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 (often unsolicited). 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 a few books in the mail, including a few I ordered. Two of the books that showed up were already discussed in the same post so I’ll just refer to that if you’re interested in reading more about either: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (July 7) and Artemis Invaded by Jane Lindskold (June 30).

In case you missed it, I reviewed Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman last week. Next up is probably Tainted Blood by M. L. Brennan, which I very much enjoyed.

On to the books! The first three are the ones I purchased.

The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee

The Birthgrave by Tanith Lee

The 40th anniversary edition of World Fantasy Award-winning author Tanith Lee’s Nebula-nominated debut novel was released earlier this month, about a week after the sad news of her death.

I’ve heard that The Birthgrave is excellent, and I’ve wanted to read it for quite awhile so I was glad to see it was re-released in both paperback and ebook. The other two books in the trilogy are also being reprinted with Shadowfire scheduled for release in September 2015 and Hunting the White Witch in February 2016.

An excerpt from The Birthgrave is available on the publisher’s website (click “Read an Excerpt” under the book cover to view  it).


A mysterious woman awakens in the heart of a dormant volcano. She comes forth into a brutal ancient world transformed by genocidal pestilence, fierce beauty, and cultural devastation. She has no memory of herself, and she could be anyone—mortal woman, demoness lover, last living heir to a long-gone race, or a goddess of destruction. Compelled by the terrifying Karrakaz to search for the mysterious Jade that is the answer to her secret self, she embarks on a journey of timeless wonder.

Rediscover this realm of brilliant cruel beauty and seductive immortal ruins, of savage war and grand conquest, of falling stars and silver gods.

This 40th anniversary edition of legendary fantastist Tanith Lee’s debut novel includes its original introduction by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

The Just City by Jo Walton

The Just City (Thessaly #1) by Jo Walton

I wanted to read this based on the premise alone—speculative fiction with not just mythology but also philosophy—but I want to read it even more after hearing many times that it’s a wonderful book! The Just City was released in hardcover and ebook earlier this year, and a sequel, The Philosopher Kings, will be released in the same formats next week. A third book, Necessity, is in progress.

An excerpt from The Just City is available on If you’ve read that one and want to read the beginning of the next book, an excerpt from The Philosopher Kings is on as well.


“Here in the Just City you will become your best selves. You will learn and grow and strive to be excellent.”

Created as an experiment by the time-traveling goddess Pallas Athene, the Just City is a planned community, populated by over ten thousand children and a few hundred adult teachers from all eras of history, along with some handy robots from the far human future—all set down together on a Mediterranean island in the distant past.

The student Simmea, born an Egyptian farmer’s daughter sometime between 500 and 1000 A.D, is a brilliant child, eager for knowledge, ready to strive to be her best self. The teacher Maia was once Ethel, a young Victorian lady of much learning and few prospects, who prayed to Pallas Athene in an unguarded moment during a trip to Rome—and, in an instant, found herself in the Just City with grey-eyed Athene standing unmistakably before her.

Meanwhile, Apollo—stunned by the realization that there are things mortals understand better than he does—has arranged to live a human life, and has come to the City as one of the children. He knows his true identity, and conceals it from his peers. For this lifetime, he is prone to all the troubles of being human.

Then, a few years in, Sokrates arrives—the same Sokrates recorded by Plato himself—to ask all the troublesome questions you would expect. What happens next is a tale only the brilliant Jo Walton could tell.

Hidden Huntress by Danielle L. Jensen

Hidden Huntress (The Malediction Trilogy #2) by Danielle Jensen

Stolen Songbird was one of my favorite books read last year so of course I had to get the sequel! Hidden Huntress was released in paperback and ebook last month, and the audiobook recently became available as well. Chapters 1-3 can be read on Fantasy Faction.

The final book in the trilogy, Warrior Witch, is scheduled for release on May 3, 2016.


Sometimes, one must accomplish the impossible.

Beneath the mountain, the king’s reign of tyranny is absolute; the one troll with the capacity to challenge him is imprisoned for treason. Cécile has escaped the darkness of Trollus, but she learns all too quickly that she is not beyond the reach of the king’s power. Or his manipulation.

Recovered from her injuries, she now lives with her mother in Trianon and graces the opera stage every night. But by day she searches for the witch who has eluded the trolls for five hundred years. Whether she succeeds or fails, the costs to those she cares about will be high.

To find Anushka, she must delve into magic that is both dark and deadly. But the witch is a clever creature. And Cécile might not just be the hunter. She might also be the hunted…

The Clockwork Crown by Beth Cato

The Clockwork Crown (Clockwork Dagger Duology #2) by Beth Cato

The second half of the story begun in The Clockwork Dagger was released in paperback and ebook earlier this month. An excerpt from The Clockwork Crown can be read on USA Today. If you’d rather start with a sample from the first book, there is an excerpt from The Clockwork Dagger on

A prequel short story, “The Deepest Poison,” is also available as an ebook.


Rich in atmosphere, imagination, and fun, the action-packed, magic-filled sequel to The Clockwork Dagger is an enchanting steampunk fantasy, evocative of the works of Trudi Canavan and Gail Carriger.

Narrowly surviving assassination and capture, Octavia Leander, a powerful magical healer, is on the run with handsome Alonzo Garrett, the Clockwork Dagger who forfeited his career with the Queen’s secret society of spies and killers—and possibly his life—to save her. Now, they are on a dangerous quest to find safety and answers: Why is Octavia so powerful? Why does she seem to be undergoing a transformation unlike any witnessed for hundreds of years?

The truth may rest with the source of her mysterious healing power—the Lady’s Tree. But the tree lies somewhere in a rough, inhospitable territory known as the Waste. Eons ago, this land was made barren and uninhabitable by an evil spell, until a few hardy souls dared to return over the last century. For years, the Waste has waged a bloody battle against the royal court to win its independence—and they need Octavia’s powers to succeed.

Joined by unlikely allies, including a menagerie of gremlin companions, she must evade killers and Clockwork Daggers on a dangerous journey through a world on the brink of deadly civil war.

Vampires of Manhattan by Melissa de la Cruz

Vampires of Manhattan (The New Blue Bloods Coven #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

Vampires of Manhattan by New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz was released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats last year. The paperback edition will be released on July 7. USA Today has an excerpt from Vampires of Manhattan.


The Vampires of Manhattan is “hipster horror”–the memorable characters from her Blue Bloods series are older and cooler than before, trying to build “Millennial” lives in the bustle of Manhattan while battling forces of evil and, of course, each other.

Hero of this sexy, paranormal action tale is Oliver Hazard-Perry, former human conduit, and Manhattan’s only human-turned-vampire, now the head of the Blue Bloods Coven. When his all-too-human lover is found murdered on the eve of the coven’s annual Four Hundred Ball–a celebration meant to usher in a new era in vampire society, and to mark the re-unification of the Coven after decades of unrest and decay–Oliver is devastated.

Now, not only is he trying to create a new world order for the immortal elite, he’s the prime suspect and is stalked by the newly installed head of the vampire secret police. Because according to the new rules, vampires who take human life can now be executed. Burned.

How can an immortal sentenced to die fight back? He has to find the killer–and the answers lie deep in vampire lore.