Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reading Roundup November 2015

I've been doing a lot of reading lately and I promised a monster Reading Roundup post, so here it is, with lots of great books I recommend. There should be something here for just about everyone. If my reading keeps up at this rate, I should start doing these posts more often! Books are listed in the order I read them in. (Links go to Goodreads.)

To Whatever End (Echoes of Imara #1) by Clare Frank
I really enjoyed this. I'm always interested in fantasy with a married couple as the main characters, and To Whatever End fit the bill nicely. Cecily and Daro are trying to live a quiet life after fighting in a revolution that put a new king on the throne, then Daro is kidnapped by a corrupt magician/scholar for nefarious purposes, and Cecily has to draw on the help of their former comrades-in-arms to find and rescue him. Overall, I highly recommend To Whatever End to readers looking for an exciting, magical fantasy adventure where the roles are switched and the woman comes to the rescue of the man. (full review)

Witchfinder by Sarah A. Hoyt
A wild ride through a universe with parallel Earths, some of which have magic and some of which don't, some of which know about the others and some of which don't, some of which permit the use of magic and some of which forbid it on pain of death. Avalon is one of those where magic is permitted and that knows about other worlds, and Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater (in this Regency-inspired setting), has undertaken the illegal task of rescuing magic users who are in danger on other worlds. His quest blows up when he stumbles into a plot involving the throne of Avalon and sinister doings in Fairyland, a much more dangerous and terrifying place than the name suggests. The plot is intricate and non-stop, and I enjoyed the characters, trying to do the right things despite seemingly impossible odds. There's also a nice dose of romance, not obtrusive but enough to keep romance-loving readers happy. There's both a m/f and a m/m pair; normally, m/m isn't really my thing, but Mrs. Hoyt had me rooting for this couple to find their happy ending. Highly recommended if you're looking for intelligent and refreshingly original fantasy.

The Profiteer by Evan Asher
Light-hearted and enjoyable contemporary romance, with appealing characters and a balanced, intelligent look at the issue of the big outsider businessman moving into the small town.

Dragon Blood #1-3: by Lindsay Buroker
    Balanced on the Blade's Edge
    Blood Charged
By Lindsay Buroker, so you know it's awesome and lots of fun. This series is set in a new world (though it could fit in very well with the world of the Emperor's Edge series). A sorceress is awakened from a 300-year hibernation to find that magic is now forbidden in her land, which is under imminent attack by their centuries-old enemy. She teams up with a dashing military commander and, in later books, one of his pilots, a seemingly mad scientist who defected from the enemy, and other interesting, well-done characters to fight the enemy and discover magical secrets that threaten their country. I especially appreciate the more mature characters, established adults rather than green young 'uns just coming of age. Mechanical flight exists in this world and much of the books are airborne. I have my own issues with flying (white-knuckled terror, holding the airplane up by the sheer force of my will), so those parts were, um, especially exciting. A great new (maybe not so new any more) series for fans of Ms. Buroker's Emperor's Edge series.

The Thief Who Spat In Luck's Good Eye (Amra Thetys #2) by Michael McClung
Follow-up to one of my favorite books I've read recently, The Thief Who Tugged On Trouble's Braids. Amra and her sorcerer pal Holgren are back, undertaking a quest to find a magical city and claim the rich reward being offered, only to find themselves trapped in a web of magic and ancient plots being spun by the gods. Exciting and terrifying, and with a dose of romance that I always appreciate. Lots of fun.

Taboo (The Unfinshed Song #2) by Tara Maya
Continuation of the story started in The Initiate (reviewed here), magical fantasy in a setting based on Native American and other prehistoric cultures. As relations between rival tribes grow more tense, Dindi breaks taboos by seizing the chance to learn magic even after she's failed the required tests, and Kavio, while illegally teaching her, also has to find a way to save his people from trecherous enemies.

The Black Parade by Kyoko M.
I interviewed Kyoko M. quite some time ago and I'm not sure why it took so long for her first book, The Black Parade, to rise to the top of my TBR list, but it finally did, and am I glad. Fun story about angels, demons, and a woman whose calling in life is to help ghosts pass to the other side. Great characters, high stakes, exciting fight scenes, and an appealing romance. I also appreciated the respectful treatment of religious themes. Urban fantasy/paranormal isn't my usual reading, but I enjoyed this one a lot.

The Ravine by William Meikle
Dark, creepy, and intense western horror. Well-written in simple but evocative prose, featuring heroes both likely and unlikely who rise to the occasion, and really chilling (and gross) evil beings. I will probably never eat fish again after reading this. There are a few characters I wish could have had a better fate, but overall I found the story very satisfying. Highly recommended if you like some western in your horror, or some horror in your westerns.

Sweeter for the Pain by Evan Asher
By the author of The Profiteer (above), lightweight, enjoyable contemporary romance. Sweet-natured and a fun, quick read, though the mystery isn't very mysterious and the villain, to me, was pretty obvious. Nicole doesn't strike me as the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I admired her willingness to go beyond the scars and gossip to see who Finn really is, and it was heartwarming to read about Finn learning to reach out and love again. Some spicy scenes but not explicitly detailed.

Operation Rubber Ducky by Cora Buhlert
Three weird and hilarious short tales of toy animals and evil aliens. Perfect when you want a fun, quick read.

The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is one of the few traditionally-published novelists I still read, and this novella is a treat for fans. Highly original magic system, as to be expected from Mr. Sanderson, and an appealing, well-rounded main character, Shai, who uses magic to forge everything from paintings to souls. Really enjoyable read.

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