Today I have one ebook edition of Impact Velocity by Leah Petersen to give away! While it’s the third book in The Physics of Falling series (following Fighting Gravity and Cascade Effect), it can be read as a stand alone. This science fiction romance series—with a romance between a man with unclass status and the emperor himself—sounds interesting and I’ve heard good things about it. Since this is an ebook giveaway, it is open internationally!

Impact Velocity by Leah Petersen

About Impact Velocity:

Jake has finally found peace and a family with the man he loves. But when the unimaginable happens, Jake finds himself on the run with his greatest enemy and the man who betrayed them both. If he can’t find a way to bring down the man who now wields the power of an emperor, he’ll lose not just his own life, but his daughter’s as well.

I have one copy of the Impact Velocity ebook to give away! This giveaway is open internationally, and the winner has a choice of either mobi or ePub format.

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 “Impact Velocity Giveaway.” One entry per person and one winner will be randomly selected. Those from any country are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Wednesday, January 21. 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 to verify the correct email address).

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.

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.

Due to traveling for the holidays and general holiday busyness, I’m woefully behind on these posts. It would take a long time to go through all the books since most of my Christmas gifts this year were books from my wish list. To get caught up, I’m just going to cover this week’s books I haven’t discussed before and a few other books from the last couple of weeks. I’ll be back to posting as usual next weekend.

Before I get to the books, an update on next week. Tomorrow there will be a giveaway for Impact Velocity by Leah Petersen. I’ve also been working on a review of Radiant by Karina Sumner-Smith and expect that to be posted sometime this week.

On to (some) of the books!

Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear

Bone and Jewel Creatures by Elizabeth Bear

This novella is set in the same world as the Eternal Sky trilogy beginning with Range of Ghosts. I’ve read the prequel novella, Book of Iron, and I enjoyed it very much so I was thrilled that my husband got me the signed edition for Christmas! I was also happy to see that Elizabeth Bear is working on another story about Bijou, “The Bone War.” She said the following about it on her blog: “It’s a Bijou story, it involves paleontologists and making fun of academics, and I’ll let you know when you can read it somewhere!”


Dark magic is afoot in the City of Jackals…

Eighty years Bijou the Artificer has been a Wizard of Messaline, building her servants from precious scraps, living with the memory of a great love that betrayed her. She is ready to rest.

But now her former apprentice, Brazen the Enchanter, has brought her a speechless feral child poisoned by a sorcerous infection. Now, Messaline is swept by a mysterious plague. Now the seeping corpses of the dead stalk the streets.

Now, finally, Bijou’s old nemesis–Bijou’s old love–Kaulas the Necromancer is unleashing a reeking half-death on Bijou’s people. And only Bijou and her creatures wrought of bone and jewels can save the City of Jackals from his final revenge.

Prudence by Gail Carriger

Prudence (The Custard Protocol #1) by Gail Carriger

Prudence, the first book in a new series by Gail Carriger, is about the daughter of Alexia from the Parasol Protectorate series. I was quite interested to see this since I had a lot of fun reading Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless (nothing against the last two books in the series—I just can’t keep up with ALL THE BOOKS and haven’t read them yet!).

Prudence will be available on March 17 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook) with the second book, Imprudence, to follow in 2016.


From New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger comes a new novel in the world of the Parasol Protectorate starring Prudence, the daughter of Alexia Tarabotti.

When Prudence Alessandra Maccon Akeldama (Rue to her friends) is given an unexpected dirigible, she does what any sensible female would under similar circumstances – names it the Spotted Crumpet and floats to India in pursuit of the perfect cup of tea. But India has more than just tea on offer. Rue stumbles upon a plot involving local dissidents, a kidnapped brigadier’s wife, and some awfully familiar Scottish werewolves. Faced with a dire crisis and an embarrassing lack of bloomers, what else is a young lady of good breeding to do but turn metanatural and find out everyone’s secrets, even thousand-year-old fuzzy ones?

The World of Ice and Fire

The World of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson

This is a gorgeous hardcover illustrated book containing information on the history of the world of the Song of Ice and Fire books. My husband got me a signed copy for Christmas. I haven’t read much of it yet, but it certainly was pretty to flip through!


If the past is prologue, then George R. R. Martin’s masterwork—the most inventive and entertaining fantasy saga of our time—warrants one hell of an introduction. At long last, it has arrived with The World of Ice and Fire.

This lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO’s Game of Thrones. In a collaboration that’s been years in the making, Martin has teamed with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson, the founders of the renowned fan site—perhaps the only people who know this world almost as well as its visionary creator.

Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers. It is a chronicle which stretches from the Dawn Age to the Age of Heroes; from the Coming of the First Men to the arrival of Aegon the Conqueror; from Aegon’s establishment of the Iron Throne to Robert’s Rebellion and the fall of the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen, which has set into motion the “present-day” struggles of the Starks, Lannisters, Baratheons, and Targaryens. The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin’s dazzlingly conceived universe, The World of Ice and Fire is indeed proof that the pen is mightier than a storm of swords.

Red Moon and Black Mountain by Joy Chant

Red Moon and Black Mountain (House of Kendreth #1) by Joy Chant

This out-of-print fantasy book won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1972. The other two House of Kendreth books are The Grey Mane of Morning and When Voiha Wakes (which also won a Mythopoeic Fantasy Award).


The Starlit Land of Kendrinh fell to Fendarl, the banished Lord of Black Mountain. He was the evil Enchanter of Star Magic. Nowhere in the stricken land was there a champion who could stand against him, who could fend off the black sorcery that became a horrifying reality with each rising of the Red Moon. But unbeknownst to Fendarl, a child was being raised by the Hurnei. A child who would grow to become their greatest warrior. A child who would become a man and learn the paradox of conquest and victory–and the dangers of a prophecy preordained to triumph!

Flesh and Fire by Laura Anne Gilman

Flesh and Fire (Vineart War #1) by Laura Anne Gilman

This fantasy was nominated for a Nebula Award in the Best Novel category in 2009. The next two books are Weight of Stone and The Shattered Vine, respectively.

Between the Nebula nomination and the description mentioning magic wine, how could I not want to read this?


From acclaimed bestselling author Laura Anne Gilman comes a unique and enthralling new story of fantasy and adventure, wine and magic, danger and hope….

Once, all power in the Vin Lands was held by the prince-mages, who alone could craft spellwines, and selfishly used them to increase their own wealth and influence. But their abuse of power caused a demigod to break the Vine, shattering the power of the mages. Now, fourteen centuries later, it is the humble Vinearts who hold the secret of crafting spells from wines, the source of magic, and they are prohibited from holding power.

But now rumors come of a new darkness rising in the vineyards. Strange, terrifying creatures, sudden plagues, and mysterious disappearances threaten the land. Only one Vineart senses the danger, and he has only one weapon to use against it: a young slave. His name is Jerzy, and his origins are unknown, even to him. Yet his uncanny sense of the Vinearts’ craft offers a hint of greater magics within — magics that his Master, the Vineart Malech, must cultivate and grow. But time is running out. If Malech cannot teach his new apprentice the secrets of the spellwines, and if Jerzy cannot master his own untapped powers, the Vin Lands shall surely be destroyed.

In Flesh and Fire, first in a spellbinding new trilogy, Laura Anne Gilman conjures a story as powerful as magic itself, as intoxicating as the finest of wines, and as timeless as the greatest legends ever told.

The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson

The Fox Woman by Kij Johnson

I’ve heard that this fantasy based on Japanese folklore is beautifully written. And it’s a stand alone novel!


Yoshifuji is a man fascinated by foxes, a man discontented and troubled by the meaning of life. A misstep at court forces him to retire to his long-deserted country estate, to rethink his plans and contemplate the next move that might return him to favor and guarantee his family’s prosperity.

Kitsune is a young fox who is fascinated by the large creatures that have suddenly invaded her world. She is drawn to them and to Yoshifuji. She comes to love him and will do anything to become a human woman to be with him.

Shikujo is Yoshifuji’s wife, ashamed of her husband, yet in love with him and uncertain of her role in his world. She is confused by his fascination with the creatures of the wood, and especially the foxes that she knows in her heart are harbingers of danger. She sees him slipping away and is determined to win him back from the wild … for all that she has her own fox-related secret.

Magic binds them all. And in the making (and breaking) of oaths and honors, the patterns of their lives will be changed forever.

Undertow by Elizabeth Bear

Undertow by Elizabeth Bear

I want to read everything by Elizabeth Bear. I haven’t read much of her science fiction and this is also one of those all-too-rare stand alone speculative fiction books.

An excerpt from Undertow can be read on the publisher’s website.


A frontier world on the back end of nowhere is the sort of place people go to get lost. And some of those people have secrets worth hiding, secrets that can change the future–assuming there is one. . . .

André Deschênes is a hired assassin, but he wants to be so much more. If only he can find a teacher who will forgive his murderous past–and train him to manipulate odds and control probability. It’s called the art of conjuring, and it’s André’s only route to freedom. For the world he lives on is run by the ruthless Charter Trade Company, and his floating city, Novo Haven, is little more than a company town where humans and aliens alike either work for one tyrannical family–or are destroyed by it. But beneath Novo Haven’s murky waters, within its tangled bayous, reedy banks, and back alleys, revolution is stirring. And one more death may be all it takes to shift the balance. . . .

Fortune's Blight by Evie Manieri

Fortune’s Blight (Shattered Kingdoms #2) by Evie Manieri

Fortune’s Blight will be available on February 17 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from the first book in the series, Blood’s Pride, is available on


The second book in a compelling epic fantasy series takes place after the Shadari revolution, as danger beckons across the sea—a stirring adventure in the vein of Karen Miller and Robin Hobb.

Victory for the Shadari rebels has come at a terrible price. Hardship, superstition, and petty feuds poison King Daryan’s young reign, and entire families are vanishing without a trace. Help is nowhere to be found, for their Nomas allies have troubles of their own and the Mongrel, plagued by the sins of her violent past, has disappeared.

While Daryan struggles to maintain the peace, Eofar and Rho are racing to their northern homeland to plead—or fight—for the Shadar’s independence. But Norland has changed, and they soon find themselves embroiled in the court politics of an empire about to implode. Meanwhile, the Mongrel’s path carries her deep into Norland’s frozen wastes to redeem a promise—one that forces her into the heart of the growing conflict.

As the foundations of the two far­flung countries begin to crack, an enigmatic figure watches from a tower room in Ravindal Castle. She is old, and a prisoner, but her reach is long, and her patience is about to be rewarded….

The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley

The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne #2) by Brian Staveley

The Providence of Fire will be available on January 13 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The prologue and the first six chapters can be read on, as well as the first seven chapters from The Emperor’s Blades, the first book in the series.


Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire, the second novel in the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne, a gripping new epic fantasy series.

The conspiracy to destroy the ruling family of the Annurian Empire is far from over.

Having learned the identity of her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies to challenge the coup against her family. Few trust her, but when she is believed to be touched by Intarra, patron goddess of the empire, the people rally to help her retake the capital city. As armies prepare to clash, the threat of invasion from barbarian hordes compels the rival forces to unite against their common enemy. Unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn, renegade member of the empire’s most elite fighting force, has allied with the invading nomads. The terrible choices each of them has made may make war between them inevitable.

Between Valyn and Adare is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with the help of two strange companions. The knowledge they possess of the secret history that shapes these events could save Annur or destroy it.

Unbreakable by W. C. Bauers

Unbreakable (The Chronicles of Promise Paen #1) by W. C. Bauers

This debut military science fiction novel will be released on January 13 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Unbreakable is available on


The colonists of the planet Montana are accustomed to being ignored. Situated in the buffer zone between two rival human empires, their world is a backwater: remote, provincial, independently minded. Even as a provisional member of the Republic of Aligned Worlds, Montana merits little consideration—until it becomes the flashpoint in an impending interstellar war.

When pirate raids threaten to destabilize the region, the RAW deploys its mechanized armored infantry to deal with the situation. Leading the assault is Marine Corps Lieutenant and Montanan expatriate Promise Paen of Victor Company. Years earlier, Promise was driven to join the Marines after her father was killed by such a raid. Payback is sweet, but it comes at a tremendous and devastating cost. And Promise is in no way happy to be back on her birthworld, not even when she is hailed as a hero by the planet’s populace, including its colorful president. Making matters even worse: Promise is persistently haunted by the voice of her dead mother.

Meanwhile, the RAW’s most bitter rival, the Lusitanian Empire, has been watching events unfold in the Montana system with interest. Their forces have been awaiting the right moment to gain a beachhead in Republic territory, and with Promise’s Marines decimated, they believe the time to strike is now.

Unbreakable by W.C. Bauers is character driven, military science in the tradition of John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock

The Whispering Swarm (The Sanctuary of the White Friars #1) by Michael Moorcock

The Whispering Swarm will be released on January 13 (hardcover and ebook with audiobook release on February 10). An excerpt from this upcoming novel is available on


Back in the Thirteenth Century, King Henry III granted a plot of land in the heart of London to an order of Friars known as the Carmelites. In return, they entered into a compact with God to guard a holy object. This sanctuary became a refuge for many of ill-repute, as the Friars cast no judgment and took in all who were in search of solace.

Known as Alsatia, it did not suffer like the rest of the world. No Plague affected it. No Great Fire burned it. No Blitz destroyed it. Within its walls lies a secret to existence – one that has been kept since the dawn of time – a bevy of creation, where reality and romance, life and death, imaginary and real share the same world.

One young man’s entrance into this realm sends a shockwave of chaos through time. What lies at the center of this sacred realm is threatened for the first time in human existence.

Science fiction and fantasy legend Michael Moorcock launches his first new trilogy in ten years with The Whispering Swarm.

2014 was not my best year for books since I both read and reviewed fewer books than usual, especially in the second half of the year due to moving to a new state. I am hoping to read and write reviews more regularly in 2015!

It wasn’t my best year in terms of quality of books read, either. Last year I rated three books 10/10 and this year not one book received that rating, although there were two 9/10 books. I was also disappointed in a couple of my most anticipated releases, but on the positive side some of the other books I’d been looking forward to were quite good and I discovered some good new-to-me authors this year.

While not the best year for quality and quantity of books read, 2014 was a great year for blogging in other ways. The highlight of the blogging year for me was Women in SF&F Month 2014, the third annual event dedicated to highlighting women’s contributions to science fiction and fantasy. This year’s guest posts were incredible and covered a variety of topics such as the following:

That’s just a small sampling of last year’s wonderful posts. In 2015, I’d like to both run this again and look into putting together an anthology of articles from this event. I’m not entirely sure how to do the latter so if anyone has some tips for how to go about that, I would welcome them!

Another favorite part of blogging in 2014 was Sci-Fi Month hosted by Asti and Kelley of Oh the Books! and Rinn from Rinn Reads. Nearly 100 people signed up to participate in this event dedicated to all things science fiction, and our hosts did a wonderful job with putting it together and running the Twitter account! I had a great time participating in a blogger panel about science in science fiction and I had a great time reading since two of my favorite books from this year were books I read during Sci-Fi November.

Now… On to my favorite books of 2014! This year I’m also including a section for short stories since I read more than usual (2 anthologies plus a few stories that were available to read online). These stories were not necessarily published this year, although some of them were, and they are in no particular order.

Favorite Books Released in 2014

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

1. The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
My Review

I’ve been eagerly awaiting more books by Sarah Monette since reading her excellent series The Doctrine of Labyrinth, and while it is completely different from these (darker, grimmer) books, The Goblin Emperor did not disappoint! I just loved Maia, an unloved half goblin unexpectedly thrown into the role of emperor after the rest of the royal family dies in an airship crash. He faces many challenges due to his father’s treatment of him and his lack of experience at court, but he is earnest in his desire to be the best ruler he can for his people. The Goblin Emperor is a wonderfully written, hopeful story.

Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress

2. Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress
My Review

Yesterday’s Kin is a wonderful example of why Nancy Kress is such an acclaimed science fiction author. It’s hard science fiction with a big focus on scientific research and discovery but it’s never bogged down by explanation, remaining equally focused on the characters and story. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down!

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan

3. Iron Night by M. L. Brennan
My Review

M. L. Brennan’s Generation V is the best first installment in an urban fantasy series I’ve read, and Iron Night is even better! It’s funny with an endearing main character, a vampire named Fortitude who just wants to be human. Although I love Fort, my favorite character is Suzume, a fun-loving kitsune introduced as his bodyguard in book one. Her free-spirited nature contrasts wonderfully with Fort’s less inhibited one and any scene with these two together is enormously entertaining. Iron Night is the most FUN book I’ve read in 2014. (The third book, Tainted Blood, was released toward the end of 2014 but I haven’t yet read that one.)

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

4. Dust and Light by Carol Berg
(Not Yet Reviewed – Just Finished)

In my opinion, Carol Berg’s books should be reviewed and discussed much more than they are, and Dust and Light contains so much of what I love about them. Her main protagonist is flawed, but I also understood the history and background that contributed to his attitudes and enjoyed watching them change. The writing is lovely and I especially liked the intertwining of art and magic.

Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

5. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
My Review

A young singer is captured and brought under the mountain to wed a prince of the trolls to fulfill a prophecy—but to great disappointment, nothing changes after the two are married. This is one of those books that contains a lot of familiar elements but utilizes them well. I loved the mystery surrounding the trolls and the kingdom, the growing romance between Tristan and Cecile, and Cecile’s resilience and refusal to give up.

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

6. Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier
My Review

Black Dog has a vast world full of history, and I enjoyed both its uniqueness and the way the story was set in motion long before this book began. It’s centered on three siblings with very different ranges of power—a black dog, a rare Pure, and a human—who stick together and seek to protect each other. I was left eager to read more about this world and the various characters and am looking forward to the sequel!

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

7. Half a King by Joe Abercrombie
My Review

Prince Yarvi finds himself King after the death of both his father and elder brother—which completely ruins his plan to join the Ministry and lands him in the middle of a conspiracy. Like other books by Joe Abercrombie, it’s dark with a sardonic edge, but it’s also a tighter story and lighter (if for no other reason than that many of the central characters are more sympathetic and not completely terrible people).

Favorite Books Published Before 2014

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

1. A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
My Review

A Natural History of Dragons is delightfully charming and is one of my two favorites of the year, perhaps even my very favorite book I read this year since it’s a close call between this and The Goblin Emperor. It’s told from the perspective of Isabella, Lady Trent, as she looks back on her early life and her interest in a most “unladylike” activity, the study of natural history.

Burndive by Karin Lowachee

2. Burndive by Karin Lowachee
My Review

Warchild was one of my favorite books I read last year, if not my favorite book. It took me a bit longer to become immersed in Burndive, the second book set in this universe, but once it started building more on the story from the first book I enjoyed it very much. I was also quite happy to see some of the characters from the first book. This is a science fiction series that should not be missed!

Favorite Short Stories Read in 2014

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

“The Children of the Shark God” by Peter S. Beagle
“Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” by Saladin Ahmed
“Frost Child” by Gillian Philip

Three short stories I especially enjoyed were from Beyond the Pale. My very favorite is the mythic tale “The Children of the Shark God,” but I enjoyed “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” and “Frost Child” nearly as much.

War Stories edited by Jaym Gates and Andrew Liptak

“Enemy State” by Karin Lowachee

I haven’t read War Stories, but I did read “Enemy State” because a) it’s by Karin Lowachee and b) it’s on the Apex Magazine website. She does heart-wrenching so well.

La Santisima by Teresa Frohock

“La Santisima” by Teresa Frohock

This story is very short but packs a lot of emotional impact—and you can read it free online! I read it because Teresa Frohock’s debut novel Miserere is wonderful, and I’m eagerly awaiting her second novel.

The 99th Bride by Catherine F. King

“The Ninety-Ninth Bride” by Catherine F. King

The Book Smugglers published 6 short stories on their blog this year, including “The Ninety-Ninth Bride,” an excellent feminist Arabian Nights retelling.

Bridge of Snow by Marie Rutkoski

“Bridge of Snow” by Marie Rutkoski

Bridge of Snow,” a beautifully written prequel to Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse, was published on earlier this year. I enjoyed the novel more since I prefer longer stories, but I thought the short story was technically better written and more tightly paced.

Once Upon a Time: New Fairy Tales edited by Paula Guran

“The Coin of Heart’s Desire” by Yoon Ha Lee

While I finished reading this anthology in 2014, I realized I actually read this story in late 2013 after I added it to my list. I decided to leave it here anyway since I did not make a short story list last year and the main point of lists like this is to bring attention to noteworthy works. Once Upon a Time is an anthology of fairy tales and this tale based on Korean folklore was beautifully written and my favorite of them all. In fact, it was so excellent I added Yoon Ha Lee’s collection Conservation of Shadows to my wish list even though I rarely buy or read short stories!

It’s really hard to make a list of 2015 releases I’m looking forward to because there are so many of them! Some books I’m really excited about reading—The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord, Golden Son by Pierce Brown, Half the World by Joe Abercrombie, Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman, The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, and A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall—have already been discussed on the site so I’ve decided to leave those off this list to make it easier to narrow it down to a more reasonable number of books.

There are also a few books I’m looking forward to that do not have book descriptions yet. I’ve heard that Blind Eye Books is publishing a new book by Lane Robins/Lyn Benedict, author of Maledicte, in 2015, but I don’t even know what the title is and just want to read it because I’ve enjoyed her other books. Karin Lowachee may have a fourth Warchild book, The Warboy, out as well (I guess I’d better read Cagebird and get caught up!). It sounds like The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch may also see a 2015 release since it was only a little behind schedule for a 2014 release, which would be wonderful!

Other than the previously mentioned books, here are 15 2015 releases I’m excited about (in no particular order other than those with covers first).

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Release Date: May 19

I haven’t yet read Temeraire despite hearing many good things about it, but Uprooted sounds lovely since it’s described as an original fairy tale. Plus it features a dragon!


Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1) by Kate Elliott

Release Date: August 18

I loved the world, characters, and dialogue in Kate Elliott’s Spiritwalker trilogy and want to read more of her books! I’m particularly excited to see what she does with this young adult trilogy.


In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test Kal’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

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

Release Date: August 4

This was actually on my list last year, but the release year was later pushed back to 2015 so there wouldn’t be a long wait between this book and the next. I loved the writing, characters, and worlds N. K. Jemisin created in her Inheritance and Dreamblood books and am excited to read about a new setting!


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 Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

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

Release Date: TBA

The middle book in this trilogy, The Tainted City, was one of my favorite books I read in 2012. I can’t wait to read more, and I’m glad Courtney Schafer decided to do a Kickstarter for the book so we’ll get to find out what happens to Dev and Kiran!


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.

Champion of the Scarlet Wolf by Ginn Hale

Champion of the Scarlet Wolf (Champion of the Scarlet Wolf #1) by Ginn Hale

Release Date: Fall 2015 (Ebook Available in 2014)

Technically, this book came out in 2014, but the print release is in 2015 and I almost always read print books. Champion of the Scarlet Wolf #1 and #2 are set in the same world as Lord of the White Hell. Ginn Hale writes wonderful characters, and I really enjoyed her other books in this setting.


Five years after abandoning the Sagrada Acedemy, Elezar Grunito has become infamous in the sanctified circles of noble dueling rings for his brutal temper and lethal blade. Men and women of all ranks gather to cheer and jeer, none of them knowing Elezar’s true purpose. But a violent death outside the ring marks Elezar as a wanted man and sends him into hiding in the far northern wilds of Labara.

There, creatures of myth and witchcraft—long since driven from Cadeleon—lurk in dark woods and prowl the winding streets. Soldiers and priests alike fear the return of witch-queens and even demons. Elezar soon learns that magic takes many forms, some too alluring to resist, others too terrible to endure. But just as he begins to find his place in this strange new country, the past he left behind along with his school days returns to challenge him once again.

The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu

The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty #1) by Ken Liu

Release Date: April 7

I’m not a huge short fiction reader, but I enjoyed Ken Liu’s Hugo Award-winning “Mono no aware” and am quite interested in reading his upcoming first novel—which sounds excellent!


Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, soaring battle kites, conspiring goddesses, underwater boats, magical books, as a streetfighter-cum-general who takes her place as the greatest tactitian of the age. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

Black Wolves (The Black Wolves #1) by Kate Elliott

Release Date: October 6

One reason 2015 seems like a great year for books is that not just one but TWO novels by Kate Elliott are being released (plus the collection The Very Best of Kate Elliott)!


He lost his honor long ago.

Captain Kellas was lauded as the king’s most faithful servant until the day he failed in his duty. Dismissed from service, his elite regiment disbanded, he left the royal palace and took up another life.

Now a battle brews within the palace that threatens to reveal deadly secrets and spill over into open war. The king needs a loyal soldier to protect him.

Can a disgraced man ever be trusted?

Stories of the Raksura: Volume 2 by Martha Wells

Stories of the Raksura: Volume 2 by Martha Wells

Release Date: June 2

Admittedly, I have some catching up to do before reading this one since I haven’t yet read the first volume of Stories of the Raksura (although I am hoping to read it soon). I loved the setting and characters in the Books of the Raksura and am glad Martha Wells is writing more about them!


Moon, Jade, and other favorites from the Indigo Cloud Court return with two new novellas from Martha Wells.

Martha Wells continues to enthusiastically ignore genre conventions in her exploration of the fascinating world of the Raksura. Her novellas and short stories contain all the elements fans have come to love from the Raksura books: courtly intrigue and politics, unfolding mysteries that reveal an increasingly strange wider world, and threats both mundane and magical.

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

The Dark Arts of Blood by Freda Warrington

The Dark Arts of Blood (Blood Wine #4) by Freda Warrington

Release Date: May 5

Freda Warrington’s Blood Wine books have been re-released and next year brings a brand new fourth book in the series! I still need to read books 2 and 3, but A Taste of Blood Wine was compulsively readable and one of my absolute favorite books I read in 2013 so I had to put this on the list even though I am behind on the series.


1927: In the turmoil and glamour of 1920s Europe, vampires Karl, Charlotte and Violette face threats to their very existence. Fiery, handsome dancer Emil achieves his dream to partner the legendary ballerina Violette Lenoir – until his forbidden desire for her becomes an obsession. Rejected, spiralling towards madness, he seeks solace with a mysterious beauty, Leyla. But she too is a vampire, with a hidden agenda…

Is Leyla more dangerous than the sinister activist, Goderich Mann? When Karl and Charlotte undertake an exotic, perilous journey to rescue Emil, they unearth secrets that threaten disaster for vampire-kind.

The Dark Arts of Blood is the long-awaited brand-new fourth novel in the Blood books series.

The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan

The Voyage of the Basilisk (A Memoir by Lady Trent #3) by Marie Brennan

Release Date: March 31

This is yet another series I’m behind on, but I could not leave this book off my list since A Natural History of Dragons is one of my two favorite books read in 2014. Lady Trent’s narrative voice and adventures in studying dragons were quite charming.


Devoted readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed—until now. Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella’s in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella’s life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.

A Sword Named Truth (New Trilogy #1) by Sherwood Smith

Release Date: August 4

I haven’t read the Inda series yet, but I did enjoy Banner of the Damned very much so I was quite interested to see that a new trilogy set in that world is being released.


Over the course of five books, Sherwood Smith has enthralled readers with the world of Sartorias-deles. First in the military action of the Inda series and then in the magic-based cultural drama of Banner of the Damned, Smith’s books are a tour-de-force of deadly high politics, incredibly engaging worldbuilding, and nuanced examinations of power, love, and betrayal. Readers of all stripes have praised her for the master fantasist she is.

Woven throughout these sagas is a dark mystery: the dangerous, shadowed threat of Norsunder. With incredible powers only hinted at and rare appearances of enigmatic characters, Norsunder has loomed as the ultimate villain, the very highest of stakes, and a foreboding battle to come: the great story readers have been eagerly awaiting.

A Sword Named Truth begins that story. The first installment of a trilogy, A Sword Named Truth launches readers into the non-stop action, politics, and magical threats leading to Norsunder’s return.

Our heroes span continents and cultures, ambitions and desires, but share one characteristic: they are young leaders. Many are rulers of unstable nations, growing into their power and themselves, but they are seeking ways to trust and bind themselves together – and find the strength to defend against a host that has crushed entire worlds.

Ash and Silver (The Sanctuary Duet #2) by Carol Berg

Release Date: August

Carol Berg wonderfully develops fantasy worlds and characters, and I always look forward to new books by her. I’m almost finished with the first book in this duology, Dust and Light, and I think it’s a fantasy book that deserved more discussion in 2014.


Ever since the Order of the Equites Cineré stole his memory, his name, and his heart, thinking about the past makes Greenshank’s head ache. After two years of rigorous training he is almost ready to embrace the mission of the Order – to use selfless magic to heal the troubles of Navronne. But on his first assignment alone, the past comes racing back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder.

He is Lucian de Remeni – a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can’t remember how or why.

Fighting to unravel the mysteries of his power, Lucian must trace threads of corruption that reach from the Pureblood Registry and into the Order itself, the truth hidden two centuries in the past and beyond the boundaries of the world . . .

The House of Shattered Wings by Aliette de Bodard

Release Date: August 20

I’ve wanted to read more by Aliette de Bodard since reading her Hugo nominated works “Immersion” and On a Red Station, Drifting and was thrilled to learn that she has a new novel coming out in 2015!


It is the beginning of the 21st Century, and Paris is a city of witches and alchemists; of warlocks and Fallen angels; where the colonies still feed an irrepressible appetite for novelty and distractions. The Great Magicians’ War has come and gone, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. The Grand Magasins are haunted ruins; Notre-Dame is a burnt-out shell, and the Seine has turned black with ashes and rubble and the remnants of the spells that tore the city apart.

There is not much magic left, and what little there is resides in the Fallen. They are magic; made of raw, unadulterated power that they can pass on with nothing more than a breath or a touch.

Madeleine was once a powerful witch; but she now works as an alchemist for the House of Silverspires, transferring magic from Fallen to humans. She bottles elixirs that distil the breath of the Fallen into devastating weapons; and grinds the bones of dead Fallen into ‘angel dust’, a drug that grants magical powers to those who inhale it.

But Silverspires has become a dangerous place to dwell. There is something unwelcome in the House; something dark and powerful, something that has killed and will kill again…

Cold Iron by Stina Leicht

Release Date: June 23

Stina Leicht is an author whose books I have wanted to read for awhile (I don’t think I heard anything but praise for her The Fey and the Fallen books!).


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.

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Release Date: June 2 (US/CA/Ebook)/June 4 (UK print)

Danielle L. Jensen’s debut Stolen Songbird was quite enjoyable, and I’m glad that Angry Robot will be publishing the second book of the trilogy next year even though Strange Chemistry was sadly discontinued.


Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…


Updated on 1/5: Changed the cover art and release date for Stories of the Raksura after seeing it had a new cover and date.

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.

There were more books than usual this week since my Black Friday order from the Book Depository showed up in addition to some ARCs. I have a lot I need to do to prepare for the holidays so this is just going to be some of the books, and I’ll write about some of the rest over the next few weeks. (I may not be able to write a post next week since I will be very busy with holiday plans.) This week’s post also includes a couple of e-ARCs I got a few weeks ago but didn’t write about immediately since the books weren’t yet on Amazon, Goodreads, or Librarything.

On to (some) of the books!

A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall

A Crown for Cold Silver (Book 1 of 3) by Alex Marshall

A Crown for Cold Silver will be available on April 14 (hardcover, ebook). I’ve heard really good things about this book, and it sounds like a book I would like.


An outstanding, game-changing epic fantasy debut featuring an unforgettable female warrior.


Twenty years ago, feared general Cobalt Zosia led her five villainous captains and mercenary army into battle, wrestling monsters and toppling an empire. When there were no more titles to win and no more worlds to conquer, she retired and gave up her legend to history.

Now the peace she carved for herself has been shattered by the unprovoked slaughter of her village. Seeking bloody vengeance, Zosia heads for battle once more, but to find justice she must confront grudge-bearing enemies, once-loyal allies, and an unknown army that marches under a familiar banner.

A CROWN FOR COLD SILVER is an outstanding epic fantasy debut featuring an unforgettable warrior.

Zircons May Be Mistaken by Tanith Lee

Zircons May Be Mistaken (Ghosteria Volume 2) by Tanith Lee

This short novel was released earlier this month (paperback/ebook). I haven’t read Volume 1, but since the first installment is a short story collection I suspect the second volume stands alone well.


Sometimes when people die, it comes as a great shock. Even to them…
A group of the dead linger here, in the yellow dwelling on the hill – once a castle, then a stately home, now falling into ruin.
These ghosts drift and mingle, and brood on their lost lives. Death can be caused by so many things – war, pandemics, ordinary murder – even suicide or accident. Even time. But after death, surely, one could hope for peace? Not any more.
For with 2020 the New Apocalypse began. Civilisation crashed, and outside this ancient building things terrible, predatory, mindless and unkillable roam and bellow.
Now all the lights have gone out for good –
Where do you turn?

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman The Invisible Library ARC

The Invisible Library (Book 1 of 3) by Genevieve Cogman

This debut fantasy novel is currently available as an ebook in the UK and will be released in paperback there on January 15. I don’t usually take the time to take pictures of the books, but I did in this case since the presentation was interesting. I’m looking forward to reading this one since it sounds like fun—it had me at “librarian spies”!


The first installment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who with librarian spies!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.

Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

The Moonshawl by Storm Constantine

The Moonshawl (A Wraeththu Mythos Novel) by Storm Constantine

A new Wraeththu book by Storm Constantine is always a cause for celebration! This is a stand alone Wraeththu Mythos novel, but it is related to The Hienama and Student of Kyme and takes place after these two books. The Moonshawl is currently available in paperback and ebook, and you can read what Storm Constantine had to say about the inspiration for the Wraeththu and this book here.


Ysbryd drwg… the bad ghost

Ysobi har Jesith embarks upon a job far from home, where his history isn’t known – a welcome freedom. Hired by Wyva, the phylarch of the Wyvachi tribe, Ysobi goes to Gwyllion to create a spiritual system based upon local folklore, but he soon discovers some of that folklore is out of bounds, taboo…

Secrets lurk in the soil of Gwyllion, and the old house Meadow Mynd, home of the Wyvachi leaders. The house and the land are haunted. The fields are soaked in blood and echo with the cries of those who were slaughtered there, almost a century ago. In Gwyllion, the past doesn’t go away, and the hara who live there cling to it, remembering still their human ancestors. Tribal families maintain ancient enmities, inspired by a horrific murder in the past.

Old hatreds and a thirst for vengeance have been awoken by the approaching feybraiha – coming of age – of Wvya’s son, Myvyen. If the harling is to survive, Ysobi must help him confront the past, lay the ghosts to rest and scour the tainted soil of malice. But the ysbryd drwg is strong, built of a century of resentment and evil thoughts. Is it too powerful, even for a scholarly hienama with Ysobi’s experience and skill?

The Moonshawl, an artefact of protection, was once fashioned to keep Wyvachi heirs from harm, but the threads are old and worn, the magic fading, and its sacred sites – which might empower it once more – are prohibited. Only by understanding what the shawl symbolises and how it once controlled the ysbryd drwg can Ysobi even attempt to prevent the terrible tragedy that looms to engulf the Wyvachi tribe.

‘The Moonshawl’ is a standalone story, set in the world of Storm Constantine’s ground-breaking, science fantasy Wraeththu mythos.

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

This young adult fantasy book has been on my wishlist for awhile so I couldn’t resist purchasing it when I found a signed copy! I’ve heard it’s beautifully written.


On remote Rollrock Island, men make their living–and fetch their wives–from the sea.

The Witch Misskaella knows how to find the girl at the heart of a seal. She’ll coax a beauty from the beast for any man, for a price. And what man wouldn’t want a sea-wife, to and to hold, and to keep by his side forever?

But though he may tell himself that he is the master, one look in his new bride’s eyes will transform him just as much as it changes her. Both will be ensnared–and the witch will look on, laughing.

In this magical, seaswept novel, Margo Lanagan tells an extraordinary tale of desire, despair, and transformation. With devastatingly beautiful prose, she reveals characters capable of unspeakable cruelty, but also of unspoken love.

Blood of Dragons by Robin Hobb

Blood of Dragons (Rain Wilds Chronicles #4) by Robin Hobb

Robin Hobb’s Farseer/Liveship Traders/Tawny Man trilogies are among my favorites so I’ve been collecting the books in this related series even though I haven’t yet read the first one. This final volume in the quartet is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook. The previous books in the series are as follows:

  1. The Dragon Keeper
  2. Dragon Haven
  3. City of Dragons

The dragons’ survival hangs in the balance in the thrilling final volume in the acclaimed River Wilds chronicles fantasy series

The dragons and their dedicated band of keepers have at last found the lost city of Kelsingra. The magical creatures have learned to use their wings and are growing into their regal inheritance. Their humans, too, are changing. As the mystical bonds with their dragons deepen, Thymara, Tats, Rapskal, and even Cedric, the unlikeliest of keepers, have begun transforming into beautiful Elderlings raked with exquisite features that complement and reflect the dragons they serve.

But while the humans have scoured the empty streets and enormous buildings of Kelsongra, they cannot find the mythical silver wells the dragons need to stay health and survive. With enemies encroaching, the keepers must risk “memory walking”- immersing themselves in the dangerously addictive memories of long-deceased Elderlings – to uncover clues necessary to their survival.

And time is of the essence, for the legendary Tintaglia, long feared dead, has returned, wounded in a battle with humans hunting dragon blood and scales. She is weakening and only the hidden silver can revive her. If Tintaglia dies, so, too, will the ancient memories she carries – a devastating loss that will ensure the dragons’ extinction.

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah Cypess

I’ve had my eye on this young adult fantasy since before it’s release earlier this year (hardbook, ebook, audiobook with a paperback release in March 2015). The sequel, Death Marked, completes the story and will be available on March 3, 2015.


When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

RIVETED by Meljean Brook

Riveted (A Novel of the Iron Seas) by Meljean Brook

I’ve heard that the Iron Seas novels are excellent, and I couldn’t resist buying this when I found a signed copy! Technically, Riveted is the third book in this steampunk romance series but I’ve heard that each installment stands alone. It’s available now in paperback, ebook, and audiobook, and a fourth Iron Seas book, The Kraken King, was released last month after originally being published as a serial. The first two books are The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel, respectively, but Meljean Brook has also written some novellas and short stories set in the same world.

An excerpt from Riveted is available on the author’s website.


The New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Duke and Heart of Steel returns to the Iron Seas with a riveting new adventure of steampunk and passionate romance . . .

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. Fishermen tell tales of giant trolls guarding the land and of seductive witches who steal men’s hearts. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magic—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister Källa took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on the airship Phatéon, flying from port to port in search of her sister and longing to return home . . . but that home is threatened when expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard.

Determined to solve the mystery of his own origin, David will stop at nothing to expose Annika’s secrets. But when disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, their very survival depends on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam . . .

The Girl With All the Gifts
by M.R. Carey
403pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.3/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.1/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.91/5

The Girl with All the Gifts is a stand alone post-apocalyptic/horror thriller by M. R. Carey. The author has also written graphic novels in the X-Men and Fantastic Four series, the Lucifer graphic novels, and the Felix Castor series as Mike Carey.

Ten-year-old Melanie lives in a cell. On weekday mornings, she sees the adults walk through the halls and soon after that one of them bangs on the door, signaling it’s time to get ready to go to the classroom. Melanie dresses herself, then quietly sits in the wheelchair in her cell and waits for them to come in to take her to class. Eventually, the door opens and Sergeant aims a gun at her while two others strap her wrists, arms, and neck to the chair. They are especially cautious when securing her neck, and they do not find it amusing when Melanie jokes that she won’t bite.

Once she’s strapped in so she can’t move, Melanie is brought to the classroom and greeted by the teacher, who calls each child by name since the bound children are unable to see the others as they enter. She is happy whenever Miss Justineau is the teacher for the day. Miss Justineau is the kindest, most beautiful woman in the world, and her classes are the most fun. Sometimes she reads them Greek myths, and Melanie loves these stories about a world she’s never seen, having known only her cell and the classroom. There’s a thick door at the end of the hall opposite the classroom, but it makes Melanie feel safe since it keeps the hungries out. Even though it would be scary, she would like to see what it’s like beyond the door someday. She wonders if she’ll get to see outside when she’s grown up, and one day she gathers her courage and asks Miss Justineau if she’ll still have to stay with the army when she’s all grown up or if she’ll be allowed to leave. Her favorite teacher doesn’t answer—she just looks like she’s going to cry or be angry or throw up. Then she does something no one has ever done before and touches Melanie’s hair, but Sergeant makes her stop and says she’s breaking all the rules.

No one gets close to these children.

The beginning of The Girl with All the Gifts hooked me immediately, and I picked it up despite knowing it was a zombie book due to this opening and numerous rave reviews. After reading the first few chapters, I was sure I was going to love it—the setup and Melanie’s voice are very well done—but it ended up too much like a typical zombie story for my taste even if it did present a different take on this concept. Soon after the revelation about what is going on with Melanie and the other children, it turns to a plot packed with traveling, close calls with hungries, and occasional mysterious encounters showing the strange behavior of some zombies. While there is also some focus on the main cast of characters, many of whom are vaguely interesting or sympathetic, they don’t have quite enough depth to carry the rest of the novel through what I considered to be a dull plotline.

The best part of The Girl with All the Gifts is Melanie herself. Melanie is very well written as a young, precocious girl who loves learning. Through her perspective, she seems like a very cheerful, innocent child, and this contrasts sharply with the treatment she receives from those around her. Clearly, there is more to Melanie and these children than it would appear, and the best part of the book is the way this is shown through Melanie’s everyday life. Getting a glimpse into Melanie’s routine sets up an interesting mystery, and it’s easy to want to see her in better circumstances from the beginning. Her cell and the classroom are all she’s ever known so she doesn’t dwell on her terrible circumstances—they’re perfectly ordinary to her—but her situation is terribly sad even though (or perhaps because) she does seem so carefree and happy in spite of them.

The other major characters also seemed intriguing in the beginning, if not as original or well characterized as Melanie: Miss Justineau, Melanie’s favorite teacher and the only person who is kind to her; Sergeant, who makes sure everyone stays in line and follows the rules; and Dr. Caldwell, a scientist who occasionally comes to take away a child for testing. Each of these characters (as well as one other who wasn’t as major or memorable) is a point of view character in addition to Melanie. Most of them are not shallow characters and a couple of them do undergo some character growth, but even the best of them didn’t have quite enough dimension to seem more like living, breathing people than caricatures. Miss Justineau seems to primarily serve as the moral compass of the group, Sergeant is the survivor, and Dr. Caldwell is an outright stereotypical cold-hearted scientist. The one who changes the most throughout the story is Sergeant, making him the most interesting character, and Miss Justineau is the most likable as a woman who fiercely stands up for her beliefs.

Once the core group gets together after the mystery of the role of Melanie and the children has been revealed, the story moves on to a related but different mystery: the reason Melanie is special. At this point, much of the novel is focused on finding these answers and survival, and I just didn’t enjoy this part of the book nearly as much as Melanie’s daily life and observations. The traveling and near-encounters with zombies seemed to move rather slowly, and it wasn’t until toward the end that the book seemed to be going somewhere again. The ending tied in very well with some foreshadowing in the beginning, but I also felt it was trite since it reminded me of conclusions in other books I’ve read.

The Girl With All the Gifts was excellent—toward the beginning of the book. After the story changed direction later, I felt it was too similar to a typical zombie novel and I don’t generally enjoy those types of tales (although I do seem to be in the minority even among those who are not normally zombie fans so you may want to take my opinion on this one with a grain of salt!). The characters didn’t have quite enough depth to keep me interested once the plot started to drag, and I ended up feeling indifferent toward the book by the time I finished reading it despite its strong start.

My Rating: 5/10

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

Read an Excerpt

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