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

Since last month was Women in SF&F Month, it’s been awhile since one of these posts so there’s a lot of catching up to do! This post covers the last month instead of the last week with the books I’m most intrigued by featured with covers and descriptions, as usual—except for the books that I’m most excited about, which were already featured on my anticipated 2018 releases list (but if you are curious about which ones those are, they are at the end with a link to the full list!).

Last week, I also posted a review of The Defiant Heir by Melissa Caruso, which came out toward the end of last month. I absolutely LOVED this book, and it’s my favorite 2018 release so far!

On to the latest ARCs and review copies, plus a couple of birthday books!

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1) by L. Penelope

L. Penelope’s debut novel, Song of Blood and Stone, won the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Self-Publishing EBook Award for Fiction in 2016. On May 1, this romantic fantasy novel became available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats through St. Martin’s Press, who will also be publishing further installments in the Earthsinger Chronicles series.


A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space Opera was just released last month (hardcover, ebook, audiobook), and I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about it for the last month or so! has an excerpt from the beginning of Space Opera.


The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets the joy and glamour of Eurovision in bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente’s science fiction spectacle, where sentient races compete for glory in a galactic musical contest…and the stakes are as high as the fate of planet Earth.

A century ago, the Sentience Wars tore the galaxy apart and nearly ended the entire concept of intelligent space-faring life. In the aftermath, a curious tradition was invented—something to cheer up everyone who was left and bring the shattered worlds together in the spirit of peace, unity, and understanding.

Once every cycle, the great galactic civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Species far and wide compete in feats of song, dance and/or whatever facsimile of these can be performed by various creatures who may or may not possess, in the traditional sense, feet, mouths, larynxes, or faces. And if a new species should wish to be counted among the high and the mighty, if a new planet has produced some savage group of animals, machines, or algae that claim to be, against all odds, sentient? Well, then they will have to compete. And if they fail? Sudden extermination for their entire species.

This year, though, humankind has discovered the enormous universe. And while they expected to discover a grand drama of diplomacy, gunships, wormholes, and stoic councils of aliens, they have instead found glitter, lipstick, and electric guitars. Mankind will not get to fight for its destiny—they must sing.

Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes have been chosen to represent their planet on the greatest stage in the galaxy. And the fate of Earth lies in their ability to rock.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett

Foundryside is scheduled for release on August 21 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). And it’s about a thief! (I love thieves.)

The publisher’s website has an excerpt from Foundryside.


In a city that runs on industrialized magic, a secret war will be fought to overwrite reality itself–the first in a dazzling new fantasy series from City of Stairs author Robert Jackson Bennett. 

Sancia Grado is a thief, and a damn good one. And her latest target, a heavily guarded warehouse on Tevanne’s docks, is nothing her unique abilities can’t handle.

But unbeknownst to her, Sancia’s been sent to steal an artifact of unimaginable power, an object that could revolutionize the magical technology known as scriving. The Merchant Houses who control this magic–the art of using coded commands to imbue everyday objects with sentience–have already used it to transform Tevanne into a vast, remorseless capitalist machine. But if they can unlock the artifact’s secrets, they will rewrite the world itself to suit their aims.

Now someone in those Houses wants Sancia dead, and the artifact for themselves. And in the city of Tevanne, there’s nobody with the power to stop them.

To have a chance at surviving—and at stopping the deadly transformation that’s under way—Sancia will have to marshal unlikely allies, learn to harness the artifact’s power for herself, and undergo her own transformation, one that will turn her into something she could never have imagined.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

Ink and Bone (The Great Library #1) by Rachel Caine

I’ve heard such great things about this series, and I love its premise so I was thrilled to get this book for my birthday!

There are currently three books in this series with a fourth coming out in July, and excerpts from each are available on the publisher’s website:

  1. Ink and Bone
  2. Paper and Fire
  3. Ash and Quill
  4. Smoke and Iron

In an exhilarating new series, New York Times bestselling author Rachel Caine rewrites history, creating a dangerous world where the Great Library of Alexandria has survived the test of time.…

Ruthless and supremely powerful, the Great Library is now a presence in every major city, governing the flow of knowledge to the masses. Alchemy allows the Library to deliver the content of the greatest works of history instantly—but the personal ownership of books is expressly forbidden.

Jess Brightwell believes in the value of the Library, but the majority of his knowledge comes from illegal books obtained by his family. Jess has been sent to be his family’s spy, but his loyalties are tested in the final months of his training to enter the Library’s service.

When his friend inadvertently commits heresy by creating a device that could change the world, Jess discovers that those who control the Great Library believe knowledge is more valuable than any human life—and soon both heretics and books will burn.…

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

The Falconer (The Falconer #1) by Elizabeth May

This is another series I’ve been wanting to read for awhile after hearing a lot of good things about it, and this book was also a birthday present.

The entire trilogy is as follows with links to Goodreads:

  1. The Falconer
  2. The Vanishing Throne
  3. The Fallen Kingdom

Debutante by day. Murderess by night. Edinburgh’s only hope.

Edinburgh, 1844. Beautiful Aileana Kameron only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. In fact, she’s spent the year since her mother died developing her ability to sense the presence of Sithichean, a faery race bent on slaughtering humans. She has a secret mission: to destroy the faery who murdered her mother. But when she learns she’s a Falconer, the last in a line of female warriors and the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity, her quest for revenge gets a whole lot more complicated. The first volume of a trilogy from an exciting new voice in young adult fantasy, this electrifying thriller blends romance and action with steampunk technology and Scottish lore in a deliciously addictive read.

Age of War by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of War (Legends of the First Empire #3) by Michael J. Sullivan

Age of War, the third book in Legends of the First Empire, will be released on July 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

Excerpts from the first two books in the series can be found on the publisher’s website:

  1. Age of Myth
  2. Age of Swords

The epic battle between humankind and their godlike rulers finally ignites in the masterful follow-up to Age of Myth and Age of Swords.

The alliance of humans and renegade Fhrey is fragile—and about to be tested as never before. Persephone keeps the human clans from turning on one another through her iron will and a compassionate heart. The arrogant Fhrey are barely held in check by their leader, Nyphron, who seeks to advance his own nefarious agenda through a loveless marriage that will result in the betrayal of the person Persephone loves most: Raithe, the God Killer.

As the Fhrey overlords marshal their army and sorcerers to crush the rebellion, old loyalties will be challenged while fresh conspiracies will threaten to undo all that Persephone has accomplished. In the darkest hour, when hope is all but lost, new heroes will rise . . . but at what terrible cost?

Books Covered on My Anticipated 2018 Release List:

Additional Books:

The Defiant Heir
by Melissa Caruso
560pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 9/10
Amazon Rating: 5/5
LibraryThing Rating: --/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.43/5

The Tethered Mage, Melissa Caruso’s Venetian-inspired fantasy debut novel, was one of my favorite books read during 2017. The worldbuilding is thoughtfully done, and it also features wonderful characters and relationships, mystery and political intrigue, and a little romantic development. It’s so compulsively readable that I ended up staying up until 2:00 one morning finishing it, and I could hardly wait to continue the story in The Defiant Heir—and now that I’ve also read the sequel, I can hardly wait for the third book in the Swords and Fire trilogy. The Defiant Heir has everything I loved about the first book and more, and it’s even better than The Tethered Mage!

Now that the situation in Ardence has been resolved, the threat of the Raverran Empire ordering Amalia to unleash Zaira’s power as her Falconer, and in turn ordering her Falcon to use her abilities to burn down the city, has ended. However, war with a neighboring country appears likely, and Zaira’s rare gift as a fire mage will be one of the Empire’s greatest assets if they are forced to fight the mighty Witch Lords of Vaskandar.

As the possibility of devastating conflict looms on the horizon, Falconers are being murdered and their Falcons are missing, presumed dead—and all signs point toward one of the seventeen Witch Lords of Vaskandar after one of her assassins attacks a Falcon during a dinner party.

With the fate of her country and its people at stake, Amalia decides that the potential benefits outweigh the risks when she has the chance to form an alliance with another Witch Lord, Kathe the Crow Lord, who may even be able to procure her entry to a gathering of Witch Lords so she can plead her case for peace. Yet the terms of such a partnership remain vague and everything is a game to Kathe—and Amalia’s increasingly uncertain just how dangerous playing Kathe’s games may be…

The Tethered Mage is an excellent debut novel that set a high bar for its followup, but The Defiant Heir takes the series to the next level in every way. While the first book introduced the Raverran Empire and its system for weaponizing mages—and also showed how this could not only work but even be a desirable way of life for many mage-marked given the alternatives—the next book expands the world beyond the borders of Amalia’s homeland, showing a land that’s ruled by mages. This and the focus on Amalia’s father’s side of the family leads to a deeper understanding of the world and its history, and there are also higher stakes deeply felt because of the amount of emotional investment in the characters and the bond between Amalia and Zaira. Plus there’s a lot that’s just plain fun given their camaraderie and amusing dialogue, the various quirks of the Witch Lords, and my favorite new addition of all: Kathe, whose very presence automatically makes everything far more interesting.

There’s a lot I want to gush about cover in this review, but first, I want to emphasize that one of its main strengths is the details: what may seem like little embellishments on their own add up to make a big difference. Though the bones of its main plot and subplots are pretty common in fantasy, it’s fresh and riveting because of touches like humorous conversations and observations, the various personalities, the workings of magic, and even unconventional fashions. There’s much that’s familiar in this novel, but Melissa Caruso made it stand apart not only through these touches but also through the addition of a couple of components that are not terribly common in the genre—and more importantly, by handling them with obvious consideration.

One of the ways she does this is by allowing the characters to be fairly free to be themselves due to gender equality. They may face issues due to class or possessing the mage mark like anyone else, but women (and men) are politicians, warriors, rulers, soldiers, assassins, and mages. When Amalia remembers her cousin being told she couldn’t pretend to be in a certain role because she was a princess, it had nothing to do with her being a girl and everything to do with her being royalty. Men and women alike fear Amalia’s mother, and men do not underestimate her or feel shame for fearing a woman. Zaira is outspoken and prickly, makes crude comments, and flirts with both men and women—and no one questions a woman behaving in such a manner. Marcello and Roland can be reflective and sensitive at times—and no one questions a man behaving in such a manner. There are various degrees of ruthless women and ruthless men, and there are various degrees of women and men who strive to be virtuous. Individuals have a range of personalities, and though they are of course shaped by their experiences, they are not at all boxed in by society’s gendered expectations and it’s incredibly refreshing.

Another somewhat uncommon aspect that I enjoyed is the exploration of systems of government that are not monarchies. The last book showed more of the workings of the Raverran Empire with its doge and Council of Nine (which includes Amalia’s mother and will eventually include Amalia as her heir), and this one is largely focused on Vaskandar. This country is headed by seventeen Witch Lords, each of whom has their own domain and life-based magic with an affinity for a specific plant or animal, such as bears, crows, foxes, laurels, eagles, or spiders, to name a few. These Witch Lords are not a unified group but individuals who follow the rule of the mage-marked and have the same methods for maintaining their power and ties to their land. They may forge alliances with each other, work against each other, or ignore what the others are doing, and they’re various degrees of vicious—though even the more vicious can be motivated by understandable human desires. (But not the Most Vicious. The Most Vicious of them all is just plain evil.)

Learning more about Vaskandar and the secrets of its Witch Lords’ unique power was one of the highlights of The Defiant Heir, and I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of Witch Lords after having only met one of their heirs, the unusually cruel Prince Ruven, in the previous novel. Some of them only briefly appear, but each of them seem like fascinating characters no matter how brief their appearance—and Kathe, the one who appears the most, is one of the major reasons this novel is so engaging. Kathe is a mystery. He’s definitely not fond of torture like Ruven and he certainly can be helpful, but the only straightforward statements he makes are that he has his own ends and can’t be trusted. Though he doesn’t seem like the type to outright lie, he does seem like he may be the type to omit key details, but he’s so charismatic that Amalia and I both couldn’t help but like him all while knowing he might betray Amalia at any time.

Amalia has changed a lot since the beginning of the previous book when she was more interested in books than politics (though she does still like books, of course!). After her recent success at the end of the first novel, she’s more actively stepping into her role as her mother’s heir and keenly experiencing the struggles that come with it: the weight of expectations, the knowledge that she can’t escape making choices that affect lives like her mother does, the difficulty of balancing loyalty to country with compassion, and the sorrow of choosing duty over love. Though there are certainly some heavier parts as Amalia faces some difficult decisions toward the end, there’s also a lot of light in the dialogue between characters and I was especially pleased to see how Amalia and Zaira’s friendship has progressed. Even if they have occasional misunderstandings or disagreements, they obviously trust each other more and their banter and teasing is delightful.

As much as I appreciate that Amalia is a scholarly heroine embracing a legacy based on intelligence and scheming, the biggest issue I had with The Defiant Heir is that I don’t believe Amalia measures up to the reputation she’s beginning to build as a savvy political player. I don’t want to sell her short because she is generally smart even if her inexperience shows at times (such as when verbally sparring with Kathe), and she does have some good ideas and advice. However, there are certainly times when she stumbles into the answer she needs instead of discovering it on her own or receives more credit for a result than she deserves.

That said, I absolutely LOVED The Defiant Heir. It’s extraordinarily fun with wonderful characters and intriguing mysteries that kept me eagerly anticipating what would happen next. While I sped through the first book in this series, I read this one more slowly, savoring every delicious conversation and speculating about where it may be heading—and I can hardly contain my excitement for the third installment in the Swords and Fire trilogy.

My Rating: 9/10

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

Read an Excerpt from The Defiant Heir

Read Melissa Caruso’s Guest Post “Fighting in Ballgowns”

Reviews of Previous Books in the Swords and Fire trilogy:

  1. The Tethered Mage

Women in SF&F Month Banner

Thank you very much to last week’s guests for their essays! Here are links to the final pieces in this year’s series in case you missed either of them:

Also, thank you again to all of this month’s guests for your wonderful essays! To those who may be coming in at the end of this month’s series, you can find all of the Women in SF&F Month 2018 guest posts here, or you can find the ones that came before last week individually below:

* The Reader-Recommended SFF Books by Women Project
In 2013, Renay started the recommendation list project linked on the sidebar—and it’s been a part of Women in SF&F Month every year since! In her guest post earlier this month, she revealed the latest list of recommended books by women including submissions from 2017, and she also issued an invitation to add up to 10 science fiction and/or fantasy books by women that you read and loved in the last year so the list continues to grow this year!

Though the month of guest posts has ended, there is still time to add books to the list using the link above. It will remain open for at least another couple of weeks to allow those just finding out about it time to enter some books.

Thanks for reading!

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Today’s guest is RITA Award–winning writer Ann Aguirre! Her Sirantha Jax books, beginning with the romantic space opera Grimspace, are addictive reads that wonderfully balance plot and action with character development and relationships—and due to that combination, it was a series that made me realize that I could love science fiction every bit as much as fantasy! She’s also the author of many more books, including but not limited to the Corine Solomon series (urban fantasy), the Dred Chronicles (romantic science fiction set in the same world as Sirantha Jax), and the Razorland series (YA dystopia). Her two newest novels were both released during the previous couple of months: Honor Among Thieves, the first book in a new YA science fiction series co-written with Rachel Caine, and The Wolf Lord, the third book in the paranormal romance series Ars Numina.

The Wolf Lord by Ann Aguirre Honor Among Thieves by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

I first sold to New York in 2007, over eleven years ago. That book was Grimspace, a story I wrote largely to please myself because it was hard for me to find the sort of science fiction that I wanted to read. I love space opera, but in the past, I found that movies and television delivered more of the stories I enjoyed. At the time, I was super excited to be published in science fiction and fantasy.

My first professional appearance was scheduled at a small con in Alabama. I was so excited for that, so fresh and full of hope. Let’s just say that my dreams were dashed quite spectacularly. I was sexually harassed by multiple colleagues and the men I encountered seemed to think I existed to serve them. To say that my work wasn’t taken seriously is an understatement. That was only reinforced when I made my first appearance at SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) six months later.

There, the moderator called me the ‘token female’, mispronounced my last name without checking with me first (she checked with the male author seated next to me), and the male panelists spoke over me, interrupted me at will, and gave me very little chance to speak. I remember quite clearly how humiliated I was, while also hoping that it wasn’t noticeable to the audience.

Dear Reader, it was very noticeable. Afterward, David Brin, who was in the audience, came up to me with a sympathetic look and he made a point of shaking my hand. He said, “Well, I was very interested in what you had to say.” With a pointed stress on the word “I.”

This was pretty crushing for me as a baby writer. It sucked to discover that my work didn’t carry the same weight as my peers. I struggled with it for quite a while, attended other cons and tried to figure out why I constantly felt like I didn’t fit. After a while, though, I started comparing notes with other writers, like Ilona Andrews. She’s had similar experiences at SFF cons and like me, she tried negotiating those waters politely at first.

With limited success. So I stepped away from SFF for quite a while. Now, I’m taking stock, figuring out what progress has been made in the last ten years. Is it better for women? Since I’m on the periphery these days, to me, it seems like it might be opening up a bit. I’m glad to see more women being nominated for important awards, but I think there’s probably more work to do yet. Not only for women but for non-binary writers as well. The fact is, it’s still easiest to gain recognition if you’re a white cis male SFF writer.

I asked a few of my colleagues for their thoughts, and Ilona Andrews writes, “What can we do better to even the scales in SFF? If you are a female and especially if you’re a WOC, grow some shark teeth. Stop demurring. Stop undercharging. Stop avoiding conflict.  Stop taking less than a man for the same amount of work. Support other women. Call out haters when they sneer. That’s all I’ve got.”

I’m happy to report that there is light at the end of the tunnel, as reported by Piper J. Drake: “My experience in SFF has been overall positive even though the majority of my books are not SFF at this time. I started as an SFR / PNR and steampunk author. I still love SFF and UF and plan to write in those genres again eventually.” However, she offers a caveat: “But my experience has been limited and focused. I’ve been a guest host an @WritingExcuses podcast – which has a predominately Fantasy and Science Fiction audience. I’m staff/instructor on the Writing Excuses annual workshop and retreat.”

Which means that we need to keep pushing for those seats at the table. The community won’t change unless we agitate for it. I don’t have any easy answers, but I am glad to see some progress.

Ms. Drake also adds, “I’ve volunteered my time to the Nebula Conference programming committee. Both times I’ve attended the Nebula Conference, my experience has been mostly positive. I’ve been respected or at least never treated with disrespect. I’ve been genuinely welcomed by many.”

So that’s good news for me, Ilona Andrews, Rachel Caine, and Kate Elliott, who has seen more changes in the community than I could articulate. One thing’s certain, however. We need to build a community where everyone feels welcome, and I’m open to ideas on how to best achieve that.

Thanks for having me on the blog!

Ann Aguirre Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens. | @MsAnnAguirre

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Today I’m thrilled to welcome Mary Fan to the blog! She’s the author of the Jane Colt books, a completed space opera/cyberpunk trilogy, and Starswept, YA science fiction romance featuring a violist. In addition to writing novels, she also co-edits and has written stories for the Brave New Girls series, science fiction anthologies about girls in STEM, whose sales benefit the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund. Her next novel, the young adult fantasy Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, will be released about three weeks from now—on May 15!

Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil by Mary Fan Starswept by Mary Fan

Not the Main Character, Not the Sidekick

Whenever there’s an ensemble cast in a sci-fi/fantasy, a familiar pattern emerges. The main character, the hero, is almost always a cis/straight/white guy. There’s a guy best friend who exists to prop up the hero—to do those little side-plot things and give funky quips now and then. There’s a guy mentor who doles out wisdom to help the hero with his quest. And then there’s The Girl. The Girl is often the most high-caliber of the bunch—smart and kickass and witty and better-at-everything-than-the-hero… and still a sidekick. Despite all her impressive traits, her story line is inextricably woven into the hero’s; she exists to advance his story. Take away the hero, and she disappears. Usually, she’s also the love interest.

One way to avoid depicting The Girl as merely a sidekick is to just write about female main characters. But what if you want to write about a male main character and a female not-main character? How do you keep her from falling into the trap of better-at-everything-but-still-the-sidekick?

I ran into this issue while I was writing my YA dark fantasy, FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL (Crazy 8 Press, May 2018). Back then, I’d just finished writing a book with a female main character (ARTIFICIAL ABSOLUTES, Red Adept Publishing, 2013) and wanted to write a guy main character to switch it up (funnily enough, EDGE OF EVIL remains my only book with a male protagonist). I’m sure there were also some defaults going on in my mind; most fantasies I’d read up to that point had starred male heroes. When I set about brainstorming the book, I knew I wanted there to be a prominent female character as well. But she wouldn’t be a sidekick. Heck no. While she’d be secondary in terms of point-of-view chapters and the book’s main plotline, she’d be able to exist without the male protagonist.

The characters I wound up with were oppressed-schoolboy-turned-rebel Flynn, the main character, and monster-fighter-plus-freedom-fighter Aurelia. Flynn, by necessity, couldn’t know too much about what was going on in the world and the plot. He was the reader’s stand-in in terms of discovering all the twists and turns the story would offer, and so he got most of the POV chapters. Aurelia, meanwhile, had secrets to keep—from both Flynn and the reader. Yet just because the spotlight wasn’t on her didn’t mean she was just waiting in the wings to be called upon. While I was outlining the book’s plot, I took care to see that she had her own story line. And when I was finished, I wound up with a character who was basically the protagonist of a different book—one that intersected with the book I was writing, but could have been its own thing. In other words, I could just have easily written AURELIA SUN AND THE EDGE OF EVIL and had a fully developed story (though there wouldn’t have been as many mysteries). And if Flynn were to vanish from the book, she’d still have plenty to do.

Just because a character isn’t the focus of a book doesn’t mean they have to exist as a glorified support beam. A strong secondary cast is vital to any book; they make the world more interesting and expand the story. What makes them more than sidekicks is that they each have a story of their own to tell—a story that could exist with or without the chosen main character.



Break the enchantments. Find the truth. Ignite the revolution.

A century ago, the Enchanters defeated the evil Lord of the Underworld, but not before he’d unleashed his monsters and ravaged the earth. The Enchanters built the Triumvirate out of what remained of the United States, demanding absolute obedience in exchange for protection from the lingering supernatural beasts.

Sixteen-year-old Flynn Nightsider, doomed to second-class life for being born without magic, knows the history as well as anyone. Fed up with the Triumvirate’s lies and secrecy, he longs for change. And when he stumbles across a clue that hints at something more – secrets in the dark, the undead, and buried histories – he takes matters into his own hands.

Before long, Flynn finds himself hunted not only by the government, but also by nightmarish monsters and a mysterious man with supernatural powers … all seeking him for reasons he cannot understand. Rescued by underground rebels, he’s soon swept up in their vision of a better world, guided by a girl as ferocious as the monsters she fights. But as the nation teeters on the brink of revolution, Flynn realizes three things.

The rebellion is not what it seems.
Flynn himself might be more than he seems.
And the fate of the world now rests in his hands.

Mary Fan Mary Fan is a sci-fi/fantasy author hailing from Jersey City. Her latest book, FLYNN NIGHTSIDER AND THE EDGE OF EVIL (Crazy 8 Press, May 2018), is a YA dark fantasy about a world overrun by monsters. She is also the author of STARSWEPT (Snowy Wings Publishing, 2017), a YA sci-fi romance, and the completed JANE COLT sci-fi trilogy from Red Adept Publishing.

In addition, she is the co-editor, along with fellow sci-fi author Paige Daniels, of the BRAVE NEW GIRLS anthologies, which feature stories about teen girls doing techy things in sci-fi worlds. Proceeds from the the anthology’s sales are donated to the Society of Women Engineers scholarship fund. The third volume, BRAVE NEW GIRLS: TALES OF HEROINES WHO HACK, will be released in July 2018.

When she’s not writing, Mary enjoys singing, skiing, and traveling the world. Find her online at

Women in SF&F Month Banner

Thank you so much to all of last week’s guests! Here’s a summary with links to their pieces in case you missed any of them:

The Reader-Recommended Science Fiction/Fantasy Books by Women Project: In 2013, Renay started the recommendation list project linked on the sidebar—and it’s been a part of Women in SF&F Month ever since! Earlier this month, she revealed the latest list of recommended books by women including submissions from 2017, and once again, you can add up to 10 books by women that you read and loved in the last year so the list continues to grow!

Now, I’m excited to announce the final guests coming up next week, starting tomorrow:

Women in SF&F Month 2018 April 23-24 Schedule

April 23: Mary Fan (Flynn Nightsider and the Edge of Evil, Starswept, Jane Colt)
April 24: Ann Aguirre (Sirantha Jax, Ars Numina, Razorland, The Honors)