New Releases Week of September 2nd

No one knows why Tuesday is new release day, but are we really going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Every week I’ll post books that I’m excited for.

To be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

Becky freaking Chambers. If you know me, you’ll know how much I adored The Wayfarers series. Chambers is a damn gift that keeps giving. I was thrilled to see her win for best series at the Dublin Hugos this year. She deserves it. This novella will have to keep us sated until she releases the next big thing whatever it is.

 

 

 

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Speaking of loved trilogies. Oh man. Do I love Mia, the cat who is not a cat and her whole band of assassins. This cover is bad ass. I hope everyone will dig it as much as I did. Did I order a signed first edition to match the ones for Nevernight and Godsgrave? You bet your ass I did.

 

 

 

 

The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire

The 13th installment of McGuire’s Toby Daye series is here and she is not here to play around. The Luidaeg is calling in her marker on a bargain she made with the Selkies and brings Toby along to pay her own debts. As usual nothing goes entirely to plan and shenanigans arise because of course they do, what else did you expect? No fan of the series is going to leave disappointed…except that again this is going to be in hardcover and is going to look weird with your paperbacks.

 

Whose Story is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters by Rebecca Solnit

It can’t be all Science Fiction and Fantasy all the time. Where SFF takes us on journeys across space and time, Solnit reminds us we have a lot to fix in our own little world. I have yet to find an essay collection by her that I didn’t like, even if I found the subject matter difficult to read. This is no different.

 

 

 

 

Acquired ARCs Week of August 26th

This week’s Acquired ARCs only came from Edelweiss. Let’s see what they are.

 

A Pale Light in the Dark by K.B. Wagers

I liked Wager’s Indranan War series (even though I haven’t finished it, I really plan to) so I definitely wanted to see what this new series was all about. Consider me interested. It seems to have found family vibes, which I’m always here for. Bad ass leading lady also check. Possibly a big competition? That’s another one in its favor.

Pub date: March 3, 2020

 

 

Grown Up Pose by Sonya Lalli

I have mixed feeling’s about Lalli’s previous book The Matchmaker’s List, but I’m willing to give her another shot here. I don’t really have a lot to say here to be honest. It’s a story about a woman starting over after separating from her husband who she married at a young age, and her community’s impact on her life so there’s a lot Lalli can explore here. I hope the execution is as good as the premise.

Pub date: March 24, 2020

 

The Sinister Mystery of the Mesmerizing Girl by Theodora Goss

I had a great time with the first in this series and am working on the second now (it’s a chunkster). The idea that daughters of literature’s mad scientists would band together and have adventures? Oh man. I was there day one. I especially love that it’s told with each girl breaking into the narrative to give her side of the story or impart a snarky retort.

Pub date: October 19, 2019

 

The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes

Ever since I read An Unkindness of Ghosts, I’ve been aching for another story from Rivers. When I found out they had a novella inspired by The Deep by Clipping, well, let’s just say, it couldn’t get into my hands fast enough. I read this too fast and will probably read it again soon. There are so many details that you don’t expect to find in such a short story. Haunting, mesmerizing, and impactful are all words I would use to describe this story. It is nothing short of a work of art.

 Pub date: November 5, 2019

The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West

Don’t lie. You squeed when you saw this. If you’re like me, you watched Shrill (hopefully you read the book as well) and were in love. Lindy’s take on feminism, pop culture, and body image is nothing short of masterful. I have been awaiting this essay collection with bated breath and am trying to hurry to write this post so I can sit in my comfy chair with a bottle of Magic Hat #9 and just devour every word of this collection.

Pub date: November 5, 2019

 

Will you pick up any of these? Did you acquire any books this week? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

Acquired ARCs Week of August 19th

While I was a bookseller I became a front list addict. Rereading? Only for my truest love The Night Circus. If it wasn’t brand new, I didn’t read it. To be honest, if it was already out, I probably skipped it. I lived on Edelweiss and in the book buyer’s office, scoping all the Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs). A bit has changed now that I’m on hiatus. I’ve done a few romance series rereads like Julia Quinn’s The Bridgerton series to prep for the show and as I’ve mentioned lately I’ve been going through some of those ARCs I never got to through the Bout of Books readathon. But honestly, I’m still front list at heart and luckily the blog gives me a reason to read ahead as it were. Let’s see a few titles I picked up this week.

Netgalley

This Earl of Mine by Kate Bateman 

This is the first in a new series by Bateman. I haven’t read her before so I’m excited. Folks, this is a second chance romance with a marriage of convenience which is catnip for me. Heiress marries a condemned prisoner to save her fortune from a villainous cousin only to find out…hubby was actually working undercover. Now what? I don’t know, but I’m super excited to find out

Pub date: October 29, 2019

 

 

Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

I really liked The Queens of Innis Lear which was a spin on Shakespeare’s King Lear so I’ve been waiting for something new from Gratton. Lady Hotspur is a retelling of The Bard’s Henry IV and takes place in the same world as her first book which fascinates me. We get to follow a fallen queen, a knight turned heir to the throne, and a weapon of warfare who is caught between them both. There seems to be a queer subplot which I am super down for.

Pub date: January 7, 2020 

 

The Throne of the Five Winds by S.C. Emmett

I didn’t know this when I requested it, but S.C. Emmett is a pseudonym for Lilith Saintcrow. I’ve read a few of her urban fantasy series back in the day, but it was so long ago, I couldn’t’ tell you why I stopped. Goodreads tells me this is an East Asia inspired epic fantasy following two queens, two concubines, and six princes. I like a good court intrigue so I’m…interested.  This is the first installment of a trilogy according to the Orbit announcement.

Pub date: October 15, 2019

 

Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner

This debut novel was blurbed by one of my favorite authors, Kat Howard and also can we talk about how gorgeous this cover is? The main characters are a would-be mage and a troll who are investigating troll murders. This is not something I’ve seen before and I really can’t wait to jump in and see where Waggoner takes us.

Pub date: November 5, 2019

 

 

Edelweiss 

Engaged to the Earl by Lisa Berne

Engaged to the Earl is the fourth in the Penhallow Dynasty series which I have been reading and enjoying. Not sure what our trope is in this one yet from the description. Whatever the official one is for dude leaves to find adventure, comes back to find dreamy girl has grown the fuck up and looking gorgeous. Also she’s engaged so she’s gonna have to pick between the guy everyone likes and the guy no one’s heard from in years. What’s a girl to do?

Pub date: February 25, 2019

 

 

Something That May Shock and Discredit You by Daniel Mallory Ortberg

I read Ortberg when he ran The Toast and his book Texts From Jane Eyre but was too scared to read The Merry Spinster although one of my horror loving friends adored it. I’m a sucker for a good essay collection and this one sounds like it’s going to be a lot of fun. Pop culture is where Ortberg excels and I expect this to be a good time.

Pub date: January 28, 2019

 

What new books did you pick up this week? Is there anything you’re looking forward to reading this fall?

BoB 26 Round Up Day 3

Good Morning! How has everyone been? I’m eagerly awaiting my spawn starting school on Monday. I couldn’t concentrate that well on Thursday so only got one book done.

The Temptation of Grace by Kristin Vayden

The Gentleman of Temptation trilogy follows three noblemen that, of course, own a gambling hell and the women who steal their hearts. This is the third offering and we get to see the trope where the dude who falls in love with his buddy’s ward, a lady who has traveled the world but is way out of her element with the fancy ways of the ton. I enjoyed the read and look forward to more by Vayden.

 

 

We have museum plans this weekend. There is an exhibit of Da Vinci’s inventions that I really think they’ll love even if it means I lose some readathon time. What are your weekend plans?

BoB 26 Round Up Day 2

Here we go again! This was a good day for reading. Only had one morning errand and the rest of the day was spent waiting for an Ikea order, which was of course late.    I’m actually surprised at what got accomplished considering I was also refereeing a hide and go seek tournament of my spawn. What was your favorite thing you read today?

How To Cross a Marquess by Jane Ashford

I’ve been enjoying this series following a group of men who are all touched by a death in their family and how a certain Lord brought them together to heal them…all with the power of love. This book in the series uses a combination of the neighbors to lovers trope and an enemies to lovers trope as Roger blames Fenella for his first wife’s death. It’s executed pretty well and I like seeing our matchmaking Macklin show up with the lovable urchin Tom to shake things up. Looking forward to the next in the series.

Pub date: August 27, 2019

 

Husband Material by Emily Belden

I read Hot Mess by Belden when it came out and really enjoyed the way she told a story.  This is less a romance and more a contemporary fiction, much like Hot Mess. The point isn’t the happily ever after, it’s about a woman coming to terms with who she is and who her deceased husband was as people. Also like our main character, Charlotte, I too am a Frenchie mom  so that added a lot of enjoyment. I found it to be an enjoyable read and recommend it.

Pub date: December 30, 2019

 

The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark

I’m so mad I’ve slept on this one. Clark’s writing is so atmospheric that I was immediately drawn in. The dialogue and the descriptions were all carefully constructed to bring you into the story and it shows. I totally understand why it was nominated for Best Novella in the Hugos. As much as I love the Tor.com novellas, I also am sad they’re novellas. I always want more. This is my first book by Clark, but it won’t be my last. I hope we’ll see more of Creeper and Ann-Marie in future books.

Published August 2018

 

Let’s see what tomorrow brings. What books did you finish?

 

 

BoB 26 Round Up Day 1

Yesterday was actually the 2nd day of Bout of Books, but my official 1st day. I decided the best way for me to tackle my stack of digital ARCs I’ve been accumulating was this readathon. I only managed to finish one book and DNF’d another. It was just not that interesting to me. 

One Night for Seduction – Erica Ridley

Let me say, I’m not a fan of the trope where one Main Character (MC) makes a wager concerning the unaware other (MC). It’s obnoxious. I was thrilled when our betted on Diana finds out about Cole’s bet to get her married pretty quickly. I also love the conversation of equality the characters discussed. Diana was a great heroine. I would have loved to get more of Cole’s rags to riches backstory, but all in all, fun read. 


Hopefully today will be more productive! How was your reading day yesterday? Even if you’re not participating in the readathon, tell me about it.

Bout of Books 26

Just as I started typing the title “Moves Like Jagger” by Maroon 5 suddenly started playing on my previously off Spotify so I think it’s a sign. I wasn’t going to officially participate in Bout of Books this time, but then I thought about it. This is the last week of summer for the kids, my stuff still isn’t here…what else can I do? Also I spent all day reading and didn’t count it so might as well get credit. I don’t have a set TBR, but I’ll share what I did read when I’m done (either daily or after the whole week). You can also find me on Instagram @karenafagan for live content.

Have you ever participated in Bout of Books? If so, what’s your strategy?



Bout of Books

#24in48 Recommendations

Originally, I was going to do a post about what I’m reading for #24in48 which is happening this weekend (click the link for the deets), however, it turns out…the spawn are finally joining us in Pittsburgh that weekend so we will be running around showing them their new city. So I thought maybe I would help with some recommendations. I’m a bookseller on hiatus, it’s the least I can do. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t generally do a lot of my heavy reading for readathons, otherwise it’ll feel like I’m not making any progress so I’ll be keeping it nice and light (in page length anyway). I’m also going to keep it to more recent books since I haven’t really talked about anything newish in the last two years on here. And away we go!

Fiction

The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics (Feminine Pursuits, #1)The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Wait

F/F Regency romance is sparse on the ground when it comes to the Big 5 publishers so when I heard about this story about an astronomer who falls for an explorer’s widow? I was basically the human realization of that Fry gif. This hit all the spots. Fiber art! Science! Sexy times! All the exclamation points.

 

 

 

 

Kingdom of Exiles (The Beast Charmer, #1)Kingdom of Exiles by Maxym M. Martineau

While we are on the topic of romance, let’s talk about this romance/fantasy. To be honest, I still can’t figure out if it’s Romance with a fantasy theme or Fantasy with a romance subplot. That’s not a knock. I really liked that way Martineau blended it. As a bookseller, I just didn’t know where to shelve it. Ha! Anyway, it is a fun start to a series that I’m seriously interested in seeing where it goes.

 

 

 

An Illusion of Thieves (Chimera, #1)An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

Also the first in a new series, I had a good time with this fantasy novel about a royal courtesan who is exiled when her brother steals from the wrong person and now has to keep an eye on him. It’s not flashy magic, and there’s a found family aspect which I am a huge fan of.

 

 

 

 

MiddlegameMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire

What, you haven’t heard me screaming about this book already? I’ve been reading Seanan McGuire forever and she STILL BLOWS ME AWAY with this standalone about two people, Roger and Dodger who are unexplainably linked. The technical writing alone is fantabulous. Also do yourself a favor and listen to it on audio because Amber Benson narrates and she is amazeballs. It is on the longer side that I generally don’t recommend, but  the plot’s roller coaster will keep you going.

 

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill SistersThe Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal

If you loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, you need Jaswal’s recent gift to the literary world (and if you haven’t read it, go do that one too). Three sisters are sent on a pilgrimage to India after their mother’s death. The catch? They don’t really see eye to eye. Themes of immigration, sisterhood, familial obligation, and culture are weaved together so beautifully here. It was one of the first books I read in 2019 and I’m still thinking about it.

 

Nonfiction

Southern Lady CodeSouthern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

Ellis’s short story collection American Housewife is my favorite recommendation for people who don’t like short stories. It’s amazing. And everything I love about it, Ellis puts in this essay collection (also great rec for people who don’t like essays. See what I did there?). This is the book to read for quick bites of wit and charm in equal measures.

 

 

Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)Call Them by Their True Names by Rebecca Solnit

Another great essay collection, but this time, less funny. Solnit is spot on with most of her observations and with the state of our nation at the moment (let’s be real, forever) this hits in the spot that tells you this is all fucked up and these are the reasons why that maybe you couldn’t name.

 

 

 

We're Going to Need More WineWe Are Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union

I’m just going to say what I put down for IndieNext. Writing this off as another celebrity memoir is the worst mistake you can make in your reading life. Union has put together a collection of essays covering topics of race, feminism, beauty standards, and fame that truly touch the soul. I would recommend for fans of Roxane Gay and Phoebe Robinson, for her blunt truthfulness and heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading every essay and would read anything she writes in the future. (TW: rape)

 

Believe Me: A Memoir of Love, Death, and Jazz ChickensBelieve Me: A Memoir of Love, Death and Jazz Chickens by Eddie Izzard

I am a huge fan of Eddie Izzard’s and have been since high school when I discovered Dress to Kill. I highly recommend the audio of this because of course I do. It’s Eddie. He talks about coming to terms with being transgender, a word he never applied to himself, his comedy career, his family, and everything in between. Then go watch all of his standup…after the readathon, of course.

 

 

Priestdaddy: A Memoir

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Ending it with one more audiobook recommendation because Lockwood herself reads it and while a lot of authors can’t pull it off, Lockwood nails it. She does fantastic impressions of her family which is worth the price of the audiobook. She recounts the years where after her husband has some health problems they move in with her conservative parents. And oh boy, it’s a doozy. You need to read it to believe this kind of wild. You’ll laugh out loud on your commute and scare the crap out of that baby sleeping in their stroller. I’m sorry. But not really.

 

So that’s it, I mean, it’s not really it because if you know me, I have more recommendations where that came from, but these are a good start. If you want more, you know where to find me.

What are some books you are recommending for people’s #24in48 needs?

Mid Year Book Excitement recap

A co-conspirator from the Rogue Book Coven that I’m a part of suggested this great tag she saw from Emily Fox’s Booktube channel.

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2019
  2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2019
  3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to
  4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year
  5. Biggest disappointment
  6. Biggest surprise
  7. Favorite new author (debut or new to me).
  8. Newest fictional crush
  9. Newest favorite character.
  10. Book that made you cry.
  11. Book that made you happy.
  12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
  13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

 

  1. Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir. It’s released in September by Tor.com, but I was able to get my hands on a digital ARC. Freaking fantastic and I can’t wait for you all to read it.
  2. Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
  3. The Outside by Ada Hoffman. I have an ARC for it and just haven’t gotten to read it. I am here for #ownvoices representation.
  4. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Are you kidding me?! A sequel to Handmaid’s Tale after 34 years? It’s hard not to have expectations.
  5. We Set the Dark on Fire by Tehlor Kay Mejia. I wanted to love it so much, but the writing was boring.
  6. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. I knew Seanan had skill. I knew that she is a fantastic author, but what she did with Middlegame BLEW MY MIND.
  7. Tasmyn Muir! If what she did with Gideon is just the beginning of what she has to offer, I can’t wait to watch her shape what Science Fiction is.
  8. Gideon Nav from Gideon the Ninth. As my friend said, she’s the jockiest jock to ever bro and even though I didn’t think she’d be my type, I’m so here for it.
  9.  I loved so many great characters that I’ve read this year, it’s hard to narrow it down.
  10. The Nickel Boys by Colston Whitehead almost made me cry. It was intense.
  11. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal was fantastic. I loved Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows so much so I was excited to get my hands on her next novel and it didn’t disappoint. She’s a joy to read.
  12. Beautiful covers or beautiful prose?
  13. I don’t have a list of things I have to read. I would like to clear a lot of my digital arcs just to make things cleaner.

Urban Fantasy Summer

While at Bookshop Santa Cruz I ran the Science Fiction/ Fantasy section where I expounded on the merits of titles like The Unkindness of Ghosts, A Darker Shade of Magic, and The Fifth Season. However, the area where I really cut my teeth on the genre, was urban fantasy. We don’t see it as much anymore. I don’t know if it’s because UF had a habit of upping its hero’s skills to unbelievable levels or just because publishing is cylindrical and it’s time was done, but while there are some series that live on, on the whole UF is a thing of the past. One of the series that lives on, is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series (as well as her Incryptid series). I decided since for the time being I don’t have to live by Pub Dates and Indie Next submission deadlines, I’d revisit Toby and the gang. Then I thought about it. Why not spend this summer going back to the books that made me fall in love with SFF?

October Daye is a changeling in San Francisco who is a Knight errant and all around badass. Snark and violence at its finest. And at 13 books in, we have quite the world building to traverse through. The first few books run a little slow, but by book 4 she hits her stride and it’s a fun journey. The series starts with Rosemary and Rue (did I mention all the titles are Shakespeare references?). Toby has some great growth as a character and it’s amazing.

Also on the list is going to be Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series. Kelley is still writing, but her books are closer to the mystery genre these days. The Women of the Otherworld swaps narrators is very few books which I completely enjoyed. We start off in Bitten with Elena, who is the only female werewolf, then there’s Paige, a witch learning about being a parent to an orphaned witch while navigating the world of magic, as well as a cast of other powerful ladies. PSA: Warlock Lucas is totes my book boyfriend.

At the same time that TWotO was a hit, there was also The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. Starting with Dead Witch Walking we are following a witch bounty hunter slash detective named Rachel through magical Cincinnati with her pals, a bisexual living vampire named Ivy and a foul mouthed pixie named Jinks. Rachel is a hot mess of a character which I wholly appreciated because it’s boring when the main character knows all the answers.

Remember that snark and violence I mentioned? One of the best examples is Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles. In Hounded Atticus is the last known Druid who is in hiding from a very angry Celtic god in Arizona. Oh did I mention that Atticus, while appearing 21, is actually 21 centuries. So you know. Like you do. You will love his pal, a talking Irish Wolfhound named Oberon.

Last but not least, is Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires. The first book is Some Girls Bite where we meet Merit who is changed to a vampire without her consent. I love Merit. I love her best friend Mallory. Spanning 13 books (which seems to be the magic number in ending UF series) we see her kick ass, take names and eat all the junk food. And good news, there’s a spin-off called Heirs of Chicagoland so the fun continues.

There are tons of Urban Fantasy series out there and everyone has their favorites. These were just a few that I really enjoyed and plan on revisiting. Do you have a favorite UF series? Tell me about it in the comments or on social media!