Today I’m pleased to welcome Sandy Williams, author of the Shadow Reader trilogy! The final book in the series, The Sharpest Blade, was released about a week ago, which means that book two has been out long enough that she is sharing her favorite scenes from it. There is also an opportunity to win a SIGNED copy of either The Shadow Reader, The Shattered Dark, or The Sharpest Blade—and this giveaway is open internationally!

Sandy’s Favorite Scenes from The Shattered Dark

 

TheShadowReader3DTheShatteredDark3D TheSharpestBlade3D

Last year on my blog tour, I wrote about my favorite scenes from the first book in the series, The Shadow Reader. Now that The Sharpest Blade is on shelves, and The Shattered Dark has been out for over a year, I can write about my favorite scenes from the second book. Here are my top five.

1. The escape from Rhigh. This scene was so much fun to write. Writing action comes easy to me, and Aren was very Aren in this scene. He’s come up with a crazy plan that shouldn’t work, and it involves the reputation he’s built for McKenzie. The whole super scary shadow-witch thing entertains me, so any chance I get to weave it into the plot brings a smile to my face.

2. The fight in the theater in Chapter 15. Another action scene. This one I love because I can really feel myself in the midst of it. In fact, I drew on experience from this one. A few years back, my husband and I went to an Alice N Chains concert in London. It was packed. And while no one was swinging swords or daggers at us, the mosh pit was way too close and it was a tight squeeze. The other reason I love this part of the book is I love the little revelation, the little plot twist, that comes after the car chase. :-)

3. Chapter 22. There’s another little plot twist in this chapter, but the thing I love best is the showdown between two secondary characters. I’ve been wanting revenge on that one guy since the end of the first book, and when I finished writing this chapter, I might have fist pumped the air.

4. Chapter 25. McKenzie and Aren are reunited in this chapter. I love the line about fae not believing in ghosts, and I love the intimacy that happens a little later. :-)

5. The end of the book. Yeah, the part everyone wanted to kill me for. That little plot twist makes me so happy. I think it also makes me a cruel, cruel author.

I have several favorite scenes from The Sharpest Blade, too. Chapter 19, for example. I think you guys will like it as well. :-)

 

Sandy WilliamsSandy is the author of The Shadow Reader novels. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Runebound.

Courtesy of the author, I have one copy of any of the three Shadow Reader books to give away—the winner can choose which book in the trilogy they would like. This giveaway is open internationally!

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 line “Shadow Reader” and which book in the series you would like if you win. One entry per person. This giveaway is open to anyone, and a winner will be randomly selected. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Saturday, January 18. The winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book to).

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.

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. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This is the second part covering books received as gifts during the holidays, and it includes one ARC that showed up over the last week (it’s the last book in the list). The books received as gifts were all from my wish list, and I heard about most of them from other book bloggers.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Moribito #1) by Nahoko Uehashi

There are 10 books in this series, but only the first two have been translated into English. They were translated by Cathy Hirano (who also translated Dragon Sword and Wind Child, another fantasy book written by a Japanese author that I enjoyed very much). An excerpt from Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is available on Teenreads.

I’ve wanted to read this ever since reading what Thea from The Book Smugglers had to say about it in her review on Kirkus. It sounds excellent!

 

You’ve never read a fantasy novel like this one! The deep well of Japanese myth merges with the Western fantasy tradition for a novel that’s as rich in place and culture as it is hard to put down.

Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river — and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy — the Prince Chagum — on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi

This is a newer book that was released in 2013. I have heard lots of praise for it and it sounds great! An excerpt from Ascension can be read on the publisher’s website.

 

Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

Seaward by Susan Cooper

Seaward by Susan Cooper

After being out of print for several years, Seaward was re-released last year. I’ve never read anything by Susan Cooper, even her better known Dark Is Rising Sequence, but I immediately added Seaward to my wishlist after Angie from Angieville talked about it in her guest post for Women in SF&F Month. Angie gives excellent recommendations, and what she had to say about this book convinced me I should read it.

An excerpt from Seaward is available on the publisher’s website.

 

In this classic adventure from Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, two strangers embark on a quest for the sea that’s filled with mystery, fantasy, and danger.

His name is West. Her name is Cally. They speak different languages and come from different countries thousands of miles apart, but they do not know that. What they do know are the tragedies that took their parents, then wrenched the two of them out of reality and into a strange and perilous world through which they must travel together, understanding only that they must reach the sea. Together, West and Cally embark upon a strange and sometimes terrifying quest, learning to survive and to love—and, at last, discovering the true secret of their journey.

Rituals by Roz Kaveney

Rituals (Rhapsody of Blood #1) by Roz Kaveney

I added this one to my wishlist after seeing it was on the James Tiptree Award Honor List. The second book in the series, Reflections, just became available toward the end of last year.

 

Two women – and the workings of Time and Fate.

In a time too long ago for most human memory, a god asked Mara what she most wanted. She got her wish: to protect the weak against the strong. For millennia, she has avenged that god, and her dead sisters, against anyone who uses the Rituals of Blood to become a god through mass murder. And there are few who can stand against her.

A sudden shocking incident proves to Emma that the modern world is not what she thought it was, that there are demons and gods and elves and vampires. Her weapon is knowledge, and she pursues it wherever it leads her. The one thing she does not know is who she – and her ghostly lover, Caroline – are working for.

RHAPSODY OF BLOOD is a four-part epic fantasy not quite like anything you’ve read before: a helter-skelter ride through history and legend, from Tenochitlan to Los Angeles, from Atlantis to London. It is a story of death, love and the end of worlds – and of dangerous, witty women.

Angel With the Sword by C. J. Cherryh

Angel with the Sword (Merovingen Nights #1) by C.J. Cherryh

I first heard about this from Elizabeth at DarkCargo, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since. It sounds good, plus I thought any book that inspired other authors to want to write a bunch of stories for shared-world anthologies must be interesting. The anthologies, edited by Cherryh, include stories by Mercedes Lackey, Robert Asprin, Lynn Abbey, and others (including, of course, Cherryh herself). Unfortunately, both this novel and the seven shared world anthologies are out of print.

 

In Merovingen, a watery canal-laced city, much like Earth’s Venice, society is segregated along class lines between the lower and upper cities. Against her better judgment, Altair Jones, 17, rescues an unconscious man from a canal near her poleboat. She is fascinated by Mondragon’s good looks and elegant ways and begins to fall in love with him. Even though she knows there is no future for a water rat like herself with such a man, she decides to watch over him and rescue him from his enemies; enemies who turn out to be the most powerful people in the upper city…

The Silence of Medair by Andrea K. Höst

The Silence of Medair (Medair #1) by Andrea K. Höst

I have only heard praise for Andrea K. Höst so I am excited to finally read one of her books!

 

Royal messenger Medair lost 500 years while seeking a magic artifact that could have won the war. Now the conquering icy pale tall race have interbred with her fellow native citizens. Chased out of her mountain refuge silence by five warriors, she finds a boy barely alive. His geas forces her aid for some days, but his youth-disguise spell wears off.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

One of my favorite books published in 2013 was Sister Mine, and it made me want to read some of Nalo Hopkinson’s previous books.

Brown Girl in the Ring won the the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest in 1997. Considering the second book to win this contest was one of my very favorite books read last year (Warchild by Karin Lowachee), I’d also like to read the other winner of this contest.

A brief excerpt from Brown Girl in the Ring is available on the author’s website.

 

The rich and the privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways — farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes

The Keeper of the Isis Light (Isis #1) by Monica Hughes

I heard about this one from an Old School Wednesdays review at The Books Smugglers, and Thea’s enthusiasm made me want to check it out. Since I didn’t read much SFF until I was in college, there are so many older books I’ve missed!

 

It was her tenth birthday on Isis. By Earth years, she would be sixteen. But Olwen Pendennis had never been to Earth. She had been born on Isis. And since her parents’ death, she had lived there alone, manning the Isis Light — a “lighthouse” in space designed to aid ships, and to bring settlers from Earth. And now, on the day of her tenth year, the settlers are coming at last. Olwen is ready to welcome them, but are they ready for her? She was once human, like them. But the harsh climate of the alien planet has changed her, transformed her into something else — something the settlers could never be prepared for…

Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves by James S. A. Corey

Honor Among Thieves (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #2) by James S. A. Corey

This trilogy of Star Wars books is being written by some well-known SFF authors. The first, Razor’s Edge, was written by the excellent Martha Wells. James S. A. Corey’s book will be released in March 2014 (ebook, hardcover, audiobook). The third book by Kevin Hearne will be available in January 2015.

 

Nebula and Hugo Award nominees Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—writing as James S. A. Corey—make their Star Wars debut in this brand-new epic adventure featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa. The action begins after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.

When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?

When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.

But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.

But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.

Since I have an overwhelming pile of books that I need to review, I’m going to write a bunch of mini-reviews to try to get back into a reviewing routine for the new year. I’ve been struggling to keep up with reviewing lately, and I think part of that struggle is that getting caught up seems like an insurmountable obstacle. I don’t want to just let the books I haven’t reviewed go by without mention so I’ve decided to write some brief thoughts on many of them and then try to get back into reading and reviewing a bit more regularly.

This first installment of mini reviews focuses on some books that are at least the third book in a series I love. I’ve reviewed other books in each of these series before.

There is a major spoiler for the end of the first book in this review since it’s difficult to talk about later books without mentioning it. There are also spoilers for the two books in between the first and this one, but I consider them minor since I would have been surprised if they weren’t the case after reading the first book. If you’re curious about the series starting from book one, here’s my review of the first book, and the series only gets better from there.

The Crimson Crown is the conclusion to the Seven Realms series that began with The Demon King—and what a phenomenal, satisfying final volume it is! It’s my favorite book of the four in the series, and I had a terrible time putting it down. I was swept along by the story and completely invested in the characters, especially Han and Raisa, the two main protagonists in the series.

While some aspects of the story play out predictably, I don’t think this is a bad thing with this particular series since Cinda Williams Chima utilizes tropes well. That is to say, I might have a general idea about what will happen but I still can’t wait to actually read about it happening. It features secret identities (which is very fun since each main character has a secret about their identity kept from the other) and a queendom influenced by events from 1000 years ago that did not happen exactly the way they’ve been remembered and told. Not everything is predictable or safe, though, and characters do die in this series—and this includes characters I liked.

The highlight of the series remains the two main characters, Han and Raisa. Han is a former streetlord and an exceptionally powerful wizard. He’s clever and witty and balances the line between honorable and dishonorable, but he’s far from heartless. In other words, he’s exactly the type of character I like to read about as a likable rogue. I did appreciate that though he became a very powerful character not all problems were solved by him. In this particular installment Fire Dancer got his chance to shine with his own discovery involving combining wizardry and clan knowledge into something greater. And I love Raisa, who has become a wonderful ruler. She cares about all her people and has no fear of getting her hands dirty and fighting right along with them. The chemistry between Han and Raisa and the obstacles they face that keep them from being together add some tension, and I was rooting for both of them the whole time.

All four books in this young adult fantasy series are keepers, and I think it deserves a much wider readership among fantasy fans looking for its strong storytelling and endearing, memorable characters. This final installment was my favorite, and while it is a satisfying conclusion, I’d love to read (and hope for) more books set in the Seven Realms.

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.

The Republic of Thieves
by Scott Lynch
650pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 8.5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.1/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.01/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.21/5
 

The long-awaited third book in Gentleman Bastard should need no introduction as one of the more talked-about fantasy releases of the year. While I had some issues with it, I loved it because it was a fun book to read. It kept me speculating on what would happen and turning the pages (and it tricked me at one point since my theory seemed to be confirmed as true and then it wasn’t true AT ALL).

This book quit referencing Sabetha and actually showed her both in the past and present storylines. I enjoyed reading about her and how she could rival Locke himself in wit, but I didn’t feel that the love story between the two felt natural but seemed one-sided and then rushed once it came to fruition. The past storyline detailed how Locke and Sabetha met and Locke’s instant attraction to her, and it ended up being largely about their later adventures focused around performing the play “The Republic of Thieves.” The present storyline dealt with an election, and I can’t say I thought that situation entirely made sense, though it was very entertaining to read about Locke and Sabetha each trying to outwit the other.

This book also marked a turning point for the series since it tied into the previous books, contained some major epiphanies, and set up a lot for the next books. Honestly, I don’t know what to think about the Big Revelation about Locke toward the end. I’m not sure I like it for reasons I won’t discuss to avoid spoilers, but that also depends on what is done with it in future installments so I’ll just have to keep reading! (I am wondering if that was a trick, too, or at least not the whole truth, but I have a feeling it was at least close to the truth.)

Ultimately, I felt that The Republic of Thieves was flawed but a whole lot of fun. The dialogue and witty banter kept me entertained, and despite any issues I had with it, it is one of my favorite books from this year because it was so enjoyable to read.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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

Since I’ve reviewed the previous six books in this series and find this one to be about the same quality as the rest, I am finding it difficult to find anything new to say about the seventh installment.

The Mercy Thompson series is consistently good, and I always enjoy reading about Mercy’s adventures. She’s such a great character—brave, practical, loyal to her friends, and funny. In the seventh book, she faces some trouble when Adam is kidnapped and a couple of chapters are told from Adam’s point of view, a first in this series. This book also imparted more knowledge about Mercy’s abilities as a walker that were quite interesting

Frost Burned was a solid installment in the series, and one of my favorite books I read this year so I’m afraid of sounding overly critical in saying this, but I am starting to feel like more risks need to be taken in this series. While I’ve enjoyed the last few volumes, there hasn’t been anything particularly surprising that made the next books better than what came before. I can’t help but compare it to some of my two other favorite urban fantasy series, in which individual installments haven’t been as consistent in quality as the individual Mercy books but which have had books that have stuck with me more because they have torn my heart out or had big overarching storylines full of twists and surprises. My personal preference is for volumes that build and unexpected occurrences that make me say, “Wow, that author had guts to do that!” and I’m starting to wish for more of those moments from this series, despite how much I do enjoy the books.

However, I had a wonderful time reading Frost Burned, thought it had a great ending sequence, and am excited about the next book.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.

Grail of the Summer Stars
by Freda Warrington
384pp (Hardcover)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: 4.3/5
LibraryThing Rating: 3.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.95/5
 

The first two Aetherial Tales novels, Elfland and Midsummer Night, stand alone but this third book ties the two together. While it could be read without reading the previously released books, I think it would be better to read the other two books first, particularly since I preferred both of them to this one.

Grail of the Summer Stars had a strong beginning with both the mystery of the art and the one about Stevie herself. Like the previous two books, it has some beautiful writing, yet around the halfway mark I found myself enjoying it less than I had been. In addition to the gorgeous prose, I loved the characters in the first two books: Rosie, Luc, and Sam in Elfland and Dame Juliana from Midsummer Night. The characters is where Grail of the Summer Stars fell short for me when compared to the first two books. I just didn’t care about them as much as in other books, and this includes the characters from the first two books who make reappearances. There isn’t the same focus on the characters and the ones that are in the limelight more are not as interesting to me as those in the two previous books. While I was glad to get some closure and revisit some of the other characters, I didn’t end up enjoying the third Aetherial Tales book as much as I did the first two.

Overall, I’m glad I read Grail of the Summer Stars, but I think every single other book I’ve read by Freda Warrington is superior.

My Rating: 7/10

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

Since it is the last day in 2013 and I’m only about four chapters into the book I’m currently reading, I think it’s safe to say I’ve read all the books I’m going to read this year. I’ve read 50 books this year, but that includes everything I could set as ‘read’ on Goodreads and is broken down as follows: 33 novels, 2 graphic novels, 7 novellas, 5 novelettes, and 3 short stories.

It doesn’t seem like that many books, but I’d still like to talk about some of my favorites! It’s not been a bad year for reading; I even rated 3 books 10/10. That’s the first time I’ve ever given that many in a single year. Like last year, I’ve broken those down into three sections: Favorite Books Released in 2013, Favorite Debuts of 2013, and Favorite Books Published Prior to 2013.

Favorite Books Released in 2013

Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear

1. Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear
My Review

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I’ll say it again: Elizabeth Bear is one of the best authors currently writing speculative fiction, and her books keep getting better. The first book in the Eternal Sky trilogy, Range of Ghosts, was excellent, and I felt Shattered Pillars surpassed that. It’s beautifully written with just the right amount of detail. The characters are remarkable and memorable (even the horse!) and I understood the various motivations. I love how wizards use scientific knowledge together with magic instead of the two being in opposition to each other. In fact, I loved everything about this book, and Steles of the Sky is my most anticipated upcoming release in 2014.

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

2. Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews
My Review

Kate Daniels is my #1 favorite urban fantasy series, and this sixth book was intense. Kate’s sense of humor in her narrative is pitch perfect and natural (a rarity, in my opinion). There are also some amazing action scenes, and I don’t even usually like those types of scenes! Ilona Andrews has a gift for writing them, though, and the way they tie characterization into them works. Plus I found the return of a certain character in this book quite interesting… It’s now my third favorite book in the series, after 3 and 4, and I can not wait to see what book 7 brings!

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay

3. River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

River of Stars is a beautifully written, thoughtful book with characters that managed to get under my skin. It wasn’t always easy to read (it started off slowly), but it was haunting and memorable.

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

4. The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Like the first two books in this series, The Republic of Thieves was a lot of fun to read! I was so happy to read more about Locke and Jean and actually meet Sabetha, and I was also glad this book introduces a bigger story arc. I enjoyed every moment of reading this book with its witty characters and dialogue and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Book of Iron by Elizabeth Bear

5. Book of Iron by Elizabeth Bear
My Review

Book of Iron, a novella set in the same world as the Eternal Sky books, is one I’ve come to think of as a tale of two journeys: both the journey to Erem and the adventure that ensues and Bijou’s personal journey as she gains a new outlook by the end. It’s short and doesn’t take long to read, and it’s fun, heartfelt, and of course, beautifully written.

Cold Steel by Kate Elliott

6. Cold Steel by Kate Elliott
My Review

Cold Steel is a satisfying conclusion to the Spiritwalker trilogy. I loved spending time with all the characters in the world Elliott created, and while it was wrapped up nicely, it made me sad to leave Cat, Vai, Bee, and Rory behind.

Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson

7. Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson

This stand alone contemporary fantasy has made me eager to read more by Nalo Hopkinson. It’s about twin sisters conjoined at birth, Abby and Makeda. Abby has magic and was left crippled after the twin’s separation, and Makeda has no magic and feels she doesn’t belong in her family of demigods without it. There’s adventure, and it’s also the story of Makeda coming to terms with herself and her relationship with her sister.

Saga Volume Two

8. Saga Volume Two written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

I read both volumes of Saga this year and now understand the love for it. The artwork is stunning, and the story is also excellent. The story of a couple from opposite sides of a war may not sound original, but the different planets and characters in this one make it outstanding. I especially love Lying Cat.

Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

9. Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson remains one of my favorite urban fantasy series, and this was another solid and entertaining book in the series. Mercy is a great character—practical and funny and loyal—and she largely carries this series for me.

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

10. The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
My Review

This was a unique book in that it started with destruction but was bright and hopeful overall. It was about moving forward and planetary exploration, and it had a sweet love story that began with friendship. I’m looking forward to reading The Galaxy Game.

Favorite Debut of 2013

I didn’t read a lot of debuts released in 2013, and there was only one of those I read that I thought was noteworthy. Full Disclosure: I know the author.

Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima

Celtic Moon by Jan DeLima

The foundation for the fantasy part of this book was Celtic, and I love Celtic mythology! What I loved most about Celtic Moon, though, was the heroine. Sophie is a 36 year old with a teenage son, and I think she’s the type of character who should show up in fantasy books more often. She’s a good mom, she’s resilient and smart, and she has adventures and a romance. I’m excited to read the next book in the series, Summer Moon, next year.

Favorite Books Released Before 2013

Warchild by Karin Lowachee

1. Warchild by Karin Lowachee
My Review

Thanks to Sci-Fi Month, I finally read this book—perhaps my #1 favorite book of the year, although it’s a tough call between Warchild and Shattered Pillars! Warchild has one of the most compelling openings I have ever read as 8-year-old Jos hides from an attack on his ship by space pirates. It’s dark since it’s about a child involved in war who has had some pretty terrible experiences, but I also never thought it became overly mired in hopelessness. This was a book I didn’t want to end.

A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington

2. A Taste of Blood Wine by Freda Warrington
My Review

Freda Warrington’s writing is gorgeous, and I was thrilled when the first book in her Blood Wine Sequence was re-released this year! A Taste of Blood Wine has the expected beautiful prose, plus it is dark and dramatic with some original vampire lore. I found both Charlotte and Karl compelling characters, and I couldn’t stop reading it.

The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

3. The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

It was with mixed happiness and regret that I put down the last book in the Seven Realms series. This was a book I devoured, needing to find out how it all ended. It was satisfying, but I’m going to miss Han and Raisa SO MUCH.

The Silvered by Tanya Huff

4. The Silvered by Tanya Huff

This book was somewhat unusual in that it’s a fantasy focused on werewolves but it’s in a secondary world setting. Werewolves and mages work together in a war, and it follows four main characters with one on the opposite side of the war from the others. It took me a little while to get into, but once I did I found it difficult to stop reading. I particularly loved Mirian, a resourceful mage who took on the task of rescuing some other mages captured by their opponents. I haven’t heard any news of a sequel, but I’m hoping for one because I loved the setting and characters. (It occurs to me now that while this came out in my country last year, the UK edition I read was new in that country this year so perhaps it should have gone on my 2013 list. If it was on that list, it would have been third.)

On a Red Station Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

5. On a Red Station, Drifting by Aliette de Bodard

This was my first year voting on the Hugos and as part of it, I read this novella and Aliette de Bodard’s excellent short story “Immersion.”  After reading them, Aliette de Bodard went on my mental list of “Authors I Must Read More By.” I love how On a Red Station, Drifting combined science fiction with intimate portraits of people and relationships.

What are your favorite books you read in 2013? I’d love to hear about your favorites!

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

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

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

The Shapeshifters by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

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

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

 

Five shapeshifter novels—one fascinating read!

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

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

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

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

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

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

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

 

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

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

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

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The Dreaming Tree by C. J. Cherryh

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

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

 

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

The Blood Books: Volume One by Tanya Huff

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

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

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

 

Blood Price

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

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

Blood Trail

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

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

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

The Eye of Night by Pauline Alama

The Eye of Night by Pauline J. Alama

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

 

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

The Eye Of Night

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

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

Heartwood by Barbara Campbell

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

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

 

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

The Kill Order by James Dashner

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel) by James Dashner

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

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

Release Date: August 5, 2014

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

 

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

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

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

Steles of the Sky by Elizabeth Bear

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

Release Date: April 8, 2014

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

 

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

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

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Release Date: April 1, 2014

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews

Release Date: July 29, 2014

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

 

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

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

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

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

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

Release Date: April 8, 2014

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

 

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

Common enemy, common cause.

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

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

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

What power can bruise the sky?

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

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

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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

Release Month: August 2014

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

 

This is the way the world ends. Again.

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

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

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Release Date: March 4, 2014

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

 

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

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

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

Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Night Broken (Mercy Thompson #8) by Patricia Briggs

Release Date: March 11, 2014

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

 

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

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

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

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Black Dog by Rachel Neumeier

Release Date: February 6, 2014
Read an Extract

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman

Dreamwalker by C.S. Friedman

Release Date: February 4, 2014

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

 

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

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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