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.

This post is part two of the series started last week covering some of the books that I bought or received in the mail while this blog was on hiatus due to moving. The only books from the last week were one I have already talked about and one that I bought myself so only the one I purchased is included. The first three books are ones I bought at various bookstores, either on the way to Vermont or after moving here! Next week I’ll return to posting weekly about books bought or received the way I normally do.

The Faded Sun Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh

The Faded Sun Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh

This is a mass market paperback omnibus containing Kesrith, Shon’jir, and Kutath. I still haven’t read any books by award-winning author C. J. Cherryh, and I’ve been thinking about reading one to review during Sci-Fi Month this November. The first book in this trilogy, Kesrith, seems like it might be a good book to start with since it was nominated for both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.

 

They were the mri – tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their society. For aeons this golden-skinned, golden-eyed race had provided the universe mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable ability. But now the mri have faced an enemy unlike any other – an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction. These “humans” are mass fighters, creatures of the herd, and the mri have been slaughtered like animals.

Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction. It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race: a warrior – one of the last survivors of his kind; a priestess of this honorable people; and a lone human – a man sworn to aid the enemy of his own kind. Can they retrace the galaxy-wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life?

House Immortal by Devon Monk

House Immortal (House Immortal #1) by Devon Monk

I’ve heard good things about Devon Monk’s books, and I thought this sounded interesting. House Immortal was just released last month in mass market paperback, ebook, and hardcover. An excerpt can be read on the author’s website.

The second book in the trilogy, Infinity Bell, is scheduled for release in March 2015.

 

One hundred years ago, eleven powerful ruling Houses consolidated all of the world’s resources and authority into their own grasping hands. Only one power wasn’t placed under the command of a single House: the control over the immortal galvanized….

Matilda Case isn’t like most folk. In fact, she’s unique in the world, the crowning achievement of her father’s experiments, a girl pieced together from bits. Or so she believes, until Abraham Seventh shows up at her door, stitched with life thread just like her and insisting that enemies are coming to kill them all.

Tilly is one of thirteen incredible creations known as the galvanized, stitched together beings immortal and unfathomably strong. For a century, each House has fought for control over the galvanized. Now the Houses are also tangled in a deadly struggle for dominion over death—and Tilly and her kind hold the key to unlocking eternity

The secrets that Tilly must fight to protect are hidden within the very seams of her being. And to get the secrets, her enemies are willing to tear her apart piece by piece.…

FIRST IN A NEW SERIES!

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin

Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin

I haven’t read anything written by George R. R. Martin that wasn’t related to A Song of Ice and Fire or Wild Cards, but I do want to read some of his other books at some point and have heard this vampire novel is very good. An excerpt from Fevre Dream is available on the publisher’s website, and it is available in both trade and mass market paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

 

A THRILLING REINVENTION OF THE VAMPIRE NOVEL BY THE MASTER OF MODERN FANTASY, GEORGE R. R. MARTIN
 
Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet; nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.

The Free by Brian Ruckley

The Free by Brian Ruckley

This fantasy novel from the author of The Godless World trilogy beginning with Winterbirth will be released on October 14 (paperback, ebook). An excerpt from The Free is available on the publisher’s website.

 

THEY ARE THE MOST FEARED MERCENARY COMPANY THE KINGDOM HAS EVER KNOWN.

Led by Yulan, their charismatic captain, the Free have spent years selling their martial and magical skills to the highest bidder – winning countless victories that shook the foundations of the world. Now they finally plan to lay down their swords.

Yet when Yulan is offered a final contract, he cannot refuse – for the mission offers him the chance to erase the memories of the Free’s darkest hour, which have haunted him for years.

As The Free embark on their last mission, a potent mix of loyalty and vengeance is building to a storm. Freedom, it seems, carries a deadly price.

War Dogs by Greg Bear

War Dogs by Greg Bear

This science fiction novel, the first book in a trilogy, will be released on October 14 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). Greg Bear is a New York Times bestselling author and the recipient of two Hugo Awards and five Nebula Awards.

 

AN EPIC INTERSTELLAR TALE OF WAR FROM A MASTER OF SCIENCE FICTION.

One more tour on the red.
Maybe my last.

They made their presence on Earth known thirteen years ago.

Providing technology and scientific insights far beyond what mankind was capable of. They became indispensable advisors and promised even more gifts that we just couldn’t pass up. We called them Gurus.

It took them a while to drop the other shoe. You can see why, looking back.

It was a very big shoe, completely slathered in crap.

They had been hounded by mortal enemies from sun to sun, planet to planet, and were now stretched thin — and they needed our help.

And so our first bill came due. Skyrines like me were volunteered to pay the price. As always.

These enemies were already inside our solar system and were moving to establish a beachhead, but not on Earth.

On Mars.

Today I’m giving away two sets of the Ironskin trilogy by Tina Connolly! This trilogy begins with Ironskin, a 2012 Nebula Nominee, and will soon be completed with the release of Silverblind on October 7. While I haven’t read them, I have heard great things about them and have them on my to-read list so I’m happy to be hosting a giveaway!

Ironskin by Tina Connolly

About Ironskin:

Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a “delicate situation”—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio…and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.

Read an Excerpt from Ironskin

Copperhead by Tina Connolly

About Copperhead:

The sequel to Tina Connolly’s stunning historical fantasy debut.

Helen Huntingdon is beautiful—so beautiful she has to wear an iron mask. Six months ago her sister Jane uncovered a fey plot to take over the city. Too late for Helen, who opted for fey beauty in her face—and now has to cover her face with iron so she won’t be taken over, her personality erased by the bodiless fey.

Not that Helen would mind that some days. Stuck in a marriage with the wealthy and controlling Alistair, she lives at the edges of her life, secretly helping Jane remove the dangerous fey beauty from the wealthy society women who paid for it. But when the chancy procedure turns deadly, Jane goes missing—and is implicated in the murder.

Meanwhile, Alistair’s influential clique Copperhead—whose emblem is the poisonous copperhead hydra—is out to restore humans to their “rightful” place, even to the point of destroying the dwarvven who have always been allies.

Helen is determined to find her missing sister, as well as continue the good fight against the fey. But when that pits her against her own husband—and when she meets an enigmatic young revolutionary—she’s pushed to discover how far she’ll bend society’s rules to do what’s right. It may be more than her beauty at stake. It may be her honor…and her heart.

Read an Excerpt from Copperhead

Silverblind by Tina Connolly

About Silverblind:

The stunning historical fantasy series that began with the Nebula finalist Ironskin continues in Tina Connolly’s Silverblind

Dorie Rochart has been hiding her fey side for a long time. Now, finished with University, she plans to study magical creatures and plants in the wild, bringing long-forgotten cures to those in need. But when no one will hire a girl to fight basilisks, she releases her shape-changing fey powers—to disguise herself as a boy.

While hunting for wyvern eggs, she saves a young scientist who’s about to get steamed by a silvertail—and finds her childhood friend Tam Grimsby, to whom she hasn’t spoken in seven years. Not since she traded him to the fey. She can’t bear to tell him who she really is, but every day grows harder as he comes to trust her.

The wyverns are being hunted to extinction for the powerful compounds in their eggs. The fey are dying out as humans grow in power. Now Tam and Dorie will have to decide which side they will fight for. And if they end up on opposite sides, can their returning friendship survive?

Read an Excerpt from Silverblind

Courtesy of Tor Books, I have two sets containing all three Ironskin books to give away! This giveaway is open to those with a mailing address in the US or Canada, and each set includes Ironskin, Copperhead, and Silverblind.

Giveaway Rules: To be entered in the giveaway, fill out the form below OR send an email to kristen AT fantasybookcafe DOT com with the subject “Ironskin Giveaway.” One entry per person and two winners will be randomly selected. Those from the US or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Saturday, October 11. Each winner has 24 hours to respond once contacted via email, and if I don’t hear from them by then a new winner will be chosen (who will also have 24 hours to respond until someone gets back to me with a place to send the books).

Please note email addresses will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner. Once the giveaway is over all the emails will be deleted.

Good luck!

Update: Now that the giveaway has ended, the form has been removed.

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 a few weeks since I did one of these posts due to moving! Since covering every book I got in that time would take awhile, I’m going to split this post into two parts with part two to come next week. I’m also only going to cover the books I bought and the books in the mail that I think look especially interesting to make it easier to get caught up, and I’m going to leave out a couple of books I think look great because I will be discussing them soon when I give them away!

I still have a lot of unpacking and setting up to do out here and less time to spend doing these things since I’m now working full time again, which is not leaving me with as much time as I’d like for reading and writing reviews. However, I have at least made some progress on a review in the last week, and I finished reading The Young Elites by Marie Lu, a dark (REALLY DARK) young adult fantasy that will be released next month. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to book two!

On to (some) of the books!

Yesterday's Kin by Nancy Kress

Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress

This science fiction book was released earlier this month (trade paperback/ebook), and I was disappointed I couldn’t find it in the first bookstore I checked. I did find it in the second one and snatched it up since I am planning to review this as part of Sci-Fi Month in November. I love both Beggars In Spain and After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress, and I was even more interested in reading Yesterday’s Kin after reading a guest post she wrote at SF Signal about why she writes so much about genetic engineering.

An excerpt from Yesterday’s Kin can be read on Tor.com.

 

Aliens have landed in New York.

A deadly cloud of spores has already infected and killed the inhabitants of two worlds. Now that plague is heading for Earth, and threatens humans and aliens alike. Can either species be trusted to find the cure?

Geneticist Marianne Jenner is immersed in the desperate race to save humanity, yet her family is tearing itself apart. Siblings Elizabeth and Ryan are strident isolationists who agree only that an alien conspiracy is in play. Marianne’s youngest, Noah, is a loner addicted to a drug that constantly changes his identity. But between the four Jenners, the course of human history will be forever altered.

Earth’s most elite scientists have ten months to prevent human extinction—and not everyone is willing to wait.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs was released in the US earlier this month (trade paperback/ebook), and it will be released in the UK on October 2 (hardcover/ebook). The cover above is the version I have, the UK edition, and it’s a rather nice hardcover.

I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about this book so I am very much looking forward to reading it! An excerpt from City of Stairs is available on Tor.com.

 

You’ve got to be careful when you’re chasing a murderer through Bulikov, for the world is not as it should be in that city. When the gods were destroyed and all worship of them banned by the Polis, reality folded; now stairs lead to nowhere, alleyways have become portals to the past, and criminals disappear into thin air.

The murder of Dr Efrem Pangyui, the Polis diplomat researching the Continent’s past, has begun something and now whispers of an uprising flutter out from invisible corners. Only one woman may be willing to pursue the truth – but it is likely to cost her everything.

The Winter Long by Seanan McGuire

The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire

The latest book in the October Daye series was released earlier this month (mass market paperback/ebook/audiobook). October Daye is one of my very favorite urban fantasy series, and I’m quite excited about this installment since it’s supposed to reveal a lot that Toby didn’t know.

 

Toby thought she understood her own past; she thought she knew the score.

She was wrong.

It’s time to learn the truth.

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

The Galaxy Game by Karen Lord

The Galaxy Game, a companion to Karen Lord’s science fiction novel The Best of All Possible Worlds, will be released in January 2015 (trade paperback/ebook). I really enjoyed The Best of All Possible Worlds and am looking forward to reading more set in the same world.

 

For years, Rafi Delarua saw his family suffer under his father’s unethical use of psionic power. Now the government has Rafi under close watch, but, hating their crude attempts to analyse his brain, he escapes to the planet Punartam, where his abilities are the norm, not the exception. Punartam is also the centre for his favourite sport, wallrunning – and thanks to his best friend, he has found a way to train with the elite. But Rafi soon realises he’s playing quite a different game, for the galaxy is changing; unrest is spreading and the Zhinuvian cartels are plotting, making the stars a far more dangerous place to aim. There may yet be one solution – involving interstellar travel, galactic power and the love of a beautiful game.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown

Golden Son, the sequel to Red Rising, is scheduled for release in January 2015 (hardcover/ebook). While I had some issues with the first book, I did really enjoy it and am very excited about reading the second book in the trilogy!

 

With shades of The Hunger Games, Ender’s Game, and Game of Thrones, debut author Pierce Brown’s genre-defying epic Red Rising hit the ground running and wasted no time becoming a sensation. Golden Son continues the stunning saga of Darrow, a rebel forged by tragedy, battling to lead his oppressed people to freedom from the overlords of a brutal elitist future built on lies. Now fully embedded among the Gold ruling class, Darrow continues his work to bring down Society from within. A life-or-death tale of vengeance with an unforgettable hero at its heart, Golden Son guarantees Pierce Brown’s continuing status as one of fiction’s most exciting new voices.

Sep
21
2014
I aten't dead

It’s been a busy few weeks and I still have a lot of unpacking to do, but I have officially moved to Vermont! Next weekend I will return to posting my weekly feature (I may have purchased a few more books on the way from Maine to Vermont), and I plan to at least start writing a review soon. Now that things are settling down a bit, I’m also going to try to finish reading The Young Elites by Marie Lu and start thinking a more about Sci-Fi Month in November!

Sep
04
2014

As mentioned in the past couple of Sunday posts, the site is going to be quiet for awhile since I am moving next week! I am moving six hours away from my current home and have a lot I need to finish before then, and I will be traveling most of next week since getting everything from one place to the other is going to take a few days. My recent review of the (very good) Beyond the Pale anthology will be my last post until after I have moved and gotten settled in. I’ll have to see how it goes, but the hiatus will probably end the week of September 22.

Beyond the Pale
by Henry Herz
232pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 7.5/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.75/5
Goodreads Rating: 4/5
 

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz is a YA anthology containing fantasy and paranormal stories by some well-known authors in speculative fiction, including Saladin Ahmed, Peter S. Beagle, Jane Yolen, Gillian Philip, and Jim Butcher. It consists of an eclectic mix of writing styles and speculative fiction stories, including mythic and urban fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, historical fantasy, a ghost story, and a vampire tale about Dracurat. I found most of the stories enjoyable and will certainly be reading more by some of these authors who are new to me after sampling their short fiction.

My favorite story in the entire anthology is “The Children of the Shark God” by Peter S. Beagle, a lovely but sad tale about a god who falls in love with a human and the tragic consequences, including the effect this has on their children. Mirali, a young woman living on an island, is noticed by the Shark God who protects her home. The Shark God gains her favor, and the two marry and have twins, a boy and a girl. The children grow up without knowing their father or his identity since he only visits once a year while they are asleep. When they are older and Mirali reveals to them that their father is the Shark God, they do not react the way she expected—they are not honored, awed, or fearful but angry at the father who abandoned them—and her daughter Kokinja sets out to find her godly father and tell him exactly what she thinks of his actions. This is a skillfully written story with both excellent storytelling and writing. Every word seems to be crafted with care, and I would now like to read more of Peter S. Beagle’s short fiction even though I usually prefer longer stories.

Another story I particularly loved is “Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela” by Saladin Ahmed, a well-written story reminiscent of fairy tales with the main character being shown that the world is not as ordinary as he had thought. A young physicker, the Caliph’s son’s personal favorite, is sent away as punishment for falling in love with a woman from a wealthy family. After he is dismissed, he spends time in a small village filled with rumors of the hermit Abdel Jameela. When Abdel Jameela hears that a court physiker is near, he sends a messenger to him to request that he aid his ill wife. Though discouraged from doing so, the physiker goes as requested since he feels it’s his duty to help if he can—and ends up performing a surgery combined with magic unlike anything he’s ever done before. While I enjoyed the writing, I also thought this story was fantastic because of the earnest main protagonist and its wondrous nature.

Gillian Philip wrote two stories in Beyond the Pale, both among the best in this anthology. I especially loved “Frost Child,” a dark historical fantasy and prequel to her novel Firebrand, even though the beginning was not compelling. It begins with the Queen’s captain, Griogair, setting out to destroy his Queen’s enemies and without having any stake in these characters, I found the fighting rather dull. However, once Griogair finds one of his people with his enemies, a rather indifferent little girl named Lilith, it became quite engaging. It’s a story of the Sithe with witches, warriors (both male and female), and kelpies and is the type of setting I find appealing, but it was Philip’s deft hand with portraying her characters that made me want to read Firebrand. Her other story, “South,” is a creepy tale in which an old man watching his grandson reminisces about meeting the boy’s grandmother—a mysterious woman who appeared out of nowhere on a remote, cold island and seemed completely unaffected by the freezing temperatures.

While I did not think any of the other stories were as excellent as those four, I did enjoy most of them, especially “Even Hand” by Jim Butcher. Despite not having read any of the Dresden Files, I had fun reading this tale narrated by the villain, Harry Dresden’s enemy Johnny Marcone. He’s an interesting bad guy since he’s not quite as hard as he appears to others, and his narrative voice is well done and contains some good humor. In addition to Marcone, there is a compelling cast of characters in his employ, including a valkyrie and a very competent man who does his job well despite his disapproval of Marcone’s actions.

The only stories I did not enjoy were the two written by Heather Brewer. “Misery” centers on a mysterious town of the same name that is more bland than miserable, and that’s also how I would describe the story: not terrible but quite bland. The characters in “Misery” do not know how they arrived in this place or have memories of their lives before then, and I found the revelation about the actual purpose of Misery predictable. Aside from that issue, I thought the story lacked emotional resonance and did not find the writing as smooth as in other stories. While I didn’t dislike “Misery,” I didn’t like it either, but the same cannot be said of “Shadow Children,” in which a boy afraid of the dark is swallowed by darkness. I had similar problems with it as the previous story—predictability, lifeless writing and characterization—but despite its short length, I found it a chore to get through since it did not have a hook at the beginning like the mystery of the town in “Misery.”

Like most anthologies, Beyond the Pale contains stories varying in quality, but it only has a couple of stories that I did not find at all enjoyable. Most of the stories had more strengths than weaknesses, and some were quite excellent. I found it worth reading for the stories by Peter S. Beagle, Saladin Ahmed, and Gillian Philip alone—and it has certainly added more books and authors to my to-read list!

My Rating: 7.5/10

Where I got my reading copy: Electronic ARC from the editor.

Table of Contents

Other Reviews: