2014…A Year in Review

2014-Happy-New-Year-Free-HD-Picture-1As we head into another year, it is time to take a look back at what stood out in 2014. Most of my choices will surprise no one, since I have my favorites and I am not shy about going on, and on, and on about them, but it never hurts to give a shout out where it is due.

I am looking forward to seeing how my choices stack up with yours, too, and if there was any that I missed. For today, let’s just do the look back at 2014.

What was the best new series that started in 2014?
  • For me, hands down, it was Hidden Legacy by Ilona Andrews. I had high, high hopes, and it met every one. No one else even came close.
Best new-to-me series in 2014?
  • Kelley Armstrong‘s Women of the Otherworld. Loving the Cainsville series made me start it, but I like it now in its own right.
What second book in a new series was as good or better than the first?
  • This one is a tie between Visions by Kelley Armstrong and Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop. Sometimes the second book of a great series can be a bit of a let-down, but if anything I thought that these two both took things up a notch.
Best series finale?
  • As much as it sucks to say goodbye, a great finale is a bit of a consolation. My vote for best finale was City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare, from her Mortal Instruments series. Loved that one, huge monster that it was. I like young adult, but it usually doesn’t rate as high as my adult books. This one did.
Most read author overall?
  • Mine was Kelley Armstrong, with 11 books (and still going). Ilona Andrews was next, since I re-read all of the Kate books for the character guide (and loved every minute of it).
Favorite authors of 2014?
  • Still the same – Ilona and Nalini. With Kelley Armstrong steadily moving up the list.
Best change of pace read?
  • I wasn’t going to do it, since I am not a huge New Adult fan, OR a fan of books where the main character is a famous musician (actor/athlete/model, etc), but because it was Nalini, I gave her new Rock Kiss series a try and liked it. Now, to be fair, I think my favorite part was the build up for book two featuring T-Rex and Charlie, but it still was a pleasant surprise.
Top 5 books of 2014?
What book did you find the biggest let-down in 2014?
  • I never thought Kresley Cole would ever, ever end up on the bad side of a list like this, but I found my biggest disappointment was Dark Skye. I didn’t find it was a terrible book, but it was just something I couldn’t get into. And after waiting years for the story, I went in planning an A+ read. It just didn’t happen. Runners up were The Beautiful Ashes by Jeaniene Frost and Night’s Honor by Thea Harrison.
What author/series did you finally give up on, if any?
  • Mine was Lara Adrian. I was never a huge Midnight Breed fan (except for Darker After Midnight, which was epic), but I had even less interest in the new arc. I tried for years to make myself get more into them, but then I decided that it was time to let it go.

My reading goal was 150 books, and I fell quite a bit short of that. Like, way short. I also got way behind on the Character guides, which is a bit of a pain in the ass since I am now playing a major game of catch-up, but I have higher hopes for 2015. All in all, though, I can’t complain. There was a lot more good than bad, and even the bad might look better this time next year.

Cover Lover – Midnight’s Kiss

Today was the big cover and blurb reveal for the next Elder Races book from Thea Harrison, Midnight’s Kiss. After the last book, I did figure that Julian and Melisande would be getting their own story, but I didn’t think it would be the next one. I was rather hoping for a return to the Wyr, actually, since I missed them in Xavier’s book. Either way, Midnight’s Kiss is due out on May 1st.

midnight's kiss

In the latest Novel of the Elder Races, two souls who have long buried their passions are about to be consumed …

Ever since their scorching affair ended years ago, Julian, the Nightkind King, and Melisande, daughter of the Light Fae Queen, have tried to put the past behind them — and distance between them. But when a war breaks out between Julian and Justine, a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind council, they find themselves thrown together under treacherous circumstances …

Kidnapped as leverage against Julian, Melly is convinced that her former lover won’t be rushing to her rescue. But when Julian gives himself up to save her, they both end up Justine’s captives. Armed only with their wits and their anger, Melly and Julian must work together to escape. But will they be able to ignore their complicated history, or will the fiery passion that once burned them blaze again?

Hm, not quite feeling the cover, to be honest. And I have a quirk about books where the couple was a couple before and end up getting back together. I like to see the whole relationship develop, rather than have their past alluded to, but we shall see.

Reading Roundup…

It has been a while since I did a reading roundup post, so I thought maybe we could go over what we thought of the good, the bad and the ugly of some recent releases. Spoilers are possible, so proceed with caution if you haven’t read any of these.

night's honorNight’s HonorThea Harrison‘s latest Elder Races book almost read like a stand-alone title to me. We have only briefly seen Xavier in the past, and next to nothing about the Nightkind demense has been featured in previous books, so it was interesting to see inside another branch of the Elder Races. I liked the world-building, but I found myself a bit underwhelmed by the romance side of things, and dare I say it, but I found the characters a bit on the dull side. I didn’t really connect with them, especially with Tess, who was just too bland to hold my interest. Final Thoughts: Here’s hoping that things pick up again for the next one, Midnight’s Kiss.

dark bloodDark Blood – Hm, this one is a bit tricky. Christine Feehan is one of my guilty pleasures, but you go into her books knowing exactly what you are going to get (and this one was no different). I am glad to see this Lycan angle wrap up. I didn’t enjoy is the whole Carpathian language thingy (which grates on my nerves every book now), but it was especially distracting here. I don’t mind a small phrase or two in the Carpathian, but whole sentences followed by their translations gets awkward and takes me out of the flow of the story. Also, believe it or not, I found myself thinking a time or two that things were, well, unrealistic (ha!). I rolled my eyes at the Xavier/Xavion/Xav-something triplets angle, and the whole climactic battle scene actually struck me as funny. But I did like the characters, the acceptance of their mating early on, and I liked seeing so many old favorites, no matter how briefly. Plus – no flower scene! Bonus. Final Thoughts: Ok, not bad, not great. Hopefully on to another angle for the Carpathians.

shifting shadowsShifting Shadows – This collection of short stories from the world of Mercy Thompson is actually turning out to be quite interesting. Not all, or even most, feature our well known leads of Mercy, Adam, Charles or Anna, but they are set within the same world and have the same tone. I am enjoying reading one here and there before bed when I don’t want to get too involved in a full book and then stay up all night reading. The short story Alpha and Omega is what got me reading Patricia Briggs in the first place, and I loved reading it again in Shifting Shadows (for something like the 5th time, I’m sure). Final Thoughts: A nice collection, which looks great on the shelf with its pretty cover. Now, if only we could get a Kate Daniels world collection like this, I would be extra happy.

visionsVisions – The second book in Kelley Armstrong‘s Cainsville series was one of my most anticipated reads, and it lived up to my excitement. Book one read like a mystery with some paranormal aspects, but book two has much more of a supernatural feel to it. I liked the slow progression of the story, the development of the characters, the growing bond between Olivia and Gabriel (and, well, I like Gabriel). Final Thoughts: Great book. Great series. Looking forward to the re-read, and can’t wait for the next one.

We are now heading into the last few months of 2014, but there are some much-anticipated books that should keep me warm this winter. The absolute top pick for me is Ilona AndrewsBurn for Me (since I already read Archangel’s Shadows, that is). Seventh Grave and No Body from Darynda Jones should be intense, and Gena Showalter‘s long-awaited Torin story, The Darkest Touch, is also on the list. And while anthologies are not usually much to get excited about for me, the Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh entries in Night Shift make this a biggie, too. Add in a few young adult titles that I am eying, and the rest of the year isn’t shaping up too badly at all.

Which of these have you read, and what was your take on them? Did you come across anything exciting (or disappointing, for that matter) recently, and what are you most looking forward to for the last quarter of the year?

New Series Alerts…and Pick of the Week

Because I am a total dufus who can’t remember what day of the week it is, I forgot to do the New Series Alerts post yesterday. So, I figured I would just combine it with today’s pick of the week post and call it done. There are actually four new series to look at, starting with Deborah Blake‘s Baba Yaga. The first book is called Wickedly Dangerous, but there was a recently released prequel novella called Wickedly Magical, too, if you want to check that out first.

wickedly magicalSynopsis…

Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them….

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned by a woman desperate to find her missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Up next is Birthright, a prequel novella from Jean Johnson‘s new Flame Seas series. My history with Jean Johnson is spotty, but it does sound interesting.

birthrightSynopsis…

Who is entitled to the Flame Sea throne? For twin beauties Arasa and Kalasa, the question of their royal birthright has driven them both to find the answer by any means necessary. But to determine the rightful heir means that they must discover who was born first. So begins a legendary pilgrimage for the twins, each accompanied by a man of their most sensual dreams. For Kalasa it’s her devoted fiancé; for Arasa, it’s the handsome sorcerer Elrik.

But the legendary odyssey is not without its dangers—for one of them is not at all whom they appear to be, and their true motives are in question. Now, as treachery and desire become one, the truth of the birthright could be as perilous as the very future of the Flame Sea itself.

Purchase at Amazon.com

Also new this week is Devon Monk‘s House Immortal, which is from the series of the same name.

House Immortal.inddSynopsis…

One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized….

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.

Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity

The secrets that Tilly must fight to protect are hidden within the very seams of her being. And to get the secrets, her enemies are willing to tear her apart piece by piece.…

Purchase at Amazon.com

And for something a little different, Cherie Priest‘s The Borden Dispatches starts this week with the release of Maplecroft.

maplecroftSynopsis…

Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks; and when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one….

The people of Fall River, Massachusetts, fear me. Perhaps rightfully so. I remain a suspect in the brutal deaths of my father and his second wife despite the verdict of innocence at my trial. With our inheritance, my sister, Emma, and I have taken up residence in Maplecroft, a mansion near the sea and far from gossip and scrutiny.

But it is not far enough from the affliction that possessed my parents. Their characters, their very souls, were consumed from within by something that left malevolent entities in their place. It originates from the ocean’s depths, plaguing the populace with tides of nightmares and madness.

This evil cannot hide from me. No matter what guise it assumes, I will be waiting for it. With an axe.

Purchase at Amazon.com

This week’s only young adult newbie comes from Josephine Angelini. Trial by Fire is the first book of the Worldwalker Duology.

trial by fireSynopsis…

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted…which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily’s life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem – one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily’s identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn’t understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can’t hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

Purchase at Amazon.com

And since I am at it, I thought I would add my pick of the week. The choice this week is particularly hard, since there were tons of great books coming our way. In the end, I kept coming back to Thea Harrison‘s Night’s Honor, so I am going with that.

night's honorSynopsis…

In USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison’s latest Novel of the Elder Races, a woman finds herself in need of protection—and seduced by honor…

On the run from her former employer, Tess knows that she’s vulnerable on her own amongst the Elder Races. That’s why she decides to audition to become the human attendant of a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind demesne. But while her position affords her the safety she seeks, her protector turns out to be more than she bargained for.

The right-hand man of the Nightkind King, Xavier del Torro is both terrifying and alluring. While his true nature frightens Tess, she can’t ignore the appeal of his innate sense of integrity and self-restraint. Thrown into Xavier’s world, Tess must quickly learn to navigate the dangers—both to her life and to her heart. But the biggest threat comes from her own past…

Purchase at Amazon.com

So, that is how things are shaping up. What was your pick of the week? there are so many great ones I am hoping that they don’t all get delivered at once because I just won’t know where to start. Since I have zero self control, I usually end up reading a few pages of one, then another one, then off to a third. Makes me nuts, but I want to do everything at once.

This and That…

So, it looks like the majority would find linking to Goodreads better than Amazon, and thanks to all who took the time to leave a comment. I will slowly work at changing over the new release date links and reading series links, but might take a while. Now, for a bit of tentative info on some upcoming releases…

  • thanks to PheonixFyre, who sent over some info on J.R. Ward. It looks like she will be starting not one, but two new series in 2015. She will also keep up on the Brothers, with The Shadows due on March 5th.
  • also, PheonixFyre said that Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s next two League books after the upcoming will be Born of Betrayal (Feb. 2015) and Born of Defiance (Nov. 2015)
  • March 3rd is the release date for Dead Heat, the fourth book from Patricia Briggs‘ Alpha and Omega series.
  • The next Anita Blake book from Laurell K. Hamilton will be out next June 4th, 2015
  • Chloe Neill‘s next Chicagoland Vampires book, Dark Debt, will be out on March 5th.
  • Alyssa Day‘s delayed League of the Black Swan book, The Unforgiven, now looks like a June 19th, 2015 release.
  • May 1st of next year will be the release date for another Immortals After Dark book from Kresley Cole.
  • and Thea Harrison‘s next Elder Races book will be called Midnight’s Kiss, and it will be out on May 1st.

From the Author Pages…

Yep, updating time yet again. What with some new cover art out and all, I thought I would actually get some updating done on the author pages, and I came across a few new tidbits along the way…

  • The second book from Alexandra Ivy‘s new Sentinels series will be called Blood Assassin, and it will be out next January 6th.
  • Alyssa Day‘s long delayed Alejandro’s Sorceress, a novella from her Warriors of Poseidon series, will be released in an anthology called Dark and Deadly: Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance. Amazon doesn’t have a pre-order listing for it yet, but Goodreads shows it as an April 14th release. Other authors include Jennifer Ashley, Laurie London and Caris Roane, among others.
  • Wow. It looks like 2015 will see a new series from Chloe Neill. Details are sketchy as yet, but there is a brief teaser synopsis…

After humans overcome a shocking attack by supernaturals centered in the Crescent City—the Second Battle of New Orleans—supernaturals are forced into a walled community known as the District. It’s not good—or safe—to have magic, so Claire Connolly risks everything when she uses her secret magic to protect a friend. Claire quickly learns the world is more complicated than she ever knew . . . and allies are hard to come by.

  • I have said this before, but Christine Feehan is getting back into a break-neck writing pace…which is great. There have been a few updates about each of her four ongoing series, some of which I have already mentioned (but here goes again). She already has the next two Sisters of the Heart books done after Air Bound, which are called Earth Bound and Fire Bound. Cat’s Lair is the next Leopard book, and it will see a return to Texas. The hero is the shifter who donated to Drake to allow him to be able to shift again after his leg was badly injured. The next Ghostwalker book (Wyatt’s story) will be Viper Game, and she will be starting the one after that shortly. Spider Game will also be back in the Bayou, and both stories will focus on the mysterious team four. And finally, the next Dark book is also in the works, and it looks like it will be called Dark Ghost. Whew.
  • And finally, it looks like Thea Harrison will continue to add to her Elder Races series with frequent e-novellas. Coming in at #6.6 is Pia Saves the Day, which is listed as a June release…

pia saves the dame

In the latest story of the Elder Races, two mates face their deadliest challenge yet—each other…

Pia and Dragos’s magical young son Liam (the Peanut), is growing at an unprecedented rate, and if that isn’t enough, he is also exhibiting new, and unpredictable, magical gifts. To protect him, the concerned parents decide to move to upstate New York.

Both Dragos and Pia relish the idea of leaving behind the city. They finally have the space to indulge their Wyr side, and Liam can grow in safety. It’s a breath of fresh air—literally—but their idyllic situation is shattered when Dragos is injured in a freak accident.

Stripped of his memory and bereft of Pia’s taming influence, there’s nothing holding back Dragos’s darkest side. And in order to restore her family and save her mate, Pia must confront the most powerful menace in Elder Races history.

It’s going to take more than a penny to fix this…

Ok, that wraps up this update. Have you heard anything new to share?

Cover Lover – 2 New Titles

I had seen this cover for Night’s Honor from Thea Harrison a while back, but I was waiting for the “official” release before upping it. It was originally thought to be Graydon’s story, but it will actually feature the vampire Xavier, and it has a release date of September 2nd.

night's honorI have the first book of Sherry Thomas‘s young adult The Elemental Trilogy on Mount TBR, but of course I haven’t gotten there yet. Book two is called The Perilous Sea, and it is due out on September 16th.

the perilous seaThe Perilous Sea cover is a beauty – I love the colors. I will have to grab it to add to the shelf, for sure. And I am really looking forward to more from the Nightkind of The Elder Races, too. A win/win.

This and That…

After a great few days for finding new cover art, I thought I would do just a random post about some info I also came across. This is a bit of a mixed bag, but hopefully you will find something interesting…

  • many thanks to Darchelle M., who let me know that Christine Feehan has announced that there is another Ghostwalker book on the horizon. Viper Game, from all indication, will be Wyatt Fontenot’s book (Raoul’s brother and member of the mysterious team four). If the schedule holds, then we could have our hands on this in her usual December/January release spot.
  • I am not sure how many of you followed the recently wrapped up e-serial Bane Chronicles from Cassandra Clare, but the pre-order links are now up for the hardcover release as well. It will be out on November 11th.
  • I had seen a couple of references around to Gena Showalter‘s next Lords of the Underworld book (The Darkest Touch, due out November 25th), and someone called “the Red Queen”. I had no clue what that was about until I found the cover blurb earlier today…

From New York Times bestselling author Gena Showalter comes the long-awaited story of Torin, the most dangerous Lord of the Underworld yet….

Fierce immortal warrior. Host to the demon of Disease. Torin’s every touch causes sickness and death—and a worldwide plague. Carnal pleasure is utterly forbidden, and though he has always overcome temptation with an iron will, his control is about to shatter.

She is Keeley Cael. The Red Queen. When the powerful beauty with shocking vulnerabilities escapes from a centuries-long imprisonment, the desire that simmers between her and Torin is scorching. His touch could mean the end for her, but resisting her is the hardest battle he’s ever fought—and the only battle he fears he can’t win.

  • also from blurb-landia comes the one for Night’s Honor, which is the next Elder Races book from Thea Harrison that is due out on September 2nd…

In USA Today bestselling author Thea Harrison’s latest Novel of the Elder Races, a woman finds herself in need of protection—and seduced by honor…

On the run from her former employer, Tess knows that she’s vulnerable on her own amongst the Elder Races. That’s why she decides to audition to become the human attendant of a powerful Vampyre of the Nightkind demesne. But while her position affords her the safety she seeks, her protector turns out to be more than she bargained for.

The right-hand man of the Nightkind King, Xavier del Torro is both terrifying and alluring. While his true nature frightens Tess, she can’t ignore the appeal of his innate sense of integrity and self-restraint. Thrown into Xavier’s world, Tess must quickly learn to navigate the dangers—both to her life and to her heart. But the biggest threat comes from her own past…

  • fans of Robin D. Owens will be glad to know that the second book of her new Ghost Seer series, Ghost Layer, will be out on September 2nd. But, really? Ghost Layer?

That is about it. What about you, have you heard or seen anything interesting about upcoming releases?

From the Author Pages…

Just a couple of quick little bits I found while updating the author pages and new release pages the last couple of days…

  • The fifth and final Jennifer L. Armentrout Lux book, Opposition, will be coming our way this August, and it looks like there will be a bit of a change in cover design. Gone are the two trademark models who have been on all of the covers so far – they are popping up on more and more covers of late, and so the Armentrout team has decided to go in a new direction. They will also be re-releasing the first four Lux books (with the new cover design) in two duologies. Lux: Beginnings (Obsidian and Onyx) and Lux: Consequences (Opal & Origin) will be out on June 3rd.
  • After a couple of years of suffering some health issues, Christine Feehan seems to be back up to speed (and then some). She is gearing back up to a four book a year schedule, and maybe even five. Right now, she has Dark Wolf on January 7th, then the third Sisters of the Heart book, Air Bound, on May 27th. Dark Blood will be out in September, and she has already written the next two (!) Sisters of the Heart books, Earth Bound and Fire Bound. Right now, she is working on a Ghostwalker book (and it sounds like it is Wyatt Fontenot’s story).
  • Good news from Darynda Jones, too. There will be another Charley Davidson book released on October 21st, called Seventh Grave and No Body.
  • I don’t know why, but I sort of had it in my head that Reaver was the end of the line for Larissa Ione‘s Demonica/Lords of Deliverance series. Nope. Revenant (featuring Revenant and Blaspheme) will be out late next winter.
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon‘s next Belador book will be called Demon Storm, and it will be released sometime in 2014.
  • A while back, I had re-rumored that the next Thea Harrison Elder Races book was to be Graydon’s. That is what I like to call…WRONG. In a surprise twist, the hero of the upcoming Night’s Honor will be Xavier del Torro (Nightkind king Julian’s right hand man). Look for it sometime next year, as well.
  • And finally, next December, Eileen Wilks will release World of the Lupi #11, which will be called Unbinding.

So, that about wraps that up. Any of them on your must buy list?

BotM Giveaway Winner…

winner banner

Thanks to all who took the time to enter, and for the nice comments you made. This giveaway was reader’s choice, and the randomly chosen winner (through Random.org) was…number 20.

Lesley

Congratulations, Lesley! Your choice was for a copy of Thea Harrison‘s Kinked, and I will be contacting you shortly for your shipping info.