Connect 5 Friday: Five books I want to read before the end of the year

Five books from my TBR to read in 2020 I hope will make me happy

Connect Five Friday is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. (The hashtag is #connect5books). This is a fun and creative way to think about my books and reading. Check out Kathyrn’s blog and link up your Friday Five!

The five book-related items need to connect in some way, but each person who participates can decide for themselves what the book subject and connection is. For example, you could write about five books read last year or five books you want to read. It could even be favorite bookstores or five movies made from books.

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This week I’m talking about the five books I want to make sure I’ve read by the end of 2020. These are all books which have a good possibility to make me happy–and that’s what I’ve wanted with most of my books this year.

Night Shift Dragons by Rachel Aaron

I’ve read all the Heartstriker series–the previous series Rachel Aaron wrote. This DFZ series is set in that same world.

I like how original Rachel Aaron is with her dragons and with the world building in these books.

The Green Man’s Foe by Juliet E. McKenna

This is not horror (though the cover looks like it)! I read the first book in this series and really liked it.

Ms. McKenna shows a conception of fantasy in the United Kingdom I would love to see!

Dead Blow by Lisa Preston

This is the second Horseshoer mystery. I’d never read a book about a female Horse Shoer!

That was the first thing which attracted me to this series. Then I discovered the series takes place in Oregon in the area I grew up. And it’s a mystery with horses and a dog and some romance. All things I liked in the first series.

Stars Beyond by S.K. Dunstall

I like S.K. Dunstall’s science fiction space opera. She writes really interesting characters and exciting stories.

I have an audiobook version of this book and look forward to listening to it.

The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon

I’ve read several of Lucy Dillon’s books. Her books are a joy to read.

I love the way she writes about dogs, women’s friendships and that her books have some romance in them.

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them? What books are you interested in reading before the end of the year?

Thoughts about books I’ve read–Jan 2018

I’m trying something a little different for some of my reviews this year. I’ve only done a few stand-alone reviews so far this year so I’m going to do a post about the books I read each month, I will list all the books I read (in this case January 2018) and write a few sentences about each one and give a link to the review if I’ve already reviewed the book. I really want to get my reviews under control.

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant #5.5

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Novella

Source: Ebook, purchased

129 pages

My Rating: B+

Reviewed: April 19

Bottom Line: A quick read, but a satisfying story. Great for Peter Grant fans.

;The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine ArdenThe Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Series: Winternight Trilogy #1

Genre: Historical Fantasy, FairyTale Retelling

Source: Audiobook, library (11 hours, 48 minutes)

Narrator: Kathleen Gati

346 Pages

My thoughts

I listened to the audiobook and loved the narrator. She does a really good job with this historical fantasy. I think this is a good book to listen to since it’s a fairy tale retelling and I think fairy tales are great to read aloud. It reminded me of when my mother would read fairy tales to me when I was a child–especially ones like “East o’ the Sun, West o’ the Moon.”

The story kept me guessing about how it would end especially since fairy tales told by Hans Christian Anderson or the Brothers Grimm do not always end well for the main characters. The setting is in a fantasy medieval Russia–very exotic. This has so many fairy tale images–a stepmother and stepsisters, a nanny who tells the old stories of magic and spirits and how the smart people honor these spirits. Vasilisa loves the old stories and follows her nanny’s teachings which puts her in opposition to her stepmother. A wonderful story with memorable characters . . . a true tribute to fairy tales.

My Rating: A

Narrator Rating: A

A Perilous Undertaking by Deanna RaybournA Perilous Undertaking by Deanna Raybourn

Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

Genre: Historical Mystery

Source: Ebook, library

338 Pages

My thoughts

I read the first book in the series when it came out. I’ve read a number of Deanna Raybourn books through the years and enjoyed them. I liked the first book in the series more than this one–maybe the setting seemed newer to me in the first book. However, that may have more to do with me and my mood when I read this one. I do like the main characters–Veronica Speedwell and Stoker. (The books remind me a little of Jayne Ann Krentz’s books when she writes books set in the 1800s using the pseudonym Amanda Quick.)

This is quick, fun, light reading. However, I’m not sure I’ll read the next book  since this didn’t holding my interest as much as the first book.

My Rating: B-

Evan Help Us by Rhys BowenEvan Help Us by Rhys Bowen

Series: Constable Evans #2

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

Source: Audiobook, purchased (6 hours, 52 minutes)

Narrated by Roger Clark

223 Pages

My thoughts

This is a series Rhys Bowen wrote before her Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness series. I love the setting in Wales and Evan Evans is a very fun character. (He reminds me of Hamish in the Hamish MacBeth series by M.C Beaton.)

I like the cover of this book since the story is about someone in the village finding ruins. The villagers immediately begin thinking the ruins must be a castle and that it will put the village on the map. They even think about renaming their village! Then the person who found the ruins is murdered. Does his murder have something to do with the discovery of the ruins?

I listened to the first book in the series last December and I really like this series. In my genealogy research it looks like some of my ancestors came from Wales to the United States in the 1700s. I have someone in my family tree named “Ellis Ellis!” So that makes me love the Welsh setting even more! I also like how Ms. Bowen shows that the villagers don’t like incomers–especially from England. If the villagers are speaking English they quickly switch to Welsh! It’s these little touches which make me like this series.

My Rating: B

Narrator Rating: B

Summon the Keeper by Tanya HuffSummon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

Series: Keeper Chronicles #1

Genre: Fantasy

Source: Ebook, purchased

366 pages

My Rating: B-

Reviewed: April 17

Bottom Line: This was fun, but a little too cute. Not my favorite Tanya Huff book.

A Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel AaronA Dragon of a Different Color by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #4

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Source: Ebook, Kindle Unlimited

525 Pages

My thoughts

One of my favorite series and now there’s only one more book before the series ends. That makes me sad since I love the characters and feel the world building is excellent. However, I’m glad when an author decides a series is finished and ends it so they can move on to other stories they want to tell.

A Dragon of a Different Color really moved the story along and I can see an ending in sight! It seems things just keep getting worse and worse for Julian and the Heartstrikers. Lots of things he thought he knew and understood are in doubt–including who he can trust. Julius has gone through so much, lost so much and in this book there is more to come.

The arrival of the dragons of China is very dramatic and it doesn’t look good for the Heartstrikers. It’s hard for Julius to show much interest in what’s happening, but he has to continue to step up. And, of course, all is not as it seems. If you haven’t read the books before this one you really need to read them before you read this one. And I do recommend you read this series especially if you like fantasy, urban fantasy, good world building, dragons and good story telling!

My Rating: B+

Starman Jones by Robert A Heinlein

Starman Jones by Robert A. Heinlein

Series: None

Genre: Science Fiction

Source: Audiobook, purchased

272 pages

My Rating: A-

Reviewed: March 30

Bottom Line: One of Heinlein’s Juvenile series and a good science fiction adventure story.

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Does this format I’m trying out work for you to show my mini reviews as well as links to my reviews.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months.

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

last-dragon-standing-by-rachel-aaronLast Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #5

Published by Aaron/Bach

Publishing date: March 1, 2018

Genre: Urban Fantasy

336 pages

Synopsis: There is no way to write a blurb for this final book without spoiling all of the others. Suffice it to say, mysteries resolve, dragons war, pigeons abound, and Julius must risk himself in ways he never dreamed possible as Bob’s grand plan finally comes to fruition. 

But the Great Seer of the Heartstrikers isn’t the only one whose schemes are nearing completion. The Nameless End is coming, and even the machinations of the world’s most brilliant dragon seer might not be enough to stop it. As the world comes crashing down, it’s up Julius to prove what he’s always known: that seers can be wrong, and Nice Dragons don’t always finish last.

……………….

This is the last book in the series. I love this series and am sorry to see it end, but I also respect an author who has a vision of where they want their story to go and sticks with it.

Rachel Aaron has done a great job as an author with this series, but she’s also self-published these books. One of the problems with self-publishing is often the editing of the book. From what I’ve seen these books are published every bit as professionally as a big publishing house does it.

I finished book 4 a couple of weeks ago and am all set for this last book! If you haven’t read this series and if you like fantasies I hope you will read these books. Start with book 1. I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Favorite urban fantasies since 2015

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings where a wide range of topics from books to blogging are discussed.

This week we’re talking about our Favorite Urban Fantasies. I don’t read as many urban fantasies as I did a few years ago, but I still have a few I’m enjoying. Since I’ve written posts about urban fantasies in the past this time I’m talking about my favorites since 2015.

One Good Dragon Deserves Another

by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #2

This is a self-published series and shows that an author can self-publish quality books and I hope make some money doing it.

Such a fun series! I love the dragons that Ms. Aaron has created. There are so many little touches–such as Julius’ mother, Bethesda, naming each clutch of the Heartstriker dragons with the same letter of the alphabet beginning with “A” (Amelia), “B” (Bob), “C” (Chelsea) and so on. Julius is from Bethesda’s 10th clutch and even Julius’ family–especially Julius’ family–thinks he’s a weak dragon–mostly because he’s “nice” and “good” and thinks dragons should cooperate with each other.

The characters are so much fun to read about and so unique plus the world building is well done.

Dark Alchemy

by Laura Bickle

Series: Dark Alchemy #1

Set in Wyoming near Yellowstone National Park–a unique setting for a fantasy. There’s magic and alchemy involved and the main character is a geologist working for the federal government in Yellowstone. Yellowstone is the last area Petra had heard from her father many years ago so she wants to try to find out what happened to him. Strange things seem to happen in the Yellowstone area. Lots of interesting characters and an interesting premise.

I really like the western vibe in this book. And it has a great cover!

Tainted Blood

by M.L. Brennan

Series: Generation V #3

This series has four books in it and I would have loved for it have at least four more, but apparently the publisher decided the books didn’t earn enough.

I thought the books had a fresh take on vampires and were really fun to read. Fortitude (Fort) is a great main character as is his kitsune friend Suzume. Fort’s family is scary, but they’re his family and he’s part of them and has to deal with them. With each book we learn more about vampires and what they have to do to survive. A really good series.

And I feel like the kitsune could have their own series! I wish M.L. Brennan would write some more books.

Vision in Silver

by Anne Bishop

Series: The Others #3

I’ve read a number of Anne Bishop’s earlier fantasies and really liked them.

This series is totally different from those earlier fantasies. The world building and characters are great. The Others are scary creatures–some of whom can shapeshift to human form. However, they’re not human and they are in control of the world. Some humans don’t like that and try to change the world, but they don’t really understand what some of the Others are and what they can do.

In the first book Meg finds her way to one of the Others’ compounds and they protect her because they understand what she is–a cassandra sangue or blood prophet. She and other blood prophets are used by humans for prophecy even though the cuts and blood used for prophecy eventually kills the blood prophet. However, the greedy humans who use them and make money from the cassandra sangue don’t care about that. That creates a clash between the Others and humans.

Vision in Silver really moves the action forward toward an ending we see from hints and ideas in the first two books, but there are also unexpected consequences.

In 2018 a new book about new characters set in the same world will be published!

Silence Fallen

Patricia Briggs

Series: Mercy Thompson #10

I’ve read this series since these books were first published in 2006. I love them all, but this is one of my very favorites in the series. Things Mercy has come to trust and depend on fail her so she needs all her strength and cunning for what happens in this book.

Mercy is such a good character as is her husband Adam. I like that she’s a coyote shapeshifter and that Adam is a werewolf. She’s physically weaker than the werewolves, but just like coyotes she’s wily! And she’s smart and strong.

Foxglove Summer

by Ben Aaronovitch

Series: Peter Grant/Rivers of London #5

I really like this series. It’s like a police procedural urban fantasy with magic set in London! More and more keeps happening as these books move forward. Peter slowly learns about magic and wizardry and the dangers of the supernatural world. I especially like the concept of the rivers and streams–that they’re living entities.

In Foxglove Summer, Peter travels outside London to Herfordshire with Beverley Brook (remember the Rivers of London?!) Strange things are happening in Herfordshire and Peter is sent to try to straighten them out. He’s far from London and all the things he knows.

Sweep in Peace

by Ilona Andrews

Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2

I’ve read Ilona Andrews books for years and love the Kate Daniels series.

However, this series–the Innkeeper Chronicles–originally written as a free serial on the Ilona Andrews blog is so different. The concept is really fresh. The idea of inns and innkeepers with their brooms used by aliens to come to neutral Earth to stay without any earthlings knowing they’re visiting is great.

Of course, Dina DeMille and her inn have all sorts of problems she must solve. Plus she’s trying to figure out what happened to her parents who disappeared years ago from their own inn. With each book we find out a little more about Dina, the inns, the rest of the universe, aliens and a few hints about her parents.

The Black Wolves of Boston

by Wen Spencer

Series: Black Wolves of Boston

I’ve read a lot of Wen Spencer books and really enjoy them. One of the great things about her books besides the world building and unique ideas is the way she writes engaging characters. They make you want to read more and more about them!

This book was published this year and looks like it’s the first book in a new series. It’s a great beginning and I hope Ms. Spencer writes a new book soon!

Do you read urban fantasies? Do you have favorite urban fantasies?

No Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

no-good-dragon-goes-unpunishedNo Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron
Series: Heartstrikers #3
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Setting: Heartstriker Mountain, Desert Southwest, Detroit DFZ
Published by Aaron/Bach, LLC
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: August 5, 2016)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Author in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
478 pages
Grade: A
Synopsis: When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

Initial impressions

  • I loved this book. One of my favorites so far this year. It’s a great addition to the series!

The story

  • The book picks up right where the last book ended. Julius beat his mother and could have killed her, but he has a vision for his clan–to live peacefully together.
  • He has created a three member council which will rule the Heartstrikers. He and his mother are two members, but they still need to vote for the third member.
  • The Heartstriker dragons have never encountered an idea like Julius’ and they don’t like it. All the Heartstriker dragons have returned to Heartstriker Mountain and most of them are ready to kill each other and/or Julius.
  • Algonquin has declared war on the dragons so the Heartstriker dragons need to present a unified front. But with so many dragons trying to kill each other and Julius is that possible?

Pluses

  • The book takes place during just a few days, but they are action-packed days.
  • So many great characters in these books–especially Bob, Amelia, Chelsie, Svena, Ghost and, of course, Marcie and Julius.
  • New characters are introduced in this book and they’re very interesting, too. I really like Raven. He’s very devious and has his own agenda.
  • The book has many twists and turns. It’s hard to see how Julius can really use democratic methods with the dragons.
  • Most of the dragons have lived for hundreds of years and they have many secrets to keep. Amelia, Bob and Chelsie all have secrets that are part of this story.
  • I like the way Rachel Aaron puts a story together. Her books are very readable and well plotted.
  • By the end of the book I’m not sure how or if everything will hold together for the Heartstrikers.
  • There will be at least one more book in this series. It’s good to know the author has things figured out for the series! Though I don’t want to see the series end.

Minuses

  • None–other than having to wait for book 4!

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I can’t wait for the next book. This is such a great series and I’m really invested in these characters.
  • The audiobook is coming out September 13 and is available now for preorder. These would be fun books to listen to in audio, I think.
  • The ebook is available on Kindle Unlimited which is great if you are a subscriber to that.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Rachel Aaron is the author of 11 novels, including the Fantasy fan favorites THE LEGEND OF ELI MONPRESS and NICE DRAGONS FINISH LAST. She also writes romantic Science Fiction under the name Rachel Bach, starting with FORTUNE’S PAWN, a high octane romantic adventure about a powered armor mercenary who gets in way over her head, published by Orbit Books.
  • In addition to her fiction, Rachel is also known for her bestselling writing efficiency book 2K TO 10K: WRITING BETTER, WRITING FASTER, AND WRITING MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE. To learn more about Rachel and all her titles, visit http://www.rachelaaron.net!
  • Author Links
    Website: http://www.rachelaaron.net
    Twitter: @Rachel_Aaron
    Facebook: facebook.com/RachelAaronAuthor

Reading Challenges

Waiting on Wednesday: June 1

I’m participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.

 

no-good-dragon-goes-unpunished-by-Rachel-AaronNo Good Dragon Goes Unpunished by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #3

Publication Date: August 5

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Synopsis: When Julius overthrew his mother and took control of his clan, he thought he was doing right by everyone. But sharing power isn’t part of any proper dragon’s vocabulary, and with one seat still open on the new ruling Council, all of Heartstriker is ready to do whatever it takes to get their claws on it, including killing the Nice Dragon who got them into this mess in the first place.

To keep his clan together and his skin intact, Julius is going to have to find a way to make his bloodthirsty siblings play fair. But there’s more going on in Heartstriker Mountain than politics. Every family has its secrets, but the skeletons in Bethesda’s closet are dragon sized, and with Algonquin’s war looming over them all, breaking his clan wide open might just be the only hope Julius has of saving it.

……………………………..

Why this book sounds good:
  • I love this series
  • I love the world Rachel Aaron has created. The dragons are especially fun to read about–especially Bob. And Julius, of course.
  • I really want to know what happens next with Julius, Marci, Bob.
  • I like that Rachel Aaron also writes science fiction as Rachel Bach. The Paradox series was so much fun to read!

The characters I would want on a deserted island …

toptentuesday2Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme which I take part in occasionally. It’s a great meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. Every week a new topic is presented. It’s not only fun to think about my list, but to read what other people come up with!

The topic this week is the characters I would want with me on a deserted island. At first I was thinking “desert” island and so I thought of characters who live in deserts! My first thought was of the book Dune by Frank Herbert which I read many years ago, but which sticks with me. Then I realized it was a deserted island so I had to rethink things!

By the time all these characters are on my deserted island it wouldn’t be deserted any longer!

1. Cassandra (Cass) from the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst. Cass is transported to a deserted planet (except for animals) and manages to survive. She would be very useful!

2. Devi Morris from from the Paradox trilogy by Rachel Bach. Devi is very resourceful as well as irreverent. She would keep up our spirits as well as have anyNice Dragons Finish Last weapons necessary to protect us!

3. Julius from Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron. I just finished this book and it’s great! Julius is a dragon–very useful to have around–and since he’s a pretty nice dragon he wouldn’t eat us!

4. Jarra from the Earth Girl series by Janet Edwards. Jarra is brave, resourceful, knows a lot about history so she might be able to help us figure out where we are and how to get back home!

5. Ensign Andrew Dahl from Redshirts by John Scalzi. He would know not to volunteer to go on an away mission and remind us of the same thing!

6. Graham Keith in The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. So I could listen to his Scots accent!

7. Suzume from the Generation V series by M. L. Brennan. I wouldn’t pick Fortitude Scott, because he’s becoming a better vampire…not what you need on a deserted island! Suzume, on the other hand, is a kitsune…a very resourceful fox.

8. Shai from The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson. She is a forger–able to copy and recreate anything by rewriting its history with magic. That would be a magic-slaysgreat skill to have to help us get off the island.

9. & 10. Curran and Kate from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. We would need a very good leader and both these characters are great leaders. They’re very resourceful both with magic and when there is no magic.

Sorry I’m late getting this posted…by the time we got home last night I was too tired to finish this and get it read for today…and same problem this morning!

I chose all books I read this year. Not really intentional–they are all characters who would be great on a deserted island! What about you? What characters would you choose?

 

July books on my radar…

Radar

Each month I write about the books I’ve noticed and think might be good. Sometimes they’re from favorite authors and other times I’m excited by a new author.

I don’t buy all the books (not during the month they’re released at least)–since I already have way too many books to read and sometimes these new books have high prices 😦

But the list I make each month helps me not forget books. The Goodreads links help me keep track of these books and I hope people reading my post may find some new books, too!

 

I have a lot of great looking books this month! The first book is one I missed last month.

June 24

I read the first book in this series last December. And I like Sarah Morgan’s writing…I’ve already bought this!

suddenly-last-summerSuddenly Last Summer

by Sarah Morgan

Series: O’Neil Brothers #2

Published by Harlequin HQN

Genre: Contemporary Romance

384 pages

Synopsis: Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the reasons and the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine…

July 1

One of my favorite urban fantasy series. The last book ended rather suddenly…so this book is an autobuy!

bloodshiftedBloodshifted

by Cassie Alexander

Series: Edie Spence #5

Published by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Genre: Urban Fantasy

304 pages

Synopsis: Ambushed. Blindfolded. Kidnapped by vampires. Edie Spence must race against time to save herself and her baby—from the nightmare that flows through her veins…

As a nurse in the hospital’s secret Y4 ward, Edie has seen her share of daytimers. Once-ordinary humans who’ve tasted vampire blood, daytimers are doomed to serve their nighttime masters. Forever. And now Edie has to face something even more horrifying: she’s become one too…

BLOODSHIFTED

Abducted by the vampire, Raven, Edie is taken to the catacombs beneath the Catacombs, an ironically-named L.A. night club that supplies fresh blood and other favors for its vampire Masters. Edie has no intention of swapping her nurse’s uniform for a cocktail dress—not when her newborn infant needs her. But if she and Asher—her shapeshifter fiancé—can’t figure out a way to bleed Raven’s power, they may never get out of this plasma-soaked pleasure palace…undead or alive.

Sounds like the beginning of a good series. A phoenix who takes human form! I’ve read a number of books by Keri Arthur and enjoy her writing.

firebornFireborn

by Keri Arthur

Series: Souls of Fire #1

Published by Signet Select

Genre: Urban Fantasy

400 pages

Synopsis: . . .a brand new series featuring heroine Emberly Pearson—a phoenix capable of taking on human form, and cursed with the ability to foresee death…

Emberly has spent a good number of her many lives trying to save humans. So when her prophetic dreams reveal the death of Sam, a man she once loved, she does everything in her power to prevent that from happening. But in saving his life, she gets more than she bargained for.

Sam is working undercover for the Paranormal Investigations Team, and those who are trying to murder him are actually humans infected by a plague-like virus, the Crimson Death—a by-product of a failed government experiment that attempted to identify the enzymes that make vampires immortal. Now, all those infected must be eliminated.

But when Emberly’s boss is murdered and his irreplaceable research stolen, she needs to find the guilty party before she goes down in flames…

Mary Balogh is one of my favorite historical romance authors and I’m enjoying this series a lot.

the-escapeThe Escape

by Mary Balogh

Series: Survivor’s Club #3

Published by Dell

Genre: Historical Romance

416 pages

Synopsis: After surviving the Napoleonic Wars, Sir Benedict Harper is struggling to move on, his body and spirit in need of a healing touch. Never does Ben imagine that hope will come in the form of a beautiful woman who has seen her own share of suffering. After the lingering death of her husband, Samantha McKay is at the mercy of her oppressive in-laws—until she plots an escape to distant Wales to claim a house she has inherited. Being a gentleman, Ben insists that he escort her on the fateful journey.

Ben wants Samantha as much as she wants him, but he is cautious. What can a wounded soul offer any woman? Samantha is ready to go where fate takes her, to leave behind polite society and even propriety in her desire for this handsome, honorable soldier. But dare she offer her bruised heart as well as her body? The answers to both their questions may be found in an unlikely place: in each other’s arms.

Sounds like an interesting fantasy.

shattering-the-leyShattering the Ley

by Joshua Palmatier

Series: Unknown

Published by DAW Hardcover

Genre: Fantasy

496 pages

Synopsis: Erenthrall—sprawling city of light and magic, whose streets are packed with traders from a dozen lands and whose buildings and towers are grown and shaped in the space of a day.

At the heart of the city is the Nexus, the hub of  a magical ley line system that powers Erenthrall. This ley line also links the city and the Baronial plains to rest of the continent and the world beyond. The Prime Wielders control the Nexus with secrecy and lies, but it is the Baron who controls the Wielders. The Baron also controls the rest of the Baronies through a web of brutal intimidation enforced by his bloodthirsty guardsmen and unnatural assassins.

When the rebel Kormanley seek to destroy the ley system and the Baron’s chokehold, two people find themselves caught in the chaos that sweeps through Erenthrall and threatens the entire world: Kara Tremain, a young Wielder coming into her power, who discovers the forbidden truth behind the magic that powers the ley lines; and Alan Garrett, a recruit in the Baron’s guard, who learns that the city holds more mysteries and more danger than he could possibly have imagined . . . and who holds a secret within himself that could mean Erenthrall’s destruction — or its salvation.

I have the first book in this series…still to read, of course! An interesting world.

the-shadow-throneThe Shadow Throne

by Django Wexler

Series: The Shadow Campaigns #2

Published by Del Rey

Genre: Fantasy

544 pages

Synopsis: Anyone can plot a coup or fire an assassin’s bullet. But in a world of muskets and magic, it takes considerably more to seize the throne.

The ailing King of the Vordan lies on his deathbed. When he dies, his daughter, Raesinia Orboan, will become the first Queen Regnant in centuries—and a ripe target for the ambitious men who seek to control her. The most dangerous of these is Duke Orlanko, Minister of Information and master of the secret police. Having meticulously silenced his adversaries through intimidation, imprisonment, and execution, Orlanko is the most feared man in the kingdom.

And he knows an arcane secret that puts Raesinia completely at his mercy.

Exposure would mean ruin, but Raesinia is determined to find a way to break herself—and her country—out of Orlanko’s iron grip. She finds unlikely allies in the returning war hero Janus bet Vhalnich, fresh from a brilliant campaign in the colony of Khandar, and his loyal deputies, Captain Marcus d’Ivoire and Lieutenant Winter Ihernglass.

As Marcus and Winter struggle to find their places in the home they never thought they would see again, they help Janus and Raesinia set in motion events that could free Vordan from Orlanko’s influence—at the price of throwing the nation into chaos. But with the people suffering under the Duke’s tyranny, they intend to protect the kingdom with every power they can command, earthly or otherwise

July 8

I like stories about thieves. This fantasy sounds like it will be fun!

midnight-thiefMidnight Thief

by Livia Blackburne

Series: Midnight Thief #1

Published by Disney-Hyperion

Genre: Fantasy

368 pages

Synopsis: Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

I haven’t read many mysteries recently and this sounds good.

the-white-magic-five-and-dimeThe White Magic Five and Dime

by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco

Series: Unknown

Published by Midnight Ink

Genre: Mystery

336 pages

Synopsis: Much to Alanis McLachlands surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother’s tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.

With help from a hunky cop and her mother’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way trough tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother’s clients. But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards … and the secrets surrounding her mother’s demise.

Sounds like a good start to a series. And it’s a good cover!

the-kiss-of-deceptionThe Kiss of Deception

by Mary E. Pearson

Series: The Remnant Chronicles #1

Published by Henry Holt

Genre: Fantasy

492 pages

Synopsis: In this timeless new trilogy about love and sacrifice, a princess must find her place in a reborn world.

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

July 14

Courtney Milan is another favorite historical romance author. I like all her books. And she is self-published!

the-suffragette-scandalThe Suffragette Scandal

by Courtney Milan

Series: Brothers Sinister #4

Published by Courtney Milan

Genre: Historical Romance

? pages

Synopsis: An idealistic suffragette…

Miss Frederica “Free” Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women’s rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope…but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.

…a jaded scoundrel…

Edward Clark’s aristocratic family abandoned him to die in a war-torn land, so he survived the only way he could: by becoming a rogue and a first-class forger. When the same family that left him for dead vows to ruin Miss Marshall, he offers his help. So what if he has to lie to her? She’s only a pawn to use in his revenge.

…and a scandal seven years in the making.

But the irrepressible Miss Marshall soon enchants Edward. By the time he realizes that his cynical heart is hers, it’s too late. The only way to thwart her enemies is to reveal his scandalous past…and once the woman he loves realizes how much he’s lied to her, he’ll lose her forever.

July 15

Rachel Bach (wrote the Paradox science fiction series which I read and reviewed) and Rachel Aaron (wrote The Legend of Eli Monpress fantasy series) are the same author. This sounds like a very good new series. I can’t find out too much about the book–perhaps it’s self-published?

nice-dragons-finish-lastNice Dragons Finish Last

by Rachel Aaron

Series: Heartstrikers #1

Published by –self-published?

Genre: Fantasy

? pages

Synopsis: As the smallest dragon in the Heartstriker clan, Julius survives by a simple code: stay quiet, don’t cause trouble, and keep out of the way of bigger dragons. But this meek behavior doesn’t cut it in a family of ambitious predators, and his mother, Bethesda the Heartstriker, has finally reached the end of her patience.

Now, sealed in human form and banished to the DFZ–a vertical metropolis built on the ruins of Old Detroit–Julius has one month to prove to his mother that he can be a ruthless dragon or lose his true shape forever. But in a city of modern mages and vengeful spirits where dragons are seen as monsters to be exterminated, he’s going to need some serious help to survive this test.

He only hopes that humans are more trustworthy than dragons.

Another new series! I like the idea of the weakling prince trying to persevere.

half-a-kingHalf a King

by Joe Abercrombie

Series: Shattered Sea #1

Published by Del Rey

Genre: Fantasy

352 pages

Synopsis: “I swore an oath to avenge the death of my father. I may be half a man, but I swore a whole oath.”

Prince Yarvi has vowed to regain a throne he never wanted. But first he must survive cruelty, chains, and the bitter waters of the Shattered Sea. And he must do it all with only one good hand.

The deceived will become the deceiver.
 
Born a weakling in the eyes of his father, Yarvi is alone in a world where a strong arm and a cold heart rule. He cannot grip a shield or swing an axe, so he must sharpen his mind to a deadly edge.

The betrayed will become the betrayer.
 
Gathering a strange fellowship of the outcast and the lost, he finds they can do more to help him become the man he needs to be than any court of nobles could.

Will the usurped become the usurper?
 
But even with loyal friends at his side, Yarvi finds his path may end as it began—in twists, and traps, and tragedy.

A swashbuckling fantasy that recalls Three Musketeers? Sounds great!

traitors-bladeTraitor’s Blade

by Sebastien de Castell

Series: Greatcoats #1

Published by Jo Fletcher Books

Genre: Fantasy

370 pages

Synopsis: With swashbuckling action that recall Dumas’ Three Musketeers Sebastien de Castell has created a dynamic new fantasy series. In Traitor’s Blade a disgraced swordsman struggles to redeem himself by protecting a young girl caught in the web of a royal conspiracy.

The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that’s exactly what’s happening.

Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they’ll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor’s blade.

I’m looking forward to this book, but haven’t read the second book yet! I loved the first book, need to read the second and want the last book to come down in price.

the-book-of-lifeThe Book of Life

by Deborah Harkness

Series: All Soul’s Trilogy, book 3

Published by Viking Adult

Genre: Fantasy

576 pages

Synopsis: After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

With more than one million copies sold in the United States and appearing in thirty-eight foreign editions, A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night have landed on all of the major bestseller lists and garnered rave reviews from countless publications. Eagerly awaited by Harkness’s legion of fans, The Book of Life brings this superbly written series to a deeply satisfying close.

July 29

I read C. L. Wilson’s first series– –and this sounds very good.

the-winter-kingThe Winter King

by C. L. Wilson

Series: Unknown

Published by Avon

Genre: Fantasy

594 pages

Synopsis: Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when the prince of Summerlea steals Wynter’s bride and murders his young brother, Wynter calls upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart and marches against Summerlea.

After three bitter years of battle, a victorious Wynter arrives at Summerlea’s royal palace to issue his terms of surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth in his heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.

The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will send her to face the mercy of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters.

The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of whom he is not so fond. And she is a fiercely passionate creature, with a temper as volatile as the forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.

 

The books I plan to buy this month

Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Bloodshifted by Cassie Alexander

The Escape by Mary Balogh

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan

The Winter King by C. L. Wilson

What new books do you plan to get in July?