Byrne After Reading

Reading List as of May 30th

So…I’m supposed to be baking a cake right now. Upside-down plum cake, to be exact (which is delicious). And instead I’m writing a blog post.

Priorities, people.

Reading-wise, my priorities were to get a couple of books off my never-ending TBR pile. I started with Kevin Hearne’s Hunted, book five in his Iron Druid Chronicles. Atticus and Granuaile are high-tailing it across Europe with Artemis and Diana not far behind. They’re a bit upset with Atticus for putting Bacchus on a Time Island, and they want revenge. His usual escape routes blocked, they’ll have to be extra clever – and extra fast – to stay ahead of the goddesses.

It took me a while to get through this one. While there’s still plenty of snark and awesome world-building (not to mention Oberon), it dragged in places and I’m not entirely convinced the story told within the book needed to be stretched out for an entire book. A lot of it was Atticus and Granuaile trying to figure out ways to get through Europe without anyone killing them, and they contemplated who was after them in the little downtime they had in between.

Keeping with my fantasy kick, A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab came in at the library. Lila Bard’s been out to sea for the past four months, while Kell’s become increasingly frustrated with the shackles tying him to the Maresh family. But the Element Games are coming up, which means even more attention on Kell and the family, so leaving isn’t an option.

AGOS was a fantastic continuation of the story Schwab started in A Darker Shade of Magic. There’s more Lila (a LOT more Lila) and some intriguing new faces to get to know. Lila’s not just spent the last few months being a pirate, she’s been uncovering some truths about herself. I do wish there’d been more Lila-Kell face time (because I’m greedy like that and I love their interactions) but with the set up for A Conjuring of Light, there’s bound to be plenty to satisfy.

Four years ago, I started Irene Nemirovsky’s Dimanche, a collection of short stories. I got about halfway through and for some reason put it back on my shelf. And I didn’t touch it and didn’t touch it until about six months ago, when I decided I was tired of it taunting me.

The thing about Nermirovsky’s work is I always feel a bit melancholy after reading it. She had a way of detailing setting without overwhelming, and it’s easy to picture a moonlit field, German soldiers sneaking out of a house. Or an old-fashioned train station, the terrified and exhausted faces of the passengers plastered to the windows. Even when she writes about joy, there’s a sadness there. Nemirovsky died at Auschwitz in 1942, leaving behind a surprisingly large body of work, mostly unpublished until recently.

Now I’m off to make that cake. I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend!

This Is War: Kit Rocha’s BEYOND ECSTASY

If you go back to the beginning of the Beyond series, you can see the first hints that big changes are coming for Eden and the sectors. In Beyond Ruin, change came.

In Beyond Ecstasy, it explodes.

Hawk’s wanted Jeni since the first time he saw her. Coming from Sector Six, he’s got a different view of relationships between men and women. After months of watching Jeni and observing the gang, he thinks he understands how it works in Sector Four.

BeyondEcstasy-700Jeni wants Hawk. Has for months, and she’s not sure why he keeps rebuffing her advances. So when he offers her a collar, she’s shocked – but it doesn’t take her long to accept. As their world starts to crumble around them, they fight to build something just for themselves.

Beyond Ecstasy was a bit of a change from the previous books, in that despite the couple appearing previously in the series, we didn’t really know them. Or at least, I didn’t feel like I knew them. Truth: I thought Jeni was just a gang groupie of sorts. From her earlier cameos in the series, I never got the sense she was truly an O’Kane. She never seemed to be around the women, and the men, while they treated her well, also kind of just…not used her, since she got what she wanted, but she didn’t play a part in their heirarchy. And Hawk’s too new (coming in with Finn in Beyond Addiction) to get a real sense of who he is.

The overall effect was more standalone than the previous books, but you would absolutely, definitely be lost if this was your first trip to Sector Four.

I like Hawk and Jeni together. They’re sweet, and while they like to play around on the smuttier side, they both yearn for that sense of belonging and comfort that comes with knowing your partner loves you absolutely. Not soulmates, mind you, but lifetime love. They’re surrounded by it in the gang, and you can’t blame them for wanting it for themselves.

That said, I didn’t feel the squee-inducing anticipation I’ve had for past couples. Jeni’s been on the fringes, so seeing her interact with the other women like she’s been part of their circle all along was disconcerting. As I stated above, I didn’t even think she was a gang member. Hawk is a bit different – introduced around the middle of the series, it didn’t bother me as much that I didn’t know him that well.

So. Romance? Yeah, it’s good. But.

BUT.

War doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t avoid those who can’t afford to lose and stick with the people who might get hurt, but will ultimately survive. In this, Beyond Ecstasy surpassed my expectations. The rising tensions in the sectors vibrates off the page, and I dreaded turning the pages because I didn’t want to know what would be destroyed next. And there is destruction. It takes many forms, and each one is painful.

Seeing the O’Kanes band together under Dallas and fight to protect not just their way of life, but everyone else was just…hoo boy. Normally I’d be all about the love. This time? It’s war, baby. It brings out different characters *coughcoughRydercoughcough* and turns Dallas from a leader to a general, mustering his troops. They’ll willingly fall in behind him.

It’s our second-to-last trip through Sector Four, and I can’t wait for the conclusion.

Buy it now: AMZ | BN | Kobo |iTunes

Review copy provided by the authors.

First Monday: May 2016

Is it really May already? It seems like just yesterday I was still trying to recover from my trip to Ireland.

April was another busy month. Galley proofs for Game of Vengeance have been turned in. We’re a little over two months away to the release of Game of Shadows, and I’ll be sending out review copies to a few select reviewers. Reviewers: if you’re interested in reviewing Game of Shadows, check NetGalley under Kensington. It should go up for reviewers within another week or so. I have a very limited amount of copies I’m allowed to send out on my own, so if you contact me directly for a copy, it’s likely you won’t get one from me.

That just leaves Game of Lies, and we’re at the end of Cass and Nick’s story. I haven’t started edits yet (crossing my fingers that’s happening soon), but it’s been a long, often tiring road. I’m thrilled y’all are going to get to meet Cass. I heart her. I heart her so hard.

Sultry has been sent off for copy edits! The release date for the Nola Naughty Nine is tentatively set for August 15th. Once the cover’s been finalized and pre-order links are available, newsletter subscribers will get the dirt first (which means you should sign up for my newsletter 🙂 )

I’ve been making slow progress on a couple of stories with the hopes one will be finished and polished by about August, when I have to switch over to Learning Curve. Paul and Marie’s story is starting to take shape in my head…well, more than it was. I’ve always had the basic idea of how it would play out, but I’m starting to add in the details at this point. The stumbling block will be, as always, making it interesting for 70,000+ words. Of all the sub-genres I write, contemporary is the most difficult. I can’t just throw a dead body or a car chase or something in there to make things interesting. There’s a possibility (albeit a small one) that Declan may put in a cameo in Learning Curve, but only if it fits with the flow of the story. It may not. I’ll have to see.

With work on the Game of Shadows trilogy coming to an end and the Seattle International Film Festival starting up mid-month, I don’t anticipate getting a lot of work done on other projects this month, and that’s okay. Or I’m working on being okay with that. I stopped work on one project because I’d managed to talk myself into thinking it wasn’t original enough for a publisher to want it, so I switched projects. The new one isn’t flowing as easily as the old one, but I’m still chugging along. If neither are finished by August, I’ll just have to adjust my plans. *tries not to panic*

Enjoy your May, my lovelies, and try not to let the pollen kill you with tiny knives.