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 one I had to have as soon as it was released! I have some time off coming up soon so I’m planning for it to be my vacation read.

There will be an interview with M. L. Brennan, author of the book I’ve been looking forward to that I just mentioned above, on Thursday! I’m planning to post my review of Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb on Tuesday (it’s a fantastic, wonderfully satisfying book!).

On to the books of the week!

Dark Ascension by M. L. Brennan

Dark Ascension (Generation V #4) by M. L. Brennan

The fourth Generation V book came out last week, and I ordered it over the weekend so I could get it as soon as it came out! I’m enjoying these books a lot—it’s one of my favorite urban fantasy series at the moment—and I am so excited about this particular book after seeing what M. L. Brennan had to say about it on Goodreads.

All books in the series are available in mass market paperback and ebook. An excerpt from Dark Ascension is also on the publisher’s website (click “Read an Excerpt” under the cover image).

The previous books in the series are as follows:

  1. Generation V (My Review)
  2. Iron Night (My Review)
  3. Tainted Blood (My Review)

After a lifetime of avoiding his family, Fort has discovered that working for them isn’t half bad—even if his mother, Madeline, is a terrifying, murderous vampire. His newfound career has given him a purpose and a paycheck and has even helped him get his partner, foxy kitsune Suzume, to agree to be his girlfriend. All in all, things are looking up.

Only, just as Fort is getting comfortable managing a supernatural empire that stretches from New Jersey to Ontario, Madeline’s health starts failing, throwing Fort into the middle of an uncomfortable and dangerous battle for succession. His older sister, Prudence, is determined to take over the territory. But Fort isn’t the only one wary of her sociopathic tendencies, and allies, old and new, are turning to him to keep Prudence from gaining power.

Now, as Fort fights against his impending transition into vampire adulthood, he must also battle to keep Prudence from destroying their mother’s kingdom—before she takes him down with it….

Weighing Shadows by Lisa Goldstein

Weighing Shadows by Lisa Goldstein

Weighing Shadows will be released on November 3 (trade paperback). Lisa Goldstein’s novel Red Magician won the National Book Award, and her novel The Uncertain Places won the Mythopoeic Award. Her work has also been nominated for Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Awards.


Ann Decker fixes computers for a living, and in the evenings she passes the time sharpening her hacking skills. It’s not a very interesting life, but she gets by—until one day she’s contacted with a job offer for a company called Transformations Incorporated. None of her coworkers have ever heard of it before, and when Ann is finally told what the company does, she can hardly believe it: TI has invented technology to travel in time.

Soon Ann is visiting a matriarchy in ancient Crete, and then a woman mathematician at the Library of Alexandria. But Transformations Incorporated remains shrouded in mystery, and when Ann finally catches her breath, there are too many troubling questions still unanswered. Who are Transformations Incorporated, and what will they use this technology to gain? What ill effects might going back in time have on the present day? Is it really as harmless as TI says?

When a coworker turns up dead, Ann’s superiors warn her about a covert group called Core out to sabotage the company. Something just isn’t right, but before she has time to investigate, Ann is sent to a castle in the south of France, nearly a thousand years in the past. As the armies of the Crusade arrive to lay siege, and intrigue grows among the viscount’s family, Ann will discover the startling truth—not just about the company that sent her there, but also about her own past.

Zero World by Jason M. Hough

Zero World by Jason M. Hough

The latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Jason M. Hough will be released on August 18 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from Zero World is available on the author’s website.


Published in rapid succession, Jason M. Hough’s first three novels, The Darwin Elevator, The Exodus Towers, and The Plague Forge, earned mountains of praise and comparisons to such authors as James S. A. Corey and John Scalzi. Now Hough returns with a riveting near-future spy thriller that combines the adrenaline of a high-octane James Bond adventure with mind-blowing sci-fi speculations worthy of Christopher Nolan’s Inception.

Technologically enhanced superspy Peter Caswell has been dispatched on a top-secret assignment unlike any he’s ever faced. A spaceship that vanished years ago has been found, along with the bodies of its murdered crew—save one. Peter’s mission is to find the missing crew member, who fled through what appears to be a tear in the fabric of space. Beyond this mysterious doorway lies an even more confounding reality: a world that seems to be Earth’s twin.

Peter discovers that this mirrored world is indeed different from his home, and far more dangerous. Cut off from all support, and with only days to complete his operation, Peter must track his quarry alone on an alien world. But he’s unprepared for what awaits on the planet’s surface, where his skills will be put to the ultimate test—and everything he knows about the universe will be challenged in ways he never could have imagined.

Reawakened by Colleen Houck

Reawakened (The Reawakened #1) by Colleen Houck

This first book in a new series by New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck will be available on August 11 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from Reawakened can be read on the author’s website (click “Read the Teaser” beneath the cover image).


When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

Press Start to Play edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams

Press Start to Play edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams

This anthology about video games will be released on August 18 (trade paperback, ebook). It contains stories by Seanan McGuire (hers is an InCryptid story!), Yoon Ha Lee, Cory Doctorow, Ken Liu, Catherynne M. Valente, Holly Black, Rhianna Pratchett, Charlie Jane Anders, Charles Yu, Django Wexler, and more!



You are standing in a room filled with books, faced with a difficult decision. Suddenly, one with a distinctive cover catches your eye. It is a groundbreaking anthology of short stories from award-winning writers and game-industry titans who have embarked on a quest to explore what happens when video games and science fiction collide.

From text-based adventures to first-person shooters, dungeon crawlers to horror games, these twenty-six stories play with our notion of what video games can be—and what they can become—in smart and singular ways. With a foreword from Ernest Cline, bestselling author of Ready Player One, Press Start to Play includes work from: Daniel H. Wilson, Charles Yu, Hiroshi Sakurazaka, S.R. Mastrantone, Charlie Jane Anders, Holly Black, Seanan McGuire, Django Wexler, Nicole Feldringer, Chris Avellone, David Barr Kirtley,T.C. Boyle, Marc Laidlaw, Robin Wasserman, Micky Neilson, Cory Doctorow, Jessica Barber, Chris Kluwe, Marguerite K. Bennett, Rhianna Pratchett, Austin Grossman, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Catherynne M. Valente, Andy Weir, and Hugh Howey.

Your inventory includes keys, a cell phone, and a wallet. What would you like to do?

Marked by Sue Tingey

Marked (The Soulseer Chronicles #1) by Sue Tingey

This debut novel was released in the UK earlier this year and will be available in the US on October 6 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Marked can be read on Civilian Reader.


With no family and very few friends, Lucky’s psychic ability has always made her an outcast. The only person she can rely on is Kayla, the ghost girl who has been with her since she was born.

But Kayla is not all that she appears.

And when Lucky is visited by a demonic assassin with a message for her friend, she finds herself dragged into the Underlands – and the political fight for the daemon king’s throne.

Lucky, trapped in the daemon world, is determined to find her way home… until she finds herself caught between the charms of the Guardian Jamie, the charismatic Daemon of Death Jinx – and the lure of finding out who she really is.

Black Dog Short Stories
by Rachel Neumeier
138pp (Ebook)
My Rating: 6.5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.8/5
LibraryThing Rating: --/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.97/5

Rachel Neumeier’s collection Black Dog Short Stories contains four short stories, an introduction to genetics, and an essay on how genetics impact the world of the Black Dog books. Three stories are set between the end of the first book, Black Dog, and the beginning of the second book, Pure Magic, which was released shortly after these stories. The other story takes place before the first novel. I’d recommend reading Black Dog before this collection, both because I think having more background on the characters and world is helpful and because I preferred the novel (but then, I almost always prefer to read longer fiction!).

While some were enjoyable, the only story I thought truly stood out was the prequel, “The Master of Dimilioc”; however, I appreciated the collection as a whole much more once I’d read all the stories. Each had a different main character, but all worked together to characterize Grayson, the only one present in every single story. “Christmas Shopping” paints him as a wise and competent leader who is strict but sympathetic in foreseeing potential danger for one of his people and protecting her but still allowing her freedom. “Library Work” also shows how Grayson is firm but not unkind in his role as Master of Dimilioc. He doesn’t allow those in Dimilioc to get away with manipulating him, but he can also devise fitting and effective punishments without resorting to cruelty. This is contrasted with the old leadership in “The Master of Dimilioc,” which shows how Grayson earned this title after long being someone many in Dimilioc entrusted with their problems. His harder side is shown in “A Learning Experience,” in which he and Thaddeus are hunting stray black dogs who cannot control their shadows and are thus a danger to others. Thaddeus is tested by Grayson, and he comes to change his view of the Master by the end. Grayson was a character I found especially interesting in the novel, and I was glad this collection featured him so prominently.

I loved seeing more of Grayson, but I usually found that his character was the best part of each story. “Christmas Shopping” and “Library Work” are both cute, quick reads although I thought the first of these took a long time to get to the point. The beginning consisted of Natividad pestering Grayson about wanting to go shopping, his decision to send Keziah to protect her, descriptions of the drive to the store, and an accounting of the shops the two young women visited before anything of interest happened. Once the action started, it got better but I was also a bit disappointed that most of what was revealed about the problem they faced was shared via infodump and then it was over quickly. However, I did enjoy seeing the development of Natividad and Keziah’s relationship. “Library Work,” my second favorite story in the collection, focuses on Miguel, who is annoyed when Etienne orders him to dust every single book in the huge library. He’s tired of the way Etienne treats him because he sees him as a mere human and decides to try to change that. I did not think Miguel was as clever as he thought he was, and I was glad that his own view of this was challenged in the end.

“A Learning Experience” and “The Master of Dimilioc” are heavier stories than the first two and also develop their main characters more. The first was my least favorite, which surprised me since it was about Thaddeus. His perspective is well done and he’s still an intriguing character, but I felt this story was too drawn out despite having a couple of great scenes. There were a couple of flashbacks, and while I did find learning more about how black dogs view the Pure interesting, the rest of the history didn’t hold my attention nor did reading about searching for other black dogs. Even though I enjoyed his final scene with Grayson, I found that to be longer than necessary as well. Ezekiel’s story, “The Master of Dimilioc,” was the most compelling story of the four and the only one to hold my attention from start to finish. Ezekiel contends with examining life in Dimilioc more closely and begins to wonder how it could be.

Overall, I enjoyed Black Dog Short Stories although not as much as the novel Black Dog. I was actually quite surprised by how much more I appreciated these stories after I finished reading all of them and was able to look at them all together instead of individually. The fourth was still easily my favorite as the only one that hooked me immediately, but I did like how each told a different story while showing what kind of leader Grayson is—and it managed to make me quite curious about what happens to these characters next in Pure Magic!

My Rating: 6.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Electronic copy from the author.

Review(s) of Other Books in This Series:

Book Description from Goodreads:

Tom Badgerlock has been living peaceably in the manor house at Withywoods with his beloved wife Molly these many years, the estate a reward to his family for loyal service to the crown.

But behind the facade of respectable middle-age lies a turbulent and violent past. For Tom Badgerlock is actually FitzChivalry Farseer, bastard scion of the Farseer line, convicted user of Beast-magic, and assassin. A man who has risked much for his king and lost more…

On a shelf in his den sits a triptych carved in memory stone of a man, a wolf and a fool. Once, these three were inseparable friends: Fitz, Nighteyes and the Fool. But one is long dead, and one long-missing.

Then one Winterfest night a messenger arrives to seek out Fitz, but mysteriously disappears, leaving nothing but a blood-trail. What was the message? Who was the sender? And what has happened to the messenger?

Suddenly Fitz’s violent old life erupts into the peace of his new world, and nothing and no one is safe.

Last year brought the start of a new trilogy about fantasy favorite FitzChivalry Farseer with the publication of Fool’s Assassin. The second book in the trilogy, Fool’s Quest, will be released on August 11.

This is not the place to start reading if you’re new to these books. The first trilogy focusing on this character is the Farseer Trilogy, which begins with Assassin’s Apprentice. Once those have been read, it can be tempting to skip straight to the Tawny Man Trilogy to read more about Fitz, but I would recommend reading the Liveship Traders Trilogy next. One of the characters from Farseer shows up in it, and it is best to know what happened between Farseer and Tawny Man—and it’s actually my favorite of the three trilogies despite being the one I thought had the slowest start. Fool’s Assassin takes place after the end of the Tawny Man Trilogy.

I haven’t read any of Robin Hobb’s novels since shortly after Fool’s Fate was released more than 10 years ago. Since these books were among the first books I read in the fantasy genre, I was worried I might find that my tastes had changed and the series had lost its appeal, but I need not have been concerned—I loved Fool’s Assassin (and Fool’s Quest is even better but I’ll write more about that one later!).

Fool’s Assassin is mostly a quiet book until toward the end. Fitz resides at Withywoods where lives a quiet life and stays out of the politics surrounding the crown as much as he possibly can. Due to his close ties to Chade, Kettricken, and Dutiful, he’s not able to escape completely, but he resists spending much time in Buckkeep. While there are events that shake up Fitz’s life before the Major Occurrences near the conclusion, most of the novel is focused on everyday life at Withywoods and developing a character I’m not going to discuss to avoid spoilers. This may sound boring and I’m sure some will find it to be just that, but personally, I enjoyed every moment of it. Robin Hobb’s writing is magic, and this particular book reminded me very much of how I feel about Jane Austen’s novels—not because the two authors’ books or writing styles are similar (they’re really not) but because it kept me glued to the pages even though so many of them were dedicated to simply following the characters’ lives. I am in awe of Robin Hobb’s ability to make me care about her characters so much that I hang on to every word of their conversations and narratives whether they’re involved in intrigue or just hanging around home.

It works so well because her characters are real and memorable. Fitz is an introspective narrator and all his thoughts are laid bare, showing him at both his best and his worst. He can be very endearing, but he can also be so dense that it’s infuriating. One of the earliest scenes in the book shows his steward telling him that he and another member of the household have some concerns about some so-called “minstrels” who appeared for Winterfest. They appeared to be sneaking around and one claimed they were minstrels, even though they had no instruments, while another claimed they were tumblers. Despite this suspicious behavior, Fitz dismissed it as unimportant. He’s been trained to be observant so I found this difficult to believe, although the argument could be made that he’s been living a quiet life and may be afraid of being paranoid about things that are inconsequential (and it’s true that lots of strangers do show up during Winterfest although I’m not quite sure why they’d lie about why they’re there). This isn’t the only time he overlooks the obvious, either, but it does seem like this is supposed to be part of his personality since the other characters seem to frequently react to him the same way I did—mostly with fondness but with occasional irritation. (That said, they were usually irritated with him for different reasons. I did think the other characters were sometimes too hard on him even though I sometimes understood where they were coming from and also realize that while I knew all his thoughts the other characters usually did not.)

It also frustrated me a bit that one of the characters in the trilogy title was not present for most of the book, mostly only showing up in Fitz’s thoughts. At times, I did get tired of hearing about how much he missed his old friend without actually getting to spend time with him myself, but at the same time, it fit well with the narrative. After all, we’re privy to all of Fitz’s reflections and the two were very close so it’s perfectly reasonable for him to think about someone he misses.

As mentioned earlier, much happens close to the end of the book. This is definitely just the first part of a larger story, and this book sets up the rest of the trilogy and then ends in a most inconvenient place. You will want to have the next book available when you finish (admittedly, the ending of the second book isn’t any more convenient but I’m still glad I continued reading rather than waiting longer to continue the story!).

Robin Hobb is one of the best fantasy writers there is. The amount of introspection and focus on everyday life wouldn’t work in the hands on most authors, but somehow she makes it work incredibly well. I enjoyed Fool’s Assassin more than the vast majority of books even before reading its exciting final pages. I didn’t want to put this down and was tempted to reread the previous books—but instead, I immediately began reading the next book in the trilogy!

My Rating: 9/10

Where I got my reading copy: I purchased it.

Read the First 50 Pages

Other Reviews:

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.

One of last week’s books is not included in the list this week because I just mentioned it a few days ago and am giving away 2 copies of it! I also reviewed The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman last week. It’s a lot of fun, and shortly after my review went up, I heard the news that it will be published in the US in June 2016! I was thrilled to hear this since it’s a great book.

Now, on to this week’s book list!

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie Czerneda

This Gulf of Time and Stars (Reunification #1) by Julie Czerneda

This Gulf of Time and Stars, the first book in the Reunification trilogy, will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook). It takes place in the same setting as the Stratification and Trade Pact trilogies. To read more about the book and cover design, check out the cover reveal on SF Signal!


First in a new science fiction trilogy, set in the same universe as the Clan Chronicles, by the Prix Aurora Award-winning Julie E. Czerneda.

Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick

Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick

Chasing the Phoenix will be released on August 11 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from the book is available


A science fiction masterpiece from a five-time Hugo Award winner!

In the distant future, Surplus arrives in China dressed as a Mongolian shaman, leading a yak which carries the corpse of his friend, Darger. The old high-tech world has long since collapsed, and the artificial intelligences that ran it are outlawed and destroyed. Or so it seems.

Darger and Surplus, a human and a genetically engineered dog with human intelligence who walks upright, are a pair of con men and the heroes of a series of prior Swanwick stories. They travel to what was was once China and invent a scam to become rich and powerful. Pretending to have limited super-powers, they aid an ambitious local warlord who dreams of conquest and once again reuniting China under one ruler. And, against all odds, it begins to work, but it seems as if there are other forces at work behind the scenes. This is a sharp, slick, witty science fiction adventure that is hugely entertaining from one of the best SF writers alive.

The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M. H. Boroson

This debut novel will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook).


It’s the end of the nineteenth century in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and ghost hunters from the Maoshan traditions of Daoism keep malevolent spiritual forces at bay. Li-lin, the daughter of a renowned Daoshi exorcist, is a young widow burdened with yin eyes—the unique ability to see the spirit world. Her spiritual visions and the death of her husband bring great shame to Li-lin and her father—and shame is not something this immigrant family can afford.

When a sorcerer cripples her father, terrible plans are set in motion, and only Li-lin can stop them. To aid her are her martial arts and a peachwood sword, her burning paper talismans, and a wisecracking spirit in the form of a human eyeball tucked away in her pocket. Navigating the dangerous alleys and backrooms of a male-dominated Chinatown, Li-lin must confront evil spirits, gangsters, and soulstealers before the sorcerer’s ritual summons an ancient evil that could burn Chinatown to the ground.

With a rich and inventive historical setting, nonstop martial arts action, authentic Chinese magic, and bizarre monsters from Asian folklore, The Girl with Ghost Eyes is also the poignant story of a young immigrantt searching to find her place beside the long shadow of a demanding father and the stigma of widowhood. In a Chinatown caught between tradition and modernity, one woman may be the key to holding everything together.

The Pilots of Borealis by David Nabhan

The Pilots of Borealis by David Nabhan

The Pilots of Borealis will be released on August 11 (paperback, ebook).


Top Gun heads to outer space in this throwback to the classic science fiction of Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein.

Strapped in to artificial wings spanning twenty-five feet across, your arms push a tenth of your body weight with each pump as you propel yourself at frightening speeds through the air. Inside a pressurized dome on the Moon, subject to one-sixth Earth’s gravity, there are swarms of chiseled, fearless, superbly trained flyers all around you, jostling for air space like peregrine falcons racing for the prize. This was the sport of piloting, and after Helium-3, piloting was one of the first things that entered anyone’s mind when Borealis was mentioned.

It was Helium-3 that powered humanity’s far-flung civilization expansion, feeding fusion reactors from the Alliances on Earth to the Terran Ring, Mars, the Jovian colonies, and all the way out to distant Titan. The supply, taken from the surface of the Moon, had once seemed endless. But that was long ago. Borealis, the glittering, fabulously rich city stretched out across the lunar North Pole, had amassed centuries of unimaginable wealth harvesting it, and as such was the first to realize that its supplies were running out.

The distant memories of the horrific planetwide devastation spawned by the petroleum wars were not enough to quell the rising energy and political crises. A new war to rival no other appeared imminent, but the solar system’s competing powers would discover something more powerful than Helium-3: the indomitable spirit of an Earth-born, war-weary mercenary and pilot extraordinaire.

The Song of Synth by Seb Doubinsky

The Song of Synth by Seb Doubinsky

August 4 is the official release date for The Song of Synth (paperback, ebook), but the print edition seems to be available in at least some stores now.


Williams Burroughs meets Philip K. Dick in this dystopian drug-fueled novel set in the not-so-distant future.

Synth is a drug able to induce hallucinations indistinguishable from reality. But it’s brand new, highly addictive, and more than likely dangerous. Even the dealers peddling the pills don’t know what long term effects the drug will have on its users. For Markus Olsen, Synth offers an easy escape to his crumbling life. Markus, an ex-hacker, has been caught red-handed, and while his friends were sent to jail for thirty years, Markus decided to cooperate, agreeing to lend his services and particular criminal expertise to Viborg City’s secret service, aiding the oppressive state power he’d been fighting to break in exchange for his relative freedom.

But Markus’ past as an anarchist comes back to haunt him, in the form of a credit card with no account but an seemingly unlimited balance as well as the discovery of a mysterious novel in which he is a main character. How much of his reality is being produced by Synth? How disconnected from real life has Markus become? Forced to face his past and the decisions he’s made, Markus must decide to choose between the artificial comfort of his constructed life and the harsh reality of treason and the struggle for freedom.

The Left-Hand Way by Tom Doyle

The Left-Hand Way (American Craftsmen #2) by Tom Doyle

This novel, following American Craftsmen, will be available on August 11 (hardcover, ebook). The first chapter of The Left-Hand Way can be read on the Tor/Forge blog.


Poe’s Red Death returns, more powerful than ever. Can anyone stop him before he summons an apocalyptic nightmare even worse than himself?

In The Left-Hand Way, the second book of Tom Doyle’s contemporary fantasy series, the American craftsmen are scattered like bait overseas. What starts as an ordinary liaison mission to London for Major Michael Endicott becomes a desperate chase across Europe, where Endicott is both hunted and hunter. Reluctantly joining him is his minder from MI13, Commander Grace Marlow, one of Her Majesty’s most lethal magician soldiers, whose family has centuries of justified hostility to the Endicotts.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul and Tokyo, Endicott’s comrades, Scherie Rezvani and Dale Morton, are caught in their own battles for survival against hired assassins and a ghost-powered doomsday machine. And in Kiev, Roderick Morton, the spider at the center of a global web, plots their destruction and his ultimate apotheosis. After centuries of imprisonment, nothing less than godlike power will satisfy Roderick, whatever the dreadful cost.

Chaos Unleashed by Drew Karpyshyn

Chaos Unleashed (The Chaos Born #3) by Drew Karpyshyn

The conclusion to the Chaos Born trilogy will be released on October 13 (paperback, ebook, audiobook). The first two books in the series are as follows:

  1. Children of Fire (Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Scorched Earth

The Demon Cycle meets The Wheel of Time in this action-packed adventure! From New York Times bestselling author and acclaimed videogame writer Drew Karpyshyn comes the third and final novel in an original epic fantasy trilogy for fans of Terry Goodkind, Peter V. Brett, and Brandon Sanderson.
Four unlikely champions, each touched with Chaos magic at birth, are all that can stop the return of Daemron the Slayer, a hero who became a god—and then a demon. Exiled by the Old Gods, Daemron has long plotted his vengeful return. Now that moment is at hand, as the barrier imprisoning him—the Legacy—crumbles.

Armed with mighty Talismans, the four champions—Keegan, a wizard beset with self-doubt; Cassandra, a seer terrified by her own future; Scythe, a peerless warrior whose only weak spot is a broken heart; and Vaaler, a prince without a kingdom—seek the Keystone, a fabled place where, or so it is said, the Legacy can be restored.

But the plots of the Slayer are cunning and deep, and even the most noble heart can be twisted by the tainted magic of Chaos—as Keegan, Cassandra, Scythe, and Vaaler will soon discover.


The Invisible Library, Genevieve Cogman’s debut novel and the first book in a new fantasy series, was released in the UK earlier this year. The second book, The Masked City, will be available in December of this year, and at least one more book will follow. I’m quite looking forward to the next installment since The Invisible Library is one of the better books I’ve read in 2015 so far!

The premise of The Invisible Library will probably appeal to many fans of genre fiction—the main character, Irene, is a spy who collects books from alternate worlds for the Library, an organization with headquarters outside time and space. Sometimes this is an easy job, simply requiring that she go to the world and purchase the book in question; sometimes it’s even a glamorous job when acquiring the book requires posing as a rich member of society, complete with stays at classy hotels and expensive, delicious meals. Other times, the assignment is difficult and laborious, such as the one Irene is attempting to complete at the beginning of the novel: spending months working as a maid at Prince Mordred’s Private Academy for Boys with the goal of stealing a book on necromancy.

After being outed as a thief and chased by hellhounds, Irene returns triumphantly to the Library with the book, planning to spend some time reading and working on her own projects. However, her supervisor has other plans for her, and soon Irene is headed to one of London’s alternates in search of a specific copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales along with a new student to mentor, Kai. Unfortunately, they arrive to the news that the situation has changed significantly since the initial report was submitted: the book changed hands from an elderly man to a vampire, the vampire who purchased the book has been staked, and the book has been stolen by an infamous cat burglar. Irene knows this may be a dangerous assignment when she begins to suspect Fae involvement, but she’s not expecting the news she receives in an urgent message from the Library: to beware of Alberich, a notorious traitor to the Library who has been known to kill Librarians.

The Invisible Library is a story that seems custom made for bibliophiles, especially those who love fantasy and mystery, and it is so much fun. Any number of settings are possible due to the alternate worlds, and the idea of being a Librarian is quite appealing despite the possibility of not-so-fun missions. After all, when not on assignment, a Librarian is surrounded by books, plus once Librarians get older they no longer have to go to different worlds if they don’t want to do so. They can remain in the Library where no one ages. Also, they have their own sort of “magic” called the Language that requires using the correct words precisely. It’s necessary to study and keep up to date with it, and it can be a very powerful tool when used logically.

Irene is a bookworm who particularly loves mysteries and is therefore delighted to make the acquaintance of a renowned detective in her quest to recover the Grimm book. Although I wasn’t quite as invested in her as many characters I’ve read about, I still really liked her and thought she was a wonderful protagonist not just because she too loves fiction but also because of her personality. She is a quick thinker with the ability to evaluate the situation and decide the best course to follow when she is on a mission. Sometimes that means taking action like diving on top of a bucket of dirty water so it looks like someone pushed her over and ran off with the book she stole or hitting an attacker on the back of the head with a chair; other times it means letting someone else take the lead while she plays a role that fits what someone expects of her. She’s very practical, and she seemed like she was quite good at her job since she was able to quickly make decisions based on current circumstances.

Irene’s narrative voice is a great combination of practicality and humor. She does frequently make observations about reality compared to fiction, such as how competent detectives can be much more inconvenient in real life or how it’s not necessary to dash into potentially dangerous situations like fictional characters often do. Normally I find reading statements about a character’s life in relation to fiction irritating, but in this particular case, I thought it worked quite well. As someone who has devoted her entire life to books, it makes perfect sense that Irene would analyze her surroundings this way, plus her thoughts are not as hackneyed as the horrible conceit of “This isn’t how things happen in books, but of course not, because this is my life, not a book!”

There are some intriguing secondary characters as well, although I wasn’t overly attached to any of them. The Earl of Leeds (the famous detective Irene meets) has a somewhat mysterious past related to his family, and Irene’s student Kai has a secret identity that is revealed partway through the novel. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Kai and Irene and thought it was quite refreshing that Kai respected that she was the one in charge and didn’t test her authority. He’s willing to do his share of the work, and he doesn’t seem to have any problems at all with her taking the lead, although he does become angry and argue with her when he strongly believes her to be wrong at one point—but in the end, he accepts her decision because she’s the leader in this mission. When Kai does challenge Irene’s views on what they ought to do, Irene listens to his concerns and suggests ways she may be able to but him feel better about it, but she remains firm when she believes her choice is their best option.

By the end, the book also sets up some intriguing mysteries about Alberich and the Library that I’m quite eager to learn more about in the next books in the series. When I start reading a new series, I want to know more than when I started but be left with some questions to ponder related to the bigger picture, and this first volume managed to do that quite well.

I know I already said this, but I just need to emphasize it again one last time: The Invisible Library is so much fun. The concept of the Library is delightful, Irene’s narrative voice is engaging, Kai and Irene are great together, and there are hints of more to be revealed in future volumes. While I do wish I had been a little more invested in the characters, I enjoyed it immensely and recommend it to my fellow bibliophiles, especially those who are particularly fond of genre fiction!

My Rating: 8/10

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

Other Reviews:

I’m thrilled to be giving away two copies of Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews today! The Kate Daniels series is one of my favorites, and the third book in the series (Magic Strikes) is my #1 favorite urban fantasy book. The authors have done an incredible job with developing Kate’s character throughout the series, and the books are fun with a great sense of humor—and I always look forward to a new book about Kate Daniels! Magic Shifts, the eighth novel in the series, will be released on August 4.

Magic Shifts by Ilona Andrews

ABOUT MAGIC SHIFTS (read an excerpt):

In the latest Kate Daniels novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews, magic is coming and going in waves in post-Shift Atlanta—and each crest leaves danger in its wake…

After breaking from life with the Pack, mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate—former Beast Lord Curran Lennart—are adjusting to a very different pace. While they’re thrilled to escape all the infighting, Curran misses the constant challenges of leading the shapeshifters.

So when the Pack offers him its stake in the Mercenary Guild, Curran seizes the opportunity—too bad the Guild wants nothing to do with him and Kate. Luckily, as a veteran merc, Kate can take over any of the Guild’s unfinished jobs in order to bring in money and build their reputation. But what Kate and Curran don’t realize is that the odd jobs they’ve been working are all connected.

An ancient enemy has arisen, and Kate and Curran are the only ones who can stop it—before it takes their city apart piece by piece…

Courtesy of Penguin Random House, I have two copies of Magic Shifts to give away! This giveaway is open to residents of the US 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 “Magic Shifts Giveaway.” One entry per household and two winners will be randomly selected. Those from the US are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Thursday, August 6. 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: The form has been removed since the giveaway is now over.