I’m thrilled to be giving away two copies of Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews today! The Kate Daniels series is one of my favorites, and the third book in the series (Magic Strikes) is my #1 favorite urban fantasy book. The authors have done an incredible job with developing Kate’s character throughout the series, and the books are fun with a great sense of humor—and I always look forward to a new book about Kate Daniels! Magic Shifts, the eighth novel in the series, will be released on August 4.

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

ABOUT MAGIC SHIFTS (read an excerpt):

In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Courtesy of Penguin Random House, I have two copies of Magic Shifts to give away! This giveaway is open to residents of the US only.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Magic Shifts Giveaway.” One entry per household and two winners will be randomly selected. Those from the US are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Thursday, August 6. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed since the giveaway is now over.

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 (often 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.

This past week brought a few books, but first here’s what will be going up tomorrow: a giveaway of a book in one of my favorite series! I’m hoping to finally finish my review of The Invisible Library this week as well now that I have finished reading through the book again.

And now, last week’s books!

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

Cold Iron (The Malorum Gates #1) by Stina Leicht

My husband was killing time in a bookstore, came across this book, and picked it up for me. Stina Leicht was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and I have heard that her books are wonderful.

Cold Iron was published earlier this month (hardcover, paperback, ebook). The second book in the series, Blackthorne, is scheduled for release in 2016.


Fraternal twins Nels and Suvi move beyond their royal heritage and into military and magical dominion in this flintlock epic fantasy debut from a two-time Campbell Award finalist.

Prince Nels is the scholarly runt of the ancient Kainen royal family of Eledore, disregarded as flawed by the king and many others. Only Suvi, his fraternal twin sister, supports him. When Nels is ambushed by an Acrasian scouting party, he does the forbidden for a member of the ruling family: He picks up a fallen sword and defends himself.

Disowned and dismissed to the military, Nels establishes himself as a leader as Eledore begins to shatter under the attack of the Acrasians, who the Kainen had previously dismissed as barbarians. But Nels knows differently, and with the aid of Suvi, who has allied with pirates, he mounts a military offensive with sword, canon, and what little magic is left in the world.

Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

Last First Snow (Craft Sequence) by Max Gladstone

Last First Snow is both the first and fourth book in the Craft Sequence (first in chronological order and fourth in publication order). It’s available now in hardcover and ebook formats, and an excerpt from Last First Snow can be read on Tor.com. If you missed it, Max Gladstone also recently wrote a guest post here about discovering new facets of characters when grouping them together in this book.

If you do want to read them in publication order, they are as follows:

  1. Three Parts Dead
  2. Two Serpents Rise
  3. Full Fathom Five

The number that matches each book’s chronological order can be found in its title.


The fourth novel set in the compellingly modern fantasy world of the Craft Sequence

Forty years after the God Wars, Dresediel Lex bears the scars of liberation—especially in the Skittersill, a poor district still bound by the fallen gods’ decaying edicts. As long as the gods’ wards last, they strangle development; when they fail, demons will be loosed upon the city. The King in Red hires Elayne Kevarian of the Craft firm Kelethres, Albrecht, and Ao to fix the wards, but the Skittersill’s people have their own ideas. A protest rises against Elayne’s work, led by Temoc, a warrior-priest turned community organizer who wants to build a peaceful future for his city, his wife, and his young son.

As Elayne drags Temoc and the King in Red to the bargaining table, old wounds reopen, old gods stir in their graves, civil blood breaks to new mutiny, and profiteers circle in the desert sky. Elayne and Temoc must fight conspiracy, dark magic, and their own demons to save the peace—or failing that, to save as many people as they can.

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Zer0es will be available on August 18 (hardcover, ebook).


Five hackers—an Anonymous-style rabble-rouser, an Arab Spring hacktivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll—are detained by the U.S. government, forced to work as white-hat hackers for Uncle Sam in order to avoid federal prison. At a secret complex known only as “the Lodge,” where they will spend the next year working as an elite cyber-espionage team, these misfits dub themselves “the Zeroes.”

But once the Zeroes begin to work, they uncover secrets that would make even the most dedicated conspiracy theorist’s head spin. And soon they’re not just trying to serve their time, they’re also trying to perform the ultimate hack: burrowing deep into the U.S. government from the inside, and hoping they’ll get out alive. Packed with electric wit and breakneck plot twists, Zer0es is an unforgettable thrill ride through the seedy underbelly of “progress.”

The Edge of Dawn by Melinda Snodgrass

The Edge of Dawn (Edge #3) by Melinda Snodgrass

The third book in the Edge series will be available on August 4 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from The Edge of Dawn can be read on the Tor/Forge blog.

The first two books in the series are as follows:

  1. The Edge of Reason (Read the first 169 pages)
  2. The Edge of Ruin

The final battle approaches for a band of modern paladins, fighting for the light of science and reason, and against an ancient supernatural army poised to destroy the world

What do you do when the Earth is under assault from monstrous creatures by alternate dimensions and you’re the only person who can wield the weapon that can destroy them? That’s the situation facing Richard Oort, hero of the Edge novels.

Lonely and overwhelmed after a series of terrifying, catastrophic global and personal events, Richard is still determined to save the world from the horrific Old Ones. He goes undercover in a Christian fundamentalist compound, playing house with an attractive FBI agent. At first, this only serves to increase his loneliness, missing his real family, but against all odds discovers another unique human who can use the paladin’s weapon, one who might be able to join him and lighten the burden of responsibility. There’s only one problem — Mosi is a nine year old Navajo girl.

Their enemies are trying to kill both Richard and Mosi—and have already killed Mosi’s family. To keep her safe Richard becomes her guardian, but an error in judgement leads to disaster and betrayal, and now the odd pair will need to summon all their strength to survive the coming battle. From the American southwest to a secret society in Turkey, the paladin and his ward try to stay in front of their enemies, but the world is at stake—and time is running short.

The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells

The Devil’s Only Friend (John Cleaver #4) by Dan Wells

The fourth book in the John Cleaver series, which is also the first book in a new trilogy, is available now (hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from The Devil’s Only Friend can be read on Tor.com.

The books in the previous trilogy are as follows:

  1. I Am Not a Serial Killer
  2. Mr. Monster
  3. I Don’t Want to Kill You

There’s also a novella, Next of Kin, that introduces this new trilogy.


John Wayne Cleaver hunts demons: they’ve killed his neighbors, his family, and the girl he loves, but in the end he’s always won. Now he works for a secret government kill team, using his gift to hunt and kill as many monsters as he can…

…but the monsters have noticed, and the quiet game of cat and mouse is about to erupt into a full scale supernatural war.

John doesn’t want the life he’s stuck with. He doesn’t want the FBI bossing him around, he doesn’t want his only friend imprisoned in a mental ward, and he doesn’t want to face the terrifying cannibal who calls himself The Hunter. John doesn’t want to kill people. But as the song says, you can’t always get what you want. John has learned that the hard way; his clothes have the stains to prove it.

When John again faces evil, he’ll know what he has to do.

The Devil’s Only Friend is the first book in a brand-new John Wayne Cleaver trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Dan Wells.

The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

The Dinosaur Lords (The Dinosaur Lords #1) by Victor Milán

This novel will be released on July 28 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from The Dinosaur Lords can be read on Tor.com.


A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden – and of war. Colossal planteaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meateaters like Allosaurus and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from batsized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.

Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán’s splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics…and the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where we have vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engaged in battle. And during the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac – and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.

Book Description from Goodreads:

He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted…

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…

Darkwalker, E. L. Tettensor’s debut novel and a Compton Crook Award finalist, is the first book in the Nicolas Lenoir series. The second book, Master of Plagues, was released earlier this year.

Honestly, I’m having some difficulty figuring out what to think of Darkwalker as a whole. The second half is enjoyable and left me with a somewhat positive impression of it, although it was never captivating enough for me to love it and want to pick up the next book immediately. However, due to life, it took me a few months to get back to reviewing it so I ended up rereading most of the book in order to write a review. While I still think it became a fun book eventually, this also reminded me of just how dull and tedious earlier parts of the book are, and the weaker aspects of the novel left more of an impression this time.

Darkwalker is a mystery in a secondary world fantasy setting revolving around an antihero—and the first few chapters constantly reminded me of these elements. I felt the story did not flow naturally because it was too apparent that someone was trying to make sure I, the reader, got the point that Nicolas Lenoir was a flawed detective living in a world not our own. Nicolas has imperfections; therefore, there is much about how jaded and apathetic he is complete with comparisons to a more idealistic character, topped off with a discussion about flaws in humanity. He’s an inspector so there’s a scene where he has dinner with the orphan Zach (who, of course, wants to be an inspector himself when he grows up!) and plays a detective game that allows him to share his thought processes when investigating. It’s a fantasy: the line of questioning involved in solving the crime revolves around learning about the Adali people and their culture. While some of this contains information important to the novel, I felt that it could have been less convenient and heavy-handed at times, especially toward the beginning of the book.

Once Zach disappears and Nicolas actually begins investigating rather than going through the motions of doing so without any actual thought or effort (because of how very jaded and apathetic he is, of course), it becomes more compelling. While it does still sometimes suffer from a lack of subtlety, the story starts to unfold more naturally, especially after the Darkwalker is introduced. Nicolas has encountered this spirit in the past, and part of the story is not just revealing more about the Darkwalker and his connection to the mystery but showing Nicolas grappling with his past—and the resulting growth of his character. Although he’s not explored enough for him to be what I’d call an incredibly deep character, he is one of the more intriguing aspects of the book since he does possess a mixture of both good and bad qualities. In addition to feeling defeated by what he’s seen, he’s an irritatingly arrogant know-it-all, but he also does have a heart, as shown by the way he looks out for Zach and goes to great lengths to find him when he does disappear. In this book, Nicolas seems a bit too much like the stereotype of the jerk with a heart of gold underneath it all, but it is an interesting character type and I’d like to see his character developed further in future books.

My biggest problem with Nicolas was not that he could be unlikable at times: it was that he was presented as being brilliant but he didn’t act like he was. That is supposed to be due to the fact that he hasn’t truly cared about being a good detective for years and is too indifferent to spend time thinking about his cases. Yet I felt like someone known to be as intelligent as he should have been much quicker on the uptake at times even if he was out of practice, and I only believed he was a fantastic detective because I kept reading that he used to be the best.

I have very conflicting feelings about Darkwalker. The beginning was dull and obtrusive when laying out the groundwork, but it did get better and develop into an entertaining story once the titular character was more involved. However, it never excited me, but I also realize that it wasn’t exactly the type of book that generally appeals to me since it was focused on mystery and crime first and fantasy second. I also would have liked to have seen Nicolas developed a bit more: he’s an interesting personality, but he’s also a bit of a generic antihero and one I did not find believable as an exceptional detective. There is a lot of potential, but I also thought there was room for significantly better execution even if it was a decent, fun story in the end.

My Rating: 5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher at the request of the author.

Read an Excerpt (Click the link below the cover image)

Other Reviews:

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 (often 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.

This past week brought several books, including another anniversary present that took a little while to get here since it had to be forwarded a couple times from old addresses.  It sounds great and was worth the wait, though! Another book that I’ve already discussed that is coming out soon also arrived. Here’s the link in case you missed it:

I finally finished the review I was writing but didn’t put it up last week since I finished it toward the end of Thursday, which was the day before Max Gladstone’s post on revisiting old friends was scheduled to go up. It should go up this week, though!

On to last week’s books!

The Innkeeper's Song by Peter S. Beagle

The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle

This signed copy is an anniversary gift that showed up a little late. I’ve read a couple of books by Peter Beagle, and reading his excellent story “The Children of the Shark God” in Beyond the Pale last year reminded me that I really need to read more of his work!


The Innkeeper’s Song is the story of young Tikat’s search for the lover whose death and resurrection he witnessed. It is a search that will lead him into a world of magic and mystery beyond his comprehension, for his wild ride sets him on the trail of three women who are blessed – or cursed – to undertake an impossible mission of their own. Each of the three has secrets – from the world, from the two others, from herself. Each is followed by demons she can never escape. And all their destinies will be irrevocably linked in a far distant inn, when hunted and hunters finally meet. Karsh, the innkeeper, has no choice but to let the tangled drama unfold beneath his roof; his stable boy, Rosseth, is so mesmerized by the three cloaked women that he is soon finds a way to uncover what is perhaps their deepest secret; and Tikat continues his journey, refusing to let death bring an end to his love. But it is not until the once-powerful man who has called the three women joins their number that the true quest will begin. And this is a challenge that may claim all their lives before they are done. For he who has been their mentor in the past, he who has been the greatest of wizards, lingers now at the very edge of death. And only they can save him from the enemy who has brought this doom upon him, an enemy who is heir to all the ailing man’s magic, an enemy whom even Death has not been able to defeat…

Dead Man's Reach by D. B. Jackson

Dead Man’s Reach (Thieftaker Chronicles #4) by D. B. Jackson

This historical fantasy will be released on July 21 (hardcover, ebook). It’s the final book in the Thieftaker Chronicles following Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls (published in that order). Tor.com also has two short stories set in the same world, “A Spell of Vengeance” and “The Price of Doing Business.”

An excerpt from Dead Man’s Reach is available on the publisher’s website.


Let the battle for souls begin in Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth, stand-alone novel in D.B. Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.

Boston, 1770: The city is a powder keg as tensions between would-be rebels and loyalist torries approach a breaking point and one man is willing to light the match that sets everything off to ensure that he has his revenge.

The presence of the British Regulars has made thieftaking a hard business to be in and the jobs that are available are reserved for Sephira Pryce. Ethan Kaille has to resort to taking on jobs that he would otherwise pass up, namely protecting the shops of Torries from Patriot mobs. But, when one British loyalist takes things too far and accidentally kills a young boy, even Ethan reconsiders his line of work. Even more troubling is that instances of violence in the city are increasing, and Ethan often finds himself at the center of the trouble.

Once Ethan realizes why he is at the center of all the violence, he finds out that some enemies don’t stay buried and will stop at nothing to ruin Ethan’s life. Even if that means costing the lives of everyone in Boston, including the people that Ethan loves most.

The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth

The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth

The Eternal World will be available on August 4 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).


The author of the cult favorite President’s Vampire series combines historical fiction with modern-day action, adventure, vengeance, and paranormal twists in this page turning thriller in the spirit of James Rollins, Brad Thor, and Douglas Preston

Five hundred years ago, a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for gold, led by a young and brilliant commander named Simon De Oliveras, land in the New World. What they find in the sunny and humid swamps of this uncharted land is a treasure far more valuable: the Fountain of Youth. The Spaniards slaughter the Utiza, the Native American tribe who guard the precious waters that will keep the conquistadors young for centuries. But one escapes: Shako, the chief’s fierce and beautiful daughter who swears to avenge her people?a blood promise that spans more than five centuries. . .

When the source of the fountain is destroyed in our own time, the loss threatens Simon and his men, and the powerful shadowy empire of wealth and influence they have built. For help, they turn to science, to David Robinton, a scientific prodigy who believes he is on the verge of the greatest medical breakthrough of all time. But as the centuries-old war between Shako and Simon reaches its final stages, David makes a horrifying discovery about his clients and the mysterious and exotic woman he loves. Now, the scientist must decide: is he a pawn in game of hunter and predator . . . or will he be its only winner?

Bat out of Hell by Alan Gold

Bat out of Hell: An Eco-Thriller by Alan Gold

This novel will be released on September 1 (hardcover, ebook).


From the jungles of Indonesia to the very heart of New York City comes a plague that kills 100 percent of its victims. Medicine’s greatest nightmare, this modern black death is caused by the most virulent and uncontrollable mutant virus humanity has ever witnessed. And medicine can do nothing to stop its merciless spread.

Scientist Debra Hart and her team of experts are tasked by the United Nations to stop the disease. Racing against time, they must find the cause and the cure and figure out why this deadly disease—spread by bats—is killing thousands in cities across the globe. Debra and her team will struggle to stop the disease from spreading to millions more, even if it means killing off every bat alive. But fighting to prevent her are manic animal rights’ activists who rail against species genocide, even if it means risking the deaths of human beings. And hidden behind a cloak of secrecy is a crazed academic who’ll even kill top American government officials to save one living creature.

This is the nightmare scenario that Debra faces as the public becomes so terrified of bats that entire communities become vigilantes.

The Way of Sorrows by Jon Steele

The Way of Sorrows (The Angelus Trilogy #3) by Jon Steele

The Way of Sorrows will be released on August 4 (hardcover, ebook). It’s the final book in The Angelus Trilogy following The Watchers and Angel City.

An excerpt from The Way of Sorrows is available on the publisher’s website (click “Read an Excerpt” below the cover).


The earthly—and cosmic—adventures of Katherine Taylor and Jay Harper come to an electrifying, action-packed conclusion in The Way of Sorrows, the final installment of Jon Steele’s critically acclaimed Angelus Trilogy.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner

This movie tie-in edition of the second book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Maze Runner includes a foreword by Wes Ball, the director, and eight pages of photos from the film. The book (hardcover, paperback, and ebook) will be released on August 4; the movie will be in theaters on September 18.

An excerpt from The Scorch Trials is available on the publisher’s website (click “Read an Excerpt” underneath the cover). The previous book in the trilogy is The Maze Runner and the following book is The Death Cure. There is also a prequel, The Kill Order.


Read the second book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series that is soon to be a motion picture, hitting theaters September 18, 2015, and is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. This special movie tie-in trade paperback edition features an eight-page full-color insert with photos from the film and an exclusive fan sticker. The first book, The Maze Runner, is now a movie featuring the star of MTV’s Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien; Kaya Scodelario; Aml Ameen; Will Poulter; and Thomas Brodie-Sangster! Also look for James Dashner’s newest series: the Mortality Doctrine that includes The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts.

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.

Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.

There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.

The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch–the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.

There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction–and they’re determined to survive.

Today’s guest is Max Gladstone, author of the four novels in the Craft Sequence! While Three Parts Dead was his first published novel, it’s actually third in the sequence chronologically while the recently-released Last First Snow is first. Two Serpents Rise is second in both publication and chronological order, and Full Fathom Five is fifth in order, of course. You can read more about the order in the author’s Tor.com article “This is How I Numbered My Books and I’m Sorry.” You can also read more about what happened when supporting characters from previously published books were brought together in Last First Snow, released earlier this week, below!

Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

Revisiting Old Friends

Who are you, really, when you’re alone?

We, humans I mean, base whole religious traditions around the struggle to answer this question. We climb mountains, sit under trees, whip and starve ourselves, we contort ourselves into singularly uncomfortable positions, we take long walks alone with a few thousand of our closest friends through the Spanish countryside, we take mushrooms and talk to God, all to discover who we really are when nobody’s watching.

It’s such a tricky question because most of who we are, we are with other people. We live through networks of association—we’re parents, friends, lovers. We’re particular sorts of those things: the kind of friend I am to people with whom I’ve argued philosophy for the better part of a decade is very different from the kind of friend I am to other fencers, say, or to gym acquaintances. The matter gets even more complicated when categories overlap, and our particular relationships with particular people of course grow more complicated than any category. We move through whirling masks, occupying roles as needed.

And yet when we talk about characters in fiction, we tend—and I was taught—to think of them as atoms. This one’s funny; that one’s brave. She’s clever, she’s fierce, he’s timid, he’s stoic, she’s eloquent, they’re inventive. Then we toss a bunch of characters together, and see what kind of molecule they form!

Whenever I work that way, I end up with characters who feel vivid on their own, but as often as not refuse to talk to one another on the page. It’s only after I let them break one another open a bit, and wear off one another’s self-complete edges, that my characters start living. They bind with others and reveal themselves.

Which approach served me well until I started my most recent book, Last First Snow. While Last First Snow is, like all my novels so far, a self-contained fantasy legal thriller, many of its central characters have featured in previous books in a supporting role: the efficient and powerful Craftswoman Elayne Kevarian mentored the young necromancer Tara in my first book, Three Parts Dead; Temoc, last priest of the dethroned gods, was a shadowy revolutionary in Two Serpents Rise, and the King in Red, skeletal sorcerer king turned utility magnate, also loomed large over that book. They all shone in their previous worlds. At first, writing Last First Snow, I thought, this is great! All I have to do is throw these people together and magic will result!

There was a lot more confusion than magic, in the first hundred pages of that first draft. I’d come to know these characters in different contexts, in different relationships. They didn’t have the right slots and protrusions to fit into one another. But I kept drafting, turning, examining—and something cool happened.

They fit. But not at all in the ways they’d fit with the casts of their original books! To give an easy example: these characters weren’t afraid of one another as everyone in their original books was of them, so in Last First Snow they could be more blunt, sensitive, and vicious all at once with one another. They opened up, and pushed each other to edges I never anticipated. The characters didn’t break, mind—and what I learned about them fit with what I’d known before. I just discovered the facets of themselves they’d shown to their friends and enemies in previous books (and to me!) were only a piece of a larger whole.

Which, I guess, is the point of all the travel, tree-sitting, body-contorting, pilgrimage-walking, flogging, starvation, mushrooms, and prayer. We want to knock ourselves out of our old webs, to learn how we behave in new ones.

It worked that way for my characters, at least!

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 (often 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.

Last week brought a few books, including a book I’ve been wanting to read that I received as a gift.

The week was busier than I expected and I didn’t finish a review, but I have been working on a review of Darkwalker by E. L. Tettensor as I’ve had some time. In case you missed it, a giveaway of 3 copies of Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe went up last week and will be open for entries through July 17.

On to the books!

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

This retelling of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” is an anniversary gift from my husband. I’ve heard it’s excellent and have been wanting to read it for awhile.

I have the hardcover edition, but it was released in paperback last month and is also available in ebook and audiobook. An excerpt from The Girls at the Kingfisher Club can be read on the publisher’s page for the book.


From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a “gorgeous and bewitching” (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.

With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.

In Midnight's Silence by T. Frohock

In Midnight’s Silence (Los Nefilim #1) by T. Frohock

This first book in a new trilogy of novellas was released in ebook last month. The second book, Without Light or Guide, will be available this fall.

I loved T. Frohock’s unique debut novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale, and am quite excited about her new series!


The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.

Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings

Solomon’s Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings

This debut novel’s official release date is July 14 (trade paperback, ebook), although it seems to be available in some stores now. The author is currently working on a prequel.


It’s the mid-twenty-first century. The oceans are rising, the world’s population is growing, terrorist organizations are running rampant, and it has become readily apparent that humanity’s destructive nature is at the heart of the matter.

When all faith in humanity seems lost, a startling proposal is announced: Solomon Chavez, the mysterious son of the world’s first trillionaire, announces that he, backed by a consortium of governments and wealthy donors, will build an interstellar starship—one that will convey a select group of six thousand individuals, all under the age of fifty, with no living relatives, to a recently discovered planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system. His goal is lofty: to build a colony that will ensure the survival of the human race. However, Solomon Chavez has a secret that he doesn’t dare share with the rest of the world.

With the launch date rapidly approaching, great odds must be overcome so that the starship Solomon’s Arrow can fulfill what the human race has dreamed of for millennia: reaching for the stars. The goal is noble, but looming on the horizon are threats nobody could have imagined—ones that may spell the end of all human life and end the universe as we know it.

Filled with action, suspense, and characters that will live on in the imagination, Solomon’s Arrow will leave readers breathless, while at the same time questioning what humanity’s true goals should be: reaching for the stars, or exploring the limits of the human mind?

The Dangerous Type by Loren Rhoads

The Dangerous Type (In the Wake of the Templars #1) by Loren Rhoads

This science fiction novel, the first in a trilogy, was released last week (trade paperback, ebook). The next two books are both scheduled for publication this year with Kill by Numbers coming in September and No More Heroes in November.


Set in the wake of a galaxy-wide war and the destruction of a human empire, The Dangerous Type follows the awakening of one of the galaxy’s most dangerous assassins and her quest for vengeance. Entombed for twenty years, Raena has been found and released.

Thallian has been on the lam for the last fifteen years; a wanted war criminal whose entire family has been hunted down and murdered for their role in the galaxy-wide genocide of the Templars. His name is the first on Raena’s list, as he’s the one that enslaved her, made her his assassin, and ultimate put her in a tomb. But Thallian is willing to risk everything—including his army of cloned sons—to capture her. Now it’s a race to see who kills whom first.

Alternatively, Gaven has spent the last twenty years trying to forget about Raena, whom he once saved and then lost to the clutches of Thallian. Raena’s adopted sister, Ariel, has been running from the truth: the one about Raena, about her and Gaven, and doesn’t know if she’ll be able to face either of them.

The Dangerous Type is a mix of military science fiction and an adventurous space opera that grabs you from the first pages and doesn’t let go. Along with a supporting cast of smugglers, black market doctors, and other ne’er-do-wells sprawled across a galaxy brimming with alien life, The Dangerous Type is a fantastic beginning to Loren Rhoads’s epic trilogy.

Shower of Stones by Zachary Jernigan

Shower of Stones (Jeroun #2) by Zachary Jernigan

Shower of Stones is scheduled for release on July 14 (hardcover, ebook), although it seems to be available now in at least some stores.

An excerpt from No Return, the previous book, can be read on A Daily Dose of R&R.


At the moment of his greatest victory, before a crowd of thousands, the warrior Vedas Tezul renounced his faith, calling for revolt against the god Adrash, imploring mankind to unite in this struggle.

Good intentions count for nothing. In the three months since his sacrilegious pronouncement, the world has not changed for the better. In fact, it is now on the verge of dying. The Needle hangs broken in orbit above Jeroun, each of its massive iron spheres poised to fall and blanket the planet’s surface in dust. Long-held truces between Adrashi and Anadrashi break apart as panic spreads.

With no allegiance to either side, the disgraced soldier Churls walks into the divided city of Danoor with a simple plan: murder the monster named Fesuy Amendja, and retrieve from captivity the only two individuals that still matter to her—Vedas Tezul, and the constructed man Berun. The simple plan goes awry, as simple plans do, and in the process Churls and her companions are introduced to one of the world’s deepest secrets: A madman, insisting he is the link to an ancient world, offering the most tempting lie of all… Hope.

Concluding the visceral, inventive narrative begun in No Return, Shower of Stones pits men against gods and swords against civilization-destroying magic in the fascinatingly harsh world of Jeroun.