I was debating whether this book was a buy or borrow, right up to the last moment when I caved and bought the Kindle version.  And yes, I’ve read it.  I haven’t loved her more recent Psy-Changeling books (hence the internal debate), but I thought this was the best one since the Hawke/Sienna book (which was, gosh, published back in 2011 – time flies).  There was quite a bit of repetition and the story felt a bit padded out, I thought the level of violence was slightly OTT, but I liked Aden and Zaira’s story more than I thought I would.

Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.

And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.

This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.

Rich, dark, sumptuous and evocative . . . bestselling author Nalini Singh is back with a stunning, dark and passionate new tale.

Out now

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25395582Sherwood Smith‘s LHIND THE SPY (YA fantasy): Sequel to her LHIND THE THIEF (which I’ve read – no idea why I haven’t reviewed it).  I’m reading this right now, and it’s actually taking some discipline to write this blog post as opposed to continuing with Lhind’s adventures.  Lots of fun so far.

In this sequel to Lhind the Thief, Lhind has gone from castoffs to silks, back alleys to palace halls—and is not having an easy time of it. That’s before she’s snatched by an angry prince she’d robbed twice, who is determined to turn her over to the enemy who frightens her most, the sinister Emperor Jardis Dhes-Andis.

When her own dear Hlanan comes to rescue her, it’s Lhind who has to do the rescuing, setting off a wild chase to fend off mercenaries and then to confront an entire army intent on invasion.

Lhind and Hlanan try to negotiate the perilous waters of a relationship while on the run—straight into a trap.

Just when Lhind is beginning to figure out where she might fit into the world, she finds herself alone again, surrounded by enemies, in one of the most dangerous courts in the world.

And she begins to find out who she really is.

Out now

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24684698KJ Charles‘ THE SECRET CASEBOOK OF SIMON FEXIMAL (M/M historical romance): I’ll buy anything KJ Charles writes. ‘Nuff said.

A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell
September 1914

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And then my maybes/library requests:

  • Erika Johansen‘s THE INVASION OF THE TEARLING (YA fantasy): Probably a library request.  I read the first book last year – thought it was a decent start, though over-hyped.
  • Garth Nix‘s TO HOLD THE BRIDGE (fantasy): A collection of his short stories.  I’ve read a few of his books (and liked), but have a few more unread on my Kindle – another one for the library.
  • Ashley Gardner‘s MURDER MOST HISTORICAL (mystery): Another collection of short stories.  I’ve liked her Captain Lacey historical mysteries (hey, I’ve read all nine of them), so I’ll get this at some point
  • Mary Balogh‘s ONLY A PROMISE (historical romance): I’ve requested this from the library.
  • Sophie Kinsella‘s FINDING AUDREY (YA): Ditto.  I’ve had good times reading her more recent releases, but I’m not entirely sure I want to splash out on a Kinsella hardcover, especially for her first(?) YA.

 

Books for September

For whatever reason (stars aligning etc etc), there are a LOT of new releases in September that I want.  It’s going to be a good reading month…

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22559338Sherwood Smith‘s RONDO ALLEGRO (historical romance): Sherwood Smith is better-known for her fantasy novels (CROWN DUEL is probably the gateway novel into her works), but I really liked her take on Regency romance in DANSE DE LA FOLIE, so I’m up for this.  I’m guessing this is a romance based on the blurb…

At the end of the eighteenth century, all of Europe is at war.

In Palermo, sixteen-year-old singer-in-training Anna Maria Ludovisi is married by her dying father to Captain Henry Duncannon, the Perennial Bachelor. Mere minutes after the wedding he sets sail.

The threat of French invasion causes Anna to flee to Paris. At the end of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte is transforming France; Anna must transform herself into a professional singer in order to survive.

in 1805, Anna’s opera company is traveling through Spain when events bring the long-missing Captain Duncannon and his forgotten wife back together again, as the English, Spanish, and French fleets converge for battle off the Cape of Trafalgar.

For Henry Duncannon as well as Anna, everything changes: the demands of war, the obligation of family, the meaning of love, and the concept of home. Can they find a new life together?

Out Sept 9

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22821635Patricia BriggsSHIFTING SHADOWS (urban fantasy): So not quite a new Mercy Thompson novel, more a collection of both old and new short stories (roughly half-and-half, I think, based on the info on her website).  I’ve read all the previously-released short stories, but I think there’s enough new content to persuade me to get this (though I may wait for a price drop).  Plus I’ve always liked the original Alpha & Omega novella.

Mercy Thompson’s world just got a whole lot bigger . . .

Including a number of original short stories, this stunning collection is set in the world of Mercy Thompson – mechanic, shapeshifter and fighter – and the characters she calls friends.

Out Sept 2

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22392751Sarina Bowen‘s FALLING FROM THE SKY and Amy Jo Cousins‘ WHEN THE LIGHTS GO DOWN (contemporary romance):  Both of these are in the latest Harlequin E Contemporary Romance Box Set (together with two other stories), which makes it a no-brainer (the Harlequin E box set being a limited period e-bundle of four categories for a lower price).  If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ll know I’ve been really enjoying Sarina Bowen’s NA romance books, and while I haven’t mentioned it, I thought both these authors’ stories in the first Harlequin E box set had potential.

Four different men. Four unforgettable romances…

Falling from the Sky by Sarina Bowen

A brutal spinal cord injury robbed snowboarder Hank Lazarus of everything. But just as Hank gives up, Dr. Callie Anders shows him something that’s really worth fighting for….

Maid to Love by Rebecca M. Avery

Academic Courtney Wells has waited long enough and is going to have a baby on her own. But then she meets military-man-turned-maid Ian Hamilton….

When the Lights Go Down by Amy Jo Cousins

A new play could mean stage manager Maxie Tyler is finally Broadway-bound–as long as she can resist wickedly hot producer Nicholas Drake. Because getting involved with the “money” is a no-no…and this show must go on!

Start Me Up by Kristina Knight

When Hollywood hunk Chase MacIntyre proposes a faux relationship, disgraced L.A. matchmaker Nina Wright can’t refuse…until some serious sexiness makes “on paper” happen between the sheets!

Out Sept 1

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15748529Seanan McGuire‘s THE WINTER LONG (urban fantasy): Under normal circumstances, I’d be counting down the days to this release.  However, through pure serendipity, I stumbled upon a copy at a bookstore, and yes, have already read it.  If you love Toby Daye (*raises hand*), you’ll like this one – I enjoyed revisiting Toby’s world, the usual suspects are all present and accounted for, and there are some rather interesting twists plot-wise, combined with a bit of emotional punch.  On the not-so-good side, there were bits that did feel repetitive (I know people who struggle with this series call this aspect out, and I could definitely see that in this book) and I kind of wanted more.

Short and straight-to-the-punch blurb:

 Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

Out Sept 2

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18744715Juliet Marillier‘s THE CALLER (YA fantasy): While I had a couple of issues with the first book (still liked it, mind – just wasn’t up to the standards I set for a Marillier book), the second worked better for me, and I’m looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.

In the final book in this gripping, romantic fantasy trilogy perfect for fans of Robin McKinley, Kristin Cashore, and Shannon Hale, Neryn’s band of rebels reach their climactic confrontation with the king. The stunning conclusion to the story that began with Shadowfell and Raven Flight is full of romance, intrigue, magic, and adventure.

Just one year ago, Neryn had nothing but a canny skill she barely understood and a faint dream that the legendary rebel base of Shadowfell might be real. Now she is the rebels’ secret weapon, and their greatest hope for survival, in the fast-approaching ambush of King Keldec at Summerfort.

The fate of Alban itself is in her hands. But to be ready for the bloody battle that lies ahead, Neryn must first seek out two more fey Guardians to receive their tutelage. Meanwhile, her beloved, Flint, has been pushed to his breaking point as a spy in the king’s court—and is arousing suspicion in all the wrong quarters.

At stake lies freedom for the people of Alban, a life free from hiding for the Good Folk—and a chance for Flint and Neryn to finally be together.

Out Sept 9

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22839846Nalini Singh‘s ROCK ADDICTION (contemporary romance): Nalini Singh’s surprise rock star book!  Are rock stars becoming one of those really specific romance subgenres, something like motorcycle clubs?  I’m wondering how her PNR writing will translate into contemporary, to be honest (I know she started off in category romance, but I haven’t read any of those books) – it could go either way.

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh stuns with a sizzling contemporary romance…

A bad boy wrapped in a sexy, muscled, grown-up package might be worth a little risk…

Molly Webster has always followed the rules. After an ugly scandal tore apart her childhood and made her the focus of the media’s harsh spotlight, she vowed to live an ordinary life. No fame. No impropriety. No pain. Then she meets Zachary Fox, a tattooed bad boy rocker with a voice like whiskey and sin, and a touch that could become an addiction.

A one-night stand with the hottest rock star on the planet, that’s all it was meant to be…

Fox promises scorching heat and dangerous pleasure, coaxing Molly to extend their one-night stand into a one-month fling. After that, he’ll be gone forever, his life never again intersecting with her own. Sex and sin and sensual indulgence, all with an expiration date. No ties, no regrets. Too late, Molly realizes it isn’t only her body that’s become addicted to Fox, but her heart…

Out Sept 9

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20697444MONSTROUS AFFECTIONS, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J Grant (YA fantasy): So I’ll be perfectly honest – I’m getting this purely for the Sarah Rees Brennan, because her contribution is set in the Turn of the Story universe (which she’s been serialising on her blog for free).  Or at least I think it is, so if it turns out to be a completely separate story, I’ll be horribly disappointed…

Fifteen top voices in speculative fiction explore the intersection of fear and love in a haunting, at times hilarious, darkly imaginative volume.

Predatory kraken that sing with – and for – their kin; band members and betrayed friends who happen to be demonic; harpies as likely to attract as to repel. Welcome to a world where humans live side-by-side with monsters, from vampires both nostalgic and bumbling, to an eight-legged alien who makes tea. Here you’ll find mercurial forms that burrow into warm fat, spectral boy toys, a Maori force of nature, a landform that claims lives, and an architect of hell on earth. Through these, and a few monsters that defy categorization, some of today’s top young-adult authors explore ambition and sacrifice, loneliness and rage, love requited and avenged, and the boundless potential for connection, even across extreme borders.

Out Sept 9

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18309803Sarah Rees Brennan‘s UNMADE (YA urban fantasy): As we’re talking SRB, the final book in her Lynburn Legacy trilogy is out this month as well. I’ve liked the first two books (the first worked for me more than the second, however), so again I’m looking forward to reading the final book.

Fairly major spoilers for the first two books in the book blurb, so I’ll just link to the book’s Goodreads page.

Out Sept 23

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20359719Sherry Thomas‘s THE PERILOUS SEA (YA fantasy): Moving on to a second book in a trilogy, Sherry Thomas is also releasing her follow-up to THE BURNING SKY, which I liked, but didn’t entirely love (you may have figured out by now that insta-love is really not my favourite thing in a book).  So potentially middle-book syndrome here, or possibly not…

After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother’s prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

Out Sept 16

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BadBoys_Hunter_Final_medium-672x1024Kelly Hunter‘s SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (contemporary romance): I like Kelly Hunter’s books so much that I actually added this to Goodreads so I could link it here (go easy on me if I’ve set up the page wrong please – I do this probably once in a blue moon).  More info plus prologue on Kelly Hunter’s blog – it’s related to her earlier book THE HONEYMOON TRAP (but setting up a GR series is beyond me, and I don’t think there’s an official series title anyway…).

Sympathy For The Devil is Caleb Jackson’s story. Dive master, charter boat operator, one third of Jackson’s boat building enterprises – you may have met him in The Honeymoon Trap. He played the good brother in that story, and he can be a good brother. He tries to be.

He just doesn’t always succeed.

Have you ever done something you shouldn’t have? Ever screwed someone over and vowed never to do it again?

Welcome to Caleb’s world.

Out Sept 23 (or thereabouts)

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Well.  I did say it was a long list…

A This and That Kind of Post…

… reflecting my similarly unfocused state of mind – here are both links and recent reads.

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I grew out of my “classics” phase ages ago, but this post by Sherwood Smith on her latest re-read of George Eliot‘s MIDDLEMARCH had me running to manybooks.net to download the PD version.  I’ve never read MIDDLEMARCH before, but I want to now.  Hopefully I’m not in for a disappointment – thoughts, anyone?

Requisite tor.com post that I liked: This one about cover art for Orbit books.  If I’m honest, I hadn’t really thought much about Orbit covers having a certain artistic style, but some of their covers have been striking.

And because I link to almost every Courtney Milan post – she talks about her enhanced digital editions ($0.99 each for a short while, I believe) and how she was able to release her own version of the books she published with Harlequin.  Really interesting (or at least, I thought so!).

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Books I’ve read recently (I flirt with the idea of a weekly/monthly wrap-up, and then figure I’d never stick to a schedule):

A couple of new-to-me category authors (spoiler: I wasn’t wowed by either) – Joss Wood‘s MORE THAN JUST A FLING? and Jessica Gilmore‘s THE RETURN OF MRS JONES.  I picked up the Wood because it was on sale and Nath likes her writing, and the Gilmore because I read a review somewhere.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember where now, so shout if you’ve seen it reviewed fairly recently – it wasn’t an overly-glowing review, but I was in the mood for an exes reunited premise.

Plus and minus points for each (I know – call this a book blog…) – okay, I liked that both stories felt fresh (as opposed to how category romance can sometimes feel dated) and there was some sparkle, but pacing felt a bit slow in spots.  So while I’d probably read more by each author at some point, I’m not running out to get the rest of their backlists.

20878147KS Augustin‘s THE CHECK YOUR LUCK AGENCY (urban fantasy): I picked this up because of an interview Andrea K Höst did with KS Augustin a few weeks back – it piqued my interest in her writing and this book is (was?) free.  Slightly a bit too much info-dumping for me at the start, but that wasn’t a show-stopper.  I did like how the Malaysia/Singapore setting came to life and the book whiled away an hour or so on the train very nicely.  However, I felt the story read more like a series of episodes as opposed to a full novel, plus it ended very abruptly, which caught me by surprise.  Having looked up the series detail now, the “complete” version is a five-book omnibus – I’ll probably get that at some point.

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Non-books related: I’m not sure how or when I stumbled onto this site, but I am hooked on Ask a Manager (have I mentioned it before?).  Alison Green just talks plain common sense when it comes to workplace dilemmas – well, the answers are almost always obvious when you read her responses, but they’re not at the same time.  And it’s always nice to see that mine is not the weirdest office out there.

Links!

It’s that sort of day. (ETA: It’s also the sort of day when I hit Publish by accident, so totally that sort of day.  Anyway, you get links with a wander down memory lane.)

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night broken_front mech.inddA Patricia Briggs interview @ Confessions of an Opinionated Book Geek (love that title!), where she tackles the question as to why Mercy Thompson has no female friends. Patricia Briggs has obviously given it some thought… I’m not entirely sure whether I agree with some of the arguments she made (will have to ponder a bit more), but I love knowing Mercy’s close to her half-sisters (I didn’t know she had any!) and her college roommate (who gave her the tattoos).  Who knew?  (And NIGHT BROKEN releases Tuesday! I’m halfway through Seanan McGuire’s HALF-OFF RAGNAROK at the moment, but may have to put it to one side…)

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I obviously haunt Courtney Milan‘s blog because she’s clever, articulate, and all of that – I found this post of hers about self-publishing v. traditional publishing really interesting. I have no interest in writing, but I find industry posts from the author’s perspective fascinating.

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Kind of random, but this post by Sherwood Smith @ Book View Cafe on everyday phrases that relate to anachronistic objects  (plus comments) made me think. It’s like the phrase “dial in” – I can’t remember the last time I used a phone with a rotary dial, but I still use the phrase every day, e.g. “Can you add a dial-in for that meeting as I’ll be working from home?”. And everyone knows what you mean!

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And to round off, a little trip down memory lane…

Do you know what my first “proper” romance book was?  I don’t mean one of those Sweet Dreams books (anyone read those, by the way?) or a M&B/Harlequin (which I graduated to after running out of Sweet Dreams books).  I mean a full-length romance novel.

Not unexpected, as I’d always been hanging out in the SFF aisles, it was an SF romance.  I suspect it was mis-shelved, but it was a mis-shelving I took full advantage of…

584009The book was Justine Davis‘s THE SKYPIRATE (and yes, with that very cover – I know, I’m not quite sure how I got it past my mother either).

I loved it (as you may suspect, there were dashing sky-pirates, hidden identities, missing heirs, and equal amounts of angst and action), and it was the start of my romance reading career.  So very good memories – I’m pretty sure I read and re-read the book many times over, until poor Fabio (it is Fabio, right?) was practically separated from the rest of the book.

And guess what?

Justine Davis has announced she’s re-releasing THE SKYPIRATE and its prequel (which I never managed to track down), PLUS writing the long-awaited wrap up to the trilogy (because threads were left hanging…).  I am very very excited.

So – has anyone else out there read THE SKYPIRATE before (it’s a mid-1990s release according to Goodreads)?  And do you have equally good memories of your first “proper” romance novel?

Post-Christmas Linkage

For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderfully festive time with friends and family.

I love this period between Christmas and New Year – it always struck me as a quiet (and much-needed) lull before the year starts in earnest.  I’m usually still off work (using up those days before the end of the year – every year I say I’ll plan my holidays better…), but the mad Christmas rush is over, and the most stressful thing on my plate is checking out the Boxing Day sales – usually from the peace and quiet of my living room as opposed to tackling the crowds on the high street 😉

And of course, I can ease back into that blogging habit…

A couple of time-sensitive links to start off with:

ewein-special-ops

Other links that caught my eye over the past month or so:

YA Fantasy x 3

Three YA fantasy novels I read last year – one didn’t quite work for me, but the other two were just right.

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Liar's Moon (Thief Errant, #2)Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

By rights, I should have loved this book. It had all the elements that I love – it’s a YA fantasy with an independent heroine, there was a sprinkling of romance against a background of rebellion and danger, and finally, there was a murder mystery to be solved.

But in the end, the story just felt a bit too passive, and I never connected with the characters, while the romance never felt real. I was left wondering how the most-wanted people appeared to wander freely through the city without ever being caught. I’m not invested enough in Digger or her story to continue – even with the slightly cliff-hangerish ending.

This is the second book in the series.  I had some reservations after reading the first book STAR CROSSED (way back in 2010), but decided to give the series another chance – LIAR’S MOON didn’t really change my mind.  I wanted more.

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A Posse of PrincessesA Posse of Princesses by Sherwood Smith (YA fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a reread for me – after reading Thea’s review at The Book Smugglers, I was tempted into buying the revised e-version (with an extra chapter) and had no regrets.

This felt a bit like a high school story translated to a fantasy setting, with cliques, bullying, and secrets galore – however, Sherwood Smith pulls it off and I loved how Rhis and girl power came to the fore. And I really liked how the HEA in this book was a realistic one for a story where the main protagonists are teenagers. The high fantasy world will be familiar to long-time readers of Sherwood Smith’s fantasies, but at the same time, I think it works perfectly as a standalone.

I remember liking this well enough the first time I read it, though it wasn’t a standout at that time.  I’m not quite sure what changed – maybe I was just in the right mood for this kind of story, but I really loved it the second time around.   

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Stained Glass Monsters (Eferum, #1)Stained Glass Monsters by Andrea K. Höst (YA fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been remiss about not posting about this earlier, bearing in mind how much I enjoyed the book. In a way, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS reminded me of Sharon Shinn’s Summers at Castle Auburn, which happens to be one of my favourite YA fantasy books.

I loved the story in this one – it had a really imaginative plot and is something quite different to other fantasy stories out there. I liked how the author trusted you to get the world, instead of spelling out every single detail. The dual POV worked well for me – both Kendall and Rennyn were strong females at very different stages in their lives, and that contrast in perspectives gave two different views into the story. And while I did not necessarily like every single character, I could empathise with each one.

I read this straight after Andrea K Höst’s The Touchstone Trilogy, and although I did see certain similarities in descriptions and characterisation, I do like how she gives us a very different story each time.

All in all, STAINED GLASS MONSTERS is one book I would re-read, and while it worked really well as a standalone story, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that there will be more stories set in this world.

I admit that I’m not entirely sure this is YA fantasy – I think it straddles the border between YA and adult.  I certainly would have loved reading it as a teenager.  I read this during my Höst glom last year.  Good times.

Sunday Thoughts

I was really sad when I heard of Barbara Mertz‘s (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels) passing (link via Janicu @ SpecFicRomantic).  She was 85, and lived life to the full from all accounts – I loved this line from her website:

Shortly before her death, she had written a line to be posted on this webpage: “At 85, Elizabeth Peters (aka Barbara Michaels) is enjoying her cats, her garden, lots of chocolate, and not nearly enough gin.”

I remember discovering her Amelia Peabody mystery series back in 2007 and visiting pretty much every bookstore in central London to get my hands on the complete series (yes, those pre-ebook days).  I’d always seen numerous recommendations for her books whenever anyone asked about mysteries with strong romantic elements, but had discounted them, thinking that I’d never be interested in Egyptian archaeology – yes, I know.

I picked up the first book, CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, on a whim one day, and while it wasn’t necessarily instant love, there was something about her writing that meant I kept on reading, and before I knew it, I was hooked.  Her love of Egypt shone through her writing, and as for the Peabody family – addictive doesn’t even begin to describe their adventures as they pursue archaeological treasures in turn-of-the-century Egypt.  Her books are the main reason why I want to visit Egypt one day and sail down the Nile on a dahabeeyah.  She brought this previously-unknown world alive for me, which is really what books are all about – giving you a window into places that you’d never have imagined otherwise.  Here’s a review I posted for third Amelia Peabody, THE MUMMY CASE a few years back – the first paragraph may give you a feel for how highly I rate this series if it wasn’t obvious already…

Thank you for the many happy hours of reading, and RIP Barbara Mertz.

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I’ve recently discovered a new-to-me historical mystery series that I’m really enjoying – PB Ryan‘s Nell Sweeney series:

The Nell Sweeney historical mysteries, which are set in post-Civil War Boston, star a young Irish-born governess and her employer’s black sheep son, the dissolute, wounded, dangerously charming Will Hewitt. If you like twisty-turny mysteries with a breathless whisper of romantic tension, you’ve come to the right place.

I couldn’t describe them any better myself – 1860s Boston comes to life, Nell is a very engaging heroine, and her relationship with Will is filled with chemistry from the very first book.  The first book, STILL LIFE WITH MURDER, is usually on sale for a lower introductory price, but I ended up buying the omnibus collection of all six novels.

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I posted last week about the August new releases on my list, and then realised I’d missed two – here they are:

15808437Jo Beverley‘s SEDUCTION IN SILK (historical romance): I always say Jo Beverley remains one of my few auto-buy authors in the historical romance genre, and that’s still true.  This one is linked to her Malloren world, which means Georgian historical!

Peregrine Perriam, son of an earl, has no desire to marry, but when he’s named heir to Perriam Manor, he finds he has only a month to persuade a stranger, Claris Mallow, to the altar or the property will be lost to his family forever, and his line will be cursed.

Having survived her parents’ tormented marriage, Claris prefers poverty to any husband. When a high-born stranger demands her hand, she drives him off at pistol point.

Perry finds weapons of his own, however, and soon Claris is compelled to accept his proposal. But she does so on her own terms—especially that the marriage be in name only. Once mistress of Perriam Manor, however, she discovers she isn’t immune to Perry’s charms. Perhaps a real marriage might be worth the risk—including a real marriage bed…

Out now

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18294089Sherwood Smith‘s WHISPERED MAGICS (SF/fantasy): This is a BVC-published collection of short stories, with an MG slant. All previously-published, I think, as majority were not new-to-me, but I had fun re-reading them and it was nice to have all of them in a single e-edition.  Sherwood Smith talks about WHISPERED MAGICS briefly on her LJ.

As a child, Sherwood Smith was always on the watch for magic: no fog bank went unexplored, no wooden closet unchecked for a false back, no possible magical token left on the ground or in the gutter. In these nine stories, the impossible becomes possible, magic is real, aliens come visiting. How would our lives change?

Out now

 

 

My Latest Toy (and Other Links)

I got a Kindle Paperwhite!

I was going to wait on a new ereader until the Nook made an appearance in the UK, especially as I wasn’t that keen on the Kindle Fire.  But when Amazon announced that they were also launching the Paperwhite this month, I couldn’t resist.  I was pretty happy with my Kindle, but the screen contrast meant that I struggled to use it in not-so-well-lit conditions, and the Paperwhite with its improved display sounded like an ideal option.  Of course, after I placed my order, I checked the online forums and found some complaints on the screen quality…

Fast-forward a couple of weeks or so, and the Amazon package arrived on my doorstep.  The excitement!  Quick thoughts:

  • I’ve no issues with the screen – the display is definitely an improvement over the previous version.  Some people have reported a degradation over time, so that may change, but for now, I’m really happy.
  • I’m having some minor issues adjusting to the touch screen – I’m more used to pressing a button to change pages instead of tapping or swiping.  I wish there was an option to switch the tap zones around (I think that’s what you call them?).  Also, there’s no quick way to skip to the next chapter apart from going via the menu (unless I haven’t found that feature yet).
  • It helps having had a Kindle before, because I found it pretty easy to navigate and figure out how to do things.
  • I don’t think it’s significantly heavier than the previous version, but I find it a bit more difficult to hold in one hand (I think it’s to do with the taps/swipes than the actual weight actually).
  • I still need to figure out how I’m going to transfer all my old books and collections across from my old Kindle (any tips, anyone?) – in the meantime, I’ve been downloading the ones I want to read from the Amazon cloud.

So initial verdict is a definite yes.  That may change once I see the Nook IRL…

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Possibly tied in to the new Kindle launches – Amazon UK is having an Autumn Book Harvest sale until Nov 7.  Probably only for UK readers, but there are some good bargains.  I snapped up e-versions of the first four Amelia Peabody books for £1.19 (for the set!).  Other bargains that caught my eye (but I refrained from buying):

  • Nora RobertsTAMING NATASHA – £1.09 (Estara and I were just discussing the Stanislaskis family books the other day)
  • Ree Drummond‘s PIONEER WOMAN – £0.99 (I like the Pioneer Woman blog, so was tempted)
  • Jim Butcher‘s STORM FRONT – £1.99 (first in his Dresden Files series – not his best, IMO, but introduces the whole series)
  • HOME IMPROVEMENT edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni Kelner – £1.69 (UF anthology with contributors including Patricia Briggs – I borrowed this from the library as I was only interested in a couple of stories, IIRC, but it’s probably worth buying at that price)

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And a couple of links:

End of Summer Links

September already?  I think I’ve a touch of the post-summer blues – certainly I’m not in the mood to write any reviews (although I do recommend Sherwood Smith‘s DANSE DE LA FOLIE if you want a Heyer-esque Regency romp).  So in lieu of that, you get more links.

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I love Holly’s blog at the Book Harbinger – as proof of her excellent taste in books, she’s hosting a Seven Days for Sevenwaters week (from Sept 10), where we all get to talk about Juliet Marillier‘s amazing fantasy series.  I’m contributing a guest post, but I’m not the only one.   Go see what goodness Holly has planned – and she will be posting round-ups of Sevenwaters-related posts throughout the week, so if you want to join in the fun, please do.  I’m really looking forward to this.

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Mills & Boon’s RIVA relaunch is now live and here are the rebranded covers. “Fun, flirty, sexy and stylish” is the new tagline, and while part of me mourns the more traditional M&B covers, their replacements aren’t bad.  Of course, I’d recommend Kelly Hunter‘s WITH THIS FLING if you haven’t read it already – I don’t think I’ve read a bad Hunter.

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A bit late now, but I enjoyed reading this recap of the 2012 Romance Writers of Australia at Book Thingo.  There’s a bit about Penguin Australia’s new digital imprint Destiny Romance as well as Harlequin Escape.

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I loved this interview with Sherwood Smith at Tor.com.  It’s more in-depth than the standard author interview (I really liked the world-building insights), plus she (briefly) mentions a few authors who she thinks are doing interesting things.  I’m familiar with some (Megan Whalen Turner, say) but haven’t read the others – so yay, more authors to check out!

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A new (and free) Toby Daye short in anticipation of Seanan McGuire‘s upcoming ASHES OF HONOR. I cannot wait – and if you’ve already read it, gah.  Yes, I can be eloquent.  Also, if you missed it, she did a series of Q&A posts on Toby’s world on her livejournal.

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And finally, this is interesting – a Save the Scifi initiative to release out-of-print science fiction books in ebook form (if I read that correctly). A bit more info in this interview at the Tor Books blog.  I’m intrigued, but I would be more inclined to purchase single books as opposed to signing up to a subscription, and I don’t think they offer that option.

Books for August

So, dragging myself away from the Olympics (though I’m keeping half an eye on the rhythmic gymnastics – there are some jaw-dropping routines), here are the August new releases that I plan to get.

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JC Daniel‘s BLADE SONG (urban fantasy): It’s not often I’m tempted by an urban fantasy debut.  But JC Daniel is actually Shiloh Walker using a pseudonym and while I’ve never read any of her books before, she generally gets good reviews around the internets.  So I was curious, read the excerpt, and the book’s now sitting on my Kindle.

Blurb:

Kit Colbana—half breed, assassin, thief, jack of all trades—has a new job: track down the missing ward of one of the local alpha shapeshifters. It should be a piece of cake.

So why is she so nervous? It probably has something to do with the insanity that happens when you deal with shifters—especially sexy ones who come bearing promises of easy jobs and easier money.

Or maybe it’s all the other missing kids that Kit discovers while working the case, or the way her gut keeps screaming she’s gotten in over her head. Or maybe it’s because if she fails—she’s dead.

If she can stay just one step ahead, she should be okay. Maybe she’ll even live long to collect her fee…

Out now (excerpt)

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Sherwood Smith‘s THE SPY PRINCESS (children’s fantasy): A new Sherwood Smith!  One for younger readers, but that rarely stops me.  From a quick glance through the excerpt, this seems to be set in her main (only?) fantasy universe.

Blurb:

When twelve-year-old Lady Lilah decides to disguise herself and sneak out of the palace one night, she has more of an adventure than she expected–for she learns very quickly that the country is on the edge of revolution. When she sneaks back in, she learns something even more surprising: her older brother Peitar is one of the forces behind it all. The revolution happens before all of his plans are in place, and brings unexpected chaos and violence. Lilah and her friends, leaving their old lives behind, are determined to help however they can. But what can four kids do? Become spies, of course!

Out now (excerpt)

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KA Mitchell‘s BUT MY BOYFRIEND IS (m/m romance): KA Mitchell is one of my autobuy authors, so while I’m hoping this isn’t a GFY plot (not one of my favourite tropes), I’m definitely getting this.

Blurb:

The most dangerous lies are the ones you tell yourself.

Dylan Williams is not gay. Sometimes he gets off with other guys, but so what? He plans to get married someday—really married, like with a wife and kids. And he’s determined that his future family’s life will be the normal one he and his brothers never had.

Mike Aurietta is gay, but his job keeps him in the closet. He doesn’t usually risk frequenting infamous cruising places like Webber Park. But when he’s cutting through one night, he finds himself defending a victim from gay bashers.

It’s all Dylan can do to process the shock that anyone would want to hurt his quiet twin brother. At first he needs Mike’s eyewitness report to satisfy the gut-wrenching desire for revenge. Then he finds himself needing Mike’s solid, comforting presence…and the heat that unexpectedly flares between them.

In the aftermath, Mike quickly learns not to expect too much from his conflicted lover. Though he never thought his good deed would come back to bite him in the ass. Or that hanging on to the possibility of love could force too many secrets out of the closet—and cost them both everything.

Warning: Contains more denial than you can float a barge on, bigger issues than a special end-of-the-year compilation of your favorite magazine, and better sex than most people deserve. After all, it takes place in Texas.

Out August 21 (excerpt)

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Eloisa JamesTHE UGLY DUCHESS (historical romance): Speaking of autobuy authors, I’m all excited about this one.  Yes, fairytale retellings are not something I rush out to get, but Eloisa James spins a magical love story.

Blurb:

How can she dare to imagine he loves her…when all London calls her The Ugly Duchess ?

Theodora Saxby is the last woman anyone expects the gorgeous James Ryburn, heir to the Duchy of Ashbrook, to marry. But after a romantic proposal before the prince himself, even practical Theo finds herself convinced of her soon-to-be duke’s passion.

Still, the tabloids give the marriage six months.

Theo would have given it a lifetime…until she discovers that James desired not her heart, and certainly not her countenance, but her dowry. Society was shocked by their wedding; it’s scandalized by their separation.

Now James faces the battle of his lifetime, convincing Theo that he loved the duckling who blossomed into the swan.

And Theo will quickly find that for a man with the soul of a pirate, All’s Fair in Love—or War.

Out 28 August (excerpt)

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UNDER MY HAT: TALES OF THE CAULDRON edited by Jonathan Strahan (YA fantasy): And I’m also excited about this anthology.  I’m not entirely sure that it’s all new stories (in fact, I’m pretty sure I recognise some of the titles in this one) [ETA: They’re all looking like brand-new stories, so I take that back] but it’s a great collection of YA fantasy authors.

Blurb:

A stellar cast of acclaimed fantasy writers weave spellbinding tales that bring the world of witches to life. Boasting over 70 awards between them, including a Newbery Medal, five Hugo Awards and a Carnegie Medal, authors including Neil Gaiman, Garth Nix and Holly Black delve into the realms of magic to explore all things witchy… From familiars that talk, to covens that offer dark secrets to explore, these are tales to tickle the hair on the back of your neck and send shivers down your spine.

Introduction: Looking Under the Hat”, Jonathan Strahan
“Stray Magic”, Diana Peterfreund
“Payment Due”, Frances Hardinge
“A Handful of Ashes”, Garth Nix
“Little Gods”, Holly Black
“Barrio Girls”, Charles de Lint
“Felidis”, Tanith Lee
“Witch Work”, Neil Gaiman (poem)
“The Education of a Witch”, Ellen Klages
“The Threefold World”, Ellen Kushner
“The Witch in the Wood”, Delia Sherman
“Which Witch”, Patricia A. McKillip
“The Carved Forest”, Tim Pratt
“Burning Castles”, M. Rickert
“The Stone Witch”, Isobelle Carmody
“Andersen’s Witch”, Jane Yolen
“B Is for Bigfoot”, Jim Butcher
“Great-Grandmother in the Cellar”, Peter S. Beagle
“Crow and Caper, Caper and Crow”, Margo Lanagan

Out August 28 (though sadly October 4 in the UK)

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Kalayna Price‘s THIRD BLOOD (urban fantasy): I am rapidly becoming a bit of a Kalayna Price fangirl.  I think her other series (the Alex Craft grave witch books) is marginally better, but these Haven books are addictive fun too.

Blurb (WARNING: spoilers for first two books):

Going home after five years is difficult. It’s harder still if you’ve changed species in the interim.

Kita Nekai, once the smallest shifter in Firth but now the newest vampire in the city of Haven, has no intention of returning home or informing her father and clan what she’s become. Not that she has a choice. When the mage who holds her death certificate in his hands demands Kita return to Firth as his errand runner, she has to comply. Of course, there is no leaving her sire, Nathanial, behind. Which means introducing daddy dearest to the man—well, vampire—she may be falling for and confessing that she’s lost the ability to shift. Talk about awkward.

Her homecoming goes from bad to worse when an attempt is made on her life, and Kita finds herself facing an unknown threat in a hostile world she never fit into in the first place. Can she survive long enough to complete the judge’s task, stand trial before the elders for the rogues she created while on the run, and help defend her father’s territory from an encroaching band of misfit shifters? Or is this cat down to her last life?

Out this month, but unfortunately no firm release date