Stacking the Shelves (153)

Stacking the Shelves

I didn’t get a lot this week, probably a good thing. But the one book I want to highlight is the Dark Beyond the Stars anthology. It’s a collection of space opera short stories written by women. While that would interest me anyway, I was alerted to the book by an article at The Mary Sue. It seems that there is an Amazon reviewer troll who used his review of the book to claim that women are incapable of writing good space opera, and oh by the way, he has some space opera that he wrote that is inherently better because he’s a male writer and space opera is, and I disgustedly quote, “a purely male domain.” This is purely bullshit as any reader of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga will heartily attest. My own personal protest to this idiocy was to buy the book. It was well worth $5.99, (and it would have been worth considerably more) to poke this troll in the eye with a sharp “buy this book”.

For Review:
Harvest Moon (Moon #4) by Lisa Kessler
Roth (Hell Squad #5) by Anna Hackett
Secret Sisters by Jayne Ann Krentz

Purchased from Amazon:
Dark Beyond the Stars by Blair C. Babylon, Annie Bellet, Elle Casey, Ann Christy,Patrice Fitzgerald, Autumn Kalquist, Theresa Kay, Susan Kaye Quinn, Sara Reine, Rysa Walker, Jennifer Foehner Wells
These Are the Voyages: TOS Season One (These are the Voyages #1) by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn
These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Two (These are the Voyages #2) by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn
These Are the Voyages: TOS Season Three (These are the Voyages #3) by Marc Cushman and Susan Osborn


The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-30-15

Sunday Post

We survived Worldcon. The skies over Spokane looked like Mordor, but we survived. We also came home with con crud, really nasty colds. UGH!

We attended the Hugo Awards Ceremony Saturday night. I personally found the results as satisfying as possible under the circumstances. Mileage on that subject varied widely both during the Con and afterward in the blogosophere. Once the complete vote and nomination numbers were released, seeing the works that should have made the ballot but didn’t because of the slate-rigging was heartbreaking. I’m kind of hoping this will die down a bit until January, when the run up to next year’s nomination process begins. The rhetoric in this mess is even more hyperbole-filled than the U.S. Presidential race. There are plenty of pixels spilled on this topic at File770 and George R.R. Martin’s Not a Blog if you want the excruciating details.

I’m going to go read a book. I need to find more good stuff to nominate next year.

clear off your shelf August[1]Current Giveaways:

Break Out, Deadly Pursuit and Death Defying (2 copies, paperback) + Temporal Shift (5 copies, ebook) by Nina Croft
Nina Croft First in Series (Break Out, Bittersweet Blood and Operation Saving Daniel) ebook prize pack
If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins (paperback)

Winner Announcements:

The winners of the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop are: Adriana (Back to You), Bethany N. (Armada), Michelle L. (Invasion of the Tearling), Janie M. (Bourbon Kings)
The winner of my ARC of A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd is: Faye G.

nature of the beast by louise pennyBlog Recap:

A+ Review: The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny
B Review: Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford
B- Review: The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards
B+ Review: Blood and Metal by Nina Croft + Giveaway
Guest Post by Nina Croft on Living Forever + Giveaway
B+ Review: If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins + Giveaway
Stacking the Shelves (150)

sloe ride by rhys fordComing Next Week:

Keeper’s Reach by Carla Neggers (review)
Updraft by Fran Wilde (review)
Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr (blog tour review)
Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee (blog tour review)
Sloe Ride by Rhys Ford (review)

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Stacking the Shelves

I managed to resist the impulse to buy out the Dealer’s Room at WorldCon last weekend. I had a much more difficult time resisting suggestions in some of the publisher’s showcase presentations I attended. All the Birds in the Sky is from the Tor Showcase, and Fated is from the Ace/Roc showcase. Just before the Ace/Roc presentation, I finished Jim Butcher’s new steampunk book, The Aeronaut’s Windlass (awesome, the review will be up when it publishes) and I was looking for something that, honestly, I wouldn’t need to write up. I was getting lots of reading done but no time or energy to write up reviews at the end of the day. And I’ve learned that piling up six or more books to “brain dump” at the end of the week doesn’t work very well.

Adding insult to injury, I came home with “con crud”. This is not an official term, although it ought to be. When the skies over Spokane looked like Mordor on Friday due to the nearby forest fires, I thought my sore throat was just a reaction to the very bad air. No such luck. On Saturday the skies cleared up, but my throat didn’t. It’s been a long week. It’s a good thing I always have plenty to read!

For Review:
All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
Exit of the Ascended by Neal Tyree
Wicked Ever After (Blud #4) by Delilah S. Dawson

Purchased from Amazon:
Covered in Paint (Art of Love #5) by Donna McDonald
Cruising Speed (Art of Love) by Donna McDonald
Fated (Alex Verus #1) by Benedict Jacka


Guest Post by Nina Croft on Living Forever + Giveaway

blood and metal by nina croftAs part of the celebration of her latest fantastic Blood Hunter book (see today’s review for deets) I’d like to welcome Nina Croft back to Reading Reality. In addition to the tour for Blood and Metal, Nina sent me a fantastic guest post about one of the central themes in a lot of her fiction. “Who wants to live forever?” along with that age-old romantic question, “If you could live forever, who would you want to spend it with?” As so many of her marvelous stories involve vampires and other immortals, this question comes up a lot. The answer, at least when Nina is answering the question, is always interesting.

Who wants to live forever?
by Nina Croft

Well, I do for one.

Of course, I might change my mind in a few thousand years, but until then it seems a way better option than the alternative.

I’m Nina Croft, and I write all sorts of romance often with a speculative element, and this week, BLOOD AND METAL, book 5 in my Dark Desires series releases.

The series is essentially science fiction romance with a paranormal twist and follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of the crew of the space ship, the Blood Hunter.

I hope readers find the series fun and sexy, but there is also an underlying deeper theme to all the books—that of man’s fear of death and the search for immortality, whether through science, religion or by some paranormal means.

The idea of immortality, and the price people would be willing to pay to obtain it, has always fascinated me, and I believe it’s one of the things that draws people to paranormal. It’s part of the lure of the vampire—the fact that they cannot die (well not easily anyway). It’s certainly one of the main things that draws me, as a writer, to the paranormal.

My Dark Desires series takes place in a future when man has fled to the stars and there they have discovered the secret of immortality—Meridian—a rare substance available to only a few. A new class has evolved; the Collective, super rich and immortal, they rule the universe. And just about everyone else is desperate to earn enough money to pay for the Meridian treatment. Though as the series goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that money isn’t the only price to be paid. And some members of the Collective are getting a little squeamish.

The series began with Break Out. Ricardo Sanchez, my hero, is the owner and pilot of the ship. Unlike most of the civilized universe, Rico isn’t interested in Meridian. He doesn’t need it, because he’s already immortal. Rico is a vampire and has lived a long time (he was born on Earth in the middle ages).

Move onto book 5. In Blood and Metal, Daisy, the co-pilot of the Blood Hunter, has never wanted immortality, rather it was thrust upon her when she was dying and Rico did the only thing he could to save her life…turn her into a vampire.

Fergal, our hero, on the other hand, doesn’t so much want to live forever as he doesn’t want to die (a slightly different goal but with the same results.) With that aim, he signed up for a totally experimental cybernetics programme, and is now dealing with some unexpected results.

So neither Daisy nor Fergal really wanted to live forever, but both are now immortal (if they get to survive the book), and they both have to learn to deal with that.

So what do you think? Would you like to live forever? And just how much would you be willing to pay? Let me know for a chance to win an ecopy of Break Out (book 1 in my Dark Desires series), Bittersweet Blood (book 1 in my Order series) and Operation Saving Daniel (book 1 in my Melville Sisters series).

[photo of Nina Croft]About Nina Croft

Nina Croft grew up in the north of England. After training as an accountant, she spent four years working as a volunteer in Zambia which left her with a love of the sun and a dislike of 9-5 work. She then spent a number of years mixing travel (whenever possible) with work (whenever necessary) but has now settled down to a life of writing and picking almonds on a remote farm in the mountains of southern Spain.

To find out more about Nina, look for her at her website, Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

~~~~~~ GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

I have adored all of Nina’s series, so I’m absolutely thrilled that she is letting me give away an ebook prize pack of the first books in her three series. The winner will receive ebook copies of Break Out (reviewed here) Bittersweet Blood (reviewed here) and Operation Saving Daniel (reviewed here). I’m a fan, so I’m happy to be able to share some of my favorites with a lucky commenter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards

last time i saw her by karen robardsFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: hardcover, ebook, audiobook
Genre: paranormal romantic suspense
Series: Dr. Charlotte Stone #4
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Date Released: August 25, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

In this world, Dr. Charlotte “Charlie” Stone skillfully probes the twisted minds of incarcerated serial killers to better understand what makes them tick, and to help nab those who remain at large. But in the next world, Charlotte’s ghostly lover—convicted killer Michael Garland—is facing death yet again. It seem the only way Charlie can snatch Michael from the jaws of oblivion is by proving his innocence. And this dead man’s dead ringer may just be the key.

A mysterious stranger has turned up in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, and Charlie is shocked to realize he could be Michael Garland’s identical twin. But she suspects the resemblance is only skin deep—and that behind the handsome face may lurk the perverse mind of a killer. While using all her keen profiling gifts, Charlie risks her life to discover the shocking secret that will clear Michael’s name.

Then a breakout at Wallens Ridge State Prison forces Charlie to contend with a sudden swarm of psychopaths bent on spilling blood. No one has a better chance of tracking down the deadly fugitives than Charlie—unless the rampaging killers manage to find her first and make this case her last. But Michael will move heaven and hell—and even make a devil’s bargain—for the chance to save Charlie’s life, and feel her touch once more . . . if only for the final time.

My Review:

The books in this series have all been train-wreck books for me. When I say train-wreck, I mean in the sense that I can’t turn my eyes away, no matter how awful things get. I’d say they were crack, but having read my reviews of the earlier books in the series, they haven’t always been that good.

But they sure as hell are compelling.

The premise is a grand mix of packages off the troperville trolley. Dr. Charlotte Stone is a psychiatrist who studies serial killers. Why? Because she survived a serial killer’s rampage when she was a child, and she still feels guilty about hiding while her best friend was murdered in front of her.

Charlie Stone also sees dead people. So now we have a psychic psychiatrist.

It gets crazier. Charlie is writing up a study of serial killers at the local prison. She interviews these multiple murderers multiple times. It’s a dangerous job, and Charlie feels like she’s the one to figure out what makes these dudes tick.

Until her sexiest patient is shived right in front of her, and the ghost of serial killer Michael Garland attaches himself to Charlie Stone’s life and work. And this is where we enter crazytown, because Charlie falls in love with the damn ghost. And surprisingly vice-versa.

Hey, if you’re going to be crazy, go all the way!

her last whisper by karen robardsWhen The Last Time I Saw Her starts, Charlie is in a bad way. At the end of the previous book, Her Last Whisper (reviewed here) Michael got sucked off to Spookyville for what looks like the last time. His soul is scheduled for demolition, and the only thing he is hanging on to is Charlie saying that she loves him. The demons that run Spookyville are tormenting him with visions of Charlie in danger, because, of course, she always is.

Consumed by grief, Charlie is at the end of her rope. Then two insane things happen. First, she meets a man who looks like Michael Garland’s twin brother. Second, and much more typical for Charlie, she finds herself captured by a whole gang of escaped serial killers as the entire set of death row inmates at Wallens Ridge State Prison scoop up Charlie and a whole bunch of others in their surprisingly well planned prison break.

While heads will definitely roll at the prison when the escape is investigated, Charlie is much, much more worried that all of the hostages’ heads will roll much sooner. All those men were in maximum security for damn good reasons, and now they’re out and determined to get payback. Breaking Charlie is pretty high on their collective “to do” lists.

Fortunately for Charlie, and unfortunately for the escaped killers, one of the other hostages is Michael Garland’s twin. And while the dude is unconscious, the real Michael makes a deal with his demon captors – if they let him save Charlie, he’ll let them have his soul.

You guessed it, Michael takes over the body of his twin and saves Charlie. They have two days to experience what life would have been like if they’d met under anything like normal circumstances. Then he’s gone forever.

Or is he?

Escape Rating B-: Rating this series is always confusing. I read this on a long flight over the weekend, and was at the 93% mark when the flight landed. I almost didn’t get out of my seat because I wanted to finish SO BAD.

On that other hand, the premise for this series is utterly insane. Psychiatrist gets targeted by serial killers over and over and over, and she sees dead people. She falls in love with the baddest bad boy of them all, and tries to help him cheat death – or the afterlife – whatever.

And for most of the series, it’s not just that he is a convicted serial killer, but that the case is airtight. While Charlie wants to believe that Michael didn’t do it, it’s hard not to think that’s her heart (and other places further south) talking and not her head.

The one thing I didn’t think was remotely possible in this mess was a happy ending, but the author managed to pull one out anyway. The method for doing so is one I’ve seen used in fanfiction a few too many times. Going back and changing the past, in order to make the future come out closer to what you want. This is the point where the story tripped completely into woo-woo territory.

But the ending, as hokey as it was, was surprisingly satisfying. Charlie drove me crazy every single step of the way, but I still wanted her to get her HEA. Even as my eyes roll at the way it was achieved.

All’s fair in love and war and paranormal romance.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 8-23-15

Sunday Post

Sasquan_Official_Raven_Mascot_by_Brad_FosterThis is weird. I’m writing this before we leave for Sasquan, but by the time you read it, we’ll be on our way back. From here, I’m hoping that our suitcases won’t be overloaded with books, but that may be a vain hope. I try to resist picking up print books in the dealer’s room, because most of what I see I either have an eARC, or I’m willing to wait to get as an ebook. Howsomever, the one thing that is still better with print is signed books. For that, you need a physical copy. I know John Scalzi will be at Sasquan, which means a print copy of The End of All Things is definitely in my bookish future. As for the rest, we’ll see.

Because I’m writing this so far ahead, it is possible that next week’s schedule will be affected by what I manage to read (and OMG write up) while we are at the Con. In other words, contents may shift as the week (or the box) settles.

clear-off-your-shelf-August-202x300Current Giveaways:

Four books from my shelves in the Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd (paperback ARC)

pattern of lies by charles toddBlog Recap:

A- Review: Daring by Elliott James
B+ Review: Tales: Short Stories Featuring Ian Rutledge and Bess Crawford by Charles Todd
C+ Review: Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville
Clear Your Shelf Giveaway Hop
A Review: A Pattern of Lies by Charles Todd + Giveaway
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blood and metal by nina croftComing Next Week:

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny (review)
Tequila Mockingbird by Rhys Ford (review)
The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards (review)
Blood and Metal by Nina Croft (blog tour review)
If Only You Knew by Kristan Higgins (blog tour review)

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Stacking the Shelves

As you read this, we’re still at Worldcon. We still won’t know how the Hugos turn out, because the ceremony is Saturday night. I’m afraid that in the middle of the fight, an awards ceremony might break out. Or vice versa. Or it could be worse. Just because I can’t imagine worse at the moment doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The business meeting about trying to fix the mess will still be going on. It will still probably still be going on when we leave on Sunday. That is possibly more frightening.

IMG_20150820_200453In other news. I attended both the Baen and the Tor showcases of upcoming books. While I found the prevailing attitude in the Baen presentation to be more than a bit disturbing, I did pick up a marvelous t-shirt. And unfortunately for the state of my TBR pile, I found plenty of books I will want to read in both presentations. Is that the good news or the bad news?

And in other news, I managed to get an eARC of The Last Time I Saw Her from Netgalley, so I cancelled my preorder. I feel much better not having to pay money for a book I know is going to be a trainwreck, even if I can’t resist reading it. Review next week, because I have no patience to wait to read it.

So many books, so little time. As usual.

For Review:
Chapelwood (Borden Dispatches #2) by Cherie Priest
Idol of Glass (Looking Glass Gods #3) by Jane Kindred
The Last Time I Saw Her (Dr. Charlotte Stone #4) by Karen Robards
Silver on the Road (Devil’s West #1) by Laura Anne Gilman
Weighing Shadows by Lisa Goldstein

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Stacking the Shelves

I generally find books irresistible. As if you couldn’t tell. And once I get caught up in a series, I find it difficult to let go.

I’m saying this because I’m still surprised that I pre-ordered a copy of The Last Time I Saw Her by Karen Robards. I’ve read the whole series, but there have been eARCs before. Not this time. This particular series have been “train-wreck” books for me. They all strain the willing suspension of disbelief, and sometimes even the willing suspension of stupid. But they’re like crack. Or as I said, train-wreck. I know it’s going to be horrible, and I absolutely can’t turn my eyes away. Over and over and over. I laugh at myself for reading this series, but I can’t make myself stop.

For Review:
Game of the Red King (Once Upon a Red World #3) by Jael Wye
Here All Along (Kelly Brothers #7) by Crista McHugh
Lamp Black, Wolf Grey by Paula Brackston
Make Me (Broke and Beautiful #3) by Tessa Bailey
Once in a Great City by David Maraniss
Owl and the City of Angels (Adventures of Owl #2) by Kristi Charish
Sisters in Law by Linda Hirshman

Purchased from Amazon:
Commissioned in White (Art of Love #4) by Donna McDonald
The Last Time I Saw Her (Dr. Charlotte Stone #4) by Karen Robards
Long Upon the Land (Deborah Knott #20) by Margaret Maron
Penric’s Demon (World of the Five Gods #3.5) by Lois McMaster Bujold


The Sunday Post AKA What’s on my (Mostly Virtual) Nightstand 7-12-15

Sunday Post

I didn’t give anything away this week. I need to fix that. Maybe next week.

SFRQ website buttonThis was a fun week. Lots of lovely speculative fiction, a bit of fantasy, a bit of paranormal, and some of my favorite sci-fi romance. Speaking of sci-fi romance, in case you missed it, I’m going to give another shout-out to the latest issue of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly, which just came out on July 5. As usual, it is awesome, especially if you love SFR as I do. The opinion column on this year’s Hugo kerfuffle, and how the Hugo awards treat romance in general, was an interesting take on the ongoing controversy. It also made me wonder something – is SFRQ itself eligible for a Hugo next year, in one of the Fan Writing categories?

Next week I’ve got two books that I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. First is Armada, the second book by Ernest Cline, the author of Ready Player One. Is Armada as awesome as RPO (squeed over, ahem, reviewed here)? And Last First Snow, the fourth book in Max Gladstone’s totally awesome Craft Sequence.

minion adorableSo far, it’s a lovely summer! Because…Minions!

Winner Announcements:

The winner of A New Hope by Robyn Carr is Maranda H.
The winner of the $10 Gift Card or Book in the Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop is Summer H.

inherit the stars by laurie a greenBlog Recap:

A- Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
B+ Review: Ink and Shadows by Rhys Ford
A- Review: Among Galactic Ruins by Anna Hackett
B+ Review: Video Game Storytelling by Evan Skolnick
A+ Review: Inherit the Stars by Laurie A. Green
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armada by ernest clineComing Next Week:

Armada by Ernest Cline (review)
Last First Snow by Max Gladstone (review)
Space Cowboys & Indians by Lisa Medley (blog tour review)
The Widow’s Son by Thomas Shawver (blog tour review)
Battle Lines: A Graphic History of the Civil War by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and Ari Kelman (review)

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Stacking the Shelves

I still can’t believe I picked up a Christmas book. I’m not sure which disturbs me more, that it’s barely July and I’m getting Christmas books, or that the book will be released at the end of September. Too soon, too soon! Ten yard penalty for rushing the season.

But it’s a book in a series I’ve enjoyed, so I could resist. Sugarplums, anyone?

For Review:
Christmas in Mustang Creek (Brides of Bliss County #4) by Linda Lael Miller
Crosstown Crush (Sins in the City #1) by Cara McKenna
First Time with a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #2) by Gwyn Cready
The Hidden (Krewe of Hunters #17) by Heather Graham
Liesmith (Wyrd #1) by Alis Franklin
One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers #2) by Rachel Aaron
Stormbringer (Wyrd #2) by Alis Franklin

Purchased from Amazon:
Created in Fire (Art of Love #2) by Donna McDonald
Romancing the Alpha: An Action-Adventure Romance Boxed Set by Zoe York, Ruby Lionsdrake, Zara Keane, Anna Hackett, Ember Casey, Anna Lowe, Sadie Haller, Lyn Brittan, Lydia Rowan and Leigh James