This week was another huge week for books – I received 3 review copies, got 5 books as gifts from a friend, accepted one e-book review copy, and downloaded a free e-book offered to me by the author on Twitter.  And now that I just finished The Native Star by M. K. Hobson for the Nebula Readathon I have no idea what to read next (especially since I really just want the sequel to The Native Star right now – I loved it!).

The ReturningThe Returning by Christine Hinwood

The Returning, a young adult novel set in a medieval fantasy world, will be released in hardcover and as an e-book in the US on April 14.  The moment I saw this book it grabbed my attention due to the cover quote by one of my favorite young adult authors, Megan Whalen Turner:


A beautiful examination of the complexities of love and loyalty in the aftermath of war.

Yes, I definitely think I need to read this one. (Updated to add: This book was previously released in Australia with the title Bloodflower.  This is the first time this book has been released in the US.  Thanks to Orannia for the heads up that it had been previously released under a different title depending on which country you are in.)

An intense story of love, loss and turmoil in the aftermath of war. A first novel by a uniquely talented author.

Vivid, compassionate and totally absorbing, Bloodflower follows the fortunes of young Cam Attling and all those whose fates entwine with his.

Cam has a hunger, an always-hunger; it drives him from home, to war, from north to south. When he returns from war alone – all his fellow soldiers slain – suspicion swirls around him. He’s damaged in body and soul, yet he rides a fine horse and speaks well of his foes. What has he witnessed? Where does his true allegiance lie? How will life unfold for his little sister, his closest friend, his betrothed, his community, and even the enemy Lord who maimed him?

With extraordinary insight and literary skill, Hinwood weaves their stories to create a tale of romance, adventure and everyday life in croft and manor house and castle. Her style is unique. Her characters will hijack your heart.

Wereworld: Rise of the WolfWereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling

This young adult novel is already available in the UK, and it will be released in the US on September 20 (in hardcover).  There are plans for two more sequels.  I’m not sure this is my type of book, but it does seem to be getting quite a few good reviews so perhaps it would be worth trying at some point.

‘You’re the last of the werewolves son. Don’t fight it…Conquer it’. When the air is clear, sixteen year-old Drew Ferran can pick up the scent of a predator. When the moon breaks through the clouds, a terrifying fever grips him. And when a vicious beast invades his home, his gums begin to tear, his fingers become claws, and Drew transforms …Forced to flee the family he loves, Drew seeks refuge in the most godforsaken parts of Lyssia. But when he is captured by Lord Bergan’s men, Drew must prove he is not the enemy. Can Drew battle the werecreatures determined to destroy him – and master the animal within?

Wereworld: Rise of the WolfWaking the Witch by Kelley Armstrong

The eleventh novel in the Otherworld series (formerly known as Women of the Otherworld) will be released in paperback on April 5.  It is already available in hardcover and an e-book, and an excerpt containing the first three chapters is available here.

Question for those who have read the series: It sounds as though the books feature some different characters and this particular book has a new narrator from the previous volumes.  Does it work as a stand alone?  Or is it really necessary to read the first ten (!) books to read this one?  Since Kelley Armstrong is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and I’ve heard good things about this series, I am curious about it but I’m also not sure if it’s a good idea to start here.

The orphaned daughter of a sorcerer and a half-demon, Savannah is a terrifyingly powerful young witch who has never been able to resist the chance to throw her magical weight around. But at 21 she knows she needs to grow up and prove to her guardians, Paige and Lucas, that she can be a responsible member of their supernatural detective agency. So she jumps at the chance to fly solo, investigating the mysterious deaths of three young women in a nearby factory town as a favour to one of the agency’s associates. At first glance, the murders look garden-variety human, but on closer inspection signs point to otherworldly stakes.

Soon Savannah is in over her head. She’s run off the road and nearly killed, haunted by a mystery stalker, and freaked out when the brother of one of the dead women is murdered when he tries to investigate the crime. To complicate things, something weird is happening to her powers. Pitted against shamans, demons, a voodoo-inflected cult and garden-variety goons, Savannah has to fight to ensure her first case isn’t her last. And she also has to ask for help, perhaps the hardest lesson she’s ever had to learn.

Luck in the ShadowsLuck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

This is the first book in the Nightrunner series.  It’s followed by Stalking Darkness, Traitor’s Moon, Shadows Return, and The White RoadGlimpses, a collection of short stories related to the series, was also recently released.

For the past couple of years, one of my friends and I have been exchanging some of our favorite books read during the previous year.  This year I have promised to read the first book in the Nightrunner series plus its sequel, which I’ve been told is also a much better book than the first novel in the series (not just by her since reviews I’ve read of the first two books have said the same thing).

When young Alec of Kerry is taken prisoner for a crime he didn’t commit, he is certain that his life is at an end. But one thing he never expected was his cellmate. Spy, rogue, thief, and noble, Seregil of Rhiminee is many things–none of them predictable. And when he offers to take on Alec as his apprentice, things may never be the same for either of them. Soon Alec is traveling roads he never knew existed, toward a war he never suspected was brewing. Before long he and Seregil are embroiled in a sinister plot that runs deeper than either can imagine, and that may cost them far more than their lives if they fail. But fortune is as unpredictable as Alec’s new mentor, and this time there just might be…Luck in the Shadows.

Stalking DarknessStalking Darkness by Lynn Flewelling

This is of course the second book in the Nightrunner series and the one that is supposed to be amazing. I’m really looking forward to starting this series for several reasons:

1. I like reading books about thieves.
2. This is supposed to be a great series and I have actually wanted to read it for awhile.
3. Lynn Flewelling is a Maine native like myself (although she doesn’t live here anymore).
4. Recently, I decided I wanted to try to read more high fantasy written by women this year (which I used to, but I’ve branched out into reading a lot of different types of fantasy so I don’t read quite as much of it as I once did).

With the Leran threat laid to rest, Alec and Seregil are now able to turn their attention to the ancient evil which threatens their land. The Plenimarans, at war with Skalans, have decided to defeat their ancient enemy by raising up the Dead God, Seriamaius. The early attempts at this reincarnation—masterminded by the sinister Duke Mardus and his sorcerous minion Vargul Ashnazai—once left Seregil in a sorcerous coma. Now, an ancient prophecy points to his continuing role in the quest to stop Mardus in his dread purpose.

Seregil’s friend and Mentor, the wizard Nysander, has long been the guardian of a deadly secret. In a secret, silver-lined room hidden well beneath the Oreska, he has served for most of his 300 years as the keeper of a nondescript clay cup. But this cup, combined with a crystal crown and some wooden disks, forms the Helm of Seriamaius, and any mortal donning the reconstructed Helm will become the incarnation of the god on earth.

Nysander holds the cup and Mardus the wooden disks—one of which was responsible for Seregil’s coma—but the crown must still be located. Threatened under pain of death by Nysander to keep his quest a secret even from his loyal companion, Alec, Seregil is dispatched to find the last missing piece of the Helm so that he and Nysander can destroy it. But this is only the beginning of one of his deadliest journeys ever, for the prophecy also holds that four will come together in a time of darkness, and gradually all that Seregil values is placed at risk as he, Alec, Nysander and Micum are drawn into a deadly web of terror and intrigue.

Lord of Snow and ShadowsLord of Snow and Shadows by Sarah Ash

This is the first book in the Tears of Artamon trilogy, which is one of the other series my friend read last year that made it to her favorites list.  It sounds very interesting, a sort of Russian inspired fantasy series.  This article on Suvudu talks more about it, and here is an excerpt from it.

All Gavril Andar has ever known of life is the sunny clime of his southern home, his beautiful mother, and his love of painting. Until his peace is shattered – and his destiny decreed – by the arrival of a group of fierce clan warriors from the north. The father he has never known is dead. The man who ruled the wintry kingdom of Ahkendir, a man in whose veins ran the burning blood of the Drakhoul, has been murdered by his enemies.

Blood. The liquid that will seal Gavril’s fate. For becoming Drakhaon means not only ascending to the throne of Azhkendir, but also changing – changing, in subtle ways at first, into a being of erxtraordinary power and might. Becoming a dragon-warrior. One that must be replenished with the blood of innocents in order to survive.

Kidnapped by the warriors, Gavril is incarcerated in Kastel Drakhaon, with no means of escape from the isolated, ice-bound kingdom. Expected to avenge his father’s death, and carefully watched by neighbouring rulers waiting for their chance to move against him, the untested Gavril must fight to retain his human heart and soul in the face of impending war – and the dark instincts that threaten to overpower him…

Prisoner of the Iron TowerPrisoner of the Iron Tower by Sarah Ash

This is the second book in the Tears of Artamon trilogy.

A weaver of tales, a caster of spells, and a writer of rare imagination, Sarah Ash lends her unique vision to epic fantasy. In this captivating continuation to her story, the author of Lord of Snow and Shadows revisits a realm filled with spirits and singers, daemons and kings.

Gavril Nagarian has finally cast out the dragon-daemon from deep within himself. The Drakhaoul is gone—and with it all of Gavril’s fearsome powers. Though no longer besieged by the Drakhaoul’s unnatural lusts and desires, Gavril has betrayed his birthright and his people. He has put the ice-bound princedom of Azhkendir at risk and lost.

Emerging from his battle with the Lord Drakhaon scarred but victorious, Eugene of Tielen exacts a terrible price. He arrests the renegade warlord Gavril Nagarian for crimes against the Rossiyan Empire and sentences him to life in an insane asylum—for the absence of the Drakhaoul is slowly driving Gavril mad. But Eugene has another motive as well. He longs to possess the Drakhaoul—at any cost to his kingdom and his humanity. With Gavril locked inside the Iron Tower, three women keep his memory alive. His mother returns to the warmer climes of her homeland, where she foments the seeds of rebellion. A young scullery maid whose heart is broken by Gavril’s arrest sends her spirit out to the Ways Beyond. And even the emperor’s new wife is haunted by her remembrances of the handsome young painter who once captured her soul.

The five princedoms of a shattered empire are reunited. The last of Artamon’s ruby tears adorns Eugene’s crown. But peace is as fragile as a rebel’s whisper—and a captive’s wish to be free.

Glowing with the powers of light and darkness, Prisoner of the Iron Tower will astonish and enthrall you, as courtly intrigue collides with the fantastic—and good and evil become as nebulous as the outlines of a dream.

Prisoner of the Iron TowerChildren of the Serpent Gate by Sarah Ash

This is the third book in the Tears of Artamon trilogy.  I really hope I like them since my friend sent me the whole series!

In this third novel in her acclaimed Tears of Artamon saga, Sarah Ash once again transports readers to a realm where sorcery collides with political intrigue…and where one man haunted by a dark legacy is locked in a fierce struggle between the forces of good and evil battling for supremacy within him….

Gavril Nagarian is believed dead–perished in the heat of battle. But the Lord Drakhaon of Azhkendir lives on. Now he is entrusted with a sacred mission: to rescue the aged Magus, who has been kidnapped and in whose possession are the five priceless rubies that compose the fabled Tears of Artamon. Ancient law decrees that whoever possesses the coveted stones has the power to impose his rule over the five princedoms in the Empire of New Rossiya.

But the task exacts a cost. The Drakhaoul that destroyed his forebears has penetrated Gavril’s psyche and is gaining power over his soul. With the dark forces inside him seeking immortality, Gavril must feed on the blood of innocents–or die.

Toppled by the loss of the Tears of Artamon, Emperor Eugene of Tielen is tormented by his own daemon. Now he must defend his lands against King Enguerrand of Francia, who claims ownership of the Tears. But both men share a common goal: to destroy Gavril Nagarian and the Drakhaoul that lives within him once and for all.

Ingenious and unforgettable, Children of the Serpent Gate delivers a thrilling conclusion to the epic trials of a man of honor in a world run amok–a calamity that can be laid to rest only by an Emperor’s Tears.

Ten Ruby TrickTen Ruby Trick by Julia Knight

This is only available as an e-book.  I don’t read a lot of e-books at the moment, but how could I resist a fantasy pirate adventure with some romance when the author offered a copy for review?  It looks like a lot of fun.

Privateer Van Gast thrills in capturing treasure; delights in pulling off elaborate scams; and has an outrageous reputation with the ladies. But there is only one woman for him: fellow privateer Josie—seductive, brave and unpredictable. He’s hoping to make their relationship permanent, until he raids the wrong ship. Now slavers are stalking him, his crew is verging on mutiny and Josie has disappeared.

When she reappears with a new mark wanting Van Gast’s help running the ten ruby trick con, he senses trouble. It seems like Josie has joined up with mage-bound slavers to turn him over to their Master. Van Gast is about to take the biggest risk of all—and find out the true meaning of trust and betrayal.

In Her Name: EmpireIn Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks

This is the first book in a trilogy, and is available in as an omnibus also containing Confederation and The Final Battle.  All the books are available in paper format or as e-books.  I don’t normally read self-published books, but I have heard some very good things about this one so when I was offered the opportunity to download the first book for free I took it.  Some sample chapters are available online.

In the first book of an epic futuristic fantasy trilogy, this is the coming-of-age story of Reza Gard, a young boy of the Human Confederation who is swept up in the century-long war with the alien Kreelan Empire. Nightmarish female warriors with blue skin, fangs, and razor sharp talons, the Kreelans have technology that is millennia beyond that of the Confederation, yet they seek out close combat with sword and claw, fighting and dying to honor their god-like Empress. Captured and enslaved, Reza must live like his enemies in a grand experiment to see if humans have souls, and if one may be the key to unlocking an ages old curse upon the Kreelan race. Enduring the brutal conditions of Kreelan life, Reza and a young warrior named Esah-Zhurah find themselves bound together by fate and a prophecy foretold millennia before they were born.