Books for June

Another late-ish post, but June has honestly been a month of way-too-much-to-do-and-very-little-time.  The mini-heatwave we’ve had this week has not helped at all – I just wanted to collapse in the evenings after braving the London tube home.  London does not do heat well.

And a link for a good cause – Authors for Grenfell Tower is raising funds for the British Red Cross.  Signed books etc galore.  Auctions end Tuesday 27 June.

Onto the new releases this month:

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35171433 (1)Tanya Huff’s A PEACE DIVIDED (military SF): Tanya Huff is now an auto-buy author for me, regardless of what she writes.  I really enjoyed this one – she explores the aftermath of war in this series, and while it would help if you’ve some familiarity with the linked Confederation books, this works relatively well as a standalone series.  I’m always impressed by how Huff juggles multiple POVs with ease, and I definitely didn’t see that ending coming.

Ex-Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not officially touch. When the scientists doing a preliminary archaeological dig on a Class Two planet are taken hostage, Torin’s team is sent to free them. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the mercenaries holding them are a mix of Confederation and Primacy forces, and are looking for a weapon with power beyond anything previously known. Torin must contend with the politics of peace that have added members of the Primacy, former enemies, to her team. She will have to sift through shifting loyalties as she discovers that the line between “us” and “them” is anything but straight.

Out now

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32161804KJ Charles’s AN UNNATURAL VICE (historical romance): Another one I’ve already read.  I was a bit lukewarm about the first book in KJ Charles’s Victorian-set Sins of the City series, but this enemies-to-lovers story worked much better for me.  I liked all the spiritualist behind-the-scenes reveals and the London setting came alive (as always).

In the sordid streets of Victorian London, unwanted desire flares between two bitter enemies brought together by a deadly secret.

Crusading journalist Nathaniel Roy is determined to expose spiritualists who exploit the grief of bereaved and vulnerable people. First on his list is the so-called Seer of London, Justin Lazarus. Nathaniel expects him to be a cheap, heartless fraud. He doesn’t expect to meet a man with a sinful smile and the eyes of a fallen angel—or that a shameless swindler will spark his desires for the first time in years.

Justin feels no remorse for the lies he spins during his séances. His gullible clients simply bore him. Hostile, disbelieving, utterly irresistible Nathaniel is a fascinating challenge. And as their battle of wills and wits heats up, Justin finds he can’t stop thinking about the man who’s determined to ruin him.

But Justin and Nathaniel are linked by more than their fast-growing obsession with one another. They are both caught up in an aristocratic family’s secrets, and Justin holds information that could be lethal. As killers, fanatics, and fog close in, Nathaniel is the only man Justin can trust—and, perhaps, the only man he could love.

Out now

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30691976Yoon Ha Lee’s RAVEN STRATAGEM (military SF): The first book in this series was incredibly absorbing, but also made my head hurt at times – however, all reviews indicate this follow-up is much more accessible.  I’ll still wait until I’ve a solid block of spare time to dive into this one.

War. Heresy. Madness.

Shuos Jedao is unleashed. The long-dead general, preserved with exotic technologies and resurrected by the hexarchate to put down a heretical insurrection, has possessed the body of gifted young captain Kel Cheris.

Now, General Kel Khiruev’s fleet, racing to the Severed March to stop a fresh incursion by the enemy Hafn, has fallen under Jedao’s sway. Only Khiruev’s aide, Lieutenant Colonel Kel Brezan, appears able to shake off the influence of the brilliant but psychotic Jedao.

The rogue general seems intent on defending the hexarchate, but can Khiruev – or Brezan – trust him? For that matter, can they trust Kel Command, or will their own rulers wipe out the whole swarm to destroy one man?

Yoon Ha Lee’s critically acclaimed Machineries of Empire trilogy continues with Raven Stratagem, coming from Solaris Summer 2017.

Out now

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32967547Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy’s STAY (contemporary romance): My current read, and I’m totally loving this sports romance.  These writing duo are on fire.

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never even met?

Hailey Taylor Emery has a hunch that her favorite client at Fetch—an anonymous virtual assistant service—is actually hockey star Matt Eriksson.

Although it’s against the rules for her to check his file, she’s 95% sure she spends at least part of each day texting with her lifelong crush and catering to his every need. Still nursing a wounded heart thanks to her recent breakup, Hailey is perfectly content with some harmless online flirting… until she has to meet her client. Face to face. Cue: utter panic.

Matt Eriksson is no stranger to heartbreak. He’s still not over the destruction of his marriage, and it sucks to be the only guy on the team who knows the truth—that hockey and long-term relationships are a toxic mix. He barely sees his kids, and dealing with his ex makes him feel insane. The only person in his life who seems to understand is someone who won’t show her pretty face.

But it’s nothing that a pair of fourth row hockey seats can’t fix. Hailey can’t resist the offer. Matt can’t resist Hailey. Good thing he doesn’t have to. Fire up the kiss cam!

Warning: Contains rabid hockey fans, misunderstood dick pics, hockey players at the opera and exploding ovaries.

Out now

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30364801Santino Hassell’s OVERSIGHT (paranormal romance): Quite possibly my next read.  I didn’t love the first book in this series (great start, but then fizzled out – possibly suffered a bit from having to set up the whole series), but he’s still an auto-buy for me.

Spoiler Alert! The following blurb contains spoilers for Insight, book one of The Community.

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man-bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an Invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

Out June 26

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Maybes for the month:

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell’s MATURE CONTENT (contemporary romance): Their Cyberlove series has a bit too much angst for me and overdoes the hurt/comfort trope, but I’ll probably end up buying this at some point.

Diana Gabaldon’s SEVEN STONES TO FALL (historical): Another of those short story collections with mostly previously-published material, but with a couple of new pieces.  I try to borrow these collections from the library.

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Three Links

I try to keep this blog focused purely on book-related stuff, but… it’s been a grim start to 2017, hasn’t it?

This tweet helped though:

On to other links that have caught my attention:

13515074A good source of book recs for me are award longlists – the RT Book Reviews Award Nominees list was released recently.  Despite the title, it’s not just romance titles – their SF/F lists are always worth a read.

Tanya Huff is one of my autobuy authors (THE SILVERED was one of my favourites).  She’s also very versatile, switching between SF, high fantasy and urban fantasy with ease, and this Reddit author appreciation thread is an incredibly comprehensive summary of her work.

And finally, this post by KJ Charles titled “Your Politics Are Showing” was smart and on point.


randombookrec

Kate Sherwood’s SACRATI: Sherwood’s books are a bit hit or miss.  Some of them really work for me, while others leave me cold.  SACRATI is in the former camp, as you may have guessed – it’s a M/M fantasy romance, with a lot more depth and world-building than I expected going in.

Books for November

Happy… November?  It’s almost Christmas! *ducks and hides*

I had a look at my Goodreads to-read shelf for November, and the list seems shorter than in previous months.  Though that’s possibly a good thing as I decided to go though my Kindle in an attempt to clear out my books…  let’s just say I’m very glad that a virtual TBR pile takes up no physical space at all!

The November new releases that I’ll be getting:

28941103SHADOWED SOULS, edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L Hughes (urban fantasy): I know, I know.  I keep on saying I’m not a short story fan, and then I promptly run out to buy more anthologies.  This one has some UF big names – I’m most keen on the Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire and Tanya Huff.

In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals with some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters .

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES BY

Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *

Out now

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28953458Sharon Shinn’s UNQUIET LAND (fantasy): Her Elemental Blessings series has been a bit uneven for me (really liked the first, the second was so-so, and the third somewhere between the two), but Sharon Shinn remains an auto-buy for me.  And I really like the world-building in this series.

From the national bestselling author of Jeweled Fire and Royal Airs comes the latest novel in the Elemental Blessings series.

Leah Frothen has returned home. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned by regent Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in…

Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.

But when the regent asks her to spy on ambassadors from a visiting nation, Leah soon learns that everyone—her regent, her lover, and even her daughter—have secrets that could save the nation, but might very well break her heart.

Out now

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28230419Karina Bliss’s FALL (contemporary romance): I really enjoyed the first book in this rockstar romance series, and her linked story in the You Had Me at Christmas anthology was one of the rare romance shorts that worked for me.

Keep Rage together at all costs…

Powerhouse PA Dimity Graham is off her game. Her career is everything to her and she never lets anything personal mess that up. So how can she explain getting busy between the sheets with Rage’s nice-guy drummer Seth Curran? She’s supposed to be keeping this band out of trouble, not getting into it. But before she can put everything back where it belongs, Seth needs her help.

Faking a relationship seemed like a good idea that night, right before they fell into bed together. But standing on New Zealand soil, facing the people he disappointed to pursue his dream, Seth doubts he and Dimity will convince anyone they’re hot and crazy for each other. To his surprise, Dimity is working her magic on everyone and they’re all convinced this is the real deal. The problem is, he’s almost convinced, too.

Out Nov 15

Maybes:

  • Juliet Marillier’s DEN OF WOLVES (fantasy): She’s normally an auto-buy for me, but I’ve not managed to get into these Blackthorn & Grim books.  This is the last of the trilogy and I’ll probably wait for the paperback edition.  Beautiful covers though.
  • Stephanie Burgis’s CONGRESS OF SECRETS (fantasy): I’ve enjoyed her short stories, but never read a full-length novel of hers yet – maybe this will be the first!  Again, fab cover.
  • Lee Child’s NIGHT SCHOOL (suspense): I haven’t yet weaned myself off the Jack Reacher books despite the recent less-than-suspenseful plots, though this may be one I get from the library.

 

 

Books for October

I am loving the October new releases.

23734628Rainbow Rowell‘s CARRY ON (YA fantasy): Rainbow Rowell’s novels have been a bit hit-or-miss with me, but I adored her FANGIRL and was obviously going to read CARRY ON as soon as it was released.  (For those who haven’t read FANGIRL, CARRY ON is basically set in the universe that Cath, the main protaganist in FANGIRL, was writing fanfic in.  Very meta.)

And then I completely forgot about CARRY ON’s release date (it’s been one of those weeks) until it appeared on my Kindle – that seriously made my day.  Yes, I’ve read it.  So many thoughts, but main ones being: (1) I think you pretty much have to read FANGIRL first, else you’d be constantly wondering where the first five (or so) books are (2) It’s Rowell’s take on the Chosen One trope, and I love what she did with it (3) It’s so British that I was seriously wondering how I missed the fact Rowell was British* before (she references Ant and Dec!).

Simon Snow just wants to relax and savor his last year at the Watford School of Magicks, but no one will let him. His girlfriend broke up with him, his best friend is a pest, and his mentor keeps trying to hide him away in the mountains where maybe he’ll be safe. Simon can’t even enjoy the fact that his roommate and longtime nemesis is missing, because he can’t stop worrying about the evil git. Plus there are ghosts. And vampires. And actual evil things trying to shut Simon down. When you’re the most powerful magician the world has ever known, you never get to relax and savor anything.

Carry On is a ghost story, a love story, a mystery and a melodrama. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story — but far, far more monsters.

*Ummm… she isn’t.

Out now

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24611981Tanya Huff‘s AN ANCIENT PEACE (SF): I pretty much read anything Tanya Huff writes, which is good as she’s one of those incredibly versatile writers who can switch between genres with ease.  And does.  This time, it’s SF and back to her Confederation world.  It’s been a while.

The first book of a thrilling new military science fiction spin-off of Tanya Huff’s Confederation series.

Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr had been the very model of a Confederation Marine. But when she learned the truth about the war the Confederation was fighting, she left the military for good.

But Torin couldn’t walk away from preserving and protecting everything the Confederation represented. Instead, she drew together an elite corps of friends and allies to take on covert missions that the Justice Department and the Corps could not—or would not—officially touch. Torin just hoped the one they were about to embark on wouldn’t be the death of them.

Ancient H’san grave goods are showing up on the black market—grave goods from just before the formation of the Confederation, when the H’san gave up war and buried their planet-destroying weapons…as grave goods for the death of war. Someone is searching for these weapons and they’re very close to finding them. As the Elder Races have turned away from war, those searchers can only be members of the Younger Races.

Fortunately, only the Corps Intelligence Service has this information. Unfortunately, they can do nothing about it—bound by laws of full disclosure, their every move is monitored.

Though Torin Kerr and her team are no longer a part of the military, the six of them tackling the H’san defenses and the lethally armed grave robbers are the only chance the Confederation has. The only chance to avoid millions more dead.

But the more Torin learns about the relationship between the Elder Races and the Younger, the more she begins to fear war might be an unavoidable result.

Out now

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25357539Sarina Bowen‘s THE FIFTEENTH MINUTE (NA romance): Speaking of auto-buy authors, I cannot wait to read Sarina Bowen’s latest Ivy Years book.  Lianne was a pretty intriguing character in the previous book.

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. There’s something haunting his dark eyes and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

Out October 13

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17410991Sherry Thomas‘s THE IMMORTAL HEIGHTS (YA fantasy): Sherry Thomas wraps up her YA fantasy trilogy (as an aside, she had the best covers for this series), so I obviously need to know how it all ends.  I haven’t loved the insta-love aspect of these books, but the adventure, yes.

In a pursuit that has spanned continents, Iolanthe, Titus, and their friends have always managed to remain one step ahead of the forces of Atlantis. But now the Bane, the monstrous tyrant who bestrides the entire mage world, has issued his ultimatum: Titus must hand over Iolanthe, or watch as his entire realm is destroyed in a deadly rampage. Running out of time and options, Iolanthe and Titus must act decisively to deliver a final blow to the Bane, ending his reign of terror for good.

However, getting to the Bane means accomplishing the impossible—finding a way to infiltrate his crypt in the deepest recesses of the most ferociously guarded fortress in Atlantis. And everything is only made more difficult when new prophecies come to light, foretelling a doomed effort….

Iolanthe and Titus will put their love and their lives on the line. But will it be enough?

With The Immortal Heights, Sherry Thomas brings the acclaimed Elemental Trilogy to its breathtaking conclusion.

Out Oct 13

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25494249Carla Kelly‘s CHRISTMAS EVE PROPOSAL (historical romance): I think this is a new Carla Kelly, but don’t hold me to it.  It’s a Harlequin Historical omnibus called IT HAPPENED ONE CHRISTMAS, and she’s listed as one of the contributors.  Possibly a novella?  Anyone know anything?

THREE HEARTWARMING REGENCY TALES OF CHRISTMASES GONE BY!

CHRISTMAS EVE PROPOSAL by Carla Kelly

Christmas gets more interesting when sailing master Ben Muir takes lodgings with Mandy Mathison! Because when her scandalous past is revealed, only he can save her future…

THE VISCOUNT’S CHRISTMAS KISS by Georgie Lee

Lily Rutherford is shocked to learn the man who snubbed her years before will be staying for Christmas. Can she forgive the viscount in time for a stolen kiss under the mistletoe?

WALLFLOWER, WIDOW…WIFE! by Ann Lethbridge

Penniless widow Cassandra Norton faces Christmas on the run with her two stepdaughters, until Adam Royston sweeps her off her feet and into his country estate!

Out Oct 20

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24431358Lisa Kleypas‘s COLD-HEARTED RAKE (historical romance): How long has it been since we could mention “Lisa Kleypas” and “new historical” in the same sentence?  I’m hoping her historicals are as good as I remember…

A twist of fate…

Devon Ravenel, London’s most wickedly charming rake, has just inherited an earldom. But his powerful new rank in society comes with unwanted responsibilities . . . and more than a few surprises. His estate is saddled with debt, and the late earl’s three innocent sisters are still occupying the house . . . along with Kathleen, Lady Trenear, a beautiful young widow whose sharp wit and determination are a match for Devon’s own.

A clash of wills…

Kathleen knows better than to trust a ruthless scoundrel like Devon. But the fiery attraction between them is impossible to deny—and from the first moment Devon holds her in his arms, he vows to do whatever it takes to possess her. As Kathleen finds herself yielding to his skillfully erotic seduction, only one question remains:

Can she keep from surrendering her heart to the most dangerous man she’s ever known?

Out Oct 27

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So that’s me – have I missed any of your must-read new releases?

November Reading – Continued…

November hasn’t been a fantastic reading month for me.  More because I’ve been distracted with so many other things, which means I’ve not really been able to sit down and finish a book in a single sitting.

21412186I’ve just finished Catherine Asaro‘s UNDERCITY, which is technically a December release, but Baen releases the ebook edition on its own website a couple of weeks early.  UNDERCITY is a spin-off of her main Skolian Empire series – same universe, different characters, and set fairly early in the overall series timeline, I think.  The first part of the book is actually a novella (“The City of Cries”) written back in 2005.  I didn’t realise that until a good way in, and I’m not entirely sure using the novella as part of this book was a good decision as I thought its age showed.  Hard for me to pinpoint exactly why – perhaps it was that the world-building felt somewhat old-fashioned?  It’s funny how some stories date so quickly, while others don’t.

The story picked up once we moved to the more recently-written section of the book, and I was impressed by how she spun out additional story threads from the original novella.  Overall though, I have to say this was not a particularly exciting nor innovative SF novel – a decent mystery/adventure, yes, but it’s a story I’ve read before.  It made me realise that my fondness for her books is very much because of the emotional investment I have in the original Skolian Imperialate characters (I gave the most recent “proper” Ruby Empire book 5 stars on Goodreads…), which I’ve been reading since way before I started blogging.

Oh, and random fact: the first ebook I ever read was Catherine Asaro’s THE RUBY DICE on my now-retired Sony Reader.

20893315I also finished Tanya Huff‘s THE FUTURE FALLS.  Well, to be honest, I finished it a while back, but hadn’t quite figured out how to talk about it.  Partly because it’s one of her Gale Girls books, which is her kind-of-incestuous-if-you-squint-at-it fantasy series, what with family and magic and interfering aunties pairing up cousins left, right, and centre.  But also because… that ending.

Right, I did like TFF – okay, I really liked it – but I suspect a lot of it was because I read it with my romance hat on and therefore totally wallowed in Charlie and Jack’s star-crossed lovers situation all the way through.  I didn’t completely get Charlie in the previous book, but was surprised with how much I bonded with her in this one.  I loved the older woman-younger man dynamic as well (and Jack in his Dragon Prince guise was just plain adorable).  But the ending – I had to read the final chapters several times because I had no idea what happened the first time round (was that just me?). However, the fact I took the trouble to re-read the ending should tell you how much I enjoyed the story.  Because I really wanted to get it.  And I did figure it out eventually…  Now you see why I haven’t written about it before, right?

Books for November

It’s a strong month for new releases, which really means that I want some of these books RIGHT NOW. Fortunately for me (though not necessarily for my bank account), a lot of them are already out.

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17305016Juliet Marillier‘s DREAMER’S POOL (fantasy): Gorgeous cover aside (because it is truly one of the prettiest I’ve seen this year), a brand-new Juliet Marillier is always a cause for celebration.  Plus first in a new series – I’m excited to explore the new world she’s imagined here.

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

Out now

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20893315Tanya Huff‘s THE FUTURE FALLS (urban fantasy):  Tanya Huff’s become an auto-buy author for me in recent years.  I’ve always read her SFF books back since, well, forever, but they used to be of the take-it-or-leave-it variety.  I’m not sure whether it’s my reading tastes or her writing style that have changed over the years (possibly both), but her books have been hitting all the right buttons for me lately.

When Auntie Catherine warns the family of an approaching asteroid, the Gales scramble to keep humans from going the way of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for the world, they’re wielding a guitar and a dragon.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, which has caused some supernaturally complicated family shenanigans in the past. So when NASA and Doomsday Dan confirm Auntie Catherine’s dire prediction, Charlotte “Charlie” Gale turns to the family for help.

But Allie is unavailable because the universe seems determined to have her produce the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son of a Gale.  And the Aunties can’t help because they’re tied to the earth – although they are happy to provide their delicious, trademark pies.  And in the end, all Charlie has is a guitar…

…and Jack. The Dragon Prince, and a Sorcerer.

But Charlie might like Jack just a little too much, and Jack might like Charlie a little too much in return. Actually, between Allie’s hormones, the Aunties trying to force her and Jack into ritual, the Courts having way too much fun at the end of days, and Jack’s sudden desire to sacrifice himself for the good of the many, Charlie’s fairly certain that the asteroid is the least of her problems.

The Gales are going to need more than pie to save the world from an incoming asteroid. But together there isn’t anything they can’t deal with – except possibly each other.

Out now

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15788727Meljean Brook‘s THE KRAKEN KING (fantasy):  I adore her steampunk Iron Seas series (in fact, it’s the only steampunk series that works for me), but I stayed away from the serial release of this story earlier this year.  I’d see all the 5-star reviews pop up for each installment and had to force myself to stay away from that one-click button because I knew I’d want all the stories in one go. (It’s the same with Ilona Andrews and their Innkeepers Chronicles – I’m  waiting for the full novel to be released later this year…)

A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…

After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes.

But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…

Out now

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21840287ML Brennan‘s TAINTED BLOOD (urban fantasy): The second book was better than the first (which didn’t exactly suck), so I’ve high hopes for this book.  Fort’s family dynamics has been one of the more intriguing elements of this series so far, and this one looks to be all about family.

In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…

Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.

So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.

But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…

Out now

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21880559Josh Lanyon‘s FAIR PLAY (m/m romance):  Okay, I admit it – I love sequels.  Stand-alones are great, but when you get further books to learn more about the characters you fell in love with?  Nothing better.

Fifty years ago, Roland Mills belonged to a violent activist group. Now, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from publishing his memoirs.

When ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills is called out to examine the charred ruins of his childhood home, he quickly identifies the fire for what it is–arson. A knee injury may have forced Elliot out of the Bureau, but it’s not going to stop him from bringing the man who wants his father dead to justice.

Agent Tucker Lance is still working to find the serial killer who’s obsessed with Elliot and can’t bear the thought of his lover putting himself in additional danger. Straightlaced Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much–“opposing political viewpoints” is an understatement–but they’re united on this: Elliot needs to leave the case alone. Now.

Tucker would do nearly anything for the man he loves, but he won’t be used to gain Elliot access to the FBI’s resources. When the past comes back to play and everything both men had known to be true is questioned, their fragile relationship is left hanging in the balance.

Out Nov 10

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Hot sexy fit man leaning against treeViv Daniels‘ HEAR ME (paranormal NA): A surprise Christmas story from Viv Daniels (a.k.a. Diana Peterfreund)?  Count me in.

Listen… the bells have stopped ringing.

Once upon a time, Ivy belonged to Archer, body, heart, and soul. They spent long summer days exploring the forest, and long summer nights exploring each other. But that was before dark magic grew in the depths of the wilderness, and the people of Ivy’s town raised an enchanted barrier of bells to protect themselves from the threat, even though it meant cutting off the forest people—and the forest boy Ivy loved—forever.

And there’s a naked man lying in the snow.

Three years later, Ivy keeps her head down, working alone in her tea shop on the edge of town and trying to imagine a new future for herself, away from the forest and the wretched bells, and the memory of her single, perfect love. But in the icy heart of winter, a terrifying magic blooms—one that can reunite Ivy and Archer, or consume their very souls.

Out Nov 14

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21857389NIGHT SHIFT (urban fantasy): And to round off the month, novellas from Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Milla Vane (a.k.a. Meljean Brook), and Lisa Shearin.  Lisa Shearin’s contribution looks to be part of her new-ish series, which I haven’t read, so it’ll be a good taster.  There’s been buzz about Milla Vane’s barbarian romance, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out… and I don’t think I need to say anything about the first two authors.

Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark…

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight , as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella,Magic Steals , when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn’t a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

It’s seer Makenna Frazier’s first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.

Out Nov 25

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.

Romance, Mystery, and a Bit of Fantasy

I’ve been pretty bad at cross-posting my Goodreads reviews here – I think I heaved a sigh of relief when I finished with my 2011 reads, and then promptly forgot to continue cross-posting.  Here’s what I read in January 2012 (talk about a trip down memory lane) – additional thoughts in italics.

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Sleeping Partner (Modern Romance Series Extra) (Modern Romance Series Extra)Sleeping Partner (Modern Romance Series Extra) by Kelly Hunter (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sexy, sweet, yet sentimental romance – what more could you ask for? The humorous banter between Mia and Ethan made me laugh, and I loved the side interactions between Ethan and his father. The setting was fantastic – the local colour provided additional depth to the story, which was really all about complicated messy family ties and love.

The last of my Kelly Hunter backlist glom, IIRC. Her next release (finally!) is out in November 2013 – she posted a teaser scene on her blog and is calling WHAT THE BRIDE DIDN’T KNOW a “…friends-to-lovers, fake marriage amnesia story”.  How many more tropes can you pack into a category romance?  Obviously, I cannot wait. 

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Naked Once MoreNaked Once More by Elizabeth Peters (mystery)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I found this book compulsively readable, just like all my other Elizabeth Peters – there was a lot of “just one more chapter” bargaining with myself.

As Jacqueline Kirby, the protagonist, is an author, I inevitably spent some time wondering how much of the publishing industry experience described is true and how much was just loving(?) parody. Jacqueline is the sort of person you either love or hate – I think I would detest her in real life, but as a heroine in a book, she is hilarious and her self-confidence rather impressive!

There were enough twist and turns in the plot to completely bamboozle me, and while I lost track of who was who occasionally (there is, or it feels as though there is, a cast of thousands in this book), it all came together in the end. And while there are also some side plots that don’t contribute very much to the main story, they just made this book all the more entertaining.

This was my last unread Elizabeth Peters mystery.  Jacqueline Kirby is no Amelia Peabody, but this mini-series of four books is still fun.

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His Untamed InnocentHis Untamed Innocent by Sara Craven (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was an impulse purchase – I liked the premise and recall liking some of Sara Craven’s previous books. While the setting felt current enough, Marin came across as being too much on the naive side, and I never got into their romance. Nothing wrong really with this story, but it doesn’t deliver anything fresh either.

I don’t really remember very much about this book unfortunately.  Standard category romance fare.

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The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1)The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am very late to the party on this one judging from the number of GR reviews. I’m not quite sure what took me so long to pick this up, but winning the second book Heart of Steel in a giveaway hosted by the author finally prompted me to start reading THE IRON DUKE.

And you know what? I really really liked it.

I loved the incredibly imaginative, in-depth, and consistent world-building. There wasn’t just a passing nod to steampunk – instead, everything, including the mindset and behaviour of the characters, came across as note-perfect, making this alternate-history world feel real and believable.

The plot itself is not a complicated one – it’s a murder mystery with political undertones, combined with some old-school romance. But combined with the refreshingly unique backdrop, this was an thoroughly entertaining and satisfying read.

I know this book generated some controversy, which I do want to mention [click through to GR review to see spoiler].

I’m glad I have HEART OF STEEL in my TBR pile, because I need to know more about this world.

I never quite got into Meljean Brook’s Guardians series (read the first, stumbled to a halt halfway through the second, and am pretty sure I still have the third (and possibly the fourth – what can I say…) in my TBR pile somewhere) but THIS – I love her Iron Seas world.

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Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (steampunk romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Meljean Brook has probably done the impossible with this series – that is, I’m actually reading (and loving) zombie books. To be fair, it is more that I’m reading books that just happen to have zombies in them, but still, that’s more than any other author has done.

After the first book, The Iron Duke, I admit to secretly wanting to see more of alternate-world England in HEART OF STEEL. While I was initially disappointed that this was not to be the case, Yasmeen and Archimedes made such a fitting h/h pairing and I was rapidly caught up in their story. I liked that the author did not shy away from the more difficult parts – Yasmeen would not have become a mercenary ship captain by being all sweetness and light, and Meljean Brook showed the brutality that Yasmeen would have had demonstrated over her career. And yet somehow, there was still humour and charm in this story, and I was firmly rooting for Yasmeen and Archimedes to get their HEA.

This is such a fantastic (and fantastical) world, and I’m excited about the next Iron Seas book.

*In the interest of transparency, note that I won this book in a giveaway hosted by Meljean Brook. I can safely say this hasn’t influenced my review or rating (though I do get a feeling of glee when I look at my personalised copy).

Ummm… giveaways work?  Seriously, I’m glad I entered (and won), else it would have probably taken me a couple of years more to stumble upon this series.

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Majesty, Mistress...Missing HeirMajesty, Mistress…Missing Heir by Caitlin Crews (contemporary romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I picked this one up after hearing good things about the author. The Yorkshire setting appealed and I liked how she played around with the accidental pregnancy plotline. Having said that, I never really connected with the h/h, and it ended up being a so-so read. I did like Caitlin Crews’ writing and I would probably try another of her books though.

Another middle-of-the-road category romance.

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Affairs of Steak (A White House Chef Mystery, #5)Affairs of Steak by Julie Hyzy (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve had both hits and misses with this series, so was slightly cautious when I started this book, but ended up liking it overall.

I was glad that we got to see a different side to Sargeant, who has been a pretty one-dimensional villain in previous books (though Virgil now appears to have taken his place!). There was some genuinely suspenseful moments in this book, and all in all, it was a pretty good story. As usual, I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes peek into the running of the White House and Secret Service. And Ollie’s new romantic interest is slowly starting to grow on me.

These books tend to be released around January, so they’re starting to signal New Year to me.  Probably the only cosy mystery series I’m following now.  

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February ThawFebruary Thaw by Tanya Huff (fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love that Tanya Huff has been re-releasing her short story backlist, and I enjoyed every single one in this collection (which, trust me, is a rather rare occurrence).

Standouts for me were A Midsummer’s Night Dream Team (a hilarious take on what happens when elves decide they’re interested in the Olympics!) and February Thaw (a marital falling out between Hades and Persephone), but the other five shorts were good reads too.

I’m not quite sure when Tanya Huff turned into an auto-buy author – I think she kind of snuck up on me.  I’ve read her books since forever, I think, but it’s only fairly recently I’ve started stalking out her new releases page.  

Short Reviews

Another lot of older reviews, this time from November 2011 – I (almost) finished a historical romance series, read my first Sarah Mayberry, and well, other books in various ongoing series (yes, no real theme here). As always, these are cross-posted from Goodreads, with additional comments added in italics.

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Tempt Me at Twilight (The Hathaways, #3)Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I forget why I abandoned Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaways series midway – I’m glad I returned to it though, as this was really good. I like the feel-good family element to this series, and having Harry be the proprietor of a hotel meant the setting was slightly unusual for a historical. I loved the humour, and Harry and Poppy’s relationship just worked for me. There was a bit of an obvious set-up for the next book – which I already had in my TBR pile, so I didn’t mind.

It had been a while since I’ve read a Lisa Kleypas historical, and I always wonder why I’ve left her books languishing in my TBR for so long.  I read the first book in the Hathaways series way back when, and bought the second book, but never got around to reading it.  And then I couldn’t find it, but refused to buy another copy.  Hence the skipping ahead to this book, the third in the series.

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Married By Morning (The Hathaways #4)Married By Morning by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this straight after Tempt Me at Twilight, so it was slightly strange seeing Leo in the role of hero at first, instead of the protective brother. While the plot and setting was not as unique as in the previous book, the romance was just as satisfying. Though it would have been perhaps more interesting if Cat hadn’t been revealed as hiding behind a governess disguise – why does the heroine always have to be a beauty?

And this was the fourth in the Hathaways series – nothing groundbreaking romance-wise, but I enjoyed it regardless (or maybe because of that).

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Love in the Afternoon (The Hathaways, #5)Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was dying to read this after the excerpt in the previous book, Married By Morning, which had Beatrix starting a correspondence under false pretences with the world-weary soldier on the battlefield (all for the very best of reasons, of course) – you just knew that there would be tears.

It was a good read, though it didn’t quite meet my (very) high expectations. I loved the correspondence between Beatrix and Christopher, and I am a sucker for a wounded hero. I think the PTSD was slightly skimmed over though.

All in all, I’m glad I finished the Hathaways series, and I loved seeing the whole family together one more time – with the hint of changing times ahead.

Now this one wasn’t in my TBR pile and I had to go and track it down just because of the excerpt in the previous book.  With the exception of the second book (which I did find the other day), I’ve now finished Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaways series.  I much prefer her historicals to her current contemporary/magical realism books – I wonder if she’ll ever go back to historicals? 

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Red Glove (Curse Workers, #2)Red Glove by Holly Black (YA urban fantasy)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like this twisty and imaginative world of Holly Black’s and this didn’t suffer from the “middle book in trilogy” syndrome. I think we got to know Cassel and Lila a lot better – I’m looking forward to the final book now.

I’ll post about it eventually (ahem), but I’ve now finished this trilogy.  As a whole, I liked it, but the books don’t have me rushing out to read the rest of Holly Black’s backlist (though I have heard very good things about her Modern Faerie Tale books).  I don’t know – perhaps it’s because there’s been quite a large gap between me reading each book and my overall experience suffered somewhat?

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Death Magic (World of the Lupi, #8)Death Magic by Eileen Wilks (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like how we get more and more reveals as this series progresses, giving you hints that Eileen Wilks is building up to something big. Having said that, while this was a good read, it wasn’t a standout one for me – I’m still looking forward to the next Lupi book though.

Eileen Wilks is an autobuy author for me – this was the eighth book in her Lupi series.  As you can tell, it wasn’t my favourite of her books, but I love this series as a whole.

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The Wild Ways (Gale Women, #2)The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff (urban fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book, but didn’t connect as much with Charlie and her story as I did with Allie in the previous book, The Enchantment Emporium. The eventual ending was great, but the fantastical elements of the world itself didn’t really capture my imagination this time around. I would have loved to have seen more of the family as well (loved the very teenage cousin Jack!).

All in all though, I hope Tanya Huff continues with this series – I want more of the Gale family.

The first Gale book caught me by surprise (in a good way), and I was hoping for more of the same in this book – it didn’t work quite as well as the first, but Tanya Huff is on my list of autobuy authors by now.

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The Vintage Vendetta (Wine Country Mysteries #5)The Vintage Vendetta by Ellen Crosby (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a bit of a break, I’ve returned to this series again – I tend to wait for the paperback release for these books.

I liked this – a tad too much re-capping throughout perhaps, but good mystery plot. The wine-making backdrop is interesting as always, and this time around, there’s some Washington DC politics thrown into the mix.

I guess the fact I wait for the paperback release of these books is pretty telling – they’re enjoyable mysteries, but I don’t get enough emotional payoff to want to pay hardcover prices for them.  I still would rec them for those on the lookout for cosy-type mysteries.

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Her Best FriendHer Best Friend by Sarah Mayberry (contemporary romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard a lot of good things about Sarah Mayberry’s books, and they’re not unjustified. Talk about packing a punch – the friends-to-lovers theme is explored in-depth here and in a believable manner. I liked – I’ll need to explore her backlist more now.

I’ve always enjoyed the friends-to-lovers plotline and really loved what Sarah Mayberry did with it in this one.

Tanya Huff’s THE SILVERED

I mentioned how much I loved THE SILVERED in my November releases post – here’s a longer post.  There’s actually a whole lot more in the story that I haven’t even mentioned, but I’m hoping you give it a go so that we can discuss!

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The SilveredThe Silvered by Tanya Huff (fantasy)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book so much – it’s the kind of tale that leaves you wanting more, not because it feels incomplete or unfinished*, but because there’s potential for more stories in this world… and it’ll be a shame if this imaginative world only gets one outing.

The setting is inspired by the Napoleonic era, and the story starts off by juxtapositioning grim battlefield scenes with glittering high society balls. Tanya Huff seamlessly introduces werewolves and mages of the Pack into this environment, and makes it feel real – the frenetic gaiety and matchmaking parents and very civilised evenings at the opera doesn’t hide the not-quite-acknowledged fear that this world is about to be torn apart. And as you expect, it is and quite brutally too – the commencement of war combined with the kidnapping of the most powerful mages of the Pack causes confusion and terror… and that’s the setup for a most satisfying fantasy.

In retrospect, Mirian and Tomas’s decision to go right into the heart of the enemy Empire to rescue the kidnapped mages appears slightly ridiculous – how does an almost-mage and young werewolf expect to go up against an all-powerful emperor? But while they’re doing it, it doesn’t come across as stupid or naive. It’s easy to empathise with Mirian – she’s caught up in the romance of the moment, she wants to do the “right” thing and at the pivotal moment, finds the courage to do so and what’s more, follows through. Equally, Tomas, who has come through the battle through pure luck, is shellshocked and needs to rescue the remainder of his Pack.

It’s not all a mad action-packed dash for glory – there are poignant moments a-plenty, and while not overt, there is some romance. I liked how Tanya Huff showed that there was a price to pay for everything, and also the bad guys were portrayed as people and not this faceless enemy. There’s redemption too, and it’s done in such a way that leaves you feeling optimistic.

One of my favourite books that I’ve read this year, and as I said at the start, I’m left wanting to know what happens next.

* It’s a standalone fantasy, and how rare is that?