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 is the third part covering books received as gifts during the holidays, and next’s week will be the last one since there are just a few signed books left. Three finished copies also showed up in the mail, and two of those are at the end. The other book was already discussed in one of these posts, and I was actually already reading the ARC when the finished copy showed up. I’m planning to review it closer to the release date, but in the meantime, here’s the previous post containing more information:

For reviews, I’m almost finished with a review of Generation V by M.L. Brennan so that should be up soon. Preview: I liked it A LOT.

On to the books!

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

I saw this book on quite a few lists of favorite books of 2012, and it sounds excellent (of course, I am easily intrigued by books about gods and goddesses, especially if it includes a trickster!). An excerpt from chapter one of Vessel is available on the author’s website.


Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. She will dance and summon her tribe’s deity, who will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But when the dance ends, Liyana is still there. Her tribe is furious–and sure that it is Liyana’s fault. Abandoned by her tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. The desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice–she must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate–or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer

I’ve heard great things about Cinder and its sequel Scarlet. It will be a four book series: Cress will be released next month and Winter in 2015.

An excerpt from Cinder is available on the author’s website.


Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

Tales of Neveryon by Samuel R. Delany

Tales of Nevèrÿon (Return to Nevèrÿon #1) by Samuel R. Delany

I’ve never read anything by Samuel R. Delany, but I’ve heard that this series is excellent. The rest of the books are as follows:

2. Nevèrÿona
3. Flight from Nevèrÿon
4. Return to Nevèrÿon


In his four-volume series Return to Nevèrÿon, Hugo and Nebula award-winner Samuel R. Delany appropriated the conceits of sword-and-sorcery fantasy to explore his characteristic themes of language, power, gender, and the nature of civilization. Wesleyan University Press has reissued the long-unavailable Nevèrÿon volumes in trade paperback.

The eleven stories, novellas, and novels in Return to Nevèrÿon’s four volumes chronicle a long-ago land on civilization’s brink, perhaps in Asia or Africa, or even on the Mediterranean. Taken slave in childhood, Gorgik gains his freedom, leads a slave revolt, and becomes a minister of state, finally abolishing slavery. Ironically, however, he is sexually aroused by the iron slave collars of servitude. Does this contaminate his mission – or intensify it? Presumably elaborated from an ancient text of unknown geographical origin, the stories are sunk in translators’ and commentators’ introductions and appendices, forming a richly comic frame.

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

Earth Girl (Earth Girl #1) by Janet Edwards

I’ve wanted to read this ever since seeing it discussed as part of Sci-Fi Month. The second book in the series, Earth Star, has been released in the UK and will be available in the US in April 2014. Earth Flight, the third book, will be available in the UK in August 2014.

A sample chapter from Earth Girl is on Pyr’s website.


2788. Only the handicapped live on Earth. Eighteen-year-old Jarra is among the one in a thousand people born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Sent to Earth at birth to save her life, she has been abandoned by her parents. She can’t travel to other worlds, but she can watch their vids, and she knows all the jokes they make. She’s an “ape,” a “throwback,” but this is one ape girl who won’t give in.

Jarra makes up a fake military background for herself and joins a class of norms who are on Earth for a year of practical history studies excavating the dangerous ruins of the old cities. She wants to see their faces when they find out they’ve been fooled into thinking an ape girl was a norm. She isn’t expecting to make friends with the enemy, to risk her life to save norms, or to fall in love.

Dragonfield and Other Stories by Jane Yolen

Dragonfield and Other Stories by Jane Yolen

I’ve wanted to read Dragonfield and Other Stories after hearing that this and a few other books by Jane Yolen were re-released as ebooks. Not being a big fan of reading ebooks, I added the paperback to my wishlist and got a used copy. I’m not normally a short story reader, either, but I have high hopes for this one: it was a World Fantasy Award nominee and it has an introduction by Patricia McKillip (and I LOVE her short stories!). Plus I’ve wanted to read more by Jane Yolen since reading her Pit Dragon books.

The description below is from the recent ebook edition since the paperback description I found isn’t very informative.


Award-winning author Jane Yolen transports readers to new realms of dragons, sprites, and rogues in twenty-seven magical stories and poems

“That’s what dragons are for, after all, to call forth heroes.”

Jane Yolen enchants and enthralls with an exquisite collection of short fiction and poetry brimming with sympathetic monsters, unlikely heroes, and all manner of magical amazements. Exploring the depths of human love, pain, and folly in these unforgettable tales, Yolen gives life to a cast of unforgettable characters: a selfless young woman whose sadness brings forth beautiful gifts, a deluded musician whose song spectacularly fails to soothe a savage beast, and an alien salvage crew mining gems from the mind of a dying poet. Here be dragons, outlaws, kings, mermen, and dream weavers, sprung from the unparalleled imagination of one of the world’s foremost fantasists.

This ebook features a personal history by Jane Yolen including rare images from the author’s personal collection, as well as a note from the author about the making of the book.

Burndive by Karin Lowachee

Burndive (Warchild #2) by Karin Lowachee

I may have gushed about Warchild quite a bit after reading it last year (it was one of my favorites, if not my very favorite, books I read last year), and my husband got me the next two books for Christmas.


From the author of the acclaimed and bestselling debut novel “Warchild” comes a new action-packed adventure about a young man’s journey into adulthood amid interstellar war. Original.

Cagebird by Karin Lowachee

Cagebird (Warchild #3) by Karin Lowachee

The last Warchild book! I wish there were more than 2 left to read.


Pirate Protege At age four, Yuri Kirov watched his home colony destroyed by the alien enemy. By six, he was a wounded soul, fending for himself in a desolate refugee camp, and still a child when the pirates found him. Now twenty-two, Yuri is a killer, a spy, an arms dealer, and a pirate captain himself-doing life in prison. That is until EarthHub Black Ops agents decide to make Yuri their secret weapon in a covert interstellar power grab. Released from jail, but put on a leash by the government, Yuri is more trapped than ever. Controlled by men even more ruthless than the brigands he’s ordered to betray, Yuri is back again in deep space where his survival depends on a dangerous act: trusting a stranger’s offer of help…

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson

I enjoyed Sister Mine by Nalo Hopkinson very much and was recommended this book when looking for suggestions for which one of her books to read next. I love the sound of it, and I’m also excited to see that she writes a lot of stand alone books since it seems to be difficult to find SFF books that aren’t part of a series.

A short excerpt from Midnight Robber can be read on the author’s website.


It’s Carnival time, and the Carribean-colonized planet of Toussaint is celebrating with music, dance and pageantry. Masked “Midnight Robbers” waylay revelers with brandished weapons and spellbinding words. But to young Tan-Tan, the Robber Queen is simply a favourite costume to wear at the festival–until her power-corrupted father commits an unforgivable crime.

Suddenly, both father and daughter are thrust into the brutal world of New Half-Way Tree. Here monstrous creatures from folklore are real, and the humans are violent outcasts in the wilds. Here Tan-Tan must reach into the heart of myth–and become the Robber Queen herself. For only the Robber Queen’s legendary powers can save her life…and set her free.

Maul: Lockdown by Paul Schreiber

Maul Lockdown (Star Wars) by Joe Schrieber

This Star Wars novel will be available on January 28 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).


Set before the events of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace, this new novel is a thrilling follow-up to Star Wars: Darth Plagueis

It’s kill or be killed in the space penitentiary that houses the galaxy’s worst criminals, where convicts face off in gladiatorial combat while an underworld gambling empire reaps the profits of the illicit blood sport. But the newest contender in this savage arena, as demonic to behold as he is deadly to challenge, is fighting for more than just survival. His do-or-die mission, for the dark masters he serves, is to capture the ultimate weapon: an object capable of obliterating the Jedi and conquering the galaxy.

Sith lords Darth Plagueis and Darth Sidious are determined to possess the prize. And one of the power-hungry duo has his own treacherous plans for it. But first, their fearsome apprentice must take on a bloodthirsty prison warden, a cannibal gang, cutthroat crime lord Jabba the Hutt, and an unspeakable alien horror. No one else could brave such a gauntlet of death and live. But no one else is the dreaded dark-side disciple known as Darth Maul.

The Wavering Werewolf by David Lubar

The Wavering Werewolf: A Monsteriffic Tale by David Lubar

This middle grade novel will be available January 14 (hardcover, ebook). The other Monsterrific Tales are Hyde and Shriek, The Vanishing Vampire, and The Unwilling Witch.

An excerpt from The Wavering Werewolf is available on the publisher’s website.


Acclaimed author David Lubar’s monsters series returns to life with this new edition of The Wavering Werewolf that is sure to appeal to fans of his Weenies short story collections

There’s something strange going on at Washington Irving Elementary School. Kids are turning into monsters—literally!

It happened to his best friend, Sebastian. Then to Sebastian’s sister, Angie. How many kids can get “monsterized” in one neighborhood? Norman finds out for himself after he takes a walk in the woods—and ends up turning into an overly fuzzy kid with a habit of howling at the moon.

There is a way for Norman to get back to normal. But there are two problems: He kind of likes being a wolf, and there are only a few more days until the next full moon….