Happy Monday! Remember those short lists of new books the last couple of weeks on Reader’s Choice day? Yeah, well, those days are over, so get read!
You probably know the drill, but if you’re new ‘round these parts, you might wonder what Reader’s Choice is. Below are some of the new releases from this week that I thought would most interest readers of this site. I tend to cut out a lot of hard sci-fi and YA and all but the most intriguing (to me) of the bazillion indies being released that I know of. I’m sure there are another bazillion of which I have no knowledge but them’s the breaks.
Leave a comment as to which one of these you’d most like to read. If you win this week and want that book, great. BUT, on Sunday when I announce the winner, you can also change your mind and pick a different book—anything, print or digital, as long as it costs less than US$15. You also can pick any one of my books if you prefer, regardless of cost. Open internationally, of course, as long as you live somewhere Book Depository delivers.
Now, here’s what I considered the most interesting from among the new books releasing this week. You wouldn’t believe how many I left off!
A Green & Ancient Light, by Frederic S. Durbin, June 7, Saga. Set in a world similar to our own, during a war that parallels World War II, A Green and Ancient Light is the stunning story of a boy who is sent to stay with his grandmother for the summer in a serene fishing village. Their tranquility is shattered by the crash of a bullet-riddled enemy plane, the arrival of grandmother’s friend Mr. Girandole—a man who knows the true story of Cinderella’s slipper—and the discovery of a riddle in the sacred grove of ruins behind grandmother’s house. In a sumptuous idyllic setting and overshadowed by the threat of war, four unlikely allies learn the values of courage and sacrifice.
Bear Naked Truth (Southern Shifters #7), by Eliza Gayle, June 7, Gypsy Ink. Jessa walked away from the Blackwood Pack when she failed to deliver on her end of a contract she signed with them. But she fears that the ironclad nondisclosure agreement she signed won’t allow her to get far. There’s only one person she thinks might be able to help her, except he’s notoriously unhelpful and leads a gang of shifters that could be just as dangerous as the one she wants to leave. And now there’s this new hottie she wants to sink her teeth into distracting her… Fresh from an out of town trip that led to yet another friend’s mating, Calder has returned home with a grumpy and dissatisfied bear. That is until he meets one dazzling human goddess on his morning bakery run. With curves for miles and an obvious love for chocolate frosted cupcakes, he’s sure he has met his match. Until he finds out she already belongs to Luke Blackwood and his boss, Bhric has made her strictly off limits.
Big Vamp on Campus (Half-Moon Hollow #7), by Molly Harper, June 6, Pocket Star. You’ve asked for years when Ophelia and Jamie would get their own story and now it’s here! How will Ophelia adjust to living in a dorm room now that she has been banished from the Council and forced to matriculate at college with Jamie? Communal showers! Horrible, pretentious roommates! Humans who try to be FRIENDS! The horror!
Dark Run (Keiko #1), by Mike Brooks, June 7, Saga. The Keiko is a ship of smugglers, soldiers of fortune and adventurers, travelling Earth’s colony planets searching for the next job. And nobody talks about their past. But when a face from Captain Ichabod Drift’s former life send them on a run to Old Earth, all the rules change. Trust will be broken, and blood will be spilled.
Death Masks, by Ed Greenwood, June 7, Wizards of the Coast. THAT’S WHAT, FOUR LORDS DEAD? Revealed in death to have been Masked Lords, three more citizens had been murdered over the preceding day and night: the Sembian wine-seller and collector Oszbur Malankar; the half-elf sorceress and artisan Dathanscza Meiril; and the moneylender, landlord, and investor Ammasker Gwelt. All of Waterdeep now knew someone was killing the Lords of Waterdeep, one by one. Yet that was about where truth ended and speculation–however plausible–began. The broadsheets were full of wild conjecture. Who’s behind this? The ousted Lord Neverember? The Zhentarim, the Cult of the Dragon or some other Outland Power? The Xanathar? Some cabal of guilds or nobles planning a coup? The rumors would rage on, whether the Open Lord Laeral Silverhand did something or not. That was the trouble with rumors; once loosed, they roamed free like snarling, untamed beasts, with no simple way of stopping them. And all rumors aside, Waterdeep has become . . . A CITY OF MURDERERS!
End of Watch (Bill Hodges Trilogy #3), by Stephen King, June 7, Scribner. Brady Hartsfield, perpetrator of the Mercedes Massacre, where eight people were killed and many more were badly injured, has been in the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic for five years, in a vegetative state. According to his doctors, anything approaching a complete recovery is unlikely. But behind the drool and stare, Brady is awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room….Retired police detective Bill Hodges, the unlikely hero of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers, now runs an investigation agency with his partner, Holly Gibney, who delivered the blow to Hartsfield’s head that put him on the brain injury ward. Brady also remembers that. When Bill and Holly are called to a murder-suicide with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put not only their lives at risk, but those of Hodges’s friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Because Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Bill Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city….In End of Watch, Stephen King brings the Hodges trilogy to a sublimely terrifying conclusion, combining the detective fiction of Mr. Mercedes and Finders Keepers with the supernatural suspense that has been his trademark. The result is an unnerving look at human vulnerability and up-all-night entertainment.
Fireborn (Seraphim #2), by David Dalglish, June 7, Orbit. Bree and Kael Skyborn have seen their island invaded, their Seraphim disbanded, and their royal family imprisoned. A rebellion grows from the ashes, demanding Bree to be their Phoenix, their symbol against Center’s tyranny, and for Kael to find the doomsday prophet Johan and sway his cult to their side. Should they fail, the hope of their rebellion fails with them.
Hell’s Gate, by Bill Schutt & J.R. Finch, June 7, William Morrow. When a Japanese submarine is discovered abandoned deep in the Brazilian wilderness, a smart, adventurous, and tough zoologist must derail a catastrophic plot in Hell’s Gate….1944. As war rages in Europe and the Pacific, Army Intel makes a shocking discovery: a 300-foot Japanese sub marooned and empty, deep in the Brazilian interior. A team of Army Rangers sent to investigate has already gone missing. Now, the military sends Captain R. J. MacCready, a quick-witted, brilliant scientific jack-of-all-trades to learn why the Japanese are there—and what they’re planning….Parachuting deep into the heart of Central Brazil, one of the most remote regions on the planet, Mac is unexpectedly reunited with his hometown friend and fellow scientist Bob Thorne. A botanist presumed dead for years, Thorne lives peacefully with Yanni, an indigenous woman who possesses mysterious and invaluable skills. Their wisdom and expertise are nothing short of lifesaving for Mac as he sets out on a trail into the unknown….Mac makes the arduous trek into an ancient, fog-shrouded valley hidden beneath a 2000-foot plateau, where he learns of a diabolical Axis plot to destroy the United States and its allies. But the enemy isn’t the only danger in this treacherous jungle paradise. Silently creeping from the forest, an even darker force is on the prowl, attacking at night and targeting both man and beast. Mac has to uncover the source of this emerging biological crisis and foil the enemy’s plans . . . but will he be in time to save humanity from itself?
Infomocracy, by Malka Ann Older, June 7, Tor. It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line….With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?
Ink & Bone, by Lisa Unger, June 7, Touchstone. It’s been twenty years and two election cycles since Information, a powerful search engine monopoly, pioneered the switch from warring nation-states to global micro-democracy. The corporate coalition party Heritage has won the last two elections. With another election on the horizon, the Supermajority is in tight contention, and everything’s on the line….With power comes corruption. For Ken, this is his chance to do right by the idealistic Policy1st party and get a steady job in the big leagues. For Domaine, the election represents another staging ground in his ongoing struggle against the pax democratica. For Mishima, a dangerous Information operative, the whole situation is a puzzle: how do you keep the wheels running on the biggest political experiment of all time, when so many have so much to gain?
Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, by Paul Krueger, June 7, Quirk. A sharp and funny urban fantasy about a secret society of bartenders who fight monsters with alcohol-fueled magic. College grad Bailey Chen has a few demons: no job, no parental support, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend who’s around when she moves back home. But when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders, her demons get a lot more literal. Like, soul-sucking hell-beast literal. Soon, it’s up to Bailey and the ragtag band of magical mixologists to take on whatever—or whoever—is behind the mysterious rash of gruesome deaths in Chicago, and complete the lost recipes of an ancient tome of cocktail lore.
Mask of the Highlander (Gods of the Highlands Prequel), by Bambi Lynn, June 6. Digital short. Kenna dreads her husband’s homecoming like the plague. The man she married is vile and cruel. She has prayed every day of his absence he would be killed in the fighting, freeing her from a life of brutal torment and a loveless marriage. But the man on her doorstep has changed. This man is kind, gentle and sparks a fire in her she never felt in the early days of her marriage. Ty is returning home after years fighting in France. He yearns for the arms of his beautiful wife and to finally meet the daughter he has never known. But can Kenna forgive the man she married and love the man he has become?
Mechanical Failure, by Joseph Zieja, June 7, Saga. A smooth-talking ex-sergeant, accustomed to the easygoing peacetime military of ten years ago, unexpectedly re-joins the fleet and finds himself trying to stop a coup from occurring. The Great Galactic War resulted in the Two Hundred Years—and counting—peace, a time of tranquility that has never been seen. With an interstellar treaty signed by nearly every colony and enforced through a solid alliance between them, it seemed as if mankind has finally conquered war. This is what Sergeant R. Wilson Rogers experienced for ten years before he left the Meridan Patrol Fleet to become a smuggler. But when a deal goes south, things quickly turn sour. Rogers is forced back into military service as an ensign and discovers a coup forming within the fleet. His backdoor and criminal experience is the best thing to stop this coup, and somehow, he finds himself working to do just that.
My Lady Jane, by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, June 7, HarperTeen. The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help. At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England.
Rocks Fall Everyone Dies, by Lindsay Ribar, June 7, Kathy Dawson Books. Twin Peaks meets Stars Hollow in this paranormal suspense novel about a boy who can reach inside people and steal their innermost things—fears, memories, scars, even love—and his family’s secret ritual that for centuries has kept the cliff above their small town from collapsing. Aspen Quick has never really worried about how he’s affecting people when he steals from them. But this summer he’ll discover just how strong the Quick family magic is—and how far they’ll go to keep their secrets safe. With a smart, arrogant protagonist, a sinister family tradition, and an ending you won’t see coming, this is a fast-paced, twisty story about power, addiction, and deciding what kind of person you want to be, in a family that has the ability to control everything you are.
Roses & Rot, by Kat Howard, June 7, Saga. Imogen and her sister Marin have escaped their cruel mother to attend a prestigious artists’ retreat, but soon learn that living in a fairy tale requires sacrifices, be it art or love. What would you sacrifice in the name of success? How much does an artist need to give up to create great art? Imogen has grown up reading fairy tales about mothers who die and make way for cruel stepmothers. As a child, she used to lie in bed wishing that her life would become one of these tragic fairy tales because she couldn’t imagine how a stepmother could be worse than her mother now. As adults, Imogen and her sister Marin are accepted to an elite post-grad arts program—Imogen as a writer and Marin as a dancer. Soon enough, though, they realize that there’s more to the school than meets the eye. Imogen might be living in the fairy tale she’s dreamed about as a child, but it’s one that will pit her against Marin if she decides to escape her past to find her heart’s desire.
Savage Sanctuary (The Devil’s Dires #2), by Ellis Leigh, June 7. Even as the playboy of the Dire Wolves, Levi isn’t exactly a soft touch. He likes his liquor, his women, and his photographs…but he also has an affinity for sharp knives and claws. What starts as an assignment to investigate humans finding their way onto a pack’s land quickly becomes something darker, more dangerous, and a whole lot hotter than he expected….Amy refuses to leave her pack behind, but living in the small town at the base of their mountain gives her enough freedom not to feel trapped. So does running the diner she owns and loves. But someone’s been watching her a little too closely, and it’s not the handsome wolf shifter who crashes into her kitchen one night looking at her as if she is the last woman on earth….One soldier who’s never cared enough stay, one woman whose roots run too deep to leave, and a stalker with more than just peeping on his mind. In the world of the Dire Wolves, a simple mission means standing your ground and fighting to the end. But this time, a single glance blows simple right off the mountain and forces Levi to run when he’d rather stand and fight…just as long as his mate is running with him….One soldier, one fight…one chance at forever.
Silent Hall, by N.S. Dolkart, June 7, Angry Robot. A coward’ son, a merchant’s daughter, a young prince, a wild girl, and a half-dragon all find themselves refugees from their island home. When a plague destroys their home, they try to forge their own future. Along with a sinister wizard, they awaken a dragon and defy the gods. After their homeland is struck with a deadly plague, five refugees cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything – and anyone – to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe. With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves – and Psander’s library – from the wrath of the gods. All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the world. How hard could it be?
Snow Wolf (Wolves of Willow Bend #9), by Heather Long, June 7. Digital. Ranae is the youngest of the Buckleys— the only girl among three powerful male siblings. Her restlessness and dominant nature affected her every relationship within Willow Bend, not to mention testing the patience of her Alpha. Apprenticeship to the Hunters fed her desire for a purpose. When her Alpha and eldest brother ask her to undertake a mission to the Yukon territory, she’s thrilled at the opportunity to be useful. Clashing with the Diesel was the last thing she expected on the dangerous assignment. …Diesel, the oldest Alpha in the U.S. packs, lives a gray existence. The loss of his mate so many decades ago wears away at him until he doesn’t give a damn about anything. The problems of the other packs are not his, and he prefers to be left in isolation. The arrival of the Chief Enforcer annoys him, but it is the wolf traveling with him who wakes the predator in Diesel. The scent of mate clings to her, but she rejects his overtures and challenges him on every level. …War may be coming for the Yukon, but Diesel’s battle is very personal…
Spear of Light (Glittering Edge #2), by Brenda Cooper, June 7, Pyr. When the post-human Next suddenly re-appear in a solar system that banished them, humans are threatened. Their reactions vary from disgust and anger to yearning to live forever like the powerful Next, who are casually building a new city out of starships in the heart of the re-wilded planet Lym. The first families of Lym must deal with being invaded while they grapple with their own inner fears….Ranger Charlie Windar is desperate to save his beloved planet. The Next are building strange cities he never imagined, and other humans who want to destroy the Next are his worst enemies. Ambassador Nona Hall strives to forge links between the powerful station she’s from, The Diamond Deep, and the people of Lym. The formidable merchant Gunnar Ellensson appears to be up to no good, and as usual his motivations are suspect. Why is he sending ships to Lym, and what does he intend to do with them when he arrives? The Shining Revolution threatens to undo everything by attacking the Next on Lym, and their desire to eradicate the post-humans is greater than their desire to save humanity’s home. It is entirely possible that they will draw the wrath of the Next onto all of humanity. In the meantime, the Next’s motives remain inscrutable. Why are they here at all? What do they want? Why are they interested in the ancient past of a planet that has been ravaged and rebuilt at least once?
The Wheel of Osheim (The Red Queen’s War #3), by Mark Lawrence, June 7, Ace. All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world. Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.
To Love a Wolf (SWAT #4), by Paige Tyler, June 7, Sourcebooks. HE’S FOUND THE ONE…
SWAT officer Landry Cooper is certain Everly Danu is The One. The problem is, she has no idea what Cooper really is. And as much as he wants to trust her, he’s not sure he can share his deepest secret…When Everly’s family discovers Cooper’s a werewolf, her brothers will do anything to keep them apart-they’ll kill him if they have to. Everly is falling hard for the ridiculously handsome SWAT officer, and she’s not about to let her brothers tell her who she can love… Until Cooper’s secret is exposed and she discovers the man she thought she knew is a monster in disguise.
…BUT CAN HE KEEP HER?
Wicked Burn (Realm Enforcers #3), by Rebecca Zanetti, June 7, Lyrical Press. Simone Brightston knows she can beat the rap her enemies are pinning on her. An Irish witch is nobody’s fool, and she didn’t get to her position on the high council without serious power. But her cousins want her to hide out—and they somehow convinced her arch nemesis to play getaway driver. Of all the men she’s known, Nikolaj Veis is the hardest to intimidate. With his demon-dark eyes and his inscrutable beauty, he’s as desirable as he is dangerous. And he knows better than to underestimate Simone. So when he pulls up on a roaring bike and tells her to climb on or fight it out, she grabs a handful of jacket and holds on tight. Running from the law may not be the smartest plan. But when it comes to Nick, hot pursuit and a blazing fast ride are exactly what Simone’s looking for . . .
A Study in Sable (Elemental Masters #12), by Mercedes Lackey, June 7, Daw. Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have been agents of Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, since leaving school. Now, Lord Alderscroft assigns them another commission: to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street—but not the one in flat B. They are to assist the man living in flat C. Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary, themselves Elemental Masters of Water and Air, take the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains, and they will need every skill the girls and their birds can muster!…Nan and Sarah’s first task: to confront and eliminate the mysterious and deadly entity that nearly killed them as children: the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square. But the next task divides the girls for the first time since they were children. A German opera star begs Sarah for help, seeking a Medium’s aid against not just a single spirit, but a multitude. As Sarah becomes more deeply entwined with the Prima Donna, Nan continues to assist John and Mary Watson alone, only to discover that Sarah’s case is far more sinister than it seems. It threatens to destroy not only a lifelong friendship, but much, much more.
Like a Boss, by Adam Rakunas, June 7, Angry Robot. In this breathless and hilarious followup to Windswept, former labor organiser Padma Mehta’s worst nightmare comes true: she gets yanked out of early retirement. After buying her favourite rum distillery and settling down, she thought she’d heard the last of her arch nemesis, Evanrute Saarien. But Saarien, fresh out of prison for his misdeeds in Windswept, has just fabricated a new religion, positioning himself as its holy leader. He’s telling his congregation to go on strike, to fight the system. And unfortunately, they’re listening to him. Now Padma’s summoned by the Union president to help stop this strike from happening. The problem is, she’s out of practice. And, the more she digs, the more she realises this whole strike business is more complicated than the Union president let on…
Assassin Queen (Majat Code #3), by Anna Kashina, June 7, Angry Robot. Defeated by the Majat forces, Nimos and the other Kaddim Brothers retreat to their secret fortress in the southern mountains. Nimos knows that the Majat s victory is only temporary: during the flight, he managed to place a mark on Kara, one of the top-ranked Diamond Majat. His mind magic would now allow him to use this mark to confer her fighting skill to the Kaddim warriors and turn her loyalties to their side….The new Majat Guildmaster, Mai, is planning a march against the Kaddim. His key ally, Prince Kyth Dorn, is instrumental in these plans: Kyth s magic gift can protect the Majat against the Kaddim mind control powers. But Mai and Kyth are having trouble getting over their rivalry for Kara’s affections–even after they realize that this rivalry is the least of their worries, at least for the moment. Something about Kara is not right…
The Suicide Motor Club, by Christopher Buehlman, June 7, Berkley. Remember that car that passed you near midnight on Route 66, doing 105 with its lights off? You wondered where it was going so quickly on that dark, dusty stretch of road, motor roaring, the driver glancing out the window as he blew by. Did his greedy eyes shine silver like a coyote’s? Did he make you feel like prey? You can’t remember now. You just saw the founder of the Suicide Motor Club. Be grateful his brake lights never flashed. Be grateful his car was already full. They roam America, littering the highways with smashed cars and bled-out bodies, a gruesome reflection of the unsettled sixties. But to anyone unlucky enough to meet them in the lonely hours of the night, they’re just a blurry memory. That is—to all but one… Two years ago, they left a witness in the mangled wreck of her family car, her husband dead, her son taken. She remembers their awful faces, despite their tricks and glamours. And she’s coming for them—her thirst for vengeance even more powerful than their hunger for blood….On the deserted highways of America, the hunters are about to become the hunted..
Dr. DOA (Secret Histories #10), by Simon R. Green, June 7, Roc. The name is Drood, Eddie Drood, also known as Shaman Bond. My family has been safeguarding humanity for generations, facing the hidden horrors of the world so you can sleep at night and remain oblivious to the existence of the monstrous nightmares that walk and stalk among us. Speaking of predatory night terrors, there is a man who gets away with murder. A man who specializes in removing the problems from other people’s lives, by killing the people who cause those problems. He operates from the darkest shadows of the hidden world, coming and going unseen. No-one knows who he is, just his nomme du muerte. Dr. DOA. Somehow, this demented doc poisoned me. I don’t know how he did it, when or where, but whatever is coursing through my veins seems to be immune to magic cures and treatments. But that’s not going to stop me from finding him and whoever hired him and give them both a taste of their own medicine…
So…what do you want to read? Which of these appeals to you most? Remember, regardless of what you say in your comment you also can pick a different book or any one of my books (except the two that are currently out of print, The Consort and Christmas in Dogtown), without regard to the $15 limit. If you’re in the U.S., I will sign the books.