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. 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.

Only one book showed up in the mail this week, but I seem to have gotten even more books than usual for Christmas this year! Since I do want to try to fit in some review catch-up before my holiday time off from work is over in a few days, I’m going to spread them out through the next few of these posts until I’ve discussed them all. If I included them all in this single post, it would go on for a long time!

Today I’m just covering a few of the books received as gifts, plus the one that showed up in the mail at the end. All the gifts were from my wish list so they’re all books I’ve been recommended or read about that sounded interesting, and I’m pretty excited about reading all of them!

The Shapeshifters by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

The Shapeshifters (The Kiesha’ra #1-5) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

This is an omnibus containing all five books in the series. An excerpt from Hawksong and the rest of the books in the series can be read on the author’s website.

 

Five shapeshifter novels—one fascinating read!

Hawksong
Danica Shardae, an avian shapeshifter, will do anything in her power to stop the war that has raged between her people and the serpiente—even pretend to be in love with Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, and accept him as her pair bond. But will Zane strike as swiftly and lethally as the cobra that is his second form?

Snakecharm
A surprising union has brought peace to the avians and serpiente. Soon a child will be born to carry on their royal lines. But Syfka, an ancient falcon, is claiming that one of her people is hidden in the avian and serpiente land. Is Syfka’s lost falcon just a ruse to stir up controversy among them?

Falcondance
Nicias is a falcon, the son of two exiles from Ahnmik, and images of this distant island have always haunted his dreams. When his visions become more like reality, his parents send him back to the homeland—and a royal falcon—they’ve tried their best to forget.

Wolfcry
Oliza Shardae Cobriana is heir to Wyvern’s Court, home of the avians and serpiente, whose war with each other ended just before Oliza was born. But hatred is slow to die, and Oliza’s serpiente suitor is found beaten in avian land. How can she be expected to lead a unified society if her people still cannot live peacefully together?

Wyvernhail
Hai, daughter of a falcon mother and a deceased cobra father, is considered a mongrel by most, an ally by some, and a friend by few. When Hai’s cousin abdicates the throne of Wyvern’s Court, Hai has visions of destruction. Now she will do anything to protect her new home—even if it means betraying the very people who need her most.

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

An excerpt from this novel, released earlier this year, can be read on Tor.com.

 

Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick’s life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria’s Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.

In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire’s two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.

A Stranger in Olondria is a skillful and immersive debut fantasy novel that pulls the reader in deeper and deeper with twists and turns reminiscent of George R. R. Martin and Joe Hill.

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney

The Golden City (The Golden City #1) by J. Kathleen Cheney

This book, the first in a new series, was just released last month. The second book, The Seat of Magic, is scheduled for release in July 2014. The first chapter of The Golden City is available on the author’s website.

 

For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

The Dreaming Tree by C. J. Cherryh

The Dreaming Tree (Arafel #1-2) by C. J. Cherryh

This is an omnibus containing both Arafel books, The Dreamstone and The Tree of Swords and Jewels.

 

Journey to a transitional time in the world, as the dawn of mortal man brings about the downfall of elven magic. But there remains one final place untouched by human hands: the small forest of Ealdwood, in which dwells Arafel the Sidhe, who has more love of the earth than any of her kind. This is a moving, compelling tale of the last stronghold of immortality struggling to survive the rise of man.

The Blood Books: Volume One by Tanya Huff

The Blood Books: Volume One (Victoria Nelson #1-2) by Tanya Huff

This is an omnibus containing Blood Price and Blood Trail. An excerpt from Blood Price can be read on the publisher’s website.

There are six books total in this series, and there is a Volume Two omnibus with #3 and #4 and a Volume Three omnibus with #5 and #6. The remaining four titles are as follows (in order starting with book three and ending with book six): Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt, and Blood Bank.

 

Blood Price

Vicki Nelson, formerly of Toronto’s homicide unit and now a private detective, witnesses the first of many vicious attacks that are now plaguing the city of Toronto. As death follows unspeakable death, Vicki is forced to renew her tempestuous relationship with her former partner, Mike Celluci, to stop these forces of dark magic—along with another, unexpected ally…

Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII, has learned over the course of his long life how to blend with humans, how to deny the call for blood in his veins. Without him, Vicki and Mike would not survive the ancient force of chaos that has been unleashed upon the world—but in doing so, his identity may be exposed, and his life forfeit.

Blood Trail

Second in the “scary and sexy” (Judith and Garfield Reeve-Stevens, authors of The Chronicles of Galen Sword) Blood series.

For centuries, the werewolves of Toronto have managed to live in peace and tranquility, hidden quietly away on their London, Ontario farm. But now, someone has learned their secret—and is systematically massacring this ancient race.

The only one they can turn to is Henry Fitzroy, Toronto-based vampire and writer of bodice rippers. Forced to hide from the light of day, Henry can’t hunt the killer alone, so he turns to Vicki Nelson for help. As they race against time to stop the murderer, they begin to fear that their combined talents may not be enough to prevent him from completing his deadly plan.

The Eye of Night by Pauline Alama

The Eye of Night by Pauline J. Alama

An excerpt from this stand alone fantasy novel can be found on the publisher’s website.

 

From Pauline J. Alama comes a stirring fantasy tale of three vagabonds in a dying world and their terrifying quest into the heart of darkness…

The Eye Of Night

It is a magical world on the verge of collapse. In the North the Troubles rage. Cities and kings are being annihilated; the very earth is in upheaval, waking even the dead from their graves. All notions of time and space, of day and night, of seasonal change seem fractured beyond repair. But as the chaos moves slowly south, engulfing land after land, three unlikely heroes–an ex-priest, a battered serving girl, and an exquisitely beautiful, refined lady–journey bravely to the dying regions, their only weapon an enchanted stone of enigmatic power and ancient origin.

Jereth, disillusioned with his faith in the Rising God and robbed of his family after a deadly shipwreck, struggles to find meaning in his blighted life, searching the devastated land without direction–until he meets two extraordinary women. Each has her own secrets to keep; both are on a quest to save the world. But they must first save themselves, conquering their demons and rousing their well-disguised strengths. Only then will it be revealed how three penniless, unarmed wanderers can light a darkening world. For one is a prophet, one is a fool, and one’s life is now in their hands.

Heartwood by Barbara Campbell

Heartwood (Trickster’s Game #1) by Barbara Campbell

There are two additional books in this series, Bloodstone and Foxfire (in that order). An excerpt from Heartwood with links to excerpts from the other two books can be read on the author’s website.

 

Year after year, season after season, for as long as Darak’s people could remember, the battle of the Oak and the Holly had taken place, bringing an end to Winter and the rebirth of Spring. But this year the battle went wrong as Darak’s brother became possessed by the spirit of the Holly. To free him, Darak must undertake a quest to restore the very balance of nature.

The Kill Order by James Dashner

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel) by James Dashner

The Kill Order is a prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure). It’s currently available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, and the trade paperback will be released on January 7. An excerpt from The Kill Order is available.

 

The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.

2014 sounds like it will be an amazing year for books! That made it really difficult to make a list of my top 10 most anticipated books this year, though I couldn’t resist mentioning two additional books that I’m not positive will be out next year but will be pretty high on my must-read list if they are.

First, here are the 10 books I am most looking forward to that will be released in 2014!

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Dust and Light (The Sanctuary Duet #1) by Carol Berg

Release Date: August 5, 2014

Carol Berg’s fantasy books and characters are wonderful, and that would be reason enough for me to look forward to any book of hers. I’m especially excited about Dust and Light since it is set in the same world as her Lighthouse Duet—I loved that duology, especially the second half.

 

National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption….

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

Steles of the Sky (Eternal Sky #3) by Elizabeth Bear

Release Date: April 8, 2014

In my opinion, Elizabeth Bear is one of the best science fiction and fantasy authors currently writing and her books keep getting better and better. The first two books in her Eternal Sky trilogy are beautifully and thoughtfully written with sympathetic, well-developed characters. Shattered Pillars impressed me even more than the first book in the trilogy, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Samarkar, Temur, and Bansh in the conclusion.

 

Elizabeth Bear concludes her award-winning epic fantasy Eternal Sky trilogy in Steles of the Sky.

Re Temur, legitimate heir to his grandfather’s Khaganate, has finally raised his banner and declared himself at war with his usurping uncle. With his companions—the Wizard Samarkar, the Cho-tse Hrahima, and the silent monk Brother Hsiung—he must make his way to Dragon Lake to gather in his army of followers. But Temur’s enemies are not idle; the leader of the Nameless Assassins, who has shattered the peace of the Steppe, has struck at Temur’s uncle already. To the south, in the Rasan empire, plague rages. To the east, the great city of Asmaracanda has burned, and the Uthman Caliph is deposed. All the world seems to be on fire, and who knows if even the beloved son of the Eternal Sky can save it?

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Katherine Addison is also Sarah Monette, and I will read ANYTHING written by Sarah Monette because her Doctrine of Labyrinth series is one of my favorites. Her characters and their distinct voices kept me turning the pages, and I’m quite intrigued by the sound of her next book.

 

A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend… and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne – or his life.

This exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews

Release Date: July 29, 2014

Kate Daniels is my favorite urban fantasy series and one of my favorite ongoing series for many reasons: Kate’s character growth, well-developed secondary characters, intense action scenes, and a wonderful sense of humor make this series a must-read. Ilona Andrews is phenomenal at writing a series that builds well on the previous books and keeps readers invested. The sixth book was one of the better installments, and the seventh book promises to be particularly exciting since it sounds as though it’s drawing closer to seeing Roland firsthand. I can’t wait for July!

 

No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor

Release Date: April 8, 2014

Laini Taylor is another author I will read anything by and has been ever since I read Silksinger. For this reason, I read Lips Touch: Three Times soon after it came out and this just made me even more determined to read any book of hers. Her prose is especially magical, and the darkness and complexity in her second Daughter of Smoke and Bone book made me quite interested in seeing how it would end.

 

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) by N.K. Jemisin

Release Month: August 2014

I have been a fan of N. K. Jemisin since reading her excellent debut novel, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. The Broken Kingdoms and The Killing Moon are also wonderful books with complex, well-developed characters and interesting worlds, and I love the sound of her upcoming new series.

 

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Release Date: March 4, 2014

Unlike the other books on this list, I’ve never read anything by the author. I have seen a lot of people raving about this book, though, and everything I’ve heard about it has piqued my curiosity. (If you’re in the US or Canada, you can enter to win a copy of The Winner’s Curse on Goodreads through January 3!)

 

In the tradition of Kristin Cashore and Cassandra Clare comes this brilliant, unputdownable, star-crossed romance about the curse of winning.

Seventeen-year-old Kestrel is an aristocratic citizen of Valoria, a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers. Here, a girl like Kestrel has two choices: join the military or get married. Despite her skills in military strategy, Kestrel’s real passion is music.Which is why she feels compelled to buy Arin, a slave with a talent for singing, at auction. It’s not long before she finds herself falling in love with Arin, and he seems to feel the same for her. But Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for Arin is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a new world, The Winner’s Curse is a story of wicked rumors, dirty secrets, and games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs

Release Date: March 11, 2014

Mercy Thompson is my favorite character in urban fantasy after Kate Daniels, and I’ve found the books in this series to be consistently solid reads that are like catching up with old friends. I finally read the seventh book a couple of weeks ago and now I’m looking forward to reading Mercy’s next adventure.

 

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s ex is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Release Date: February 6, 2014
Read an Extract

I read Rachel Neumeier’s last published book, House of Shadows, and found it enchanting and beautifully written with some memorable characters. Plus I loved the fairy tale quality it had. I’m really looking forward to her next book, the first in a paranormal duology about werewolves (sort of). You can read more about Black Dog on the author’s website.

 

Natividad is Pure, one of the rare girls born able to wield magic. Pure magic can protect humans against the supernatural evils they only half-acknowledge – the blood kin or the black dogs. In rare cases – like for Natividad’s father and older brother – Pure magic can help black dogs find the strength to control their dark powers.

But before Natividad’s mother can finish teaching her magic their enemies find them. Their entire village in the remote hills of Mexico is slaughtered by black dogs. Their parents die protecting them. Natividad and her brothers must flee across a strange country to the only possible shelter: the infamous black dogs of Dimilioc, who have sworn to protect the Pure.

In the snowy forests of Vermont they are discovered by Ezekiel Korte, despite his youth the strongest black dog at Dimilioc and the appointed pack executioner. Intrigued by Natividad he takes them to Dimilioc instead of killing them.

Now they must pass the tests of the Dimilioc Master. Alejandro must prove he can learn loyalty and control even without his sister’s Pure magic. Natividad’s twin Miguel must prove that an ordinary human can be more than a burden to be protected. And even at Dimilioc a Pure girl like Natividad cannot remain unclaimed to cause fighting and distraction. If she is to stay she must choose a black dog mate.

But, first, they must all survive the looming battle.

Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman

Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman

Release Date: February 4, 2014

I’ve only read two books by C.S. Friedman (In Conquest Born and Feast of Souls), but I need to read more of her books since they were both quite good. Early reviews of Dreamwalker have been positive, and it sounds quite promising.

 

All her life Jessica Drake has dreamed of other worlds, some of them similar to her own, others disturbingly alien. She never shares the details with anyone, save her younger brother Tommy, a compulsive gamer who incorporates some aspects of Jessica’s dreams into his games. But now someone is asking about those dreams…and about her. A strange woman has been watching her house. A visitor to her school attempts to take possession of her dream-inspired artwork.

Why?

As she begins to search for answers it becomes clear that whoever is watching her does not want her to learn the truth. One night her house catches on fire, and when the smoke clears she discovers that her brother has been kidnapped. She must figure out what is going on, and quickly, if she and her family are to be safe.

Following clues left behind on Tommy’s computer, determined to find her brother and bring him home safely, Jessica and two of her friends are about to embark on a journey that will test their spirits and their courage to the breaking point, as they must leave their own world behind and confront the source of Earth’s darkest legends – as well as the terrifying truth of their own secret heritage.

Those are the books I know are scheduled for release in 2014 that I’m most looking forward to, but there are two more that may be released in 2014 that I’m quite excited about:

The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentleman Bastard #4) by Scott Lynch

I wasn’t really hoping for the fourth book in this series so soon after the third, but Scott Lynch said it should be released in the fall next year! While it wasn’t perfect, I did love The Republic of Thieves for its entertaining dialogue and characters and am looking forward to the next installment.

The Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

Among the books I read that made me interested in reading fantasy were Robin Hobb’s Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies. I was very excited to learn that she was writing a new trilogy about Fitz and the Fool that may be coming out next year!

I’m sure there will be other books coming out later in the year that I don’t know about yet that would be on this list, but those are the ones I’m most excited about that I know about right now! What books coming out next year are you most excited about reading?

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. 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 week brought the three books in The Baskerville Affair series by Emma Jane Holloway. The books are listed in this post in order. The first two are available, and the third will be released on December 31. You can read excerpts from all three books in the series and some related stories on the author’s website. The stories are listed on that page with the books so you can see where they fit into the timeline, and that list includes information on which stories contain spoilers for other books.

A Study in Silks by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Silks (The Baskerville Affair #1) by Emma Jane Holloway

 

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.

In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask.

A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Darkness (The Baskerville Affair #2) by Emma Jane Holloway

 

When a bomb goes off at 221B Baker Street, Evelina Cooper is thrown into her uncle Sherlock’s world of mystery and murder. But just when she thought it was safe to return to the ballroom, old, new, and even dead enemies are clamoring for a place on her dance card.

Before Evelina’s even unpacked her gowns for a country house party, an indiscretion puts her in the power of the ruthless Gold King, who recruits her as his spy. He knows her disreputable past and exiles her to the rank alleyways of Whitechapel with orders to unmask his foe.

As danger mounts, Evelina struggles between hiding her illegal magic and succumbing to the darker aspects of her power. One path keeps her secure; the other keeps her alive. For rebellion is brewing, a sorcerer wants her soul, and no one can protect her in the hunting grounds of Jack the Ripper.

A Study in Ashes by Emma Jane Holloway

A Study in Ashes (The Baskerville Affair #3) by Emma Jane Holloway

 

As part of her devil’s bargain with the industrial steam barons, Evelina Cooper is finally enrolled in the Ladies’ College of London. However, she’s attending as the Gold King’s pet magician, handcuffed and forbidden contact with even her closest relation, the detective Sherlock Holmes.

But Evelina’s problems are only part of a larger war. The Baskerville affair is finally coming to light, and the rebels are making their move to wrest power from the barons and restore it to Queen Victoria. Missing heirs and nightmare hounds are the order of the day—or at least that’s what Dr. Watson is telling the press.

But their plans are doomed unless Evelina escapes to unite her magic with the rebels’ machines—and even then her powers aren’t what they used to be. A sorcerer has awakened a dark hunger in Evelina’s soul, and only he can keep her from endangering them all. The only problem is . . . he’s dead.

Smugglivus

It’s that time of year again: the time when authors and bloggers share some of their favorite books of the year and most anticipated books coming the next year at The Book Smugglers! Today I’m over there discussing my three very favorite books I read this year and a few books coming out in 2014 that I’m looking forward to. While you’re over there, be sure to check out some of the other excellent recommendations and posts (and be prepared for your to-read pile to expand faster than you ever imagined it could!).

Today I have three anthologies with stories by great authors to give away: Dangerous Women, Twenty-First Century Science Fiction, and Year’s Best SF 18. The descriptions for each can be found below, and the giveaway details are at the end.

Dangerous Women

Dangerous Women edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois

All new and original to this volume, the 21 stories in Dangerous Women include work by twelve New York Times bestsellers, and seven stories set in the authors’ bestselling continuities—including a new “Outlander” story by Diana Gabaldon, a  tale of Harry Dresden’s world by Jim Butcher, a story from Lev Grossman set in the world of The Magicians, and a 35,000-word novella by George R. R. Martin about the Dance of the Dragons, the vast civil war that tore Westeros apart nearly two centuries before the events of A Game of Thrones.

Also included are original stories of dangerous women–heroines and villains alike–by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Sherilynn Kenyon, Lawrence Block, Carrie Vaughn,  S. M. Stirling, Sharon Kay Penman, and many others.

Writes Gardner Dozois in his Introduction, “Here you’ll find no hapless victims who stand by whimpering in dread while the male hero fights the monster or clashes swords with the villain, and if you want to tie these women to the railroad tracks, you’ll find you have a real fight on your hands.  Instead, you will find sword-wielding women warriors, intrepid women fighter pilots and far-ranging spacewomen, deadly female serial killers, formidable female superheroes, sly and seductive femmes fatale, female wizards, hard-living Bad Girls, female bandits and rebels, embattled survivors in Post-Apocalyptic futures, female Private Investigators, stern female hanging judges, haughty queens who rule nations and whose jealousies and ambitions send thousands to grisly deaths, daring dragonriders, and many more.”

The Dangerous Women anthology contains following stories:
– Introduction by Gardner Dozois
– “Some Desperado” by Joe Abercrombie – A Red Country story
– “My Heart is Either Broken” by Megan Abbott
– “Nora’s Song” by Cecelia Holland
– “The Hands That Are Not There” by Melinda Snodgrass
– “Bombshells” by Jim Butcher – A Harry Dresden story
– “Raisa Stepanova” by Carrie Vaughn
– “Wrestling Jesus” by Joe R. Lansdale
– “Neighbors” by Megan Lindholm
– “I Know How to Pick ’Em” by Lawrence Block
– “Shadows For Silence in the Forests of Hell” by Brandon Sanderson
– “A Queen in Exile” by Sharon Kay Penman
– “The Girl in the Mirror” by Lev Grossman – A Magicians story
– “Second Arabesque, Very Slowly” by Nancy Kress
– “City Lazarus” by Diana Rowland
– “Virgins” by Diana Gabaldon – An Outlander story
– “Hell Hath No Fury” by Sherilynn Kenyon
– “Pronouncing Doom” by S.M. Stirling – An Emberverse story
– “Name the Beast” by Sam Sykes
– “Caretakers” by Pat Cadigan
– “Lies My Mother Told Me” by Caroline Spector – A Wild Cards story
– “The Princess and the Queen” by George R.R. Martin – A Song of Ice and Fire story

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction edited by David G. Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden

Twenty-First Century Science Fiction is an enormous anthology of short stories—close to 250,000 words—edited by two of the most prestigious and award-winning editors in the SF field and featuring recent stories from some of science fiction’s greatest up-and-coming authors.

David Hartwell and Patrick Nielsen Hayden have long been recognized as two of the most skilled and trusted arbiters of the field, but Twenty-First Century Science Fiction presents fans’ first opportunities to see what their considerable talents come up with together, and also to get a unique perspective on what’s coming next in the science fiction field.

The anthology includes authors ranging from bestselling and established favorites to incandescent new talents including Paolo Bacigalupi, Cory Doctorow, Catherynne M. Valente, John Scalzi, Jo Walton, Charles Stross, Elizabeth Bear, and Peter Watts, and the stories selected include winners and nominees of all of the science fiction field’s major awards.

One of Publishers Weekly‘s Best Science Fiction Books of 2013

Year's Best SF 18 edited by David G. Hartwell

Year’s Best SF 18 edited by David G. Hartwell

Once again, the finest short-form SF offerings of the year have been collected in a single volume.

With Year’s Best SF 18, acclaimed, award-winning editor and anthologist David G. Hartwell demonstrates the amazing depth and power of contemporary speculative fiction, showcasing astonishing short stories from some of science fiction’s most respected names as well as exciting new writers to watch. In this anthology, prepare to travel light years from the ordinary into a tomorrow at once breathtaking, frightening, and possible with some of the greatest tales of wonder published in 2012.

Giveaway Details

Courtesy of Tor, I have a set containing the three above anthologies to give away! This giveaway is open to those with a mailing address in the US or Canada.

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 “Anthology Giveaway.” One entry per person and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from the US and Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Monday, December 30.

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!

(Now that the giveaway has ended, the form has been removed.)

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. 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 week brought one of my most anticipated books of 2014, and I also bought (and read) a novella. Both of these are by New York Times bestselling authors who write awesome books.

Half-Off Ragnarok by Seanan McGuire

Half-Off Ragnarok (InCryptid #3) by Seanan McGuire

The InCryptid universe is a fun place to visit, and I just love the Price family so I’m pretty excited about reading this one! Half-Off Ragnarok is primarily about Alex, the brother of Verity (the main character from the first two books). I already like his girlfriend from the plot description since she, like me, is fond of big cats.

Half-Off Ragnarok will be released on March 4, 2014 (mass market paperback, ebook). If you’re in the US, you can enter to win a copy on Goodreads through January 4.

The first two books in the series are Discount Armageddon and Midnight Blue-Light Special, respectively.

 

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

The third book in the InCryptid series takes us to a new location and a new member of the family, as Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner.

Of course, so do the talking mice.

Night of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor

Night of Cake and Puppets (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2.5) by Laini Taylor

If Laini Taylor writes a book, I will buy and read it—which I did soon after learning that the ebook set in the world of Daughter of Smoke and Bone was now available. It’s a novella about Zuzana and what happened when she decided to sweep Mik off his feet. I didn’t love it as much as the full-length novels, but it was definitely worth the $2.99 I spent on it.

Night of Cake and Puppets is also available as an audiobook. There’s some background information on the novella on the author’s website and an excerpt on Entertainment Weekly.

 

In this new stand-alone novella from New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor comes the story of a romantic, funny, and fantastical first date. In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone Trilogy–the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike.

Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself!

Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.