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. 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.

Disclosure: I am an affiliate of, and I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

It has been some time since the last one of these posts since last month was the twelfth annual Women in SF&F Month! If you missed it, April was dedicated to highlighting some of the many women doing fantastic work in speculative fiction genres and featured a series of guest posts. This included discussions related to women in science fiction and/or fantasy and more general discussions about the genre(s) and what makes them special, as well as sharing about experiences and influences, writing, and creating stories, characters, and/or worlds. All of the 2023 guest posts can be found here.

My birthday is also in April, which means I received some books as gifts. I might cover those next weekend, but due to time constraints, I am just highlighting ARCs and finished copies that came in the mail since last time today. Here are some upcoming releases I’m very excited about!

Cover of To Shape a Dragon's Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath (The First Book of Nampeshiweisit) by Moniquill Blackgoose

This novel—one of my most anticipated books of this year—will be released on May 9 (trade paperback, ebook, audiobook).

Moniquill Blackgoose wrote a guest post for this year’s Women in SF&F Month about representation’s impact on creativity and wanting to provide better indigenous representation than what she encountered as a young reader and writer:

Let me tell you a story about media representation and how it informs creativity.

I was born into a nerdy family. I attended renfaires while still in diapers, and got The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia as bedtime stories. I read Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet, and Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, and Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown. I adored The Last Unicorn and The Neverending Story and Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal and Willow.

There were no indigenous people in these fantasy worlds, though.

If you want to read a sample from her book, the Penguin Random House website has an excerpt from To Shape a Dragon’s Breath.


A young Indigenous woman enters a colonizer-run dragon academy—and quickly finds herself at odds with the “approved” way of doing things—in the first book of this brilliant new fantasy series.

The remote island of Masquapaug has not seen a dragon in many generations—until fifteen-year-old Anequs finds a dragon’s egg and bonds with its hatchling. Her people are delighted, for all remember the tales of the days when dragons lived among them and danced away the storms of autumn, enabling the people to thrive. To them, Anequs is revered as Nampeshiweisit—a person in a unique relationship with a dragon.

Unfortunately for Anequs, the Anglish conquerors of her land have different opinions. They have a very specific idea of how a dragon should be raised, and who should be doing the raising—and Anequs does not meet any of their requirements. Only with great reluctance do they allow Anequs to enroll in a proper Anglish dragon school on the mainland. If she cannot succeed there, her dragon will be killed.

For a girl with no formal schooling, a non-Anglish upbringing, and a very different understanding of the history of her land, challenges abound—both socially and academically. But Anequs is smart, determined, and resolved to learn what she needs to help her dragon, even if it means teaching herself. The one thing she refuses to do, however, is become the meek Anglish miss that everyone expects.

Anequs and her dragon may be coming of age, but they’re also coming to power, and that brings an important realization: the world needs changing—and they might just be the ones to do it.

Cover of Cassiel's Servant by Jacqueline Carey

Cassiel’s Servant (Kushiel’s Legacy) by Jacqueline Carey

This novel, which tells the story of Kushiel’s Dart from Joscelin’s perspective, will be released on August 1 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

Joscelin’s characterization and relationship with Phèdre were some of my favorite parts of Kushiel’s Dart, so I’m excited to get his side of the story—especially after reading a blog post Jacqueline Carey wrote after turning in the draft. One part in particular that stood out to me was as follows:

Joscelin is a laconic character. That doesn’t change. But he’s also a complex and conflicted character. What he chooses to reveal is just the tip of the iceberg—he’s the embodiment of the phrase ‘actions speak louder than words.’ You’re going to see a lot more of what lies under the surface of those deep waters.

While waiting for its release in August, you can read an excerpt from Cassiel’s Servant on the Tor/Forge Blog.


The lush epic fantasy that inspired a generation with a single precept: “Love As Thou Wilt.”

Returning to the realm of Terre d’Ange which captured an entire generation of fantasy readers, New York Times bestselling author Jacqueline Carey brings us a hero’s journey for a new era.

In Kushiel’s Dart, a daring young courtesan uncovered a plot to destroy her beloved homeland. But hers is only half the tale. Now see the other half of the heart that lived it.

Cassiel’s Servant is a retelling of cult favorite Kushiel’s Dart from the point of view of Joscelin, Cassiline warrior-priest and protector of Phèdre nó Delaunay. He’s sworn to celibacy and the blade as surely as she’s pledged to pleasure, but the gods they serve have bound them together. When both are betrayed, they must rely on each other to survive.

From his earliest training to captivity amongst their enemies, his journey with Phèdre to avert the conquest of Terre D’Ange shatters body and mind… and brings him an impossible love that he will do anything to keep.

Even if it means breaking all vows and losing his soul.

Cover of The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord

The Blue, Beautiful World by Karen Lord

This science fiction novel by Mythopoeic Fantasy Award–winning author Karen Lord is coming out on August 29 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).

This is set in the same universe as the two previous Cygnus Beta novels, The Best of All Possible Worlds and The Galaxy Game. These are both getting new editions including some related short stories, and they are scheduled for release this summer.

I’m excited about The Blue, Beautiful World because of its connection to The Best of All Possible Worlds, winner of the Frank Collymore Literary Award and the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Science Fiction. As mentioned in my review, I found it to be thoughtful, entertaining, and surprisingly optimistic given that it follows the aftermath of the destruction of a planet and most of its people—made possible by largely focusing on moving forward and bringing people together.

(If you’re wondering what I mean about The Blue, Beautiful World being connected to The Best of All Possible Worlds, Martha Wells discussed this book a little for Women in SF&F Month in “Deconstructing Epics” and mentioned it includes some familiar characters.)


As first contact transforms Earth, a team of gifted visionaries race to create a new future in this wondrous science fiction novel from the award-winning author of The Best of All Possible Worlds.

The world is changing, and humanity must change with it. Rising seas and soaring temperatures have radically transformed the face of Earth. Meanwhile, Earth is being observed from afar by other civilizations . . . and now they are ready to make contact.

Vying to prepare humanity for first contact are a group of dreamers and changemakers, including Peter Hendrix, the genius inventor behind the most advanced VR tech; Charyssa, a beloved celebrity icon with a passion for humanitarian work; and Kanoa, a member of a global council of young people drafted to reimagine the relationship between humankind and alien societies.

And they may have an unexpected secret weapon: Owen, a pop megastar whose ability to connect with his adoring fans is more than charisma. His hidden talent could be the key to uniting Earth as it looks toward the stars.

But Owen’s abilities are so unique that no one can control him and so seductive that he cannot help but use them. Can he transcend his human limitations and find the freedom he has always dreamed of? Or is he doomed to become the dictator of his nightmares?