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. 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.

Hope everyone who celebrates it had a Happy Thanksgiving! Due to the holiday week, I didn’t have much time to do blogging during the last week in the evenings after work, but I’m hoping to start getting caught up this week. I’m currently working on a review of The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks (which I enjoyed even if it’s not my favorite Culture book I’ve read), and I also need to review Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone. For reading, I just started The Siren Depths, the third Raksura book by Martha Wells, and am loving it (no surprise there since I loved the first two).

This was a great week for books since I bought a few, including a couple that I’ve been eager to read for awhile that were just released. There were also a couple of ARCs and a review copy that showed up that were quite a pleasant surprise – all of them are books I REALLY want to read! The only problem is that I want to read all of these right now (or the first book in the series in one case).

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord

This science fiction novel is the second novel by Karen Lord, whose debut novel Redemption in Indigo was very well received. It was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, and it won the Frank Collymore Literary Award, the William L. Crawford Award, and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. Karen Lord was also nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

The Best of All Possible Worlds will be released in hardcover and ebook in February 2013, and there will be a second book published in 2014.

I’m very excited about reading this one. Not only is the author supposed to be fantastic, but the book itself sounds very intriguing:

A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever.

Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all.

Bard's Oath by Joanne Bertin

Bard’s Oath (Dragonlord #3) by Joanne Bertin

(The above image is not the final version of the hardcover, which doesn’t seem to be available online yet.)

Bard’s Oath will be released in hardcover and ebook on November 27. This is the conclusion to the series, following The Last Dragonlord and Dragon and Phoenix, respectively. The second of these books was released over 10 years ago and the print versions of these books seem to be out of print, though they are available as ebooks.

There is an excerpt from Bard’s Oath on the publisher’s website.

The first two books in this series were actually among the first fantasy books I read when I started reading fantasy and science fiction. I enjoyed them a lot and used to search frequently for news about Bard’s Oath and its release date. After no news for a long time, I’d forgotten about it, but I am thrilled that it’s available this year! I’m also pleased that there are a few pages in the front of the book about the story so far since it has been so long since I read them that I don’t remember much about them (and I borrowed them so I don’t even have copies to refer to).

In The Last Dragonlord and Dragon and Phoenix Joanne Bertin created a world unlike our own, where Dragonlords soar in the skies above the many realms of the land. The Dragonlords’ magic is unique, giving them the ability to change from dragon to human form; to communicate silently among themselves; and other abilities not known to mortals.

For many millennia, the Dragonlords have been a blessing to the world, with their great magic and awesome power. And though they live far longer than the humans who they resemble when not in their draconic state, these fabled changelings are still loyal to their human friends. Now in Bard’s Oath, their magic is not the only power abroad in the world. And not all the magic is as benign as theirs.

Leet, a master bard of great ability and vaulting ambition, has his own magic, but of a much darker nature. Years ago, death claimed the woman he loved, setting him on a course to avenge her death, no matter the consequences. Now, mad with hatred and consumed by his thirst for revenge, Leet has set in motion a nefarious plot that ensnares the friend of a Dragonlord, using his bardic skills . . . and dark powers only he can summon, to accomplish his bitter task.

Raven, a young horse-breeder friend of the Dragonloard Linden Rathan, is ensnared by Leet and under the bard’s spell, is one of the bard’s unwitting catspaws. When accused of a heinous crime, Raven turns to Linden, and while Dragonlords normally do not meddle in human affairs, Linden comes to Raven’s aid, loath to abandon him in his time of desperate need.

But Raven, and others victimized by Leet, are at the mercy of human justice. Can even a Dragonlord save them from a dire fate before it is too late?

Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri

Blood’s Pride (Shattered Kingdoms #1) by Evie Manieri

This fantasy debut novel will be released in hardcover in February 2013 in the US. This title, the first book in a trilogy, was released in the UK earlier this year.

There is an excerpt from Blood’s Pride available on the author’s website.

Rising from their sea-torn ships like vengeful, pale phantoms, the Norlanders laid waste to the Shadar under cover of darkness. They forced the once-peaceful fisher folk into slavery and forged an alliance with their former trading partners, the desert-dwelling Nomas tribe, cutting off any hope of salvation.

Now, two decades after the invasion, a rebellion gathers strength in the dark corridors of the city. A small faction of Shadari have hired the Mongrel, an infamous mercenary, to aid their fledgling uprising—but with her own shadowy ties to the region, she is a frighteningly volatile ally. Has she really come to lead a revolution, or for a more sinister purpose all her own?

This thrilling new epic fantasy is set in a quasi-Medieval Mediterranean region, drawing together the warrior culture of Vikings, the wanderlust of desert nomads, and the oracles of ancient Greece. Blood’s Pride is an intricate, lush book full of taut action, gut-wrenching betrayal, and soaring romance.

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

This slim YA book is now out of print, but I heard it was a good one and snatched up a new copy I found online for only $5. Ever since reading Patricia McKillip’s short story collection, Wonders of the Invisible World, I’ve been frantically adding her books to my wish list. I must read them all!

There was a review of The Changeling Sea at The Book Smugglers this week if you want to learn more about it – plus they are giving away a copy of this along with The Lost Conspiracy/Gullstruck Island by Frances Hardinge and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson as part of The Ultimate Thanksgiving Giveaway! It’s also possible to read an excerpt from The Changeling Sea using the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon.

Since the day her father’s fishing boat returned without him, Peri and her mother have mourned his loss. Her mother sinks into a deep depression and spends her days gazing out at the sea. Unable to control her anger and sadness any longer, Peri uses the small magic she knows to hex the sea. And suddenly into her drab life come the King’s sons-changelings with strange ties to the underwater kingdom-a young magician, and, finally, love.

The Daemon Prism by Carol Berg

The Daemon Prism (Collegia Magica #3) by Carol Berg

Since Carol Berg is one of my favorite authors I’m a bit ashamed to say I haven’t even read the first book in this most recent trilogy by her. I’m a bit of a stickler about having all the books in a series in a matching format so I made sure to get the trade paperback of this to go with the other two. And I had no qualms about getting the last book before even starting the first since I have yet to read a book by Carol Berg that I didn’t enjoy! (The Rai-kirah trilogy is my favorite, though, and I recommend Transformation, the first book in that trilogy, as a good place to start with her books.)

There is an excerpt from The Daemon Prism online, BUT it does contain spoilers for the first two books. The first two books in this trilogy are:

  1. The Spirit Lens (Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Soul Mirror (Read an Excerpt)

All the books in the series are available in trade paperback, ebook, and Audible audiobook formats. The first two are also available in mass market paperback with the third to follow suit on December 31, 2012.

“Thou’rt Fallen, Dante. Born in frost-cold blood; suckled on pain. Thy repentance was ever a lie…”

Dante the necromancer is the most reviled man in Sabria, indicted by the King, the Temple, and the Camarilla Magica for crimes against the living and the dead. Yet no judgment could be worse than his enemies’ cruel vengeance that left him crippled in body and mind. Dante seeks to salve pain and bitterness with a magical puzzle – a desperate soldier’s dream of an imprisoned enchantress and a faceted glass that can fill one’s uttermost desires.

But the dream is a seductive trap that ensnares Dante’s one-time partners and unlocks his own deepest fears. Haunted, blind, driven to the verges of the world, Dante risks eternal corruption and the loss of everything he values to unravel a mystery of ancient magic, sacred legend, and divine truth…

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2) by Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor is one of my favorite authors and I LOVED Daughter of Smoke and Bone so of course I had to get a hold of the sequel once it became available. Days of Blood & Starlight is now available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats. The first seven chapters can be read online, but I wouldn’t recommend reading them if you haven’t read the first book! If you haven’t read the first book but are interested in the series, here is an excerpt from Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

The description below does contain spoilers for book one.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.

In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.

While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.

But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

The Siren Depths by Martha Wells

The Siren Depths (Books of the Raksura #3) by Martha Wells

The trade paperback version of this is shipping now, but the ebook won’t be available until the official release in December. There is an excerpt from The Siren Depths available on the author’s website and a chance to win a copy on Goodreads (for those living in US, CA, GB, AU, or NZ).

The first two books in this series are as follows:

  1. The Cloud Roads (My Review | Read an Excerpt)
  2. The Serpent Sea (My Review | Read an Excerpt)

The Kindle version of The Cloud Roads is only $1.99 right now.

I loved the first two books in this series so I purchased a copy of this immediately and started it soon after it arrived. I was glad to see there will be four Raksura novellas released as ebooks after this book. Right now I’m nearly halfway through The Siren Depths, and it makes me happy to know it won’t be the end of the time spent in this world with these characters (at least the first two novellas will be about the same characters).

All his life, Moon roamed the Three Worlds, a solitary wanderer forced to hide his true nature — until he was reunited with his own kind, the Raksura, and found a new life as consort to Jade, sister queen of the Indigo Cloud court. But now a rival court has laid claim to him, and Jade may or may not be willing to fight for him. Beset by doubts, Moon must travel in the company of strangers to a distant realm where he will finally face the forgotten secrets of his past, even as an old enemy returns with a vengeance. The Fell, a vicious race of shape-shifting predators, menaces groundlings and Raksura alike. Determined to crossbreed with the Raksura for arcane purposes, they are driven by an ancient voice that cries out from . . . .The siren depths.