The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (usually unsolicited). 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.

It’s been a couple of weeks since one of these posts largely due to the holidays, and I was fortunate to receive a few books as Christmas gifts to include here along with some other books that sound intriguing.

In case you missed it, I posted a list of my favorite books of 2017 last week. This includes both 2017 releases and books I read published before 2017, and it was a great year of reading!

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by JY Yang

The Black Tides of Heaven is one of two novellas that were both released on the same day last year. Though they are each supposed to stand alone, this one comes before The Red Threads of Fortune in chronological order.

You can read an excerpt from The Black Tides of Heaven on, and you can learn more about the series from an interview with JY Yang on io9.

Both novellas have absolutely gorgeous cover art, and I’ve thought it sounded like an interesting series since I first heard of it. I did read The Black Tides of Heaven shortly after I received it for Christmas and now want to read The Red Threads of Fortune as well.


The Black Tides of Heaven is one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to JY Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune, available simultaneously.

Mokoya and Akeha, the twin children of the Protector, were sold to the Grand Monastery as infants. While Mokoya developed her strange prophetic gift, Akeha was always the one who could see the strings that moved adults to action. While Mokoya received visions of what would be, Akeha realized what could be. What’s more, they saw the sickness at the heart of their mother’s Protectorate.

A rebellion is growing. The Machinists discover new levers to move the world every day, while the Tensors fight to put them down and preserve the power of the state. Unwilling to continue as a pawn in their mother’s twisted schemes, Akeha leaves the Tensorate behind and falls in with the rebels. But every step Akeha takes towards the Machinists is a step away from Mokoya. Can Akeha find peace without shattering the bond they share with their twin?

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

The first two books in this series, An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night, are available now. The third book in the series, A Reaper at the Gates, is scheduled for release in June.

The publisher’s website has an excerpt from An Ember in the Ashes.

This is another book I’ve been wanting to read since I first heard about it, and I was thrilled to receive a copy for Christmas!


Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

La Belle Sauvage by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage (The Book of Dust #1) by Philip Pullman

La Belle Sauvage, the first book in a new series set in the same world as His Dark Materials, was released last year. The publisher’s website has an excerpt from La Belle Sauvage.

I enjoyed His Dark Materials so I was excited to receive a signed copy of La Belle Sauvage for Christmas!


Philip Pullman returns to the parallel world of his groundbreaking novel The Golden Compass to expand on the story of Lyra, “one of fantasy’s most indelible characters.” (The New York Times Magazine)

Malcolm Polstead is the kind of boy who notices everything but is not much noticed himself. And so perhaps it was inevitable that he would become a spy….

Malcolm’s parents run an inn called the Trout, on the banks of the river Thames, and all of Oxford passes through its doors. Malcolm and his daemon, Asta, routinely overhear news and gossip, and the occasional scandal, but during a winter of unceasing rain, Malcolm catches wind of something new: intrigue.

He finds a secret message inquiring about a dangerous substance called Dust—and the spy it was intended for finds him.

When she asks Malcolm to keep his eyes open, he sees suspicious characters everywhere: the explorer Lord Asriel, clearly on the run; enforcement agents from the Magisterium; a gyptian named Coram with warnings just for Malcolm; and a beautiful woman with an evil monkey for a daemon. All are asking about the same thing: a girl—just a baby—named Lyra.

Lyra is the kind of person who draws people in like magnets. And Malcolm will brave any danger, and make shocking sacrifices, to bring her safely through the storm.

Torn by Rowenna Miller

Torn (The Unraveled Kingdom #1) by Rowenna Miller

This fantasy debut novel will be released on March 20 (trade paperback, ebook).

I read the first 50 pages and it piqued my curiosity.


TORN is the first book in an enchanting debut fantasy series featuring a seamstress who stitches magic into clothing, and the mounting political uprising that forces her to choose between her family and her ambitions, for fans of The Queen of the Tearling.

Sophie is a dressmaker who has managed to open her own shop and lift herself and her brother, Kristos, out of poverty. Her reputation for beautiful ball gowns and discreetly-embroidered charms for luck, love, and protection secures her a commission from the royal family itself — and the commission earns her the attentions of a dashing but entirely unattainable duke.

Meanwhile, Kristos rises to prominence in the growing anti-monarchist movement. Their worlds collide when the revolution’s shadow leader takes him hostage and demands that Sophie place a curse on the queen’s Midwinter costume — or Kristos will die at their hand.

As the proletariat uprising comes to a violent climax, Sophie is torn: between her brother and the community of her birth, and her lover and the life she’s striven to build.

Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

Iron Gold (Red Rising Saga #4) by Pierce Brown

Iron Gold, which follows events in the #1 New York Times bestselling Red Rising trilogy (Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star), will be released on January 16 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

Entertainment Weekly has an excerpt from Iron Gold.


In the epic next chapter of the Red Rising Saga, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Morning Star pushes the boundaries of one of the boldest series in fiction.

They call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.

A decade ago Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk all he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp, and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the Sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe. Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

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