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 one expected book (since I had ordered it) and two more surprise books in the mail. But first, here’s the latest review in case you missed it:

  • Mirage by Somaiya Daud — It took me a few chapters to get into this one, but once I did, I could hardly put it down. “Mirage is a quiet yet powerful, character-driven, feminist book and a finely crafted work of art. I loved it, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to those craving beautiful writing, realistically drawn main protagonists, hope shining through the heartbreak, and slow burn complicated sort-of-friendships…Somaiya Daud doesn’t just tell us that Amani is a woman of faith and compassion, a poet, a scholar—but imbues her narrative with these qualities to create a perfect fit for the character whose story she’s telling. It’s rare that I read a book like this in which the author so vividly brings their protagonist to life through their viewpoint, and it’s especially impressive how Amani’s poetic voice reflects her soul.”

And now, the latest book arrivals!

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

This massive epic fantasy novel by The Bone Season author Samantha Shannon was just released last week (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog has an excerpt from The Priory of the Orange Tree.

This book appeared on my list of anticipated speculative fiction books of 2019, and I was excited when the copy I pre-ordered showed up on release day. It sounds excellent, plus the hardcover edition is beautiful!


From the internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season, a trailblazing, epic high fantasy about a world on the brink of war with dragons—and the women who must lead the fight to save it.

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Women's War by Jenna Glass

The Women’s War (The Women’s War #1) by Jenna Glass

This epic fantasy by Jenna Glass (also known as author Jenna Black) will be released on March 5 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The author’s website has an excerpt from The Women’s War.


In a high fantasy feminist epic, a revolutionary spell gives women the ability to control their own fertility—with consequences that rock their patriarchal society to its core.

When a nobleman’s first duty is to produce a male heir, women are treated like possessions and bargaining chips. But as the aftereffects of a world-altering spell ripple out physically and culturally, women at last have a bargaining chip of their own. And two women in particular find themselves at the crossroads of change.

Alys is the widowed mother of two teenage children, and the disinherited daughter of a king. Her existence has been carefully proscribed, but now she discovers a fierce talent not only for politics but also for magic—once deemed solely the domain of men. Meanwhile, in a neighboring kingdom, young Ellin finds herself unexpectedly on the throne after the sudden death of her grandfather the king and everyone else who stood ahead of her in the line of succession. Conventional wisdom holds that she will marry quickly, then quietly surrender the throne to her new husband…. Only, Ellin has other ideas.

The tensions building in the two kingdoms grow abruptly worse when a caravan of exiled women and their escort of disgraced soldiers stumbles upon a new source of magic in what was once uninhabitable desert. This new and revolutionary magic—which only women can wield—threatens to tear down what is left of the patriarchy. And the men who currently hold power will do anything to fight back.

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