The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I discuss books I got over the last week—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (most of which are unsolicited books from publishers). 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.

Last week brought some February releases, including two sequels to books I enjoyed and an intriguing anthology. Before covering the latest arrivals, here are the latest reviews in case you missed them:

On to the latest book arrivals!

Sisters of the Fire by Kim Wilkins

Sisters of the Fire (Blood and Gold #2) by Kim Wilkins

Sisters of the Fire, a 2016 Aurealis Award nominee for Best Fantasy Novel, will be released in the US on February 5 (hardcover, ebook).

The publisher’s website has “Look Inside” previews from both this and the previous book in the Blood and Gold series:

  1. Daughters of the Storm (also has an excerpt)
  2. Sisters of the Fire

My review of Daughters of the Storm is here. I found it to be an enjoyable, character-focused story with interesting ties between these five sisters (although I did wish the characters had a bit more dimension).


In the next chapter of a fantasy series featuring five unforgettable sisters—the warrior, the magician, the lover, the zealot, and the gossip—an insidious threat jeopardizes a fragile peace.

Four years have passed since the five royal sisters—daughters of the king—worked together to restore their father to health and to the throne while fracturing the bonds among themselves almost irreparably. Only Bluebell remains at home, dutifully serving as heir to her father’s kingdom. Rose has been cast aside by her former husband and hides in exile with her aunt, separated forever from her beloved daughter, Rowan. Ash wanders the distant wastes with her teacher, learning magic and hunting dragons, determined that the dread fate she has foreseen for herself and her loved ones never comes to pass. Ivy rules over a prosperous seaport, married to an aged husband she hates yet finding delight in her two young sons and a handsome captain of the guard. And as for Willow, she hides the most dangerous secret of all—one that could destroy all that the sisters once sought to save.

The saga begins in . . .

A People's Future of the United States Anthology

A People’s Future of the United States: Speculative Fiction from 25 Extraordinary Writers edited by Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams

A People’s Future of the United States, an anthology of twenty-five stories, will be released on February 5 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

The publisher’s website has a “Look Inside” preview of A People’s Future of the United States that contains the full table of contents. It has an incredible lineup of authors, including N. K. Jemisin, Charlie Jane Anders, Seanan McGuire, and Tananarive Due. (The book description below lists all the writers at the end.)

The Penguin Random House website also has a schedule of related tour events with the following authors:


A glittering landscape of twenty-five speculative stories that challenge oppression and envision new futures for America—from N. K. Jemisin, Charles Yu, Jamie Ford, G. Willow Wilson, Charlie Jane Anders, Hugh Howey, and more.

In these tumultuous times, in our deeply divided country, many people are angry, frightened, and hurting. Knowing that imagining a brighter tomorrow has always been an act of resistance, editors Victor LaValle and John Joseph Adams invited an extraordinarily talented group of writers to share stories that explore new forms of freedom, love, and justice. They asked for narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.

They also asked that the stories be badass.

The result is this spectacular collection of twenty-five tales that blend the dark and the light, the dystopian and the utopian. These tales are vivid with struggle and hardship—whether it’s the othered and the terrorized, or dragonriders and covert commandos—but these characters don’t flee, they fight.

Thrilling, inspiring, and a sheer joy to read, A People’s Future of the United States is a gift for anyone who believes in our power to dream a just world.

Featuring stories by Violet Allen • Charlie Jane Anders • Lesley Nneka Arimah • Ashok K. Banker • Tobias S. Buckell • Tananarive Due • Omar El Akkad • Jamie Ford • Maria Dahvana Headley • Hugh Howey • Lizz Huerta • Justina Ireland • N. K. Jemisin • Alice Sola Kim • Seanan McGuire • Sam J. Miller • Daniel José Older • Malka Older • Gabby Rivera • A. Merc Rustad • Kai Cheng Thom • Catherynne M. Valente • Daniel H. Wilson • G. Willow Wilson • Charles Yu

Thornbound (The Harwood Spellbook #2) by Stephanie Burgis

Thornbound, which continues Cassandra Harwood’s story following Snowspelled, will be released on February 25 (ebook, paperback).

Snowspelled (my review) is a delightful, wintry, romantic fantasy novella about a woman who defied gender roles by becoming a mage instead of a politician. Though Cassandra is going through a particularly difficult time when it begins, it’s ultimately optimistic and forward-thinking with a wonderful romance and supportive family relationships.

Stephanie Burgis’ website has excerpts from Snowspelled if you want to check out the first book before the upcoming publication of book two:


Cassandra Harwood scandalized her nation when she became the first woman magician in Angland. Now, she’s ready to teach a whole new generation of bright young women at her radical new school, the Thornfell College of Magic…

Until a sinister fey altar is discovered in the school library, the ruling Boudiccate sends a delegation to shut down Thornfell, and Cassandra’s own husband is torn away from her.

As malevolent vines slither in from the forest and ruthless politicians scheme against her, Cassandra must fight the greatest battle of her life to save her love, her school, and the future of the young women of Angland.

Additional Books: