The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (often these are unsolicited books from publishers). 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 was a pretty good mail week with some very intriguing upcoming releases!

Holy Sister by Mark Lawrence

Holy Sister (Book of the Ancestor #3) by Mark Lawrence

The final installment in the Book of the Ancestor trilogy will be released on April 9, 2019 (hardcover and ebook).

The publisher’s website has excerpts from the first two books in the series:

  1. Red Sister
  2. Grey Sister

It made my day when I discovered this was the contents of a mystery package! This series has compelling characters I’ve become quite invested in, and I very much enjoyed both of the previous novels (particularly the first):

  1. Red Sister — 9/10
  2. Grey Sister — 8/10

The third book in the thrilling and epic Book of the Ancestor trilogy from international bestselling author Mark Lawrence.

Powerful novice Nona Grey must fight to survive in “a fantastic world in which religion and politics are dark and sharp as swords, with magic and might held in the hands of wonderful and dangerous women.”*

*Library Journal

The True Queen by Zen Cho

The True Queen (A Sorcerer to the Crown Novel) by Zen Cho

The True Queen, a new story set after events in Zen Cho’s Regency fantasy Sorcerer to the Crown, will be released on March 12, 2019 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

It appears to be too early for excerpts from the upcoming novel, but the publisher’s website does have an excerpt from Sorcerer to the Crown.

My reaction to Sorcerer to the Crown was a complicated one—though I liked it and thought it was well done, it seemed like I should have loved it and I’m not quite sure why I didn’t—but I did enjoy it and am curious about this new tale set in the same world (and discovering what Prunella has been up to!).


In the follow-up to the “delightful” Regency fantasy novel ( Sorcerer to the Crown, a young woman with no memories of her past finds herself embroiled in dangerous politics in England and the land of the fae.

When sisters Muna and Sakti wake up on the peaceful beach of the island of Janda Baik, they can’t remember anything, except that they are bound as only sisters can be. They have been cursed by an unknown enchanter, and slowly Sakti starts to fade away. The only hope of saving her is to go to distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal has established an academy to train women in magic.

If Muna is to save her sister, she must learn to navigate high society, and trick the English magicians into believing she is a magical prodigy. As she’s drawn into their intrigues, she must uncover the secrets of her past, and journey into a world with more magic than she had ever dreamed.

Tales from Plexis edited by Julie E. Czerneda

The Clan Chronicles: Tales from Plexis edited by Julie E. Czerneda

This anthology of stories set in Julie E. Czerneda’s Clan Chronicles universe (and edited by her!) will be released on December 4 (trade paperback, ebook).

The editor’s website has more information on the book and the table of contents, which includes stories by Tanya Huff, Karina Sumner-Smith, Fiona Patton, Violette Malan, and more—plus a story about Sira and Morgan written by Julie E. Czerneda!

The publisher’s website also has an excerpt from Tales from Plexis.


Authors explore new corners of the Clan Chronicles universe in an anthology that brings readers into the lives of the alien inhabitants of one of the sci-fi series’s most memorable locations

Welcome to one of the iconic settings of the Clan Chronicles: the infamous interstellar shopping extravaganza of the Trade Pact known as Plexis Supermarket! A market and meeting place, Plexis is where pirates rub shoulders with freighter crews, where the rich come to party and the out-of-luck chase that last opportunity, where anything can be bought or sold and only your airtag tells the truth. Most of the time.

Dock your starship, pay your parking fee, and enter. You’ll never know what you’ll find. Or who you’ll meet. Because here, for the first time, Julie E. Czerneda has opened the airlocks to her fellow scribes and lovers of all things Trade Pact to produce this anthology of remarkable, all-original stories.

Learn the beginnings (and kitchen secrets) of the famed Claws & Jaws: Interspecies Cuisine. Solve mysteries. Slip through service tunnels or shop with goldtags!

Want the truth about Turrneds? The Neblokans? How Terk met his partner? More of Raj Plexis and Bowman? The way to Ansel’s heart? Kurr di Sarc. Huido. Manouya. Those balloons.

Plexis awaits your pleasure.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (often these are unsolicited books from publishers). 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.

After getting caught up last weekend, I’m now resuming regularly weekly updates so there are just a couple of books this week. However, if you missed it, I did (finally!) finish the review I’ve been trying to write for awhile now last week:

  • City of Lies (The Poison Wars #1) by Sam Hawke — Though it involves murder, war, and betrayal, City of Lies is ultimately an optimistic book with sincere main characters at its heart. I found it a little slow at times before that incredible last 30%, but it’s also a standout of 2018 for me because I loved the story and characters.

Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction by Alec Nevala-Lee

Astounding was just released last month (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). In the prologue, Alec Nevala-Lee clarifies that it “is not a comprehensive history of the genre, and its focus on Campbell’s circle means that many other writers receive less attention than they deserve.”

The publisher’s website has a sample from Astounding.


Astounding is the landmark account of the extraordinary partnership between four controversial writers—John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard—who set off a revolution in science fiction and forever changed our world.

This remarkable cultural narrative centers on the figure of John W. Campbell, Jr., whom Asimov called “the most powerful force in science fiction ever.” Campbell, who has never been the subject of a biography until now, was both a visionary author—he wrote the story that was later filmed as The Thing—and the editor of the groundbreaking magazine best known as Astounding Science Fiction, in which he discovered countless legendary writers and published classic works ranging from the I, Robot series to Dune. Over a period of more than thirty years, from the rise of the pulps to the debut of Star Trek, he dominated the genre, and his three closest collaborators reached unimaginable heights. Asimov became the most prolific author in American history; Heinlein emerged as the leading science fiction writer of his generation with the novels Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land; and Hubbard achieved lasting fame—and infamy—as the founder of the Church of Scientology.

Drawing on unexplored archives, thousands of unpublished letters, and dozens of interviews, Alec Nevala-Lee offers a riveting portrait of this circle of authors, their work, and their tumultuous private lives. With unprecedented scope, drama, and detail, Astounding describes how fan culture was born in the depths of the Great Depression; follows these four friends and rivals through World War II and the dawn of the atomic era; and honors such exceptional women as Doña Campbell and Leslyn Heinlein, whose pivotal roles in the history of the genre have gone largely unacknowledged. For the first time, it reveals the startling extent of Campbell’s influence on the ideas that evolved into Scientology, which prompted Asimov to observe: “I knew Campbell and I knew Hubbard, and no movement can have two Messiahs.” It looks unsparingly at the tragic final act that estranged the others from Campbell, bringing the golden age of science fiction to a close, and it illuminates how their complicated legacy continues to shape the imaginations of millions and our vision of the future itself.

Additional Book(s):

City of Lies
by Sam Hawke
560pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.2/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.92/5

Sam Hawke’s debut novel, City of Lies, is the first book in The Poison Wars series. Though it’s mostly set in one city, this thick epic fantasy novel becomes increasingly large and sweeping, beginning with mysteries involving sudden deaths and an unexpected siege that lead to deeper discoveries about the past. It’s also an intimate, character-driven story narrated by two siblings who face deeply personal stakes—from their own survival to that of their friends, their family, and their people—while tenaciously pursuing truth and justice. Despite some slow pacing in the middle, I found City of Lies to be one of this year’s standout novels and am looking forward to the release of the sequel, Hollow Empire, next year.

On the surface, Silasta appears to be peaceful. Its nobility consider themselves to be quite civilized given their disdain for violence and turmoil. However, it’s not exactly uncommon for them to be hiding murderous intent underneath their polite veneers—and long ago, one family dedicated themselves to discreetly protecting the Chancellor from subtler methods of dealing death, handing down their knowledge from generation to generation.

On the surface, Jovan’s uncle appears to be the Chancellor’s dearest friend, just as Jovan appears to be the Chancellor’s heir’s dearest friend. Though these friendships are genuine, Jovan’s uncle is also an expert in poisons who proofs the Chancellor’s food and drink—and Jovan is his apprentice, openly training to follow in his footsteps as an experienced chef while secretly training to follow in his footsteps as the next Chancellor’s poison detector.

Jovan and Tain, the Chancellor’s heir, are thrust into their uncles’ roles sooner than expected when both older men suddenly die from an unfamiliar toxin. However, it soon becomes clear that assassination was only the first part of the scheme: an “accident” freed all the messenger birds used to send news outside the city, and the funeral is interrupted by attackers surrounding the city walls.

What’s not clear is why they are under assault—presumably by their own people—and the army is not interested in discussion when approached by a negotiator bearing a peace flag, whom they immediately shoot down. Jovan and his sister, Kalina, are determined to prevent the new Chancellor from meeting the same fate as the last and to make peace with the rebels—but to succeed, they must unravel the web of treachery and deceit before it’s too late for their city…

Given that the plot involves betrayal, murder, and war, City of Lies may sound grim, but it’s ultimately an optimistic novel with sincere characters at its heart: as they work together to get to the bottom of the upheaval within their city, they also work to mend divides between their people out of a true desire to listen, learn, and address any grievances. It’s also a wonderful, well-executed book that I enjoyed immensely. Though I did find the pacing to be a bit slow at times, especially around the middle, I found it nearly impossible to put down throughout the tension-fueled last 30%—and that, combined with the fact that I loved the story and the characters, more than made up for a bit of slowness.

The challenges the characters confront range from navigating new duties to trying to survive during a tumultuous time, but the plot is largely a mystery with the characters questioning whom they can trust. Stories focusing heavily on investigation do not always appeal to me, but this one worked for me since resolving it mattered to main protagonists I cared about and I thought it was well done. Although readers discover the answers plus more about their people’s past and ancient magics along with the characters, it’s logical that they’re misinformed in this case and it does not feel like an authorial tactic intended to keep readers in the dark. This is partially because they make discoveries related to long-forgotten history, but it’s also realistic that the comfortably wealthy and powerful would be oblivious to the concerns of the common people—not due to malicious intent, but due to being isolated and narrow-sighted.

As engaging as I found the story and themes centered on humanity, I thought the highlight was the characters. Both Jovan and Kalina have similarly refined narrative voices befitting nobility, but their perspectives are each their own. Jovan’s point of view largely focuses on poisons (of course!) and his approach to managing his obsessive compulsions. Earlier in the book, I preferred reading his sections largely because of his area of expertise and his close friendship with Tain, a carefree, fun-loving, charismatic person who accepts his new responsibilities with a gravity unexpected by many. Jovan and Tain’s new positions also cause some discord between them, as Tain is troubled by Jovan’s constantly risking his life for him and sometimes disregards his lectures on food intake. It’s also largely through Jovan’s eyes that we see one of my favorite characters later in the book, Hadrea: an undiplomatic, blunt commoner who does not mince words when it comes to what she thinks and feels.

Kalina, however, is a more intriguing character than her brother even though it took longer for me to find her chapters as riveting as Jovan’s. As the elder of the two siblings, Kalina was actually supposed to be their uncle’s heir, but health limitations cut her instruction short. Her respiratory problems and tendency to become ill easily made it impossible for her to build an immunity to poisons without risking her life, and she nearly died when beginning her apprenticeship. Since then she’s covertly trained as a spy and observer, and she uses the fact that people often underestimate her to her advantage. Kalina is determined and resourceful with amazing reserves of inner strength, and it was she who stole the show in the end.

Though these characters are primarily confined to a single small area throughout the novel, the world seems vast given the rich development of this one place’s culture and (eventually) history. Their main governmental body consists of six inherited positions and six Guild heads appointed by merit, who may or may not be from a noble family. These leaders can be men or women, and their family structure is matrilineal. Though they exist in other parts of the world, marriage and fatherhood are not part of their tradition, and young children are generally raised by their mothers and their mothers’ brothers.

City of Lies is a fantastic book with a great premise, enthralling mystery, and compelling three dimensional characters. Even though it lags in places, the last third delivers and the positives far outweigh that one minor negative, making it one of my favorite books of 2018 so far.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: Finished review copy from the publisher.

Read an Excerpt from City of Lies

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

This is the third week in a row of catching up on coverage of new book arrivals, but this feature should resume normally next week (assuming nothing too unexpected happens again!).

There were no new reviews last week; however, I did nearly finish one last week so I expect a new one to be up soon.

Now, here are the rest of the ARCs/review copies that came in while things were unusually chaotic.

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

The Gutter Prayer (Black Iron Legacy #1) by Gareth Hanrahan

This debut fantasy novel about three thieves will be released on January 22, 2019 (trade paperback, ebook).

A sequel titled The Divine Machine will follow.


A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.

The city has always been. The city must finally end.

When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.

Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.

Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.

Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.

Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.

The Dream Gatherer by Kristen Britain

The Dream Gatherer: A Green Rider Novella by Kristen Britain

This collection, which contains the novella “The Dream Gatherer” plus two additional short stories set in the Green Rider world, is out now (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The publisher’s website has an excerpt from The Dream Gatherer.


Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the New York Times bestselling Green Rider series, this short volume introduces readers to new sides of Sacoridia in two new short stories and a novella.

In The Dream Gatherer, Kristen Britain presents a novella and two short stories set in the universe of her best selling Green Rider series in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the publication of her first novel, Green Rider.

The Dream Gatherer
Dreams can be dangerous. A visit with the eccentric Berry sisters turns dangerous when an arcane device is discovered in their house that can summon dreamers through their dreams, and one of them is a nightmare.

Finding peace during the Long War. Raised in an orphan camp, Green Rider Danalong has known only war and strife, until a shipwreck leaves him stranded on a mysterious island.

Linked, on the Lake of Souls
A story of friendship within a story of friendship. In the sixth volume of the Green Rider series, Firebrand, a wounded Karigan G’ladheon asks her friend Estral to tell her a story to take her mind off her pain. This is that story.

The book includes illustrations and backstory on the creation of Green Rider by the author, and a special introduction by award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, Julie E. Czerneda.

The Way of the Shield by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The Way of the Shield (Maradaine Elite #1) by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The beginning of the fourth series set in the world of the Maradaine Saga is out now (mass market paperback, ebook).

The publisher’s website has an excerpt from The Way of the Shield.


The first novel in the Maradaine Elite series blends fast-paced high fantasy and political intrigue.

Dayne Heldrin always dreamed of being a member of the Tarian Order. In centuries past, the Elite Orders of Druthal were warriors that stood for order, justice, and the common people. But now, with constables, King’s Marshals, and a standing army, there is little need for such organizations, and the Tarian Order is one of the last remnants of this ancient legacy. Nevertheless, Dayne trained his body and mind, learned the arts of defense and fighting, to become a candidate for the Tarian Order.

When a failed rescue puts Dayne at fault for injuring the child of a powerful family, his future with the Tarians is in jeopardy. The Parliament controls the purse strings for the Order, and Dayne has angered the wrong members of Parliament. He returns to the capital city of Maradaine in shame, ready to be cast out of the Order when the period of his candidacy ends.

Dayne finds Maradaine in turmoil, as revolutions and dark conspiracies brew around him, threatening members of Parliament and common people alike. Dayne is drawn into the uproar, desperate not to have one more death or injury on his conscience, but the Order wants him to stay out of the situation. The city threatens to tear itself apart, and Dayne must decide between his own future and his vow to always stand between the helpless and harm.

Additional Books:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (often these are unsolicited books from publishers). 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.

As mentioned last week, I am limiting this to 5 books today. I will continue to cover 5 books per weekend until I catch up on the new books I want to feature of those that have arrived since I went on an unplanned hiatus.

(Last week ended up being yet another super busy week with some unexpected problems cropping up so I still haven’t had a chance to finish a review.)

This time I’m featuring three early 2019 releases and the first two books in a series that a friend gifted me (the first of which I’m reading now since I know she’s eager to discuss them!).

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

New York Times bestselling author Ann Leckie’s first published fantasy novel will be released on February 26, 2019 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie’s debut novel and the first book in the Imperial Radch trilogy, won the Hugo, Nebula, Arthur C. Clarke, Locus, and BSFA Awards; was nominated for other prestigious awards; and was selected for the James Tiptree Jr. Award Honor List. The other two books in this science fiction series, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy, were also both award winners and Hugo and Nebula Award finalists, as well as nominees for other honors. Provenance, which is set in the same universe, was a BSFA Award nominee and a James Tiptree Jr. Award Long List selection.


Gods meddle in the fates of men, men play with the fates of gods, and a pretender must be cast down from the throne in this breathtaking first fantasy novel from Ann Leckie, New York Times bestselling author and winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Awards.

For centuries, the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by the god known as the Raven. He watches over his territory from atop a tower in the powerful port of Vastai. His will is enacted through the Raven’s Lease, a human ruler chosen by the god himself. His magic is sustained via the blood sacrifice that every Lease must offer. And under the Raven’s watch, the city flourishes.

But the power of the Raven is weakening. A usurper has claimed the throne. The kingdom borders are tested by invaders who long for the prosperity that Vastai boasts. And they have made their own alliances with other gods.

It is into this unrest that the warrior Eolo–aide to Mawat, the true Lease–arrives. And in seeking to help Mawat reclaim his city, Eolo discovers that the Raven’s Tower holds a secret. Its foundations conceal a dark history that has been waiting to reveal itself…and to set in motion a chain of events that could destroy Iraden forever.

The Beast's Heart by Leife Shallcross

The Beast’s Heart: A Novel of Beauty and the Beast by Leife Shallcross

The Beast’s Heart, a retelling of the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast” from the Beast’s perspective, is currently available in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK. It is scheduled for release in the US on February 12, 2019 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

Avid Bibliophile has an extract from Chapter One of The Beast’s Heart.


A luxuriously magical retelling of Beauty and the Beast set in seventeenth-century France–and told from the point of view of the Beast himself.

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . .

The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan

The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan by Caitlín R. Kiernan

World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and James Tiptree Jr. Award–winning author Caitlín R. Kiernan’s upcoming short story collection will be released on February 19, 2019 (trade paperback, ebook).

The Very Best of Caitlín R. Kiernan includes her World Fantasy Award–winning short story “The Prayer of Ninety Cats” and about half a dozen stories published in her World Fantasy Award–winning collection The Ape’s Wife and Other Stories—plus several other stories and an introduction by Richard Kadrey. The publisher’s website lists the full table of contents.


Caitlín R. Kiernan is widely acknowledged as one of dark fantasy and horror’s most skilled and acclaimed short fiction writers. Here in this retrospective volume is her finest work, previously only collected in sold-out limited editions. Kiernan’s tales are visceral, sensual, devastating, and impossible to resist: a reporter is goaded by her girlfriend into watching people morphing into terrifying art; a critic interviews an elderly model from a series of famous mermaid paintings; a moviegoer watches a banned arthouse film only to discover exactly why it has been banned.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1) by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses, the first book in New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas’ series of the same name, is currently available in hard cover, trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Teen Vogue has an excerpt of the first chapter.



Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R.R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin–one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she’s been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow over the faerie lands is growing, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin–and his world–forever.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses #2) by Sarah J. Maas

The second book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series is also currently available in hardcover, trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Entertainment Weekly has an excerpt from A Court of Mist and Fury.

A Court of Wings and Ruin, the third book in the series, is also out now. A related novella, A Court of Frost and Starlight, is also available and is one of this year’s Goodreads Choice Award nominees in the Best YA Fantasy & Science Fiction category.


The # 1 New York Times bestselling sequel to Sarah J. Maas’ spellbinding A Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (often these are unsolicited books from publishers). 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.

Sorry it’s been quiet here for so long. I’ve been extremely busy lately between work projects and many things breaking and needing to be replaced all around the same time (including my car, my laptop, and my iPhone so it’s been quite an irritating few weeks!).

I’ve been attempting to work on a review of Sam Hawke’s City of Lies (which I really, really liked), but I’ve just had too much going on to make much progress. I’m hoping to have more time to work on it soon!

Since it’s been a little while since I wrote one of these posts and about 10 (!) books showed up in the mail last week, I just picked 5 books that look especially compelling to highlight today and linked to the books that I’ve already covered in one of these posts. However, there are more recent books I want to feature so I’ll pick 5 more books next time (and so on, until I’ve caught up on all the books I want to highlight).

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers #1) by Nicki Pau Preto

This young adult fantasy debut novel will be released on February 12, 2019 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

This is one of five books that arrived last week in a #ShelfQueens package from Simon & Schuster focused on “tales of literary ladies who rule,” and my eye was immediately drawn to this book because of the gorgeous cover. The colors are beautiful, plus animals on covers tend to pique my interest—especially if they are birds, cats, or horses!

Then I read the description and was even more intrigued. Crown of Feathers sounds right up my alley, and I’m now pretty excited about reading it!


An Ember in the Ashes meets Three Dark Crowns in this lush debut fantasy novel about a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join a secret group of warriors that ride phoenixes into battle.

I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love’s incredible power to save—or to destroy. Interspersed throughout is the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister’s hands.

Sky Without Stars by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

Sky Without Stars (System Divine #1) by Jessica Brody and Joanne Rendell

This young adult science fiction novel, a reimagining of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, will be released on March 26, 2019 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

Sky Without Stars is another book from the #ShelfQueens package that I thought sounded particularly intriguing.


In the tradition of The Lunar Chronicles, this sweeping reimagining of Les Misérables tells the story of three teens from very different backgrounds who are thrown together amidst the looming threat of revolution on the French planet-colony of Laterre.

A thief.
An officer.
A guardian. 

Three strangers, one shared destiny…

When the Last Days came, the planet of Laterre promised hope. A new life for a wealthy French family and their descendants. But five hundred years later, it’s now a place where an extravagant elite class reigns supreme; where the clouds hide the stars and the poor starve in the streets; where a rebel group, long thought dead, is resurfacing.

Whispers of revolution have begun—a revolution that hinges on three unlikely heroes…

Chatine is a street-savvy thief who will do anything to escape the brutal Regime, including spy on Marcellus, the grandson of the most powerful man on the planet.

Marcellus is an officer—and the son of a renowned traitor. In training to take command of the military, Marcellus begins to doubt the government he’s vowed to serve when his father dies and leaves behind a cryptic message that only one person can read: a girl named Alouette.

Alouette is living in an underground refuge, where she guards and protects the last surviving library on the planet. But a shocking murder will bring Alouette to the surface for the first time in twelve years…and plunge Laterre into chaos.

All three have a role to play in a dangerous game of revolution—and together they will shape the future of a planet.

Power, romance, and destiny collide in this sweeping reimagining of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, Les Misérables.

The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

The Cold Is in Her Bones by Peternelle van Arsdale

This young adult dark fairy tale partially based on the story of Medusa is scheduled for release on January 22, 2019 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Cold Is in Her Bones is another #ShelfQueens title that caught my eye since I enjoy dark fairy tales and reimagined myths.


One girl must uncover secrets of the past to save her friend from a terrible curse in this dark and mesmerizing story of love, revenge, and redemption inspired by the myth of Medusa.

Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

Suspenseful and vividly imagined, The Cold Is in Her Bones is a novel about the dark, reverberating power of pain, the yearning to be seen and understood, and the fragile optimism of love.

Roar of Sky by Beth Cato

Roar of Sky (Breath of Earth #3) by Beth Cato

This final volume in the Blood of Earth trilogy was released last week (trade paperback, ebook).

The publisher’s website has a sample from Roar of Sky, plus samples from the first two books in this historical fantasy series:

  1. Breath of Earth
  2. Call of Fire

In this stunning conclusion to the acclaimed Blood of Earth trilogy—a thrilling alternate history laced with earth magic, fantastic creatures, and steampunk elements—geomancer Ingrid must find a way to use her extraordinary abilities to save her world from the woman hell-bent on destroying it.

Thanks to her geomantic magic, Ingrid has successfully eluded Ambassador Blum, the power-hungry kitsune who seeks to achieve world domination for the Unified Pacific. But using her abilities has taken its toll: Ingrid’s body has been left severely weakened, and she must remain on the run with her friends Cy and Fenris.

Hoping to learn more about her magical roots and the strength her bloodline carries, Ingrid makes her way across the Pacific to Hawaii, home to the ancient volcano goddess Madam Pele. What she discovers in this paradise is not at all what she expects—and perhaps exactly what she needs.

But Ambassador Blum comes from the same world of old magic and mythic power. And if Ingrid cannot defeat her once and for all, she knows Blum will use that power to take the lives of everyone she holds dear before escalating a war that will rip the world to pieces.

Gates of Stone by Angus Macallan

Gates of Stone (Lord of the Islands #1) by Angus Macallan

This epic fantasy novel will be released on February 19 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

Like Crown of Feathers, Gates of Stone largely caught my eye at first because of the cover. The description also sounds interesting, but I’m really hoping that the book actually features at least one tiger!


In a world of blood and magic, a powerful epic fantasy begins…

Just before her sixteenth birthday, Princess Katerina is refused her rightful place as heir to the Empire of the Ice-Bear—solely because of her sex. Determined to regain her inheritance, she murders the foreign lord she’s been ordered to marry and embarks on a perilous voyage to the lush, tropical islands of the Laut Besar in search of the vast wealth and power she needs to claim the Empire for herself.

On a small island kingdom, Prince Arjun’s idyllic life is shattered when a malignant sorcerer invades, slaughters his people and steals the sacred sword of Jun’s ancestors. With his royal father dead and his palace in ruins, Jun reluctantly tracks the sorcerer and the magical blade far across the pirate-infested waters of the Laut Besar.

Long ago the powerful relics known as the Seven Keys were used to safely lock away the terrifying evils of the Seven Hells. With Jun’s ancient sword in his grasp, the sorcerer Mangku has claimed the first Key, and begun his mission to unleash catastrophe upon the land.

As the destinies of these three entwine in the lawless islands of the Laut Besar, the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. For if the sorcerer cannot be stopped, the world itself will be unmade…

Additional Books: