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 was a wonderful week for books since I want to drop everything and read all of these right now (if only I could!). The first three are review copies and the last two are gifts from my husband.

Coming up this week, there will be a guest post by Jaime Lee Moyer and a chance to win her books on Tuesday! I’m also hoping to finish and post a review later in the week.

On to the books!

Dust and Light by Carol Berg

Dust and Light (The Sanctuary Duet #1) by Carol Berg

Carol Berg is one of my favorite fantasy authors primarily because of her wonderful characters but also because of her unique worlds and intelligently handled thematic elements. While my favorite of her books remains the first I read, Transformation, I also very much enjoyed her Lighthouse Duology (Flesh and Spirit, Breath and Bone). I was very excited to learn she was writing two more books, The Sanctuary Duet, that take place in the same setting as these previous books. Dust and Light, the first book in this new duology, will be released on August 5 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

An excerpt from Dust and Light is available on the author’s website.


National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption….

How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her….After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.

But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous….

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7) by Ilona Andrews

The Kate Daniels series is my favorite urban fantasy series and one of my favorite series of all time. They have an amazing, gradually building story arc; an excellent and well-developed main character; wonderfully incorporated myths; gripping action scenes; and a humorous narrative garnished by entertaining dialogue. What more could I ask for in a series?

I’m far from the only one who feels this way since Ilona Andrews is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and the series has become successful enough that this seventh book is being released in hardcover instead of mass market paperback like its predecessors. It will also be available as an ebook when it is published on July 29. An excerpt from Magic Breaks can be read on If you’re new to the series, you can start with an excerpt from the first book, Magic Bites (while I enjoyed this one it took me awhile to hook me and I also think it is easily the weakest book in the series; the next book is better and the third book is AMAZING).


No matter how much the paranormal politics of Atlanta change, one thing always remains the same: if there’s trouble, Kate Daniels will be in the middle of it…

As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, she must now deal with the affairs of the pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel ancient being with god-like powers. Since Kate’s connection to Roland has come out into the open, no one is safe—especially those closest to Kate.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend the Conclave, a gathering of the leaders from the various supernatural factions in Atlanta. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered there, apparently at the hands of a shapeshifter, Kate is given only twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war which could destroy everything she holds dear…

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

Beyond the Pale edited by Henry Herz

I don’t read many anthologies, but this young adult fantasy captured my interest because it contains stories by some authors whose work I have enjoyed or heard good things about, including Saladin Ahmed, Jane Yolen, Peter S. Beagle, Gillian Philip, and Jim Butcher. I have already read the first story, the one by Saladin Ahmed, and thought it was excellent.

For more information on the book and authors, visit the Birch Tree Publishing website. Beyond the Pale‘s ship date is August 1 (paperback).


Beyond the Pale is an anthology of fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal stories that skirt the border between our world and others. Was that my imagination, or did I hear something under my bed? What was that blurred movement in my darkened closet? There is but a thin Veil separating the real and the fantastic, and therein dwell the inhabitants of these stories.

Beyond the Pale contains eleven short stories by award-winning and New York Times bestselling authors Saladin Ahmed (Throne of the Crescent Moon), Peter S. Beagle (The Last Unicorn), Heather Brewer (Vladimir Tod), Jim Butcher (Dresden Files), Kami Garcia (Beautiful Creatures), Nancy Holder (Wicked), Gillian Philip (Rebel Angels), and Jane Yolen (Owl Moon).

The noun “pale” refers to a stake (as in impaling vampires) or pointed piece of wood (as in a paling fence). “Pale” came to refer to an area enclosed by a paling fence. Later, it acquired the figurative meaning of an enclosed and therefore safe domain. Conversely, “beyond the pale” means foreign, strange, or threatening. You are about to go Beyond the Pale.

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson

My husband gave this to me as an anniversary gift. After reading Nalo Hopkinson’s novel Sister Mine, I’ve wanted to read more of her books. This one was on my wishlist after reading what Ana and Thea from The Book Smugglers wrote about it in their post on Middle Grade and Young Adult books for Women in SF&F Month 2013.


An acclaimed fantasy author navigates the world between myth and chaos in this compelling exploration of identity, told with a Caribbean lilt.

Sixteen-year-old Scotch struggles to fit in: at home she’s the perfect daughter, at school she’s provocatively sassy, and thanks to her mixed heritage, she doesn’t feel she belongs with the Caribbeans, whites, or blacks. And even more troubling, lately her skin is becoming covered in a sticky black substance that can’t be removed. While trying to cope with this creepiness, she goes out with her brother— and he disappears. A mysterious bubble of light just swallows him up, and Scotch has no idea how to find him. Soon, the Chaos that has claimed her brother affects the city at large, until it seems like everyone is turning into crazy creatures. Scotch needs to get to the bottom of this supernatural situation ASAP before the Chaos consumes everything she’s ever known, and she knows that the black shadowy entity that’s begun trailing her every move is probably not going to help.

A blend of fantasy and Caribbean folklore, at its heart this tale is about identity and self acceptance—because only by acknowledging her imperfections can Scotch hope to save her brother.

Flash Point by Nancy Kress

Flash Point by Nancy Kress

This was another anniversary gift from my husband (who introduced me to Nancy Kress’ work with her excellent science fiction novel Beggars In Spain). I’ve heard mixed things about Flash Point, but I want to read it anyway since I usually enjoy books by this author.


Reality TV meets a chillingly realistic version of America—and the fame game is on!

Amy had dreams of going to college, until the Collapse destroyed the economy and her future. Now she is desperate for any job that will help support her terminally ill grandmother and rebellious younger sister. When she finds herself in the running for a slot on a new reality TV show, she signs on the dotted line, despite her misgivings. And she’s right to have them. TLN’s Who Knows People, Baby—You? has an irresistible premise: correctly predict what the teenage cast will do in a crisis and win millions. But the network has pulled strings to make it work, using everything from 24/7 hidden cameras to life-threatening technology to flat-out rigging. Worse, every time the ratings slip, TLN ups the ante. Soon Amy is fighting for her life—on and off camera.