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

This past week brought several books, including another anniversary present that took a little while to get here since it had to be forwarded a couple times from old addresses.  It sounds great and was worth the wait, though! Another book that I’ve already discussed that is coming out soon also arrived. Here’s the link in case you missed it:

I finally finished the review I was writing but didn’t put it up last week since I finished it toward the end of Thursday, which was the day before Max Gladstone’s post on revisiting old friends was scheduled to go up. It should go up this week, though!

On to last week’s books!

The Innkeeper's Song by Peter S. Beagle

The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle

This signed copy is an anniversary gift that showed up a little late. I’ve read a couple of books by Peter Beagle, and reading his excellent story “The Children of the Shark God” in Beyond the Pale last year reminded me that I really need to read more of his work!


The Innkeeper’s Song is the story of young Tikat’s search for the lover whose death and resurrection he witnessed. It is a search that will lead him into a world of magic and mystery beyond his comprehension, for his wild ride sets him on the trail of three women who are blessed – or cursed – to undertake an impossible mission of their own. Each of the three has secrets – from the world, from the two others, from herself. Each is followed by demons she can never escape. And all their destinies will be irrevocably linked in a far distant inn, when hunted and hunters finally meet. Karsh, the innkeeper, has no choice but to let the tangled drama unfold beneath his roof; his stable boy, Rosseth, is so mesmerized by the three cloaked women that he is soon finds a way to uncover what is perhaps their deepest secret; and Tikat continues his journey, refusing to let death bring an end to his love. But it is not until the once-powerful man who has called the three women joins their number that the true quest will begin. And this is a challenge that may claim all their lives before they are done. For he who has been their mentor in the past, he who has been the greatest of wizards, lingers now at the very edge of death. And only they can save him from the enemy who has brought this doom upon him, an enemy who is heir to all the ailing man’s magic, an enemy whom even Death has not been able to defeat…

Dead Man's Reach by D. B. Jackson

Dead Man’s Reach (Thieftaker Chronicles #4) by D. B. Jackson

This historical fantasy will be released on July 21 (hardcover, ebook). It’s the final book in the Thieftaker Chronicles following Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls (published in that order). also has two short stories set in the same world, “A Spell of Vengeance” and “The Price of Doing Business.”

An excerpt from Dead Man’s Reach is available on the publisher’s website.


Let the battle for souls begin in Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth, stand-alone novel in D.B. Jackson’s acclaimed Thieftaker series.

Boston, 1770: The city is a powder keg as tensions between would-be rebels and loyalist torries approach a breaking point and one man is willing to light the match that sets everything off to ensure that he has his revenge.

The presence of the British Regulars has made thieftaking a hard business to be in and the jobs that are available are reserved for Sephira Pryce. Ethan Kaille has to resort to taking on jobs that he would otherwise pass up, namely protecting the shops of Torries from Patriot mobs. But, when one British loyalist takes things too far and accidentally kills a young boy, even Ethan reconsiders his line of work. Even more troubling is that instances of violence in the city are increasing, and Ethan often finds himself at the center of the trouble.

Once Ethan realizes why he is at the center of all the violence, he finds out that some enemies don’t stay buried and will stop at nothing to ruin Ethan’s life. Even if that means costing the lives of everyone in Boston, including the people that Ethan loves most.

The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth

The Eternal World by Christopher Farnsworth

The Eternal World will be available on August 4 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).


The author of the cult favorite President’s Vampire series combines historical fiction with modern-day action, adventure, vengeance, and paranormal twists in this page turning thriller in the spirit of James Rollins, Brad Thor, and Douglas Preston

Five hundred years ago, a group of Spanish conquistadors searching for gold, led by a young and brilliant commander named Simon De Oliveras, land in the New World. What they find in the sunny and humid swamps of this uncharted land is a treasure far more valuable: the Fountain of Youth. The Spaniards slaughter the Utiza, the Native American tribe who guard the precious waters that will keep the conquistadors young for centuries. But one escapes: Shako, the chief’s fierce and beautiful daughter who swears to avenge her people?a blood promise that spans more than five centuries. . .

When the source of the fountain is destroyed in our own time, the loss threatens Simon and his men, and the powerful shadowy empire of wealth and influence they have built. For help, they turn to science, to David Robinton, a scientific prodigy who believes he is on the verge of the greatest medical breakthrough of all time. But as the centuries-old war between Shako and Simon reaches its final stages, David makes a horrifying discovery about his clients and the mysterious and exotic woman he loves. Now, the scientist must decide: is he a pawn in game of hunter and predator . . . or will he be its only winner?

Bat out of Hell by Alan Gold

Bat out of Hell: An Eco-Thriller by Alan Gold

This novel will be released on September 1 (hardcover, ebook).


From the jungles of Indonesia to the very heart of New York City comes a plague that kills 100 percent of its victims. Medicine’s greatest nightmare, this modern black death is caused by the most virulent and uncontrollable mutant virus humanity has ever witnessed. And medicine can do nothing to stop its merciless spread.

Scientist Debra Hart and her team of experts are tasked by the United Nations to stop the disease. Racing against time, they must find the cause and the cure and figure out why this deadly disease—spread by bats—is killing thousands in cities across the globe. Debra and her team will struggle to stop the disease from spreading to millions more, even if it means killing off every bat alive. But fighting to prevent her are manic animal rights’ activists who rail against species genocide, even if it means risking the deaths of human beings. And hidden behind a cloak of secrecy is a crazed academic who’ll even kill top American government officials to save one living creature.

This is the nightmare scenario that Debra faces as the public becomes so terrified of bats that entire communities become vigilantes.

The Way of Sorrows by Jon Steele

The Way of Sorrows (The Angelus Trilogy #3) by Jon Steele

The Way of Sorrows will be released on August 4 (hardcover, ebook). It’s the final book in The Angelus Trilogy following The Watchers and Angel City.

An excerpt from The Way of Sorrows is available on the publisher’s website (click “Read an Excerpt” below the cover).


The earthly—and cosmic—adventures of Katherine Taylor and Jay Harper come to an electrifying, action-packed conclusion in The Way of Sorrows, the final installment of Jon Steele’s critically acclaimed Angelus Trilogy.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials (The Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner

This movie tie-in edition of the second book in the #1 New York Times bestselling series The Maze Runner includes a foreword by Wes Ball, the director, and eight pages of photos from the film. The book (hardcover, paperback, and ebook) will be released on August 4; the movie will be in theaters on September 18.

An excerpt from The Scorch Trials is available on the publisher’s website (click “Read an Excerpt” underneath the cover). The previous book in the trilogy is The Maze Runner and the following book is The Death Cure. There is also a prequel, The Kill Order.


Read the second book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series that is soon to be a motion picture, hitting theaters September 18, 2015, and is perfect for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. This special movie tie-in trade paperback edition features an eight-page full-color insert with photos from the film and an exclusive fan sticker. The first book, The Maze Runner, is now a movie featuring the star of MTV’s Teen Wolf, Dylan O’Brien; Kaya Scodelario; Aml Ameen; Will Poulter; and Thomas Brodie-Sangster! Also look for James Dashner’s newest series: the Mortality Doctrine that includes The Eye of Minds and The Rule of Thoughts.

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end.

Thomas was sure that escape from the Maze would mean freedom for him and the Gladers. But WICKED isn’t done yet. Phase Two has just begun. The Scorch.

There are no rules. There is no help. You either make it or you die.

The Gladers have two weeks to cross through the Scorch–the most burned-out section of the world. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.

Friendships will be tested. Loyalties will be broken. All bets are off.

There are others now. Their survival depends on the Gladers’ destruction–and they’re determined to survive.

Today’s guest is Max Gladstone, author of the four novels in the Craft Sequence! While Three Parts Dead was his first published novel, it’s actually third in the sequence chronologically while the recently-released Last First Snow is first. Two Serpents Rise is second in both publication and chronological order, and Full Fathom Five is fifth in order, of course. You can read more about the order in the author’s article “This is How I Numbered My Books and I’m Sorry.” You can also read more about what happened when supporting characters from previously published books were brought together in Last First Snow, released earlier this week, below!

Last First Snow by Max Gladstone

Revisiting Old Friends

Who are you, really, when you’re alone?

We, humans I mean, base whole religious traditions around the struggle to answer this question. We climb mountains, sit under trees, whip and starve ourselves, we contort ourselves into singularly uncomfortable positions, we take long walks alone with a few thousand of our closest friends through the Spanish countryside, we take mushrooms and talk to God, all to discover who we really are when nobody’s watching.

It’s such a tricky question because most of who we are, we are with other people. We live through networks of association—we’re parents, friends, lovers. We’re particular sorts of those things: the kind of friend I am to people with whom I’ve argued philosophy for the better part of a decade is very different from the kind of friend I am to other fencers, say, or to gym acquaintances. The matter gets even more complicated when categories overlap, and our particular relationships with particular people of course grow more complicated than any category. We move through whirling masks, occupying roles as needed.

And yet when we talk about characters in fiction, we tend—and I was taught—to think of them as atoms. This one’s funny; that one’s brave. She’s clever, she’s fierce, he’s timid, he’s stoic, she’s eloquent, they’re inventive. Then we toss a bunch of characters together, and see what kind of molecule they form!

Whenever I work that way, I end up with characters who feel vivid on their own, but as often as not refuse to talk to one another on the page. It’s only after I let them break one another open a bit, and wear off one another’s self-complete edges, that my characters start living. They bind with others and reveal themselves.

Which approach served me well until I started my most recent book, Last First Snow. While Last First Snow is, like all my novels so far, a self-contained fantasy legal thriller, many of its central characters have featured in previous books in a supporting role: the efficient and powerful Craftswoman Elayne Kevarian mentored the young necromancer Tara in my first book, Three Parts Dead; Temoc, last priest of the dethroned gods, was a shadowy revolutionary in Two Serpents Rise, and the King in Red, skeletal sorcerer king turned utility magnate, also loomed large over that book. They all shone in their previous worlds. At first, writing Last First Snow, I thought, this is great! All I have to do is throw these people together and magic will result!

There was a lot more confusion than magic, in the first hundred pages of that first draft. I’d come to know these characters in different contexts, in different relationships. They didn’t have the right slots and protrusions to fit into one another. But I kept drafting, turning, examining—and something cool happened.

They fit. But not at all in the ways they’d fit with the casts of their original books! To give an easy example: these characters weren’t afraid of one another as everyone in their original books was of them, so in Last First Snow they could be more blunt, sensitive, and vicious all at once with one another. They opened up, and pushed each other to edges I never anticipated. The characters didn’t break, mind—and what I learned about them fit with what I’d known before. I just discovered the facets of themselves they’d shown to their friends and enemies in previous books (and to me!) were only a piece of a larger whole.

Which, I guess, is the point of all the travel, tree-sitting, body-contorting, pilgrimage-walking, flogging, starvation, mushrooms, and prayer. We want to knock ourselves out of our old webs, to learn how we behave in new ones.

It worked that way for my characters, at least!

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

Last week brought a few books, including a book I’ve been wanting to read that I received as a gift.

The week was busier than I expected and I didn’t finish a review, but I have been working on a review of Darkwalker by E. L. Tettensor as I’ve had some time. In case you missed it, a giveaway of 3 copies of Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe went up last week and will be open for entries through July 17.

On to the books!

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine

This retelling of “Twelve Dancing Princesses” is an anniversary gift from my husband. I’ve heard it’s excellent and have been wanting to read it for awhile.

I have the hardcover edition, but it was released in paperback last month and is also available in ebook and audiobook. An excerpt from The Girls at the Kingfisher Club can be read on the publisher’s page for the book.


From award-winning author Genevieve Valentine, a “gorgeous and bewitching” (Scott Westerfeld) reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses as flappers during the Roaring Twenties in Manhattan.

Jo, the firstborn, “The General” to her eleven sisters, is the only thing the Hamilton girls have in place of a mother. She is the one who taught them how to dance, the one who gives the signal each night, as they slip out of the confines of their father’s townhouse to await the cabs that will take them to the speakeasy. Together they elude their distant and controlling father, until the day he decides to marry them all off.

The girls, meanwhile, continue to dance, from Salon Renaud to the Swan and, finally, the Kingfisher, the club they come to call home. They dance until one night when they are caught in a raid, separated, and Jo is thrust face-to-face with someone from her past: a bootlegger named Tom whom she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Suddenly Jo must weigh in the balance not only the demands of her father and eleven sisters, but those she must make of herself.

With The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, award-winning writer Genevieve Valentine takes her superb storytelling gifts to new heights, joining the leagues of such Jazz Age depicters as Amor Towles and Paula McClain, and penning a dazzling tale about love, sisterhood, and freedom.

In Midnight's Silence by T. Frohock

In Midnight’s Silence (Los Nefilim #1) by T. Frohock

This first book in a new trilogy of novellas was released in ebook last month. The second book, Without Light or Guide, will be available this fall.

I loved T. Frohock’s unique debut novel, Miserere: An Autumn Tale, and am quite excited about her new series!


The fate of mankind has nothing to do with mankind…

Born of an angel and a daimon, Diago Alvarez is a singular being in a country torn by a looming civil war and the spiritual struggle between the forces of angels and daimons. With allegiance to no one but his partner Miquel, he is content to simply live in Barcelona, caring only for the man he loves and the music he makes. Yet, neither side is satisfied to let him lead this domesticated life and, knowing they can’t get to him directly, they do the one thing he’s always feared.

They go after Miquel.

Now, in order to save his lover’s life, he is forced by an angel to perform a gruesome task: feed a child to the daimon Moloch in exchange for a coin that will limit the extent of the world’s next war. The mission is fraught with danger, the time he has to accomplish it is limited…and the child he is to sacrifice is the son Diago never knew existed.

A lyrical tale in a world of music and magic, T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence shows the lengths a man will go to save the people he loves, and the sides he’ll choose when the sidelines are no longer an option.

Solomon's Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings

Solomon’s Arrow by J. Dalton Jennings

This debut novel’s official release date is July 14 (trade paperback, ebook), although it seems to be available in some stores now. The author is currently working on a prequel.


It’s the mid-twenty-first century. The oceans are rising, the world’s population is growing, terrorist organizations are running rampant, and it has become readily apparent that humanity’s destructive nature is at the heart of the matter.

When all faith in humanity seems lost, a startling proposal is announced: Solomon Chavez, the mysterious son of the world’s first trillionaire, announces that he, backed by a consortium of governments and wealthy donors, will build an interstellar starship—one that will convey a select group of six thousand individuals, all under the age of fifty, with no living relatives, to a recently discovered planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system. His goal is lofty: to build a colony that will ensure the survival of the human race. However, Solomon Chavez has a secret that he doesn’t dare share with the rest of the world.

With the launch date rapidly approaching, great odds must be overcome so that the starship Solomon’s Arrow can fulfill what the human race has dreamed of for millennia: reaching for the stars. The goal is noble, but looming on the horizon are threats nobody could have imagined—ones that may spell the end of all human life and end the universe as we know it.

Filled with action, suspense, and characters that will live on in the imagination, Solomon’s Arrow will leave readers breathless, while at the same time questioning what humanity’s true goals should be: reaching for the stars, or exploring the limits of the human mind?

The Dangerous Type by Loren Rhoads

The Dangerous Type (In the Wake of the Templars #1) by Loren Rhoads

This science fiction novel, the first in a trilogy, was released last week (trade paperback, ebook). The next two books are both scheduled for publication this year with Kill by Numbers coming in September and No More Heroes in November.


Set in the wake of a galaxy-wide war and the destruction of a human empire, The Dangerous Type follows the awakening of one of the galaxy’s most dangerous assassins and her quest for vengeance. Entombed for twenty years, Raena has been found and released.

Thallian has been on the lam for the last fifteen years; a wanted war criminal whose entire family has been hunted down and murdered for their role in the galaxy-wide genocide of the Templars. His name is the first on Raena’s list, as he’s the one that enslaved her, made her his assassin, and ultimate put her in a tomb. But Thallian is willing to risk everything—including his army of cloned sons—to capture her. Now it’s a race to see who kills whom first.

Alternatively, Gaven has spent the last twenty years trying to forget about Raena, whom he once saved and then lost to the clutches of Thallian. Raena’s adopted sister, Ariel, has been running from the truth: the one about Raena, about her and Gaven, and doesn’t know if she’ll be able to face either of them.

The Dangerous Type is a mix of military science fiction and an adventurous space opera that grabs you from the first pages and doesn’t let go. Along with a supporting cast of smugglers, black market doctors, and other ne’er-do-wells sprawled across a galaxy brimming with alien life, The Dangerous Type is a fantastic beginning to Loren Rhoads’s epic trilogy.

Shower of Stones by Zachary Jernigan

Shower of Stones (Jeroun #2) by Zachary Jernigan

Shower of Stones is scheduled for release on July 14 (hardcover, ebook), although it seems to be available now in at least some stores.

An excerpt from No Return, the previous book, can be read on A Daily Dose of R&R.


At the moment of his greatest victory, before a crowd of thousands, the warrior Vedas Tezul renounced his faith, calling for revolt against the god Adrash, imploring mankind to unite in this struggle.

Good intentions count for nothing. In the three months since his sacrilegious pronouncement, the world has not changed for the better. In fact, it is now on the verge of dying. The Needle hangs broken in orbit above Jeroun, each of its massive iron spheres poised to fall and blanket the planet’s surface in dust. Long-held truces between Adrashi and Anadrashi break apart as panic spreads.

With no allegiance to either side, the disgraced soldier Churls walks into the divided city of Danoor with a simple plan: murder the monster named Fesuy Amendja, and retrieve from captivity the only two individuals that still matter to her—Vedas Tezul, and the constructed man Berun. The simple plan goes awry, as simple plans do, and in the process Churls and her companions are introduced to one of the world’s deepest secrets: A madman, insisting he is the link to an ancient world, offering the most tempting lie of all… Hope.

Concluding the visceral, inventive narrative begun in No Return, Shower of Stones pits men against gods and swords against civilization-destroying magic in the fascinatingly harsh world of Jeroun.

Today’s giveaway is three copies of Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe! This third novel about the Tufa was just released about a month ago, and each of these three (The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing, and of course, this one) focus on a different main character. I haven’t read these yet myself, although one is on my wish list since I’ve heard they’re wonderful! To learn more about the book and author, visit Alex Bledsoe’s website or follow him on Twitter. Giveaway details are below (giveaway is US/Canada only).

Long Black Curl by Alex Bledsoe

ABOUT LONG BLACK CURL (read an excerpt):

Long Black Curl: a brand-new tale in Alex Bledsoe’s acclaimed urban fantasy series, where magic is hidden in plain sight and age-old rivalries simmer just beneath the surface

In all the time the Tufa have existed, only two have ever been exiled: Bo-Kate Wisby and her lover, Jefferson Powell. They were cast out, stripped of their ability to make music, and cursed to never be able to find their way back to Needsville. Their crime? A love that crossed the boundary of the two Tufa tribes, resulting in the death of several people.

Somehow, Bo-Kate has found her way back. She intends to take over both tribes, which means eliminating both Rockhouse Hicks and Mandalay Harris. Bo-Kate has a secret weapon: Byron Harley, a rockabilly singer known as the “Hillbilly Hercules” for his immense size and strength, and who has passed the last sixty years trapped in a bubble of faery time. He’s ready to take revenge on any Tufa he finds.

The only one who can stop Bo-Kate is Jefferson Powell. Released from the curse and summoned back to Cloud County, even he isn’t sure what will happen when they finally meet. Will he fall in love with her again? Will he join her in her quest to unite the Tufa under her rule? Or will he have to sacrifice himself to save the people who once banished him?

Courtesy of Tor Books, I have three copies of Long Black Curl to give away! This giveaway is open to residents of the US and Canada only.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “LBC Giveaway.” One entry per household and three winners will be randomly selected. Those from the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Friday, July 17. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the book).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winners. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

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

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

This week there are more books than usual since I received a few that were sent to an old address, but first, here’s a brief weekly update.

In case you missed it, a review of Tainted Blood by M. L. Brennan went up last week. I enjoyed it very much and I can hardly wait for Dark Ascension—and fortunately, there is not a long wait for the next book since it’s being released next month! It’s the urban fantasy book I’m most looking forward to this year.

There will be a book giveaway tomorrow. The next book reviewed will probably be The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman. It’s one of my favorite books of 2015 so far.

On to the books!

Fool's Quest by Robin Hobb

Fool’s Quest (The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb

The second book in Robin Hobb’s new trilogy about FitzChivalry Farseer will be released on August 11 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first 50 pages of Fool’s Assassin, the first book in the trilogy, can be read on Suvudu.

I loved Robin Hobb’s Farseer, Liveship Traders, and Tawny Man trilogies, and I was excited to learn she was writing more about what happened after the last of those three. Assassin’s Apprentice is one of the fantasy books I read when first starting to read the genre, and I’d recommend those new to these books start at the beginning with that one. I’m about halfway through Fool’s Assassin right now and enjoying it very much.

The book description below does contain spoilers for previous books.


Ranking alongside George R. R. Martin as a groundbreaking master of fantasy, New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb delivers the second book in her long-awaited Fitz and the Fool trilogy.

The harrowing adventures of FitzChivalry Farseer and his enigmatic friend the Fool continue in Robin Hobb’s triumphant follow-up to Fool’s Assassin. But Fool’s Quest is more than just a sequel. With the artistry and imagination her fans have come to expect, Hobb builds masterfully on all that has gone before, revealing devastating secrets and shocking conspiracies that cast a dark shadow over the history of Fitz and his world—a shadow that now stretches to darken all future hope.

Long ago, Fitz and the Fool changed the world, bringing back the magic of dragons and securing both the Farseer succession and the stability of the kingdom. Or so they thought. But now the Fool is near death, maimed by mysterious pale-skinned figures whose plans for world domination hinge upon the powers the Fool may share with Fitz’s own daughter.

Distracted by the Fool’s perilous health, and swept up against his will in the intrigues of the royal court, Fitz lets down his guard . . . and in a horrible instant, his world is undone and his beloved daughter stolen away by those who would use her as they had once sought to use the Fool—as a weapon.

But FitzChivalry Farseer is not without weapons of his own. An ancient magic still lives in his veins. And though he may have let his skills as royal assassin diminish over the years, such things, once learned, are not so easily forgotten.

Now enemies and friends alike are about to learn that nothing is more dangerous than a man who has nothing left to lose.

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Half a War (Shattered Sea #3) by Joe Abercrombie

The final book in the Shattered Sea trilogy will be released on July 28 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from Half a War is available on the author’s website—and if you missed the first two books, there are also excerpts from Half a King and Half the World online.

I haven’t yet read the second book, which came out earlier this year, but I really enjoyed Half a King.


Words are weapons

Princess Skara has seen all she loved made blood and ashes. She is left with only words. But the right words can be as deadly as any blade. She must conquer her fears and sharpen her wits to a lethal edge if she is to reclaim her birthright.

Only half a war is fought with swords

The deep-cunning Father Yarvi has walked a long road from crippled slave to king’s minister. He has made allies of old foes and stitched together an uneasy peace. But now the ruthless Grandmother Wexen has raised the greatest army since the elves made war on God, and put Bright Yilling at its head – a man who worships no god but Death.

Sometimes one must fight evil with evil

Some – like Thorn Bathu and the sword-bearer Raith – are born to fight, perhaps to die. Others – like Brand the smith and Koll the wood-carver – would rather stand in the light. But when Mother War spreads her iron wings, she may cast the whole Shattered Sea into darkness.

Lightless by C. A. Higgins

Lightless by C. A. Higgins

This debut science fiction novel will be released on September 22 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Lightless is included in the Del Rey and Bantam Books 2015 Sampler. A sequel, Supernova, is scheduled for release next year.


The deeply moving human drama of Gravity meets the nail-biting suspense of Alien in this riveting science fiction debut. With bold speculation informed by a degree in astrophysics, C. A. Higgins spins an unforgettable “locked spaceship” mystery guaranteed to catapult readers beyond their expectations—and into brilliantly thrilling new territory.

Serving aboard the Ananke, an experimental military spacecraft launched by the ruthless organization that rules Earth and its solar system, computer scientist Althea has established an intense emotional bond—not with any of her crewmates, but with the ship’s electronic systems, which speak more deeply to her analytical mind than human feelings do. But when a pair of fugitive terrorists gain access to the Ananke, Althea must draw upon her heart and soul for the strength to defend her beloved ship.

While one of the saboteurs remains at large somewhere on board, his captured partner—the enigmatic Ivan—may prove to be more dangerous. The perversely fascinating criminal whose silver tongue is his most effective weapon has long evaded the authorities’ most relentless surveillance—and kept the truth about his methods and motives well hidden.

As the ship’s systems begin to malfunction and the claustrophobic atmosphere is increasingly poisoned by distrust and suspicion, it falls to Althea to penetrate the prisoner’s layers of intrigue and deception before all is lost. But when the true nature of Ivan’s mission is exposed, it will change Althea forever—if it doesn’t kill her first.

Fable: Blood of Heroes by Jim C. Hines

Fable: Blood of Heroes by Jim C. Hines

Fable: Blood of Heroes will be released on August 4 (paperback, ebook). An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website (click “Look Inside” underneath the cover image).


The official companion novel to the videogame Fable® Legends

Deep in Albion’s darkest age, long before once upon a time . . . Heroes are thought to be gone from the land. So why have the bards begun singing of them once more? For Fable newcomers and dedicated fans alike, Blood of Heroes delves into a never-before-glimpsed era, telling the tale of a band of adventurers who come together to defend a kingdom in desperate need.

The city of Brightlodge is awash with Heroes from every corner of Albion, all eager for their next quest. When someone tries to burn down the Cock and Bard inn, four Heroes find themselves hastily thrown together, chasing outlaws through sewers, storming a riverboat full of smugglers, and placing their trust in a most unlikely ally. As the beginnings of a deadly plot are revealed, it becomes clear that Heroes have truly arrived—and so have villains.

What connects the recent events in Brightlodge to rumors about a malicious ghost and a spate of unsolved deaths in the nearby mining town of Grayrock? Unless Albion’s bravest Heroes can find the answer, the dawn of a new age could be extinguished before it even begins.

Dark Disciple: Star Wars by Christie Golden

Dark Disciple: Star Wars by Christie Golden

Dark Disciple will be released on July 7 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first 50 pages can be read on Suvudu.


Based on unproduced episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, this new novel features Asajj Ventress, former Sith apprentice turned bounty hunter and one of the great antiheroes in the Star Wars galaxy.

The only way to bring down the Sith’s most dangerous warrior may be to join forces with the dark side.

In the war for control of the galaxy between the armies of the dark side and the Republic, former Jedi Master turned ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku has grown ever more brutal in his tactics. Despite the powers of the Jedi and the military prowess of their clone army, the sheer number of fatalities is taking a terrible toll. And when Dooku orders the massacre of a flotilla of helpless refugees, the Jedi Council feels it has no choice but to take drastic action: targeting the man responsible for so many war atrocities, Count Dooku himself.

But the ever-elusive Dooku is dangerous prey for even the most skilled hunter. So the Council makes the bold decision to bring both sides of the Force’s power to bear—pairing brash Jedi Knight Quinlan Vos with infamous one-time Sith acolyte Asajj Ventress. Though Jedi distrust for the cunning killer who once served at Dooku’s side still runs deep, Ventress’s hatred for her former master runs deeper. She’s more than willing to lend her copious talents as a bounty hunter—and assassin—to Vos’s quest.

Together, Ventress and Vos are the best hope for eliminating Dooku—as long as the emerging feelings between them don’t compromise their mission. But Ventress is determined to have her retribution and at last let go of her dark Sith past. Balancing the complicated emotions she feels for Vos with the fury of her warrior’s spirit, she resolves to claim victory on all fronts—a vow that will be mercilessly tested by her deadly enemy . . . and her own doubt.

The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson

The War Against the Assholes by Sam Munson

This novel became available last month (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from The War Against the Assholes is available on the publisher’s website.


Contemporary fantasy meets true crime when schools of ancient sorcery go up against the art of the long con in this stunningly entertaining debut fantasy novel.

Mike Wood is satisfied just being a guy with broad shoulders at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan. But on the dirty streets of New York City he’s an everyman with a moral code who is unafraid of violence. And when Mike is unwittingly recruited into a secret cell of magicians by a fellow student, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. These magicians don’t use ritualized rote to work their magic, they use willpower in their clandestine war with the establishment: The Assholes.

The Young World by Chris Weitz

The Young World (The Young World #1) by Chris Weitz

The Young World was released in paperback last month and is also available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook. USA Today has an excerpt from it.


Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens.

After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos.

But when a fellow tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure for the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip, exchanging gunfire with enemy gangs, escaping cults and militias, braving the wilds of the subway – all in order to save humankind.

The New Order by Chris Weitz

The New Order (The Young World #2) by Chris Weitz

The New Order, the second book in The Young World series, will be released on July 21 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). A free preview of the first 73 pages is available online, and it’s also possible to get it for the Kindle or the Nook.


They thought they were the only ones left. They were wrong.

After the unexpected revelation at the end of the first book, Donna and Jefferson are separated. Jefferson returns to NYC and tries to bring a cure to the Sickness back to the Washington Square tribe, while Donna finds herself in England, facing an unimaginable new world. Can the two reunite and prevent an even greater disaster than the Sickness?

This second book in The Young World trilogy will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Tainted Blood is the third book in M. L. Brennan’s Generation V series. The first book, Generation V, was one of the best (if not the best) first books in an urban fantasy series I’ve read, and I was quite surprised by just how fond of the characters I’d become by the time I finished reading it. Iron Night, the second book, was even better, and despite a slower start than the others, Tainted Blood was also quite entertaining. I’m very much looking forward to Dark Ascension, which releases in August.

With his brother Chivalry temporarily unavailable, Fort continues to manage their mother’s territory in his place. This mostly includes tasks like checking in with the secretary, reading files, and denying a rusalka’s request for permission to murder annoying jet skiers (but offering to try to move her to a quieter lake instead). However, Fort feels like he’s in over his head when a call comes in on the emergency line with the news that the leader of the nearby metsän kunigas has been murdered—and, of course, he is expected to deal with the situation.

Fortunately, Suzume is available to lend her expertise and accompany him on his trip to the crime scene (and even seems to understand she should not refer to the metsän kunigas as “werebears” by the time they arrive). Unfortunately, Fort does not feel any less like he’s in over his head as the day progresses. The dead leader’s family is obviously dismayed to find him in charge of the murder investigation instead of his sister, and one of them resents vampires in general and Fort’s lack of knowledge about the local metsän kunigas family tree in particular. After questioning them, Fort discusses the situation with his own family, who tell him it’s imperative he find the killer—or at least, someone to blame and punish for the murder to appease the bears.

The more books I read in this series, the more I’m certain that I’ve found a new favorite urban fantasy series to join the ranks of Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews, Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, and October Daye by Seanan McGuire. Collectively, I actually prefer the first three books in this series to the first three in any of those longer-running favorites (although I don’t quite like any of these three individually as much as the third Kate Daniels book!). There’s a lot to love about the Generation V series—the humorous narrative voice, fun characters that become more complex with each book, unique vampire lore that unravels more with each book, and riveting character dynamics.

Tainted Blood did take a little longer to hook me than the previous books in the series since it took some time to show the current situations with Fort’s family, roommate, jobs, and friend-he’d-like-to-become-a-girlfriend before diving in to the main plot. Once Fort begins investigating the murder of the head bear, it gets much more interesting especially as it begins to set up (I’m assuming) the next book with Fort’s realization that Madeline’s health is declining—and his discovery that others realize this too and are preparing for upcoming changes in leadership.

It’s more than just a setup book, though, and I love that it continues to expand both the world and characters. Fort is still young and not yet a full-fledged vampire, and he continues to struggle with wanting to be human—especially after Prudence demonstrates the vampire feeding process to him in a deliciously creepy scene (sorry, couldn’t resist!). He learns more about what survival will mean for him and is terrified by this new knowledge, especially when he realizes how badly he wants to continue to exist. I love that his character wants to do the right thing, but that he has a darker side by virtue of what he is and who his family is.

There is a theme in this book of family, even when one’s family contains monsters, and my favorite part of it was the increasing complexity of Fort’s relationships with his siblings, especially his sister. While both Prudence and Chivalry are far more cold-blooded (sorry) than their younger brother, Fort has always gotten along better with his brother. Chivalry looks out for him and has a tendency to come to his aid in family arguments; however, in this book, Prudence is the one who does the most to help him out. Despite being vocal about feeling that both her brothers are foolish in completely different ways, she is there for both of them in this book. When Fort goes through one of the awful experiences that is part of transitioning to vampire, Prudence is very empathetic and helpful to the point where Fort asks her why she’s being so nice:


“You are my brother,” she said simply. “Whether I hate or love you, that fact will never change, and what ties us together can be broken only by death.” [pp. 199]

Prudence may not have much respect for human or most supernatural life and she may complain constantly about both her brothers, but she seems to care for them both in her own way. I think much of her ruthlessness may be driven by family duty and ensuring she does what she thinks is necessary for the family empire, and this book did a great job with adding more dimension to her.

I also loved the relationship between Fort and Suzume, and that there wasn’t much angst even though Suzume hasn’t made up her mind yet about whether or not she wants to date him. The two still get along well together both in friendship and their working relationship and behave like mature adults (well, as mature as can be expected considering Suzume’s idea of fun is adding googly eyes to Fort’s possessions when he’s not looking). Fort obviously really wants to be with her, but he also is not one of those characters who spends the book being emo about it.

Other than the slow start, my major issue with Tainted Blood had nothing to do with the writing: it seemed like it could have been more thoroughly copyedited. There was the occasional typo, but I’ve seen finished copies of books containing more typos. It mostly annoyed me that one scene specified that someone had personalized ringtones for everyone and could tell who was calling before she picked up the phone—only to have her then mention this person had not called from their own number after hanging up. It’s a fairly minor quibble, but I’m a detail-oriented person so I ended up rereading it a couple of times to make sure I really hadn’t misread something before moving on.

Despite a few minor nitpicks, Tainted Blood is another wonderful installment in the Generation V series. I highly recommend these books and enjoy their unique vampire mythology, inclusion of mythical beings uncommon in fantasy, three dimensional characters, and fun interactions between these characters. It’s also quite impressive that the humor in the narrative voice blends in quite naturally most of the time since I think that’s quite rare in books that do this. M. L. Brennan is a superb new author, and I can hardly wait to read her next book.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: It was a Christmas gift (selected from books on my wish list).

Read an Excerpt (Click “Read an Excerpt” underneath the cover image)

Other Reviews:

Reviews of Previous Books in the Generation V Series:

  1. Generation V
  2. Iron Night