The Duke in His Castle, by Vera Nazarian: Nominated for a Nebula! *roots for norilana* A twisty magical mystery, fast in pace and lavish in language; if you like Catherynne Valente's work, you'll like Nazarian's. Some genuine surprises in here, and Nazarian handles disturbing topics very well indeed.
Spiral Hunt, by Margaret Ronald: Urban fantasy set in Boston. Real urban fantasy, not werewolf porn. Ronald's debut novel posits a magical Boston that maps perfectly, with a heroine who isn't gorgeous and omnipotent and screwing a vampire - she's ragged and imperfect and unique, and I can't wait for the next book.
The Long Look, by Richard Parks: Another great debut novel. I love Parks' short fiction, so that's no surprise! The evil wizard Tymon the Black is actually not so evil - he's an unfortunate precognitive who's compelled to arrange events for the best possible outcome for the world. Which makes his actions seem inexplicable, if you're not his loyal companion Seb.... and makes him seem like the bad guy to the rest of the world. Parks has a deft, humorous touch. Very recommended. (Also read his short story collection Worshipping Small Gods!)
Black Thorn, White Rose, edited by Ellen Datlow: No, this isn't new, but I scored an ARC of the Prime Books reprint in exchange for a blog mention. Prime's reissuing the whole series in trade paperback. Beautiful cover, and the same text I fell in love with a decade or so ago.
The Sharing Knife: Passage, by Lois McMaster Bujold: I don't like everything. Not even everything by authors I like. Case in point: I'm sorry, I just can't stand this series. :( Fawn is a wide-eyed weakling, totally dependent on her big strong
And music! "Spirits" by Rogues and Wenches is billed as bawdy Irish and Scottish pub fare, and yep, it sure is. Excellent fun stuff that you'll be singing along with in no time. And y'know what I love? They color-code the track listing so you know which songs to skip if your kid's in the car. Thanks, Rogues and Wenches! That is thoughtful.
So yes, creative-type friends: If you send me your book/CD/whatever, I will post about it! Eventually. It truly took me an embarrassing amount of time to get around to this - sorry, guys! I'm hauling myself back on track.