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 (often 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 awhile since I did one of these features due to last month’s blog event, moving, and traveling last weekend! It’s been an extraordinarily busy couple of months for me, but I’m working on getting back into writing reviews and weekly features. This week I’m just going to cover some of the highlights of books I received from April through now, and next week I’ll continue writing about each week’s books as usual.
I am currently working on a review of The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord. I’d like to finish it this week, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to due to some other things I need to do this week. However, there will definitely be a guest post by Naomi Novik on Tuesday, which is the same day her novel Uprooted is being released! Uprooted was one of my most anticipated 2015 releases, and after reading about three-quarters of it, I’m quite certain it will end up being one of my favorite books of 2015. It’s a fantastic book, and I haven’t wanted to put it down.
On to the books!
Defiant (Towers Trilogy #2) by Karina Sumner-Smith
Defiant, the second book in the Towers Trilogy, was just released last week (paperbook, ebook). I thought Radiant, the first book in the series, was very unique and thoughtfully composed (my review) so I’m very interested in finding out what happens next. The final book, Towers Fall, is scheduled for release in October of this year.
Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.
In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side—but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.
War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize—nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.
Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war—or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn’t destroy them first.
Pocket Apocalypse (InCryptid #4) by Seanan McGuire
The fourth InCryptid book was released in March (mass market paperback, ebook, audiobook). I love Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series, and I also had a lot of fun reading the first book in this series, Discount Armageddon (my review). While I didn’t like it quite as much as the first book, I also enjoyed the second book, Midnight Blue-Light Special (my review). I haven’t yet read Half-Off Ragnarok, which changes the focus to a different member of the Price family than the first two books—Verity’s brother, Alex. Like the third book in the series, Pocket Apocalypse is about Alex Price.
Endangered, adjective: Threatened with extinction or immediate harm.
Australia, noun: A good place to become endangered.
Alexander Price has survived gorgons, basilisks, and his own family—no small feat, considering that his family includes two telepaths, a reanimated corpse, and a colony of talking, pantheistic mice. Still, he’s starting to feel like he’s got the hang of things…at least until his girlfriend, Shelby Tanner, shows up asking pointed questions about werewolves and the state of his passport. From there, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump to Australia, a continent filled with new challenges, new dangers, and yes, rival cryptozoologists who don’t like their “visiting expert” very much.
Australia is a cryptozoologist’s dream, filled with unique species and unique challenges. Unfortunately, it’s also filled with Shelby’s family, who aren’t delighted by the length of her stay in America. And then there are the werewolves to consider: infected killing machines who would like nothing more than to claim the continent as their own. The continent which currently includes Alex.
Survival is hard enough when you’re on familiar ground. Alex Price is very far from home, but there’s one thing he knows for sure: he’s not going down without a fight.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Seveneves will be released on May 19 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). This sounds pretty interesting, and it has an opening line that makes me want to read more and find out what happened: “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.”
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Anathem, Reamde, and Cryptonomicon comes an exciting and thought-provoking science fiction epic—a grand story of annihilation and survival spanning five thousand years.
What would happen if the world were ending?
A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.
But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain . . .
Five thousand years later, their progeny—seven distinct races now three billion strong—embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown . . . to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.
Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in this breathtaking saga.
The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris
This novel was released in the UK last year, and it was just released in the US earlier this month (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). It sounds excellent, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since first hearing about it. (I actually already own the UK edition, but I thought I’d include it here even though I already discussed it in one of these posts because I’m glad to see it was also released in the US.)
The first adult epic fantasy novel from multi-million copy bestselling author of CHOCOLAT, Joanne Harris.
The novel is a brilliant first-person narrative of the rise and fall of the Norse gods – retold from the point of view of the world’s ultimate trickster, Loki. It tells the story of Loki’s recruitment from the underworld of Chaos, his many exploits on behalf of his one-eyed master, Odin, through to his eventual betrayal of the gods and the fall of Asgard itself. Using her life-long passion for the Norse myths, Joanne Harris has created a vibrant and powerful fantasy novel.
Loki, that’s me.
Loki, the Light-Bringer, the misunderstood, the elusive, the handsome and modest hero of this particular tissue of lies. Take it with a pinch of salt, but it’s at least as true as the official version, and, dare I say it, more entertaining.
So far, history, such as it is, has cast me in a rather unflattering role.
Now it’s my turn to take the stage.
With his notorious reputation for trickery and deception, and an ability to cause as many problems as he solves, Loki is a Norse god like no other. Demon-born, he is viewed with deepest suspicion by his fellow gods who will never accept him as one of their own and for this he vows to take his revenge.
From his recruitment by Odin from the realm of Chaos, through his years as the go-to man of Asgard, to his fall from grace in the build-up to Ragnarok, this is the unofficial history of the world’s ultimate trickster.
Gemsigns (®Evolution #1) by Stephanie Saulter
I have heard that Gemsigns is excellent, and I’m really excited about reading it! The second book in the trilogy, Binary, recently became available in the US and Canada after being released in the UK last year. The conclusion, Regeneration, is scheduled for release in the UK in August of this year.
Starburst magazine raved that Gemsigns, the first novel in a series, is “a fascinating and compelling read, exploring the boundaries of human behavior, religious influences, and the morality of the everyday person. It comes highly recommended.”
For years the human race was under attack from a deadly Syndrome, but when a cure was found–in the form of genetically engineered human beings, Gems–the line between survival and ethics was radically altered. Now the Gems are fighting for their freedom, from the oppression of the companies that created them, and against the Norms who see them as slaves. And a conference at which Dr Eli Walker has been commissioned to present his findings on the Gems is the key to that freedom. But with the Gemtech companies fighting to keep the Gems enslaved, and the horrifying godgangs determined to rid the earth of these “unholy” creations, the Gems are up against forces that may just be too powerful to oppose.
The Stars Seem So Far Away by Margrét Helgadóttir
The Stars Seem So Far Away was released earlier this year (paperback, ebook). I’m intrigued by this one since I enjoyed what I read of the sample from The Stars Seem So Far Away on Amazon, plus I saw that Thea from The Book Smugglers loved it.
The last shuttles to the space colonies are long gone. Wars, famine and plagues rage across the dying Earth. Fleeing the deadly sun, humans migrate farther and farther north. Follow the stories of five very different survivors as they cling to what is left of life in a future North.
Margret Helgadottir’s kinetic prose immerses the reader in a future woven from the threads of Nordic history, studded with jewels pillaged from our mythic past.’ – Damien Walter, Columnist for The Guardian
Finely observed, beautifully written; Margret Helgadottir’s stories have the chill brightness of new myth. She is a writer to watch. – Adam Roberts
Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
Magonia was released toward the end of last month (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). I’ve heard great things about Maria Dahvana Headley’s writing.
Neil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds… two races…and two destinies.
Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.
Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.
So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.
Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.
Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?
Black Dog Short Stories by Rachel Neumeier
These short stories are set after Black Dog but before the upcoming sequel Pure Magic except for one prequel story. I’m excited about both this and the novel Pure Magic (which I believe is being released fairly soon as well) because Black Dog was one of my favorite books I read last year (my review). Black Dog Short Stories is currently available as an ebook.
Natividad is delighted when the Master of Dimilioc gives her permission to go Christmas shopping in a real town, since she definitely needs to find gifts for her brothers. But did Grayson have to assign Keziah to go with her?
Étienne Lumondiere has annoyed Miguel once too often, throwing his weight around and belittling ordinary humans. But Miguel’s going to fix that. He just needs to work out a few more details of his clever plan.
It’s tough for a black dog raised outside Dimilioc to adjust to being a team player. But Thaddeus is determined to impress Grayson . . . until he is unexpectedly confronted by a black dog kid who reminds him a little too much of himself.
The Dimilioc executioner is the mainstay of the Master’s authority, as Ezekiel knows better than anyone. He has never questioned his role in Dimilioc . . . until now.
“Christmas Shopping,” “Library Work,” and “A Learning Experience” all take place between Black Dog and Pure Magic. “The Master of Dimilioc” is a prequel story that takes place several years before the events of Black Dog.
Depth by Lev AC Rosen
Depth was released toward the end of April (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). I’m curious about it because I loved Lev AC Rosen’s novel All Men of Genius (my review).
In a post-apocalyptic flooded New York City, a private investigator’s routine surveillance case leads to a treasure everyone wants to find—and someone is willing to kill for.
Depth combines hardboiled mystery and dystopian science fiction in a future where the rising ocean levels have left New York twenty-one stories under water and cut off from the rest of the United States. But the city survives, and Simone Pierce is one of its best private investigators. Her latest case, running surveillance on a potentially unfaithful husband, was supposed to be easy. Then her target is murdered, and the search for his killer points Simone towards a secret from the past that can’t possibly be real—but that won’t stop the city’s most powerful men and women from trying to acquire it for themselves, with Simone caught in the middle.