The first printed ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) have come in, and I have one to give away.



A photo of the bound advance reader copy of Poisoned Blade, with a cover mostly blue with gold/yellow highlights and a stylized arrowhead-blade across the center. Cover says: Poisoned Blade, A Court of Fives novel, by Kate Elliott


Poisoned Blade is the sequel to Court of Fives.

Here is a brief excerpt:

The setting sun spills gold across the sea. Boats bobbing atop the quiet waters fade into twilight and flicker like spark-bugs as sailors hang lamps from their prows. The main avenues of the city flare lamp by lamp into life as the queen’s royal lamplighters kindle the night-lanterns.

On Rest Day Eve all the theaters run evening performances. It’s the most crowded night of the week, but with the bulk of the king’s army marched east, fewer people than normal pass under the West Gate of the Lantern District. We have plenty of room to walk along the district’s streets hung with colorful banners advertising the plays on offer this month. Just as I had hoped, there is enough time for us to shop along a lane of clothing stalls, where I buy an inexpensive ankle-length linen dress in the sleeveless, straight cut that has always been the fashion in Efea.

“Why do you keep looking back?” Mis asks as we stand at a food stall stuffing ourselves on a Patron delicacy of fresh pancakes wrapped around a paste of chopped almonds, dates, and cinnamon.

Fortunately my mouth is too full of the sweet, hot filling to reply, because I have spotted two men wearing the Garon Palace badge depicting a horned and winged fire dog. Although they don’t seem to be paying attention to us, I am sure they are following. We are easy to spot: Commoner girls wearing long sleeveless jackets that mark us as members of a palace household. We also wear the fire dog badge to indicate our affiliation.

A group of Patron men I’ve never seen before approach, and we four stiffen, wondering if they mean to offer an affront.

The eldest steps forward as the others whisper at his back. He has the muscular arms of a laborer but wears his hair long and bound up atop his head in the style of old Saro. He even speaks Saroese with the accent of old Saro, not the way Patron folk who have grown up here in Efea speak it. “Are you that one called Spider, who won the first trial at the Royal Fives Court in the victory games?”

I swallow. “I am.”

He nods at his companions, and they give me the kiss-off gesture familiar to every person who runs or watches the Fives. Here on the street it can be a mortal insult, or a sign of respect.

“Well run, Adversary,” he says. “You’re one to watch with those spins and flairs. We’ll be cheering for you.”

He pays for all our pancakes, and they go off without asking a thing in return.


In February I am going to be starting an occasional series in which I, or guest bloggers (both writers and readers, and writers as readers) talk about working with tropes in fiction, and also about reading kinks (things you always love when they show up in a book) from a variety of viewpoints. In tribute to this forthcoming discussion:

TO ENTER FOR THE ARC of Poisoned Blade:

Make a comment, below, about a reading kink you love — that is, a trope or type of character or a plot thing or whatever that if it shows up in a book kind of hits all your buttons (in a good way). So for example I might write: “Arrogant dudes who fall in love and have to get humble to get the love interest, a la Mr. Darcy” or “the outsider who is kind of bullied or ignored and who ends up finding she has special powers and a super destiny,” because those are both tried and true (and often cliched) tropes that are reading kinks for me.

Remember: No reading kink is shameful. It just is.



Contest open for 8 days (closes Monday February 1st at 10 pm Hawaii Time, which is Tuesday in the rest of the world).


I’m not entering (obviously) but to get things started I’m going to write in a few weeks about one of my favorite tropes (and reading kinks) which I have explored in various ramifications over and over in my fiction, and that is: The Forced Marriage. I have no idea why I love this trope. I just do.

Good luck!


126 thoughts on “GIVEAWAY: An ARC of POISONED BLADE (Court of Fives 2)

  1. I’m a sucker for hints of a mysterious past technology/civilisation. That really gets me – like Jemisin’s Fifth Season or your Ri Amarah’s past masters. And I love ‘real life’ versions such as Graham Handcock’s stuff. The truth is out there 🙂

  2. Hi! OH I NEED THIS BOOK IN MY HANDS RIGHT NOW! He’s so beautiful and… HA I NEED IT ! (Too excited, too excited, sorry!) so… Hm… I really like when it’s about art (music, theater, drawings…) it made me feel that I doesn’t have a talent, but yeah! Oh And I like adventures! I just wanna jump in the book and be here for that someone and run with someone ! I hope there’s no much mistakes, because I’m French haha. Have a good day!

  3. Actually, the arranged / forced marriage was one of the reasons I got hooked on your novels! Starting with the Spiritwalker series. It’s my go-to trope. I blame the fanfic read in my teens.

    Antagonists to grudging respect to lovers is another trope I enjoy, though!

    And outside of romantic tropes, I love “everybody including former enemies must unite against an outside threat / due to circumstances we must work together now” kind of thing.

  4. I love when there is a exciting adventure with two characters where one is obviously attracted to the other and the other continually denies their feelings.

  5. I love a good twist in the books, with slight hints through. But make you say “oh my gosh, how did i not see that” but then you want to reread just so you can see how it all work again.

  6. I really love reading about people who marry for convenience (political alliance, economic relief, social mobility, social freedom, need I go on?), without any particular inclination for a sexual or romantic partnership… Arranged marriages work too when neither party is forced into it (apart from an internal compliance to cultural exceptions, it’s the external forcing that can make it harder to read).

    If the newly married couple end up falling for each other, or become really good friends… Hey! That’s when I screech with joy at every new scene I read. It’s my ultimate sweet spot.

    You can guess which parts I did just that reading Black Wolves. ? Also can’t deny I loved reading Spiritwalker, even though I felt every fear and anxiety Cat felt at the beginnings of her marriage, which made it hard to focus. You delivered soon after the initial frost though!

    Another reading kink of mine is the street urchin archetype. I doubt I have to explain what that might entail in detail since most fantasy readers would recognize it a mile away. It started with Feist’s Jimmy the Hand from Riftwar Saga. He is still one of my favourite characters in anything. I love reading just about every type of story with that trope: from light adventure stories of thieving to the most intense survival-in-the-streets narrative. Kitty from Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud and Jennifer Nielsen’s Ascendance Trilogy are particular examples that jump to my mind; but even when this trope is only a side character in a big epic story, they end up stealing all my focus. ?

  7. I love if the story actively engages with lore, legends, mythology and the feeling that a story takes place in a world with a history (big chock), which is probably an occupational hazard. It gives the story so much depth and a sense of lived experience, and somehow makes the world more believable.

  8. I am NOT entering but participating anyway:

    I’m a sucker for the big map. I know Diana Wynne Jones makes fun of it in her book, but a well drawn map that shows stuff even beyond where the characters go? That’s the stuff. I want to believe in a world that extends far past what the characters see and do. A map helps me in that belief.

  9. I like when something ordinary is more than it seems, like the Companions in Valdemar.

  10. Love it when the leader of a team or gang rounds up his old compadres for one last job. Similar to Daniel Polansky’s THE BUILDERS.

  11. I love the hate-to-love trope. When two people grate on each other at first and don’t want to admit they like each other, but it turns into something more. Like Cat and Andevai 🙂

  12. When the villian reforms and becomes the awkward family member trope (a la Zuko) (aka not as big of a jerk as you could have been)

  13. The “defiant” woman who proves she can do anything the men can do — if not more…and I’m a sucker for true love that starts through dislike.

  14. When protagonists are forced to choose between (or among!) emotionally horrible options. Frex, a protag who has sworn not to kill and is faced with a choice of killing someone or watching other people die. Or who has to betray someone close to them in order to save the kingdom, that sort of thing. Most important is how the story proceeds afterward: how messed in the head the protag and other affected characters are.

  15. Language as power, either in the magical sense (like Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series), or more generally (like Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch series, with Radchaii = civilized)

  16. Science based magic (like in Rothfuss) or magic from everyday overlooked craft type things (stitch witches! the Circle of Magic kids!)

  17. I have 252158943 embarrassing reading kinks, but I am perhaps least able to resist hurt/comfort in any form, so long as the comfort feels earned. I am trying to think of something I read recently that fits … Ancillary Justice and Graceling might have my favorite h/c scenes I’ve read in the last year.

  18. I always like when the bully is one-upped by the hero or somehow humiliated. Although that sometimes leads other problems.

  19. The romance that comes from a place of legitimate strife and opposition, ala Lizzie & Darcy, Cat & Vai, Truthwitch’s Safi and (no spoilers!) . . .

  20. The odd girl that’s never been accepted by her peers finally accepts herself and not only does she finally find her kindred spirits but it ends up making her a hero.

  21. I love it when a cool, reserved character looses their … Stuff. That scene in BUSMAN’S HONEYMOON where the housekeeper cleans off all the port bottles and Bunter explodes? GOLDEN!

  22. I kind of love when characters get off on the wrong foot and hate each other at the beginning, but over time learn things about each other that makes them become friends in the end (or more!).

  23. I’m not entering – I’m digital only. But this was a really good exercise!

    I love books with a sense of wonder.
    I love books with a good mystery.
    I love books with a good romance.
    I love books where the characters are in constant conflict with each other.

    I don’t think any of those are tropes though. How about this: I love books about women who find their own power/stand up to the status quo.

  24. I pretty much always go for the “girl disguised” trope. Disguised as a guy, disguised as a servant, disguised as anything other than what she is. The chutzpah behind disguises and the ability to make people think you are other always gets me reading.

  25. Faeries. Immediate “yes”. Not tiny wee Tinkerbells, but not always monstrous. Mix of seeile and unseelie, sidhe and pixes.

  26. I just love how you take an ordinary character who through experiences and adversity, discovers their own seeds of greatness, simply by being themselves – not some deus ex machina big reveal, but their own qualities that were there all along. Like Alain from Crown of Stars, and or Mai in the Crossrads Trilogy.

  27. I just love how you take an ordinary character who through experiences and adversity, discovers their own seeds of greatness, simply by being themselves – not some deus ex machina big reveal, but their own qualities that were there all along. Like Alain from Crown of Stars, and or Mai in the Crossrads Trilogy.

  28. My reading kink is definitely the girl dressing in boy’s clothing, whether it’s a disguise to make people think she’s a boy (Twelfth Night) or just because she’s more comfortable that way (The Beekeeper’s Apprentice).

  29. I love incredibly proud and arrogant male and female leads with great banter/wit/insults who eventually end up together.

  30. I am a sucker for a book with a prologue. Especially if it’s connection is not made clear until the end or close to it.
    Perhaps the finest example I can think of is Jack McDevitts ‘A Talent for War’.

  31. I like when they have a strong family bond. When they would do anything for their family. I just finished soundless, and loved how fei would do anything for her sister.

  32. My reading kink would probably be a female character who is strong, self sufficient, and intelligent. She may have to go through a tough time (quest stuff, personal struggles, whatever,) but she always comes out stronger in the end.

  33. My favourite trope of all (if it can be described as such) is women supporting and believing other women (particularly in the face of trauma, misogyny, or attempts to set the women in competition with one another), as found in things like Orphan Black, Orange Is The New Black, Pretty Little Liars, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

    If that’s not tropey enough, I’m also a huge fan of found families, particularly if they’re formed because of, and must face, life or death circumstances.

  34. A map! It has to have a map!
    And if that’s not enough it has to have a strong lead with backbone and a sense of humour. Not like that weakling Harry Potter, or the short and furry Mr Baggins (either one). Something like Ms Babylon Steel, or Prince Jalan Kenneth (but without the obscenities.)
    Oh and a decent twist that makes you want to gasp and read it all again for the clues you missed.
    Finally, when I pick up the book and look at the page (without reading anything) I don’t want to feel like I’m looking at a kids book – one in which 450 pages could fit into 250 if they had less white space and a font size that doesn’t rival for King of Crayons.
    Enough? 🙂

  35. Great responses to this question so far! Here’s my two cents…

    I love a character who is strong but broken and finds a way to come back from it (the phoenix rising from the ashes metaphor comes to mind). Maybe they were not strong before being broken but they emerge as strong characters afterwards (Alina from Smoke and Bone, Kaz from Six of Crows, Darrow from Red Rising). You could argue that some of these characters were strong before being broken but that being broken incited them to take a stand. Maybe they are strong and manage to hang on to that in spite of being broken (Celaena from Throne of Glass). Either way, the pain transforms them. Sometimes the need for revenge underlies the transformation, sometimes it’s something (or someone) else. Watching the internal struggle is fascinating.

    I am also a fan of villains who are not evil incarnate. A 100% evil villain leaves a lot less room for conflict. Make the protagonist (and reader!) struggle with what to make of the villain. There are some poignant moments borne of this conflict in the Hunger Games (Snow and Coin) and Smoke and Bone (Darkling) series.

  36. I think one of my big ones has to be strong family ties, whether blood family or “found” family (or some combination of the two)

  37. I am such a sucker for the “you know me, but you don’t know my secret identity” trope, a la Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s often seen in comics, but works just as well in non-visual fiction.

  38. Fake dating/engagements/marriages are my greatest weakness. It’s especially delicious when the two characters hate each other at first, and insist that they’re definitely not going to fall in love with each other. Bonus points if, after they realize they might be falling in love, there’s a scene where one overhears the other talking like they still hate the other person.

    Now I feel like I need to read all the fake dating books. Woe.

  39. I love maps. I’m a sucker for maps.

    And a more word-oriented kink: I love stories that feature mercenaries of some kind, people that focus on staying alive, fighting dirty, etc. than honor and fighting fair.

  40. What a great topic!

    I have a lot of reading kinks. But I *really* have a thing for ‘feisty red-headed’ characters. I know there’s probably a glut of them in fantasy, but I wish there were more. (Especially if they’re feisty red-headed guys, because I feel like that doesn’t get done as much.)

  41. Other than being a total sucker for in-world novellas that reveal storyline or background info, my biggest kink or catch would probably be witty characters, but more specifically: duos where one is witty and snarky, and the other often is not (Locke and Jean, Royce and Hadrian, Egil and Nix, etc).


  42. Dark gray morality – willing to go farther than most without being a pyscho/sociopath.

    Actual kink that is enjoyed by both parties guilt-free

  43. Ahhhhh, the sequel! <3 I adored Court of Fives and can't wait to read this book. One of the tropes I really love it hate-to-love romance in books! There is something about two people loathing each other at first, and then turning that passion into something else. In YA, one of my favorite examples is Fire & Brigan, in Fire by Kristin Cashore! 🙂

    Thank you so much!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

  44. I love when girls dress up as boys in order to deal with an oppressive society refusing to let them do anything. Actually any pretending to be something you’re not story always hits sweet spots.

  45. My reading kink? A love for the land (usually) that does not immediately purpose the plot, yet reveals that a character some would consider drab has a love: The gentleman who is an artist of landscapes (Labrynth Gates); the witch who gardens (Ursula Vernon, many works); the magistrate in Terry Pratchett near Koom Valley who fishes; often a love of cats (Charles Stross works). Even the love of sunsets can do (Chaz Brenchley’s short stories set at sea.)

  46. OK, so many good ones before me: but I love the “Unrecognised Hero”

    The MC who battles (unknowingly) the Evil in their World b/c it feels ‘right’ for him/her to do.

    They face unsurmountantble odds, but with magic or perseverance, they achieve a positive result: – not necessarily a ‘win’, but at least an hiatus where they can try (yet again) to beat the odds.

    Great fun to read, and one is rooting for them all the way 🙂

  47. I love when our hero/heroine is told over and over again that the only way to achieve their goal is to change a large chunk of their personality (stop participating in too many/all sports, pretend to be in a higher/lower class standing than they actually are, change their moral beliefs based on what the social norms are); only to weather the storm, stick to who they are, and come out better on the other side, regardless of the outcome, because they stayed true to themselves.

  48. I love the arrogant guy who gets knocked on his rear end by the girl. And I love what I guess you could call evenly matched romance: where she saves him and he saves her (I love rescue missions) not he saves her all the time, or even she gets him out of every scrape. Something like a tug of war when they’re equal strength so no one can win, but somehow each big heave brings the both closer to the center

  49. When the reader knows a secret that the characters don’t and it is clear it is going to blow up in their faces at some point.

  50. Far future and alternate history set on an earth that isn’t our earth, something that has hints of the familiar, but is also jarringly *different*, or alien. Love that!

  51. I love the grand sweeping stories – of seemingly unrelated characters with their own stories – who cross paths at the end in the most unexpected ways! Gives me chills everytime!

  52. I’m a sucker for the minimalist man where he’s not very demonstrative, but every little comment/movement can be read a wealth of different ways. When all is revealed, I go back and re-read those moments again!

  53. Multiple story lines, or following multiple characters, which converge and diverge and there’s the tension of wondering when paths will cross. That’s my kryptonite.

  54. The kink I love is the struggle in a character has low self confidence and has to become stronger through the event that causes them to confront that weakness.
    Let the adventure begin…

  55. I love the characters who have a past that they have to overcome. Whether that manifests as an emotional barrier or a physical handicap, I love those characters.

  56. I am always a sucker for the characters that start with nothing and end up at the top. I love complex story lines with plenty of details and back story.

  57. Probably my biggest kink is when a character often viewed as useless or of no real worth comes out and does something so badass it gives those around them a new perspective on this undervalued character. Don’t know why, but it gets me every single time. Shai stabbing the corrupt Marshal/Guardian of Argent Hall (sorry I’m unbelievably bad with remembering names 🙁 ) is an example that springs to mind.

    The two parties of a forced marriage falling for each other is another I can’t help but indulge in, a recent example being Sarai and Gil from Black Wolves.

  58. I love stories in which women do All the Things. I don’t mean there can be no male characters, but I love it when there are major AND minor female characters playing a whole lot of roles.

    More literally, I like any story that has to do with the theater or other kinds of performance. I like people who quote things, it doesn’t matter if the things are invented on the spot by the author or actually exist.

    I love attention to nature, scenery, geography, and geology.

    And I love banter, especially between people who have known one another for a long time and have in-jokes, though a developing friendship where you see the in-jokes come into being is also excellent.

    I like characters who study and work to discover truth, particularly but not only scientists.

  59. Girls starting out as rivals and ending up as lovers, ala Korra and Asami. Also, two people starting out mistrusting each other, and falling in love as they build trust, like in Kristen Cashier’s Fire, or even just having strong chemistry before they build trust, like Tess and Ilya. Who also fit a third kink for me, which is couples that fight but then have fun making up, and even when fighting obviously love each other.

  60. Oh my gosh, I am dying for the second book!!!! I sing and have since I was small. I love fantasy books with main characters who sing or are musical. Although sometimes they drive me crazy if they are too hand-wavy or just ridiculous about it. One favorite: After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper. Gigantic crystals on an alien world that must be placated by song to travel past them. And the mystery of why.

    Oh, just read above. Yes, talking cats, for sure. 😉

  61. I am a sucker for ordinary girl/boy finding out that they are extraordinary. It gets me every time.

  62. I totally love when the main character doesn’t end up with the first character they fall in love with. I think the first love at first sight kinda thing is overdone, and I usually prefer the second love interest more than the first, so when a book has the character end up with someone other than the first person they fall in love with, I’m all over it ( think the Shatter Me series <3)

  63. Brooding, swoonworthy guys who fall for badass, independent, and fierce female characters.

  64. What I love the most is the sidekick, the girl who is always highlighted as the best friend of the female lead character, who is supportive, fierce, witty, and adds both subtle and bold humor to scenes and when she gets a chance to shine, she does but in a awesome way. The sidekick deserves a happy ending too!!

  65. Difficult, angry girls who are not disarmed by love, but armored and armed to the teeth by it. Women who would rather be feared than loved. Women who will drag their queendom kicking and screaming to victory.

  66. i have a special affection for stories where the reader comes to know the protagonist without dialogue. usually you learn about a character by his/her interactions with others, without that, i think a special type of creativity is at work. for example, in the martian, the 1st 4 or 5 chapters only have one character but i still got a chance to know mark watney pretty well before any other characters were introduced.

  67. villains with good bits and heros with bad bits.. popular culture imposes the Manichean heresy in most of its tales, Luke/Darth, Potter/Voldemort, etc. Life is more complicated and I like stories that reflect that..

  68. What I love the most is the sidekick, the girl who is always highlighted as the best friend of the female lead character, who is supportive, fierce, witty, and adds both subtle and bold humor to scenes. When she gets a chance to shine, she does but in a awesome way. The sidekick deserves a great happy ending too!!

  69. I love the forced marriage trope too but since you picked that one I have to say I also really love witty characters. Especially when it’s two “love interests” verbally abusing each other in quick back and forth dialogue.

  70. Snark. I’m a sucker for witty snark. And for books in which people admit their failings and are loved and valued anyway, eventually.

  71. I am a sucker for a mis-matched (class, personality, or other societal reason) romance where both characters are too smart to know better; where they see all the pitfalls and problems and then STILL, despite everything, choose for each other with open eyes, as equals, knowing that they will have to work it out and things won’t be smooth. So not a passionate “swept away” romance — though there’s room for passion in this trope, for certain! — more of a slow burn. Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vine in Dorothy Sayers’ novels are my archetype for this…but Bujold does it multiple times in the Vorkosigan series too.

  72. 1. A clear presence of family or kinship network that is mostly positive (whether a birth or found family) and plays a strong role in the protagonist’s life. Like the idea that if you are in trouble, you can ask Mom or Aunt Xia Xia or ‘my-brother-from-another-mother Dave’ to help. Or even just mentioning that you climbed trees with your sister when you were young, and that’s how you can scale this wall, or buying a souvenir for your nephew so you go to the market and…

    Basically, I don’t care as much for loner heroes, or heroes who maybe have a single friend plus a love interest. I love heroes that are part of a network of people they care about. (Plus my inner game master starts salivating at all the lovely plot hooks…)

  73. I LOVE second chance romances, crossdressing and revenge plots.
    I also have an unhealthy affection for main characters who are questionable people with a heart of gold – like, a murderer with compassion, a thief with ethics, this sort of stuff.

  74. I love the unreliable narrator set-up. Sucks me in every time. Of course, it can sometimes take a while to figure out that your narrator isn’t reliable. 🙂

  75. I love the perfect arranged marriage trope. I’ll read almost any book with that trope. I also love the found family trope where characters make their own family because they don’t have a biological family or they’ve separated from their biological family.

  76. I love the books where the helpless nobody gets swept up into a heroic quest to fulfill his destiny, or to fulfill a prophecy as the chosen one. I also love stories with young girls disguising themselves as boys and then overthrowing all expectations and gaining acceptance.

  77. Loved the first book! My trope would have to be when the main character is a bit down on themselves or feels like an outsider and has ZERO clue how people perceive him/her, especially in terms of love interests. Total cliche.

  78. The scoundrel with a heart of gold, roguish and charming but who talks like he’s only after money/glory/whatever, but who will always stop to save the small child/puppy/object of sentimental value. If he’s paired with a highbrow girl who starts off looking down her nose and ends up his partner in crime and/or chaos, so much the better. (Yeah, I imprinted on Han and Leia *hard* early in life. But the pattern holds in so many lovely places!).

    I’m also crazy for historical novels looking at little-known women who were present at major events or alongside major figures. The fullness of their lives is so satisfying.

  79. I… ended up doing a whole post on it. One of my favourites from that list, though:

    “Flint and tinder” — characters who argue, snark and snipe at each other, and yet turn out to be in love all along. That kind of relationship that makes me think that Mal was better suited for Simon than Kaylee, in Firefly. People who get under one another’s skin. Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.

  80. I’m a sucker for enemies that turn into friends then lovers. Also the more snark the better for me ?

  81. Oh wow. I’m a total sucker for a few things. I love a good love story, especially if (as you mentioned) the guy is all arrogant and needs to soften and learn. I am also such a sucker for Cinderella stories. Like all of them!

  82. For some reason I love the “magic school” trope. Hogwarts in HP, the University in Kingkiller, etc. It also extends to more than just “magic,” for example the “assassin ‘school'” that Arya Stark finds herself in. I am also a sucker for a time-travelling story, though those are more hit-and-miss.

  83. Yay fo giveaways! I have so many but one of my fave reading kinks are contract marriages, like marriages when people have to get an inheritance or to seal a political allegiance and then it turns into love.

  84. I love books were there is a bad boy in it ?? That’s my total weakness, and also when there’s a bad ass girl character and a bad ass boy character and they both start off hating each other and calling each other names and they end up falling in love ??

  85. I’m partial to worldbuilding that doesn’t make the anthropologist side of me cringe. If I can start outlining an imaginary ethnography while I read, I’m happy. I guess you could say I like cultures that make sense to me. And I especially like them to be based on (because we do have to build the speculative on the familiar, I think) human cultures other that the Western European.

  86. Not entering, but I can’t resist replying:
    For femslash my reliable kinks are finding themselves raising a child together, and bedsharing before they’re in a relationship.

    For science fiction – probably anthropological, and first (or actually early) contact stories.

    I’m not sure for fantasy. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic? So crossover stuff?

  87. As far as romantic storylines, I tend to like marriages of convenience and fake relationships. For other story elements, I am very, very fond of accurate portrayals of craft work (especially textile crafts), whether or not it has anything to do with magic.

  88. I thought and thought and thought and found two: magic and quantum physics references (because it’s almost llike magic, only real!). I just looove well thought through magic systems, or when a fantasy book, all of a sudden, gives me a rendering of string theory ^^.

  89. Dragons who interact with people rather than being solely predators and magic systems that make sense rather than just being a collection of hocus-pocus,

  90. I love those moments when the protagonist is so much more awesome or does something that amazes the other characters, and everyone is all shocked and jaw-droppy. It was so far beyond their expectation that they are stunned, and the protagonist is just like, “What? This is just what I do. I never thought it was special.” It’s tropey, but it feels true when protagonists are blind to what is special about them. And I’m all like, “Yeah! Own it, rock it, you show them!”

    As we can see I get unreasonably excited by it. <3

  91. I love it when the antagonist’s past parallels the protagonist’s present, when antagonist and protagonist are forced to empathize with each other and their understandings of good and evil become muddied or disappear altogether.

  92. I love strong girls…….strong girls that grow up to be strong women! Hooray for female characters that are confident enough to hold their own in a male dominated culture. A little athleticism and quick wit/sarcasm keeps it interesting as well.

  93. I just love to read! As a child when desperate I’d settle for cereal boxes, milk cartons, anything! I carry a book with always and am willing to read in the check out line at the grocery store.
    Anymore I will often have a pulp paper, ebook and audio all being read, depending on where my location is!
    Fantasy / sci-fi my favorite genre with maybe a tie to the more galant side of the high middle ages. But I love most fiction. Love history, especially Egyption, Western European, and early Americana
    I started discovered your Crossroads series then Jaran (So loved these!) then on to Crown of Stars working through Spirit Walker Series!
    I love books that make me hate to see the end of a story. Your’s do exactly that!

  94. I almost always fall for the stories where humans and creatures develop psychic/telepathic bonds with each other. I especially love it when those bonds are not exact mirrors of stories that have already been told!

  95. This might relate more to romance storylines, but… I’m a sucker for Accidental Baby Acquisition. Things are going along, as they do, people aren’t figuring out their issues, and then BAM! someone is forced into caring for a small child, and it leads to all sorts of epiphanies, etc. I know it’s not fair to the baby who is part of the trope, but I still love it anyway.

  96. I think TV Tropes is one of my favorite sites! The link, for those unaware is:

    It has so many “kinks” …normally to me a kink is something sexual, but reading is a pleasure, so I can see where you’re coming from – well, when in Rome, right?

    I think my favorite ‘kink’ is how people survive, be it in the legendary or factual past, the now that’s not, or a fantastic or scientific future; in most stories we are at the center of things. The most interesting things happen when we aren’t, but the truest part of our societies story and ourselves is revealed when we face odds against survival as we know it, after all: change is inevitable.

    Thank you for this opportunity to enter to win the ARC of Poisoned Blade.

  97. Hi there! Thanks for running this contest. My personal reading thing is that 1) I have a reading nook where not even the cat is allowed to go to. Once into my books, I love 2) a sassy heroine, and 2) a cold protagonist male who finds himself shocked when the heroine melts his heart 🙂

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