Top 10 Books I’m Looking Forward to in 2017

Every year there are so many good books that come out, and I know I can’t read them all, but there are always a special few that I keep my eyes peeled for, books that typically get bumped to the top of my reading list. So let’s take a moment to see which 10 books I’m most excited for that are coming out next year.

A Conversation in Blood, by Paul S Kemp
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Fantasy fiction has long welcomed adventurous rogues: Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, George R. R. Martin’s Dunk and Egg, and Scott Lynch’s Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen have all made their mark. In his Egil & Nix series, New York Times bestselling author Paul S. Kemp introduces a daring new duo to the ranks of fantasy fame—or is it infamy?

Nix is a nimble thief with just enough knowledge of magic to get into serious trouble. Egil is the only priest of a discredited god. Together, they seek riches and renown, but somehow it is always misadventure and mayhem that find them—even in the dive bar they call home. And their luck has yet to change.

All Nix wants to do is cheer Egil up after a bout of heartbreak. And, of course, strike it so rich that they need never worry about their combined bar bill. But when the light-fingered scoundrel plunders a tomb and snatches mysterious golden plates covered in runes, the treasure brings terrifying trouble. Pursued by an abomination full of ravenous hunger and unquenchable wrath, Egil and Nix find all they hold dear—including their beloved tavern—in dire peril. To say nothing of the world itself.


In Calabria, by Peter S Beagle
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From the acclaimed author of The Last Unicorn comes a new, exquisitely-told unicorn fable for the modern age.

Claudio Bianchi has lived alone for many years on a hillside in Southern Italy’s scenic Calabria. Set in his ways and suspicious of outsiders, Claudio has always resisted change, preferring farming and writing poetry. But one chilly morning, as though from a dream, an impossible visitor appears at the farm. When Claudio comes to her aid, an act of kindness throws his world into chaos. Suddenly he must stave off inquisitive onlookers, invasive media, and even more sinister influences.

Lyrical, gripping, and wise, In Calabria confirms Peter S. Beagle’s continuing legacy as one of fantasy’s most legendary authors.


The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley
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Somewhere on the outer rim of the universe, a mass of decaying world-ships known as the Legion is traveling in the seams between the stars.Here in the darkness, a war for control of the Legion has been waged for generations, with no clear resolution.

As worlds continue to die, a desperate plan is put into motion.

Zan wakes with no memory, prisoner of a people who say they are her family. She is told she is their salvation – the only person capable of boarding the Mokshi, a world-ship with the power to leave the Legion. But Zan’s new family is not the only one desperate to gain control of the prized ship. Zan finds that she must choose sides in a genocidal campaign that will take her from the edges of the Legion’s gravity well to the very belly of the world.

Zan will soon learn that she carries the seeds of the Legion’s destruction – and its possible salvation. But can she and the band of cast-off followers she has gathered survive the horrors of the Legion and its people long enough to deliver it?


A Tyranny of Queens, by Foz Meadows
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Saffron Coulter has returned from the fantasy kingdom of Kena. Threatened with a stay in psychiatric care, Saffron has to make a choice: to forget about Kena and fit back into the life she’s outgrown, or pit herself against everything she’s ever known and everyone she loves.

Meanwhile in Kena, Gwen is increasingly troubled by the absence of Leoden, cruel ruler of the kingdom, and his plans for the captive worldwalkers, while Yena, still in Veksh, must confront the deposed Kadeja. What is their endgame? Who can they trust? And what will happen when Leoden returns?

 


 

The Stone Sky, by N K Jemisin
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THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

The remarkable conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed trilogy that began with the multi-award-nominated The Fifth Season.


The House of Binding Thorns, by Aliette de Bodard
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As the city rebuilds from the onslaught of sorcery that nearly destroyed it, the great Houses of Paris, ruled by fallen angels, still contest one another for control over the capital.

House Silverspires was once the most powerful, but just as it sought to rise again, an ancient evil brought it low. Phillippe, an immortal who escaped the carnage, has a singular goal—to resurrect someone he lost. But the cost of such magic might be more than he can bear.

In House Hawthorn, Madeleine the alchemist has had her addiction to angel essence savagely broken. Struggling to live on, she is forced on a perilous diplomatic mission to the underwater dragon kingdom—and finds herself in the midst of intrigues that have already caused one previous emissary to mysteriously disappear….

As the Houses seek a peace more devastating than war, those caught between new fears and old hatreds must find strength—or fall prey to a magic that seeks to bind all to its will.


The End of the Day, by Claire North
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At the end of the day, Death visits everyone. Right before that, Charlie does.

You might meet him in a hospital, in a warzone, or at the scene of a traffic accident.

Then again, you might meet him at the North Pole – he gets everywhere, our Charlie.

Would you shake him by the hand, take the gift he offers, or would you pay no attention to the words he says?

Sometimes he is sent as a courtesy, sometimes as a warning. He never knows which.

 


Tyrant’s Throne, by Sebastien de Castell
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After years of struggle and sacrifice, Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead king’s dream: Aline, the king’s daughter, is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once and for all.

But for the Greatcoats, nothing is ever that simple. In the neighboring country of Avares, an enigmatic new warlord is uniting the barbarian armies that have long plagued Tristia’s borders–and even worse, he is rumored to have a new ally: Trin, who’s twice tried to kill Aline to claim the throne of Tristia for herself. With the armies of Avares at her back, led by a bloodthirsty warrior, she’ll be unstoppable.

Falcio, Kest, and Brasti race north to stop her, but in those cold and treacherous climes they discover something altogether different, and far more dangerous: a new player is planning to take the throne of Tristia, and with a sense of dread the three friends realize that the Greatcoats, for all their skill, may not be able to stop him.

As the nobles of Tristia and even the Greatcoats themselves fight over who should rule, the Warlord of Avares threatens to invade. With so many powerful contenders vying for power, it will fall to Falcio to render the one verdict he cannot bring himself to utter, much less enforce. Should he help crown the young woman he vowed to put on the throne, or uphold the laws he swore to serve?


ReV: the Third Machine Dynasty, by Madeline Ashby
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In the final instalment of the influential Machine Dynasty series, the rapture for which the self-replicating humanoids were engineered finally comes to pass.

Now that the failsafe that once kept synthetic beings from harming humans has been hacked, all vNare discovering the promise – and the peril –of free will. Her consciousness unleashed across computer systems all across the world, the vicious vN Portia stands poised to finally achieve her lifelong dream of bringing feeble, fleshy humanity to its knees.

The battle between Portia and granddaughter Amy comes to its ultimate conclusion. Can Amy get her family to the stars before Portia destroys every opportunity for escape and freedom?


The Broken Heavens, by Kameron Hurley
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The convergence between worlds is coming to an end, but only one world can survive. Who will be sacrificed? What ends will the people of these worlds go to to protect their people?

The Dhai nation has broken apart under the onslaught of the Tai Kao, invaders from a parallel world. With the Dhai in retreat, Kirana, leader of the Tai Kao, establishes a base in Oma’s temple and instructs her astrologers to begin unravelling the method by which they can use the temples to close the way between worlds.

With the worlds ravaged by war and Oma failing, only one world can survive. Who will be sacrificed, and what will the desperate people of these worlds do to protect themselves?

Top 10 Books I Regret Not Reading in 2016

Every year there are books released that, for one reason or another, I end up not finding the time or ability to read. Here’s my list of books that I regret not having read in 2016.

United States of Japan, by Peter Tieryas
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Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.

Captain Beniko Ishimura’s job is to censor video games, and he’s working with Agent Akiko Tsukino of the secret police to get to the bottom of this disturbing new development. But Ishimura’s hiding something… He’s slowly been discovering that the case of the George Washingtons is more complicated than it seems, and the subversive videogame’s origins are even more controversial and dangerous than either of them originally suspected.

Part detective story, part brutal alternate history, United States of Japan is a stunning successor to Philip K Dick’s The Man in the High Castle.

Summerlong, by Peter S Beagle
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It was a typically unpleasant Puget Sound winter before the arrival of Lioness Lazos. An enigmatic young waitress with strange abilities, when the lovely Lioness comes to Gardner Island even the weather takes notice.

As an impossibly beautiful spring leads into a perfect summer, Lioness is drawn to a complicated family. She is taken in by two disenchanted lovers—dynamic Joanna Delvecchio and scholarly Abe Aronson — visited by Joanna’s previously unlucky-in-love daughter, Lily. With Lioness in their lives, they are suddenly compelled to explore their deepest dreams and desires.

Lioness grows more captivating as the days grow longer. Her new family thrives, even as they may be growing apart. But lingering in Lioness’s past is a dark secret — and even summer days must pass.

 

A Lovely Way to Burn, by Louise Welsh
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A pandemic called ‘The Sweats’ is sweeping the globe. London is a city in crisis. Hospitals begin to fill with the dead and dying, but Stevie Flint is convinced that the sudden death of her boyfriend Dr Simon Sharkey was not from natural causes. As roads out of London become gridlocked with people fleeing infection, Stevie’s search for Simon’s killers takes her in the opposite direction, into the depths of the dying city and a race with death.

A Lovely Way to Burn is the first outbreak in the Plague Times trilogy. Chilling, tense and completely compelling, it’s Louise Welsh writing at the height of her powers.

 

 

Warrior Witch, by Danielle L Jensen
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Cécile and Tristan have accomplished the impossible, but their greatest challenge remains: defeating the evil they have unleashed upon the world.

As they scramble for a way to protect the people of the Isle and liberate the trolls from their tyrant king, Cécile and Tristan must battle those who’d see them dead. To win, they will risk everything. And everyone.

But it might not be enough. Both Cécile and Tristan have debts, and they will be forced to pay them at a cost far greater than they had ever imagined.

Cold-Forged Flame, by Marie Brennan
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The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.
And so, in reply, there is a woman.

At the beginning―no―at the end―she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.

Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.

This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only have been spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war―and of fate.

The Copper Promise, by Jen Williams
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There are some tall stories about the caverns beneath the Citadel – about magic and mages and monsters and gods. Wydrin of Crosshaven has heard them all, but she’s spent long enough trawling caverns and taverns with her companion Sir Sebastian to learn that there’s no money to be made in chasing rumours.

But then a crippled nobleman with a dead man’s name offers them a job: exploring the Citadel’s darkest depths. It sounds like just another quest with gold and adventure …if they’re lucky, they might even have a tale of their own to tell once it’s over.

These reckless adventurers will soon learn that sometimes there is truth in rumour. Sometimes a story can save your life.

 

Seoul Survivors, by Naomi Foyle
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In Seoul Survivors, praised for its “impeccable plotting” by The Guardian, global warming has wreaked havoc on the planet. There is only one safe place to be: in the mountains above Seoul, glamorous Korean-American bioengineer Dr. Kim Da Mi is convinced she has found the perfect solution to save the human race. But her methods are strange and her business partner, Johnny Sandman, is a, unsavory character with many secrets.

When impetuous aspiring model Sydney flies to Seoul at the behest of her boyfriend, Johnny Sandman, and meets Dr. Kim Da Mi, she doesn’t know that the scientist is engaged in a secret power struggle with Johnny that will threaten her own life.

Seduced by the visionary scientist, Sydney begins helping Kim Da Mi create a new breed of human beings to staff a revolutionary theme park: VirtuWorld. As the Winter Solstice looms, the Internet is rife with rumors that a devastating meteor called Lucifer’s Hammer is heading straight toward Earth. VirtuWorld would be a haven from eco-apocalypse, but its success demands a sacrifice–just whose blood will spill is far from certain until the final pages of this tense cyber-thriller.

The Wall of Storms, by Ken Liu
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In the much-anticipated sequel to the “magnificent fantasy epic” (NPR) Grace of Kings, Emperor Kuni Garu is faced with the invasion of an invincible army in his kingdom and must quickly find a way to defeat the intruders.

Kuni Garu, now known as Emperor Ragin, runs the archipelago kingdom of Dara, but struggles to maintain progress while serving the demands of the people and his vision. Then an unexpected invading force from the Lyucu empire in the far distant west comes to the shores of Dara—and chaos results.

But Emperor Kuni cannot go and lead his kingdom against the threat himself with his recently healed empire fraying at the seams, so he sends the only people he trusts to be Dara’s savvy and cunning hopes against the invincible invaders: his children, now grown and ready to make their mark on history.

Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal
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Ghost Talkers: a new novel from beloved fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal featuring the mysterious spirit corps and their heroic work in World War I.

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Harford, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.

Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.

Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she’s just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

Everfair, by Nisi Shawl
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Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.

Nisi Shawl’s speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history.

Top 11 Books I Read in 2016

Though the year isn’t quite over, I think it’s safe to say I’m at a point where I can choose my top books of the year. I doubt I’m going to read something so awesome in the next 2 weeks that it will bump a title from this list.

I’m pretty thrilled to have read so many outstanding books this year. Some years it’s hard to choose a Top 10 list. Other years, I have to break it down by genre because I read so many great titles. This year wasn’t a phenomenal reading year in terms of numbers, so I felt pretty safe lumping everything together in one list, though even so, I still had to go beyond Top 10 and throw on an extra book because I couldn’t choose which book to eliminate to bring this list to an even number.

So without further ado, my Top 11 books I read in 2016. Regardless of when they were published.

Planetfall, by Emma Newman
Review here

This book had me stopping periodically to ponder the implications of what I’d just read. On the surface it’s an interesting exploration of the development of a human colony on another world, and it doesn’t have to be more than that to be a really interesting story. And then you throw in elements like how humanity relates to the idea of divinity and how that idea along can shape the development of civilization, and even there, if that was all it was, it would be a great story. But then it goes and plays right to my love of twisting classic mythic stories, in this case as a retelling of Judeo-Christian creation myths, and told from the perspective of a broken character, and I freaking loved  the whole experience of reading Planetfall. Newman’s a great author, and this whole story was immensely compelling.  And now that I’ve said that, I kind of want to go reread this book so that I can refresh my memory for After Atlas.


Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire
Review here

Imagine, if you will, having a dream where you were dragging outside of the reality you know, to something that’s like a pocket universe. Now imagine that you feel comfortable there, that for the first time in your life you feel like you could really be, despite any melancholy at leaving your old life behind; it actually feels comforting to imagine yourself back in that place, once you’ve woken up and have to deal with reality again. Imagine nobody understanding, and telling you that what you find so comforting is probably a manifestation of depression and of being mentally and emotionally unhealthy. Now imagine coming across a book that deals with just that issue, with people falling into their own pocket dimensions that somehow they fit into, that aren’t exactly tailor-made for them but that resonate with them in a way that nothing else has. Now imagine the author of such a thing looking at you and going, “Want an asexual protagonist so that this can seem even more like you?” and dammit, Seanan McGuire, are you spying on my life? Because seriously, Every Heart a Doorway hit me so hard because of exactly that circumstance (barring the author actually talking to me about ace protags), and I don’t think I’d ever related so hard to a character or circumstance. This novella is effing brilliant, and I love it.


Regeneration, by Stephanie Saulter
Review here

Whatever Stephanie Saulter writes, I think I’m going to read. I’ve loved the whole of the ®evolution series, and all of its commentary on discrimination and intersectionality, and its brilliant characters that are properly fleshed-out and feel like real people with all their skills and flaws. As I mention in my full review, I really enjoy books that feature fighting for the right to be acknowledged, and that involve breaking the mold of expectations. I love every concept dealt with over the course of this series, and Regeneration is the culmination of some seriously amazing stuff that definitely needs to be read by fans of social sci-fi. This series has, time and again, just blown me away.

(This is one of those things that’s hard to describe in just a short blurb without resorting to incoherent flailing over how good it is. Apologies.)


The Chimes, by Anna Smaill
Review here

This is one of those genre-defying books that’s definitely speculative, but I’m positive it could appeal to fans of more contemporary fiction. I love books that play with ideas of language, which The Chimes does amazingly by combining it with musical concepts. The writing itself is extremely lyrical, poetic, and it’s a treat to read. It’s definitely a slow-burn kind of novel, and it’s very light on the action sequences, but I really enjoy that when an author can pull it off properly. As Smaill did here. It’s evocative and wonderful and there’s possibly one of the most adorable couples ever, and I really enjoyed reading about how their relationship slowly developed. It’s a singular kind of novel that only gets encountered rarely, and it’s really worth taking your time on so you can fully appreciate all it does. If you like musical themes in your specfic, then track this one down, because it’s seriously amazing.


An Accident of Stars, by Foz Meadows
Review here

Words can’t begin to properly express how awesome Meadows is at creating complex and realistic fantasy worlds and the cultures and people that dwell within. I’m a huge culture-nerd, so I love seeing fantasy worlds that don’t fall back on the old standby of being based on Western European ideals. Plus I’m also a sucker for stories involving people traveling from one world to the next and the adjustment they have to go through as they discover how everything works; I guess I like culture shock stories. And I wouldn’t say that An Accident of Stars is just a culture shock story, but it does have elements of that in it, and I really enjoyed them. But it’s so much more, as there’s amazing political commentary, some phenomenal worldbuilding, amazing characters, and hot damn, I’m really looking forward to being able to read the sequel so I can continue the story.


The Obelisk Gate, by N K Jemisin
Review here

I have yet to read anything of Jemisin’s that I dislike. Even when her work deals with uncomfortable themes, I read on, because the discomfort is the point and there’s a reason she’s tackling difficult stuff. The Obelisk Gate is the continuation of Essun and Nassun’s stories after The Fifth Season, in a world that’s on the brink of dying due to geological instability, only that seems like a description that’s barely scratching the surface. Jemisin’s worldbuilding is never less than superb, and there’s so much amazing detail here that you can’t help but feel that it’s all starkly and dangerously real, that outside your own window might be a glimpse of what’s being described on that pages, and it’s utterly fantastic. This is another one where I’m desperate for the sequel, and I can’t wait to get my grubby little hands on it. (That pretty much holds true for anything Jemisin writes, to be honest. I need it in my collection. She’s definitely one of my must-read authors.)


Invisible Planets, edited by Ken Liu
Review here

As I said before, I’m a sucker for cultural stuff, so the chance to explore some of the best of China’s sci-fi was awesome. I couldn’t say to you what makes it different from western sci-fi, exactly, though the stories in Invisible Planets do have a different feel to them than a lot of other sci-fi I’ve read, and I can’t say if that’s representative of the genre or of the authors whose works were showcased here. Either way, this is a brilliant collection of stories that I adored reading, but not just stories, since there were some essays in here too, which provided greater background and depth to things. This is the sort of book we need to see more of, translations of non-English SFF, and I highly recommend checking this collection out if you get the chance. Totally worth it, especially if you want to broaden your horizons with some translated SF.


Fix, by Ferrett Steinmetz
Review here

Steinmetz’s ‘Mancy series has done something that’s pretty uncommon for me when it comes to urban fantasy: it made me hungry for more. UF isn’t typically my thing, and it’s tough to find stuff I like within it, but I freaking adored this whole series, and it just got better as it went on. Complex characters, moral issues, shades of grey all over the place, and nothing is what you think it is at first glance. Plus these books feature an overweight kickass woman who’s ridiculously skilled at video games, and I can relate to aspects of Valentine’s character, and to be blunt, it’s freaking nice to see an overweight character now and again when there whole of their character isn’t summed up by the phrase “weight problems.” Valentine is so much more than her body, and I love her for it. I need more characters like her in my life.


The Geek Feminist Revolution, by Kameron Hurley
Review here

It’s not often that a nonfiction book gets a highlight here, but Hurley’s collection of essays on feminism are effing amazing, and they’re sure to piss some people off, and I think that’s exactly why you should read them. They offer brutal insight into what it’s like to be a woman struggling to find respect when history and culture and all the people around you tell you that you’re not worth respecting. She pulls no punches, you makes you feel uncomfortable whether you’re male or female or both or neither, and I came out the other side of this book feeling inspired and empowered, angry and aware. It’s powerful and it’s an amazing insight into so many issues that women deal with, not just in geekdom and the SFF community (though that is a lot of the focus) but in general, and it’s an eye-opener. I shed tears while reading this. That makes it worth it, in my opinion.


The Nature of a Pirate, by A M Dellamonica
Review here

I wouldn’t have thought that fantasy based on the Age of Sail would be my thing. Then I read Child of a Hidden Sea. And now I’ve just recently finished the third book in the series and holy crap, these books are great. The dialogue’s snappy, thew characters are amazingly realistic, and Dellamonica’s world-building is top-notch. I haven’t read anything of hers that I’ve disliked; she really knows how to go all-out with creating a compelling world and great characters to fill it. I love Sophie, I love Bram, I love Garland Parrish, I love that even the characters who only appear for a short time still feel like real people. This is the kind of book — no, the kind of series — that doesn’t want to let you go once it’s had the chance to gets its hands on you, and I love the adventures that Sophie goes on as she experiences more of Stormwrack and uncovers its secrets. Damn amazing, I tell you!


The Second Death, by T Frohock
Review here

Fallen angels. And music. And the twisting of Judeo-Christian myths. And two dudes in a committed relationship and also raising a kid together. And yup, Frohock knows how to push all the right buttons, and for all that each book in the Los Nefilim series is short (they’re all novellas rather than full-length novels), they’re amazing and she crams so much into so few words. She’s a pro at playing with dark fantasy, and I’ve devoured each piece of this story that she writes, and I always want more at the end. Every aspect of this is right for what I want to read more of in my life, and if you haven’t checked out her work yet, then this series is a great place to start.