Cover Spotlight: 2014′s Most Wanted, Part 1

Traditionally, I’ve done Most Wanted posts at the end of each year as a list to feature what books I’m most looking forward to in the coming year. This year I thought it would be more fun to combine that with a Cover Spotlight post and feature the covers, their blurbs and thoughts on each (if any such thoughts exist on my part, that is). I’ve accumulated covers and info for the first few months and will, uh, hopefully remember to post more another time for later months. Hope with me! Together, maybe my brain will persevere.

Please share in the comments section what you’re most looking forward to, too. Might give me some more things to want! Book blurbs, unless otherwise noted, are from Amazon.com.

Fury of the Demon by Diana Rowland, January 7, 2014:

Demon summoner Kara Gillian bears the scars of Rhyzkahl’s treachery, but she refuses to let them slow her down. She and the demonic lord Mzatal have not rested in their efforts to recover Idris—Mzatal’s summoner protégé who was kidnapped by enemy lords—but now their search has brought them back to Earth.

With the help of FBI agents Ryan Kristoff and Zack Garner, they begin to track down summoners who are working with Rhyzkahl. However, Kara knows Ryan’s true identity, and questions of loyalty threaten to tear apart this group of allies. When Kara intervenes to help a brilliant young computer expert and his bodyguard after an accidental shooting, she quickly learns that Rhyzkahl’s machinations run deeper than she could have ever imagined. The search for Idris takes on a desperate edge as their enemies increase in number, and Kara realizes that an old homicide case may hold the key to their success—or their doom.

With the very fabric of the universe at stake, Kara must rely on her skills, wit, and luck to save her friends and her world, yet ancient vows will have to be broken if she is to have any hope.

But the price of breaking those vows may be her own blood.

Kara went through some truly awful things in the last book – and I can’t wait to read this one as a result! I hope she kick some serious ass and we find out lots of mind blowing twists. I reviewed the previous book here. This is book 6 in the series and yep, you really must read them in order.

The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison, February 25, 2014:

Supernatural superhero Rachel Morgan must counter a strange magic that could spell civil war for the Hollows in this sexy and bewitching urban fantasy adventure in acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison’s Hollows series.

Witch and day-walking demon Rachel Morgan has managed to save the demonic ever after from shrinking, but at a high cost. Now, strange magic is attacking Cincinnati and the Hollows, causing spells to backfire or go horribly wrong, and the truce between the races, between Inderlander and human, is shattering. Rachel must stop this dark necromancy before the undead vampire masters who keep the rest of the undead under control are lost and all-out supernatural war breaks out.

Rachel knows of only weapon to ensure the peace: ancient elven wild magic, which carries its own perils. And no one know better than Rachel that no good deed goes unpunished . . .

This has been my number one most favorite series for several years now, and while the last installment or two hadn’t been all-out favorites in the series itself, I’m still very much on board and ready for the latest installment. Cannot wait! I reviewed the previous book here.

Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire, March 4, 2014:

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend–Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats–is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

I was, though I hate to admit it still, really disappointed in the previous book in this series. BUT, I was still looking forward to the series heroine and her adventures. Turns out the series is going in a new direction lead-wise, though, so we’ll see how it goes!

Dawn’s Early Light by Pip Ballantine & Tee Morris, March 25, 2014:

Working for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences, one sees innumerable technological wonders. But even veteran agents Braun and Books are unprepared for what the electrifying future holds…

After being ignominiously shipped out of England following their participation in the Janus affair, Braun and Books are ready to prove their worth as agents. But what starts as a simple mission in the States—intended to keep them out of trouble—suddenly turns into a scandalous and convoluted case that has connections reaching as far as Her Majesty the Queen.

Even with the help of two American agents from the Office of the Supernatural and the Metaphysical, Braun and Books have their work cut out for them as their chief suspect in a rash of nautical and aerial disasters is none other than Thomas Edison. Between the fantastic electric machines of Edison, the eccentricities of MoPO consultant Nikola Tesla, and the mysterious machinations of a new threat known only as the Maestro, they may find themselves in far worse danger than they ever have been in before…

I have really enjoyed this steampunk series and while I didn’t get a chance to review the second book in the series, it carries on pretty well what the first book started. Looking very forward to keeping up with the series! Review of book one here.

Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran, March 25, 2014:

Sensible and lonely, Olivia Mather survives by her wits—and her strict policy of avoiding trouble. But when she realizes that the Duke of Marwick might hold the secrets of her family’s past, she does the unthinkable, infiltrating his household as a maid. She’ll clean his study and rifle through his papers looking for information.

Alastair de Grey has a single reason to live: vengeance. More beautiful than Lucifer, twice as feared, and thrice as cunning, he’ll use any weapon to punish those who fooled and betrayed him—even an impertinent maid who doesn’t know her place. But the more fascinated he becomes with the uppity redhead, the more dangerous his carefully designed plot becomes. For the one contingency he forgot to plan for was falling in love…and he cannot survive being fooled again.

Guys and gals, I’m so far off the historical romance reading wagon I’m not sure how I’ll ever get back on fully. There’s some author’s names that still ping my radar, though, and Duran is one, so I’m excited to give this one a try.

Stone Cold by Devon Monk, April 1, 2014:

Marked by Life and Death magic, Shame Flynn and Terric Conley are “breakers”—those who can use magic to its full extent. Most of the time, they can barely stand each other, but they know they have to work together to defeat a common enemy—rogue magic user Eli Collins.

Backed by the government, Eli is trying to use magic as a weapon by carving spells into the flesh of innocents and turning them into brainless walking bombs. To stop him, Shame and Terric will need to call on their magic, even as it threatens to consume them—because the price they must pay to wield Life and Death could change the very fate of the world…and magic itself.

Monk’s Allie Beckstrom series was in my top fave urban fantasy series its entire run, but now that’s over, we’re getting a shoot-off featuring two of the dude secondary characters. I admit up front that the very obvious undertones of some kind of gay relationship between the two was seriously engaging my interest, but the way it waffled back and forth in the Beckstrom books wasn’t ever for sure sure on that count. So…I guess we’ll see! I love the world the author created with the way magic is used, so hopefully I’ll enjoy this new series just as much.

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire, May 6, 2014:

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

Anything new under the Seanan McGuire name’s likely to get picked up. So that’s that!

Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone, July 15, 2014:

On the island of Kavekana, Kai builds gods to order, then hands them to others to maintain. Her creations aren’t conscious and lack their own wills and voices, but they accept sacrifices, and protect their worshippers from other gods—perfect vehicles for Craftsmen and Craftswomen operating in the divinely controlled Old World. When Kai sees one of her creations dying and tries to save her, she’s grievously injured—then sidelined from the business entirely, her near-suicidal rescue attempt offered up as proof of her instability. But when Kai gets tired of hearing her boss, her coworkers, and her ex-boyfriend call her crazy, and starts digging into the reasons her creations die, she uncovers a conspiracy of silence and fear—which will crush her, if Kai can’t stop it first.

I glommed the first two books in this series in 2014. I found the worldbuilding to be some of the most imaginative in recent fantasy book reading, personally, and I can’t wait to see where the author goes next with it. Book one review here, book two here.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews, July 29, 2014:

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Of course I want this book, right? Along with most of the urban-fantasy-reading universe. I am, however, peeved at the higher price due to a series move to hardback. Not going to lie, this may keep me from purchasing the Kindle version till the price drops to something more reasonable. AND…I’m still bummed over Curan’s behavior in the previous book and might need some review reading first to see if he improved in this one. Never thought I’d see two things that would hold me back from immediately buying a book in this series.

REVIEW: Two Serpents Rise

Max gladstone
two serpents rise (Craft Sequence #2)
TOR books
fantasy
october 29, 2013

Blurb via Amazon.com:

In Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone, shadow demons plague the city reservoir, and Red King Consolidated has sent in Caleb Altemoc—casual gambler and professional risk manager—to cleanse the water for the sixteen million people of Dresediel Lex. At the scene of the crime, Caleb finds an alluring and clever cliff runner, Crazy Mal, who easily outpaces him.

But Caleb has more than the demon infestation, Mal, or job security to worry about when he discovers that his father—the last priest of the old gods and leader of the True Quechal terrorists—has broken into his home and is wanted in connection to the attacks on the water supply.

From the beginning, Caleb and Mal are bound by lust, Craft, and chance, as both play a dangerous game where gods and people are pawns. They sleep on water, they dance in fire…and all the while the Twin Serpents slumbering beneath the earth are stirring, and they are hungry.

I really enjoyed the predecessor to this book, Three Parts Dead, so much so that it was definitely in my top 5 books I read in 2013. And I enjoyed that one so much that I convinced myself to look past the ridiculous $11 Kindle ebook price and purchase book 2 as well. Because I really hungered for more of Gladstone’s fascinating Craft-built world and characters. Book 2, however, is immensely different in tone, character types and overall execution. While these things aren’t bad in and of themselves, this time what came after book one couldn’t live up to it, not for this reader.

Continue Reading

REVIEW: Three Parts Dead

Max gladstone
three parts dead (Craft Sequence #1)
TOR books
fantasy
october 2, 2012

Blurb via author’s site:

A God has died, and it’s up to Tara, first-year associate in the international necromantic firm of Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao, to bring Him back to life before His city falls apart.

Her client is Kos, recently deceased fire god of the city of Alt Coulumb.  Without Him, the metropolis’s steam generators will shut down, its trains will cease running, and its four million citizens will riot.  Tara’s job: resurrect Kos before chaos sets in.  Her only help is Abelard, a chain-smoking priest of the dead God, who’s having an understandable crisis of faith.

But when the duo discover that Kos was murdered, they have to make a case in Alt Coulumb’s courts—and their quest for truth endangers their partnership, their lives, and the city’s slim hope of survival.

Guys and gals, I loved this book. I’ve, admittedly, had a pretty long dry spell with books this year, and every year seems to chip away at my free time even MORE (making it so hard to keep up this place let alone read for pure enjoyment), and such things tend to make me impatient with books that aren’t doing it for me…BUT. That also makes books like this that I freaking LOVED feel so much more, well, LOVED. Now that the mildly fangirlish language has been taken care of, I’ll set aside a brief moment to do a fancy Loved This Book jig all over the place and will be right back. Continue Reading

REVIEW: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Holly black
the coldest girl in coldtown
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
fantasy/YA horror
September 3, 2013

Blurb via Amazon:

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is a wholly original story of rage and revenge, of guilt and horror, and of love and loathing from bestselling and acclaimed author Holly Black.

So this one was billed by many enthusiastic readers as somewhat of a renewal in vampire reading, as in it felt fresh and exciting, renewing interest in a genre that has been somewhat lax in recent years. Oh how I wish with all my One of Those Used-To-Be Vampie reading fans heart that I too had felt that way. Continue Reading

REVIEW: Chimes At Midnight

Seanan McGuire
Chimes at midnight
(October Daye #7)
DAW
Urban fantasy
September 3, 2013

Blurb via Amazon:

Things are starting to look up for October “Toby” Daye. She’s training her squire, doing her job, and has finally allowed herself to grow closer to the local King of Cats. It seems like her life may finally be settling down…at least until dead changelings start appearing in the alleys of San Francisco, killed by an overdose of goblin fruit.

Toby’s efforts to take the problem to the Queen of the Mists are met with harsh reprisals, leaving her under sentence of exile from her home and everyone she loves. Now Toby must find a way to reverse the Queens decree, get the goblin fruit off the streets–and, oh, yes, save her own life, since more than a few of her problems have once again followed her home. And then there’s the question of the Queen herself, who seems increasingly unlikely to have a valid claim to the throne….

To find the answers, October and her friends will have to travel from the legendary Library of Stars into the hidden depths of the Kingdom of the Mists–and they’ll have to do it fast, because time is running out. In faerie, some fates are worse than death.

October Daye is about to find out what they are.

It’s a little hard to believe that this is only book 7 in this series! It started to feel a while back like we were happily riding along with Toby across the unforgiving San Francisco traffic (oblivious as it may be thanks to charms meant to hide her progress), and for some time, too. What I’m saying is, this has been a really nice, long ride with one of the best heroines in urban fantasy fiction to date. Admittedly, this was probably one of my least favorite of the series due to some minor issues, but thankfully the book picks up nicely in the latter third. I was left with quite the happy reader glow.

Continue Reading

Sans All the Rape

I was having a discussion on twitter with some book reading peeps, and I was intrigued by a scifi book so many were discussing at that time. It felt imminent that I’d be buying and reading it, too. The premise sounded interesting, as did the sample for Kindle on Amazon. Somewhere, though, and I think it was a review on Goodreads, I read that it was quite violent. This made my spidey senses tingle just a tad, but enough. So I asked my fellow Twitter book peeps – is there rape? I didn’t find out in regards to the book on discussion, but was assured that the author uses “all the rape” in some of her other books.

And down went my perky reader flag.

Authors can have all the rape they want in their books, but apparently I’d still prefer to avoid it after reading one too many in a row in the last couple of years that turned me so far off the device, I might never find my way back to whatever path they were on. Instead, I think I’ll just try to keep to the path marked Sans All the Rape. It can still be a perilous road, but it doesn’t auto flip the rape switch.

In fact, if anyone out there has some recs for good science fiction and/or science fiction romance or fantasy and/or fantasy romance reads that are Sans All the Rape, that would be great. I’m talking about books populated with female characters that count. Female characters that are more than just a vagina or a girlfriend or an obvious peripheral stand-in to prop up the dudes around her so they might appear mightier and more awesome than the sun (I like dudes that are mightier than the sun just fine, but prefer equal treatment and consideration be given to the female characters around them).

I’ve read books that don’t do this, and it only makes me want more. They tend not to have all the rape. Because women aren’t just characters waiting for rape. No, it’s true. They have other parts besides a vagina (which, by the way, is such a nice part, when, you know, it’s actually appreciated as the female-owned part that it is), and those parts get showcased quite awesomely sometimes. Things like her valor, her integrity, her gosh-damned mistakes that she learns from and improves from, her kick-ass skillz with that futuristic fully automatic laser/grenade-launching/torch-firing/bullet-pounding shoulder canon (it’s quite big)…I think you get the idea. Something with a little balance fuh gosh sakes. Let’s make a list!

So if anyone has any recs, again, that would be great. And thank you. I’ll edit the post to reflect your suggestions.

Science Fiction & Science Fiction Romance (alpha by last names):

* Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold (Split into two books: Shards of Honor and Barrayar)
* Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie
* Ravyn’s Flight by Patti O’Shea
* Damocles by S.G. Redling
* Linnea Sinclair’s entire catalog (though some find problems w/consent in Shades of Dark)
* Partials by Dan Wells

Fantasy and Fantasy Romance (alpha by last names)

* The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes, Magic Bleeds, Magic Slays, Magic Rises)
* The Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, Cold Steel)