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.

Starting this week, I’m making some changes to these weekly posts. Usually, I discuss every single book that comes in the mail as long as it’s not one of the occasional books sent to me that is not speculative fiction. When I started this feature, I didn’t receive nearly as many unsolicited copies as I do now, and now it can take a very long time to go through all the books. From now on, I’m only going to show cover images and descriptions of the books that I think look the most interesting, and I’m just going to list the rest with links to Goodreads at the end. This will also include books that do look very interesting but that have already been covered, as one of those showed up this week as well.

In case you missed it last week, I posted my review of my favorite book of 2015 so far, Fool’s Quest by Robin Hobb. I love the Realm of the Elderlings books and found this one very satisfying as a long-time fan of the series and characters. An interview with M. L. Brennan, author of the fantastic Generation V series, also went up last week. She discussed why Emma Bull’s War of the Oaks is the book that got her excited about fantasy, vampire myths and tropes, researching sanguivores, the possibility of future stories about Fort’s family or the kitsune, and more. Plus she recommended some books based on some specific criteria.

On to the latest books!

Updraft by Fran Wilde

Updraft by Fran Wilde

This debut novel will be released on September 1 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). An excerpt from Updraft can be read on

I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about this one. It received starred reviews at both Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal, and the latter also recognized it as Debut of the Month. I’ve wanted to read it ever since A. C. Wise discussed it in a post about some recent or upcoming SFF debuts by women in April.


In a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn’t destroyed outright.

A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire

A Red-Rose Chain (October Daye #9) by Seanan McGuire

The ninth book in the October Daye series will be released on September 1 (ebook and mass market paperback with the audiobook coming in October). This is one of my four favorite urban fantasy series along with Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews, Generation V by M. L. Brennan, and Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs.

This series should be read in order (though the first book is not as good as the rest, in my opinion, and I know many people don’t come to love the series until the third book):

  1. Rosemary and Rue
  2. A Local Habitation
  3. An Artificial Night
  4. Late Eclipses
  5. One Salt Sea
  6. Ashes of Honor
  7. The Chimes at Midnight
  8. The Winter Long

Things are looking up.

For the first time in what feels like years, October “Toby” Daye has been able to pause long enough to take a breath and look at her life—and she likes what she sees. She has friends. She has allies. She has a squire to train and a King of Cats to love, and maybe, just maybe, she can let her guard down for a change.

Or not. When Queen Windermere’s seneschal is elf-shot and thrown into an enchanted sleep by agents from the neighboring Kingdom of Silences, Toby finds herself in a role she never expected to play: that of a diplomat. She must travel to Portland, Oregon, to convince King Rhys of Silences not to go to war against the Mists. But nothing is that simple, and what October finds in Silences is worse than she would ever have imagined.

How far will Toby go when lives are on the line, and when allies both old and new are threatened by a force she had never expected to face again? How much is October willing to give up, and how much is she willing to change? In Faerie, what’s past is never really gone.

It’s just waiting for an opportunity to pounce.

Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier

Tower of Thorns (Blackthorn & Grim #2) by Juliet Marillier

The second Blackthorn and Grim book, following the Aurealis Award winner Dreamer’s Pool, will be released on November 3 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from Tower of Thorns can be read on the author’s website.

I haven’t yet read the first book, but I did read a little of the beginning and really liked what little I read. Plus I have heard that it is wonderful!


Award-winning author Juliet Marillier’s “lavishly detailed”* Blackthorn & Grim series continues as a mysterious creature holds an enchanted and imperiled ancient Ireland in thrall.

Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

*Publishers Weekly

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Last weekend I went to the Rock City Cafe in Rockland, Maine, for a latte and a cookie and was delighted to discover that there was a bookstore behind the coffee shop. Of course, I had to check it out! I’ve heard that Station Eleven is excellent so I couldn’t resist getting a copy when I saw it.


A National Book Award Finalist
A PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.

Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-Smith

Towers Fall (Towers Trilogy #3) by Karina Sumner-Smith

The third book in the Towers Trilogy will be released on November 3 (trade paperback, ebook). An excerpt from the first book in the series, Radiant, can be read on the author’s website.

Radiant is one of the more unique books I’ve read with an intriguing world and gorgeous writing. I’m reading the second book, Defiant, now.


War. Fire. Destruction. Xhea believed that the Lower City had weathered the worst of its troubles—that their only remaining fight would be the struggle to rebuild before winter. She was wrong.

Now her home is under attack from an unexpected source. The Central Spire, the City’s greatest power, is intent on destroying the heart of the magical entity that resides beneath the Lower City’s streets. The people on the ground have three days to evacuate—or else.

With nowhere to go and time running out, Xhea and the Radiant ghost Shai attempt to rally a defense. Yet with the Spire’s wrath upon them, nothing—not their combined magic, nor their unexpected allies—may be strong enough to protect them from the power of the City.

From Nebula Award–nominated author Karina Sumner-Smith, Towers Fall is a fantastic climax to this amazing and thought-provoking trilogy.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self (A Mistborn Novel) by Brandon Sanderson

Shadows of Self will be released on October 6 (hardcover, ebook). It will be the fifth published Mistborn book and the middle book in a second Mistborn trilogy set 300 years after the first.

Goodreads currently has a giveaway of The Alloy of Law, the previous book in this trilogy, and a giveaway of Shadows of Self. Both giveaways are US/Canada only.

The prologue, chapter one, and chapter two from Shadows of Self are available to read on


The #1 New York Times bestselling author returns to the world of Mistborn with his first novel in the series since The Alloy of Law.

With The Alloy of Law, Brandon Sanderson surprised readers with a New York Times bestselling spinoff of his Mistborn books, set after the action of the trilogy, in a period corresponding to late 19th-century America.

The trilogy’s heroes are now figures of myth and legend, even objects of religious veneration. They are succeeded by wonderful new characters, chief among them Waxillium Ladrian, known as Wax, hereditary Lord of House Ladrian but also, until recently, a lawman in the ungoverned frontier region known as the Roughs. There he worked with his eccentric but effective buddy, Wayne. They are “twinborn,” meaning they are able to use both Allomantic and Feruchemical magic.

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

Other Books: