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.

This week brought two ebooks received from contributing to the Kickstarter for one of them and two review copies. I did already discuss Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian, the book from the Kickstarter I backed, in one of these posts. Its official release date is tomorrow. I’m excited to read it, but I’m also going to wait until I’m a bit closer to caught up on my backlog of books to review to read it.

On the subject of reviews, I’m still working on one of The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord. I read the book around its release date earlier this year so I ended up rereading last week instead of writing much about it, but now I’m ready to write more so I am hoping to have that up next week.

On to the books!

The Duke in His Castle by Vera Nazarian

The Duke in His Castle by Vera Nazarian

In addition to Cobweb Bride, I got to select a second ebook as part of my Kickstarter reward and this is the one I picked. The Duke in His Castle, a nominee for the Nebula Award for Best Novella in 2008, is currently available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook.


THE DUKE IN HIS CASTLE by Nebula Award-nominated author and award-winning artist Vera Nazarian is a dark, lush, erotic fantasy novella in the vein of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast, with interior illustrations by the author. Rossian, the young Duke of Violet, wastes away in mad solitude, unable to leave the confines of his decadent castle grounds because of a mysterious invisible barrier…until a strange female intruder arrives at the castle bearing a box of bones.

The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough

The Darwin Elevator (The Dire Earth Cycle #1) by Jason M. Hough

This science fiction novel by a debut author will be released in ebook and mass market paperback on July 30 in the US and July 26 in the UK. The next two books will be released in quick succession with The Exodus Towers in August and The Plague Force in September. Chapter One from The Darwin Elevator can be read on the author’s website.


Jason M. Hough’s pulse-pounding debut combines the drama, swagger, and vivid characters of Joss Whedon’s Firefly with the talent of sci-fi author John Scalzi.

In the mid-23rd century, Darwin, Australia, stands as the last human city on Earth. The world has succumbed to an alien plague, with most of the population transformed into mindless, savage creatures. The planet’s refugees flock to Darwin, where a space elevator—created by the architects of this apocalypse, the Builders—emits a plague-suppressing aura.

Skyler Luiken has a rare immunity to the plague. Backed by an international crew of fellow “immunes,” he leads missions into the dangerous wasteland beyond the aura’s edge to find the resources Darwin needs to stave off collapse. But when the Elevator starts to malfunction, Skyler is tapped—along with the brilliant scientist, Dr. Tania Sharma—to solve the mystery of the failing alien technology and save the ragged remnants of humanity.

Undead and Unsure by Mary Janice Davidson

Undead and Unsure (Undead #12) by Mary Janice Davidson

Undead and Unsure will be released in hardcover and ebook on August 6. The previous books in this New York Times bestselling series are as follows:

  1. Undead and Unwed (Read Chapter One)
  2. Undead and Unemployed
  3. Undead and Unappreciated
  4. Undead and Unreturnable
  5. Undead and Unpopular
  6. Undead and Uneasy
  7. Undead and Unworthy
  8. Undead and Unwelcome
  9. Undead and Unfinished
  10. Undead and Undermined
  11. Undead and Unstable

It’s no surprise to Betsy that her trip to Hell with her sister Laura landed them in hot water. Betsy isn’t exactly sorry she killed the Devil but it’s put Laura in a damnable position: assuming the role of Satan (she may not have the training but she looks great in red)—and in charge of billions of souls as she moves up in the world. Or is that down?

But Betsy herself is in an odd new position as well—that of being a responsible monarch suddenly in charge of all things more earth-bound: like her vampire husband Sinclair who has gone from relieved to ecstatic to downright reckless now that he can tolerate sunlight. And if Sinclair isn’t enough to contend with, Betsy’s best friend Jessica is in her sixth (and hopefully last) trimester. Considering she’s been pregnant for eighteen months, she’s become a veritable encyclopedia of what not to expect when you’re expecting. Oh, the horror…

And speaking of growing pains, Betsy and Sinclair’s adopted little BabyJon is finally starting to walk. And if the increasingly unpredictable toddler is anything like his extended family, precisely where he’s headed is anyone’s guess.