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. Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This week brought three books, including a book by one of my favorite authors and a book I hadn’t heard about that sounds pretty interesting. That makes it a very good week for books!

A Dance in Blood Velvet by Freda Warrington

A Dance in Blood Velvet (Blood Wine #2) by Freda Warrington

The first book in this series, A Taste of Blood Wine, is one of my two favorite books I’ve read this year so I’m pretty excited about this one! The Blood Wine books were first published in the 1990s and were out of print. The original trilogy is being reprinted with revisions by the author, and a new fourth book in the Blood Wine Sequence (The Dark Arts of Blood) will be released in 2014. The third book, The Dark Blood of Poppies, will be re-released sometime before that; the cover was recently revealed.

A Dance in Blood Velvet is now available in the UK (ebook, paperback). It will not be available to purchase in the US until April 2014, but A Taste of Blood Wine just became available in the US earlier this month (excerpt).

There are spoilers for the end of book one in the description of A Dance in Blood Velvet below.



For the love of her vampire suitor, Karl, Charlotte has forsaken her human life. Now her only contact with people is when she hunts them down to feed. Her thirst for blood repulses her but its fulfilment brings ecstasy.

The one light in the shadows is the passion that burns between her and Karl. A love that it seems will last for eternity – until Karl’s former lover, the seductively beautiful Katerina, is rescued from the Crystal Ring. For nearly fifty years she has lain, as dead, in the icy depths of the Weisskalt. Now she wants to reclaim her life… and Karl.

In despair, Charlotte turns to the prima ballerina Violette Lenoir, an ice maiden who only thaws when she dances. Charlotte is fascinated as she has been by no other human, longing to bring joy to the dancer. But her obsession opens the floodgates to a far darker threat than the vampires could ever have imagined. For Violette is more than human and if she succumbs to the vampire’s kiss it could unleash a new terror.

Masks by E. C. Blake

Masks by E. C. Blake

Masks, the first book in a new series, will be released on November 5 (hardcover, ebook). The prologue and first chapter can be read on the author’s website.


Masks, the first novel in a mesmerizing new fantasy series, draws readers into a world in which cataclysmic events have left the Autarchy of Aygrima—the one land blessed with magical resources—cut off from its former trading partners across the waters, not knowing if any of those distant peoples still live. Yet under the rule of the Autarch, Aygrima survives. And thanks to the creation of the Masks and the vigilance of the Autarch’s Watchers, no one can threaten the security of the empire.

In Aygrima, magic is a Gift possessed from birth by a very small percentage of the population, with the Autarch himself the most powerful magic worker of all. Only the long-vanquished Lady of Pain and Fire had been able to challenge his rule.

At the age of fifteen, citizens are recognized as adults and must don the spell-infused Masks—which denote both status and profession—whenever they are in public. To maintain the secure rule of the kingdom, the Masks are magically crafted to reveal any treasonous thoughts or actions. And once such betrayals are exposed, the Watchers are there to enforce the law.

Mara Holdfast, daughter of the Autarch’s Master Maskmaker, is fast approaching her fifteenth birthday and her all-important Masking ceremony. Her father himself has been working behind closed doors to create Mara’s Mask. Once the ceremony is done, she will take her place as an adult, and Gifted with the same magical abilities as her father, she will also claim her rightful place as his apprentice.

But on the day of her Masking something goes horribly wrong, and instead of celebrating, Mara is torn away from her parents, imprisoned, and consigned to a wagon bound for the mines. Is it because she didn’t turn the unMasked boy she discovered over to the Night Watchers? Or is it because she’s lied about her Gift, claiming she can only see one color of magic, when in truth she can see them all, just as she could when she was a young child?

Whatever the reason, her Mask has labeled her a traitor and now she has lost everything, doomed to slavery in the mines until she dies. And not even her Gift can show Mara the future that awaits her—a future that may see her freed to aid a rebel cause, forced to become a puppet of the Autarch, or transformed into a force as dangerous to her world as the legendary Lady of Pain and Fire.

Bastion by Mercedes Lackey

Bastion (The Collegium Chronicles #5) by Mercedes Lackey

Bastion was just released in the UK earlier this month (paperback, ebook, audiobook). It’s currently available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook in the US. An excerpt from Bastion can be read on the US publisher’s website.

The previous books in this series are as follows:

  1. Foundation
  2. Intrigues
  3. Changes
  4. Redoubt

Mags returns to the Collegium, but there are mixed feelings–his included–about him actually remaining there. No one doubts that he is and should be a Herald, but he is afraid that his mere presence is going to incite more danger right in the heart of Valdemar. The heads of the Collegia are afraid that coming back to his known haunt is going to give him less protection than if he went into hiding. Everyone decides that going elsewhere is the solution for now. So since he is going elsewhere–why not return to the place he was found in the first place and look for clues? And those who are closest to him, and might provide secondary targets, are going along. With Herald Jadrek, Herald Kylan (the Weaponsmaster’s chosen successor), and his friends Bear, Lena, and Amily, they head for the Bastion, the hidden spot in the hills that had once been the headquarters of a powerful band of raiders that had held him and his parents prisoner. But what they find is not what anyone expected.