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. Book cover links are affiliate links to Bookshop, and I earn from qualifying purchases.

This post technically should have gone up last weekend, but it was postponed since I hadn’t been expecting to have any books to highlight then. One of these books showed up in the mail on Friday and I purchased the other later the same day, but I had already planned to spend my weekend blogging time on a post for the following Monday.

That post and the others that have gone up since the last one of these features are here in case you missed any of them:

  • Guest Post by The Promised Queen Author Jeffe Kennedy — Jeffe Kennedy discussed the illusion of “making it” as a writer and there being times career authors need to reinvent themselves.
  • The Best of World SF Giveaway and Excerpt — An excerpt from the introduction by editor Lavie Tidhar and a giveaway of a copy of this anthology, just released in the US last week. (Giveaway ends June 7; those from the continental US are eligible to win.)
  • Review of Hall of Smoke by H. M. Long — There were a lot of things that felt different to me about this story of a priestess of the Goddess of War trying to make things right after disobeying her goddess. I really appreciated that about it and enjoyed it overall, although there were a couple of stretches I found a bit dull in the first half and it didn’t have quite enough exploration of in-depth character relationships for my personal taste.

And now, the latest books!

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker - Book Cover

The Keeper of Night (The Keeper of Night #1) by Kylie Lee Baker

Kylie Lee Baker’s debut novel, a dark YA fantasy about a soul collector in 1890s Japan, will be out on October 12 (hardcover, ebook). The Keeper of Night is the first book in a duology of the same name, and the second book is scheduled for release in fall 2022.

This book’s description intrigued me, and I only found it even more intriguing after reading an interview with the author at one of my favorite book blogs, The Quiet Pond. This Q&A was included with the reveal of the gorgeous cover created by Jessica Coppet and Kathleen Oudit, and Kylie Lee Baker discussed the cover art and the book’s inspirations, including Shinto mythology, Japanese folklore, and her own experiences:

“There are a lot of fantasy stories where someone is half human and half god, or half fairy, half monster, etc. As a biracial person, being torn between two worlds isn’t just a fantasy trope to me, but something I’ve dealt with my whole life. I wanted to create a character who was part of two different “species” (Reaper and Shinigami) but also two different races, in order to really intensely examine what it’s like to not belong anywhere. I wanted a protagonist who was powerful because of her mixed background, even if she doesn’t always realize it. So the idea for Ren Scarborough came first, and the rest of the book grew around her from my morbid love of stories about death and the afterlife, as well as the Reapers in Black Butler, one of my favorite shows.”

Read the interview on The Quiet Pond.


A girl of two worlds, accepted by none… A half Reaper, half Shinigami soul collector seeks her destiny in this haunting and compulsively readable dark fantasy set in 1890s Japan.

Death is her destiny.

Half British Reaper, half Japanese Shinigami, Ren Scarborough has been collecting souls in the London streets for centuries. Expected to obey the harsh hierarchy of the Reapers who despise her, Ren conceals her emotions and avoids her tormentors as best she can.

When her failure to control her Shinigami abilities drives Ren out of London, she flees to Japan to seek the acceptance she’s never gotten from her fellow Reapers. Accompanied by her younger brother, the only being on earth to care for her, Ren enters the Japanese underworld to serve the Goddess of Death…only to learn that here, too, she must prove herself worthy. Determined to earn respect, Ren accepts an impossible task—find and eliminate three dangerous Yokai demons—and learns how far she’ll go to claim her place at Death’s side.

The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy - Book Cover

The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) by Jeffe Kennedy

The Orchid Throne, the first book in a romantic fantasy trilogy by RITA and RT Reviewers’ Choice Award–winning author Jeffe Kennedy, is available in mass market paperback and ebook (excerpt).

The Forgotten Empires trilogy was recently completed with the release of The Promised Queen, which comes after The Fiery Crown.


In the Forgotten Empires magic is forbidden, dreams are destiny, and love is the greatest power of all…Perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, the lush romantic fantasy world of the Forgotten Empires series will sweep you away.

As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Lia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Lia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?