The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature in which I highlight books I got over the last week that sound 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’s been a little while since one of these posts since I bought some books right before or during vacation, and then I never went back and caught up. Here’s what has been posted since the last feature in case you missed it:

  • Review of Cassiel’s Servant by Jacqueline Carey This companion to Kushiel’s Dart following the same events from Joscelin’s perspective is my favorite fantasy book I’ve read this year. Once again, Jacqueline Carey has written a beautiful novel that shows why she’s a master storyteller.
  • Review of Witch King by Martha Wells I loved the idea of this standalone epic fantasy novel, a story about found family bound by a rebellion that follows a past storyline about how they became legends and a present-day storyline. But after an intriguing beginning, I found it didn’t hold my interest.

Due to time restraints, I’m not going to cover all the books I got right before or on my vacation. I decided to narrow it down to 2023 debut novels since I bought a couple of new releases and just got one coming soon in the mail from the publisher a couple days ago. All three of these were featured in my Anticipated 2023 Speculative Fiction Book Releases post.

Cover of The Hurricane Wars by Thea Guanzon

The Hurricane Wars (The Hurricane Wars #1) by Thea Guanzon

The Hurricane Wars, the first book in a fantasy romance trilogy by debut author Thea Guanzon, will be released on October 3 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). A large print edition is coming out on November 7.

The Harper Collins website has an excerpt and information on an upcoming author event, a virtual one hosted by The Novel Neighbor bookstore on October 3.

I’ve been excited for this since reading the book announcement for The Hurricane Wars, which says it’s “set in a Southeast Asian-inspired world and features a wartime enemies-to-lovers romance with plenty of magic, airships, strange beasts, and a marriage of political convenience between sworn foes.”


The fates of two bitter enemies with opposing magical abilities are swept together in The Hurricane Wars, the spellbinding debut in a fantasy romance trilogy set in a Southeast Asia–inspired world ravaged by storms, perfect for fans of Fourth Wing and A Court of Thorns and Roses

The heart is a battlefield.

All Talasyn has ever known is the Hurricane Wars. Growing up an orphan in a nation under siege by the ruthless Night Emperor, she found her family among the soldiers who fight for freedom. But she is hiding a deadly secret: light magic courses through her veins, a blazing power believed to have been wiped out years ago that can cut through the Night Empire’s shadows.

Prince Alaric, the emperor’s only son and heir, has been tasked with obliterating any threats to the Night Empire’s rule with the strength of his armies and mighty shadow magic. He discovers the greatest threat yet in Talasyn: a girl burning brightly on the battlefield with the magic that killed his grandfather, turned his father into a monster, and ignited the Hurricane Wars. He tries to kill her, but in a clash of light and dark, their powers merge and create a force the likes of which has never been seen.

This war can only end with them. But an even greater danger is coming, and the strange magic they can create together could be the only way to overcome it. Talasyn and Alaric must decide… are they fated to join hands, or destroy each other?

An exquisite fantasy brimming with unforgettable characters and sizzling enemies-to-lovers romance set in a richly drawn world, The Hurricane Wars marks the breathtaking debut of an extraordinary new writer.

Cover of Forged By Blood by Ehigbor Okosun

Forged by Blood (The Tainted Blood Duology #1) by Ehigbor Okosun

Ehigbor Okosun’s fantasy debut novel was released in August (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The Harper Collins website has an excerpt from Forged by Blood.

The author discussed stories and writing her book in “Myth and Magic, Seen and Unseen”:

Myth is shape-shifting eternity wrapped in godhood and shadow.

The first time I share a story with a friend, I am six or seven. She listens enraptured, pausing me now and then to ask questions or interject: Why doesn’t the tortoise fear getting hurt? Mami wata can only catch you if you jump into water alone. Should we pretend to sleep, and when our parents are abed, wander into the twilight in search of vengeful deer spirits?

We never did bring our offering of sticky buns and cold bean porridge to the moss-covered grove near the flat we’d all piled into for the weekend. We woke instead to promises of milk-smothered custard and packed our planned adventures away for another time. I did, however, spend the next two decades thinking of the last question she left me: “I love these stories. But they’re like us, aren’t they? They aren’t real.”

“What do you mean?” I ask, heart in my throat, belly so full of fear that she knows something I don’t.

The rest of Ehigbor Okosun’s Women in SF&F Month essay can be read here.


Ehigbor Okosun’s first book in an action-packed, poignant duology inspired by Nigerian mythology—full of magic and emotion and set in a highly atmospheric, complex world in which a young woman fights to survive a tyrannical society, having everything stripped away from her, and seeks vengeance for her mother’s murder and the spilled blood of her people.

In the midst of a tyrannical regime and political invasion, Dèmi just wants to survive: to avoid the suspicion of the nonmagical Ajes who occupy her ancestral homeland of Ife; to escape the King’s brutal genocide of her people—the darker skinned, magic wielding Oluso; and to live peacefully with her secretive mother while learning to control the terrifying blood magic that is her birthright.

But when Dèmi’s misplaced trust costs her mother’s life, survival gives way to vengeance. She bides her time until the devious Lord Ekwensi grants her the perfect opportunity—kidnap the Aje prince, Jonas, and bargain with his life to save the remaining Oluso. With the help of her reckless childhood friend Colin, Dèmi succeeds, but discovers that she and Jonas share more than deadly secrets; every moment tangles them further into a forbidden, unmistakable attraction, much to Colin’s—and Dèmi’s—distress.

The kidnapping is now a joint mission: to return to the King, help get Lord Ekwensi on the council, and bolster the voice of the Oluso in a system designed to silence them. But the way is dangerous, Dèmi’s magic is growing yet uncertain, and it’s not clear if she can trust the two men at her side.

A tale of rebellion and redemption, race and class, love and trust and betrayal, Forged by Blood is epic fantasy at its finest, from an enthusiastic, emerging voice.

Cover of The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa

The Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing-Giwa

Kemi Ashing-Giwa’s space opera debut novel was released in July (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). has an excerpt from The Splinter in the Sky.

The author discussed how family plays a role in her novel as part of this year’s Women in SF&F Month:

The Splinter in the Sky is a space opera spy thriller about a tea specialist-turned-assassin who embarks on a mission to save her sibling and avenge her fallen lover. It’s a story that examines the far-reaching effects of imperialism and colonialism, as well as the simultaneous commodification, absorption, and erasure of culture. It explores how systems of oppression—and the beliefs sustaining them—rise and fall. But most importantly, The Splinter in the Sky is a story about family.

I am a child of immigrants. My mother is from Trinidad, my father is from Nigeria. My mother’s mother moved from Grenada, and her father sailed to the Carribbean from China. (The “Ashing” in my surname comes from Hua Ching, which British officials found too difficult to pronounce.) My extended family is collectively fluent in five or six languages. (Not I, though. My first language was actually Spanish, but I lost all fluency because everyone spoke English to me after I was about five. Alas and alack!)

The rest of Kemi Ashing-Giwa’s essay can be read here.


An instant USA Today Bestseller

The dust may have settled in the war of conquest between the Holy Vaalbaran Empire and the Ominirish Republic, but the Empire’s surrender means little. Especially to a lowly scribe like Enitan, given her country’s continuing status as a Vaalbaran province. All she wants is to quit her day job and expand her fledgling tea business. But when imperial agents assassinate her lover and abduct her sibling, Enitan abandons her idyllic plans and embarks on a rescue mission, weaving her tea tray up through the heart of the Vaalbaran capital.

Her enemies are countless, clever, and powerful beyond measure. There’s a new God-Emperor on the throne, and her reign promises to change the star system forever. And as Enitan sinks deeper into the Empire’s bloody conspiracies, she discovers just how far she’s willing to go to exact vengeance, save her sibling, and perhaps even restore her homeland’s freedom.