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 last holiday post, and it’s only sort of a holiday post since only the first 3 are holiday gifts. This one includes the signed books, including my favorite gift of all, and ARCs/review copies from the last week.

Warchild Limited Edition

Warchild (Warchild #1) by Karin Lowachee

Warchild became one of my favorite books of all time after I read it as part of Sci-Fi Month. I didn’t even know there was a hardcover signed limited edition, but my husband got it for me for Christmas (along with Burndive and Cagebird, the other two books in the series). I love it.


When Jos’ parents are killed in an attack on their trading ship, the boy is kidnapped by the attackers and then escapes – only to fall into the alien hands of humanity’s greatest enemies. He is soon coerced into becoming a spy against the human race.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin

Confession: While I have read 4 books by Le Guin, this isn’t one of them. I will have to remedy that at some point, especially considering this one sounds like one I’d really like.


A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can choose -and change – their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.

Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

My husband got me a signed copy of this book for Christmas, which I’d never heard of before opening it. It sounds like something I would enjoy as a fan of fairy tales, though.

An excerpt from The Tale of Despereaux can be read online.



Kate DiCamillo introduces a hero for all time!

Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. And what happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.

From the master storyteller who brought us BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE comes another classic, a fairy tale full of quirky, unforgettable characters, featuring twenty-four stunning black-and-white illustrations by Timothy Basil Ering, in an elegant design that pays tribute to the best in classic children’s books and bookmaking traditions.

The beloved author of BECAUSE OF WINN-DIXIE enlightens us with a tale of adventure, despair, love, and soup.

Arcanum by Simon Morden

Arcanum by Simon Morden

Arcanum will be released on January 28 (trade paperback, ebook). An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.

I hadn’t really heard much about this one, but after taking a look at it I’m rather intrigued by it—even if it is a massive book that would take me forever to read all the way through.


Rome was the center of the most powerful empire the world had ever seen, but that didn’t stop it falling to Alaric the Goth, his horde of barbarian tribesmen and their wild spell-casting shamans. Having split the walls with their sorcery and slaughtered the inhabitants with their axes, the victors carved up the empire into a series of bickering states which were never more than an insult away from war.

A thousand years later, and Europe has become an almost civilized place. The rulers of the old Roman palatinates confine their warfare to the short summer months, trade flourishes along the rivers and roads, and farming has become less back-breaking, all due to the magic, bestowed by gods, that infuses daily life.Even the barbarians’ gods have been tamed: where once human sacrifices poured their blood onto the ground, there are parties and picnics, drinking and singing, fit for decent people and their children.But it looks like the gods are going to have the last laugh before they slip quietly into ill-remembered obscurity…

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan

Iron Night (Generation V #2) by M.L. Brennan

Iron Night was just released earlier this month (mass market paperback, ebook). An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.

I’m really excited to read this since I liked the first book, Generation V, a LOT. It was one of the best openings to an urban fantasy series I’ve read so I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next, especially since I’ve been hearing the second book is even better than the first.


Underemployed by day. Undead by night.

Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.

Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.

The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.

Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.

Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire

Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Stories #1) by Seanan McGuire

Sparrow Hill Road, the first book in a new series about Rose Marshall, will be available on May 6. I love Seanan McGuire’s books so I was pretty excited to see that this will be coming out this year in addition to another InCryptid book and the next Toby Daye!


Sparrow Hill Road is the first volume in the story of Rose Marshall, who was the first victim of the man called Bobby Cross, although she was far from the last — and unlike most of them, she did not go easy into that good night. Sixty years down the line, she’s still kicking ass, taking names, and more than a little bit pissed off about the way that she died.

You want a good little ghost who’ll stay where she’s put and only haunt the people who deserve it? Go to a sleepover. You want the real story of the American ghostroads? Come and have a word with Rose.

Transformers: Retribution by David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams

Transformers: Retribution by David J. Williams and Mark S. Williams

This prequel to the television series will be available on January 28 (mass market paperback, ebook). It’s possible to read some of the beginning of Transformers: Retribution on the publisher’s website.


For decades, Transformers fans across the globe have marveled at the mighty clashes of Megatron and Optimus Prime, and speculated about their arrival on planet Earth. Now, in Transformers: Retribution, the prequel to the Transformers animated series, the epic odyssey of these two great warriors is finally revealed as Autobots and Decepticons battle one another . . . and the most diabolic foe they’ve ever encountered.

Aboard the Ark, Optimus Prime leads his Autobots through deep space, searching for the AllSpark so vital to their home planet, Cybertron. Megatron’s not far behind, and his Decepticons are itching for war. But a mysterious planet conceals an enemy far more cunning and powerful: the Quintessons. Masters of tyranny, technology, and twisted double crosses, the Quintessons are out to enslave both Autobots and Decepticons. Their deadly bag of tricks includes fiendish trials and a secret link all the way back to Cybertron, where Shockwave is wreaking havoc with supercomputer Vector Sigma. In the coming conflagration, Star Seekers, Wreckers, Alpha Trion, and Sharkticons all have their parts to play. For none can dodge the Quintesson juggernaut of evil, and none will escape the cataclysmic life-and-death battles that will catapult Autobots and Decepticons to Earth.