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 is the second part covering books received as gifts during the holidays, and it includes one ARC that showed up over the last week (it’s the last book in the list). The books received as gifts were all from my wish list, and I heard about most of them from other book bloggers.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit (Moribito #1) by Nahoko Uehashi

There are 10 books in this series, but only the first two have been translated into English. They were translated by Cathy Hirano (who also translated Dragon Sword and Wind Child, another fantasy book written by a Japanese author that I enjoyed very much). An excerpt from Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is available on Teenreads.

I’ve wanted to read this ever since reading what Thea from The Book Smugglers had to say about it in her review on Kirkus. It sounds excellent!


You’ve never read a fantasy novel like this one! The deep well of Japanese myth merges with the Western fantasy tradition for a novel that’s as rich in place and culture as it is hard to put down.

Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river — and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy — the Prince Chagum — on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi

This is a newer book that was released in 2013. I have heard lots of praise for it and it sounds great! An excerpt from Ascension can be read on the publisher’s website.


Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.

Seaward by Susan Cooper

Seaward by Susan Cooper

After being out of print for several years, Seaward was re-released last year. I’ve never read anything by Susan Cooper, even her better known Dark Is Rising Sequence, but I immediately added Seaward to my wishlist after Angie from Angieville talked about it in her guest post for Women in SF&F Month. Angie gives excellent recommendations, and what she had to say about this book convinced me I should read it.

An excerpt from Seaward is available on the publisher’s website.


In this classic adventure from Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, two strangers embark on a quest for the sea that’s filled with mystery, fantasy, and danger.

His name is West. Her name is Cally. They speak different languages and come from different countries thousands of miles apart, but they do not know that. What they do know are the tragedies that took their parents, then wrenched the two of them out of reality and into a strange and perilous world through which they must travel together, understanding only that they must reach the sea. Together, West and Cally embark upon a strange and sometimes terrifying quest, learning to survive and to love—and, at last, discovering the true secret of their journey.

Rituals by Roz Kaveney

Rituals (Rhapsody of Blood #1) by Roz Kaveney

I added this one to my wishlist after seeing it was on the James Tiptree Award Honor List. The second book in the series, Reflections, just became available toward the end of last year.


Two women – and the workings of Time and Fate.

In a time too long ago for most human memory, a god asked Mara what she most wanted. She got her wish: to protect the weak against the strong. For millennia, she has avenged that god, and her dead sisters, against anyone who uses the Rituals of Blood to become a god through mass murder. And there are few who can stand against her.

A sudden shocking incident proves to Emma that the modern world is not what she thought it was, that there are demons and gods and elves and vampires. Her weapon is knowledge, and she pursues it wherever it leads her. The one thing she does not know is who she – and her ghostly lover, Caroline – are working for.

RHAPSODY OF BLOOD is a four-part epic fantasy not quite like anything you’ve read before: a helter-skelter ride through history and legend, from Tenochitlan to Los Angeles, from Atlantis to London. It is a story of death, love and the end of worlds – and of dangerous, witty women.

Angel With the Sword by C. J. Cherryh

Angel with the Sword (Merovingen Nights #1) by C.J. Cherryh

I first heard about this from Elizabeth at DarkCargo, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since. It sounds good, plus I thought any book that inspired other authors to want to write a bunch of stories for shared-world anthologies must be interesting. The anthologies, edited by Cherryh, include stories by Mercedes Lackey, Robert Asprin, Lynn Abbey, and others (including, of course, Cherryh herself). Unfortunately, both this novel and the seven shared world anthologies are out of print.


In Merovingen, a watery canal-laced city, much like Earth’s Venice, society is segregated along class lines between the lower and upper cities. Against her better judgment, Altair Jones, 17, rescues an unconscious man from a canal near her poleboat. She is fascinated by Mondragon’s good looks and elegant ways and begins to fall in love with him. Even though she knows there is no future for a water rat like herself with such a man, she decides to watch over him and rescue him from his enemies; enemies who turn out to be the most powerful people in the upper city…

The Silence of Medair by Andrea K. Höst

The Silence of Medair (Medair #1) by Andrea K. Höst

I have only heard praise for Andrea K. Höst so I am excited to finally read one of her books!


Royal messenger Medair lost 500 years while seeking a magic artifact that could have won the war. Now the conquering icy pale tall race have interbred with her fellow native citizens. Chased out of her mountain refuge silence by five warriors, she finds a boy barely alive. His geas forces her aid for some days, but his youth-disguise spell wears off.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

One of my favorite books published in 2013 was Sister Mine, and it made me want to read some of Nalo Hopkinson’s previous books.

Brown Girl in the Ring won the the Warner Aspect First Novel Contest in 1997. Considering the second book to win this contest was one of my very favorite books read last year (Warchild by Karin Lowachee), I’d also like to read the other winner of this contest.

A brief excerpt from Brown Girl in the Ring is available on the author’s website.


The rich and the privileged have fled the city, barricaded it behind roadblocks, and left it to crumble. The inner city has had to rediscover old ways — farming, barter, herb lore. But now the monied need a harvest of bodies, and so they prey upon the helpless of the streets. With nowhere to turn, a young woman must open herself to ancient truths, eternal powers, the tragic mystery surrounding her mother and grandmother. She must bargain with gods, and give birth to new legends.

The Keeper of the Isis Light by Monica Hughes

The Keeper of the Isis Light (Isis #1) by Monica Hughes

I heard about this one from an Old School Wednesdays review at The Books Smugglers, and Thea’s enthusiasm made me want to check it out. Since I didn’t read much SFF until I was in college, there are so many older books I’ve missed!


It was her tenth birthday on Isis. By Earth years, she would be sixteen. But Olwen Pendennis had never been to Earth. She had been born on Isis. And since her parents’ death, she had lived there alone, manning the Isis Light — a “lighthouse” in space designed to aid ships, and to bring settlers from Earth. And now, on the day of her tenth year, the settlers are coming at last. Olwen is ready to welcome them, but are they ready for her? She was once human, like them. But the harsh climate of the alien planet has changed her, transformed her into something else — something the settlers could never be prepared for…

Empire and Rebellion: Honor Among Thieves by James S. A. Corey

Honor Among Thieves (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion #2) by James S. A. Corey

This trilogy of Star Wars books is being written by some well-known SFF authors. The first, Razor’s Edge, was written by the excellent Martha Wells. James S. A. Corey’s book will be released in March 2014 (ebook, hardcover, audiobook). The third book by Kevin Hearne will be available in January 2015.


Nebula and Hugo Award nominees Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck—writing as James S. A. Corey—make their Star Wars debut in this brand-new epic adventure featuring Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia Organa. The action begins after the destruction of the Death Star in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope.

When the Empire threatens the galaxy’s new hope, will Han, Luke, and Leia become its last chance?

When the mission is to extract a high-level rebel spy from the very heart of the Empire, Leia Organa knows the best man for the job is Han Solo—something the princess and the smuggler can finally agree on. After all, for a guy who broke into an Imperial cell block and helped destroy the Death Star, the assignment sounds simple enough.

But when Han locates the brash rebel agent, Scarlet Hark, she’s determined to stay behind enemy lines. A pirate plans to sell a cache of stolen secrets that the Empire would destroy entire worlds to protect—including the planet where Leia is currently meeting with rebel sympathizers. Scarlet wants to track down the thief and steal the bounty herself, and Han has no choice but to go along if he’s to keep everyone involved from getting themselves killed. From teeming city streets to a lethal jungle to a trap-filled alien temple, Han, Chewbacca, Leia, and their daring new comrade confront one ambush, double cross, and firestorm after another as they try to keep crucial intel out of Imperial hands.

But even with the crack support of Luke Skywalker’s x-wing squadron, the Alliance heroes may be hopelessly outgunned in their final battle for the highest of stakes: the power to liberate the galaxy from tyranny or ensure the Empire’s reign of darkness forever.