Book Description from Goodreads:

Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

Seanan McGuire’s debut Rosemary and Rue was an intriguing start to the October Daye series, and it became one of my favorite urban fantasies after reading the first few installments: there’s darkness and difficult choices, but endearing characters and amusing narrative and dialogue keep it from becoming overwhelmingly gloomy. Although I do find it annoying that Toby often misses the obvious, this does fit her character since she’s not really the reflective type. She’s the type to jump into the action feet-first and do whatever it takes to make things right, and she’s admirable because of her determination and heart. The books in the series kept getting better and better, and I was hooked.

Although I still enjoy the series and plan to keep reading it, I did not think The Winter Long was as good as most of the earlier books (and I thought the previous book ended the streak of the books continuing to get better as well). It’s possible that my expectations for this particular volume were much too high since the book description promised that Toby would learn the truth about her past, and the acknowledgments discuss that events in this book have been planned since the very beginning. While it’s true there are a lot of revelations, none of them were as surprising as I’d been expecting nor did they change much for Toby as a character. They certainly tie into her past in earlier books and some of what is learned will probably be more important to her story in future books, but I thought the new knowledge gained in this book was a letdown compared to the revelations about Amandine and therefore Toby’s magic in Late Eclipses. It seemed like the first half of the book mostly consisted of Toby being upset about learning the truth about one situation, wandering around to check on everyone, and then searching for answers that are rather conveniently found by simply showing up in the right place at the right time.

Earlier books in the series could be dark with terrible, lasting consequences, and another issue I had with this book was how easily anything potentially bad was resolved, often as a result of Toby’s magic. It’s beginning to seem like a rather convenient way to reset everything back to normal like it never even happened, which is making it difficult for me to be concerned about the characters being in danger anymore. (At the same time, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I were being intentionally lulled into a false sense of security before everything awful in the universe happens in a later book.)

Although I didn’t enjoy it as much as most of the other books in the series, The Winter Long is an entertaining book with some high points. Despite her abilities becoming a solution to so many potential problems, I did like reading about Toby’s magic and what she discovers she can do with it. Her relationships with the other characters are also great, and it’s fun to read the conversations she has with them. Also, some of the new information learned in this book is interesting even if it’s not quite as earth-shattering or compelling as I’d been hoping.

While a couple of momentous events happened, I didn’t feel like The Winter Long advanced the series very much. It had the amusing dialogue that I’ve come to expect from these books, but Toby and her friends did not evolve as characters and any major obstacles thrown at them were quickly resolved with only temporary costs. It’s possible more will be done with the new knowledge gained in this book in future installments, but there wasn’t much in this book that surprised me—and I didn’t feel like most of what was revealed changed anything other than making Toby more knowledgeable about what had happened in the past.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher/author.

My Reviews of Other Books in the October Daye Series:

  1. Rosemary and Rue
  2. A Local Habitation
  3. An Artificial Night
  4. Late Eclipses
  5. One Salt Sea
  6. Ashes of Honor
  7. Chimes at Midnight

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

A book I am very excited about reading showed up last week, but first, my favorite books of 2015 list went up last week in case you missed it.

Now, the book that showed up that sounds fantastic!

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

Masks and Shadows will be released on April 12 (trade paperback, ebook). It sounds like a book I would enjoy and was on my recent 16 Most Anticipated Books of 2016 list.

 

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

Additional Books:

2015 was not the best year for me due to several factors, including but not limited to moving with very little notice (after having just moved to a new state 6 months before) and fun health issues that made it difficult for me to eat anything for most of the month of December (just in time for the holidays!). These types of things definitely impacted the amount of reading and reviewing I did last year. I read fewer books than usual during the year, and unfortunately, I haven’t yet read many of the 2015 releases I really wanted to read.

However, I have read some of those 2015 releases I really wanted to read as well as a few books published before then—certainly enough to have found excellent books that I want to highlight! My favorite books read in 2015 are below, divided by 2015 releases and books released prior to last year.

 

Favorite Books Released in 2015

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

1. Fool’s Quest (Fitz and the Fool #2) by Robin Hobb
My Review

Robin Hobb is a phenomenal writer who is particularly skilled at creating memorable characters. Her Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies are among my favorite fantasy series of all time, and I was thrilled to hear she was writing more about the main character from the first and third of those in this latest trilogy. I was impressed by how immersive Fool’s Assassin was, especially considering it largely seemed to be set up for the rest of the trilogy, and a lot more did indeed happen in Fool’s Quest than in the first volume. It was an immensely satisfying book as a longtime fan of the series, and even though it was a massive book, I did not want it to end. It’s easily my absolute favorite book read in 2015 regardless of publication year (which is quite a feat considering how much I loved some of the other books on this list!), and I can hardly wait for the next book.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

2. Uprooted by Naomi Novik
My Review

Uprooted drew me in from the very first paragraph and kept me captivated until the last. It’s a fairy tale in which the main character, Agnieszka, must contend with the creepy Wood, an ill-tempered wizard, a crisis involving her dearest friend, and the discovery of her own magic. I particularly loved that Agnieszka herself is the driving force for change in this story. Much of her success is not just because of the great power she finds she has but because she is persistent and willing to think about and do things differently than others. I also very much enjoyed the emphasis on the friendship between her and Kasia and the romance (which was secondary to the friendship in this story).

Ash and Silver by Carol Berg

3. Ash and Silver (Sanctuary #2) by Carol Berg
(Not Yet Reviewed)

Technically, I finished this book four days after 2016 began but I’m including it anyway since it is a late 2015 release! Carol Berg is one of my favorite fantasy authors due to her tendency to write excellent books containing rich themes and characters—and this conclusion to the Sanctuary Duet certainly met these expectations. I particularly enjoyed its exploration of memory, identity, and personality, and of course, I also enjoyed finding out what happened to Lucian after the end of Dust and Light!

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

4. The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N. K. Jemisin
(Not Yet Reviewed)

N. K. Jemisin’s novels keep ending up on my year-end favorites lists because she consistently writes amazing books. The Fifth Season has a lot in common with her other novels—it’s a smart, wonderfully written story set in a fascinating world with complex, thoughtfully designed societies—but it’s also very unique and very unlike any of her other novels I’ve read. Her compelling narratives are another reason I appreciate her work so very much, and that’s also excellently done in this novel.

Dark Ascension by M. L. Brennan

5. Dark Ascension (Generation V #4) by M. L. Brennan
My Review

The Generation V series is one of the best urban fantasy series I’ve read, and I enjoyed the fourth installment every bit as much as the previous ones. The vampire mythology is different, and M. L. Brennan doesn’t shy away from examining the darker (or stranger!) aspects of being a vampire as Fort learns more about what it means to be one. Most of all, I love reading about these characters and found Fort’s complicated relationship with his sister Prudence particularly fascinating to read.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

6. The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1) by Genevieve Cogman
My Review

Genevieve Cogman’s debut novel, which is about a woman who travels to alternate worlds collecting books for an organization existing outside of time and space, is a strong start to a new series and so much fun. Irene, the main protagonist, is an extremely competent Librarian Spy due to her ability to think and act quickly, and her practicality and sense of humor shine through her narrative voice.

The Best of Nancy Kress

7. The Best of Nancy Kress
My Review

This collection of 21 short stories, novelettes, and novellas selected by the author is impressive, and I’m in awe of her ability to pack so much into shorter fiction. Nancy Kress is fantastic with both concepts and characters, and even the most succinct stories contain more intriguing ideas and stronger characterization than many novels I’ve read. Her protagonists aren’t always completely likable people, but I thought they were compelling and real due to their complications and flaws.

 

Favorite Books Published Before 2015

Two of my three favorites are previous books in two of the series mentioned above (Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb and Tainted Blood by M. L. Brennan) so I’m just going to highlight the one that’s not in one of those previously mentioned series.

Cagebird by Karin Lowachee

Cagebird (Warchild Universe #3) by Karin Lowachee
My Review

The Warchild series is excellent character-driven science fiction comprised of three interconnected tales that build on each other while telling completely separate stories from three different viewpoints. It is unflinchingly brutal in its focus on the effects of war on young people, and Yuri’s tale is the most horrific of the three as he’s quite candid about his more painful experiences (unlike Jos in Warchild). Although character is a large part of each book, I thought this one was more about the main protagonist than the other two as it delves into Yuri’s past and present—how he became trapped in his life and his attempts to free himself and find his own place in the universe. It was extremely difficult to put down and is one of my very favorite books I’ve read this year.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week – old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

It’s been a few weeks since I did one of these posts since I spent a lot of December dealing with some health issues. For now, they seem to be getting better so I’m hoping to get back to regular blogging.

I’ve tried to cover all the books that have come in since I last did one of these posts, but due to the number of books, there are a few in the additional books section that I would normally feature (the first 5, which are all books I received for Christmas and am quite interested in reading!). This post features 2 review copies, 1 Kickstarter book, and half of the books I received for Christmas (the last 5).

It has been quiet here between the health issues and the holidays, but I did put up one post last week: 16 Most Anticipated Books of 2016. I should be posting my favorite books of 2015 list this week, and I will probably be doing mini reviews of a lot of the books I’ve read but not yet reviewed as I try to get caught up.

On to the books of December!

Monstress #1 by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda

Monstress #1 by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

This comic book, released in November, has gorgeous artwork! I’ve been excited about this one ever since seeing some of the art and reading an article in which Marjorie M. Liu discussed it.

 

Astonishing X-Men and Black Widow writer MARJORIE LIU returns to comics with artist SANA TAKEDA (X-23) for an all-new ONGOING SERIES! Steampunk meets Kaiju in this original fantasy epic for mature readers, as young Maika risks everything to control her psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, placing her in the center of a devastating war between human and otherworldly forces. The adventure begins in a spectacular TRIPLE-SIZED FIRST ISSUE, with SIXTY-SIX pages of story and no ads.

The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

The Labyrinth of Flame (Shattered Sigil #3) by Courtney Schafer

Since there are so many books this time, I wasn’t going to discuss books I’ve already talked about here but I couldn’t resist including this one because I got my paperback copy from backing the Kickstarter and the trade paperback edition is lovely! The print edition isn’t yet available for purchase, although the ebook is. It’s signed and personalized and it’s a book to treasure forever!

 

Dev’s never been a man afraid of a challenge. Not only has he kept his vow to his dead mentor, rescuing a child in the face of impossible odds, but he’s freed his mage friend Kiran from both the sadistic master who seeks to enslave him and the foreign Council that wants to kill him.

But Kiran’s master Ruslan is planning a brutal revenge, one that will raze an entire country to blood and ashes. Kiran is the key to stopping Ruslan; yet Kiran is dying by inches, victim of the Alathian Council’s attempt to chain him. Worse yet, Dev and Kiran have drawn the attention of demons from the darkest of ancient legends. Demons whose power Dev knows is all too real, and that he has every reason to fear.

A fear that grows, as he and Kiran struggle to outmaneuver Ruslan and uncover the secrets locked in Kiran’s forgotten childhood. For the demons are playing their own deadly game – and the price of survival may be too terrible to bear.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

I enjoyed Alison Goodman’s Eon and LOVED the sequel Eona so I’m curious about her upcoming book, which will be available on January 26 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

 

New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells

The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien #1) by Martha Wells

Since discovering the fantastic Books of the Raksura, I’ve wanted to read more by Martha Wells. I’ve heard that this book is a particularly good one and was glad to see the paperback was available again.

 

Ile-Rien is in peril. A mysterious army known only as the Gardier has surrounded the country, attacking in ominous black airships. Hope is not lost though, for a magical sphere created by Ile-Rien’s greatest sorcerer may hold the key to defeating the faceless enemy. But the sphere is unpredictable and has already claimed several lives. When a magical spell goes disastrously awry, young Tremaine Valiarde and a brave band are transported to another world. A world of rough magics, evil mages, honorable warriors — and a secret Gardier base.

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

This book is out of print (although there is an ebook edition) so I was thrilled that I got a copy for Christmas! Reading the new books set in the Realm of the Elderlings this year made me want to read everything Robin Hobb has ever written in this setting.

 

One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of brave nobles so that the Farseer line could continue untainted. Now the truth behind the story is revealed through the account of Felicity, a low-born companion of the Princess Caution at Buckkeep.

With Felicity by her side, Caution grows into a headstrong Queen-in-Waiting. But when Caution gives birth to a bastard son who shares the piebald markings of his father s horse, Felicity is the one who raises him. And as the prince comes to power, political intrigue sparks dangerous whispers about the Wit that will change the kingdom forever…

The Madness Season by C. S. Friedman

The Madness Season by C. S. Friedman

C. S. Friedman is an excellent writer and I was quite happy to get a signed copy of this for Christmas!

 

For hundreds of years, Earth has suffered under the yoke of alien conquerors: the dreaded Tyr, a reptilian race in which all individuality is submerged into a single, overarching consciousness. Determined to keep humanity cowed, the Tyr have culled from the captive population the most intelligent, the most curious, the most likely to foment rebellion, and banished them from Earth. As the memory of freedom recedes, humanity sinks into a lethargic subservience. Daetrin, the hero of this tale, is a vampire–not a monster, however, but a man, nearly immortal, who embodies the vanished virtues of a once-sovereign Earth. When his existence is exposed by the Tyr, who are appalled to find a human who witnessed the Conquest, they immediately ship him offworld. Thus begins a journey of self-discovery as Daetrin is forced by adversity to come to grips with the long-suppressed side of his nature and to confront the ancient horror of a bloody heritage.

Ad Eternum by Elizabeth Bear

Ad Eternum (New Amsterdam #4) by Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear is one of my favorite authors so a signed copy of this limited edition was an excellent Christmas gift.

 

For centuries, the wampyr has drifted from one place to another. From one life to another. It’s 1962, and he’s returned to New Amsterdam for the first time since he fled it on pain of death some sixty years before. On the eve of social revolution, on the cusp of a new way of life, he’s nevertheless surrounded by inescapable reminders of who he used to be.

For a thousand years, he’s chosen to change rather than to die. Now, at last, he faces a different future….

Castle Waiting: Volume 1 by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting: Volume 1 by Linda Medley

During this year’s Women in SF&F Month, Memory from In the Forest of Stories discussed some SFF comics by women, including this one. It immediately went on my wish list.

 

This (wildly popular) graphic novel, a feminist fairy tale, is now in paperback.

Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil ― but about being a hero in your own home. The opening chapter tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun. Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources ― fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes ― Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature.Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, especially young girls.

Additional Books:

These lists are always hard because I know many books will be left off of it, especially ones coming out later in the year that I don’t know about yet! There are a few books that I’m hoping will come out in 2016 that would definitely be on this list if I knew they were coming out then but are not since I’m not sure they will be. I am keeping my fingers crossed for a 2016 release of Karin Lowachee’s The Warboy since I’ve now read all three Warchild books and really want to read more!

As of right now, these are some of my most anticipated books scheduled for release in 2016.

Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb

It’s been years since I read the first two trilogies about Fitz and Liveship Traders, but I read both the first and second book in The Fitz and the Fool trilogy this year—and LOVED them! Robin Hobb is an amazing writer who is particularly fantastic at characterization, and I was riveted even when simply following the characters’ daily lives in Fool’s Assassin. Fool’s Quest was even better and was immensely satisfying as a longtime fan of the series, and the final book in this trilogy is easily my #1 most anticipated book of 2016.

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip

Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip

I haven’t read a lot by Patricia McKillip yet, but what I have read is magical. Her prose is gorgeous, and she is an auto-buy author for me based on the sheer strength of her work I have read (and several of her older titles are on my to-read pile).

 

Hidden away from the world by his mother, the powerful sorceress Heloise Oliver, Pierce has grown up working in her restaurant in Desolation Point. One day, Heloise tells her son the truth: about his father, a knight in King Arden’s court, about an older brother he never knew existed, about his father’s destructive love for King Arden’s queen, and Heloise’s decision to raise her younger son alone.

As Pierce journeys to Severluna, he learns that things are changing in that kingdom. Ancient magic is on the rise. The immensely powerful artifact of an ancient god has come to light, and the king is gathering his knights to quest for this profound mystery, which may restore the kingdom to legendary glory—or destroy it.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

I always want to read anything written by Laini Taylor. She has an incredible way with words and description, and each book I read by her just makes me more sure I need to read everything she writes. Her Dreamdark books are lovely, especially Silksinger, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone and its sequel are also wonderful (I actually haven’t read the third book yet, for some reason). However, my favorite is still her dark and beautifully written novella “Hatchling” in Lips Touch: Three Times.

 

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:

the aftermath of a war between gods and men.
a mysterious city stripped of its name.
a mythic hero with blood on his hands.
a young librarian with a singular dream.
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled.
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

I was sad when I was out of books to read in the Seven Realms series so I was delighted when I learned that Cinda Williams Chima was writing another series set in the same world! It took me awhile to get into the first book in the Seven Realms series, but once I did get into it, I couldn’t put it down. The fourth book was especially phenomenal, and I am looking forward to reading more!

 

The first in a thrilling new four-book fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima, set in the same world as her beloved Seven Realms series, a generation later

Adrian sul’Han, known as Ash, is a trained healer with a powerful gift of magic—and a thirst for revenge. Ash is forced into hiding after a series of murders throws the queendom into chaos. Now Ash is closer than he’s ever been to killing the man responsible, the cruel king of Arden. As a healer, can Ash use his powers not to save a life but to take it?

Abandoned at birth, Jenna Bandelow was told that the mysterious magemark on the back of her neck would make her a target. But when the King’s Guard launches a relentless search for a girl with a mark like hers, Jenna assumes that it has more to do with her role as a saboteur than any birth-based curse. Though Jenna doesn’t know why she’s being hunted, she knows that she can’t get caught.

Eventually, Ash’s and Jenna’s paths will collide in Arden. Thrown together by chance and joined by their hatred of the king, they will come to rescue each other in ways they cannot yet imagine.

Set in the world of the acclaimed Seven Realms series a generation later, this is a thrilling story of dark magic, chilling threats, and two unforgettable characters walking a knife-sharp line between life and death.

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells

I loved The Books of the Raksura for its endearing characters and imaginative world, and I was thrilled when a new series set in the same world was announced! The first of these, The Edge of Worlds, is scheduled for release in April.

 

An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors, the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.

Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.

The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.

The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier

The Keeper of the Mist by Rachel Neumeier

One of my favorite new-to-me author discoveries of the last few years was Rachel Neumeier’s House of Shadows, and I love the sound of this upcoming fantasy!

 

A lush new fantasy about finding the will to lead against all odds, perfect for fans of Shadow and Bone.

Keri has been struggling to run her family bakery since her mother passed away. Now the father she barely knew—the Lord of Nimmira—has died, and ancient magic has decreed that she will take his place as the new Lady. The position has never been so dangerous: the mists that hide Nimmira from its vicious, land-hungry neighbors have failed, and Keri’s people are visible to strangers for the first time since the mists were put in place generations ago. At the same time, three half-brothers will their own eyes on the crown make life within the House just as dangerous as the world outside.

But Keri has three people to guide her: her mysterious Timekeeper, clever Bookkeeper, and steadfast Doorkeeper. Together they must find a way to repair the boundary before her neighbors realize just how vulnerable Nimmira is.

With a spunky main character, lyrical storytelling, and hidden romance, The Keeper of the Mist is an engrossing story that is full of adventure.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay is fantastic at sweeping epics, and his writing and characters kept me turning the pages in River of Stars and Tigana (one of my favorite fantasy books) so of course I want to read his upcoming novel.

 

The bestselling author of the groundbreaking novels Under Heaven and River of Stars, Guy Gavriel Kay is back with a new novel, Children of Earth and Sky, set in a world inspired by the conflicts and dramas of Renaissance Europe. Against this tumultuous backdrop the lives of men and women unfold on the borderlands—where empires and faiths collide.

From the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman, posing as a doctor’s wife, but sent by Seressa as a spy.

The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance, when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world…

Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip

Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip

I do not normally get excited about short story collections, but I do if they are written by Patricia McKillip! My introduction to her work was the story collection Wonders of the Invisible World. I was sent an unsolicited ARC, and I took a look at it since I’d been meaning to pick up a book by Patricia McKillip for awhile and was thinking maybe I’d start one of her novels if I liked the writing. Instead, I ended up reading the entire collection, which was wonderful!

 

A youthful artist is possessed by both his painting and his muse. Seductive travelers from the sea enrapture distant lovers. The statue of a mermaid comes suddenly to life. Two friends are transfixed by a haunted estate.

Bestselling author Patricia A. McKillip (The Riddle-Master of Hed) is one of the most lyrical writers gracing the fantasy genre. With the debut of three brand-new stories, Dreams of Distant Shores is a true ode to her many talents. Fans of McKillip’s ethereal fiction will delight in these previously-uncollected tales; those new to her work will find much to enchant them.

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is a phenomenal writer, and I’ve been a fan since her debut The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The first book in this series, The Fifth Season, is well written with an amazing world and is one of the best books I read this year.

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

Masks and Shadows by Stephanie Burgis

This is the first book on this list by an author whose work I’ve never read, but I’m very excited about this one since it sounds like my type of book and I’ve heard great things about the author’s other work!

 

The year is 1779, and Carlo Morelli, the most renowned castrato singer in Europe, has been invited as an honored guest to Eszterháza Palace. With Carlo in Prince Nikolaus Esterházy’s carriage, ride a Prussian spy and one of the most notorious alchemists in the Habsburg Empire. Already at Eszterháza is Charlotte von Steinbeck, the very proper sister of Prince Nikolaus’s mistress. Charlotte has retreated to the countryside to mourn her husband’s death. Now, she must overcome the ingrained rules of her society in order to uncover the dangerous secrets lurking within the palace’s golden walls. Music, magic, and blackmail mingle in a plot to assassinate the Habsburg Emperor and Empress–a plot that can only be stopped if Carlo and Charlotte can see through the masks worn by everyone they meet.

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

The first three books in this series will all be released in the US next year (the UK cover image is above since there doesn’t seem to be a US cover image yet). I have already read the UK edition of the first book, The Invisible Library, but I haven’t yet read The Masked City (book two). However, I am very much looking forward to it since the first book in this series is a lot of fun!

 

Librarian-spy Irene is working undercover in an alternative London when her assistant Kai goes missing. She discovers he’s been kidnapped by the fae faction and the repercussions could be fatal. Not just for Kai, but for whole worlds.

Kai’s dragon heritage means he has powerful allies, but also powerful enemies in the form of the fae. With this act of aggression, the fae are determined to trigger a war between their people – and the forces of order and chaos themselves.

Irene’s mission to save Kai and avert Armageddon will take her to a dark, alternate Venice where it’s always Carnival. Here Irene will be forced to blackmail, fast talk, and fight. Or face death.

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear is one of my favorite authors so of course I want to read her upcoming space opera!

 

Gollancz is delighted to announce the acquisition of World Rights to a two-book space opera from John W. Campbell and Hugo-Award-winning author, Elizabeth Bear.

Combining a unique concept with a compelling plot, Elizabeth Bear’s novels imagine the invention of The White Drive: an easy, nonrelativistic means of travel across unimaginable distances. The gripping story follows salvage operators, Haimey Dz and her partner Connla Kurucz, as they pilot their tiny ship into the scars left by unsuccessful White Transitions, searching for the relics of lost human – and alien – vessels.

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee

I’ve only read one short story by Yoon Ha Lee (“The Coin of Heart’s Desire” in Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales), but I was very impressed by it, especially the beautiful writing, and am quite curious about this upcoming science fiction novel!

 

The first installment of the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit, centers on disgraced captain Kel Cheris, who must recapture the formidable Fortress of Scattered Needles in order to redeem herself in front of the Hexarchate.

To win an impossible war Captain Kel Cheris must awaken an ancient weapon and a despised traitor general.

Captain Kel Cheris of the hexarchate is disgraced for using unconventional methods in a battle against heretics. Kel Command gives her the opportunity to redeem herself by retaking the Fortress of Scattered Needles, a star fortress that has recently been captured by heretics. Cheris’s career isn’t the only thing at stake. If the fortress falls, the hexarchate itself might be next.

Cheris’s best hope is to ally with the undead tactician Shuos Jedao. The good news is that Jedao has never lost a battle, and he may be the only one who can figure out how to successfully besiege the fortress.

The bad news is that Jedao went mad in his first life and massacred two armies, one of them his own. As the siege wears on, Cheris must decide how far she can trust Jedao–because she might be his next victim.

Winterwood Giveaway

Winterwood by Jacey Bedford

I hosted the cover reveal for this upcoming historical fantasy release in October, and I’ve been excited about reading it ever since! Magic, adventure, piracy, and love—those all sound great to me!

 

Set in 1800 in Britain, Mad King George is on the throne with Napoleon Bonaparte knocking on the door. Unregistered magic users are pursued to the death, while in every genteel home resides uncomplaining rowankind bondservants who have become so commonplace that no one can recall where they came from.

Meanwhile, Rossalinde Tremayne is satisfied with her life as a cross-dressing privateer captain on the high seas. But a bitter deathbed visit to her estranged mother changes her life completely when she inherits a magical winterwood box. Now, not only is she confronted with a newly-discovered brother, and an annoyingly handsome wolf shapeshifter, Rossalinde has to decide whether or not to open the box to free rowankind and right an ancient wrong—even if it brings the downfall of Britain.

This brand-new series is perfect for fans of Elizabeth Bear, D.B. Jackson, and Marie Brennan, as well as readers of historical fiction who are looking for an accessible gateway to fantasy.

The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel

An ARC of this debut science fiction novel showed up in my mailbox one day, and I’ve been interested in reading it ever since as it sounds like a book I would enjoy.

 

Deep in the stars, a young officer and her lover are plunged into a murder mystery and a deadly conspiracy in this first entry in a stellar military science-fiction series in the tradition of Lois McMaster Bujold.

When her crewmate, Danny, is murdered on the colony of Volhynia, Central Corps chief engineer, Commander Elena Shaw, is shocked to learn the main suspect is her lover, Treiko Zajec. She knows Trey is innocent—he was with her when Danny was killed. So who is the real killer and why are the cops framing an innocent man?

Retracing Danny’s last hours, they discover that his death may be tied to a mystery from the past: the explosion of a Central Corps starship at a wormhole near Volhynia. For twenty-five years, the Central Gov has been lying about the tragedy, even willing to go to war with the outlaw PSI to protect their secrets.

With the authorities closing in, Elena and Trey head to the wormhole, certain they’ll find answers on the other side. But the truth that awaits them is far more terrifying than they ever imagined . . . a conspiracy deep within Central Gov that threatens all of human civilization throughout the inhabited reaches of the galaxy—and beyond.

Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney

Dreaming Death by J. Kathleen Cheney

I still want to read The Golden City, but this new series by the same author has also caught my eye since it sounds quite intriguing!

 

In the Novels of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney created a “mesmerizing” (Publishers Weekly) realm where magic, history, and intrigue combine. Now, she presents a new world ruled by psychic talents and fatal magic…

Shironne Anjir’s status as a sensitive is both a gift and a curse. Her augmented senses allow her to discover and feel things others can’t, but her talents come with a price: a constant assault of emotions and sensations has left her blind. Determined to use her abilities as best she can, Shironne works tirelessly as an investigator for the Larossan army.

A member of the royal family’s guard, Mikael Lee also possesses an overwhelming power—he dreams of the deaths of others, sometimes in vivid, shocking detail, and sometimes in cryptic fragments and half-remembered images.

But then a killer brings a reign of terror to the city, snuffing out his victims with an arcane and deadly blood magic. Only Shironne can sense and interpret Mikael’s dim, dark dreams of the murders. And what they find together will lead them into a nightmare…

Today I’m over at SF Signal as part of a Mind Meld on Our Favorite “New to Us” Authors We Read in 2015. The question being answered is “Who is Your Favorite ‘New to You’ Author You Read in 2015?” but of course I couldn’t resist discussing more than one author and book! If you want to find more books to add to your to-read pile, check out all the answers at SF Signal.

Also, sorry it’s been so quiet here lately. I’ve been dealing with some health issues and it will probably be quiet for a little longer between that and the holidays, but I will of course be writing about my most anticipated books of 2016 and my favorite books of 2015 soon (after I’m completely done reading books this year).