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.

First a quick review update: I’m still working on a review of Zenn Scarlett, and I’m going to revise the review draft as soon as this post goes up so hopefully it will be done soon and ready to go up next week! It’s been a crazy, exhausting work week so I didn’t get as much done on it as I’d hoped. After that, I’ll probably start working on reviewing either The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord or Shattered Pillars by Elizabeth Bear (both were books I enjoyed very much).

This week two books showed up in the mail.

The Best of Connie Willis

The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories by Connie Willis

This contains ten short stories, novelettes, and novellas written by Connie Willis that have won the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, or both awards. It also has an introduction by Connie Willis, an afterword for each story, and three of the author’s speeches: her 2006 Worldcon Guest of Honor Speech, her Grand Master Acceptance Speech, and her Grand Master Backup Speech. The Best of Connie Willis will be available in hardcover and ebook on July 9. An excerpt from the story “A Letter from the Clearys” can be read on the publisher’s website.

Confession: I have never read anything by Connie Willis, despite the fact that she’s such a well-known, lauded science fiction author. This is an omission from my reading list I need to remedy at some point!


Few authors have had careers as successful as that of Connie Willis. Inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and recently awarded the title of Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Willis is still going strong. Her smart, heartfelt fiction runs the gamut from screwball comedy to profound tragedy, combining dazzling plot twists, cutting-edge science, and unforgettable characters.

From a near future mourning the extinction of dogs to an alternate history in which invading aliens were defeated by none other than Emily Dickinson; from a madcap convention of bumbling quantum physicists in Hollywood to a London whose Underground has become a storehouse of intangible memories both foul and fair—here are the greatest stories of one of the greatest writers working in any genre today.

All ten of the stories gathered here are Hugo or Nebula award winners—some even have the distinction of winning both. With a new Introduction by the author and personal afterwords to each story—plus a special look at three of Willis’s unique public speeches—this is unquestionably the collection of the season, a book that every Connie Willis fan will treasure, and, to those unfamiliar with her work, the perfect introduction to one of the most accomplished and best-loved writers of our time.

Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning

Star Wars: Crucible by Troy Denning

Star Wars: Crucible will be released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook on July 9. An excerpt is available on the publisher’s website.


Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, and Luke Skywalker return in an all-new Star Wars adventure, which will challenge them in ways they never expected—and forever alter their understanding of life and the Force.

When Han and Leia Solo arrive at Lando Calrissian’s Outer Rim mining operation to help him thwart a hostile takeover, their aim is just to even up the odds and lay down the law. Then monstrous aliens arrive with a message, and mere threats escalate into violent sabotage with mass fatalities. When the dust settles, what began as corporate warfare becomes a battle with much higher stakes—and far deadlier consequences.

Now Han, Leia, and Luke team up once again in a quest to defeat a dangerous adversary bent on galaxy-wide domination. Only this time, the Empire is not the enemy. It is a pair of ruthless geniuses with a lethal ally and a lifelong vendetta against Han Solo. They will stop at nothing to control the lucrative Outer Rim mining trade—and ultimately the entire galactic economy. And when the murderous duo gets the drop on Han, he finds himself outgunned in the fight of his life. To save him, and the galaxy, Luke and Leia must brave a gauntlet of treachery, terrorism, and the untold power of an enigmatic artifact capable of bending space, time, and even the Force itself into an apocalyptic nightmare.