The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound like they may be interesting—old or new, bought or received in the mail for review consideration (the latter of which are mainly 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, along with series information and the publisher’s book description. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

There haven’t been as many books in the mail lately so it’s been a little while since the last of these posts, but there are some recent arrivals to cover even if I am a day late. (I spent a lot of yesterday cooking and cleaning up the mess from cooking and ran out of time for wrapping this up!)

The first of these books is technically from the week before since I ran out of time to post it that weekend as well, but the other two came in last week. This includes the first of a few October releases I preordered—this is a great month for new speculative fiction books!

In case you missed them, here are the reviews that went up since the last one of these features:

  • Queen of the Conquered (Islands of Blood and Storm #1) by Kacen Callender — This US Virgin Islands–inspired novel is a fascinating character study that also explores the history of Black slaveowners in a fantasy setting. I felt its over-reliance on the main protagonist’s mind reading ability bogged it down too much, but I also appreciated the concept and the thoughtfulness that went into creating a deliberately unlikeable main character and her perspective.
  • The Bone Shard Daughter (The Drowning Empire #1) by Andrea Stewart — This Asian-inspired fantasy novel is set in an empire ruled by a mad-scientist-like emperor who creates constructs sewn from assorted animal parts and animated by bone shards taken from his subjects. It follows five different characters from throughout the empire—the emperor’s daughter, a smuggler, a future governor, a bookseller, and a woman on a mysterious island—with a range of perspectives and roles. I really enjoyed this story, especially the two narratives that make up the bulk of the novel and the adorable animal companion.

On to the latest books!

The Mask of Mirrors by M. A. Carrick - Cover Image

The Mask of Mirrors (Rook & Rose #1) by M. A. Carrick

The Mask of Mirrors, the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy by Memoirs of Lady Trent author Marie Brennan and Adventures of Mr. Mystic author Alyc Helms, will be released on January 19, 2021 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

It may not be out until next year, but you can read a sample from it now: io9 has an excerpt from The Mask of Mirrors.

This sounds like fun and I’ve had my eye on this one since I first heard about it, so I was thrilled when a copy showed up at my door!


The Mask of Mirrors is the unmissable start to the Rook & Rose trilogy, a darkly magical fantasy adventure in which a con artist returns to the city that betrayed her, determined to have her revenge–only to find that her fate might be to save it.

This is your past, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither…
Arenza Lenskaya is a liar and a thief, a pattern-reader and a daughter of no clan. Raised in the slums of Nadezra, she fled that world to save her sister.

This is your present, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither…
Renata Viraudax is a con artist recently arrived in Nadezra. She has one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune.

This is your future, the good and the ill of it, and that which is neither…
As corrupt nightmare magic begins to weave its way through the city of dreams, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart. And if she cannot sort the truth from the lies, it will mean the destruction of all her worlds.

Machine by Elizabeth Bear - Cover Image

Machine (A White Space Novel) by Elizabeth Bear

Machine, a space opera set in the same universe as Ancestral Night, will be released on October 20 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Book Smugglers has an excerpt from Machine along with the cover reveal.

I love Elizabeth Bear’s writing, and I’m looking forward to reading this (and was glad to learn it’s a standalone since I’ve not yet read Ancestral Night!).


In this compelling and addictive novel set in the same universe as the critically acclaimed White Space series and perfect for fans of Karen Traviss and Ada Hoffman, a space station begins to unravel when a routine search and rescue mission returns after going dangerously awry.

Meet Doctor Jens.

She hasn’t had a decent cup of coffee in fifteen years. Her workday begins when she jumps out of perfectly good space ships and continues with developing treatments for sick alien species she’s never seen before. She loves her life. Even without the coffee.

But Dr. Jens is about to discover an astonishing mystery: two ships, one ancient and one new, locked in a deadly embrace. The crew is suffering from an unknown ailment and the shipmind is trapped in an inadequate body, much of her memory pared away.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jens can’t resist a mystery and she begins doing some digging. She has no idea that she’s about to discover horrifying and life-changing truths.

Written in Elizabeth Bear’s signature “rollicking, suspenseful, and sentimental” (Publishers Weekly) style, Machine is a fresh and electrifying space opera that you won’t be able to put down.

Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner - Book Cover

Return of the Thief (Queen’s Thief #6) by Megan Whalen Turner

Return of the Thief, the sixth and final book in Megan Whalen Turner’s beloved Queen’s Thief series, was released last week (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

The Harper Collins website has a text excerpt and audio sample from Return of the Thief.

The previous books in the Queen’s Thief series are as follows:

  1. The Thief
  2. The Queen of Attolia
  3. The King of Attolia
  4. A Conspiracy of Kings
  5. Thick as Thieves

Although I’m a bit behind on this series, I had to preorder this because I LOVE the first half of the series—especially The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia, the latter of which I enjoyed even more when I reread it a couple of years ago. These books are clever with wonderful characters, and I’m glad I have more books in the series to look forward to reading for the first time as well as a complete set for rereads.


The thrilling, twenty-years-in-the-making conclusion to the New York Times–bestselling Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

The epic novels set in the world of the Queen’s Thief can be read in any order.

This beloved and award-winning series began with the acclaimed novel The Thief. It and four more stand-alone volumes bring to life a world of epics, myths, and legends, and feature one of the most charismatic and incorrigible characters of fiction, Eugenides the thief. Now more powerful and cunning than ever before, Eugenides must navigate a perilous future in this sweeping conclusion. Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Patrick Rothfuss, and Sarah J. Maas.

Neither accepted nor beloved, Eugenides is the uneasy linchpin of a truce on the Lesser Peninsula, where he has risen to be high king of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis. As the treacherous Baron Erondites schemes anew and a prophecy appears to foretell the death of the king, the ruthless Mede empire prepares to strike.

The New York Times–bestselling Queen’s Thief novels are rich with political machinations, divine intervention, dangerous journeys, battles lost and won, power, passion, and deception. Features a cast list of the characters in the Queen’s Thief novels, as well as two maps—a map of the world of the Queen’s Thief, and a map exclusive to this edition.