“Waiting On” Wednesday: Exo by Fonda Lee

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday pick is Exo by Fonda Lee.

Cover of Exo by Fonda Lee

Title: Exo

Author: Fonda Lee

Publication date: January 31st 2017

Publisher: Scholastic

Pre-order: Book Depository | Amazon

Add to Goodreads

It’s been a century of peace since Earth became a colony of an alien race with far reaches into the galaxy. Some die-hard extremists still oppose alien rule on Earth, but Donovan Reyes isn’t one of them. His dad holds the prestigious position of Prime Liaison in the collaborationist government, and Donovan’s high social standing along with his exocel (a remarkable alien technology fused to his body) guarantee him a bright future in the security forces. That is, until a routine patrol goes awry and Donovan’s abducted by the human revolutionary group Sapience, determined to end alien control.

When Sapience realizes whose son Donovan is, they think they’ve found the ultimate bargaining chip . But the Prime Liaison doesn’t negotiate with terrorists, not even for his own son. Left in the hands of terrorists who have more uses for him dead than alive, the fate of Earth rests on Donovan’s survival. Because if Sapience kills him, it could spark another intergalactic war. And Earth didn’t win the last one . . . (From Goodreads.)

This seems set to be a thrilling adventure with bonus moral ambiguity, ethical dilemmas and cool alien tech. I’m sold.

What book are you excited about this Wednesday?

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Top Ten Favourite Podcasts

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Top Ten Tuesday is a feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic was All About Audio freebie. I don’t listen to a lot of books on audio, but I do listen to podcasts. Here are some:

1 & 2. Two podcasts from Book Riot: All the Books, about new book releases, and Get Booked, a show for custom book recommendations. If you want to absolutely lose control of your TBR list and be glad about it, listen to either of these two shows. Better yet, listen to both.

3 & 4. Another show about books that might affect your TBR is New York Public Library’s The Librarian Is In. The NYPL also has a podcast that features conversations with writers.

5. 2 Dope Queens is a great stand up comedy podcast hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. Season 2 is starting today! Not a show about books, but an awesome show nonetheless. Phoebe Robinson has a book coming out, too, on October 4th, You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, with an introduction by Jessica Williams.

6. The podcast that got me listening to podcasts: Welcome to Night Vale, community updates from a place where, among other things, librarians are dangerous. From episode 27:

“Remember: if confronted by a librarian while looking for a book to check out, do not attempt to escape by climbing a tree. There are no trees in the library, and the precious moments it will take you to look around and realize this will allow the librarian to strike.”

There’s also a book, Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.

7. Stuff You Missed in History Class has hundreds of episodes, and I plan on listening to every one.

8. I’ve only recently started listening to Lore, a podcast about real life scary stories. Perfect for autumn. Not caught up yet, but enjoying it so far.

9. Myths and Legends is another podcast I enjoy but have yet to listen to all the episodes. It has a pretty descriptive title. It’s about, well, myths and legends (re)told in a casual conversational style.

10. The Moby Dick Big Read. Herman Melville’s entire novel read by various people, including Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, and China Miéville.

Do you listen to audiobooks or podcasts? What are your favourites?

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My “Waiting On” Wednesday pick is Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney.
Cover of Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney

Title: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk

Author: Kathleen Rooney

Publication date: January 17th 2017

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pre-order: Book Depository | Amazon

Add to Goodreads

It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.

As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.

A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop. (From Goodreads.)

I’m currently reading Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit. It’s a cultural history of walking, so a novel framed around a walk is especially appealing. Too bad it’s still months away.

What book are you looking forward to this Wednesday?

Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Historical Romance Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s topic was top ten all time favourite books in the genre (or sub-genre) of our choice. I wanted to add something defensive about the choice to highlight historical romance novels for my first run at Top Ten Tuesday, but I’ll spare you. All these books are excellent, in my opinion.

I limited myself to one book per author for this list, but all of these authors have other great books. In addition, I didn’t include books with paranormal elements, something that was surprisingly difficult. Still not convinced some haven’t sneaked in.

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

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Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.

Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.

So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership…even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good. (From Goodreads.)

Night Hawk by Beverly Jenkins

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Outlaw. Preacher. Night Hawk. He’s had many names, but he can’t escape the past.

Since Ian Vance’s beloved wife was murdered years ago, the hardened bounty hunter know she’ll never feel love or tenderness again, so he’s made it his mission to ensure others get their justice. But when he’s charged with delivering a sharp-eyed beauty to the law, Ian can’t help but feel he may still have something left to lose.

Orphaned at twelve, Maggie Freeman has always found her way out of trouble. But now there’s a vigilante mob at her back who would like nothing more than to see her hang for a crime she didn’t commit. Maggie may have to accept help for the first time in her life . . .even if it’s from the one man standing between her and freedom.

As the past closes in, the sassy prisoner and toughened lawman may just find a passion between them that could bring blinding happiness . . . if they’ll let it. (From Goodreads.)

Think of England by K.J. Charles

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Lie back and think of England…

England, 1904. Two years ago, Captain Archie Curtis lost his friends, fingers, and future to a terrible military accident. Alone, purposeless and angry, Curtis is determined to discover if he and his comrades were the victims of fate, or of sabotage.

Curtis’s search takes him to an isolated, ultra-modern country house, where he meets and instantly clashes with fellow guest Daniel da Silva. Effete, decadent, foreign, and all-too-obviously queer, the sophisticated poet is everything the straightforward British officer fears and distrusts.

As events unfold, Curtis realizes that Daniel has his own secret intentions. And there’s something else they share—a mounting sexual tension that leaves Curtis reeling.

As the house party’s elegant facade cracks to reveal treachery, blackmail and murder, Curtis finds himself needing clever, dark-eyed Daniel as he has never needed a man before… (From Goodreads.)

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

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A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried—and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she’s vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she’s been missing.

But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss—to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston—charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.

If she’s not careful, she’ll break the most important rule of all—the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love. (From Goodreads.)

Sweet Disorder by Rose Lerner

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Political intrigue could leave his heart the last one standing…alone.

Nick Dymond enjoyed the rough-and-tumble military life until a bullet to the leg sent him home to his emotionally distant, politically obsessed family. For months, he’s lived alone with his depression, blockaded in his lodgings.

But with his younger brother desperate to win the local election, Nick has a new set of marching orders: dust off the legendary family charm and maneuver the beautiful Phoebe Sparks into a politically advantageous marriage.

One marriage was enough for Phoebe. Under her town’s by-laws, though, she owns a vote that only a husband can cast. Much as she would love to simply ignore the unappetizing matrimonial candidate pushed at her by the handsome earl’s son, she can’t. Her teenage sister is pregnant, and Phoebe’s last-ditch defense against her sister’s ruin is her vote—and her hand.

Nick and Phoebe soon realize the only match their hearts will accept is the one society will not allow. But as election intrigue turns dark, they’ll have to cast the cruelest vote of all: loyalty…or love. (From Goodreads.)

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

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Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a “baby farmer,” who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby’s household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves—fingersmiths—for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives—Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a naïve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud’s vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of—passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways…But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals. (From Goodreads.)

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare

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In the first in Tessa Dare’s captivating Castles Ever After series, a mysterious fortress is the setting for an unlikely love . . .

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?

No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one. (From Goodreads.)

Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin

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During China’s infamous Tang Dynasty, a time awash with luxury yet littered with deadly intrigues and fallen royalty, betrayed Princess Ai Li flees before her wedding.

Miles from home, with only her delicate butterfly swords for defense, she enlists the reluctant protection of a blue-eyed warrior.

Battle-scarred, embittered Ryam has always held his own life at cheap value. Ai Li’s innocent trust in him and honorable, stubborn nature make him desperate to protect herwhich means not seducing the first woman he has ever truly wanted. (From Goodreads.)

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

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The year is 1881. Meet the Mackenzie family–rich, powerful, dangerous, eccentric. A lady couldn’t be seen with them without ruin. Rumors surround them–of tragic violence, of their mistresses, of their dark appetites, of scandals that set England and Scotland abuzz.

The youngest brother, Ian, known as the Mad Mackenzie, spent most of his young life in an asylum, and everyone agrees he is decidedly odd. He’s also hard and handsome and has a penchant for Ming pottery and beautiful women.

Beth Ackerley, widow, has recently come into a fortune. She has decided that she wants no more drama in her life. She was raised in drama–an alcoholic father who drove them into the workhouse, a frail mother she had to nurse until her death, a fussy old lady she became constant companion to. No, she wants to take her money and find peace, to travel, to learn art, to sit back and fondly remember her brief but happy marriage to her late husband.

And then Ian Mackenzie decides he wants her. (From Goodreads.)

The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

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In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything…and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces…

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé’s betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London…

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous — and that a single decision can alter one’s life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned…and some passions never die. (From Goodreads.)

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

Since my first blog post was about anticipation, it’s only fitting I follow with WOW. My first “Waiting On” Wednesday pick is Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
Cover of Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Title: Certain Dark Things

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Publication date: October 25th 2016

Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Pre-order: Book Depository | Amazon

Add to Goodreads

Welcome to Mexico City… An Oasis In A Sea Of Vampires…

Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is busy eking out a living when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life.

Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, must feast on the young to survive and Domingo looks especially tasty. Smart, beautiful, and dangerous, Atl needs to escape to South America, far from the rival narco-vampire clan pursuing her. Domingo is smitten.

Her plan doesn’t include developing any real attachment to Domingo. Hell, the only living creature she loves is her trusty Doberman. Little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his effervescent charm.

And then there’s Ana, a cop who suddenly finds herself following a trail of corpses and winds up smack in the middle of vampire gang rivalries.

Vampires, humans, cops, and gangsters collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive?

Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, has been selected as a finalist for the British Fantasy, Locus, Aurora and Solaris awards, and was named on seven year’s best lists in 2015: B&N’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog, RT, BookRiot, Buzzfeed, io9, Vice, and Tor.com. She has also been nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work on the anthology She Walks in Shadows. (From Goodreads.)

Can this sound any better!? I have a weakness for vampire stories, but I think this book will prove to have cross-genre appeal. Add a beautiful cover and a great title—perhaps all books should take their title from Neruda—and what more could anyone want?

Anticipation and Winnie-the-Pooh

A lot of the blogs I read take part in “Waiting On” Wednesday, a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights eagerly anticipated upcoming releases.

Like I said, it’s weekly. I wish it were daily.

It’s the anticipation. Pooh put it best:

“‘What do you like doing best in the world, Pooh?’

‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best-‘ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.[…]” – A.A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner

Every unread book has the potential to be the best book and I’m a terrible optimist when it comes to a book’s potential. Which isn’t to say I end up disappointed by the quality of the books I anticipate. No, that would mean I actually manage to read those books.

I’m just like Winnie-the-Pooh, if he spent all day thinking about what delicious new variety of honey he’ll eat—maybe some tasty blueberry honey, maybe some of that sage honey everyone’s talking about, maybe some avocado honey, he’s never had any—only to eat some old clover honey he’s had since last year. So, really, not like Winnie-the-Pooh at all.

But we’re both connoisseurs of anticipation, if not of honey, and we’re not the only ones. Anticipation is a subject of scientific research. Most of that research is unrelated to Pooh’s view of anticipation, but some isn’t.

A 2014 paper in Psychological Science, marvellously titled, wait for it, “Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory Consumption of Experiential and Material Purchases” is all about the pleasure found in anticipation. The paper compares experiential purchases (e.g. concert tickets) to material purchases (e.g. things, stuff). Waiting to go to a concert is more pleasurable than waiting for a dress.

But what about books? Are books material or experiential purchases? Both?

I want to think my unread books are different than unused stuff. They’re even more than potential vacations. They’re potential adventures and very few true adventures are available for purchase. Is it any wonder then that waiting for a book brings so much enjoyment?