June Wrap-Up & July Goals

Announcement: Steel Victory 2.0 Available for Pre-Order!

Hardcover release date: July 15
Buy links and other info

The revised edition of the first Steel Empires novel will include:

  • Author’s preferred text for Steel Victory.
  • Foreword by award-winning author and editor Lee Murray.
  • “The Reluctant Master”: A previously unpublished story featuring Victory and Mikelos in the early days of Limani.
  • “Limani: A Brief History”: An excerpt from a longer work by Lady Zhinu Zhuanxu-Wallace.

Join me on July 15, 7 PM EST, for an online event with special guests. Details coming soon.


The majority of my June has been spent hurtling toward the above-mentioned re-release of Steel Victory. I’m incredibly pleased with the updated writing, humbled by Lee’s lovely forward, and excited to share the new short story and essay. If you’ve been following this blog for my book reviews: Thank you. This is the perfect moment for you to take a chance on my own writing.

Not going to lie — with all events cancelled, book reviews are mainly what you’re getting on this blog for the next few months. Don’t worry that I’ll run out anytime soon. According to Goodreads, I’ve hit over 100 books read for 2020 so far, and I have reviews scheduled into September at this point.

But my life hasn’t been all work, work, work. I finally acquired my very own TARDIS! Okay, it’s really a Tesla Model Y. But it’s blue! And it goes really fast! And it is bigger on the inside! (Alas, this is still the 2020 we’re living in, so I haven’t figured out the time travel yet.)

The spouse and I are now a fully electric vehicle household, supplemented by the solar panels on our roof. I love living in the future.


June Wrap-Up

  • The biggest accomplishment: I finally finished revising Steel Justice (Steel Empires #6) and submitted it to my editor!
  • Book review progress: Like I said above, I’m reading a lot lately. I’m currently 6 books behind in writing reviews.
  • Oops, I totally forgot to add anything to the Worldbuilding section of the website.
  • Self-care: The pandemic is still a thing (and the United States in particular is still in the first wave). Black lives matter. The first Pride was a riot. I’m going to drink some water and start another romance novel after first reminding you that Breonna Taylor‘s murderers are still free.

July Goals

  1. Continue promotion for Steel Victory 2.0, including the special online event on July 15.
  2. Start officially brainstorming for Steel Legacy (Steel Empires #7).
  3. Book reviews!
  4. Drive the TARDIS around town for no reason (because there’s literally no place to go) and enjoy other Tesla owners doing double-takes. (They know my car is awesome and new.)

In Case You Missed It

Book Reviews

Around the Internet


My cats were still cute this month, but I also made this new friend.

Review: Between Sirs (K Club #4) by Rachell Nichole

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

This book is not going to be for everyone. Read the description blurb and heed the content warnings. If you think it’s for you, then you’re in for a great ride. Nichole never fails to deliver on the sexiness and the shenanigans.

The main character, Amber, was a modern woman after my own heart. She knew what she wanted, and she didn’t feel like she had to settle. Luckily, this is fiction, so she found what we wanted – and then some. Tobias and Nathaniel bordered a bit too much on the fantasy characterization spectrum for me, but then again, this genre is all about escapism, so I’m not about to quibble.

My biggest complaint about this book is that the external “plot” felt a bit shoe-horned in at the very end. It made for high drama between the characters, but I felt the urge to smack them upside the head a few times.

Overall, this is another delightful adventure from Nichole, and as always, I look forward to reading more by her.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Steel Victory Special Edition Available for Pre-Order!

The special edition hardcover version of Steel Victory is now available for pre-order, with a release date of July 15.

The special edition includes:

  • Author’s preferred text for Steel Victory.
  • Foreword by award-winning author and editor Lee Murray.
  • “The Reluctant Master”: A previously unpublished story featuring Victory and Mikelos in the early days of Limani.
  • “Limani: A Brief History”: An excerpt from a longer work by Lady Zhinu Zhuanxu-Wallace.

Buy links:

Join me for a live online launch even on Wednesday, July 15, at 7 PM EST, hosted by AllAccessCon. I will be presenting my in-demand workshop on the alternate history genre with some surprise special guests. More details coming soon.

Review: Slippery Creatures (Will Darling Adventures #1) by K.J. Charles

The bad news: This book does not end with a happily ever after. The good news: Because it’s book 1 of a trilogy! Will and Kim have fabulous and intense chemistry that only enhances the plot they’re embroiled in, and I look forward to seeing their relationship develop throughout the next two books.

As always, Charles does a fantastic job with both her characters and plot. Even secondary characters Phoebe and Maisie and antagonists in the form of War Office officers and secret society madman Libra shine off the page. The story they find themselves in has its roots in early 20th-century pulp adventures. There is enough action and adventure for excitement, but it never becomes contrived or completely implausible.

Also, there’s a bookstore. You can never go wrong with a bookstore.

It turns out I have a soft spot for principled characters whose ideas of honor are on entirely different ends of the spectrum. Together, they solve mysteries! Only it’s not so simple as that, with a healthy dose of fantastic sexual tension and political intrigue. Charles is a “drop everything and read” author for me, and this latest book measures up to that standard.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: From Sir, With Love (K Club #3) by Rachell Nichole

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

In some romance novels, I enjoy the development of the relationship. In other romance novels, I enjoy the development of the characters, and the relationship is a bonus. For this book, I leaned toward the latter. The growth that Evangeline and Leo accomplish would not have been possible if they hadn’t had each other. But ultimately, that growth does not depend on each other, making the happily ever after all the more satisfying.

The plot of this book is terribly contrived if you squint. However, Nichole’s excellent narrative drags you along in its wake so that you never really stop to think about it. Evangeline and Leo need each other. Benton makes it happen. At first, it was a little odd that Benton and Leo are brothers, but the Hastings family dynamic is such an integral part of the plot that it’s another thing you end up accepting as part of the storytelling.

I don’t often mention them, but potential readers should heed the content warnings for this book — disordered eating and implied domestic violence, though not between Evangeline and Leo. That being said, this is a fantastic stand-alone romance with equally epic characters and steamy sex scenes.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Hexhunter (Hexworld #4) by Jordan L. Hawk

Now that Hawk has thoroughly established the rules of the Hexworld series, it was time to start breaking them. The events of this book took elements of familiars and witches to new levels, in intriguing ways that made for a mystery that acted as the perfect backdrop for the burgeoning relationship between Isaac and Bill.

We’ve known these characters since the first book in this series, and Hawk has slipped us hints that they belong together ever since their initial meeting. It was lovely to watch them find their way to each other after battling their internal demons, and then resolve to fight for each other, together.

Hawk has set up a bit of a trend with each book involving a new romance, which means that the cast of characters is starting to get a bit sprawling. I hope more stories continue in this universe because I’m enthralled with the background politics and overarching plot lines, and I’d happily read about adventures with the existing characters, even without new romances.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: “For Sir” (K Club #1) by Rachell Nichole

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this ebook for full price.

This story does an excellent job of introducing prospective readers to the world of The K Club and the types of romance this series provides. The back-cover blurb is a bit misleading in terms of the plot, but the story itself is still solid. I do selfishly wish that this had been a novel because I was intrigued by Syneca and Jensen’s history together and how their relationship might progress as more than just snippets.

If this story works for you, you’re definitely in for a treat with the rest of this series.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Hexslayer (Hexworld #3) by Jordan L. Hawk

Every book in this series gets better on multiple levels. Hawk continues to pull threads on the over-arching plot, making it more intriguing and convoluted without losing any of the believability of such events in the world he has created. In tandem, each romance both supports and is affected by the greater events.

I was prepared to dislike Nick as a protagonist based on what I knew of him from previous stories in this world. However, Hawk does an excellent job of delving into his motivations and backstory to create a truly three-dimensional character. I also thought I knew precisely what Jamie would be like from the back-cover blurb, as a veteran with amputation, and I was delighted to be proven wrong.

My favorite thing about this book was learning more about familiars themselves, especially how they’re not merely humans who can turn into animals. Hawk effortlessly expresses this through his characterization details of the familiar characters.

As usual, I look forward to reading the next book in this series, which is always the highest praise I can think to give.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Dragon Precinct by Keith R.A. DeCandido

Disclaimer: I am friends with the author; however, I purchased this book for full price.

Once again, DeCandido has blown me away with his knowledge of genre tropes and how to bend them to his will to create a fantastic story. This time, he combines the magic of police procedurals with high fantasy (via table-top role-playing game conventions) to craft a unique and satisfying mystery.

Readers who have played table-top RPGs will probably appreciate the world-building of this book the most, but any fantasy or mystery readers will find something to enjoy. Personally, as a reader who has always loved “lower decks” tales, this visit to the realm of town guards, who are generally just bit players or unnamed obstacles in a played RPG, was a huge treat for me.

Every character in this book plays on familiar stereotypes from multiple genres; because of this, every character in this book is unique and contains hidden depths. The plot/mystery/storyline itself also employs this “best of both worlds” method of writing with the bonus of a completely unexpected twist.

I could have done with a bit less of the literal depiction of dialect in the book’s dialogue, but that’s also a fantasy trope that just happens to be a pet peeve of mine. Certainly not enough to stop me from looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 5 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Review: Eye Spy (Family Spies #2) by Mercedes Lackey

Overall, this was probably the best new Valdemar book I’ve read and enjoyed in years. That’s not to say that it has no flaws, but overall, Abi is a great, solid character with some truly excellent and original adventures.

I’m not going to lie: Part of my enjoyment might be because this is the first book in a long time that doesn’t include Mags as a POV character. I like him, but I was a little done. He’s fulfilled his character arc (and then some), and I was ready to move on. Abi filled that void nicely, as a character that embodies a lot of what I love about this series. Lackey introduced us to a new Gift when that source might otherwise be tapped out, and in doing so, let me revisit one of my favorite groups. I’ve had a soft spot for the Artificers since the Mage Storm trilogy, and Abi fit in nicely with them on multiple levels.

In addition, I’m always thrilled to travel outside Valdemar. Lackey wrote herself into a bit of a corner with Vanyel’s final spell, and I love the way she’s returned to incorporating magic into this series.

Alas, the downsides: Abi is really freaking perfect. Like, if she wasn’t so nice, it’d be really annoying. This book also doesn’t really work well as a book. Instead, it reads more as a two-part series linked by the character and slightly less so by the villain. I was especially disappointed that Abi’s Gift doesn’t necessarily play into a major confrontation in the second half, after the buildup for why she was put into that situation in the first place.

But again, it’s the characters who save this book. The secondary characters, especially Jicks, Stev, and Korlack, shine on the page both individually and with their interactions with Abi. If Abi is perfect enough to basically be a Herald, it was a delight to meet a thoroughly pragmatic Herald in Stev (and a certain jab at Vanyel made me laugh out loud while I read). In addition, Lackey gets some bonus points for representation beyond the obvious.

Highly recommended for fans of Valdemar, especially if you’ve fallen out of the series recently. There are some references to the previous book in this trilogy, but they aren’t necessary to read and enjoy this book, so this is good place to pick it up again.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.