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.

Only one book showed up in the mail this week, but I seem to have gotten even more books than usual for Christmas this year! Since I do want to try to fit in some review catch-up before my holiday time off from work is over in a few days, I’m going to spread them out through the next few of these posts until I’ve discussed them all. If I included them all in this single post, it would go on for a long time!

Today I’m just covering a few of the books received as gifts, plus the one that showed up in the mail at the end. All the gifts were from my wish list so they’re all books I’ve been recommended or read about that sounded interesting, and I’m pretty excited about reading all of them!

The Shapeshifters by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

The Shapeshifters (The Kiesha’ra #1-5) by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

This is an omnibus containing all five books in the series. An excerpt from Hawksong and the rest of the books in the series can be read on the author’s website.


Five shapeshifter novels—one fascinating read!

Danica Shardae, an avian shapeshifter, will do anything in her power to stop the war that has raged between her people and the serpiente—even pretend to be in love with Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, and accept him as her pair bond. But will Zane strike as swiftly and lethally as the cobra that is his second form?

A surprising union has brought peace to the avians and serpiente. Soon a child will be born to carry on their royal lines. But Syfka, an ancient falcon, is claiming that one of her people is hidden in the avian and serpiente land. Is Syfka’s lost falcon just a ruse to stir up controversy among them?

Nicias is a falcon, the son of two exiles from Ahnmik, and images of this distant island have always haunted his dreams. When his visions become more like reality, his parents send him back to the homeland—and a royal falcon—they’ve tried their best to forget.

Oliza Shardae Cobriana is heir to Wyvern’s Court, home of the avians and serpiente, whose war with each other ended just before Oliza was born. But hatred is slow to die, and Oliza’s serpiente suitor is found beaten in avian land. How can she be expected to lead a unified society if her people still cannot live peacefully together?

Hai, daughter of a falcon mother and a deceased cobra father, is considered a mongrel by most, an ally by some, and a friend by few. When Hai’s cousin abdicates the throne of Wyvern’s Court, Hai has visions of destruction. Now she will do anything to protect her new home—even if it means betraying the very people who need her most.

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

An excerpt from this novel, released earlier this year, can be read on


Jevick, the pepper merchant’s son, has been raised on stories of Olondria, a distant land where books are as common as they are rare in his home. When his father dies and Jevick takes his place on the yearly selling trip to Olondria, Jevick’s life is as close to perfect as he can imagine. But just as he revels in Olondria’s Rabelaisian Feast of Birds, he is pulled drastically off course and becomes haunted by the ghost of an illiterate young girl.

In desperation, Jevick seeks the aid of Olondrian priests and quickly becomes a pawn in the struggle between the empire’s two most powerful cults. Yet even as the country shimmers on the cusp of war, he must face his ghost and learn her story before he has any chance of becoming free by setting her free: an ordeal that challenges his understanding of art and life, home and exile, and the limits of that seductive necromancy, reading.

A Stranger in Olondria is a skillful and immersive debut fantasy novel that pulls the reader in deeper and deeper with twists and turns reminiscent of George R. R. Martin and Joe Hill.

The Golden City by J. Kathleen Cheney

The Golden City (The Golden City #1) by J. Kathleen Cheney

This book, the first in a new series, was just released last month. The second book, The Seat of Magic, is scheduled for release in July 2014. The first chapter of The Golden City is available on the author’s website.


For two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….

When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.

Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.

Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

The Dreaming Tree by C. J. Cherryh

The Dreaming Tree (Arafel #1-2) by C. J. Cherryh

This is an omnibus containing both Arafel books, The Dreamstone and The Tree of Swords and Jewels.


Journey to a transitional time in the world, as the dawn of mortal man brings about the downfall of elven magic. But there remains one final place untouched by human hands: the small forest of Ealdwood, in which dwells Arafel the Sidhe, who has more love of the earth than any of her kind. This is a moving, compelling tale of the last stronghold of immortality struggling to survive the rise of man.

The Blood Books: Volume One by Tanya Huff

The Blood Books: Volume One (Victoria Nelson #1-2) by Tanya Huff

This is an omnibus containing Blood Price and Blood Trail. An excerpt from Blood Price can be read on the publisher’s website.

There are six books total in this series, and there is a Volume Two omnibus with #3 and #4 and a Volume Three omnibus with #5 and #6. The remaining four titles are as follows (in order starting with book three and ending with book six): Blood Lines, Blood Pact, Blood Debt, and Blood Bank.


Blood Price

Vicki Nelson, formerly of Toronto’s homicide unit and now a private detective, witnesses the first of many vicious attacks that are now plaguing the city of Toronto. As death follows unspeakable death, Vicki is forced to renew her tempestuous relationship with her former partner, Mike Celluci, to stop these forces of dark magic—along with another, unexpected ally…

Henry Fitzroy, the illegitimate son of King Henry VIII, has learned over the course of his long life how to blend with humans, how to deny the call for blood in his veins. Without him, Vicki and Mike would not survive the ancient force of chaos that has been unleashed upon the world—but in doing so, his identity may be exposed, and his life forfeit.

Blood Trail

Second in the “scary and sexy” (Judith and Garfield Reeve-Stevens, authors of The Chronicles of Galen Sword) Blood series.

For centuries, the werewolves of Toronto have managed to live in peace and tranquility, hidden quietly away on their London, Ontario farm. But now, someone has learned their secret—and is systematically massacring this ancient race.

The only one they can turn to is Henry Fitzroy, Toronto-based vampire and writer of bodice rippers. Forced to hide from the light of day, Henry can’t hunt the killer alone, so he turns to Vicki Nelson for help. As they race against time to stop the murderer, they begin to fear that their combined talents may not be enough to prevent him from completing his deadly plan.

The Eye of Night by Pauline Alama

The Eye of Night by Pauline J. Alama

An excerpt from this stand alone fantasy novel can be found on the publisher’s website.


From Pauline J. Alama comes a stirring fantasy tale of three vagabonds in a dying world and their terrifying quest into the heart of darkness…

The Eye Of Night

It is a magical world on the verge of collapse. In the North the Troubles rage. Cities and kings are being annihilated; the very earth is in upheaval, waking even the dead from their graves. All notions of time and space, of day and night, of seasonal change seem fractured beyond repair. But as the chaos moves slowly south, engulfing land after land, three unlikely heroes–an ex-priest, a battered serving girl, and an exquisitely beautiful, refined lady–journey bravely to the dying regions, their only weapon an enchanted stone of enigmatic power and ancient origin.

Jereth, disillusioned with his faith in the Rising God and robbed of his family after a deadly shipwreck, struggles to find meaning in his blighted life, searching the devastated land without direction–until he meets two extraordinary women. Each has her own secrets to keep; both are on a quest to save the world. But they must first save themselves, conquering their demons and rousing their well-disguised strengths. Only then will it be revealed how three penniless, unarmed wanderers can light a darkening world. For one is a prophet, one is a fool, and one’s life is now in their hands.

Heartwood by Barbara Campbell

Heartwood (Trickster’s Game #1) by Barbara Campbell

There are two additional books in this series, Bloodstone and Foxfire (in that order). An excerpt from Heartwood with links to excerpts from the other two books can be read on the author’s website.


Year after year, season after season, for as long as Darak’s people could remember, the battle of the Oak and the Holly had taken place, bringing an end to Winter and the rebirth of Spring. But this year the battle went wrong as Darak’s brother became possessed by the spirit of the Holly. To free him, Darak must undertake a quest to restore the very balance of nature.

The Kill Order by James Dashner

The Kill Order (Maze Runner Prequel) by James Dashner

The Kill Order is a prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, and The Death Cure). It’s currently available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook, and the trade paperback will be released on January 7. An excerpt from The Kill Order is available.


The prequel to the New York Times bestselling Maze Runner series.

Before WICKED was formed, before the Glade was built, before Thomas entered the Maze, sun flares hit the earth and mankind fell to disease.

Mark and Trina were there when it happened, and they survived. But surviving the sun flares was easy compared to what came next. Now a disease of rage and lunacy races across the eastern United States, and there’s something suspicious about its origin. Worse yet, it’s mutating, and all evidence suggests that it will bring humanity to its knees.

Mark and Trina are convinced there’s a way to save those left living from descending into madness. And they’re determined to find it—if they can stay alive. Because in this new, devastated world, every life has a price. And to some, you’re worth more dead than alive.