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 was another good week for books. I bought one and one ARC (early unfinished copy) and three review copies showed up.

As far as reviews go, I wasn’t actually home enough last week enough to finish one. I’m working on one of After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress, and I hope to write one of Banner of the Damned by Sherwood Smith after that. Both of these were books I enjoyed a lot!

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

I bought a copy of this young adult fantasy book because I have heard nothing but great things about it. Oh, and because it has dragons and sounds excellent!

Here are the reviews that made me want to read Seraphina in case you missed them:

Seraphina was released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook earlier this month. According to the author’s website, she is working on a sequel. There is an excerpt available on the EW website (scroll down to see it), and a free short prequel titled “The Auditon” can be read online.

Residents of the US can enter to win one of ten copies of Seraphina being given away on Goodreads.

Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

In her exquisitely written fantasy debut, Rachel Hartman creates a rich, complex, and utterly original world. Seraphina’s tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher

Darkwater is a young adult fantasy book that will be available in hardcover and ebook sometime this fall. My ARC says it is available in November, but I think it’s wrong. Darkwater is listed as for sale on both Barnes & Noble and Amazon starting on September 27th, which is also the date listed on the publisher’s website. I’d better update my list since this was one that looked interesting enough that I wanted to try to read and review around release date!

Catherine Fisher is a New York Times bestselling author and the first Young People’s Laureate for Wales. I’ve heard a lot of praise for her books Incarceron and Sapphique so I’m excited to read this book, which appears to be a stand alone.

What would you sell your soul for?

Sixteen-year-old Sarah Trevelyan would give anything to regain the power and wealth her family has lost, so she makes a bargain with Azrael, Lord of Darkwater Hall. He gives her one hundred years and the means to accomplish her objective–in exchange for her soul. Fast-forward a hundred years to Tom, a fifteen-year-old boy who dreams of attending Darkwater Hall School but doesn’t believe he has the talent. Until he meets a professor named Azrael, who offers him a bargain. Will Sarah be able to stop Tom from making the same mistake she did a century ago?

This is smart fantasy mixed with elements of horror from master storyteller Catherine Fisher. She says, “Darkwater Hall is an image of the power and knowledge we all desire. But what will we pay for them, and are they worth the price?”

Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Midnight Riot (Peter Grant #1) by Ben Aaronovitch

This is the first book in a series I mentioned a couple of weeks ago when the soon-to-be-released third book, Whispers Under Ground, arrived in the mail. Random House sent me the first two books since I hadn’t read them. I think this series sounds really good, and it looks like a lot of my Goodreads friends enjoyed it.

Midnight Riot is known as Rivers of London in the UK where it is available in hardcover, paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. It is available in mass market paperback and ebook in the US. An excerpt from Midnight Riot can be read on Scribd.

Probationary Constable Peter Grant dreams of being a detective in London’s Metropolitan Police. Too bad his superior plans to assign him to the Case Progression Unit, where the biggest threat he’ll face is a paper cut. But Peter’s prospects change in the aftermath of a puzzling murder, when he gains exclusive information from an eyewitness who happens to be a ghost. Peter’s ability to speak with the lingering dead brings him to the attention of Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, who investigates crimes involving magic and other manifestations of the uncanny. Now, as a wave of brutal and bizarre murders engulfs the city, Peter is plunged into a world where gods and goddesses mingle with mortals and a long-dead evil is making a comeback on a rising tide of magic.

Moon Over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

Moon Over Soho (Peter Grant #2) by Ben Aaronovitch

This is the second book in the Peter Grant urban fantasy series by former Doctor Who writer Ben Aaronovitch. It’s available in mass market paperback and ebook in the US, and the next book in the series (Whispers Under Ground) will be released next week. An excerpt from Moon Over Soho is available on the publisher’s website.

The song. That’s what London constable and sorcerer’s apprentice Peter Grant first notices when he examines the corpse of Cyrus Wilkins, part-time jazz drummer and full-time accountant, who dropped dead of a heart attack while playing a gig at Soho’s 606 Club. The notes of the old jazz standard are rising from the body—a sure sign that something about the man’s death was not at all natural but instead supernatural.

Body and soul—they’re also what Peter will risk as he investigates a pattern of similar deaths in and around Soho. With the help of his superior officer, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, the last registered wizard in England, and the assistance of beautiful jazz aficionado Simone Fitzwilliam, Peter will uncover a deadly magical menace—one that leads right to his own doorstep and to the squandered promise of a young jazz musician: a talented trumpet player named Richard “Lord” Grant—otherwise known as Peter’s dear old dad.

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Dearly, Departed (Gone with the Respiration #1) by Lia Habel

This young adult novel will be released in trade paperback next month, and it is currently available in trade paperback, ebook, and audiobook. An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.

A sequel titled Dearly, Beloved will be released in hardcover and ebook in September.

This is apparently futuristic zombie romance set in an a nation trying to emulate the Victorian era. I’m not so sure about this zombie romance trend myself, but then I’ve never been a zombie fan. I do kind of like the idea of New Victoria, though.

Love can never die.

Love conquers all, so they say. But can Cupid’s arrow pierce the hearts of the living and the dead—or rather, the undead? Can a proper young Victorian lady find true love in the arms of a dashing zombie?

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. A teenager in high society, Nora Dearly is far more interested in military history and her country’s political unrest than in tea parties and debutante balls. But after her beloved parents die, Nora is left at the mercy of her domineering aunt, a social-climbing spendthrift who has squandered the family fortune and now plans to marry her niece off for money. For Nora, no fate could be more horrible—until she’s nearly kidnapped by an army of walking corpses.

But fate is just getting started with Nora. Catapulted from her world of drawing-room civility, she’s suddenly gunning down ravenous zombies alongside mysterious black-clad commandos and confronting “The Laz,” a fatal virus that raises the dead—and hell along with them. Hardly ideal circumstances. Then Nora meets Bram Griswold, a young soldier who is brave, handsome, noble . . . and dead. But as is the case with the rest of his special undead unit, luck and modern science have enabled Bram to hold on to his mind, his manners, and his body parts. And when his bond of trust with Nora turns to tenderness, there’s no turning back. Eventually, they know, the disease will win, separating the star-crossed lovers forever. But until then, beating or not, their hearts will have what they desire.

In Dearly, Departed, romance meets walking-dead thriller, spawning a madly imaginative novel of rip-roaring adventure, spine-tingling suspense, and macabre comedy that forever redefines the concept of undying love.