Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019.

There are so many books on the way that have me jumping up and down in excitement! Here are the ten at the top of my list… three of which are by the same author. What can I say? I do love her books!

1) In An Absent Dream by Seanan McGuire

2) That Ain’t Witchcraft (InCryptids, #8) by Seanan McGuire

3) Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

4) Inspection by Josh Malerman

5) Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

6) Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs

7) Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

8) Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

9) The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

10) The Book of Flora by Meg Elison

What books are you dying to read in 2019? Please share your links!

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Top Ten Tuesday: The best books I read in 2018

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019! 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Best Books I Read In 2018.

According to Goodreads, I gave a 5-star rating to 73 books in 2018, and a 4-star rating to 83. That makes 156 books that I pretty much loved. Yowza, what a year! I don’t think I can limit myself to just 10 books here… so I’ll highlight a few, include a few others by category, and see how it all works out…

Here are (just a few of) my favorites from 2018:

1) Powerful family drama set in Alaska: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (review)

2) Two views of an an ancient classic: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (review)

3) Terrific historical fiction that I read because of my book group: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (review) and The Chilbury Lady’s Choir by Jennifer Ryan (review)

4) A surprising moving short novel by Stephen King:  Elevation (review)

5) Amazing woman-power science fiction:  The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (review)

6) Action/adventure with THE BEST heroic duo: Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer (review)

7) New books in beloved series:

8) Deliciously fun contemporary romance: 

9) Intriguing story collections:

10) A couple of classics that I finally read!

 

What were your favorite reads of 2018? Please leave me your link!

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Wishing one and all a terrific new year filled with wonderful books!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books By My Favorite Authors (that I still haven’t read)

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books By My Favorite Authors That I Still Haven’t Read. Usually, when I love an author, I read everything he or she has written… but there are always some books that fall off the bookpile or get otherwise overlooked. My selection of books by favorite authors that I still need to read :

1. Epitaph by Mary Doria Russell: This is the sequel to Doc, which I truly loved. Mary Doria Russell is a brilliant writer (The Sparrow will always be near and dear to my heart), and I bought Epitaph as soon as it came out. Why haven’t I read it yet? No idea… other than me just being lame.

2. The Sumage Solution by G. L. Carriger: Gail Carriger is an absolute favorite of mine, and I’ve read every bit of her published work… except The Sumage Solution. Maybe it’s because of the contemporary setting, since I love Carriger’s steampunk Parasol-verse so very much… but I haven’t quite brought myself around to starting Sumage. And there’s a sequel on the way, so I’d better get to it.

3. The Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi: I haven’t read a single book by John Scalzi that I haven’t enjoyed… but so far, I’ve only read his stand-alone books. I keep swearing that THIS will finally be the year when I read Old Man’s War… but it just hasn’t happened yet, and we’re getting frighteningly close to the end of 2018.

4. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik: I bought this the day it was released, and I’ve just gotten too overwhelmed by ARCs and library books to ever get around to starting. I loved Uprooted, so I’m really excited to start this one.

5. SO MANY  BOOKS by Stephen King: I always think of myself as a Stephen King fan, but it’s scary to think how many I’ve missed! Just looking at the unread King books on my shelves, I have Duma Key, Lisey’s Story, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, books 4 – 7 of The Dark Tower series, The Green Mile, a few short story collections… ugh, it never ends! I guess on the flip side, I’ll never run out of good options for when I want to be scared silly by a book.

6. Earlier works by Patricia Briggs: I adore the Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series, and could read those books over and over again (and yes, I’ve gone back for re-reads already). I really should make a point of reading some of her other works too, although I think I’m resistant to leaving those familiar worlds and going more into straight-up fantasy rather than urban fantasy.

7. More Jojo Moyes! I’ve loved so many of her books, and I actually own copies of these… so why haven’t I read them?

8. The Silk and Song trilogy by Dana Stabenow. I adore the Kate Shugak books — the characters, the crime drama, and the amazing Alaska setting. I really admire Stabenow’s writing and I enjoy historical fiction, so this trilogy (about the granddaughter of Marco Polo) should be right up my alley, despite the lack of Alaska! Seriously, the story sounds great — maybe a reading priority for 2019?

9. The Parasitology trilogy by Mira Grant: I loved the Newsflesh books SO much, and love everything she writes under her other (real) name (Seanan McGuire). I did actually read the first book in this trilogy, and thought it was really, really icky but also amazing… so I just need to return to the world of tapeworms and medical experiments gone haywire!

10. Yesternight by Cat Winters: I’ve read everything else by this author, and I think she’s so incredibly talented! I own a copy of Yesternight (I bought it as soon as it came out), and have every intention of reading it… so this is yet another book that I have no good reason for not having read yet, other than the good old “so many books, so little time” excuse.

What books are on your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

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Cover reveal: Storm Cursed by by Patricia Briggs!

Don’t mind me — I’m just sitting here being quietly blown away by the newly revealed cover for the upcoming Mercy Thompson book!

Storm Cursed is book #11 in this amazing series. The expected publication date is March 5, 2019… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Synopsis:

My name is Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman, and I am a car mechanic.

And a coyote shapeshifter.

And the mate of the Alpha of the Columbia Basin werewolf pack.

Even so, none of that would have gotten me into trouble if, a few months ago, I hadn’t stood upon a bridge and taken responsibility for the safety of the citizens who lived in our territory. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. It should have only involved hunting down killer goblins, zombie goats, and an occasional troll. Instead, our home was viewed as neutral ground, a place where humans would feel safe to come and treat with the fae.

The reality is that nothing and no one is safe. As generals and politicians face off with the Gray Lords of the fae, a storm is coming and her name is Death.

But we are pack, and we have given our word.

We will die to keep it.

I love this series so much! Can’t wait for March to get here… and meanwhile, I’ll be busy re-reading Mercy’s past adventures so I’ll be 100% ready to jump in once this gorgeous books finally lands in my hands.

Take A Peek Book Review: Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega, #5) by Patricia Briggs

“Take a Peek” book reviews are short and (possibly) sweet, keeping the commentary brief and providing a little peek at what the book’s about and what I thought.

 

Synopsis:

(via Goodreads)

In her bestselling Alpha and Omega series, Patricia Briggs “spins tales of werewolves, coyote shifters, and magic and, my, does she do it well” (USATODAY.com). Now mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham face a threat like no other–one that lurks too close to home…

They are the wild and the broken. The werewolves too damaged to live safely among their own kind. For their own good, they have been exiled to the outskirts of Aspen Creek, Montana. Close enough to the Marrok’s pack to have its support; far enough away to not cause any harm.

With their Alpha out of the country, Charles and Anna are on call when an SOS comes in from the fae mate of one such wildling. Heading into the mountainous wilderness, they interrupt the abduction of the wolf–but can’t stop blood from being shed. Now Charles and Anna must use their skills–his as enforcer, hers as peacemaker–to track down the attackers, reopening a painful chapter in the past that springs from the darkest magic of the witchborn…

My Thoughts:

I love this series, and I love Anna and Charles as characters. I love their complicated relationship — as husband and wife, and as mated werewolves. I love their pack, and I love their interactions with Charles’s father Bran, the ruler of all werewolves of North America.

Despite my undying love for the Alpha & Omega books, Burn Bright felt a little weaker to me than some of the other books in the series. Perhaps it’s just that the story took a bit too long to really build momentum, or maybe it’s because Anna and Charles have been together long enough that their relationship here seems like more of a given, rather than something to be explored. In any case, while I enjoyed the story and my “reunion” with these beloved characters, the plot and pacing felt like a little bit less than what I’ve come to expect from this outstanding series.

Side note (without spoilers!): There’s a certain conversation early on in the book that has fans of this series (and the Mercy-verse as a whole) very up in arms. Yes, I also found it upsetting… but I guess I’m busy compartmentalizing and deciding that I’m going to ignore it, because otherwise it will make me feel differently about people I don’t want to feel differently about. Ugh, why???

Okay, beyond “the conversation” controversy riling up Briggs’s readers…

I raced through Burn Bright in about 24 hours, was very hooked by the end, and will absolutely read each and every book in the Alpha & Omega series (and Mercy Thompson too) for as long as Patricia Briggs chooses to keep writing them… which I hope will be for a long, long time.

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The details:

Title: Burn Bright
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Publication date: March 6, 2018
Length: 308 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased

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Gorgeous cover for new Alpha & Omega book!

Fresh from Facebook — here’s the cover of the upcoming new Alpha & Omega book by Patricia Briggs! Burn Bright will be released in March 2018. Doesn’t this look amazing?

 

Burn Bright is book #5 in the series, a spin-off from the Mercy Thompson series (which I adore as well), starring werewolf couple Charles and Anna. If you haven’t read these amazing books yet, you have from now until March to get caught up!

There’s no preorder link available yet on Amazon… but believe me, I’ll be pouncing on it as soon as it’s there.

SO EXCITED.

Check out the cover of Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs!

I was so excited to see this on Facebook while I was away on vacation! As a big fan of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, it makes me soooo happy to ponder the glories of this cover:

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Silence Fallen is book #10 in the series. The expected publication date is March 7, 2017… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Synopsis:

In the #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels, the coyote shapeshifter has found her voice in the werewolf pack. But when Mercy’s bond with the pack—and her mate—is broken, she’ll learn what it truly means to be alone…

Attacked and abducted in her home territory, Mercy finds herself in the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world, taken as a weapon to use against alpha werewolf Adam and the ruler of the Tri-Cities vampires. In coyote form, Mercy escapes—only to find herself without money, without clothing, and alone in the heart of Europe…

Unable to contact Adam and the rest of the pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, and she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy must be her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves, and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Did you get chills? I got chills. I’m so scared for Mercy! This sounds amazing. Can’t wait!

Find Silence Fallen at:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

And PS – If you haven’t read any of the Mercy books, start with Moon Called and then keep going! Such an amazing series.

Fire Touched has a cover!

I was so excited to see this on Facebook today! As a big fan of the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, I feel totally justified in having a blog post dedicated to the joy of this cover:

Fire Touched

Fire Touched is book #9 in the series. The expected publication date is March 8, 2016… which can’t possibly get here soon enough!

Find Fire Touched at:

Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes & Noble

And PS – If you haven’t read any of the Mercy books, start with Moon Called and then keep going! Such an amazing series.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 All-Time Favorite Authors

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Top Ten All-Time Favorite Authors. I had a really hard time narrowing it down, and changed my mind about half a dozen times, but finally decided to focus on living writers whose works I continue to read (and hope to keep reading for a long time to come).

Here we go:

1. Diana Gabaldon (like there was any doubt about this one!)

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2. Mary Doria Russell

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3. Stephen King

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4. Patricia Briggs

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5. Jim Butcher

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6. Susanna Kearsley

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7. Christopher Moore

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8. Neil Gaiman

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9. Bill Willingham

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10. J. K. Rowling

Rowling[Note on images: Author photos scavenged from the interwebs; book photos taken by moi!]

I hate having to stop at just 10. This is just scratching the surface — and doesn’t even include some of the late greats, such as Douglas Adams, Kurt Vonnegut, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Ah well, I suppose that’s a list for another day!

Looking forward to seeing everyone else’s lists this week.

Share your links, and I’ll come check out your top 10!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider following Bookshelf Fantasies! And don’t forget to check out my regular weekly feature, Thursday Quotables. Happy reading!

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Do you host a book blog meme? Do you participate in a meme that you really, really love? I’m building a Book Blog Meme Directory, and need your help! If you know of a great meme to include — or if you host one yourself — please drop me a note on my Contact page and I’ll be sure to add your info!

 

Book Review: Dead Heat

dead heatIf you’ve ever visited my blog before, chances are you’ve seen me raving about Patricia Briggs and the detailed, layered, rich world she’s created in her novels. Patricia Briggs is probably best know for her Mercy Thompson series (which I love more than words can say!) — and fortunately for her devoted readers, she’s also given us a wonderful spin-off series, the Alpha & Omega novels.

And… after a wait of three years, we finally have Dead Heat, the 4th book in the series. Worth the wait? You bet. (Thank you, Ms. Briggs!)

In a nutshell, the Alpha & Omega books center around main characters Charles and Anna Cornick. Charles is the 3rd most dominant werwolf in North America, and the only born — not made — werewolf, thanks to his Native American mother’s magical talents. Charles has inherited his werewolf nature and scary strength from his father, the ruler of the wolves, and a gift for magic from his mother. Charles is feared by all, as he’s been given the role of enforcer and assassin, sent by his father to keep the peace and keep werewolves in line.

The Alpha & Omega series is driven by Charles’s relationship with his wife and mate, Anna, a rare Omega werewolf who has the power to soothe anyone she encounters. Over the course of the series, Anna has grown from scared, brutalized victim into a powerful yet gentle presence whose unique talents make her a perfect partner for Charles.

Okay, I’ll just say it: I love these two. Their love story is special, I love their dynamic as a couple, and they bring out the best in each other. Plus, only Anna allows Charles the room to let his gentler, loving side out. He’s strong and terrifying, but he’s also a total sweetie who’s madly in love with his wife.

Charles just stared at her.

“You know that, right?” she said. “Most people stay out of your way, but the defenseless ones, the hurt ones, they just sort of gradually slide into your shadow. Not where you’ll notice them too much — but you keep the bad things away.”

He still didn’t say anything. She buttoned her jeans and then took the two steps to press against him.”We know,” she whispered to him. “We who have been hurt, we know what evil looks like. We know you make us safe.”

He didn’t say anything, but his arms came around her and she knew that she had told him something he didn’t know — and that it mattered.

Each of the Alpha & Omega books revolves around a central mystery which Charles and Anna must help to solve. In Dead Heat, someone has targeted the human family of an Alpha werewolf in Arizona at the same time that Charles and Anna are visiting to purchase a new horse. While protecting the family, they realize that a dangerous fae is involved and is most likely responsible for the disappearances of children from the area over the course of decades. Charles and Anna team up with both FBI and supernatural law enforcement specialists to track down the bad guy (a very, very bad guy) and make sure that no other children become its prey.

I don’t want to give anything away, so I won’t go any further in describing the plot. Suffice to say, Dead Heat absolutely lived up to my expectations and had me furiously turning pages (when I wasn’t cursing the fact that I didn’t have the time to just read straight through without stopping). The action and adventure are pulse-pounding, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. There’s tension and drama, yet at the same time, Briggs keeps the banter and love between Charles and Anna at the forefront, so that we still get to savor the little, lovely moments between them that are the heart of these wonderful novels.

Adding a nice touch to the book is the introduction of Charles’s old friend Joseph, a Navajo and son of a werewolf, who is in the process of dying an old man’s death when the book starts. Joseph’s extended family covers generations and brings together some new and interesting angles, adding new depths to what we know of Charles and his past and introducing some great characters. I hope we’ll see more of this group in future books!

My only complaint about this book is that it takes place almost entirely in Arizona, and I missed the Montana setting of earlier books, as well as the Montana pack and its familiar characters. While Charles’s father Bran is always in the background in both series, I would have loved to see a bit more of him in Dead Heat, as he’s one of my very favorite characters. Still, the Arizona storyline gets an A+ as far as I’m concerned, which more than compensates for my minor little complaints.

Actually, I do have one additional complaint: I want more! The book wraps up when the mystery of the fae is resolved, but I wanted more of Charles and Anna! They’re at an interesting point in their relationship (I’m being intentionally vague here), and I want to see what happens next. Plus, the downside of reading these books as soon as they’re released is the excruciatingly long wait (okay, it’s only a year, but it feels longer!) for the next book, either in this series or in the Mercy Thompson series.

I can’t say it often enough: If you enjoy urban fantasy, and require your series to include well-defined characters, compelling story arcs, and an altogether unforgettable, fully-formed world, then you must check out Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series. Go in order, take it slowly, and enjoy. I don’t know anyone who’s started these books who hasn’t become hooked. Quality writing, amazing characters, fantastic plots. What more could you want?

** A word of clarification: While Dead Heat is the 4th Alpha & Omega novel, the story actually starts with a novella called Alpha and Omega, available as a stand-alone e-book or in two different collections, On the Prowl and Shifting Shadows. Be sure to start with the novella or you’ll be missing the crucial beginning to the story. Spoken by one who learned the hard way!**

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The details:

Title: Dead Heat (Alpha and Omega, #4)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace
Publication date: March 3, 2015
Length: 336 pages
Genre: Urban fantasy
Source: Purchased