Release Radar February

Release Radar – February 2022

Hello, reader, nice to see you…*off-camera* Release the (hell)hounds! Oh wait, it’s not that kind of event. Let’s get those puppies back in their dimension, shall we?

Anyways, welcome to the Asylum’s latest feature: Release Radar, a new monthly feature where we highlight our most anticipated reads of the month. Whether by driving preorders or simply boosting visibility, we hope this feature becomes your go-to guide to all the shiny new releases and that you’ll discover new authors and new reads to cry over.

Your bookish pain sustains us.

Release Radar

Bluebird by Ciel Pierot

Look, I’m a simple bastard. I saw the tagline of “lesbian gunslinger fights spies in space!” and I thought hell yeah I want to read this. I’m also really into faction conflicts in my SFF, and the idea of thief guilds going rogue in space excites me.

Bluebird by Ciel Pierot

Three factions vie for control of the galaxy. Rig, a gunslinging, thieving, rebel with a cause, doesn’t give a damn about them and she hasn’t looked back since abandoning her faction three years ago.

That is, until her former faction sends her a message: return what she stole from them, or they’ll kill her twin sister.

Rig embarks on a journey across the galaxy to save her sister – but for once she’s not alone. She has help from her network of resistance contacts, her taser-wielding librarian girlfriend, and a mysterious bounty hunter.

If Rig fails and her former faction finds what she stole from them, trillions of lives will be lost–including her sister’s. But if she succeeds, she might just pull the whole damn faction system down around their ears. Either way, she’s going to do it with panache and pizzazz.

Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham

Knowing this book was written by one of the co-authors of The Expanse really piqued my interest. Daniel also adapted the GoT graphic novels and wrote famously in Fantasy. I’ve heard great things about his Long Price Quartet but this will be my first time exploring his work in the genre. I love reading about trade cities and the cultural worldbuilding there unfolded. Can’t wait!

Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham

Kithamar is a center of trade and wealth, an ancient city with a long, bloody history where countless thousands live and their stories unfold.

This is Alys’s.

When her brother is murdered, a petty thief from the slums of Longhill sets out to discover who killed him and why.  But the more she discovers about him, the more she learns about herself, and the truths she finds are more dangerous than knives. 

Swept up in an intrigue as deep as the roots of Kithamar, where the secrets of the lowest born can sometimes topple thrones, the story Alys chooses will have the power to change everything.

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

Ok, so I’m easy to please; I’ll literally read any SFF murder mystery. Crime Fantasy is my newly discovered passion, to which I’m entirely devoted. So when I saw the synopsis (summary, blurb, whatever you wanna call it), I knew I had to pick it up. Timy already reviewed it on the blog and it only got me itching harder!

The Justice of Kings by Richard Swan

The Justice of Kings, the first in a new epic fantasy trilogy, follows the tale of Sir Konrad Vonvalt, an Emperor’s Justice – a detective, judge and executioner all in one. As he unravels a web of secrets and lies, Vonvalt discovers a plot that might destroy his order once and for all – and bring down the entire Empire. 

As an Emperor’s Justice, Sir Konrad Vonvalt always has the last word. His duty is to uphold the law of the empire using whatever tools he has at his disposal: whether it’s his blade, the arcane secrets passed down from Justice to Justice, or his wealth of knowledge of the laws of the empire. But usually his reputation as one of the most revered—and hated—Justices is enough to get most any job done. 

When Vonvalt investigates the murder of a noblewoman, he finds his authority being challenged like never before. As the simple case becomes more complex and convoluted, he begins to pull at the threads that unravel a conspiracy that could see an end to all Justices, and a beginning to lawless chaos across the empire.

The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

Again, SFF murder mystery. It’s like a trend with me. But this time it’s Crime Sci-Fi, ah ah! Turned the tables, didn’t I? Ok, right, onto it. This one sounds just downright fantastic: “A locked-room murder mystery set at a hotel for time travelers—in which a detective must solve an impossible crime even as her own sanity crumbles“.

The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart

For someone with January Cole’s background, running security at a fancy hotel shouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Except the Paradox is no ordinary hotel. Here, the ultra-wealthy guests are costumed for a dozen different time periods, all anxiously waiting to catch their “flights” to the past. And proximity to the timeport makes for an interesting stay. The clocks run backwards on occasion—and, rumor has it, ghosts stroll the halls.

Now, January’s job is about to get a whole lot harder. Because the U.S. government is getting ready to privatize time-travel technology—and a handful of trillionaires have just arrived to put down their bids.

Meanwhile there’s a blizzard rolling in, and the timestream’s acting strange. Which means nobody’s leaving until further notice.

And there’s a murderer on the loose.

Or at least, that’s what January suspects. Except the corpse in question is one that somehow only she can see. And the accidents stalking their prestigious guests…well, the only way a killer could engineer those is by operating invisibly and in plain sight, all at once. Which is surely impossible.

There’s a reason January can glimpse what others can’t. But her ability is also destroying her grip on reality—and forcing her to confront secrets of her own.

Because here at the Paradox Hotel, the past is waiting around every corner.

At once a dazzlingly time-twisting murder mystery and a story about grief, memory, and what it means to—literally—come face to face with our ghosts, The Paradox Hotel is another unforgettable speculative thrill-ride from acclaimed author Rob Hart. 

League of Liars by Astrid Scholte

Magic, villains, and danger. Seems to have all the good things. The synopsis sounds really interesting, an exploration on personal morality and the criminal system, plus the added bonus of sounding heist-y as “Four teens charged with murder and the illegal use of magic must unite and devise the ultimate jailbreak“.

League of Liars by Astrid Scholte

Ever since his mother was killed, seventeen-year-old Cayder Broduck has had one goal–to see illegal users of magic brought to justice. People who carelessly use extradimensional magic for their own self-interest, without a care to the damage it does to society or those around them, deserve to be punished as far as Cayder is concerned. Because magic always has a price.

So when Cayder lands a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apprentice under a premier public defender, he takes it. If he can learn all the tricks of public defense, the better he’ll be able to dismantle defense arguments when he’s a prosecutor. Then he’ll finally be able to make sure justice is served.

But when he meets the three criminals he’s supposed to defend, it no longer seems so black and white. They’re teenagers, like him, and their stories are . . . complicated, like his. Vardean, the prison where Cayder’s new clients are incarcerated, also happens to be at the very heart of the horrible tear in the veil between their world and another dimension–where all magic comes from.

Sisters of the Forsaken Stars by Lina Rather

Yes, I’m a fraud, so what? I haven’t actually read the first book in this series, Sisters of the Vast Black, but it comes highly recommended by my friend Jake over at Jake is Reading and the man’s got great taste. I’ll get to the first book before this one but this cover… This cover got me good. Not to mention nuns in space.

Warning: This book is 2nd in a series. Spoilers for the 1st book ahead.

Sisters of the Forsaken Stars by Lina Rather

When miners on a remote colony dig too deep, the golden age of space exploration comes to a bloody end. A corruption springs from Xanthe’s alien soil, possessing every mind it touches.The sisters of the Order of Saint Rita navigate the far reaches of space and challenges of faith in Sisters of the Forsaken Stars, the follow-up to Lina Rather’s Sisters of the Vast Black, winner of the Golden Crown Literary Society Award.

“We lit the spark, maybe we should be here for the flames.”

Not long ago, Earth’s colonies and space stations threw off the yoke of planet Earth’s tyrannical rule. Decades later, trouble is brewing in the Four Systems, and Old Earth is flexing its power in a bid to regain control over its lost territories.

The Order of Saint Rita—whose mission is to provide aid and mercy to those in need—bore witness to and defied Central Governance’s atrocities on the remote planet Phyosonga III. The sisters have been running ever since, staying under the radar while still trying to honor their calling.

Despite the sisters’ secrecy, the story of their defiance is spreading like wildfire, spearheaded by a growing anti-Earth religious movement calling for revolution. Faced with staying silent or speaking up, the Order of Saint Rita must decide the role they will play—and what hand they will have—in reshaping the galaxy.

Scorpica by G.R. Macallister

I’m always interested in explorations of gender and gender roles, Scorpica being particularly focused on women. I love reading matriarchal societies and how they share the Fantasy worlds so commonly populated by men, so I’m excited to see where this one goes. Also, not gonna lie, given its focus on women I’m kinda expecting some w|w love.

Scorpica by G.R. Macallister

A centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born in this sweeping epic fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Circe.

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.“, that quote pulled me right in. So many things encompassed in this short, humorous phrase. Also, having worked in retail, I can relate. This book just sounds fun; as all great sci-fi normally is, a fun satire of the harsh grimness of reality.

Mickey7 by Edward Ashton

Mickey7, an “expendable,” refuses to let his replacement clone Mickey8 take his place.

Dying isn’t any fun…but at least it’s a living.

Mickey7 is an Expendable: a disposable employee on a human expedition sent to colonize the ice world Niflheim. Whenever there’s a mission that’s too dangerous—even suicidal—the crew turns to Mickey. After one iteration dies, a new body is regenerated with most of his memories intact. After six deaths, Mickey7 understands the terms of his deal…and why it was the only colonial position unfilled when he took it.

On a fairly routine scouting mission, Mickey7 goes missing and is presumed dead. By the time he returns to the colony base, surprisingly helped back by native life, Mickey7’s fate has been sealed. There’s a new clone, Mickey8, reporting for Expendable duties. The idea of duplicate Expendables is universally loathed, and if caught, they will likely be thrown into the recycler for protein.

Mickey7 must keep his double a secret from the rest of the colony. Meanwhile, life on Niflheim is getting worse. The atmosphere is unsuitable for humans, food is in short supply, and terraforming is going poorly. The native species are growing curious about their new neighbors, and that curiosity has Commander Marshall very afraid. Ultimately, the survival of both lifeforms will come down to Mickey7.

That is, if he can just keep from dying for good.

Son of Mercia by M.J. Porter

I have one fatal among many: I don’t read much outside SFF, even though I get curious about other genres. SFF is just my home but once in a while, it’s nice to step outside and smell the corpses. Uh, I mean, roses. One of those roses was Cornwell‘s The Saxon Stories, a series I’m obsessed about. M.J. Porter‘s Son of Mercia sounded like something along those lines, so it instantly caught my attention.

Son of Mercia by M.J. Porter

Tamworth, Mercia AD825.

The once-mighty kingdom of Mercia is in perilous danger.

Their King, Beornwulf lies dead and years of bitter in-fighting between the nobles, and cross border wars have left Mercia exposed to her enemies.

King Ecgberht of Wessex senses now is the time for his warriors to strike and exact his long-awaited bloody revenge on Mercia.

King Wiglaf, has claimed his right to rule Mercia, but can he unite a disparate Kingdom against the might of Wessex who are braying for blood and land?

Can King Wiglaf keep the dragons at bay or is Mercia doomed to disappear beneath the wings of the Wessex wyvern?

Can anyone save Mercia from destruction?

The Dark Beast by Dave Maruszewski

Three very different people hunt a demon. Sounds like a fun afternoon here at the Asylum. Ok, nobody’s laughing, so what? I’m amusing myself. Anyways, The Dark Beast sounds like a creepy adventure mystery involving dark fiends and dumbfounded knights, which seems like a very fun read!

The Dark Beast by Dave Maruszewski

Recently knighted squires Raven, Romda, and Ravai are tasked to help a nearby priest. However, this simple errand turns into much more, as they will soon learn of a dangerous villain only known as “the Dark Beast.”

From local gossip, the Dark Beast sounds more like a character from a fable than a real person. But the Beast is on a mission to destroy an entire city, and Raven, Romda, and Ravai will have to leave their safe castle walls and venture into a country of unknown people and places to stop this villain.

As the trio travels on, they meet a host of people, all of them with their own stories about the Dark Beast. How could this fiend have escaped the kingdom’s gaze for so long? Is he even real?

Raven is skeptical, Romda is knowledgeable, and Ravai isn’t too worried about anything. The three knights have their own strengths, but will it be enough to defeat a being so superior? They may have no choice. The Dark Beast is coming…

The This by Adam Roberts

Social media, bane of all existence. Ironic coming from a book blogger/bookstagrammer/booktokker? Well, fuck it. We’re all hypocrites in some way or another, which is probably something The This touches on in some small measure, and if not, well, I just said that for the segue. This book sounds like a really interesting dive into technological advancements and the socio-politics of it all. Lots of interesting already relevant tech in there, which has my tech-oriented mind licking its metaphorical lips.

The This by Adam Roberts

The This is the new social media platform everyone is talking about. Allow it to be injected into the roof of your mouth and it will grow into your brain, allow you to connect with others without even picking up your phone. Its followers are growing. Its detractors say it is a cult. But for one journalist, hired to do a puff-piece interview with their CEO, it will change the world forever.

Adan just wants to stay at home with his smart-companion Elegy – phone, friend, confidante, sex toy. But when his mother flees to Europe and joins a cult, leaving him penniless, he has to enlist in the army. Sentient robots are invading America, but it seems Adan has a surprising ability to survive their attacks. He has a purpose, even if he doesn’t know what it is.

And in the far future, war between a hivemind of Ais and the remnants of humanity is coming to its inevitable end. But one woman has developed a weapon which might change the course of the war. It’s just a pity she’s trapped in an inescapable prison on a hivemind ship. 

Obey Defy by Craig Lea Gordon

As you’ve probably noticed, in this house we worship technology. And as such, cyberpunk is the playground we kick children’s castles down in. I read Craig’s ARvekt for SPSFC, which moved forward in the competition as one of our chosen semifinalists, so I was pretty excited to see we get another book from him. Curious about how Obey Defy explore tech and free will!

Obey Defy by Craig Lea Gordon

You are the surveillance.
The system watches through your eyes. When you are always under surveillance, your behaviour changes. Everyone becomes alike. The zeitgeist becomes uniformity.

Now everyone acts, looks, dresses and expresses the same, and talks the same stilted language. You obey the system. You don’t dare be different. Deviate from the zeitgeist and be punished. The system keeps you the same. The system keeps you safe.

Some have managed to escape. Dared to rebel. The system has responded.

T7 is a Controller, able to take control of anyone at will. Hunting down the runners who have managed to defy.

But when T7 hunts down the latest runner, they discover the true reason for the zeitgeist.
Now it’s time for T7 to choose.

Will they overthrow the rebels to keep the system safe?
Or will they take back control, and decide to break the system for good?

Will they obey?
Or defy? 

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

The synopsis just sounds like magical, folkloric wonder. It’ll be a fantastic opportunity to dive into Korean mythology and dream cocooned in a whole new world for a bit.

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…

Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly

Not really one of my usual genres or reads but I really liked the “how far will you go for your ambition” aspect of Base Notes. The slightly sci-fi-ish element of the memory-evoking perfumes also intrigued me. I’m curious to see where this story of backstabbing and danger takes us.

Base Notes by Lara Elena Donnelly

In New York City everybody needs a side hustle, and perfumer Vic Fowler has developed a delicate art that has proved to be very lucrative: creating bespoke scents that evoke immersive memories—memories that, for Vic’s clients, are worth killing for. But the city is expensive, and these days even artisanal murder doesn’t pay the bills. When Joseph Eisner, a former client with deep pockets, offers Vic an opportunity to expand the enterprise, the money is too good to turn down. But the job is too intricate—and too dangerous—to attempt alone.

Manipulating fellow struggling artists into acting as accomplices is easy. Like Vic, they too are on the verge of burnout and bankruptcy. But as relationships become more complicated, Vic’s careful plans start to unravel. Hounded by guilt and a tenacious private investigator, Vic grows increasingly desperate to complete Eisner’s commission. Is there anyone—friends, lovers, coconspirators—that Vic won’t sacrifice for art?

The Lawless Land by Beth Morrison & Boyd Morrison

In my noble quest to explore Historical Fiction, I stumbled upon this book on Head of Zeus’ upcoming catalog. A disgraced knight robbed of his ancestral lands sets out to reclaim all he is due, encountering relics and ark family secrets. Really intriguing story.

The Lawless Land by Beth Morrison & Boyd Morrison

The Road to Canterbury, 1351.

The Pestilence has ravaged England. Fields and villages lie abandoned but for crows and corpses. Roads and highways are unpatrolled but for marauders and murderers. In these dark and dangerous times, the wise keep to themselves.

But disgraced Knight Gerard Fox cannot afford to be wise. He has been robbed of his ancestral home, his family name tarnished. To regain his lands and redeem his honour, he sets forth to petition the one man who can restore them.

Fate places Fox on the wrong road at the wrong time. Riding deep into the wild woods, he hurtles towards a chance encounter. It will entangle him with an enigmatic woman, a relic of incalculable value and a dark family secret. It will lead him far from home and set him on a collision course with one of the most ambitious and dangerous men in Europe – a man on the cusp of seizing Christendom’s highest office.

And now, Fox is the only one standing in his way. 

Fire of the Forebears by L.A. Buck

Legacies, to be destroyed or reclaimed, ancient magic, talking animals, and the divide between heroes and villains. I came across this book because the author was advertising its prequel novella on Twitter and they both sound awesome.

Pitted against one another, with the people and country they love in jeopardy, the daughter of a deserter and the son of the king have a chance to fulfill their forebears’ legacy—or destroy it entirely.

Twisted monsters called saja lurk in the shadows of the mountains. Rumors say the Fidelis, human wielders of an ancient elemental magic, again walk the plains. Not all in Avaron believe, and not all welcome the return of legend.

Kura’s a skeptic. But, she’ll cross and befriend centaurs, talking animals, and worse to save her family after the rebellion mistakes her for the land’s prophesied savior. And, while he’d rather negotiate with rebels than fight them, Triston can’t ignore prophecy. That was the sham his father used to steal the crown in the first place.

Over a century ago, their ancestors sailed the oceans in search of peace and died as heroes fighting for it. But heroes—and villains—aren’t always what they seem to be. 

Dirt King by Travis M. Riddle

I’ve only read the first in this series but it is so cool. One blurb described it as a kind of grimdark Redwall and yeah, that describes it pretty well. Travis’s so incredibly creative that his books tend to be unique journeys, so I’m excited to get to the rest.

Warning: This is book 3 in a series. Spoilers ahead.

inkable sacrifices, the Blighted have finally acquired all six ancient artifacts needed to re-seal the Houndstooth, keeping its dark energy at bay to save Ruska.

But everything they were told was a lie.

With Coal’s newfound knowledge, they must now risk everything to reach the Dirt King’s impenetrable Palace and attempt to undo centuries of turmoil that he has wrought upon the kingdom. If they fail, Ruska is doomed to wither away until only the Houndstooth itself is left.

But the immortal king possesses all of their magical abilities and more, making him the most powerful person in the entire kingdom. Do Coal and the others have what it takes to stop him, or is this cycle destined to continue until Ruska crumbles?

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

Ogre. Barbarian. Bakes. Need I say more? Plus it looks like she bakes…WITH HER GIRLFRIEND.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree

High Fantasy with a double-shot of self-reinvention

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.

A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth.

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

Look, I enjoy being stressed out in books, ok? Tripping Arcadia sounds like a sapphic eat the rich attempted murder type of story, and I’m down for that. I’m always a bit reluctant to read thriller/horror featuring chronic/mental illness because, well, obvious reasons. But I want to give this one a chance and see if it turns the horrible cliché on its head.

Tripping Arcadia  by Kit Mayquist

Med school dropout Lena is desperate for a job, any job, to help her parents, who are approaching bankruptcy after her father was injured and laid off nearly simultaneously. So when she is offered a position, against all odds, working for one of Boston’s most elite families, the illustrious and secretive Verdeaus, she knows she must accept it—no matter how bizarre the interview or how vague the job description.

By day, she is assistant to the family doctor and his charge, Jonathan, the sickly, poetic, drunken heir to the family empire, who is as difficult as his illness is mysterious. By night, Lena discovers the more sinister side of the family, as she works overtime at their lavish parties, helping to hide their self-destructive tendencies . . . and trying not to fall for Jonathan’s alluring sister, Audrey. But when she stumbles upon the knowledge that the Verdeau patriarch is the one responsible for the ruin of her own family, Lena vows to get revenge—a poison-filled quest that leads her further into this hedonistic world than she ever bargained for, forcing her to decide how much—and who—she’s willing to sacrifice for payback.

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

On our conversation during Word Nerd café’s podcast episode, Kriti spoke highly of Thomas’ earlier release, Hex. I found her description really exciting and I loved the cover for Echo, so I’m intrigued to check out this author and maybe shit my pants a little.

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt

NATURE IS CALLING—but they shouldn’t have answered.

Travel journalist and mountaineer Nick Grevers awakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. Nick’s own injuries are as extensive as they are horrifying. His face wrapped in bandages and unable to speak, Nick claims amnesia—but he remembers everything.

He remembers how he and Augustin were mysteriously drawn to the Maudit, a remote and scarcely documented peak in the Swiss Alps.

He remembers how the slopes of Maudit were eerily quiet, and how, when they entered its valley, they got the ominous sense that they were not alone.

He remembers: something was waiting for them…

But it isn’t just the memory of the accident that haunts Nick. Something has awakened inside of him, something that endangers the lives of everyone around him…

It’s one thing to lose your life. It’s another to lose your soul.

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Legend says if you whisper “sci-fi murder mystery” one time in the mirror, I will show up in your bathroom. Naked. Ok, optionally naked. Fine, we’ll go with that for HR purposes. Either way, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that I will read every space murder book I am aware of and that space murder is probably my favorite niche genre, niche trope, whatever you wanna call it. There’s just something about the horror in the strict, suffocating confines of that great darkness where there’s no way out *dreamy sigh*.

Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Titanic meets The Shining in S.A. Barnes’ Dead Silence, a SF horror novel in which a woman and her crew board a decades-lost luxury cruiser and find the wreckage of a nightmare that hasn’t yet ended.


Claire Kovalik is days away from being unemployed—made obsolete—when her beacon repair crew picks up a strange distress signal. With nothing to lose and no desire to return to Earth, Claire and her team decide to investigate.

What they find at the other end of the signal is a shock: the Aurora, a famous luxury space-liner that vanished on its maiden tour of the solar system more than twenty years ago. A salvage claim like this could set Claire and her crew up for life. But a quick trip through the Aurora reveals something isn’t right.

Whispers in the dark. Flickers of movement. Words scrawled in blood. Claire must fight to hold onto her sanity and find out what really happened on the Aurora, before she and her crew meet the same ghastly fate. 

Azura Ghost by Essa Hassen

Azura Ghost is a sequel and book one in the series, Nophek Gloss, was my nomination for the sci-fi category of last year’s Subjective Chaos Kind of Awards. I really enjoyed that book so I’m looking forward to see where Essa takes us next!

Warning: This book is a sequel. Spoilers for book 1 ahead.

Azura Ghost by Essa Hassen

Caiden has been on the run for ten years with his unique starship in order to keep his adversary, Threi, imprisoned. But when an old friend he’d once thought dead reappears, he is lured into a game of cat and mouse with the one person whose powers rival Threi’s: Threi’s sister Abriss.

Now with both siblings on the hunt for Caiden and his ship, Caiden must rescue his long-lost friend from their clutches and uncover the source of both his ship’s power and his own origins in order to stop Abriss’s plan to collapse the multiverse. 

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

I’ve had my eye on this book since Vanessa announced its acquisition on Twitter. Plus, it’s got a blurb from Pacat on the cover, so you bet your ass I’m into this. A girl that must embrace her own villainess? Yes. Please. Fuck being a hero, I want the monsters.

Only a Monster by Vanessa Len

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.

Second Star to the Left by Megan Van Dyke

A drug-dealing Tinker Bell tricks Captain Hook and in the aftermath they find themselves working together to retrieve a magical item and break a curse. I love fairytale reiventions and this one certainly fits the bill!

Second Star to the Left by Megan Van Dyke

Tinker Bell, banished from her homeland for doing the unthinkable, selling the hottest drug in Neverland—pixie dust—wants absolution.

Determined to find a way home, Tink doesn’t hesitate to follow the one lead she has, even if that means seducing a filthy pirate to steal precious gems out from under his…hook.

Captain Hook believes he’s found a real treasure in Tink. That is, until he recovers from her pixie dust laced kiss with a curse that turns the seas against him. With his ship and reputation at the mercy of raging storms, he tracks down the little minx and demands she remove the curse. Too bad she can’t.

However, the mermaid queen has a solution to both of their problems, if Tink and Hook will work together to retrieve a magical item for her.

As they venture to the mysterious Shrouded Isles to find the priceless treasure, their shared nemesis closes in. However, his wrath is nothing compared to the realization that achieving their goal may mean losing something they never expected to find—each other.

Castles in their Bones by Laura Sebastian

Betrayal, all things betrayal and personal agendas. Trust broken and loyalties divided, just the sweet gems of fantasy fiction. All the political maneuvering in the synopsis made me really excited for this book but it’s the feminist angle that’s the cherry on top.

Castles in their Bones by Laura Sebastian

Empress Margaraux has had plans for her daughters since the day they were born. Princesses Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz will be queens. And now, age sixteen, they each must leave their homeland and marry their princes.

Beautiful, smart, and demure, the triplets appear to be the perfect brides—because Margaraux knows there is one common truth: everyone underestimates a girl. Which is a grave mistake. Sophronia, Daphne, and Beatriz are no innocents. They have been trained since birth in the arts of deception, seduction, and violence with a singular goal—to bring down monarchies— and their marriages are merely the first stage of their mother’s grand vision: to one day reign over the entire continent of Vesteria.

The princesses have spent their lives preparing, and now they are ready, each with her own secret skill, and each with a single wish, pulled from the stars. Only, the stars have their own plans—and their mother hasn’t told them all of hers.

Life abroad is a test. Will their loyalties stay true? Or will they learn that they can’t trust anyone—not even each other?

Sorceress of the Dryads by Raina Nightingale

I haven’t read book 1 in this series yet, but I was intrigued by both synopsis. Interesting concepts and I really liked how it seems to explore the idea of fighting back against oppression while maintaining your own spiritual/moral influence.

Warning: This book is a sequel. Spoilers ahead.

The magic of the dryads does not come at a price.

But it binds the Singer to the Pact of the forests.

To keep her nature or be corrupted.

When the corrupted elven prince, Anakrim, takes the throne in the aftermath of the deaths of King Orenduil and Queen Alaria and promises the elven people the return of their long-lost magic, the forests of Elethri begin to languish…

The dryads and Tara-lin must join their magic as never before to end his menace in a way consistent with their natures and the healing of the forests. In the midst of the upheaval, Tara-lin finds herself in a position of influence she never wanted. With the help of the dryads, she must find and stay true to her song and try to lead the elves to discover and nurture their individual magic.

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan

I (Timy) felt like hijacking Arina’s post to let you all know about The Great Witch of Brittany which recently got on my radar thanks to Lynn’s awesome review. Historical fiction. Witches. 18th century. Brittany. What else do you need? It seems to be a stand-alone novel in the same universe as A Secret History of Witches, which I admit I did not read, but I look forward to this one nonetheless.

The Great Witch of Brittany by Louisa Morgan

Return to the world of A Secret History of Witches with the bewitching tale of Ursule Orchiere and her discovery of magical abilities that will not only change the course of her life but every generation that comes after her.

Brittany, 1741

There hasn’t been a witch born in the Orchière clan for generations. According to the elders, that line is dead, leaving the clan vulnerable to the whims of superstitious villagers and the prejudices of fearmongering bishops.

Ursule Orchière has been raised on stories of the great witches of the past. But the only magic she knows is the false spells her mother weaves over the gullible women who visit their fortune-telling caravan. Everything changes when Ursule comes of age and a spark of power flares to life. Thrilled to be chosen, she has no idea how magic will twist and shape her future.

Guided by the whispers of her ancestors and an ancient grimoire, Ursule is destined to walk the same path as the great witches of old. But first, the Orchière magical lineage must survive. And danger hovers over her, whether it’s the bloodlust of the mob or the flames of the pyre.

And that’s all the books on our Release Radar for February. Hopefully, you found something to your interest, but if you still want more, we highly recommend checking out the upcoming self-published releases on Rob J. Hayes’ website. Beware of your toppling TBRs and see you next month!

If born in a fantasy world, Arina would have been some kind of neon rogue technomancer, a dangerously impulsive, bad-luck-attracting, sarcastic mix of mage-assassin. Or so she likes to believe. As it is, her love of tech led her to web development, and her passion for the art of storytelling to book reviewing. An avid advocate of all things weird and uncommon, she champions the gems of SFF at Queen's Book Asylum, alongside three other awesome nerds (don't tell the Queen I called her that). When not keeping an eye on the resident pet demon, she spends her very precious free time on MTGA and hoarding recipes for her many cooking sprees.

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