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 (usually 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.

It’s been a few weeks since I did one of these posts since I spent a lot of December dealing with some health issues. For now, they seem to be getting better so I’m hoping to get back to regular blogging.

I’ve tried to cover all the books that have come in since I last did one of these posts, but due to the number of books, there are a few in the additional books section that I would normally feature (the first 5, which are all books I received for Christmas and am quite interested in reading!). This post features 2 review copies, 1 Kickstarter book, and half of the books I received for Christmas (the last 5).

It has been quiet here between the health issues and the holidays, but I did put up one post last week: 16 Most Anticipated Books of 2016. I should be posting my favorite books of 2015 list this week, and I will probably be doing mini reviews of a lot of the books I’ve read but not yet reviewed as I try to get caught up.

On to the books of December!

Monstress #1 by Marjorie M. Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda

Monstress #1 by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

This comic book, released in November, has gorgeous artwork! I’ve been excited about this one ever since seeing some of the art and reading an article in which Marjorie M. Liu discussed it.


Astonishing X-Men and Black Widow writer MARJORIE LIU returns to comics with artist SANA TAKEDA (X-23) for an all-new ONGOING SERIES! Steampunk meets Kaiju in this original fantasy epic for mature readers, as young Maika risks everything to control her psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, placing her in the center of a devastating war between human and otherworldly forces. The adventure begins in a spectacular TRIPLE-SIZED FIRST ISSUE, with SIXTY-SIX pages of story and no ads.

The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer

The Labyrinth of Flame (Shattered Sigil #3) by Courtney Schafer

Since there are so many books this time, I wasn’t going to discuss books I’ve already talked about here but I couldn’t resist including this one because I got my paperback copy from backing the Kickstarter and the trade paperback edition is lovely! The print edition isn’t yet available for purchase, although the ebook is. It’s signed and personalized and it’s a book to treasure forever!


Dev’s never been a man afraid of a challenge. Not only has he kept his vow to his dead mentor, rescuing a child in the face of impossible odds, but he’s freed his mage friend Kiran from both the sadistic master who seeks to enslave him and the foreign Council that wants to kill him.

But Kiran’s master Ruslan is planning a brutal revenge, one that will raze an entire country to blood and ashes. Kiran is the key to stopping Ruslan; yet Kiran is dying by inches, victim of the Alathian Council’s attempt to chain him. Worse yet, Dev and Kiran have drawn the attention of demons from the darkest of ancient legends. Demons whose power Dev knows is all too real, and that he has every reason to fear.

A fear that grows, as he and Kiran struggle to outmaneuver Ruslan and uncover the secrets locked in Kiran’s forgotten childhood. For the demons are playing their own deadly game – and the price of survival may be too terrible to bear.

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

I enjoyed Alison Goodman’s Eon and LOVED the sequel Eona so I’m curious about her upcoming book, which will be available on January 26 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).


New York Times bestseller Alison Goodman’s eagerly awaited new project: a Regency adventure starring a stylish and intrepid demon-hunter!

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

The Wizard Hunters by Martha Wells

The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien #1) by Martha Wells

Since discovering the fantastic Books of the Raksura, I’ve wanted to read more by Martha Wells. I’ve heard that this book is a particularly good one and was glad to see the paperback was available again.


Ile-Rien is in peril. A mysterious army known only as the Gardier has surrounded the country, attacking in ominous black airships. Hope is not lost though, for a magical sphere created by Ile-Rien’s greatest sorcerer may hold the key to defeating the faceless enemy. But the sphere is unpredictable and has already claimed several lives. When a magical spell goes disastrously awry, young Tremaine Valiarde and a brave band are transported to another world. A world of rough magics, evil mages, honorable warriors — and a secret Gardier base.

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

The Willful Princess and the Piebald Prince by Robin Hobb

This book is out of print (although there is an ebook edition) so I was thrilled that I got a copy for Christmas! Reading the new books set in the Realm of the Elderlings this year made me want to read everything Robin Hobb has ever written in this setting.


One of the darkest legends in the Realm of the Elderlings recounts the tale of the so-called Piebald Prince, a Witted pretender to the throne unseated by the actions of brave nobles so that the Farseer line could continue untainted. Now the truth behind the story is revealed through the account of Felicity, a low-born companion of the Princess Caution at Buckkeep.

With Felicity by her side, Caution grows into a headstrong Queen-in-Waiting. But when Caution gives birth to a bastard son who shares the piebald markings of his father s horse, Felicity is the one who raises him. And as the prince comes to power, political intrigue sparks dangerous whispers about the Wit that will change the kingdom forever…

The Madness Season by C. S. Friedman

The Madness Season by C. S. Friedman

C. S. Friedman is an excellent writer and I was quite happy to get a signed copy of this for Christmas!


For hundreds of years, Earth has suffered under the yoke of alien conquerors: the dreaded Tyr, a reptilian race in which all individuality is submerged into a single, overarching consciousness. Determined to keep humanity cowed, the Tyr have culled from the captive population the most intelligent, the most curious, the most likely to foment rebellion, and banished them from Earth. As the memory of freedom recedes, humanity sinks into a lethargic subservience. Daetrin, the hero of this tale, is a vampire–not a monster, however, but a man, nearly immortal, who embodies the vanished virtues of a once-sovereign Earth. When his existence is exposed by the Tyr, who are appalled to find a human who witnessed the Conquest, they immediately ship him offworld. Thus begins a journey of self-discovery as Daetrin is forced by adversity to come to grips with the long-suppressed side of his nature and to confront the ancient horror of a bloody heritage.

Ad Eternum by Elizabeth Bear

Ad Eternum (New Amsterdam #4) by Elizabeth Bear

Elizabeth Bear is one of my favorite authors so a signed copy of this limited edition was an excellent Christmas gift.


For centuries, the wampyr has drifted from one place to another. From one life to another. It’s 1962, and he’s returned to New Amsterdam for the first time since he fled it on pain of death some sixty years before. On the eve of social revolution, on the cusp of a new way of life, he’s nevertheless surrounded by inescapable reminders of who he used to be.

For a thousand years, he’s chosen to change rather than to die. Now, at last, he faces a different future….

Castle Waiting: Volume 1 by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting: Volume 1 by Linda Medley

During this year’s Women in SF&F Month, Memory from In the Forest of Stories discussed some SFF comics by women, including this one. It immediately went on my wish list.


This (wildly popular) graphic novel, a feminist fairy tale, is now in paperback.

Castle Waiting is the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, it is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil ― but about being a hero in your own home. The opening chapter tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun. Linda Medley lavishly illustrates Castle Waiting in a classic visual style reminiscent of Arthur Rackham and William Heath Robinson. Blending elements from a variety of sources ― fairy tales, folklore, nursery rhymes ― Medley tells the story of the everyday lives of fantastic characters with humor, intelligence, and insight into human nature.Castle Waiting can be read on multiple levels and can be enjoyed by readers of all ages, especially young girls.

Additional Books: