Books I can’t wait for in 2012!

This isn’t a definitive list of what is being released this year, just books I am looking forwards to in particular.  I have probably missed some and of course, there will always be authors that are new to me to be discovered.  Let the reading begin… as they get released of course 😉

January

Lothaire by Kresley Cole (Immortals After Dark #12)
Jacob by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #1)
Gideon by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #2)
Seven Princes by John R. Fultz (Books of the Shaper #1)
Unclean Spirits by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #1)
The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James
Second Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #2)
Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz (Dark Legacy #1)
Heir of Night by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #1)
No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose
Heir of Novron by Michael J. Sullivan (The Riyria Revelations)
Blue-Blooded Vamp by Jaye Wells (Sabina Kane #4)
Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #1)
Eternal Kiss by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #2)

It’s very hard to choose just one out of all the great books being released this month but my top pick for January is No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose.

February

Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz
Darker Angels by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #2)
Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #3)
A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell
The Dread by Gail Z. Martin (Fallen Kings Cycle #2)
Eternal Captive by Laura Wright (Mark of the Vampire #3)

The Dread by Gail Z. Martin continues the Fallen Kings Cycle and is my top pick for February.

March

Bridge of Dreams by Anne Bishop (Ephemera #3)
Fair Game by Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega #3)
Recipe for Love by Katie Fforde
Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #3)
Damien by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #4)
Vicious Grace by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #3)
Fated by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #1)
Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Chronicles of Nick #3)
Exogene by T. C. McCarthy (Subterrene War #2)
Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood #10)
A Rising Thunder by David Weber (Honor Harrington)

March is a very tough month to choose a top pick from, with books out by several favourite authors.  I am going to have to go with Lover Reborn by J. R. Ward since I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood and this is Tohr’s story!

April

Noah by Jacquelyn Frank (The Nightwalkers #5)
Killing Rites by M. L. N. Hanover (Black Sun’s Daughter #4)
Vengeance by Ian Irvine (The Tainted Realm #1)
Gathering of the Lost by Helen Lowe (Wall of Night #2)
The Love Letter by Fiona Walker
32 Fangs by David Wellington (Laura Caxton #5)

The Love Letter by Fiona Walker is my pick for April, her books never fail to amuse and entertain me.

May

The King’s Blood by Daniel Abraham (Dagger and the Coin #2)
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison (Elder Races #1)
Born of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon (League #5)
Frostbite by Richelle Mead,  Emma Vieceli and Leigh Dragoon (Vampire Academy Graphic Novel #2)

By May I will be jumping up and down with excitement with the release of Born Of Silence by Sherrilyn Kenyon, the next book in her brilliant League series!

June

Darkness Devours by Keri Arthur (Dark Angel #3)
Caliban’s War by James S. A. Corey (Expanse #2)
Blackout by Mira Grant (Newsflesh Trilogy #3)
Storm’s Heart by Thea Harrison (Elder Races #2)
Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione (Lords of Deliverance #3)
Cursed by Benedict Jacka (Alex Verus #2)
Messenger’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Lost Angels #2)
The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (Bloodlines #2)
A Night like This by Julia Quinn (Smythe-Smith Quartet #2)
Silver-Tongued Devil by Jaye Wells (Sabina Kane #5)

This is not getting any easier!  June has so many books I am really excited about, but if my arm was twisted behind my back to choose (please don’t!) it would have to be Lethal Rider by Larissa Ione.

July

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld #13)

July is a bit of an obvious one!

August

Time Untime by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter #22)
Shadow Blizzard by Alexey Pehov (Chronicles of Siala #3)
Seawitch by Kat Richardson (Greywalker #7)
Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn (Kitty Norville #10)

Kitty Steals the Show by Carrie Vaughn is my pick for August, I just love this series so much!

November

Death’s Angel by Heather Killough-Walden (Lost Angels #3)

This month speaks for itself 😉

Germline

I started reading Germline about 12.30 this afternoon, intending to read for a little and have a nap.  Now it’s just gone 5pm and I may be a little bleary eyed after no sleep but I just finished the book and then had to take a little time to reflect on it before I wrote the review.

Germline is not an easy read, it has all too realistic scenes of death, insanity and desperation in war, the main character is about the most self-indulgent mess of an anti-hero you could find and even though it’s set in the future, the war is ultimately about who has the most strength to claim what dwindling mineral resources are left, something I can envision all too clearly in our reality.

Having said all that, the book was absolutely amazing.  The clarity of writing and scene descriptions were brilliant and I was able to clearly envision what was going on, even if I didn’t want to.  I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next, no matter the outcome and there were more than a few times when I had to take a brief break, just to absorb or pull back from what I’d just read.

I thought the technology T. C. McCarthy created was superb, fit the setting well and it impressed me how easy it was to understand without being led into lengthy jargon on how and why.  From the weaponry, to the armour, even the genetic soldiers all provided everything I needed for a well rounded science fiction novel.

As the book was written in first person perspective, I think it provided a unique look at what was going on in Oscar Wendell’s head.  Starting as a drug-addicted and failing journalist, he had one last chance of redeeming himself with his employers by securing the chance to write an article from the frontlines of the subterrene war in Kazakhstan.  Seeing the war happen from his civilian perspective gave greater impact to what it was really like, the conditions they endure and the edge of sanity they have to dance to get through another night.  The choices he made throughout were both insane yet believable.

I really wanted to hate him.  At first it felt like there was nothing redeeming about him whatsoever, but McCarthy wrote him so cleverly that as he woke up to the reality around him and grew up without wanting to, he sneaked into my mind and a little into my heart.

There was quite a large cast of supporting characters, and a few of the individuals that Oscar meets had quite a major impact on me.  The sheer amount of emotion that the author managed to convey along with these characters, some of them only for a short time was astounding and a testament to a brilliant and empathic writing style.  I have to mention the Brit and the Kid.  I loved both their characters and the fact you never learned their names.

The ending was actually a real surprise for me, I honestly didn’t expect it and I can only give huge props to T. C. McCarthy for making me believe there could be only one outcome for Oscar.

My only negative is that the title of the book and the consequent definition on the back cover aren’t actually used in the book that I recall, and perhaps it wasn’t needed as you now knew what it meant. Due to the definition though, I was expecting something a little different but I was in no way disappointed with what I got.

The pace of the book was fast and unrelenting, leading to me not being able to put it down unless I had to.  The plot was both original and interesting and actually very hard to describe so all I can say is read Germline.  Then get back to me 😉

A gripping close up of a futuristic war in all it’s gritty, brutal, dark and horrific glory.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: T. C. McCarthy
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

In Her Name: Empire

I read In Her Name: Empire in literally one sitting.  I couldn’t put it down and was so engaged I didn’t even want to stop for food!

There are almost two parts to this book.  First, an invasion of colonised space by an alien species, and humanity fighting back with enormous losses.  This is followed by a more fantasy-like setting with a gladiatorial feel which fills the rest of the book.  The two styles didn’t lessen the impact of the story at all, and if anything they made it more intriguing.

I loved how Michael Hicks showed us Reza’s life from a very young boy through to a man, and he is my favourite type of hero.  He never tries to be heroic, he just does what he can to survive, but without compromising his ideals.  Reza’s initial survival was enabled by ultimate sacrifice and incredible courage and from then on, I was hooked.  His decisions were wonderfully reasoned and played out, and even after I’d finished the book I kept thinking about it, and what would I have done in his situation.

The Kreelan race provided a puzzle for me, and I think it’s down to Hicks’ clever writing that while you know they are the enemy, you slowly come to realise they are also a deeply connected and spiritual people, with their own strict way of life that is completely alien. Their history and their mystical way of life was brilliantly envisioned and made it really easy to empathise with them, despite their role.

It wasn’t until the end of the book I was reminded that they are in fact, the enemy.  And I cried.

The plot was really well laid out, driving us through a series of events that forge Reza into a survivor, from young boy to man, with amazing strength of character and very likeable.

The character of one of the Kreelan warriors was really well conceived.  Again, it’s down to excellent writing by Michael R. Hicks that I hated the character at first, but as Reza grew and his perceptions changed, so did mine and I ended up loving her (no names, to avoid spoiling it)!

The Kreelan are a warlike people who are bound together by soul and so deeply steeped in honour, tradition and ceremony that it is stagnating their culture.  I thought it was interesting that on the Kreelan planet, there is no evidence of technology nor that the people could be capable of space flight, but it’s a given that they are since they are waging war on humanity. I suspect that will feature more in the next books of this trilogy.

The pace is tricky as it covers a long period of time but I thought Hicks handled the jumps forward well, and I enjoyed the book all the more because I got to see Reza at so many points in his life, and eventually learning who he is now.

The ending didn’t really come as a surprise, you knew the eventual outcome was always a possibility but that didn’t detract at all from its power.  Reza’s honour, belief and loyalty made him stand out amongst heroes and it moved me to tears.

In Her Name: Empire is a book that has heart, emotion, sacrifice, and courage and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Michael R. Hicks
  • Format: Kindle
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Leviathan Wakes

This book is utterly amazing,  I can’t stress that enough. It hits every single sci-fi button I have; space opera, crime, horror, and just enough of a touch of romance to give it an emotional punch.  It has zombies, heroic sacrifice, interplanetary war, and some truly great action.

On paper that might seem like a book by the numbers but it really isn’t.  The writing is clever but eminently readable and the story just blew me away.  With such a heady mix of so many elements the plot could have been really confusing, yet I had no trouble following it.

The characters are believable, realistic and they quickly get into your mind, even those that are only present for a short time.  I loved Captain Jim Holden and his somewhat naive and altruistic view of life. He’s written so well that the odd mix of both admirable and foolhardy decision making is believable. The authors have given us a hero that acts like one despite the consequences.  The rest of the survivors were also well realised and added a lot to the depth and flavour of the story.  As an aside I did laugh when Naomi figuratively had to smack Jim into sense, one of a number of comic moments that help break up the considerable tension.

Detective Miller is a bit of an enigma.  A very strong character but obviously fundamentally damaged, and the complete opposite of Jim.  He sees things from a much more realistic perspective and can look at the bigger picture.  I thought the debates with Holden about his decisions, and them both being at opposite ends of the spectrum were very well written and thought out.  Neither were right or wrong but I found my own feelings on the matter coloured how I looked at it.  Miller’s involvement was excellent yet sad and the emotional writing of this character had me in tears towards the end of the book.

I thought the future technology side was well crafted and believable, taking into account physics and the forces at play when ships are moving.  I felt it all was very smooth, understandable and very creative.

The plot and pace are very much tied together as each chapter unfolds and both increase in intensity nicely.  I’ve seen some people say the ending employs deus ex machina, however I totally disagree because the groundwork had been building right from the start.  To me it was just another example of the clever writing in Leviathan Wakes.

I didn’t find out until after I’d finished, that James S. A. Corey is actually the pen name for two people; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck.  I have to say I think they blended perfectly; sometimes you can get a feel of two voices in these situations but I was unaware and very surprised when I did realise.

An amazingly exciting space opera, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: James S.A. Corey
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Hellhole

Exiled to Hallholme after he led a rebellion against the Constellation Empire, General Tiber Adolphus was expected to die from the planet’s barely habitable environment.  Much to Diadem Michella Duchanet’s annoyance, he refused to give in and instead managed to establish a small community that quickly expanded as convicts, malcontents,  and people with nowhere else to go were dumped and left to the mercies of Hellhole.  Struck by a meteor centuries earlier that wiped out all indiginous life, it’s a mostly barren wasteland with unpredictable and often deadly weather patterns.

Back in the Crown Jewel planets, the Lords and Ladies of the Parliamentary government enjoyed the fruits of the Deep Zone labours, requiring tributes from their already taxed economies, forcing them to give up valuable assets that would help their own colonists.  Determined not to let another rebellion take hold, the Diadem keeps her government on their toes, encouraging them to plot against each other if it suited her interest or simply have her spies and military personnel step in if it didn’t.  Diadem Michella Duchanet was the ruler of the Constellation and she would not have anyone get in her way.

For someone who read a lot of science-fiction when I was younger,  I don’t seem to be able to get into it much these days.  It has been a while since I found anything that held my interest, that wasn’t also linked to the romance genre.

Hellhole has completely changed that for me and I am very happy it did so.  It’s an engaging story of hazardous frontier worlds and brave pioneers yet also of intrigue, plotting and maneuvering among the nobles of  the vast Constellation Empire.   The despot ruler, Diadem Michella Duchanet, is a real piece of work, as are some of the myriad nobles that rule the individual worlds of the Crown Jewels planets.

When the book starts, General Tiber Adolphus is at the final battle of his victorious five year rebellion against the Diadem and her armies, and right from that first chapter I was drawn in.  And it didn’t really let up from there.

It’s a book that has so many different facets and layers; it isn’t just a book about a rebellion against an unfit ruler, nor just about the people who were imprisoned or volunteered as colonists on the Deep Zone worlds.  It’s not even just about the possibility of alien life.  It’s about everything that makes up a wondrous vision into a possible distant future.

The protagonists were really well written and I came to care about some of them very quickly.  I also didn’t just dislike the antagonists, I hated them.

Hellhole itself was described with vivid imagery and I could see it in my mind’s eye.  The other Deep Zone worlds too, but to a lesser extent.

The pace was excellent, going from almost a normal pace of life after the first few chapters to an almost frenzied state as different threads were coming together.  I even growled as I turned the last page and realised I would have to wait to find out what happens until the next book.  It caught me out, even though I should have realised that with everything that still needed to happen, it wouldn’t fit into the number of pages left.

The plot was so intricate and layered, I have no idea how the authors kept it straight, but it wasn’t confusing.  I knew where I was and what was happening, it just ramped up the tension as each layer was added.

There are a few shocks and surprises but I won’t spoil them here.  Suffice to say some of them were very sad but there is also joy to balance it out.

If you like great science fiction on an epic scale, you have to read Hellhole.. really!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson
  • Genre: Sci-Fi
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Born of Ice – book trailer and info

St. Martin’s Press have released the following information about Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 3rd book in the League series,

New from St. Martin’s Press is #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 3-book series, ‘The League’!  With over 19 million books in print, Sherrilyn Kenyon is renowned the world over as “the reigning queen of the paranormal genre that she pioneered long before the world had heard of Twilight.”  The third book from ‘The League’ series, ‘Born of Ice’, will be available December 1st, 2009.

As with the previous book, Born of Fire, they’ve published a movie-like trailer, which you can watch below or check it out here on YouTube.

There’s more info and the chance to read an excerpt on Sherrilyn’s main website, or this link should take you straight to it.

The excerpt has really whetted my appetite and this little nugget made me laugh out loud :

Oh. My. God.

The one who’d spoken had to be a good six foot four in height. Built in perfect proportions, he was lean and ripped. Broad shoulders tapered down to narrow hips and what had to be the fi nest butt she’d ever seen in her life—she could bounce a credit off that.

Or break a tooth biting it…

Piatkus are the UK publishers, and they’re releasing it on the 3rd December over here.

I really can’t wait to get my hands on it!  Check out the preview of the second book Born of Fire and don’t forget to read my review of the one that started it all, Born of Night.  And if you want to know why you should read Sherrilyn Kenyon… this is why.

Born of Fire – trailers and previews!

bornoffireSt. Martin’s Press (US) are gearing up to release the second book in Sherrilyn Kenyon’s The League series – titled Born of Fire.  I recently read, loved and reviewed the first book (Born of Night) and I really am very excited about the prospect of another chance to visit that world and meet a whole collection of new characters.

To support the release, St. Martin’s Press is offering people a chance to win a copy of the book (although it’s limited to US residents only), but if that includes you, then you can check out the competition here.

The book is out on November 3rd in the US, and November 5th in the UK (published by Piatkus, an imprint of Little Brown).  You can pre-order them both now on Amazon (US and UK versions).

There’s a bunch of additional promotional material coming along with the release.  You can check out an excerpt of Born of Fire on Sherrilyn’s official site.  I’ve read it and it’s exciting!  It has all of Sherrilyn’s hallmark writing, starting with a pair of adversaries and telling us their story!

On top of that there’s a promo video on YouTube which I’ve embedded below.  It’s pretty short, but it gives a good indication of the main characters and should immediately highlight the main difference between this series and Sherrilyn’s Dark Hunter series.

The League is not set on Earth and the technology is far more advanced, but judging by the excerpt and having loved Born of Night, it’s still classic Sherrilyn Kenyon.

From the press release:

New from St. Martin’s Press is #1 New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s 3-book series, ‘The League’!  With over 19 million books in print, Sherrilyn Kenyon is renowned the world over as “the reigning queen of the paranormal genre that she pioneered long before the world had heard of Twilight.”  The second book from ‘The League’ series, ‘Born of Fire’, will be available November 3rd, 2009.

I’m itching to get my hands on this book after thoroughly enjoying the first one!

Here are the links if you want them all in one place!

Born of Night

The League and their powerful and ruthless assassins rule the Ichidian Universe.  No one leaves, to retire is to die.

Command Assassin Nykyrian Quiakades is one of the League’s most feared and vicious assassins and is the only man who managed to stay alive for more than a few hours after refusing to fulfill a contract, an act of treason and punishable by death.   So he does the only thing he can,  he vanishes.

A dangerous predator of the highest order, he forms an organisation that would become a shield between the league and their contracts on innocents caught in the cross-fire of political gain.  With only 3 people in the entire universe he can remotely stand to be around, hunted by the League and several others who would also see him dead, he accepts a contract to protect a dancer, Kiara Zamir whose father’s political ambitions have made her a target.  As her life becomes more dangerous and attempts on her life more desperate, they have to go against everything they’ve been taught from a young age.  Trust no one or they will destroy you.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Born of Night.  Interesting premise, but a Sherrilyn Kenyon book set in space?  hmm.  She has become one of my favourite authors through her Dark-Hunter series, but would the things that make those books so absorbing, translate into a science-fiction setting.  The answer is yes.  Oh yes.

I started reading it this morning and I couldn’t put it down til I’d finished, I was utterly hooked.  I was interested to read from the Author’s note at the start that it had been published before, but a different version, with what I guess has a lot of the violence or sexual content removed or toned down.  I never managed to get hold of a copy and in all honesty am now glad I didn’t.  This book is the one she wanted to release, whole and not hiding away any of life’s darker side and I am so glad she was given the chance.

The setting was good, the universe she created is diverse and interesting but where it stands out (and I know I’ve said this before and I will say it again) are her amazing characters.  Nykyrian is larger than life and oh so hot, even when he is being the dangerous and vicious assassin he was trained to be.  Kiara is just lovable, her naivety endearing and after everything she goes through, still manages keeps that trait but gains more strength in who she is and what she wants.  The secondary characters of Syn, Hauk and Jayne are brilliant too and I know the next book centres on Syn and what happens with him towards the end.  It will make an interesting read but I’m not sure if he will quite match up to Nykyrian.  I will have to wait and see!

All in all, a fantastic read and if you like Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter books, you need to read this, and don’t let the fact it’s technically science-fiction put you off.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Ethan of Athos

Dr. Ethan Urquhart is the Chief of Biology at the Severin District Reproduction Centre. On a planet entirely populated by men and forbidden to women, it takes ingenuity to keep the species going. When there is a drastic shortage of viable ovarian tissue cultures, steps have to be taken to order supplies in from off-world. When the delivery turns out to be substituted junk, Ethan has to leave his cloistered planet in search of new tissue cultures. Eli Quinn of the Dendarii Free Mercenaries has a coinciding interest and after saving Ethan’s life, agrees to help him complete his mission, if he will help with hers.

I was surprised at first that this book wasn’t focused on Miles – He is mentioned a few times in passing but that’s it. It was good to meet Eli Quinn again, with her new face and she has developed into a very likeable character along with Ethan Urquhart. I wasn’t sure what to expect given Athos’ nature but since the book is extremely well written, it was handled with tact, normality and was very refreshing. Not your average sci-fi book but enjoyable none-the-less.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Cetaganda

Miles is now a Lieutenant and as Lord Vorkosigan, he is ordered to Eta Ceta along with his cousin Ivan. The Cetagandan Empress has died and they are to be ambassadors for Barrayar in the forthcoming mourning and funeral rites. What should have been a simple diplomatic event, turns into something far more serious as Miles becomes embroiled in a plot that could destroy the very nature of Cetaganda.

While I enjoyed Cetaganda, I did find it a bit confusing. The caste system and hierarchy weren’t clearly explained, you were just kind of dumped in the middle of it and left to sort it out for yourself. It might not have been important to have it clearly explained, as the story is very much centred on Miles but it detracted from the story quite a bit as I tried to figure it out. That aside, seeing a slightly more mature Miles was great and the comic interactions between him and Ivan were very funny. I enjoyed the book, just not as much as the others so far.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)