Today I’m giving away a copy of Planetfall by Emma Newman! This standalone science fiction novel will be released on November 3, and I’ve seen some fantastic advance praise for it on Goodreads and Twitter. Those in the United States are eligible to enter this giveaway, and more details are below.

Planetfall by Emma Newman

ABOUT PLANETFALL (read an excerpt):

From Emma Newman, the award-nominated author of Between Two Thorns, comes a novel of how one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…

Renata Ghali believed in Lee Suh-Mi’s vision of a world far beyond Earth, calling to humanity. A planet promising to reveal the truth about our place in the cosmos, untainted by overpopulation, pollution, and war. Ren believed in that vision enough to give up everything to follow Suh-Mi into the unknown.

More than twenty-two years have passed since Ren and the rest of the faithful braved the starry abyss and established a colony at the base of an enigmatic alien structure where Suh-Mi has since resided, alone. All that time, Ren has worked hard as the colony’s 3-D printer engineer, creating the tools necessary for human survival in an alien environment, and harboring a devastating secret.

Ren continues to perpetuate the lie forming the foundation of the colony for the good of her fellow colonists, despite the personal cost. Then a stranger appears, far too young to have been part of the first planetfall, a man who bears a remarkable resemblance to Suh-Mi.

The truth Ren has concealed since planetfall can no longer be hidden. And its revelation might tear the colony apart…

Courtesy of Penguin Random House, I have one copy of Planetfall to give away to a resident of the US!

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 “Planetfall Giveaway.” One entry per household and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from the United States are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, November 6. The 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 winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed now that the giveaway is closed.

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.

Last week brought an out-of-the-ordinary book, but first:

  • In case you missed it, I posted a review of In Midnight’s Silence by T. Frohock last week. I enjoyed it and thought it was an intriguing beginning to the Los Nefilim series.
  • This week there will be giveaways, an interview with Julie Czerneda as part of the This Gulf of Time and Stars blog tour, and possibly more!
  • Sci-Fi Month is coming! For the last couple of years, Rinn of Rinn Reads has hosted this November event, and she’s hosting it again this year along with Lisa of Over the Effing Rainbow. Anyone can participate and you can plan your own schedule. It’s a really fun event, and I’m planning to at least read and review a couple of science fiction books (including This Gulf of Time and Stars, which I’ve already read) in November as part of it!

The Official Game of Thrones Coloring Book

The Official Game of Thrones Coloring Book

The Official Game of Thrones Coloring Book will be released on October 27. Entertainment Weekly has a sneak peek of both this and The Official Outlander Coloring Book, and a few pages from it can also be seen on the publisher’s website (click “Look Inside” below the cover image). Each illustration is accompanied by a quote from the book.

 

The perfect gift for fans of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones, this one-of-a-kind coloring book features forty-five exclusive illustrations!

ALL MEN MUST DRAW

In a world where weddings are red, fire is green, and debts are paid in gold, countless images leap off the page thanks to the eye-popping intricacy of the vivid settings and details. Now, for the first time, fans of this blockbuster saga can fill in the blanks and marvel as this meticulously imagined universe comes to life, one sword, sigil, and castle at a time. With dozens of stunning original black-and-white illustrations from world-renowned illustrators Yvonne Gilbert, John Howe, Tomislav Tomić, Adam Stower, and Levi Pinfold, this unique collector’s item expands the reach of an international phenomenon with flying colors.

Other Books:

 

In Midnight’s Silence is the first book in the series of Los Nefilim novellas by T. Frohock. The second book in the series, Without Light or Guide, is scheduled for release on November 3 with the third, The Second Death, planned for March 2016. These are only available in ebook, and although I very much prefer print and rarely read books unavailable in that format, I made an exception for this one since I loved the author’s debut novel, the dark and unique fantasy Miserere: An Autumn Tale. While I preferred Miserere to this novella, I did think it was an intriguing beginning to a series and am eager to read more in the next book.

Diago, the only Nefil with the magic of both angels and daimons, has not sworn allegiance to either side even though both wish for him to serve them. His partner, Miquel, is on the side of angels and belongs to Los Nefilim, an organization that keeps an eye on demonic activity for them. When they order Miquel to move to Barcelona, Diago follows and while he’s not happy there, he thinks he made the right choice—life without Miquel would be even worse.

In October 1931, Diago continues to eke out a living as a music instructor in Barcelona. After a particularly trying piano lesson with a vicious little boy whose flirtatious stepmother seems determined to make trouble for Diago with the boy’s equally ill-tempered father, Diago cannot wait to go home and hopes to catch Miquel before he leaves for a performance later that night. On his way to their apartment, Diago is given a package left for him by some visitors. This “belated birthday present” left by some family he’s never met seems rather suspicious, and he’s even more perturbed to discover that Miquel seems to have left unexpectedly: his hat, coat, guitar, and clothes for that evening’s show are all still there. Diago opens his so-called gift to find a box and a card with an unfamiliar name on it—and inside the box he finds Miquel’s ring and blood. The letters on the card form the message, “He needs you. Come alone or not at all.”

Diago follows the clues to Miquel’s captor and finds an angel, who has Miquel, a six-year-old boy he claims is Diago’s son, and a terrible demand for Diago—sacrifice the child to the daimon Moloch or watch Miquel die.

In Midnight’s Silence is dark without being overly grim and depressing, and like Miserere, it stands out as being different despite having a mythology based on angels and demons, largely because the angels and daimons do not clearly correspond to good and evil. Diago is very compelling, and though most of the focus in this fairly short book remained on him some of the characters who showed up closer to the end are compelling as well. It’s a quick, enjoyable read that seems to be setting the foundation for the rest of the series but also tells a complete story without major cliffhangers.

Magic is rooted in music, and In Midnight’s Silence offers an intriguing glimpse into the world of angels and daimons. As is usually the case, the angels and daimons are enemies; however, while the daimon Moloch at least is suitably fiendish, the angels encountered look the part but certainly do not act the part. Unlike Moloch, the angel who took Miquel captive does not seem to delight in suffering—he believes the ends justifies the means when he can trade a single boy for an item that will save many lives—but he still threatens to kill a man if another man won’t sacrifice an innocent child.

The main protagonist, Diago, is imperfect and complex. He’s made some rather grievous errors in the past but now seems to strive to do what is right, though he doesn’t always succeed. He’s proud and stubborn but also courageous, caring, and loyal, and the latter can cause him to do what he knows to be wrong when someone he loves is in danger—though there are also certain lines he won’t cross. In past book reviews, I’ve discussed how it bothers me when characters are faced with tough choices that are then either removed or neatly resolved with very few consequences; this book is the antithesis of that. In Midnight’s Silence is very much about Diago’s choices and how he handles situations with only bad options, and there are results that will haunt him regardless of whether they’re actually his fault or not.

Although I rather liked this novella as a whole, I did find some earlier parts a bit slow, especially Diago’s search for Miquel. As a fairly short book, this didn’t last long, but I did enjoy later parts of the story much more, especially once more of the members of Los Nefilim were introduced.

That aside, In Midnight’s Silence is an intriguing first installment in a series that completely succeeded in making me want to read more about the world and characters. It appears there are more layers to both, and I’m definitely curious about finding out what’s next for Diago in Without Light or Guide!

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: From the author.

Read Chapter One

Other Reviews of In Midnight’s Silence:

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.

This past week brought some pretty interesting books, but first:

Now, the books!

The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

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

I received this ebook since I was a Kickstarter backer, but if you missed the Kickstarter, don’t despair—The Labyrinth of Flame is scheduled for release in both ebook and print formats on December 1! In the meantime, you can also read chapter one, chapter two, and chapter three on the author’s website.

The previous books in the trilogy are as follows:

  1. The Whitefire Crossing (first six chapters)
  2. The Tainted City (chapter one | chapter two)

I LOVED The Tainted City so I’m quite excited about this one, although I’ll probably wait for a print copy to read it.

 

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.

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

Ash & Bramble by Sarah Prineas

This Cinderella retelling was released last month (hardcover, ebook). Epic Reads has the first 95 pages of Ash & Bramble.

 

The tale of Cinderella has been retold countless times. But what you know is not the true story. Sarah Prineas’s bold fairy-tale retelling is a dark and captivating world where swords are more fitting than slippers, young shoemakers are just as striking as princes, and a heroine is more than ready to rescue herself before the clock strikes midnight.

Pin has no recollection of who she is or how she got to the Godmother’s fortress. She only knows that she is a Seamstress, working day in and out to make ball gowns fit for fairy tales. But she longs to forsake her backbreaking servitude and dares to escape with the brave young Shoemaker.

Pin isn’t free for long before she’s captured again and forced to live the new life the Godmother chooses for her—a fairy-tale story, complete with a charming prince—instead of finding her own happily ever after.

When the glass slipper just doesn’t fit . . .

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

Krampus: The Yule Lord by Brom

The paperback edition of Krampus will be released on October 27. An excerpt can be read on Tor.com.

I remember hearing good things about this when it was first released in hardcover!

 

Acclaimed author and artist Brom raised eyebrows and pulse rates with The Child Thief, his grim, brilliantly audacious, gorgeously illustrated reimagining of the Peter Pan legend. So what does this innovative fantasist do for an encore? He tinkers darkly with the beloved mythology of Santa Claus. Set in Appalachia, Krampus the Yule Lord is a twisted fairytale about a failed West Virginia songwriter who gets ensnared on Christmas Eve in an eternal war between a not-so-saintly Saint Nick and his dark enemy Krampus, aka Black Peter, an ancient trickster demon. Krampus the Yule Lord is Gregory Maguire (Wicked) meets Susanna Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) in the realm of Guillermo Del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth, as Clive Barker (Mr. B. Gone) works his dark sorcery from the shadows. Once again featuring Brom’s chillingly beautiful artwork throughout, Krampus the Yule Lord is a feast of wonder straight from the kitchen of Sweeney Todd.

The King's Justice by Stephen Donaldson

The King’s Justice: Two Novellas by Stephen Donaldson

This book, containing the novellas “The King’s Justice” and “The Augur’s Gambit,” was released last week (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). Tor.com has an excerpt from the first of these.

 

Two new, original novellas—Donaldson’s first publication since finishing the Thomas Covenant series—are a sure cause for celebration among his many fans.

In The King’s Justice, a stranger dressed in black arrives in the village of Settle’s Crossways, following the scent of a terrible crime. He even calls himself “Black,” though almost certainly that is not his name. The people of the village discover that they have a surprising urge to cooperate with this stranger, though the desire of inhabitants of quiet villages to cooperate with strangers is not common in their land, or most lands. But this gift will not save him as he discovers the nature of the evil concealed in Settle’s Crossways.

The “Augur’s Gambit” is a daring plan created by Mayhew Gordian, Hieronomer to the Queen of Indemnie, a plan to save his Queen and his country. Gordian is a reader of entrails. In the bodies of chickens, lambs, piglets, and one stillborn infant he sees the same message: the island nation of Indemnie is doomed. But even in the face of certain destruction a man may fight, and the Hieronomer is utterly loyal to his beautiful Queen–and to her only daughter. The “Augur’s Gambit” is his mad attempt to save a kingdom.

Other Books:

Today I’m giving away An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette! The third Iskryne book, which follows A Companion to Wolves and The Tempering of Men, was just released yesterday. I enjoyed the first two books in this series, especially A Companion to Wolves, and both authors have written some of my favorite fantasy books: Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series and The Goblin Emperor (as Katherine Addison) and Elizabeth Bear’s Edda of Burdens trilogy, Range of Ghosts, and Shattered Pillars. Those in North America are eligible to enter this giveaway for a hardcover copy of An Apprentice to Elves, and more details are below!

An Apprentice to Elves by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette

ABOUT AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES (read an excerpt):

Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear return with the third book in their Iskryne trilogy, AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES (A Tor Hardcover, $26.99, On-Sale: October 13, 2015). The third collaboration between renowned fantasy writers Bear and Monette, the trilogy began with A Companion to Wolves, and continued in The Tempering of Men. Separately, Bear and Monette have been nominated for and won the Nebula, Hugo, World Fantasy, and Locus awards – among others. Together, they have created the world of the Iskryne, a warrior culture with telephathic wolf companions.

AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES picks up the story of Alfgyfa, a young woman who has been raised in the Wolfhall by her father, Isolfr. The warrior culture of Iskryne forbids many things to women-and most especially it forbids them bonding to one of the giant telepathic trellwolves. But as her father was no ordinary boy, Alfgyfa is no ordinary girl. Her father has long planned to send his daughter to Tin, a matriarch among the elves who live nearby, to be both apprentice and ambassador, and now she is of age to go.

Publishers Weekly declares that Bear and Monette “have boldly created a fascinating world that begs further exploration” and RT Book Reviews points out that “Monette and Bear each excel at creating unique worlds… It’s no surprise that this joint effort combines their strengths into something extraordinary.” The third book from this stellar team is the perfect place to dive into their fascinating world.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

SARAH MONETTE is the acclaimed author of Mélusine and The Virtu as well as award-nominated short fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel – written under the pseudonym Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor, won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. You can visit her online at http://www.sarahmonette.com/.

ELIZABETH BEAR was the recipient of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She has won two Hugo Awards for her short fiction, a Sturgeon Award, and the Locus Award for Best First Novel. You can visit her online at http://www.elizabethbear.com/.

Together, they are the authors of A Companion to Wolves, The Tempering of Men, and An Apprentice to Elves.

Courtesy of Tor Books, I have one hardcover copy of An Apprentice to Elves to give away! This giveaway is open to residents of North America 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 “Apprentice Giveaway.” One entry per household and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from North America are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, October 23. The 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 winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway is over, the form has been removed.

Magic Shifts is the eighth book in the Kate Daniels series by #1 New York Times bestselling author(s) Ilona Andrews. The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series—and one of my favorite ongoing series period—at the moment because of the wonderful characters, entertaining and hilarious dialogue, incorporation of different mythologies, and the incredible build of both Kate’s character development and the history of her family and past. Magic Shifts is not the most momentous book in the series nor one of the better ones, but it is an entertaining story that has much of what I’ve come to love about these books.

This review will contain spoilers for the previous books in the series, which should definitely be read in order beginning with Magic Bites.

While their lives are still far from quiet, Kate and Curran have been enjoying the privacy and freedom that came with their separation from the Pack. Now they can do whatever they want without the impediment of Pack politics, and they can go home and be left alone at the end of the day. However, they can’t escape their old life completely, and their lives become a lot more hectic when they come home one night to find George waiting for them with an urgent case: Eduardo is missing and she is hoping Kate can find him.

George and Eduardo want to get married, but George’s father does not approve of his daughter marrying a man who is not also a werebear. When Eduardo disappeared he was perfectly happy to let him remain missing, and the new Beast Lord can’t get involved if an alpha of Eduardo’s clan doesn’t want his help. Seeking Kate and Curran’s aid is a sticky matter since they’re supposed to avoid any possible interference with the Pack for another month, but George is desperate and of course they’ll figure out a way to help a friend in a difficult spot, beginning with a visit to the last place Eduardo may have been seen. After Kate and Curran track his last job at the Guild to a giant tick trying to kill some cats, they visit the owner’s house only to find something far more deadly—and a trail leading to an even more powerful enemy craving vengeance.

It was with some trepidation that I began reading Magic Shifts. The seventh book contained a major event that the series had been leading up to for a long time: the appearance of Kate’s villainous father Roland. Yet, despite being a momentous book in the series, Magic Breaks was my least favorite of all the Kate Daniels books. While there were some phenomenal scenes and Roland himself met my expectations, I found it unevenly paced and outright dull at times without the sparkling dialogue and excellent characterization I’ve come to expect from this series, and I don’t think parts of the story make sense anymore. I can believe that Kate may not have heard an entirely accurate recounting of past events. I can believe that Roland, despite his vast power, is still subject to human whims and changing his mind. What I absolutely, positively cannot believe is that someone as powerful as Roland is shown to be would have ever attempted to kill Kate (or just about anyone) in the past and failed. That’s going to continue to bother me until there is a convincing explanation for either why he did not succeed or why he lied when he said that yes, he did in fact try to murder her.

While this book did not offer a convincing explanation (and actually just made me even more certain that if Roland wanted to kill someone they’d be dead), I did enjoy Magic Shifts much more than the previous book in the series. The pacing was much better, and the dialogue and narrative were imbued with humor and personality. It wasn’t even close to my favorite book in the series—it wasn’t as amazing as Magic Strikes or Magic Bleeds, and I also much preferred Magic Rises because Hugh—but it was closer to the quality I’ve come to expect from the Kate Daniels books. I thought it was nearly as good as Magic Slays, and like that book, the main story is largely filler but is also entertaining—and sows the seeds for events to come that will tie into the bigger arc.

One aspect of this series I enjoy is the way the authors weave in mythology, often including myths that are not the more common ones explored in fantasy. More recent books haven’t had this focus or handled it as well as earlier ones, but this is once again a highlight in Magic Shifts. The investigation case draws from myths and legends, and while the main cause ends up being a more common one, the details are not common. Part of the fun is the different magical beings that show up and wondering what exactly is happening—and then finding out what is happening and why.

Although Magic Shifts is fun to read, I did have a couple of issues with it. The biggest one is that the characters are not as deep or interesting as they once were. Kate’s transformation was fantastic, and I loved how her narrative reflected her character development. At this point, she seems to have become a rather static character with only two major focuses: protecting everyone around her and admiring Curran. Neither of these are bad on their own, but she is starting to seem like a two-note character since this is most of her character now. Many of the characters I enjoyed reading about so much earlier in the series only show up briefly and I’d like to see more of them and learn more about them. I would like to see more emphasis on Kate’s relationships with people other than Curran. She did spend some time with Julie in this book and reading about the two of them together was great, but it seemed like Andrea showed up just enough to remind us that Kate has a best friend. At this point in the series, the more intriguing characters are the villains, and Hugh was completely absent from this book other than occasionally being mentioned. Roland keeps things interesting when he is present, but he’s not in this one very much.

Another problem I had with this book is one I’ve had with other books in this series: potential obstacles are overcome much too easily. In both this book and the last, there were some chances for Kate to face some consequences for her choices, and yet she did not have to in the end. There was an incredibly heart-wrenching part in Magic Shifts, and Kate has to make a decision in which she is presented with two options, both of which have disadvantages. However, it all works out very neatly, and while it’s not exactly forgotten because it was such a horrible time, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to have any lasting impact either. This may sound strange since I do want Kate to be happy for once, but I’d like to see her have to work through some of these potential challenges instead of having them quickly resolved for her. Reading about how she handled them would show more about her as a person, and I think it would help with the issues I’ve begun to have with her seeming like a static character since it would be a good opportunity for character development and growth.

Magic Shifts is a perfectly readable book and a definite improvement over the last book in this series, but I also don’t think it’s as memorable as many of the other Kate Daniels books. It does have the hilarious dialogue and narrative I’ve come to expect, and I also found the mythological elements quite compelling. I very much enjoyed reading it, but after I was finished, I realized that it didn’t have as much payoff as it could have. While it does seem to be setting up some interesting future events, it didn’t show me anything new about the characters as people and some difficulties that could have helped flesh them out more were conveniently removed—and some more in-depth character development could have taken it from ‘entertaining’ to ‘outstanding’ like some of the other books in this series.

My Rating: 7.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished copy from the publisher.

Other Reviews of Magic Shifts:

Reviews of Previous Books in the Kate Daniels Series:

  1. Magic Bites
  2. Magic Burns
  3. Magic Strikes
  4. Magic Bleeds
  5. Magic Slays
  6. Magic Rises
  7. Magic Breaks