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 actually been a little while since there were any new books to feature, but an ARC and a finished copy showed up in the mail last week. In case you missed them, there have been two new reviews since then, which covered two books with enemies-to-love-interests arcs that I had very different reactions to:

  • Review of The Jasad Heir (The Scorched Throne #1) by Sara Hashem This was one of the most fun books I’ve read this year with its banter, dark humor, and fantastic character dynamics: a protagonist who has lost her sense of self in her struggle to survive as opposed to her calculating, self-assured enemy/love interest. Sylvia’s rage, voice, and stabby personality made this a delight.
  • Review of The Hurricane Wars (The Hurricane Wars #1) by Thea Guanzon This had a rough start before becoming more compelling for a few chapters, but it ended up being far too repetitive for my tastes. The two main characters did not have a lot of depth or nuance, and they just kept repeating the same basic scenarios that highlighted the same problems and misunderstandings.

On to the latest books!

Cover of Faebound by Saara El-Arifi

Faebound (Faebound Trilogy #1) by Saara El-Arifi

The first book in a new series by Saara El-Arifi will be released on January 23, 2024 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The Penguin Random House website has an excerpt from Faebound.

The biggest reason I’m interested in this novel is because The Final Strife, Saara El-Arifi’s debut novel and the first book in The Ending Fire trilogy, was my Book of the Year in 2022. Here’s what I wrote about it when reflecting on my favorite reads of the year:

Simultaneously thoughtful and fun, The Final Strife explores injustice amidst storylines about uncovering mysteries about the world, a newfound friendship with potential for romance, and a tournament that’s about a variety of types of strength, not just who can fight the best. This fantasy setting feels real and lived in due to having a rich history that’s fleshed out through the characters’ perspectives, oral stories, and epigraphs. With a prologue that drew me in immediately and wonderful worldbuilding, storytelling, protagonists, and pacing that kept me hooked, The Final Strife is easily my favorite book of 2022.

You can also read my review of The Final Strife here, and Saara El-Arifi’s Women in SF&F Month essay, “Routes to my roots,” here.

Given my love of the fae and how much I enjoyed this author’s debut novel, I’m very excited for Faebound—plus I was rather intrigued by the first few lines!


Two elven sisters become imprisoned in the intoxicating world of the fae, where danger and love lie in wait. Faebound is the first book in an enchanting new trilogy from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Final Strife.

“A romantic fantasy of epic proportions, crackling with magic and passion.”—Samantha Shannon, bestselling author of The Priory of the Orange Tree

Yeeran was born on the battlefield, has lived on the battlefield, and one day, she knows, she’ll die on the battlefield.

As a warrior in the elven army, Yeeran has known nothing but violence her whole life. Her sister, Lettle, is trying to make a living as a diviner, seeking prophecies of a better future.

When a fatal mistake leads to Yeeran’s exile from the Elven Lands, both sisters are forced into the terrifying wilderness beyond their borders.

There they encounter the impossible: the fae court. The fae haven’t been seen for a millennium. But now Yeeran and Lettle are thrust into their seductive world, torn among their loyalties to each other, their elven homeland, and their hearts.

Cover of The Serpent & the Wings of Night by Carissa Broadbent

The Serpent & the Wings of Night (The Nightborn Duet #1) by Carissa Broadbent

This fantasy romance novel is the first book in The Crowns of Nyxia, a series containing three duologies starting with The Nightborn Duet. A new hardcover edition of The Serpent & the Wings of Night, which was originally self published, was just released last week. It’s also available in audiobook and ebook, and a trade paperback edition will follow in May 2024. The second book, The Ashes & the Star-Cursed King, will be rereleased in June 2024.

I’ve heard good things about this book (mostly on the Fantasy Romance Reddit), and after reading a sample on Amazon, I thought it looked intriguing.


The first book in the Wall Street Journal bestselling Crowns of Nyaxia series by Carissa Broadbent. Filled with heart-wrenching romance, dark magic, and bloodthirsty intrigue–perfect for fans of From Blood and Ash and A Court of Thorns and Roses.

For humans and vampires, the rules of survival are the same: never trust, never yield, and always – always – guard your heart.

The adopted human daughter of the Nightborn vampire king, Oraya carved her place in a world designed to kill her. Her only chance to become something more than prey is entering the Kejari: a legendary tournament held by the goddess of death herself.

But winning won’t be easy amongst the most vicious warriors from all three vampire houses. To survive, Oraya is forced to make an alliance with a mysterious rival.

Everything about Raihn is dangerous. He is a ruthless vampire, an efficient killer, an enemy to her father’s crown… and her greatest competition. Yet, what terrifies Oraya most of all is that she finds herself oddly drawn to him.

But there’s no room for compassion in the Kejari. War for the House of Night brews, shattering everything that Oraya thought she knew about her home. And Raihn may understand her more than anyone – but their blossoming attraction could be her downfall, in a kingdom where nothing is more deadly than love.

Read this FAQ to learn more!