Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro #2) by Nora Roberts

Continuing with my blogiversary week, today I'm highlighting another author whose works I have reviewed repeatedly at Impressions throughout the last three years. Nora Roberts has been my "go to" contemporary romance author for years. Throughout the years some of her romance books have become my comfort reads, my chicken soup for the soul. Roberts has had two releases within the last month, The Witness, a book I highly recommend, and of course the latest release in her straight contemporary romance series:

The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro, #2)

The Last Boyfriend is the second book in Nora Roberts' Inn BoonsBoro contemporary romance series. Avery McTavish, the owner of the popular pizzeria Vestra, caught my attention in the first book of the series and I've been looking forward to reading her romance with the manager and organizational genius in the Montgomery family, Owen.

What did I find in this novel by a favorite romance writer? In this book, Roberts most definitely uses a true form of the "friends to lovers" trope. Owen and Avery grew up together and have known each other since they were children. Avery even chose Owen as her first boyfriend when she was five years old, but since then they have been the best of friends. However, the relationship between them changes after they exchange a passionate kiss at the inn.

In The Last Boyfriend, and unlike what I found in the first book, there is more of a focus on the romance between Owen and Avery. They spend more time together on the page getting to know each other as a couple figuring out their new feelings and if or how they should go forward with a new relationship. As characters they are both extremely likable. Owen is a dependable, sexy sweetheart with a heart of gold, and Avery is a strong and vulnerable firecracker. She's one of Nora Roberts' redhead characters.

Owen and Avery enter into an affair early in the story, and there are passionate moments between these two people during that time, however, after those initial moments sexual tension is lacking. Additionally, their friendship and knowledge of each other's foibles and strengths allows them to work out their differences easily, so that even when few conflicts arise between Owen and Avery they seem minimal.

Although Roberts makes more time for this couple, there is a definite family atmosphere to this story. Everyone is not only involved in what's going on between Owen and Avery, but Roberts also layers additional individual story lines to the mix. It's almost as if The Last Boyfriend is one romance with Avery and Owen at its center, but with a bigger romance being told: the one between the town of Boonsboro and the whole Montgomery clan.

Roberts knows how to convey that family atmosphere on the page, and there are some wonderful moments here between the Montgomery brothers, between Avery, Hope and Clare, and between Justine (mother Montgomery) and her boys. There's one particular scene between Justine and Owen that had me in stitches... poor Owen!

It is also true that Roberts is great when it comes to research and in these books it is particularly obvious that she knows her stuff. There's the design, construction, and decoration of the inn, and now there are also other structures being restored through Boonsboro, so there are details, details, details. Beautiful details, but again, at times way too many of them and everything just works out... perfectly. And then there's the friendly ghost at the inn who by now has made her wishes known and whose backstory will predictably tie in with Hope and Ryder's romance.

I found The Last Boyfriend to be  an entertaining, sweet, contemporary romance with minimal conflicts and predictable situations. It has likable characters and that wonderful family atmosphere I've come to expect from Ms. Roberts. So yes, although this story falls on the average side of the spectrum for me, there's some real tension between hot stuff Ryder and Hope in this book and I will definitely be reading the last book of the trilogy, The Perfect Hope.

Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: Inn BoonsBoro
Publisher/Release Date: Berkeley/May 1, 2012
Grade: C+

Visit Nora Roberts here.

The Next Always, #1
The Last Boyfriend, #2
The Perfect Hope, #3 (Releasing November 6, 2012)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Impressions: Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky#1) by Elizabeth Bear

This is my blogiversary week. Yesterday, I featured a review for the latest release by one of my favorite historical romance writers, Mary Balogh. Today I'm featuring one of my favorite female fantasy writers and one whose works I have recommended repeatedly at Impressions throughout the last three years, Elizabeth Bear. Here are my impressions of her latest release:

Range of Ghosts (Eternal Sky #1)

Temur, grandson of the Great Khan, is walking away from a battlefield where he was left for dead. All around lie the fallen armies of his cousin and his brother, who made war to rule the Khaganate. Temur is now the legitimate heir by blood to his grandfather’s throne, but he is not the strongest. Going into exile is the only way to survive his ruthless cousin.

Once-Princess Samarkar is climbing the thousand steps of the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth. She was heir to the Rasan Empire until her father got a son on a new wife. Then she was sent to be the wife of a Prince in Song, but that marriage ended in battle and blood. Now she has renounced her worldly power to seek the magical power of the wizards. These two will come together to stand against the hidden cult that has so carefully brought all the empires of the Celadon Highway to strife and civil war through guile and deceit and sorcerous power.
Elizabeth Bear. How does this author manage to do this to me every time? What a magnificent fantasy read Range of Ghosts turned out to be for me! I read it slowly because I wanted to savor every single detail on the pages, and I didn't want to miss a single word, nor did I want to lose track of her world building.

What made it so absorbing? The way she weaves the story, of course, plus the world building which is based on both Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, and the characters that inhabit that world, from heroes to villains.

Bear takes the reader from the steppe plains on the land of the Eternal Sky where the Great Khan once ruled and where Qori Buqa waged a terrible war killing the rightful heir to the Khagnate and leaving young Temur to flee for his life, through the Range of Ghosts where blood ghosts raised by an evil wizard threaten his life. To the Rasan Empire and the Citadel of the Wizards of Tsarepheth where Temur meets the strong and beautiful Once-Princess and now wizard Samarkar. And to the great Ala-Din stone in the Uthman Caliphate, a land of veiled women where assassins, a djinn and an evil wizard's magic drive our heroes on to the White Sea.

There is war and love, life and death, evil and magic. There is a sense that fables come to life as our hero and heroine(s) race through danger. Magic takes a toll, debts must be paid, and while villains do damage, they don't win all the battles. The hero is young, uncertain and just beginning to find his strength and will, yet females are strong and powerful in this tale of wizards and warriors. Oh, and horses are magnificent!

I love the sense of wonder in our characters as they move from their own lands and witness the changing skies that Bear uses to define the different empires, and fully experience the differing cultures of this world. There's a contradictory sense to this story in that it can lull the reader with its beauty, yet the pace is quick with action. I chose to let it lull me this time instead of quickly gobbling up the action. Bear ends this first installment at just the right moment satisfying the reader, but leaving the road open with a big 'danger ahead' sign that promises further adventures.

Of all the books I've read by Bear to date, this is the one that gets closest to what I think of as a traditional fantasy story -- that's not a bad thing... just rather surprising. I also find it interesting that this is the second series I've read where Bear begins with her hero/heroine at the end of an epic battle and where a horse comes to his/her rescue. The other story is All The Windwracked Stars. On the minus side, the first few sentences in this book worried me as they are a bit overdone! Don't let that put you off because thankfully that only lasts for a few sentences and Bear's story telling abilities quickly take over.

Range of Ghosts by Elizabeth Bear is a beautiful fantasy read and a great beginning to the Eternal Sky series. If you love fantasy, I thoroughly recommend it.

Category: Fantasy
Series: Eternal Sky #1
Publisher/Released: Tor/March 27, 2012
Grade: A-

Visit Elizabeth Bear here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Impressions is 3! Thank You!

Today Impressions of a Reader is 3! I've been doing this for three years already? Time flies when you're having fun. Thank you all for making my blogging experience throughout these past three years one that I'll always remember.


Review: The Proposal by Mary Balogh

Gwendoline, Lady Muir, has seen her share of tragedy, especially since a freak accident took her husband much too soon. Content in a quiet life with friends and family, the young widow has no desire to marry again. But when Hugo, Lord Trentham, scoops her up in his arms after a fall, she feels a sensation that both shocks and emboldens her.

Hugo never intends to kiss Lady Muir, and frankly, he judges her to be a spoiled, frivolous—if beautiful—aristocrat. He is a gentleman in name only: a soldier whose bravery earned him a title; a merchant’s son who inherited his wealth. He is happiest when working the land, but duty and title now demand that he finds a wife. He doesn’t wish to court Lady Muir, nor have any role in the society games her kind thrives upon. Yet Hugo has never craved a woman more; Gwen’s guileless manner, infectious laugh, and lovely face have ruined him for any other woman. He wants her, but will she have him?

The hard, dour ex-military officer who so gently carried Gwen to safety is a man who needs a lesson in winning a woman’s heart. Despite her cautious nature, Gwen cannot ignore the attraction. As their two vastly different worlds come together, both will be challenged in unforeseen ways. But through courtship and seduction, Gwen soon finds that with each kiss, and with every caress, she cannot resist Hugo’s devotion, his desire, his love, and the promise of forever.
I am, unquestionably, a Mary Balogh fan. It should then be no surprise that as soon as The Proposal, the first book in her new historical romance series The Survivors' Club, was announced my excitement was great, and this book read as soon as it released.

The heroine in The Proposal is an old friend. If you've read A Summer to Remember, one of my very favorite novels by Mary Balogh, you will probably remember Gwen, Lady Muir. In that novel she was described as a beautiful widow with a limp who nevertheless seemed happy with her circumstances. I always wondered if she would find a happy ever after of her own.

In The Proposal, Balogh pairs our Lady Muir with a hero of the Napoleonic Wars. They both bear psychological scars, Hugo as a result of his actions during the war and Gwen as a result of long held guilt due to dark events that occurred during her marriage to the late Lord Muir. Neither really likes the other when they first meet as they are very different people. He is morose, stern, and holds a deep dislike of the aristocracy. She is personable and sociable. He comes from a family of businessmen and she comes from a well-known aristocratic family. On the surface they have nothing in common.

That doesn't stop Hugo and Gwen from being passionately attracted to each other or from acting on that passion. As two rational adults who think with their heads first, both agree that a relationship is not a possibility or even a consideration. The conflict, as superficially presented and argued extensively by Balogh's characters in this romance, becomes one that is seemingly about "a matter of class." However, there's always more to a Balogh novel, and as these characters are revealed in their true light through interactions and conversations, it is then understood that it is ultimately a matter of the heart.

Hugo gained his title through his heroic efforts in the war. However in his heart, he is a farmer and businessman and resents the aristocracy that made it tough for him to work his way up through the ranks in the military. Hugo is a strong man, a blunt, heroic, humble and capable man, yet he's also insecure when among the aristocracy except when in the company of fellow members of the Survivors' Club. He's convinced that he needs a wife of his own class to be happy, but finds himself passionately and physically attracted to Gwendoline. This is not necessarily a problem for him until he slowly becomes impossibly emotionally attached.

At first Gwendoline's attraction for Hugo is also physical, even as she doesn't necessarily understand her passion for such a man. However there's an affinity of spirit between Gwen and this blunt man that slowly and surely gains ground. She falls in love. But will love be enough for Gwen this time around? Can they put aside their differences and doubts?

In The Proposal there are no outside villains that become part of the conflict. The conflict that takes place is entirely between the two protagonists. As such this novel is character driven and entirely focused on the main characters, relying on dialogue and internal musings, doubts and personal realizations to move the romance along. There is physical passion, but there's also a subtle kind of passion that can be found in the characters' personal actions. This is a subtle romance.

It is because this is such a character driven novel that I found it to be uneven in sections. The emotions from one character or another are not always well-conveyed to the reader, and that surprised me. There's also a lack of flow and fine detail in some sections of this novel that were unexpected. This is Ms. Balogh and my expectations are always high. Regardless, I was able to lose myself in the story until the end.

The Proposal did not turn out to be my favorite story by this favorite writer. It is still a historical romance that I recommend if you like character driven novels with a subtle touch. I am most certainly looking forward to reading the upcoming stories about the members of the Survivors' Club. In this first novel, Balogh piqued my interest with her description of those characters and I can't wait for their happy ever afters.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: The Survivors Club, #1
Publisher/Release Date: Random House/May 1, 2012 - Kindle Ed.
Grade: B-

Visit Mary Balogh here.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Review: Bear Like Me by Jonathan Cohen

Fired from his job at Phag magazine, Peter Mallory has to find a way to make a living...and get revenge When his best friend suggests writing a book about the bear community--and using his new ursine look to go undercover at Phag--Peter is soon letting his body hair grow and practising the fine art of flannel couture. When Peter's sabotage campaign works only too well, he starts to run the risk of discovery. With an envious fellow bear set to unmask Peter as a fraud, and a relationship with an intriguing bear on the line, things are about to get very hairy.
I'm a fan of bear erotica and bearish romances when I find them, so Bear Like Me by Jonathan Cohen, an amusing, light tale about a man who becomes part of the bear community, through let's say the back door, is right up my alley.

Cohen weaves this bearish story around Peter Mallory, a journalist and self-proclaimed twink who becomes obsessed with getting revenge after he's fired from his job at Phag magazine. In the meantime he needs to make a living and at his friend Mac's suggestion Peter decides to write a novel about the bear community. Unfortunately, he is clueless. Problem? He's part of the mainstream gay community and lives in what he refers to as the "gay ghetto," but Peter doesn't even know what a bear is!

Mac suggests Peter go undercover to research his novel. To blend in he grows a beard, stops waxing his body hair, and gains heft by eating like food is going out of style. And in some of the most amusing moments in the story, his wardrobe undergoes a dramatic change as Peter sheds his trendy suits and ties for flannel. Of course there's more to the experience than growing fur, changing wardrobe or gaining weight.
"Becoming a bear, just like coming out of the closet, requires a certain shift in perception. What you find attractive, what you find acceptable, what you deem important, all changes. In a way you become an outsider, but in a way you become part of a small, select private group. Usually this is a long process that accompanies repeated exposure to the bear community. I didn't, however, have the luxury of time." 
Peter's partner Danny is not necessarily over the moon about the lack of income, but all the physical and psychological changes that slowly turn Peter into his other self, Dan the bear, take a real toll on the relationship.

Peter/Dan is driven by his obsession to get that revenge against Phag, meanwhile that "shift in perception" slowly takes place within Peter. This takes time, however even as he clings to the belief that inside he is still a twink and that his foray into to bear community is temporary Peter falls for Ben, a big teddy bear of man who sees the bear and other qualities in him that Peter doesn't see in himself. Unfortunately Peter doesn't know when to stop lying and scheming, so that by the time he comes to his senses it might be too late to keep the friends who welcomed him with opened arms, or his man.

There are over-the-top moments (Peter loves and attracts drama like a magnet), and since this book was first published in 2003, a rather dated back story. But I like that through all the mayhem Cohen sneaks in slight critical views of both the mainstream gay and bear communities from an insider and an outsider's point of view. Additionally, the pace of the novel is quick as lightning and it makes this story not only entertaining, but a super fast read.

In Bear Like Me, Cohen presents an overview of the bear community with all its rules and bearish family atmosphere. Peter's second coming out story as a bear is entertaining with an intentionally campy style, outrageous moments, and a surprisingly sweet romance.

Category: Gay Fiction/Romance
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Bear Bones Books/June 9, 2011
Source: Lethe Press
Grade: B

About the Author (Summarized): Jonathan Cohen was born to non-bear parents 40-some years ago in Toronto, Canada. The rise of the Internet in 1995 connected Jonathan to a community he'd never heard of before. "Bears" were hairy, bearded, large men, Jonathan found to his surprise --- and they liked men just like him! After coming out to himself and others as a bear, he decided to study their community, their rituals, and of course their sexual practices. The novel Bear Like Me was the result and was published in 2003. Jonathan now lives in Toronto. Brown hair is turning to gray, but Jonathan still remembers those halcyon bear days and gropes of yore.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: Naked Angel (Club Burlesque) by Logan Belle

Naked Angel is the third book in Logan Belle's Club Burlesque trilogy. I did not read the first book of the series Blue Angel, but got hooked on this sexy erotic romance trilogy after reading the second book, Fallen Angel. However, I do not recommend that this book be read as a stand alone.

Earlier, Wendy very aptly described this series as a soap opera and she hit the nail on the head. That's exactly what this series is, an erotic soap opera where the characters are either jumping in and out of bed with each other, lusting after each other, planning revenge, or going behind each other's backs to outdo the next guy/gal, all in an uber erotic burlesque setting. I love it.

There's the main couple Mallory and Alec, whose erotic romps and romantic ups and downs began on that first book and end with the trilogy. After going through their romantic woes in Fallen Angel, in this installment Mallory is trying to get their new burlesque club The Painted Lady off to a good start, while Alec decides it is time to ask her to tie the knot. Mallory is fine with the idea until Alec suggests that maybe Mallory should hang up her feather boa and pasties and stop dancing. Wha...???!! Is that boy out of his mind? Mallory loves to shake her booty, and didn't she give up law school for burlesque in the first place? What is he thinking?!

THEN Logan introduces Nadia, a failed ballerina who decides to use her dancing background to make a new life for herself by dancing burlesque. Unfortunately she meets Max, the owner of a small ballet company who thinks Nadia can do better than make a living as a burlesque dancer. They lust after each other and fall for each other, and although he can't keep his hands off of her still resents her job and makes an idiot out of himself. Ohhh the drama!

THEN, there's Violet Offender! Violet is the villainous dominatrix who previously had the hots for Mallory and then turned into her bitter enemy. She is sneaky, manipulative, underhanded, and a personal favorite. Of course there's also Gemma, a character brought to the forefront to play additional havoc with our cast of characters. I could go on, but to make a long story short, there's an affair, a divorce, a burlesque competition, some pretty twisted back stabbing, all while the steam rises and the erotic romps abound.

Mallory, Alec and Violet Offender are likable and memorable, although I would say that they are defined as characters only to a certain degree. Unfortunately there's just not enough depth there to make a real emotional connection with the some of the characters that play a central role in this installment. I'm referring to Nadia and Max. I found Max to be self-centered, domineering, and demanding with less than valid concerns, and Nadia too easily and suddenly agreeable to his demands, as well as unbelievably understanding.

My favorite aspect of Naked Angel, as with Blue Angel, is the setting. Logan Belle's wonderful world of burlesque is one of beautiful costumes, sequins, feather boas, pasties, and music where even the dances are described in fine detail. I also obviously enjoy the ins and outs of the characters' drama-driven lives and their erotic adventures. Fortunately Logan Belle ends the trilogy quite nicely indeed with plenty of that drama, a happily ever after, and some extra surprises. (I'm going back to read that first book I missed. :D )

Category: Erotic Romance
Series: Club Burlesque
Publisher/Release Date: Aphrodesia/March 27, 2012
Source: Kensington Publishing
Grade: B

Visit Logan Belle here.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 2012: Reads + Updates

April is over. The good thing about April? There were new releases that I was looking forward to reading and I read them all. That means that even with all those crazy "real life" issues that are continuously affecting my daily life lately my reading slump is officially over. Good thing!

Anyway, here are my reads for the month. Those new releases were wonderful because they got me to read and I enjoyed them for different reasons, but only a few of them made it to the top of my list:

Total Books Read: 18
  Contemporary: 4 (Romance: 2 Romance Suspense: 1 Romance Erotica: 1)
  Historical Romance: 3
  Urban Fantasy/PNR: 1
  LGBT: 10 (Romance: 5 Fiction: 2 Spec Fic: 2 Memoir: 1)

1.   About That Night by Julie James: C
2.   Just Down the Road by Jodi Thomas (Upcoming Review) 
3.   The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley: B-
4.   The Rake by Mary Jo Putney: A-
5.   Split by Mel Bossa: A-
6.   Private Eye by S.E. Culpepper: C-
7.   Almost a Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal: C
8.   Carbon and Ash by Chris Owen (Re-read): B
9.   Added Money by Chris Owen: C+
10. Lover Reborn (BDB#10) by J.R. Ward: C-
11. Lily by Xavier Axelson: B
12. Dutch's Boy by Xavier Axelson: B
13. Earthly Concerns by Xavier Axelson: B
14. The Heart's History by Lewis DeSimone: B+
15. The Witness by Nora Roberts: A
16. Bear Like Me by Jonathan Cohen (Upcoming Review) 
17. Naked Angel (Club Burlesque) by Logan Belle (Upcoming Review) 
18. Dirty Poole: A Sensual Memoir by Wakefield Poole (Upcoming Review)

Upcoming Reviews:

Currently Reading:

These are two very different books! Range of Ghosts is Elizabeth Bear's latest release and the first book in her latest fantasy series Eternal Sky. I'm loving her world building so far, but I'm not far into the book so I can't tell you much about the characters yet.

The same goes for The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone. This is more of a Victorian noir, paranormal romance. The beginning of the book is quite erotic, so I'm expecting the steam level to be on the high end of the scale. That first chapter kept me reading and Phaeton Black is certainly a character! Let's see how it turns out.

That's it for my April reads. May looks like it's going to be a great reading month too... I'm looking forward to reading quite a few new releases. How about you? How did your April turn out?

Monday, April 30, 2012

A Look at Xavier Axelson

I read my first book by Xavier Axelson, The Incident, back in November of 2011. This book is a gay romance, but the way Axelson dug deep into his characters had a lot to do with the reasons behind my including it with my list of  2011 LGBT Favorite Books and Authors under the romance category. I liked his style.

Since that time I've read a few of his books, from his back list and new releases as they come along, but I've not reviewed them. This month alone I read titles by Axelson, so I figure it's time to go ahead and give you some quick impressions of his books and why I read them.

First let me begin by saying that The Incident remains my favorite book by Xavier Axelson. After having read most of his works, it is the one gay romance written by him that I found to have both depth in characterization as well as that emotional connection that makes for an effective and memorable romance.

Having said that, Axelson also conveys that emotional connection between the main characters in The Birches. In this story, I love the way that he connects eroticism and the pleasures of sex with those of food and cooking. The depth of character that I found in The Incident is not there, but then this is a lighter, less character or angst driven story, instead the romance and the erotic make The Birches a surprisingly pleasurable read. Certainly after reading it, I kept looking for more books by the author. :D

Of  Axelson's older romance-related releases, Dutch's Boy is my favorite. Of course this may be because I love westerns and to me there's nothing sexier than a cowboy. What I found in Dutch's Boy is an idealized romance between a young man who finds the courage to show his father his independence by competing at the rodeo, while finally finding love in the arms of the young man he has dreamed of throughout his young life. It's a lovely, sweet romance with some very erotic moments between Harry and Reb. Axelson can certainly write those bedroom scenes... although I particularly enjoyed that tense scene on the train between Harry and Blake. Pheww!  

There is also the very short story Christmas Eve At The Powers That Be Cafe. I believe this was the author's first book... and although it has its flaws, I definitely recommend it as a sexy holiday M/M romance read set during World War II. Again, I was particularly taken with the intensity and emotional connection between the characters during the sexual scenes, and of course I love the setting and atmosphere even as the ending struck me as being less than plausible but high on the sweet scale.

Axelson also writes stories that fall under the erotic horror category, or speculative fiction with a strong dash of the erotic. In Lily we have a father who lost his daughter to the woods and a wolf. He suffers deeply but believes that she'll return to him for one day on the anniversary of her disappearance. During that year he finds a man who believes in him and loves him. This story is about new beginnings and accepting loss. I don't know why I was so surprised at how sexy this story turned out to be, even with all the angst and suffering, and the loving... there's lots of love here too. For me, although there's that paranormal/horror aspect to the story and Lily is a key character, the romance is just as important so I love that it has a good happy ending for the main couple.

However in Earthly Concerns although there are some erotic scenes and romantic angst, the horror supersedes the romance and the erotic. This story is definitely more on the spec fic side. There's a chilling fear and horror that permeate this story. As one character is warm and caring, the other is cold and remains distant throughout, making the reader doubt his true motives and intentions until the very end. Speaking of the end, because I read this story from the spec fic point of view and not necessarily as a romance, I was a bit disappointed. Although in this case, I have a suspicion that I might be in the minority. [grin] Except for that ending, this is one chilling, scary story and although short, I thought it was very well done!

As an interesting aside, three of Axelson's books, Dutch's Boy, Lily and Earthly Concerns, feature sons and/or daughters and subjects related to parental errors in judgment or parents who need to accept loss and/or their children's choices.

If you're an M/M romance reader, you might enjoy these books and I do recommend them for you. If you would like to know a bit more about Mr. Axelson, you might want to read "A Conversation with Xavier Axelson by Gavin Atlas."  This interview inspired me to read that first book.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

New Releases: May 2012 + A Peek Ahead

April has been a good month for new releases, at least there were books that interested me, but May is looking excellent on that front too. There are new releases from quite a few of the different genres that I enjoy reading regularly.

Here are a few of them:

A couple of notes before I proceed: On a different post, I highlighted The Promise by Mary Balogh. This book releases on May 1, 2012 and I'm obviously looking forward to reading it! Check out the summary here.

Also releasing on May 15, 2012 is The Heart's History by Lewis DeSimone. I already read and reviewed this book, and as it turned out this was a great read! Check out the review here.


The Last Boyfriend (Inn BoonsBoro #2) by Nora Roberts
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Owen is the organizer of the Montgomery clan, running the family’s construction business with an iron fist—and an even less flexible spreadsheet. And though his brothers bust on his compulsive list-making, the Inn BoonsBoro is about to open right on schedule. The only thing Owen didn’t plan for was Avery McTavish...

Avery’s popular pizza place is right across the street from the inn, giving her a first-hand look at its amazing renovation—and a newfound appreciation for Owen. Since he was her first boyfriend when they were kids, Owen has never been far from Avery’s thoughts. But the attraction she’s feeling for him now is far from innocent.

As Avery and Owen cautiously take their relationship to another level, the opening of the inn gives the whole town of Boonsboro a reason to celebrate. But Owen’s hard work has only begun. Getting Avery to let down her guard is going to take longer than he expected—and so will getting her to realize that her first boyfriend is going to be her last…
The first book of this series wasn't an absolute winner for me, but this is a romance by Nora Roberts and there's no way I'm not reading the second book in this contemporary romance series. I always have high hopes. Besides, I just read and loved The Witness, so why not? 

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
Release Date: May 8, 2012
From Lovecraft to Borges to Gaiman, a century of intrepid literary experimentation has created a corpus of dark and strange stories that transcend all known genre boundaries. Together these stories form The Weird, and its practitioners include some of the greatest names in twentieth and twenty-first century literature.

Exotic and esoteric, The Weird plunges you into dark domains and brings you face to face with surreal monstrosities. You won’t find any elves or wizards here...but you will find the biggest, boldest, and downright most peculiar stories from the last hundred years bound together in the biggest Weird collection ever assembled.

The Weird features 110 stories by an all-star cast, from literary legends to international bestsellers to Booker Prize winners: including William Gibson, George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Kelly Link, Franz Kafka, China Miéville, Clive Barker, Haruki Murakami, M. R. James, Neil Gaiman, Mervyn Peake, and Michael Chabon.
Do I have to say anything about wanting to read this book? I love anything that has to do with the weird, and just look at that list of authors! So, what else is there to say? This is a must read for me. :D

Railsea by China Miéville
Release Date: May 15, 2012
On board the moletrain Medes, Sham Yes ap Soorap watches in awe as he witnesses his first moldywarpe hunt: the giant mole bursting from the earth, the harpoonists targeting their prey, the battle resulting in one’s death and the other’s glory. But no matter how spectacular it is, Sham can't shake the sense that there is more to life than traveling the endless rails of the railsea–even if his captain can think only of the hunt for the ivory-coloured mole she’s been chasing since it took her arm all those years ago. When they come across a wrecked train, at first it's a welcome distraction. But what Sham finds in the derelict—a series of pictures hinting at something, somewhere, that should be impossible—leads to considerably more than he'd bargained for. Soon he's hunted on all sides, by pirates, trainsfolk, monsters and salvage-scrabblers. And it might not be just Sham's life that's about to change. It could be the whole of the rail sea.
Talking about the "weird," China Miéville excels at it. He has become a favorite writer after reading only a couple of his books (I still have a few of his earlier works in my TBR).  The thing about this author is that both of the books I've read managed to make it to my "best of" lists, so why would I not pick up his latest release? This story sounds like an earthbound Moby Dick, Miéville style. Let's see what weird, fantastic characters this author creates in this story. I can't wait to find out. :D


Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff
Release Date: May 20, 2012
Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged, and barely out of the closet, discovers that life can still hold some strange surprises, when she discovers that her body is changing; menopause turns her into a werewolf. Apparently she is not the only one, as a number of women in her town of Wolf's Point seem to have had the same experience. As the newest member of the pack, Becca learns her nights are not spent only protecting the town and running through the woods howling at the moon. There are werewolf hunters in town and they've got Becca in their sights.
This is Lundoff's first novel, however she has won various awards for her short stories, including the 2010 Gaylactic Spectrum Award Best Other Work. She's also the editor of various lesbian anthologies. I've never read Ms. Lundoff's work, but the blurb for this book had me at "menopause turns her into a werewolf." LOL! After reading that line, I KNEW this book was going on my list. Ohhh, I just need to know how the author handles this premise. [grin]


A Night Like This (Smythe-Smith #2) by Julia Quinn
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Anne Wynter might not be who she says she is . . .

But she's managing quite well as a governess to three highborn young ladies. Her job can be a challenge—in a single week she finds herself hiding in a closet full of tubas, playing an evil queen in a play that might be a tragedy (or might be a comedy—no one is sure), and tending to the wounds of the oh-so-dashing Earl of Winstead. After years of dodging unwanted advances, he's the first man who has truly tempted her, and it's getting harder and harder to remind herself that a governess has no business flirting with a nobleman.

Daniel Smythe-Smith Might be in mortal danger . . .

But that's not going to stop the young earl from falling in love. And when he spies a mysterious woman at his family's annual musicale, he vows to pursue her, even if that means spending his days with a ten-year-old who thinks she's a unicorn. But Daniel has an enemy, one who has vowed to see him dead. And when Anne is thrown into peril, he will stop at nothing to ensure their happy ending . . .
I read but never reviewed the first book in this series although I enjoyed it. Actually I just noticed that I've never reviewed any of the books that I've read by Julia Quinn. I need to remedy that! I'm not missing this book. I love the infamous Smythe-Smith ladies. They're a hoot!


Here is a look ahead to some future releases I can't wait to read from favorite authors:

Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi - Release Date: June 5, 2012
Scandal Wears Satin (Dressmakers #2) by Loretta Chase - Release Date: June 26, 2012
You Will Meet A Stranger Far From Home by Alex Jeffers - Release Date: July 14, 2012

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews - Release Date: July 31, 2012
Captain Harding and His Men by Elliott Mackle - Release Date: August 1, 2012
Green Thumb by Tom Cardamone - Release Date: August 2, 2012


There you are, some of the books I can't wait to read! As always I tried to include a little bit of this and a little bit of that since so many different genres and sub-genres interest me. In this case I only highlighted one contemporary romance, so now I'm asking you... what contemporary books are you looking forward to reading in May? What about the other genres, anything that caught your eye?