Sunday, November 23, 2014

Murchie Plus Books: November 16th to 22nd

The premise: I love my dog. I love books. I combine the two by making my long-suffering dog pose with every book I read, barring the comics I get through Marvel Unlimited. That was less than usual last week since I focused my attention on TENA ON S-STRING, but I still managed a little Infinity lead-in reading. Like, I finally read the first arc of the new NOVA, something I've been putting off for weeks upon weeks because I was ridiculously attached to Richard Rider.

The photos: go live on Instagram as I take them and appear here in digest form every Sunday.

A fluffy grey poodle, Murchie, lays on a fuzzy, cream-coloured pillow. Immediately before him sits a white e-reader with The Dream Thieves' cover art on its screen. The angle and some reflections partly obscure it, but a dark silhouette with pink flames on its chest is visible. Behind Murchie sits a white iPod with the same image on its screen.

Hey, I finally started relistening-to THE DREAM THIEVES! Took me long enough.

Alas, listening time was in short supply last week, so I'm not quite halfway through. I'll have to claw out some more opportunities in the coming days. I already need to do some painting, since I finally managed to pry my troublesome floating shelf off the wall, and maybe I could also do Christmas baking, or put my tree up good and early!

Yes. I like both those options. It has a nice sense of symmetry, too, since I started THE RAVEN BOYS while I decorated last year's tree.

Murchie lays on a rumbled red blanket, his paws crossed before him and his head titled slightly to one side. The white of his eye shows. Immediately in front of him sits a white e-reader with the cover of Captivated on its screen. The cover features two pale hands bound together with wide red ribbons.

Harlequin kindly gave me a review copy of CAPTIVATED, Megan Hart and Tiffany Reisz's two-novella collection. Since I got the notification right after I finished BREATHE, ANNIE, BREATHE on Sunday afternoon, I wasted no time in starting.

Full disclosure: the galley didn't have cover art attached, so I found the image on Amazon and held my Kobo up beside an ever-dubious Murchie just long enough to snap the above picture. I can't believe I didn't think of doing this with other uncovered books. I mean, y'all want to know what these covers look like so you can find 'em at your local bookstore, right? A simple picture of Murchie's face with or without the title page doesn't help anyone.

While neither of the novellas is marketed as a holiday romance, both are perfect for this time of year. Megan Hart's "Letting Go" takes place during a cold snap liberally studded with snowstorms, and I'm sure y'all can guess what happens when the Domme who left an abusive marriage finds herself snowed in with the the sexy younger bartender who loves to submit. (Spoiler: it's sex. Lots and lots of sex.) Their relationship is hot, sweet, and riddled with plenty of realistic hang-ups they need to overcome before they can decide whether or not to be together. It made me want to read more of Hart's work.

Reisz was already one of my autobuys, and her "Seize the Night" changes nothing on that front. It's a contemporary, gender swapped retelling of ROMEO AND JULIET set in the high stakes world of Thoroughbred breeding and racing. When Remi Montgomery suspects her parents have colluded with their archenemies, the Brites, she allies with the Brites' youngest son, Julien, to save both families' reputations. And of course, y'all know they rekindle their aborted fling from four Christmases back. The one that sparked their families' feud in the first place.

Reisz does a great job of balancing the original tragedy with contemporary romance's need for an HEA. Even though the HEA is a a foregone conclusion, the road there is far from smooth. Family drama abounds, health problems cause echoed pain for both parties, and absolutely everyone will be ruined if the racing world's bigwigs learn about the collusion. There's plenty of chemistry and a whole lot of sexy times as Remi and Julien get the sort of chance Romeo and Juliet could only dream of, but they're well aware their romance could destroy the world they both love. I really appreciated the solution they devised. Once again, it pays tribute to the original story while updating it for modern times.

Murchie flops beneath a tapestry comforter, all his feet tucked up beside his head. Behind him sits a white e-reader with Sunbolt's cover on its screen. The cover is primarily blue with the title in yellow surrounded by an orange cloud. Only the lower half of the title is visible.

One mini review demands another.

Alas, Wednesday was a sick day. I grabbed my e-reader, tucked Murchie into his favourite spot (the overhang that puts him right in my armpit when I lie on my left side), and settled in to finish SUNBOLT by Intisar Khanani, which the author kindly furnished me for review consideration.

SUNBOLT is Khanani's follow-up to THORN, her well-regarded debut, and it takes a pretty different approach. It's a novella, so it's quite a bit shorter, and it's very much the beginning of a larger series, so there's no clear ending. Hitomi is a young Promise, or potential mage, who uses her skills to help unseat a corrupt government. This first installment gives us the necessary background on Hitomi's life, her family situation, and her allegiances, and her magic, all couched in lyrical prose that makes the reader work for what's between the lines. As was the case with THORN, it took me a little while to sink into it and find the shape of the story, but once I was in I was hooked. Khanani expands Hitomi's world with each page, cluing us in to some wonderfully complex social structures and a delicious magical hierarchy that encompasses mages, two kinds of vampires, and a variety of shifters. By the end, I was keen to learn more about absolutely everything, and you can bet I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Murchie's face peeks out from beneath a tapestry comforter. Beside him sits a white e-reader with The King's cover art on its screen. The cover depicts a blue-toned woman laying on her side with her back to the viewer. The edge of the cover cuts off her head and her lower half.

My sick day reading also included THE KING, Tiffany Reisz's latest Original Sinners novel. As was the case with CAPTIVATED, I received a digital galley with no cover art and filled my e-reader's screen with a picture I found online.

Speaking of pictures, I love this one of Murchie. Yeah, it's only his wee face, but it's such a cute wee face. He looks like a tiny, canine lion with his fur long and his ears tucked back.

I loved THE KING even more than I love this picture. I should have a proper review for you on Tuesday (which is release day) or Wednesday.

Murchie lays on a fuzzy, cream-coloured pillow, his head slightly bowed and his paws crossed before him. My e-reader sits beside him with Gate to Kandrith's cover on its screen. The cover is mainly green-toned and depicts an indistinct woman standing within a ruined, freestanding entryway.

I leave you now with Wistful!Murchie, flopped beside GATE TO KANDRITH by Nicole Luiken. As I write this, I'm about halfway through the book and am enjoying it very much. The romance feels a bit abrupt, but the rest of it is great.

ETA: okay, I finished this last night and it got really, really rapey near the end. I probably should've expected that, since it begins with an attempted rape via aphrodisiac and acknowledges the reality of slave rape throughout, but it ascends to a whole new level in the final chapters. Be forewarned.

Next week: maybe the beginning of a Jane Kindred reread/catch-up, if I don't get distracted. Probably BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE.

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