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. 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 week I’m catching up since I missed a couple of these due to BEA. There are two books I bought at my local bookstore, two ARCs, and one review copy here. Only one of these books is actually one that came in over the last week, but next week should be back on schedule. (And now that I’m caught up on BEA posts, I’m hoping to write about some of the books I’ve read piling up next to me.)

The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson, and Kate Elliott

The Golden Key by Kate Elliott, Melanie Rawn, and Jennifer Roberson

The Golden Key was a World Fantasy Award finalist in 1996, and after reading the Spirit Walker books I now want to read every book with Kate Elliott’s name on it. A large part of the reason I picked this up now was because it had been on my out of print book wish list, but it appears that this was a recent reprint to go with the recent release of The Diviner, a prequel written by Melanie Rawn. (According to my copy of this book, it’s a sequel, but Rawn’s site and reviews both indicate The Diviner is a prequel so I’m going with that.)

The Golden Key is available in mass market paperback and some ebook formats (I found an ePub version but not a Kindle one).

It sounds like it was a lot of fun for the authors to write, and I’m particularly intrigued by this description on what appears to be Kate Elliott’s old website:


We decided early on the focus would be on painting, and on a particularly gifted artist’s peculiar journey from apprentice to master to . . . sociopath.

Goodreads has a link to Google Preview below the book cover that allows you to read some of the book from the beginning.

In Tira Virte, art is prized for its beauty and as a binding legal record of everything from marriages to treaties. Yet not even the Grand Duke knows how extraordinary the Grijalva family’s art is, for certain Grijalva males are born with the ability to alter events and influence people in the real world through that they paint. Always, their power has been used for Tira Virte. But now Sario Grijalva has learned to use his Gift in a whole new way. And when he begins to work his magic both the Grijalvas and Tira Virte may pay the price.

Ariel by Steven R. Boyett

Ariel (Change #1) by Steven R. Boyett

I came across Ariel when browsing the bookstore and couldn’t resist getting it after reading about it in N. K. Jemisin’s contribution to the Women in SF&F event. Unfortunately, the more recent edition no longer has a cover that defies gender expectations but has a sort of typical cover depicting a boy with a sword and a burning city in the background. No unicorn is in sight even though her name is the title of the book. There is an author’s note and an afterword in this new edition.

Even though Ariel was released almost 30 years ago, a sequel titled Elegy Beach was released just 3 years ago. Ariel is available in mass market paperback, ebook, and audiobook. You can both read samples online and listen to samples online.

It’s been five years since the lights went out, cars stopped in the streets, and magical creatures began roaming Earth.

Pete Garey survived the Change, trusting no one but himself until the day he met Ariel, a unicorn who brought new meaning and adventure to his life.

America Pacifica by Anna North

America Pacifica by Anna North

This is the paperback release of a debut dystopian/post-apocalyptic novel from last year. I somehow missed this book until it showed up in my mailbox (probably because I don’t read a lot of these types of novels). After adding to Goodreads I saw some of my friends on that site really liked it and I started to get curious about it. Here are a couple of reviews:

I was also intrigued by this article about it, “Feminism and Science Fiction Meet in Anna North’s America Pacifica.”

America Pacifica is available in hardcover, trade paperback, and ebook. An excerpt from chapter two can be read on

Eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica–one of the last places on earth that is still habitable, after North America has succumbed to a second ice age. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive. The rich live in “Manhattanville” mansions made from the last pieces of wood and stone, while the poor cower in the shantytown slums of “Hell City” and “Little Los Angeles,” places built out of heaped up trash that is slowly crumbling into the sea. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson, whose regime is plagued by charges of corruption and conspiracy.

But to Darcy, America Pacifica is simply home–the only one she’s ever known. In spite of their poverty she lives contentedly with her mother, who works as a pearl diver. It’s only when her mother doesn’t come home one night that Darcy begins to learn about her past as a former “Mainlander,” and her mother’s role in the flight from frozen California to America Pacifica. Darcy embarks on a quest to find her mother, navigating the dark underbelly of the island, learning along the way the disturbing truth of Pacifica’s early history, the far-reaching influence of its egomaniacal leader, and the possible plot to murder some of the island’s first inhabitants–including her mother.

Rift by Andrea Cremer

Rift by Andrea Cremer

This prequel to the Nightshade trilogy will be released in August in hardcover and ebook formats. I haven’t read the Nightshade trilogy so I don’t know much about it other than that it and the prequel are young adult. More information about both Rift and the Nightshade series, including some excerpts, can be found on

Chronicling the rise of the Keepers, this is the stunning prequel to Andrea Cremer’s internationally bestselling Nightshade trilogy!

Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother’s life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.

With action, adventure, magic, and tantalizing sensuality, this book is as fast-paced and breathtaking as the Nightshade novels.

Black Bottle by Anthony Huso

Black Bottle by Anthony Huso

This sequel to The Last Page will be released in hardcover and ebook in August. A lot of people loved The Last Page, but I couldn’t even finish it.

An excerpt from Black Bottle is available on

Tabloids sold in the Duchy of Stonehold claim that the High King, Caliph Howl, has been raised from the dead. His consort, Sena Iilool, both blamed and celebrated for this act, finds that a macabre cult has sprung up around her.

As this news spreads, Stonehold—long considered unimportant—comes to the attention of the emperors in the southern countries. They have learned that the seed of Sena’s immense power lies in an occult book, and they are eager to claim it for their own.

Desparate to protect his people from the southern threat, Caliph is drawn into a summit of the world’s leaders despite the knowledge that it is a trap. As Sena’s bizarre actions threaten to unravel the summit, Caliph watches her slip through his fingers into madness.

But is it really madness? Sena is playing a dangerous game of strategy and deceit as she attempts to outwit a force that has spent millennia preparing for this day. Caliph is the only connection left to her former life, but it’s his blood that Sena needs to see her plans through to their explosive finish.

Dark and rich, epic in scope, Anthony Huso has crafted a fantasy like no other, teeming with unthinkable horrors and stylish wonders.