Here is the promised part 2 to this week’s The Leaning Pile of Books. (There are even more books I got this week from the swag bag at the Book Blogger Convention but I am going to leave those out since there are a lot of books already and those don’t tend to be the type of books I’d review anyway.) These are all ARCs/books I got signed by the author at Book Expo America. The three I am most excited about are at the top, followed by the book I had the most fun getting signed.

Passion Play by Beth Bernobich

When I got this one signed, I asked the author if it was the start to a series. She said it is going to be a trilogy and there will also be one related book and a short story. I love the cover, I love the description and am just overall very excited about reading it. Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers took a tour at Tor (who is publishing this novel) and told me that the author’s editor is the same one who discovered Jacqueline Carey. So now I just want to read it even more than I already did. It will be published on October 12, 2010.

Ilse Zhalina is the daughter of one of Melnek’s more prominent merchants. She has lived most of her life surrounded by the trappings of wealth and privilege. Many would consider hers a happy lot; but there are dark secrets, especially in the best of families. Ilse has learned that the way for a young woman of her beauty and social station to survive is to be passive and silent.

When Ilse finally meets the older man she is to marry, she realizes that he is far crueler and more deadly than her father could ever be. Ilse chooses to run. This choice will change her life forever.

And it will lead her to Raul Kosenmark, master of one of the land’s most notorious pleasure houses…who is, as Ilse learns, a puppet master of a different sort altogether. Ilse discovers a world where every pleasure has a price and where there are levels of magic and intrigue she once thought unimaginable. She also finds the other half of her heart.

Lush fantasy. Wild magic. Intrigue, seduction, and treachery, with a kingdom at stake. Passion Play is the journey of a woman who must master her passions in order to win all that she desires.

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

Thunderer, Felix Gilman’s debut novel, was supposed to be very good and I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a while now. So of course I couldn’t pass up another book by him, especially when it sounded so interesting and is not related to the series by him I haven’t yet read. It will be available in October 2010.

A fantastical reimagining of the American West which draws its influence from steampunk, the American western tradition, and magical realism.

The world is only half made. What exists has been carved out amidst a war between two rival factions: the Line, paving the world with industry and claiming its residents as slaves; and the Gun, a cult of terror and violence that cripples the population with fear. The only hope at stopping them has seemingly disappeared—the Red Republic that once battled the Gun and the Line, and almost won. Now they’re just a myth, a bedtime story parents tell their children, of hope.

To the west lies a vast, uncharted world, inhabited only by the legends of the immortal and powerful Hill People. Liv Alverhyusen, a doctor of the new science of psychology, travels to the edge of the made world to a spiritually protected mental institution in order to study the minds of those broken by the Gun and the Line. In its rooms lies an old general of the Red Republic, a man whose shattered mind just may hold the secret to stopping the Gun and the Line. And either side will do anything to understand how.

Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

This is the second book in the Clockwork Century series, following Boneshaker (which was nominated for both the Nebula and the Hugo Award this year). It is supposed to stand alone, which is good since I haven’t read Boneshaker yet. Dreadnought will be released in October 2010. (The cover is not yet final which is why I didn’t include it.)

Nurse Mercy Lynch is elbows deep in bloody laundry at a war hospital in Richmond, Virginia, when Clara Barton comes bearing bad news: Mercy’s husband has died in a POW camp. On top of that, a telegram from the west coast declares that her estranged father is gravely injured, and he wishes to see her. Mercy sets out toward the Mississippi River. Once there, she’ll catch a train over the Rockies and—if the telegram can be believed—be greeted in Washington Territory by the sheriff, who will take her to see her father in Seattle.

Reaching the Mississippi is a harrowing adventure by dirigible and rail through war-torn border states. When Mercy finally arrives in St. Louis, the only Tacoma-bound train is pulled by a terrifying Union-operated steam engine called the Dreadnought. Reluctantly, Mercy buys a ticket and climbs aboard.

What ought to be a quiet trip turns deadly when the train is beset by bushwhackers, then vigorously attacked by a band of Rebel soldiers. The train is moving away from battle lines into the vast, unincorporated west, so Mercy can’t imagine why they’re so interested. Perhaps the mysterious cargo secreted in the second and last train cars has something to do with it?

Mercy is just a frustrated nurse who wants to see her father before he dies. But she’ll have to survive both Union intrigue and Confederate opposition if she wants to make it off the Dreadnought alive.

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

This was the most memorable signing I attended. The ARC is signed by Scott Westerfield and Alaya Dawn Johnson and it was signed in person by the two editors. This is a short story collection that began with an argument between the two about which is better – zombies or unicorns. Holly Black is the editor for the Team Unicorn stories and Justine Larbalestier is the editor for Team Zombie.

When I approached the table, they asked me “Zombies or unicorns?” and then each told me I must be on her respective team. This was a no-brainer for me as I’m not really a fan of zombies being repulsed by gore and general ickiness, but I was one of those young girls who loved ponies and unicorns. So I said “Unicorns” to which Holly Black exclaimed “Yes!” Justine Larbalestier wasn’t ready to give up yet, though – she asked me, “Really? Are you sure? You are wearing black.” They cracked me up.

Zombies vs. Unicorns features short stories by authors including Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, Margo Lanagan, Scott Westerfield, Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Carrie Ryan and Cassandra Clare. It will be coming to stores on September 21, 2010.

It’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths–for good and evil–of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn

Deanna Raybourn is an author first brought to my attention by Angie from Angieville. She gives great recommendations so Deanna Raybourn has been on my must-read list ever since. (I actually have Silent on the Grave in the to-read pile – it has a fantastic opening.) This novel is currently in stores.

A husband, a family, a comfortable life: Theodora Lestrange lives in terror of it all.

With a modest inheritance and the three gowns that comprise her entire wardrobe, Theodora leaves Edinburgh — and a disappointed suitor — far behind. She is bound for Roumania, where tales of vampires are still whispered, to visit an old friend and write the book that will bring her true independence.

She arrives at a magnificent, decaying castle in the Carpathians replete with eccentric inhabitants: the ailing dowager; the troubled steward; her own fearful friend, Cosmina. But all are outstripped in dark glamour by the castle’s master, Count Andrei Dragulescu.

Bewildering and bewitching in equal measure, the brooding nobleman ignites Theodora’s imagination and awakens passions in her that she can neither deny nor conceal. His allure is superlative, his dominion over the superstitious town, absolute — Theodora may simply be one more person under his sway.

Before her sojourn is ended — or her novel completed — Theodora will have encountered things as strange and terrible as they are seductive. For obsession can prove fatal…and she is in danger of falling prey to more than desire.

The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell

This young adult novel sounds like lots of fun – an aspiring supervillain finds out his father is a superhero and has to go live with him. It’s currently in stores in hardcover.

Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she’s been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father’s too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he’s not a hero in any way, or else he’s stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad’s “flying lessons” that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city–despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights–thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she’s his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

This is a new young adult book available in hardcover by an author I’ve been wanting to read. A sequel called Shift is coming out in May 2011.

Love ties them together. Death can’t tear them apart.

Best. Birthday. Ever. At least, it was supposed to be. With Logan’s band playing a critical gig and Aura’s plans for an intimate after-party, Aura knows it will be the most memorable night of her boyfriend’s life. She never thought it would be his last.

Logan’s sudden death leaves Aura devastated. He’s gone.

Well, sort of.

Like everyone born after the Shift, Aura can see and hear ghosts. This mysterious ability has always been annoying, and Aura had wanted nothing more than to figure out why the Shift happened so she can undo it. But not with Logan’s violet-hued spirit still hanging around. Because dead Logan is almost as real as ever. Almost.

It doesn’t help that Aura’s new friend Zachary is so understanding–and so very alive. His support means more to Aura than she cares to admit.

As Aura’s relationships with the dead and the living grow ever complicated, so do her feelings for Logan and Zachary. Each holds a piece of Aura’s heart…and clues to the secret of the Shift.

Mistwood by Leah Cypess

This is another new young adult book available in hardcover. I’ve been hearing some good things about it so decided to pick it up, particularly since Angie’s review mentions it will appeal to fans of Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner. And of course I loved Fire by Cashore and The Queen of Attolia by Turner.

Everyone tells Isabel that she is the Shifter – the ancient shape-shifting creature who has protected the kings of Samorna for centuries. They need her to be the Shifter. Prince Rokan risked everything when he rode into the Mistwood to summon her to his side; Ven, the magician’s apprentice, has devoted his life to studying her legend; and even Princess Clarisse, who fears and hates her, depends on Isabel’s powers to further her own plans. But Isabel doesn’t feel like the Shifter. She feels like a lonely human girl, beset by flashes of memory that do more to confuse than to help her. If she is the Shifter, why can’t she change her shape? Why doesn’t she remember what made her flee the castle so many years ago? As she is drawn deeper into a web of magic and assassination, Isabel will have no choice but to look for answers. But her search will lead her to the one question the Shifter hasn’t faced in a thousand years: where does she come from, and what does she really want?

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

This young adult book actually isn’t coming out until February 2011. The premise sounds very interesting.

Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that one love -the deliria- blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the governments demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy.

But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

When signing Delirium, Lauren Oliver also signed her other young adult book that is already out.

What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all—looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it’s her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she had ever imagined.

Hard Magic by Laura Anne Gilman

This is the first book in the Paranormal Scene Investigations series. I’ve been hearing great things about Laura Anne Gilman’s Nebula-nominated fantasy book, Flesh and Fire, so had to check this one out. Pack of Lies, the sequel to Hard Magic, will be out in February 2011.

Welcome to P.U.P.I.—Private, Unaffiliated, Paranormal Investigations

A handpicked team trained to solve crimes the regular police can’t touch—crimes of magic.

My name’s Bonnie Torres. Recent college grad, magic user and severely unemployed. Until I got a call out of nowhere to interview for a job I hadn’t applied for. It smelled fishy, but the brutal truth was I needed the work—so off I went.

Two days later I’m a PUPI—me and Nick, Sharon, Nifty and Pietr. Five twentysomethings, thrown into an entirely new career in forensic magic.

The first job we get is a doozy: proving that the deaths of two Talents were murder, not suicide. Worse, there are high-profile people who want us to close up shop and go away. We’re sniffing out things they’d rather keep buried.

Looks as if this job is gonna get interesting. The only problem is, we’re making it up as we go along….

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story by Adam Rex

This is another young adult novel (there seem to be more of those than adult speculative fiction – I’m going to have to tally up my books and see). It’s supposed to be humorous and will be coming out in July 2010.

Doug Lee is undead quite by accident—attacked by a desperate vampire, he finds himself cursed with being fat and fifteen forever. When he has no luck finding some goth chick with a vampire fetish, he resorts to sucking the blood of cows under cover of the night. But it’s just not the same.

Then he meets the new Indian exchange student and falls for her—hard. Yeah, he wants to bite her, but he also wants to prove himself to her. But like the laws of life, love, and high school, the laws of vampire existence are complicated—it’s not as easy as studying Dracula. Especially when the star of Vampire Hunters is hot on your trail in an attempt to boost ratings.…

Leave it to Adam Rex to create a thought-provoking novel that takes on teen angst, sexuality, identity, love, and undeath in ways that break it out of the genre.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

This is a young adult novel that is out in hardcover. I might end up giving this one away if it doesn’t grab me. YA dystopia = cool. Zombies, eh, not as much.

They’ll chase you. They’ll rip you open. They’ll feed on you …When the sickness came, every parent, police officer, politician – every adult – fell ill. The lucky ones died. The others are crazed, confused and hungry. Only children under fourteen remain, and they’re fighting to survive. Now there are rumours of a safe place to hide. And so a gang of children begin their quest across London, where all through the city – down alleyways, in deserted houses, underground – the grown-ups lie in wait. But can they make it there – alive?