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, I bought 2 books from my wishlist (or, rather, convinced my husband to buy them when he told me he was ordering something online that required spending more money to order) and received 3 more books in the mail.

It’s been a busy week so I didn’t quite finish the book review I was working on last week. However, I hope to finish it soon and put it up this week!

Now, for this week’s books!

Obsidian & Blood by Aliette de Bodard

Obsidian & Blood: The Collected Acatl Novels by Aliette de Bodard

When I read this year’s Hugo nominated novellas, novelettes, and short stories, I read Aliette de Bodard’s writing for the first time and loved it. I’ve been interested in reading the first book in her Obsidian and Blood trilogy for awhile, and reading her short story “Immersion” and novella On a Red Station, Drifting convinced me to buy the omnibus edition containing her entire fantasy trilogy:

  1. Servant of the Underworld (Read an Excerpt)
  2. Harbinger of the Storm
  3. Master of the House of Darts

It’s available in ebook and gargantuan trade paperback (about 1,000 pages long).


A massive fantasy omnibus containing all three novels in the Obsidian and Blood series:

Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan – the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, high priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.

The year is Two House and the Mexica Empire teeters on the brink of destruction, lying vulnerable to the flesh-eating star-demons – and to the return of their creator, a malevolent goddess only held in check by the Protector God’s power. The council is convening to choose a new emperor, but when a councilman is found dead, only Acatl, High Priest of the Dead, can solve the mystery.

The year is Three Rabbit, and the storm is coming…
The coronation war for the new Emperor has just ended in a failure, the armies retreating with a mere forty prisoners of war – not near enough sacrifices to ensure the favor of the gods. When one of those prisoners of war dies of a magical illness, ACATL, High Priest for the Dead, is summoned to investigate.

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton

The Secret History: A Novel of Empress Theodora by Stephanie Thornton

This is actually historical fiction, not speculative fiction, but I’ve been interested in reading more historical fiction lately and I’ve heard this debut novel about Empress Theodora is wonderful. It came out earlier this year and is available in trade paperback and ebook, and the first few pages from The Secret History can be read online.

(As an aside, what are some of your favorite historical fiction books?)


Where Theodora went, trouble followed…

In sixth century Constantinople, one woman, Theodora, defied every convention and all the odds, and rose from being a common theater tart to become empress of a great kingdom, the most powerful woman the Roman Empire would ever know. But the woman whose image was later immortalized in glittering mosaic was, in fact, a scrappy, clever, conniving, flesh-and-blood woman full of sensuality and spirit whose real story is as surprising as any ever told…

When her father dies suddenly, Theodora and her sisters face starvation on the streets. Determined to survive, Theodora makes a living any way she can—first on her back with every man who will have her, then on the stage of the city’s infamous amphitheater in a scandalous dramatization of her own invention. When her daring performance grants her a back-door entry into the halls of power, she seizes the chance to win a wealthy protector—only to face heartbreak and betrayal.

Ever resilient, Theodora rises above such trials and by a twist of fate, meets her most passionate admirer yet: the Emperor’s nephew. She will thrive as his confidant and courtesan, but many challenges lie ahead. For one day, this man will hand her a crown. And all the empire will wonder—is she bold enough, shrewd enough, and strong enough to keep it?

The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke

The Cusanus Game by Wolfgang Jeschke

This award-winning science fiction novel by German science fiction writer and editor Wolfgang Jeschke will be available in English for the first time on October 15 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from The Cusanus Game can be read at


Biologist Domenica Ligrina fears her planet is dying. She might be right.

An atomic disaster in Germany has contaminated Northern Europe with radioactivity. Economic and political calamities are destroying the whole planet. Human DNA is mutating, plant species are going extinct, and scientists are feverishly working on possible solutions. It becomes increasingly apparent that the key to future salvation lies in the past. In 2052 a secret research facility in the Vatican is recruiting scientists for a mission to restore the flora of the irradiated territories. The institute claims to have time travel. When Domenica’s sometime-lover tells her that he knows her future but that she must decide her own fate, she enlists despite his ambiguous warning.

The Middle Ages hold Domenica spellbound. She immerses herself in the mysteries, puzzles, and peculiarities of a culture foreign to her, though she risks changing the past with effects far more disastrous than radiation poisoning. Perhaps there is more than one Domenica, and more than one catastrophe.

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

Man Made Boy by Jon Skovron

This young adult novel was just released on October 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). A brief excerpt from Man Made Boy is available on the publisher’s website.


Love can be a real monster.

Sixteen-year-old Boy’s never left home. When you’re the son of Frankenstein’s monster and the Bride, it’s tough to go out in public, unless you want to draw the attention of a torch-wielding mob. And since Boy and his family live in a secret enclave of monsters hidden under Times Square, it’s important they maintain a low profile.

Boy’s only interactions with the world are through the Internet, where he’s a hacker extraordinaire who can hide his hulking body and stitched-together face behind a layer of code. When conflict erupts at home, Boy runs away and embarks on a cross-country road trip with the granddaughters of Jekyll and Hyde, who introduce him to malls and diners, love and heartbreak. But no matter how far Boy runs, he can’t escape his demons—both literal and figurative—until he faces his family once more.

This hilarious, romantic, and wildly imaginative tale redefines what it means to be a monster—and a man.

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising (Red Rising #1) by Pierce Brown

Red Rising, the first book in a trilogy, will be available for purchase on January 28, 2014 (hardcover, ebook). More information, including an excerpt, can be found on the Red Rising website.


Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.