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 (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.
Since I’ve been away a lot lately, it’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these so there’s some catching up to do! This includes books that came in after the last time I did one of these posts and covers multiple weeks.
It has been quiet here since I’ve been away so much, but I did recently review the June Patreon book, Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord. I thought it had a delightful narrative voice and a wonderful main protagonist.
Now for the recent arrivals!
The Devourers by Indra Das
This debut novel will be released on July 12 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from The Devourers is available on the publisher’s website (the “Look Inside” link below the cover image).
For readers of Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, China Mieville, and David Mitchell comes a striking debut novel by a storyteller of keen insight and captivating imagination.
On a cool evening in Kolkata, India, beneath a full moon, as the whirling rhythms of traveling musicians fill the night, college professor Alok encounters a mysterious stranger with a bizarre confession and an extraordinary story. Tantalized by the man’s unfinished tale, Alok will do anything to hear its completion. So Alok agrees, at the stranger’s behest, to transcribe a collection of battered notebooks, weathered parchments, and once-living skins.
From these documents spills the chronicle of a race of people at once more than human yet kin to beasts, ruled by instincts and desires blood-deep and ages-old. The tale features a rough wanderer in seventeenth-century Mughal India who finds himself irrevocably drawn to a defiant woman—and destined to be torn asunder by two clashing worlds. With every passing chapter of beauty and brutality, Alok’s interest in the stranger grows and evolves into something darker and more urgent.
Shifting dreamlike between present and past with intoxicating language, visceral action, compelling characters, and stark emotion, The Devourers offers a reading experience quite unlike any other novel.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers
This science fiction novel will be released in print in the US for the first time on July 5 (paperback). It will also be available in audiobook and an ebook version is already available. An excerpt can be read on Tor.com.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is a 2016 nominee for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and was on the longlist for the 2015 James Tiptree Jr. Award. I’ve been hearing it’s great so I was quite happy to learn the US paperback edition is being released much sooner than I’d realized!
Follow a motley crew on an exciting journey through space—and one adventurous young explorer who discovers the meaning of family in the far reaches of the universe—in this light-hearted debut space opera from a rising sci-fi star.
Rosemary Harper doesn’t expect much when she joins the crew of the aging Wayfarer. While the patched-up ship has seen better days, it offers her a bed, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and most importantly, some distance from her past. An introspective young woman who learned early to keep to herself, she’s never met anyone remotely like the ship’s diverse crew, including Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, chatty engineers Kizzy and Jenks who keep the ship running, and Ashby, their noble captain.
Life aboard the Wayfarer is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. It’s also about to get extremely dangerous when the crew is offered the job of a lifetime. Tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet is definitely lucrative and will keep them comfortable for years. But risking her life wasn’t part of the plan. In the far reaches of deep space, the tiny Wayfarer crew will confront a host of unexpected mishaps and thrilling adventures that force them to depend on each other. To survive, Rosemary’s got to learn how to rely on this assortment of oddballs—an experience that teaches her about love and trust, and that having a family isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the universe.
The Gate to Futures Past (Reunification #2) by Julie Czerneda
The second novel in the latest Clan Chronicles trilogy will be released on September 6 (hardcover, ebook). I’m curious about what happens next after having read the first book in this trilogy, This Gulf of Time and Stars (my review | interview with Julie Czerneda).
WARNING: The plot description below contains MAJOR spoilers for the end of the previous book.
Second novel in the hard sci-fi Reunification series, The Gate to Futures Past continues the Clan Chronicles, perfect for space opera readers looking for unique aliens and interstellar civilizations.
Betrayed and attacked, the Clan fled the Trade Pact for Cersi, believing that world their long-lost home. With them went a lone alien, the Human named Jason Morgan, Chosen of their leader, Sira di Sarc. Tragically, their arrival upset the Balance between Cersi’s three sentient species. And so the Clan, with their newfound kin, must flee again.
Their starship, powered by the M’hir, follows a course set long ago, for Clan abilities came from an experiment their ancestors—the Hoveny—conducted on themselves. But it’s a perilous journey. The Clan must endure more than cramped conditions and inner turmoil.
Their dead are Calling.
Sira must keep her people from answering, for if they do, they die. Morgan searches the ship for answers, afraid the Hoveny’s tech is beyond his grasp. Their only hope? To reach their destination.
Little do Sira and Morgan realize their destination holds the gravest threat of all….
Crosstalk by Connie Willis
Crosstalk will be released on October 4 (hardcover, ebook).
Science fiction icon Connie Willis brilliantly mixes a speculative plot, the wit of Nora Ephron, and the comedic flair of P. G. Wodehouse in Crosstalk—a genre-bending novel that pushes social media, smartphone technology, and twenty-four-hour availability to hilarious and chilling extremes as one young woman abruptly finds herself with way more connectivity than she ever desired.
In the not-too-distant future, a simple outpatient procedure to increase empathy between romantic partners has become all the rage. And Briddey Flannigan is delighted when her boyfriend, Trent, suggests undergoing the operation prior to a marriage proposal—to enjoy better emotional connection and a perfect relationship with complete communication and understanding. But things don’t quite work out as planned, and Briddey finds herself connected to someone else entirely—in a way far beyond what she signed up for.
It is almost more than she can handle—especially when the stress of managing her all-too-eager-to-communicate-at-all-times family is already burdening her brain. But that’s only the beginning. As things go from bad to worse, she begins to see the dark side of too much information, and to realize love—and communication—are far more complicated than she ever imagined.
Lady Gregory’s Complete Irish Mythology by Lady Augusta Gregory
I came across this in a bookstore in Dublin and couldn’t resist picking it up, especially considering it was on sale!
This volume contains the myths and legends of pre-Christian Ireland, overflowing with giants and heroes, enchanted maidens, battles and brave deeds.
Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
This collection, containing Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel Malafrena and short stories and poems also set in Orsinia, will be released on September 6 (hardcover, ebook).
The Library of America inaugurates its Ursula K. Le Guin edition with this first-of-its-kind collection of the complete Orsinian cycle, restored to print for the first time in decades
Before she upended the conventions of science fiction with such pathbreaking works as The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin created the richly imagined world of Orsinia, a central European country that serves as a backdrop for her extraordinary extended meditation on the interplay of individual will and the forces of history. The provocative novel Malafrena (written in the 1950s, but not published until 1979) is set in the 1820s, as Orsinia, a small principality of the Habsburg Empire, is swept up in the currents of revolution and nationalism that will transform the western world. Its hero, the idealistic young patriot Itale Sorde, follows his passions from his ancestral estate Val Malafrena into a turbulent wider world in the country’s capital. Thirteen additional stories, including all those originally collected as Orsinian Tales (1976), range from the Middle Ages to the collapse of the communism in 1989 to enact a range personal dramas amid larger social and historical movements. Rounding out the collection are three poems, or songs, including “Folksong from the Montayna Province,” Le Guin’s first published work, which lend additional texture to the intricate Orsinian tapestry.