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.

Like the previous post, both of this week’s featured books are recent purchases. I ended up needing to wait around a bit after an appointment last week, and there happened to be a bookstore nearby so, of course, I had to take a look!

There were no new reviews last week, but I do have a review in progress that I’m hoping to post soon.

Monstress, Volume 2 by Marjorie M. Liu and Sana Takeda

Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood (Monstress #7–12) written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda

Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening, winner of the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story, is dark, violent, and excellent with absolutely gorgeous artwork. I enjoyed it very much and am looking forward to reading this volume, a collection of issues 7–12.


The Eisner-nominated MONSTRESS is back! Maika, Kippa, and Ren journey to Thyria in search of answers to her past… and discover a new, terrible, threat. Collects MONSTRESS #7-12

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

This science fiction novel by Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award–winning author Nnedi Okorafor sounds rather interesting, plus I’ve heard great things about it (and, I must admit, the cover drew my eye!). The publisher’s website has an excerpt from Lagoon.


It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between seventeen million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.

Additional Books:

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 I was away earlier this month. I wasn’t able to write anything new during that time (although I did go used book shopping!), but there is one new review from last week:

And now, the latest books including used bookstore finds!

The Crystal Gryphon by Andre Norton

The Crystal Gryphon (Witch World: High Hallack: Gryphon Series #1) by Andre Norton

I’ve been wanting to read more Andre Norton since reading Forerunner last year (my review), and I’ve heard a lot of good things about The Crystal Gryphon and its sequels in particular. When I came across a copy at a used bookstore, I had to pick it up!


The adventures of Witch World continue as a cursed hero and his true love struggle for survival in a vast parallel universe of magic and high fantasy.

Kerovan of Ulmsdale has long borne the curse of his ancestors’ depredations. After pillaging a sanctum of the Old Ones, his bloodline has been forever marred by painful sickness and death. Kerovan was born strong and hardy, but he walks on hooves instead of human feet and sees through eyes of amber—just as the Old Ones had.

Bound in marriage to the beautiful Joisan of Ithkrypt, Kerovan seeks to claim his rightful place as Lord-heir of Ulmsdale. But first, the couple—separated by distance, yet linked in spirit—must unlock the powers held within a mystical necklace Joisan wears. The small crystal gryphon bears secrets that will bring them to the farthest reaches of the wilderness on a quest to save their people and their world from doom.

Science Fiction Writers of America Grand Master Andre Norton’s beloved novels of sword and sorcery have sold millions of copies worldwide.

The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Moon and the Sun by Vonda N. McIntyre

This was another used bookstore find that I couldn’t resist. It sounded intriguing, plus it’s a Nebula Award winner!


In seventeenth-century France, Louis XIV rules with flamboyant ambition. From the Hall of Mirrors to the vermin-infested attics of the Chateau at Versailles, courtiers compete to please the king, sacrificing fortune, principles, and even the sacred bond between brother and sister.

Marie-Josephe de la Croix looks forward to assisting her adored brother in the scientific study of the rare sea monsters the king has commissioned him to seek. For the honor of his God, his country, and his king, Father Yves de la Croix returns with his treasures, believed to be the source of immortality: one heavy shroud packed in ice…and a covered basin that imprisons a shrieking creature.

The living sea monster, with its double tail, tangled hair, and gargoyle face, provides an intriguing experiment for Yves and the king. Yet for Marie-Josephe, the creature’s gaze and exquisite singing foretell a different future…

Soon Marie-Josephe is contemplating choices that defy the institutions which power her world. Somehow, she must find the courage to follow her heart and her convictions – even at the cost of changing her life forever.

The Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn

The Alleluia Files (Samaria #3) by Sharon Shinn

It’s been years since I read the first Samaria book, but I enjoyed it a lot and really need to read the rest of the series. I came across a used copy in excellent condition and nearly left it at the store since I don’t yet have the second book in the series, but I was (rather easily) talked into buying it when I found out it was only $0.99.


And a god will fall…

It has been one hundred years since the Archangel Alleluia and the mortal Caleb discovered the truth about the god of Samaria. Legend says that they left a record of that truth, though no document has ever been found. In time, an underground cult arose, seeking to find again what Alleluia found. But the reigning Archangel Bael called down the wrath of Jovah upon the cult, and hundreds died in a hail of thunderbolts. Yet some still survive…

Among them is the woman Tamar, child of cultists, raised in captivity among the angels. Tamar believes that the Alleluia Files—the actual disc on which the legendary Archangel recorded her experience—exist. She is determined to find it, and free the people of Samaria from their fear of Jovah, and the rule of the angels.

In her search, she encounters the angel Jared, one of the members of his kind who have come to question the wisdom of Bael, and his harsh treament of the cultists. Jared can go to places forbidden to Tamar, so when he offers to accompany her, she reluctantly agrees.

Together, these two uneasy allies will journey the length and breadth of Samaria, risking their lives and the lives of their comrades, seeking a truth that will alter the face of Samaria forever…

Additional Books:

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld
by Patricia A. McKillip
240pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 10/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.06/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.07/5

Acclaimed author Patricia A. McKillip, a recipient of the World Fantasy Award for lifetime achievement, has written more than 30 novels since the publication of her first more than 40 years ago. Among the earliest of these novels is her self-described first major fantasyThe Forgotten Beasts of Eld, which won the World Fantasy Award and was selected as a finalist for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award after its release in 1974. This beloved standalone fantasy was recently re-released in trade paperback and ebook with gorgeous cover art by Thomas Canty and a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Gail Carriger, who shares that this is her favorite book of all time and has been for more than 30 years. She also expresses her difficulty in finding words to properly describe the scope and brilliance of The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, and having just read it for the second time, I find myself in the same position. It’s a beautifully written story about a mage with a menagerie of legendary animals, and at its heart it’s about power, love and hate, choice—and Sybel herself, the extraordinary heroine who becomes entangled in human affairs after leading a secluded life like her father and grandfather before her.

Once, there was a mage, the son of another wizard, who left the city for a quiet existence on Eld Mountain, where he called to him three fantastic beasts: a black swan who had saved a princess, a boar who could solve every riddle except one, and a dragon who had accumulated great wealth. Just a small amount of the dragon’s riches was sufficient for him to build a beautiful house of polished stone and an enclosed garden for the animals, and his son inherited all these plus his father’s magical gifts. This son called to him three more fantastic beasts: a wise lyon from the deserts, a large black cat with a deep knowledge of sorcery, and a fierce falcon who once killed seven murderers. This mage also had a child—not a son, to his great surprise, but a daughter—who also had the mage-gift. He named her Sybel and died when she was only sixteen years old, leaving her alone in the mountain with the house, a well-stocked library, and six fantastic beasts.

Shortly after her father’s passing, Sybel discovers a book describing the Liralen, a great white bird, and becomes determined to add it to her menagerie. One day, as she’s calling to it, she’s interrupted by the sound of shouting at her gates and sends Ter Falcon to deal with the disruption. To her chagrin, she continues to hear human noises even after her raptor should have carried out her request to drop the intruder off the top of the mountain, and so she investigates the cause of the commotion. She finds a man, Coren of Sirle, with a baby named Tamlorn: the son of Sybel’s aunt, a queen who died in childbirth, and Coren’s brother, who was killed by the enraged king. Coren fears that the king will also kill his brother’s child and asks Sybel to care for him.

Twelve years pass during which Sybel comes to love Tamlorn like her own son, and then Coren returns to Eld Mountain bearing the news that the child is, in fact, the king’s son and only heir—and Coren’s family desires not only to make Tamlorn king but also to use Sybel’s power. Sybel refuses to comply, not wanting herself or Tamlorn to be used as a pawn in political games, but she’s unable to escape being drawn into the world beyond Eld Mountain.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a spellbinding novel, and like Gail Carriger wrote in the book’s foreword, I’m finding it difficult to find the words to adequately describe it. It’s a trademark McKillip book with its lovely prose, fairy tale feel, occasional moments of quiet humor, and timeless themes—and yet it’s unlike anything else I’ve read. (Of course, that uniqueness in itself is trademark McKillip!) It twists and turns and doesn’t end up where one may expect from its beginning, and yet its path is always true to Sybel and her character. It’s fantasy complete with a kingdom, magic, intelligent and/or talking animals (including a dragon!), and emphasis on threes and sevens, and like the best stories in the genre, it’s an imaginative, immersive story about humanity that lingers in the memory long after reaching the end.

I found it particularly notable that The Forgotten Beasts of Eld and its heroine still seem fresh more than 40 years after it was written, during a time when McKillip had not encountered many women like Sybel in her own reading:


But when I sat down to write my first major fantasy, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, I didn’t question the point of view that came out of my pen.  It seemed very natural to me to wonder why in the world a woman couldn’t be a witch or a wizard, or why, if she did, she had to be virginal as well.  Or why, if she was powerful and not a virgin, she was probably the evil force the male hero had to overcome.  Such was my experience reading about women in fantasy, back then.

So I wrote from the point of view of a powerful female wizard, who, even after she married, was the hero of her own story, and whose decisions, for better and for worse, were her own.

Sybel herself is this novel’s heart, and she is indeed “the hero of her own story” from beginning to end. Though she obviously bucks some tropes throughout the novel, it’s done without fanfare or drawing attention to it: she is who she is, and her personal journey is realistic and true to her. There are some brief moments showing how she defies expectations—notably, her father’s shock at having a daughter and Coren’s surprise at a woman not knowing what to do with a baby—but she is acknowledged to be a powerful woman without other characters questioning how this can be and she exerts control over her own destiny. As she goes from near isolation to becoming embroiled in the outside world, as she faces obstacles both from men who would use her power and her own inner battles, her choices are always understandable under the circumstances even if they are “for worse.”

It does feature a love story, and this too seems different from the usual. After living in seclusion, Sybel’s the one who has to learn how to love and open herself to love (not just romantically, since first she learns to love Tamlorn and befriends Malega, a neighboring witch who teaches her how to care for the baby). Once she’s married, she’s making plans and working toward her own goals while keeping secrets for her husband’s own good and protection. It’s Sybel who inhabits the light side and the dark side and everything in between as she does what she thinks is best.

Despite delving into subjects related to the shadows of the soul and becoming what one most fears, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is not what I’d call a particularly grim book, though I do want to warn potential readers that there are a couple of parts involving rape. One is just a brief mention that Sybel’s mother did not come to the mountain of her own free will, and there is also one attempted rape scene in which the woman rescues herself.

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a fantastic book with a lot to digest, yet it’s utterly captivating and never dull. It’s especially impressive how such a refined story without much action can seem so earth-shattering decades after its publication, especially in its portrayal of the heroine at its core. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld is a stunning masterpiece of fantasy, and I suspect this will not have been my last time rereading this elegantly written novel.

My Rating: 10/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.

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.

Quite a few books came in the mail last week, including some that have already been featured here—and one that has been featured here that I’m currently giving away…

Last week, Julie E. Czerneda discussed The Hair from her Clan Chronicles series as part of her Against the Dark blog tour, and you can also enter to win her soon-to-be released conclusion to the Reunification series, To Guard Against the Dark, plus This Gulf of Time and Stars (US and Canada—giveaway ends October 10). You can also learn how to enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win all nine books in the Clan Chronicles!

And now, the latest books!

The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear

The Stone in the Skull (Lotus Kingdoms #1) by Elizabeth Bear

Hugo, Locus, and Sturgeon Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear’s latest novel, the first book in a new trilogy set in the same world as Eternal Sky (Range of Ghosts, Shattered Pillars, Steles of the Sky), will be released on October 10 (hardcover, ebook).

The Stone in the Skull appeared on my most anticipated books of 2017 list, so obviously, this is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading! Elizabeth Bear is one of my favorite authors because her books tend to be beautifully written and thoughtful, and I am especially fond of this world—in addition to being the setting of the Eternal Sky trilogy, it’s also the setting of the wonderful novellas Book of Iron and Bone and Jewel Creatures featuring the artificer Bijou.

The Tor-Forge blog has the first chapter from The Stone in the Skull, and has the second chapter.


Hugo Award–winning author Elizabeth Bear returns to her critically acclaimed epic fantasy world of the Eternal Sky with a brand new trilogy.

The Stone in the Skull, the first volume in her new trilogy, takes readers over the dangerous mountain passes of the Steles of the Sky and south into the Lotus Kingdoms.

The Gage is a brass automaton created by a wizard of Messaline around the core of a human being. His wizard is long dead, and he works as a mercenary. He is carrying a message from a the most powerful sorcerer of Messaline to the Rajni of the Lotus Kingdom. With him is The Dead Man, a bitter survivor of the body guard of the deposed Uthman Caliphate, protecting the message and the Gage. They are friends, of a peculiar sort.

They are walking into a dynastic war between the rulers of the shattered bits of a once great Empire.

The Lotus Kingdoms
#1 The Stone in the Skull

The Eternal Sky Trilogy
#1 Range of Ghosts
#2 Shattered Pillars
#3 Steles of the Sky

Neverwhere Illustrated Edition

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Chris Riddell

This lovely new illustrated hardcover edition of New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere was just released last week.

It contains the following:

  • Illustrations by award-winning artist and Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2015–2017 Chris Riddell
  • An introduction by the author
  • An edited version of the novel
  • An older prologue that was removed from the final version
  • An interview with the author
  • The short story “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back”

National Bestseller

Selected as one of NPR’S Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time

The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s dark classic of modern fantasy, beautifully illustrated for the first time by award-winning artist Chris Riddell, and featuring the author’s preferred text and his Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back.”

Published in 1997, Neil Gaiman’s first novel, Neverwhere, heralded the arrival of a major talent. Over the years, various versions have been produced around the world. In 2016, this gorgeously illustrated edition of the novel was released in the UK. It is now available here, and features strikingly atmospheric, painstakingly detailed black-and-white line art by Chris Riddell, one of Gaiman’s favorite artistic interpreters of his work.

Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying.

Additional Books:

Today I’m delighted to welcome Julie E. Czerneda as part of the Against the Dark Blog Tour celebrating her soon-to-be-released latest novel! The final book in the Reunification trilogy (and the ninth in the Clan Chronicles), To Guard Against the Dark, will be on sale on October 10. I have a guest post by the author today to share with you as well as a book giveaway courtesy of DAW Books—plus information regarding how to enter DAW Books’ giveaway of all nine books in the Clan Chronicles!

To Guard Against the Dark by Julie E. Czerneda
Cover Credit: Matt Stawicki

The Hair

Oh, not mine! When our friend Bobbie B. suggested “The Hair” as a blog topic, she didn’t mean my locks. I love my hair, don’t get me wrong—it’s attached and came with the package, however unfair that my mother and brother had such thick stuff with glorious natural waves. Mine? More the fine and fly free variety. In other words, if I don’t ask it to appear thick and lush, it won’t embarrass me by failing. I’m content with a happy sparkle, if it stays out of my eyes.

Until the next new book release, that is, when I dash to have it cut. That way it stays out of my eyes and I don’t look like a forlorn shrub. (For those curious, yes, this is the real reason my hair received no attention whatsoever between Rift in the Sky (2009) and the release of A Turn of Light (2013), contrary to rumours I was attempting to grow fantasy-author tresses. Which oddly did happen, although it remained fine and flying free, thank you.)

No, this is about my main character’s, Sira’s, hair, now almost a character in its own right. The Hair even has fans. (You know who you are.)

In-joke: Anyone notice Sira first appeared in a wig? Thought not. Read the first excerpt now that you know. Later we learn her hair had fastenings in it, but those? To secure the wig. A disguise of sorts.

Morgan took the plate, sparing only a quick glance at its imprisoned memory of a woman or girl, dressed in the latest insystem fashion, hair elaborately dyed and styled, eyes too large for the face.

How Sira’s hair really looks? Might sound familiar.

I stopped, examining myself critically in the mirrored tile of the fresher. A stranger stared back: not tall, but slim; pale skin beginning to darken in the ship’s light — except for an angry red scoring on one cheek; wispy, fair hair tending to slide over grey wide-set eyes.

Not that I’d call my hair “wispy.” Oh no. Fine. That’s it.

A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie E. Czerneda, Cover Art by Luis Royo
As you can see, Luis Royo captured Sira’s original hair perfectly, especially the soggy wet of this moment. However, The Hair didn’t stay this way.

But wait…

I’d given Sira my hair, not that I noticed doing it at the time, because I wanted her to (a) appear Human to all around her and (b) because I wanted Morgan (my other main character) to assume she was younger than she is. Little does he know…

Most of all, I needed Sira to become Clan.

I took one last look at the now cloudless sky, feeling just as empty and cold. I bit my lip until it hurt. I would not be controlled by some mindless force or instinct. I quivered with the effort to remain rational, calm, in command of myself. My hair stirred.

Stirred? I reached my hand cautiously upward only to snatch it back as a lock lifted softly to meet my fingers. Suddenly I was blinded by clouds of hair growing longer, lusher, vitalized by some life of its own.

I tried to contain the stuff into some kind of order, then ceased, helpless as hair wove itself about my fingers. Moments later, I found myself cautiously moving aside long strands which flowed with unfamiliar weight over and past my shoulders. By moons’ light, it was beautiful, glowing, with glints of deep gold.

Eventually, the stuff hung quiescent down to my waist, no longer crackling with life, at last behaving more like hair. But such hair! I stroked the heaviness of it with an almost guilty delight, distrustful of its origin.

When I finally settled beside Huido’s box for a hopefully uneventful sleep, I took some of my new hair in one hand and rubbed it slowly against my cheek, breathing its brand-new scent.

This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda, Cover Art by Matthew Stawicki
In-joke: For this flawless rendering of a mature Sira, for The Hair, Matthew Stawicki referred to the tentacles on Davy Jones in the Disney movie: Dead Man’s Chest.
In-joke: I told my hairdresser as she gave me my first pre-book release cut, for Thousand, how I’d arranged to give my main character The Hair every heroine seems to have, at least in romance novels. I didn’t tell her it was to make Sira less Human. She might not have understood.

You see, The Hair has opinions.

…[Rael] gazed down at her unconscious sister, eased her arm to better cradle Sira’s head and shoulders, and touched a loose strand of red-gold hair. After a second, the hair politely but firmly slid away from her fingers.

I felt a thrill of pain as my unresolvable fury tore at my inner controls. My hair squirmed on my shoulders as if it could reach out and wrap around [the enforcer’s]…throat.

This one change—hair that acted on its own—did everything I could ask. Sira immediately became something other, even to herself. Moreover, I could use The Hair to expose her innermost feelings: those she tried to hide; those she didn’t know or understand. An essential vulnerability. Not only did I intend for a deep, believable love to develop between Sira and Morgan, despite her efforts to deny and resist what was, to her kind, perilous, but Sira’s innate power and formidable will easily might have distanced her from both readers and other characters. With The Hair, I revealed what she dared not.

Light fingers stroked my hair, investigating its new fullness. I closed my eyes, not needing vision, feeling the living stuff quiver under Morgan’s touch, winding in soft whirls around his hand, slipping up his arm to whisper across his cheek.

The Hair, linked to Sira’s sexual maturity as Clan, became an enthused participant in anything to do with Morgan and I thoroughly enjoyed writing its naughty come-hither behaviour, particularly when it wasn’t at all appropriate and both were frustrated.

And, when it was.

A finger lifted in invitation. A lock of hair accepted, slipped around his hand and wrist, wove distractingly up his bare arm. I watched the blue of his eyes deepen, resisted the urge to lose myself in them. “What about the Council meeting?” I said, attempting to be responsible.  “We–”

The rest was lost beneath his lips–Later.–the kiss exquisitely tender and slow, as if he discovered the shape of my mouth for the first time.

Or wanted never to forget it.

In-joke: As a person who enjoys camping, I wrote some handy attributes to The Hair. Once wet, it would vibrate, then wring itself dry. Oh, and escape any fastening. There’s the ever-so-handy repelling of most dust and never needing a brush.

Final Note

As an author, there are times you type with heedless speed, caught in wondrous free-wheeling thoughts, only to produce what you sheepishly delete the next morning. Then there are the rarer mornings, when you reread and discover you’ve created something special, something vital to your characters and their story. For all the in-jokes and knowing smiles, The Hair—Sira’s magnificent red-gold tumble of misbehaving lush waves—was that special, vital something. Without its expressiveness, its sensual abandon, an entire meaningful layer of the Clan Chronicles wouldn’t exist and the story be poorer for it.

As for the Finale? I won’t spoil To Guard Against the Dark for you. Suffice to say, where there are Clan? There could be…The Hair. (And yes, I’ve had my pre-release cut. Quite snazzy, and well out of my eyes.)

In-joke: I was tempted to ignore the metal hairnet I’d mentioned once in passing in Thousand. After all, mysterious artifacts tended to spin out of control without serious world-building commitment. Instead, I jumped in to make the net a pivotal plot point in Stratification, key to a horrifying discovery, then later had it signal the growth in power in the Clan as Aryl uses it to bind her own strongly opinionated locks. The payoff? The net didn’t just work for hair, it became a link between all the books and time periods. You never know what will matter.
Clan Chronicles Series

About the Series:
The Clan Chronicles is set in a far future where a mutual Trade Pact encourages peaceful commerce among a multitude of alien and Human worlds. The alien Clan, humanoid in appearance, have been living in secrecy and wealth on Human worlds, relying on their innate ability to move through the M’hir and bypass normal space. The Clan bred to increase that power, only to learn its terrible price: females who can’t help but kill prospective mates. Sira di Sarc is the first female of her kind facing that reality. With the help of a Human starship captain, Jason Morgan, himself a talented telepath, Sira must find a morally acceptable solution before it’s too late. But with the Clan exposed, her time is running out. The Stratification trilogy follows Sira’s ancestor, Aryl Sarc, and shows how their power first came to be as well as how the Clan came to live in the Trade Pact. The Trade Pact trilogy is the story of Sira and Morgan, and the trouble facing the Clan. Reunification concludes the series, answering these question at last. Who are the Clan?

And what will be the fate of all?

Julie Czerneda
Photo Credit: Roger Czerneda Photography

About the Author:
For twenty years, Canadian author/former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s also written fantasy, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Julie’s edited/co-edited sixteen anthologies of SF/F, two Aurora winners, the latest being SFWA’s 2017 Nebula Award Showcase. Next out will be an anthology of original stories set in her Clan Chronicles series: Tales from Plexis, out in 2018. Her new SF novel, finale to that series, To Guard Against the Dark, lands in stores October 2017. When not jumping between wonderful blogs, Julie’s at work on something very special: her highly anticipated new Esen novel, Search Image (Fall 2018). Visit for more.

Against the Dark Giveaway Details

Fill out the form below to be entered to win Julie E. Czerneda’s latest book in hardcover, To Guard Against the Dark, plus a mass market of This Gulf of Time and Stars (US and Canada).

To enter the tour-wide giveaway of the entire nine-book series, click here.

Against the Dark 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 “Against the Dark Giveaway.” One entry per household and a winner will be randomly selected. Those from the United States or Canada are eligible to win this giveaway. The giveaway will be open until the end of the day on Tuesday, October 10. The 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 book).

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

Good luck!

Update: The form has been removed now that the giveaway is over.

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 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.

Last week brought a couple of books that look quite interesting—one new book and one I already featured here over the summer—but first…

In case you missed it, there’s been one new review since the last one of these posts covering Snowspelled (The Harwood Spellbook #1) by Stephanie Burgis, a delightful fantasy novella set in an alternate matriarchal version of England in which politics is traditionally the domain of women and magic is traditionally the domain of men.

And now, on to the latest books!

Starlings by Jo Walton

Starlings by Jo Walton

Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award–winning author Jo Walton’s first short story collection will be released on January 30, 2018 (trade paperback, ebook). Starlings also contains an introduction by the author, a brief afterword after each story, a play, and poetry.

The publisher’s website lists the table of contents.


An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among OthersThe King’s Peace).

A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats.

With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.

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