2015 – July

Aurealis Award judging has started once more – last year I listed them separately but this year I think I’ll just leave them off – it’s not like I can discuss them at all.

This year I’ll be judging the first year of the Sara Douglass Series Award, which shall try to determine the BEST series that was finalised between the years 2011 and 2014. Sara Douglass was an amazing Australian author who sadly passed in 2011 (and we can’t believe it was so long ago already), and we are very glad to have been able to name the award for her, as her series got countless people into speculative fiction.

At an estimate we’ll be reading more than 80 series, and as most series have three-five books… it’s going to be an incredibly fun, exhausting feat I’m sure!

Onto the novels read in July!

The Philosopher Kings

The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton was brilliant. Utterly brilliant. I still love the first book more, however this was truly a joy to read. I’m so glad I was slack on reviewing the preview that was available on NetGalley so I only had to wait a day or so for the full book to come out!

You can read my short review of the preview here.

The Night They Stormed Eureka

The Night They Stormed Eureka by Jackie French was quite enjoyable – not my favourite of this series Jackie does telling Australian history in short snippets, but it was quite good. I like how she turns usually dull or unlikable characters into someone you care about, by making them well-rounded and understandable. Once you see their view they’re suddenly human, and hence, easier to like!

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan was a re-read because I wanted to get the series done. I remember really, really loving this book, so you can imagine my sorrow when the suck-fairy seems to have visited since. The dialogue is still fun and wacky, but overall the book was disappointing. Especially since I was looking forward to reading it so much.

Untold (The Lynburn Legacy, #2)

Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan was a quick read, at least.

Unmade (The Lynburn Legacy, #3)

Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan was very disappointing. Never has a love-triangle seemed so forced. Moving on!

Snow Crash

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson was a book gifted to me by my partner – I forget where we were at the time (probably somewhere in England, unless it was during the Melbourne holiday…) where he had to try to find a book I didn’t already own that I should read. And this would have been back in 2011 or something. Finally it came up for book club, so I jumped at the chance to finally read it! And it was really, really good! It somehow seems to have been written long before it actually was, making the leaps of guesses at technology seem amazing – yet it wasn’t written all that long ago, really. Props to making Y. T. an excellent and engaging character, and if only Hiro had remained as interesting as he was initially.

Perfect State

Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson was an enjoyable, quick read. A few elements of the female character were disappointing, but I wasn’t expecting much better, to be honest. Also annoying when you get a book that says it’s however many pages long, then a whole chunk of them turn out to be not-book pages.

Cloudwish

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood was another book I’ve been waiting a long time for – having read her second while judging the Children’s Book of Aust Awards and then devouring her first because of the excellence that is the second… so as soon as I saw this was out for review I jumped on it.

You can read my review of it here or you can just pre-order it now and save time. And also ‘Wildlife’ and ‘Six Impossible Things’, her previous books which aren’t a series but involve the same characters. DO IT NOW!

Wolf By Wolf (Wolf By Wolf, #1)

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin was a book friend-River went nuts for, so when I saw it was available to review I jumped at the chance. Even though I really do have far too many books to read for Aurealis right now (28 which have arrived ready to be read, 116 in total entered that have either been read or haven’t yet arrived….eek!) but I just couldn’t help myself. Historical fiction is my weak spot (as is alt-history) and anything involving the second world war (and then bonus Japanese aspect) and add kick-ass female characters and whoa. Recommended for fans of Ian Tregillis’ Milkweed Triptych series kinda.

You can read my review of it here.

The Goblin Emperor

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison was a very slow but very enjoyable read. I think it took me over a month for some reason, even though I loved it throughout – I could read for an hour and somehow only get through 4% at a time. Strange! But it’s an excellent book, and I have high hopes it’ll win the Hugo this year.

Review: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

CloudwishPublished by: Macmillan Australia
ISBN 13: 9781743533123
Published: September 2015
Pages: 288
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

‘Cloudwish’ by Fiona Wood is sorta the third book in an series that’s not really a series.

The first book, ‘Six Impossible Things’ starts out with a group of high-school aged kids who we then also see in the second book, ‘Wildlife’ (but it focuses on another few kids). This book does the same again – we see mentions of the previous characters we focused on in the other books but each is entirely stand alone and beyond excellent. If you love Melina Marchetta you’ve come to the right place but get ready for someone who is totally themselves at the same time. Fiona Wood is like Marchetta in one way, and entirely different in all other another realm. They’re both brilliant, and I’m already desperate to see more from the amazing Fiona Wood!

Vân Ước Phan is a dedicated student. Her Vietnamese parents are ‘boat people’, who gave up everything so that she would have a better life. At one part in the book it’s stated that they (her parents) had to choose between their parents (who they had to leave behind), and their child/children, who weren’t even born yet. This brings home just what a sacrifice they had to make for their future, and this is why they’re so hard on Vân Ước in every way – barely allowed any socialising, must study every moment, must focus utterly and absolutely on her school work. Especially as it’s Year 11 which is the start of the two year International Baccalaureate study that replaces the final two years of the normal school certificate, which she’s there on a scholarship (the school is fancy, so far above and beyond anything she’s used to), having to leave her previous high school to take up. They live in council flats and Vân Ước’s only friend is Jessica, the girl next door.

This doesn’t mean Vân Ước can’t dream though. She has a sorta-crush on the typical guy at school most girls have a crush on. Billy. The mostly-intelligent (but hides it under stupid pranks and being over-popular and socialising half the year away) champion of the rowing team and constantly surrounded by cruel yet beautiful females of his own social standing. And then, in a class creative-writing session, Vân Ước somehow manages to lose the prompt she was given to write about – a glass vial with the word ‘wish’ written inside. The writing instructor doesn’t seem that fussed, assuring her it’ll turn up sometime – it tends to do that – and Vân Ước is driven to distraction over it. How could it disappear completely? And why right when she was thinking she wished Billy liked her. Found her fascinating, even.

Almost instantly she somehow has his attention. He follows her around, sticks up for her in front of the cruel girls, takes an interest in her hobbies and friends, and also becomes a better person – realising which parts of his self aren’t exactly stellar. The book takes us through triumphs and downfalls as they try to come together, even though they certainly don’t seamlessly fit into each other’s very different worlds. What we have is a fairly accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a teenager – the other characters aren’t unbelievably cruel, and aren’t always perfectly nice either. Each character feels realistic and honest, the adults included. They both meddle and ignore, and are decently important in this significant time in their lives – the start of their final high school certificate.

Though this is a sweet (yet realistic) romance, what’s also important in this book is the journey Vân Ước’s mother is on – suffering depression from what she went through in order to get to Australia. It’s fantastic to see a book of a daughter struggling between cultures who doesn’t moan about her parents and the things they hang on to, but simply wishes (sometimes, not all the time) she had parents who could look after her rather than the other way ‘round. She cares about what upsets her parents, but also struggles to be what they want and expect, and what Australian society is pulling her into.

This book is just as enjoyable as Six Impossible Things and Wildlife – some of my favourite books of 2014. This is one of my most highly recommended books of the year, and you can’t go past the previous two either.

Best Books of 2014

Books due out in 2015 (but read in 2014)

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Another one of those books you devour in an afternoon that really does make you ‘feel all the feels’, to borrow a ‘net saying.A novel of those left behind when someone commits suicide, this is set after a college-aged Meg takes her own life. What this novel does fantastically well is present people in a very well-rounded manner and it seems to handle suicide in a very careful, good manner.

What I really appreciated in this novel is the protagonist – the friend who was left behind – doesn’t always have nice thoughts. The characters were refreshing even though this TA plot has been done and done and done before.

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

This continues after the movie left off, and the first book – running mostly back to back, so I would suggest this book is better suited to those who’ve followed the series and got their hands on everything so far. Which probably means regardless, you’ll enjoy the book if you’re a devoted fan.

As always, Veronica puts herself in danger, has some angst with Logan, solves some crime by being an excellent female, capable lead, and as stated earlier, interacts with all of favourite characters which makes this simply a nice, reminiscing read. The authors have done well by their fans giving us new content of the characters we know and love and really, what more can we ask than that? The writing is also excellent, which is a bonus – not always something we get with fandom tie-in books.

Books read and published in 2014

Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

First I had this on my eReader but it simply can’t be read easily electronically – not if you want to ensure you’ve read the whole book, in any case. I was on holiday at the time it came out, so it wasn’t too hard to treat myself to a print version also.

This was a lot of fun to read – I enjoy NPH’s work, and I do like reading autobiographies (kinda my book-snob version of reading tabloids in a way I guess?) and I do love the way he presented this – choose your own adventure with a few little surprises tucked away between the chapters. Well written, interesting and highly recommended.

A Darker Shade of Magic SAMPLE by V.E. Schwab

So the sample came out in 2014 so it’s placed down here, as I haven’t got my hands on a copy of the actual book, sadly. Thankfully, it’s coming out very soon so I don’t have long to wait for this magnificent piece of work! How does Schwab manage to only get better and better with each book?

This is going to be so excellent (having read the first 130 pages we received in the preview) and I can’t wait for the actual book to arrive. Kell, Holland, Lila – it’s going to be impossible to choose a favourite character!

Drowned Vanilla (Café La Femme, #2) by Livia Day

I’m getting to be a bit spoilt helping out my publisher friends – I got to read this a few days early as a final proof while at a convention. I read the whole thing on my phone in pdf format, squinting and loving every damn minute. (And then I got to help code the ebook version which wasn’t as fun as I usually did it while hungry, and only got more hungry while doing so! I have heaps of respect for people who create ebooks now. Coding takes ages!)

But enough about all this – this is such a fabulous and fun book. We have a sassy cafe owner who happens to find herself in the perfect position to solve crimes. It helps she has crazy-excellent friends and a kinda-boyfriend who works for the police. Throughout the novel you get mouth-watering recipes and the dialogue and witty narrative are just to die for.

Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb

This one was listed for review on NetGalley, but not for my country. I requested it anyway and crossed my fingers… then shrieked, literally (quietly, I hope) in my hotel room when I woke up to find I’d been approved. I was at the CBCA judging conference and begged my awesome boss/mentor/friend Tehani to let me leach some of her wifi to get it on my kindle. Out of books I got to read early, this has to be the best one of the lot.

It’s SO awesome to have Fitz and the Fool back with us, and what a heart-breaking novel it was too. How Hobb puts out epic books so quickly I have no idea, I’m just so thankful we don’t have overly long to wait until the second book comes out.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

This is a special book, as Helen is a friend of mine. It’s doing exceptionally well and won The Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and is on allll these recommended lists and Helen’s going everywhere for book events and aaaahh it’s so cool!

It feels a bit rude to be so flaily over such a sad and serious book though. It’s about how she dealt with the death of her father – by buying a goshawk. She’s raised, trained and handled birds of prey throughout her life but a goshawk are the most violent and difficult… so throughout the novel we read of her grief and of Mabel, and she also includes information on the author TH White, known for his books based on Arthurian legend – for he also tried to train hawks and was part of her childhood obsession.

This is a beautifully written book, and so vivid for me as Helen’s shown us around the college grounds in Cambridge where she used to fly Mabel (among other things referenced) and I’m just so glad her book is doing so well!

I Am Juliet by Jackie French

I’ll always love Jackie’s writing, no matter what she does. Romeo and Juliet isn’t my favourite piece of Shakespeare, but I loved what she did with this novel, giving Juliet a voice that fits in quite well with everything canon around it.

As always, it ties in a few different streams of consciousness (a young man who has to play the role of Juliet a very long time ago) and although it sounds disjointed, Jackie manages to make it all work well together.

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios

Kaleidoscope is an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy and science fiction stories that are  fun, edgy, meditative, and feature diverse leads. These twenty original stories tell of scary futures, magical adventures, and the joys and heartbreaks of teenage life.

This anthology is going to win all the awards so just you wait until nominating for the Hugos begins!

To Love a Sunburnt Country (The Matilda Saga #4) by Jackie French

This book was incredibly lovely and sad at the same time, set in Australia and Malay at the time of the war, showing members of a very large, sprawling family that we’ve seen through the generations in previous books in this series, and how the war has affected (effected? I never know which to use!) them in particular. I love the remote places Jackie mentions through this novel. She was so excellent when she came to our little town to give workshops and book talks, and has only cemented the fact she is one of my favourite authors of all time. She gave me great joy as a kid with ‘Somewhere Around the Corner’, and still does the same as I get increasingly closer to my 30s. Jackie’s books are special.

Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes #2) by Anthony Horowitz

Moriarty opens from the view if a man known as Frederick Chase, a senior investigator from America from a firm known as Pinkertons. He has come to Reichenbach for reasons fans will know well, and it’s here that he meets a fellow from Scotland Yard – Athelney Jones – an ardent fan of Sherlock Holmes who is becoming quite an excellent member of the police thanks to his faithful learning of our favourite detective.

This was such a dang good novel – highly recommended for anyone who likes any Sherlock Holmes stuff. While this doesn’t really focus on Sherlock and John, it’s so well done and that ending – my goodness, I wanted to throw things.

Phantazein edited by Tehani Wessely

From the very first piece in this anthology I was swept away. This is a collection of wonderous fantasy, the kind that don’t always have a happy ending… Prepare to expect the unexpected as several of the tales take a sudden turn that even the most voracious of readers shan’t be able to expect.

This is one of FableCroft’s best anthologies to date, and I don’t say that lightly. Get it now!

The Protected by Claire Zorn

I instantly snatched this book up from the bookstore as soon as it was available. When I was a judge for the Children’s Book Council I discovered Claire Zorn through her book ‘The Sky so Heavy‘, which did damn well in the awards. Quite different from her last, this book follows a young girl who gets bullied in school, and is utterly realistic in every way. When her sister dies the bullying stops, but it doesn’t mean her life is instantly okay.

What I loved about this book was that the sister wasn’t exactly nice. This plot is quite common, but the sister was always so perfect in every way and missed terribly by everyone… and in this, she was just a typical older sister who’s just as desperate as any other teen to be accepted by her peers. Very, very well written. I’m not a CBCA judge this year, but I expect it to do very well.

Seven Days of Joyeux by Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy is currently writing Musketeer Space, a web serial novel where a chapter is released most Wednesdays. We’re now just on halfway and the patreons raised enough money for a Christmas special! Originally we were promised a short story and then suddenly we get a 100+ page novella! It really is Christmas!

This is so much fun, and is an excellent sampler of Tansy’s work you can have a look through before you get hooked and start reading along. Who can resist a gender-bent version of The Three Musketeers? Tansy’s been one of my favourite authors for years now and her work is only getting more and more awesome.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

‘Station Eleven’ by Emily St. John Mandel is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and for the past few years. Split across different timelines, we see Toronto as disaster strikes, as well as the lives of the characters involved well before this incredible time, as well as the aftermath, and then also 20 years afterwards. Much like Nancy Kress’s ‘After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall’ (also brilliant), but Station Eleven mixes it up and takes you here, there and everywhere in perfect balance – at no time do you sigh when there’s a change and think ‘Nooo, I want to keep reading about that character, then!’, instead of you ‘Ahh, excellent!’ This seems to be a hard thing to pull off, and yet Mandel achieves it triumphantly.

This book takes the almost-overdone dystopian plot, but presents it in a literature sense – this is a beautifully written novel, and I would love to see more, whether it’s novellas or even more novels continuing on, or filling the gaps. I’ll surely be keeping an eye out for Mandel’s other books in the future.

The Silkworm (Cormoran Strike #2) by Robert Galbraith

This was just as, if not more, enjoyable than the first. What I love most about Galbraith/Rowling’s writing is that it’s warm. It’s comforting. You see London through Strike’s eyes, for how lovely it is in parts but also how cold and relentless. She does an amazing job at capturing different characters so easily, as well as describing what life is like for Strike with his prosthesis. Now, where is the third book and can I have it now, please?

Also, I know it’s not how he’s described in the novel, but Idris Elba for the main character, please! Maybe it’s all the Luther I’ve been watching but I think he’d be perfect. If he has time now he’s totally going to be the next Bond.

The Unbound (The Archived #2) by Victoria Schwab

This is possibly even better than the first. I’m a sucker for books that include academy-style schools, and it has the bonus of showing more of the world and its ‘magic’ system. And the characters. These are characters you just want to yell at (though I won’t say why, for the sake of spoilers.)

I’m so eager for a third book in this series, but everything else Schwab is doing is just as good so I don’t quite mind much when there’s another book coming out instead!

Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson

This was a book that took me a damn long time to read for some reason, even though I loved every darn bit about it. There was so much more of Shallan in this book which pleased me, even if other plot points broke my heart. The world and the magic system only get bigger and brighter in this addition to the series, and the very last chapter? SUCH a reveal and yet now I must curse Sanderson because I have no idea how I’m going to wait until the third book. But again, his other books that come out are just as good, so it’s not too bad having to wait!

Yoko’s Diary by Paul Ham

This was a book shortlisted in a part of the CBCA judging I wasn’t part of, so we’ve received copies to do our judges talks, but I wasn’t actually part of the judging committee. Which I think means I can say personally I loved it. It’s the actual diary of a girl who was 12/13 in 1945 during the war, then the journal abruptly stops on the 5th August, as the nuclear bomb took out Hiroshima, where she was working to clear rubble very close to where the bomb hit. The book also contains recounts of people who knew her, and was put together by her brother. It’s a very humbling book, and very interesting to see what life was like in Japan, during that time, from her eyes.

Books read in 2014 (yet published earlier)

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Alcatraz #1) by Brandon Sanderson

Yet another book I’ve been meaning to read since I fell in love with Sanderon’s books, and then the lovely Sam gifted me a copy when I took too long to read it! And now that I have, I’m kicking myself that I took so long! No one should let the fact this is middle grade delay why you would read it – the voice Alcatraz has is witty as he speaks directly to the reader, and the joy in this book – how zany and odd it all is – makes it such a joy to read. Honestly, if you haven’t read it yet but you’re a Sanderson fan – GO AND READ IT!

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Another book I’ve been meaning to read for countless years. It was even better than I was expecting. I read most but not all of the manga series, but other than that I haven’t seen anything else from the countless adaptions/versions out there (such as the tv show/movies etc). The book wasn’t as disturbing as I thought it would be, and I loved how it focused more on the Japanese psyche as well as the ideas of nationalisism (or is it patriotism?) and the Government’s force/influence. It was fascinating.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

I meant to read this back in year 12 (ten years ago now, my goodness) for my ‘compare two texts’ study (but then instead went with ‘My Brilliant Career’ compared with ‘Looking for Alibrandi’. I have to say, I was surprised by how much I loved this, seeing as I’ve always snobbily avoided chick lit (which is unfair of me, anything can be well written!) I loved the characters in this, and it was really quite fun!

It was also quite fun with how it was set out with the things she measured throughout her life (wine intake, her weight and measurements, etc)…

The Cloud Roads (The Books of the Raksura #1) by Martha Wells

This was a gift from the lovely Tehani and the best boss I have – out of five, that’s saying a lot! – when she read it and loved it so much she started nudging others into reading it asap. It was EXCELLENT and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I love how the characters had serious thought put into them, and how there’s a range of sexual orientations yet no big deal is made of it – this is just natural and accepted and it’s such a relief.

Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas

This was read in an afternoon – I just couldn’t put it down, even when I really should have. At the time of reading I was recovering from minor surgery which has made it hard to stare at screens or concentrate on anything other than podcasts in a dark room… but this book demanded to be finished, so I decided the headache was entirely worth it!

Just like ‘We Were Liars’ by E. Lockhart, this book leaves you wondering until it punches you in the stomach with the conclusion. The characters and plot are compelling throughout, and it jumps around from varying degrees in the past to the present which keeps you right on the edge of your seat. Fantastic!

Debris (The Veiled Worlds #1) by Jo Anderton

Jo is so lovely in person and I love alllll her work – just you wait until you can see what she currently has brewing, I got to beta read and wow-za! I really enjoyed this once I got into it and the rest of the series is just as good. It’s really accessible science fiction, and has fantastic world and magic building within.

The F- It List by Julie Halpern

This was a book read for fun – a strange thing this year! I noticed that both Sam and River had it marked on goodreads as five stars each, and as our tastes often align I wasn’t surprised when I loved the book. This is another young adult book that perfectly captures how teenagers talk to each other and interact. It caught the depth of feeling you have when you feel lost or like you’ve lost control of your own life.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This was picked as my genre book of the month – a classic novel in May. This was a book I’ve been meaning to read for 10+ years if not longer, but kept putting it off… only to kick myself when I finally read it, because it was utterly fantastic. Loved every page, though it was so tragic.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

This is the book that’s lasted with me throughout the year. I keep on gifting it to others as the chance comes up, and I can’t recommend it highly enough, even though it’s a bit hard to describe. It’s about a Golem and a Jinni (no, really?) who come to New York at the time of heavy immigration, and shows them trying to find their place among the humans. It’s such a beautifully achieved book, the kind you wish you could read for the first time again and again.

Havenstar by Glenda Larke

This was Glenda’s first novel, released in 1999 and then falling fate to the closing of the publisher. She re-released it herself on smashwords in 2012, editing it up a bit and such. It follows a young woman (Keris) who lives in a world where religion rules strictly, everything has an Order, and to go against the Order is to bring chaos and suffering and simply isn’t done. So she’s supposed to wear skirts, can only do certain trades, and is expected to marry and do good.

So clearly this is going to be an excellent book of misrule and adventure. Keris is an excellent protagonist and all the other characters are wonderful and varied and interesting. Glenda’s work is always character-driven (my favourite!) and the world-building in this is also astounding.

The Near Witch (The Near Witch #1) by Victoria Schwab

Children are disappearing in the town, along at the same time as a mysterious boy appears. The townspeople are harsh and desperate and acting towards completely the wrong thing, so it’s up to young Lexi to ensure the right thing happens, possibly to save a life.

I love Schwab’s work, and this was just as excellent as her others. A very beautiful book that I heartily recommend to Juliet Marillier fans in particular. Once I’d read this, I’ve now devoured everything Schwab has out and now I’m waiting eagerly for more.

Nexus (Nexus #1) by Ramez Naam

Mindjacking – the ability to read another’s mind and, if you want to, force them to move and speak as you wish. This is an exciting, past-paced novel that follows a young scientist who is caught improving Nexus, who then finds himself thrown into a world of danger and international espionage – for there is far more at stake than anyone realises.

This was engaging and fun and I really hope the rest of the series is just as good. It is a bit problematic with a few dating issues when they explore what Nexus is capable of, but at least it’s realistic I suppose.

Night by Elie Wiesel

Like most people out there, I’ve read Anne Frank’s Diary, though I’m unsure whether at the time it was only possible to get the edited version her father changed… but even Anne Frank’s diary pales in what it describes compared to this. Though short at a little over 100 pages, it’s a powerful window into what life was like in concentration camps at Auschwitz and Buchenwald during 1944–1945.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater

I’m so glad I finally read this – once I picked it up, it was devoured within a few hours and now I want to throw aside everything else and finish off the series. If nothing else, it’ll help me get a whole lot of other books done that I need to read for reviewing and judging so I can get back into the rest of this series! Gaaansey!

Sabriel (Abhorsen #1) by Garth Nix

This was another book I’ve owned for over ten years, but never got around to reading. Another fantastic book I’m kicking myself for not having read earlier! My book-buddy-Bethwyn joined me co-reading spree and we flailed about it as we went, updating each other to what chapter we were at. It helps we read at pretty much the same speed. We quickly devoured the whole series and now we’re ready to judge the new fourth book that’s just come out – excellent holiday reading to be had!

Seer of Sevenwaters (Sevenwaters #5) by Juliet Marillier

Oh how I wish I’d read these books in order! You don’t need to, but I really should. This was an excellent book, just like her others, and I can’t wait to read the one remaining book in this series that I haven’t yet had time to. Ah well. One day soon, I hope. The characters in this one were oh so stunning, and I wish there was a follow up of the same characters, two or three years later.

When We Wake (When We Wake #1) by Karen Healey

This is a book I bought as soon as we were released from our judges conference. What a fantastic book! Dystopian set in Melbourne, Australia. Excellent characters who have a wide range of believable skills, who you really come to care for. I read this book so damn fast because I just couldn’t put it down. The second book is almost-nearly as good as the first, and I’m so damn eager for the third. If there’s going to be a third. There better be!

Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Look at all the awards this won! And oh so worthy – this is easily one of my favourite books of all time and is kinda the second book in a series – Six Impossible Things has a few of the same characters that are present in this one, but otherwise aren’t really connected and both can be read separately. But they’re both excellent, so get them anyway!

Boarding for a term in the wilderness, sixteen-year-old Sibylla expects the gruesome outdoor education program – but friendship complications, and love that goes wrong? They’re extra-curricula.

Enter Lou from Six Impossible Things – the reluctant new girl for this term in the great outdoors. Fragile behind an implacable mask, she is grieving a death that occurred almost a year ago.

Fiona Wood handles teenage characters SO well. Everything was so spot on and written magnificently that it’s a joy to read. Seriously. Get them both.

Honourable Mentions of 2014

To come tomorrow, a post containing my favourite books that I read in 2014, (any that I had for judging have been omitted.)

So it seems from previous years that I order these by title. Strange, but I hate breaking tradition.

Books due out in 2015 (but read in 2014)

Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall

In Goodhouse, the families of convicted criminals are tested for a set of genetic markers (though this book seems to be set in 1980 or around-abouts). Boys who test positive become compulsory wards of the state and are removed from their homes to be raised on “Goodhouse” campuses, where they learn to reform their darkest thoughts and impulses. It’s not really said what happens to the females – perhaps it is thought that they remain good and wholesome.

What’s most powerful in this book is how the children are treated. James has zero rights – the school is run by different levels of ‘enforcer’ type characters, some who are even students themselves who have been given additional privileges. James is constantly attacked and victimised, but it doesn’t matter what he says to whom – he’s either ignored entirely, or there’s minor confusion as the culprits seem to never had existed.

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

A novel that was originally due out in 2014 (and I received for review back then) only to then fall victim to Angry Robot cancelling their Strange Chemistry imprint. This book has been picked up again thankfully, and is due out in 2015.

This is a novel about a world where continent-sized storms called ‘hypercanes’ cause havoc on the surface, so everyone lives well below the Earth’s surface. For the rich and powerful there are holidays to the surface as if it’s the height of fashion, and this is what Jansin Nordqvist’s family do, along with her partner – it’s all amazing to see the sun for the first time and so on… until they’re attacked, and she’s taken prisoner.

And from there, Jansin begins to learn that perhaps all she’s ever been told about the world may not be strictly true. And if that’s the case, then can she really live her life the same again?

Vision in Silver (The Others #3) by Anne Bishop

This is a series that keeps getting better! Sometimes the first book in a series is amazing, and then they kinda trail off as the series gets longer and longer… but the second and third are only more excellent, and there seems to be many more books planned to come!

This book went into just how much the humans have stuffed up, and what consequences there shall be to come – which is spiraling out of control as the humans against the Others are getting more and more violent. The humans that are on the Others’ alliance are getting more airtime also, and we’re getting to know them better.

This book was a bit lighter on the Simon/Meg aspect, but it’s all very realistic and lovely. Bring on book four!

Books read and published in 2014

Admission (Pandora Jones #1) by Barry Jonsberg

A local author, I’m a bit fond of Jonsberg – it doesn’t hurt that he’s an excellent author. This is an interesting ‘the world is ending’ book that takes a certain group of people – kids mostly – into a camp in order to protect and prepare them for what the world has become.

Yet not everything is as it seems. Throw in a few abilities and you have a traditional YA novel that still manages to be gripping and interesting even if the plot points have all been done before. The characters are what drive this, so it’s good that’s one of the best aspects of the novel.

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

This was a fast-moving novel that’s split into sections that show Liz Emerson’s life before she crashes her car, killing herself. It also shows a whole of other sections of her life and those around her with multiple perspectives, and manages to not be confusing throughout.

It’s a book that emotionally invests you but in addition to that, the writing is beautiful. It shows how characters in a novel can be interesting even if you don’t like them too much.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

Now this was a book with a difference. Now that we’ve moved past the books of worldwide disaster and zombies and such, we’re getting these ideas with a twist and a difference. This is written with an almost literature sense to it, and really begs the question, what does it take to be considered human?

The only reason this book isn’t on my ‘best books’ post (books that got five out of five stars) was because while the ending was fantastic, the book didn’t always grab me throughout and there was something a little off about the characters sometimes. Ultimately though, Melanie was the character that drove this book home and really, any book with an excellent ending will do okay with me.

Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen

Honestly, this book has merged so much into The Winners Curse by Marie Rutkoski that I couldn’t remember a single thing about this one alone. I liked them both independently of each other at the time, but now it comes time to recall things about them separately, Winner’s Curse has overtaken this one. Whether it’s because I read it second, who knows.

Murder of Crows (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop

Well 2014 must have been a pretty good year if I got two books from the same series within months of each other. Yay for reviewing!

‘Murder of Crows’ is the second book in The Others series, written by Anne Bishop. It picks up quite soon after where the first book, Written in Red, left off, and notes just how long Meg has now been living in Lakeside Courtyard. It’s a surprisingly little amount of time, yet we already know so much about them all and can see how far she has become part of, and invested in, the lives of theterra indigene.

Overall this is a strange second book to a series, because they’re usually lacking or full of information and not much action, whereas this one expands on everything – world building, characters, and has its own distinct plot while also tying securely into the first.

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise to get such a strong second book in a series, but there we go. It was excellent!

The Wizard’s Promise (The Hanna Duology #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke

Another book I loved so much that fell victim to Angry Robot closing down Strange Chemistry! Hopefully it’ll find another deal along with the second in the series sometime soon. Other than that, she has another book coming out in 2015 called ‘Our Lady of the Ice’.

This was a wonderful and strange book that reminds me a bit of Laura Lam’s writing. This was about a young witch who is stuck as an apprentice to a strange fisherman. Trouble and mysterious things keeps finding her, and what’s wonderful about this book is the description and characters that carry us there. I’m hungry for the next book, dammit!

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

This was such a pretty story. Ophelia is a witty young sassy protagonist who doesn’t believe in anything that can’t be proven by science. Their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows after their mother dies, and they’re all still in mourning, losing themselves in lonely, antisocial ways rather than banding together in their grief. Ophelia explores their new home, and on her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room, locked there by his step-mother, Her Majesty the Snow Queen.

It’s a middle grade book with a difference. The plot seems over-done, yet the novel is anything but. It really is magic.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

Yet another entirely different novel. This is no simple love story, set worlds apart. Because of tropes, one almost expects Amara and Nolan to find a spark together, but throughout they remain stoic and barely able to work together. Throughout the novel we come over unexpected things, which leads the author as someone to be watched closely for what they come out with next. As a debut novel this is a fantastically strong book, with only a few, very minor quibbles. I would have loved to see more of the world, as it wasn’t one of the usual white-person filled medieval style fantasy. I would have loved to see more of the magic that binds them all. You don’t need to see more of either in order to enjoy and believe in the story – as I said, they’re very minor quibbles, and I should add in ‘selfish’ there, too. It’s what I would have loved to see, personally.

The author has another book set to come out in 2016 – On the Edge of Gone. Can’t wait!

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog #1) by Anne Blankman

Set in the 1930s in Munich, just after World War I (then called The Great War) when Germany is in turmoil. Gretchen Müller is a young adult, and a proud member of the National Socialist Party – that is, until, her own conscience begins to show what seemingly no one else can. Their close family friend was one a badge of honour, and now she’s feeling incredibly ashamed. One guess to who it is.

In this fast-paced historical fiction, we see what Germany was like at the time and how desperate things became. We see another side to Hitler, with how he liked to draw, eat simple foods, and gave insightful and philosophical encouragement to those who surrounded him.

This is quite an excellent historical fiction novel, bravely written. Highly recommended for those who love Elizabeth Wein.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things (Tales from Temerant) by Patrick Rothfuss

Where to start with this book. It’s a strange piece of work and if I’m perfectly honest, it isn’t something I entirely loved depending on my mood. The author himself warns you off reading it in the first few pages.

At times when reading it I was a little disappointed. Or a little bored. It was sometimes easy to put down – though I did always pick it up again quite soon after. And all in all it’s a lovely book, it’s a good read but… This is only a book for those who have read his Kingkiller Chronicles series and have time for a little whimsy.

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Took a while to get into, but then it gets really quite engaging and a very quick read. It’s so good to have our series back! First a movie and now this, and a second book out soon also – LoVe fans rejoice! (Yes, Logan and Veronica really do get the OTP name to end all other OTP names, I must admit. Even if my OTP is John/Aeryn from Farscape.)

This was the crime and characters we know and love, written with quite an excellent touch that’s above the usual fandom tie-in novel. Though this one could have had a bit more Logan in it, please.

The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent, #2) by Marie Brennan

This was such a quick read after I failed to pick it up all year! Reading Temeraire by Naomi Novik got me in the mood for it and then I devoured it within a few hours.

I have to admit, I didn’t like it as much as the first, but I’m still quite invested in the series and shall probably continue. The events of the first book leave everything in quite sad, dire straits and in this book you see the protagonist struggling on all sides (and accomplishing epic magnitudes to be sure) in order to find her own place in the world and hush all the nay-sayers.

Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories #4) by Mary Robinette Kowal

After Melody’s wedding, the Ellsworths and Vincents accompany the young couple on their tour of the continent. Jane and Vincent plan to separate from the party and travel to Murano to study with glassblowers there, but their ship is set upon by Barbary corsairs while en route. It is their good fortune that they are not enslaved, but they lose everything to the pirates and arrive in Murano destitute.

Apologies, I took the above from the goodreads profile – these books are hard to sum up! From there, we see the Vincents battle through injustices and manage to get by on their wit alone. These books are such a rollicking good ride, each as good as the last!

The Very Best of Tad Williams by Tad Williams

Tad Williams is an author I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I own most of his books and they look pretty fantastic on my shelves, but I haven’t yet actually started one of his novels.

This was a very enjoyable collection with most shorts earning a four or a five out of five from me. They work and fit together very well, with most having religious overtones, and cleverly taking tropes or well worn steps in fantasy and using them to their strengths.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Ahh, one of the most spoken about books in YA to come out this year. This is the type of book you need to know nothing about before going in, so I’ll keep it short. The prose is pretty excellent, lyrical in parts and beautiful in others. It’s weird and uncomfortable in others and the ending will certainly … well. Just read it. It’s a quick read, and can easily be done in an afternoon, so get to it.

While We Run (When We Wake #2) by Karen Healey

So I was a judge for the Children’s Book Council Awards. One of eight across Australia (one from each state/territory) who had to read 380+ books and then spend a week discussing them out to choose the winners. You’d think after that I’d take a few days off reading – or even a week, maybe.

Nope. I inhaled this series instead. Literally the first afternoon we had free, a few of the other judges and I went directly to a bookstore. Go figure.

This was SUCH an engaging series and I keep checking around to see if there’ll be a third book. Come on, Karen! I need more!

Tegan Oglietti is no ordinary girl – she died in 2027, only to be frozen and brought back to life 100 years later. That alone should be enough to get you interested – does it help that the characters are dang interesting?

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski

Kestral has two choices in life – either join the military (and follow her father’s footsteps), or get married. Neither choice seem enticing to Kestral. (This is the novel I just can’t keep separate in my head from Landry Park by Bethany Hagen.)

It’s good to see a main character who has strength in intellect and strategy. Though Kestral has been brought up to be a fighter, it also stresses that she’s simply not that good – she can hold her own, and she’s competent in many subjects thanks to years and years of training, but she lacks the natural flare. Unfortunately, while this book was quite entertaining, my ARC of the second in the series has been quite dull and suffers heavily from middle book syndrome.

Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress

This novella is mostly about Dr Marianne Jenner. She’s at an age we don’t see too often in speculative fiction – she’s old enough to have three children of her own, a deceased husband, and as we see throughout the novel, two grandchildren.

We see her being congratulated for a paper and suddenly threatening men from the government burst into the room and escort her away – because aliens have landed, and they’ve requested her presence specifically.

Nancy’s writing is engaging – you can’t put the book down at all. It’s quite short (I’d say it’s a novella rather than a novel) so you could get through it in an afternoon.

Books read in 2014 (yet published earlier)

2012 by Alisa Krasnostein and Ben Payne

This anthology takes eleven of Australia’s best known speculative fiction authors and allows them to present unique ideas for the near future (at least at the time of writing it was the near future!) It will be interesting to see in ten years how these stories and ideas stand – to see if the issues of terrorism and climate change still stand, or how they’ve since developed.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

This was quite a fun, lovely and vivid book. Some parts felt it dragged a little, but overall this was a three and a half star read (out of five, going on the goodreads rating scheme), with excellent characters and a really fascinating magic system.

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

This is a character-driven novel, my favourite kind! Schwab writes characters that are just so good and become instant favourites. Like Wes. She’s also so good at describing worlds and magic and it’s kinda set in a fancy academy-style school, and also in a massive library – so what’s not to love here?

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

Another book that’s hard to sum up. I really quite liked this – the characters were interesting, and it managed to take a kinda creepy idea and present it in an almost-acceptable way.

The Lives of Tao (Tao #1) by Wesley Chu

Another fun book! This was is such a different series, that combines humour with the slight desperation of an overweight geek who is pretty miserable with life who hasn’t dreamed, even if it were only once or just for a few moments, of being discovered by someone or something and trained up for Something. In this case, it’s to be a secret agent. Aliens are involved and they’re pretty sassy. We have female characters who are worthwhile and competent, and we have a main character who is hard to dislike.

Nanberry by Jackie French

This book is set at the very start of Australia during the first waves of convicts being dumped on the shores, and it presents an extraordinary view of what life was like them from multiple points of view – how beautiful but also how terrible and hard it all was, what it was like from the point of view of an Indigenous person, from that of a well-off doctor (one of the most highly respected people of that time), and that of a convict-turned-house servant.

I’ve loved Jackie French’s work since I was in primary school and she’s just such a damn good writer that her book for children remain utterly readable no matter how old you get.

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

This one was recommended to me by my book-twin Sam. I picked this to be the first book read for the year as I like to start the year with a very enjoyable book, and I wasn’t disappointed! This is a juvenile book, but goes to show that as long as it’s well written you can enjoy anything. This was a lovely tale with a very effective magic system, delicate prose, and engaging characters – everything was so easy to visulise that I didn’t want this book to end!

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

So this book is set before ‘Wildlife’ – one of my favourite books of all time now, but you can read the books utterly separate. Both books capture teenage life so well, and depict social pressures as well as dating, drinking and so on with perfect clarity, never seeming over dramatic or unrealistic.

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

This was a very, very slow book to get into. I forced myself through it a bit knowing at least I could rely on Sanderson that it would probably eventually be good. It eventually paces up to be an enjoyable novel overall, and it leaves you very, very interested for the second. Again, characters drive this one.

The Strain (The Strain Trilogy #1) by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

So I finally picked this one up after meaning to for ages, thanks to the television show – as I imagined a lot of people have. The show followed it quite faithfully in a way and both were engaging enough – I do love seeing how a city reacts to a disaster. I probably won’t be continuing with the series though – I feel I’ve got enough from this book, and there are probably other books that do the same thing enough to keep me entertained.

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

This was a quick, sad read where you see the terror of war in much more of a stark way – this book was written from a solider’s point of view so it was pretty depressing the whole way through. You can see why it’s won awards.

Anticipated Books of 2015

It’s the 17th December and that means it’s two weeks to go until it’s 2015! Crazy, I know.

Like last year, 2014 was a flurry of book judging for me, leaving little time to focus on books of my own choosing. Not necessarily a bad thing because judging brings books I wouldn’t have otherwise heard of (let alone pick up to read) and gives me an excuse to read them asap! The start of the year was spent wrapping up Children’s Book Council Awards where I was one of eight judges who read 380 or so children’s books in order to pick the very best of the best. The second half of the year has been spend on Aurealis Awards books as usual, though this year I stepped up into a Judging Coordinators Assistant role also, which has been heaps of fun! I thrive off being useful, almost to a fault.

Like last year, the books shall be listed in alpha order by the author’s last name:

  • The Thorn of Emberlain (Gentleman Bastard, #4) by Scott Lynch (CO)

Except I will do this book first, apart from the others. I don’t keep it a secret that Scott’s my favourite author – I adore the wit and characters he writes, and that besides he’s a lovely, lovely person – far too kind. And then the tiny fact that I have a cameo in this book, that I won in an auction mid 2011. The character will be known as Kelise (at this stage, anyway!).

There’s also talk about one of his novella’s coming out within the next year, so fingers crossed for that. Even if they don’t come out, I’m well over-due for a re-read of the series so far anyway.

  • Six of Crows (The Dregs #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I loved Leigh’s first series, so I’ll certainly be back again for this one!

The project, described as a blend of Ocean’s 11 and Game of Thrones, is set in Kerch, a small island nation in the “Grishaverse” (meaning the same universe as her Shadow and Bone books) with tremendous economic power, the hub of all international trade and a country rich in art and culture … but also home to one of the most dangerous criminal underworlds. A crew of dangerous felonious misfits face impossible odds when they are pulled together to break into one of the most guarded places in the world.

  • Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

KarenMemoryI keep meaning to try to get into Bear’s writing more – maybe one year I need to put aside reviewing and judging a bit more so I can finally get to the few hundred books I’ve been desperate to read but literally haven’t been able to keep up!

An absolutely entrancing steampunk novel set in Seattle in the late 19th century—an era when the town was called Rapid City, when the parts we now call Seattle Underground were the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes bringing would-be miners heading up to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront. Karen is a “soiled dove,” a young woman on her own who is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts into her world one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, seeking sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.

Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper-type story of the old west with the light touch of Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.

  • Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke (Prisoner of Night and Fog #2) by Anne Blankman

The girl known as Gretchen Whitestone has a secret: She used to be part of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle. More than a year after she made an enemy of her old family friend and fled Munich, she lives with a kindly English family, posing as an ordinary German immigrant, and is preparing to graduate from high school. Her love, Daniel Cohen, is a reporter in town. For the first time in her life, Gretchen is content.

But then, Daniel gets a telegram that sends him back to Germany, and Gretchen’s world turns upside-down. And when she receives word that Daniel is wanted for murder, she has to face the danger she thought she’d escaped-and return to her homeland.

Gretchen must do everything she can to avoid capture and recognition, even though saving Daniel will mean consorting with her former friends, the Nazi elite. And as they work to clear Daniel’s name, Gretchen and Daniel discover a deadly conspiracy stretching from the slums of Berlin to the Reichstag itself. Can they dig up the explosive truth and get out in time-or will Hitler discover them first?

  • Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2) by Libba Bray (CO)

Ghosts and such done well this time, set in 1926 or thereabouts, with stunning female leads who get stuff done. It gives such a feel for the time with the fashions and general scene, what was expected of a certain type of gal and all the rest. Beautiful prose. This is one of those books that I’m really quite excited for and keep checking on to see if it’s finally out yet.

  • The Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoir by Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan

BasiliskSo even though I haven’t had time to read the second book just yet, the third is due out in March! (I’ve put the second book on my December challenge list, so here’s hoping I manage to get to it.) This had such a marvellous first book that I’m eagerly awaiting the third anyway. Written as though these are Lady Trent’s memoirs, we have a spellbinding series.

Illustrated throughout by Todd Lockwood (you can see his work on the cover) these are the kind of books that you want – need – to buy in hardcover just to covet them.

Here at last, in her own words, is the true story of a pioneering spirit who risked her reputation, her prospects, and her fragile flesh and bone to satisfy her scientific curiosity; of how she sought true love and happiness despite her lamentable eccentricities; and of her thrilling expedition to the perilous mountains of Vystrana, where she made the first of many historic discoveries that would change the world forever.

  • Angel of Storms (Millennium’s Rule #2) by Trudi Canavan

I’ve liked Canavan’s work through most of what she’s done, but her current series is surprisingly good – I’m really looking forward to this one coming out, it’s a bit steampunky, and though split into two different plots/characters, both are just as engaging as the other. She’s also pretty consistent with having her books come out, so fingers crossed there isn’t much of a wait for this one – I want more!

  • Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

TimeSalvagerI really quite like Chu’s writing, and he was fun at Brighton’s World Fantasy Con in 2013, so I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on any other writing he has coming out.

In a future when Earth is a toxic, abandoned world and humanity has spread into the outer solar system to survive, the tightly controlled use of time travel holds the key maintaining a fragile existence among the other planets and their moons. James Griffin-Mars is a chronman–a convicted criminal recruited for his unique psychological makeup to undertake the most dangerous job there is: missions into Earth’s past to recover resources and treasure without altering the timeline. Most chronmen never reach old age, and James is reaching his breaking point.

On a final mission that is to secure his retirement, James meets an intriguing woman from a previous century, scientist Elise Kim, who is fated to die during the destruction of an oceanic rig. Against his training and his common sense, James brings her back to the future with him, saving her life, but turning them both into fugitives. Remaining free means losing themselves in the wild and poisonous wastes of Earth, and discovering what hope may yet remain for humanity’s home world.

  • Armada by Ernest Cline (CO)

I came to Ernest Cline from his Ready Player One novel, which was incredible amounts of fun. This one sounds it’ll be much the same: Zack Lightman is daydreaming through another dull math class when the high-tech dropship lands in his school’s courtyard-and when the men in the dark suits and sunglasses leap out of the ship and start calling his name, he’s sure he’s still dreaming.

But the dream is all too real; the people of Earth need him. As Zack soon discovers, the videogame he’s been playing obsessively for years isn’t just a game; it’s part of a massive, top-secret government training program, designed to teach gamers the skills they’ll need to defend Earth from a possible alien invasion. And now…that invasion is coming.

  • Fall of Fair Isle by Rowena Cory Daniells

FairIsleThis is a complete trilogy in one volume so at 900+ pages it’ll be a joy when March comes around. I adored the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy (though I still really need to read The Outcast Chronicles!) and loved interviewing the author when a group of us did Snapshot 2014 much earlier this year.

You can also read more about this here, as it’s quite big news. Reprints and re-releases can always be a bit confusing. Basically, this is a long-awaited release to make it easier for people around the world to get their hands on a copy. And I can’t recommend the King Rolen’s Kin trilogy highly enough.

Or if you want a bit more of a taster, ‘The Ways of the Wyrding Women’ is a short story in the ‘One Small Step’ anthology, out now from FableCroft Publications.

The Fall of Fair Isle tells a more intimate tale than The Outcast Chronicles. It begins where most fantasy books finish – after the great battle…

  • The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon

Fallon is one of the reasons why I originally got into Australian epic fantasy (yup, I was a bit late to the ball game, really) and I’ve adored her work mostly (the YA twin trilogy didn’t really grab me, which was quite upsetting) so I’m incredibly excited for this series to come out.

Her Serene Highness, Rakaia, Princess of Fardohnya, is off to Hythria, where her eldest sister is now the High Princess, to find herself a husband, and escape the inevitable bloodbath in the harem when her brother takes the throne.

Rakaia is not interested in marrying anyone, least of all some brute of a Hythrun Warlord she’s never met, but she has a plan to save herself from that, too. If she can just convince her baseborn sister, Charisee, to play along, she might actually get away with it.

But there is trouble brewing across the continent. High Prince of Hythria, Damin Wolfblade, must head north to save the peace negotiated a decade ago between the Harshini, Hythria, Fardohnya, Medalon and Karien. He must leave behind an even more dangerous conflict brewing between his wife and his powerful mother, Princess Marla.

  • Birrung by Jackie French

I think Jackie said in her writing workshop that she has a science fiction book coming out soon, but for the life of me I can’t remember when that is. This’ll do for now! I love her historical fiction – we’re hardly taught any in school, so I’m slowly learning now mostly through novels which then inspire research. Jackie’s pretty careful with the facts she presents, and she has wonderful characters to go with it.

This is a sister book to her recent book Nanberry – another book aimed at younger readers, but they’re all dang good that they’re enjoyable for all ages.

  • The PaulandStormonomicon anthology edited by Paul and Storm

Actually an add-on to a kickstarter, where the main aim was a CD, I think. I’m shamelessly in it for the anthology, but who knows, maybe I’ll love their music also – I should probably check it out!

The anthology will have stories from James S. A. Corey, Greg “Storm” DiCostanzo, Lev Grossman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Seanan McGuire, Mikey Neumann, Patrick Rothfuss, John Scalzi, and Scott Sigler, with perhaps more to come!

  • Jubilee Manor (Landry Park #2) by Bethany Hagen

JubileeManorSo in all honesty, I can’t remember what happens in the first book at all, but I do remember quite enjoying it. I expect I’ll have to re-read it before this comes out in August!

In Landry Park, Madeline turned her back on her elite family, friends, and estate to help the Rootless. Now, in Jubilee Manor, she struggles to bring the Gentry and the Rootless together. But when Gentry heirs—Madeline’s old friends—are murdered, even she begins to think a Rootless is behind it, putting her at odds with the boy she loves and the very people she is trying to lead. If she can’t figure out who is killing her friends and bring them to justice, a violent war will erupt and even more will die—and Madeline’s name, her estate, and all the bonds she’s forged won’t make any difference.
 
This conclusion to Landry Park, which VOYA dubbed “Gone with the Wind meets The Hunger Games,” is a richly satisfying, addictive read.

  • Fool’s Quest (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy #2) by Robin Hobb

I will be so dang excited if this book comes out in 2015. It’s so good being back with Fitz and The Fool! The first book in this series almost broke my heart – you really can’t assume anything with this author. You think the characters have suffered enough hardship and there’s only a few pages left to go in the novel so that’s all it’ll be… until… BAM! More angst and awful things happening to characters!

And Ms Hobb is so lovely when you meet her in person! You’d never guess she can be so cruel to her darlings! It’s so brilliant. She’s so amazing. This series is so amazing!

  • Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

I’ve loved Amie’s work so far and so I’m looking forward to giving this one a try – all we know so far is:

Told through a dossier of hacked documents – including emails, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, graphics, and more – for what’s billed as a found footage-style mashup of Battlestar Galactica and Ten Things I Hate About You, Illuminae is the story of of a young hacker and her fighter pilot ex-boyfriend who must uncover the truth about the deadly plague ravaging their fleet, the AI that should be protecting them, and the powers that be who may or may not be lying about everything.

  • Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories #5) by Mary Robinette Kowal

OfNobleFamilyDid you know there’s a Doctor cameo in each of her novels? I had no idea! At Brighton World Fantasy Con in 2013 Kowal read out the parts from each of her novels and we had to guess which Doctor it was. She is the best voice actor I have ever heard, (sorry, Gideon Emery, you’re still pretty amazing), and is a delight matched with Patrick Rothfuss, especially over his twitter competition.

Oh, and her books are obviously some of my favourites also.

Sure, they seem ‘girly’ at first glance as they’re easily described to be Jane Austen with ‘pretty’ magic – the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality. It’s like you can pinch and twist strands of colourful magic in the air, and manage it into something of a glamour. But these books are so beyond that. Read them! After Kowal’s talk, my partner, who certainly doesn’t read as much as he should was incredibly eager to get his hands on them.

  • False Hearts by Laura Lam

Commence high-pitched squealing for Laura Lam. Her writing is AMAZING and I can’t properly articulate just how excited I get over the idea of a new book! This is the first in a series of two, and I can’t wait for it to come out! (Ahh, drat, now that I’m looking more into it, even though Goodreads has it on a 2015 list, this is listed as January 2016. Well. Fingers crossed I get a reviewing ARC in 2015!)

The novel begins in Mana’s Hearth, a retreat that’s closed off from the rest of society and denied access to technology or modern medicine, where twin sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When their lives are threatened they finally manage escape to San Francisco and a life that’s beyond anything they could have imagined. Ten years later, Tila returns to the twins’ home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder in the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin’s life.

  • Masquerade (Micah Grey #3) by Laura Lam

Another piece of awesome to get hyper about – is it possible for it to be released in 2015? Who knows, this depends on the crowd-funding Lam is hoping to do. Once Laura hinted I may get to be a beta-reader for this novel – something I can only dream of being able to assist with – and I’m just so dang excited for this precious trilogy to come to a close. The four novellas set in this world in the Vestigial Tales series were so delightful to read and only made me more hungry for this third book.

Bring on the crowd-funding so I can throw all my money at it!

  • The Dagger’s Path (The Forsaken Lands #2) by Glenda Larke

DaggersPathGlenda Larke is one of my favourite authors, and this series has been excellent so far. Her characters – especially her female characters, are just so damn good! You could also start with her Watergivers trilogy, but I hope you’ve already read them and you’re ready and waiting for more. I would have thought it’d be tough to beat a character as good as Ryka (Watergivers) but Sorrel and Mathilda certainly come close.

(Though no, I think Ryka shall always have my heart. She’s bookish after all!)

It’s such a good thing this book comes out at the start of the year. It’s out in mere weeks! And then SwanCon shall come along soon enough and I’ll get to fangirl with Glenda Larke again! Last time I did so was at Aussiecon 4 in Melbourne (when it was the Worldcon) and I’d recently won a whole stack of every book she’d had out at that moment from the publisher. Ahh, happy days…

You have just enough time to get your hands on the first book in this series, ‘The Lascar’s Dagger’ and read it before this comes out. Go on, get! If you still need convincing, you can read my review of the first book right here.

Saker appears to be a simple priest, but in truth he’s a spy for the head of his faith. Wounded in the line of duty by a Lascar sailor’s blade, the weapon seems to follow him home. Unable to discard it, nor the sense of responsibility it brings, Saker can only follow its lead.

  • The Grace of Kings (The Dandelion Dynasty #1) by Ken Liu

I really quite love Liu’s short fiction, so I’ll certainly be jumping at his first novel.

Wily, charming Kuni Garu, a bandit, and stern, fearless Mata Zyndu, the son of a deposed duke, seem like polar opposites. Yet, in the uprising against the emperor, the two quickly become the best of friends after a series of adventures fighting against vast conscripted armies, silk-draped airships, soaring battle kites, conspiring goddesses, underwater boats, magical books, as a streetfighter-cum-general who takes her place as the greatest tactitian of the age. Once the emperor has been overthrown, however, they each find themselves the leader of separate factions—two sides with very different ideas about how the world should be run and the meaning of justice.

  • The Tower of Bann (Blackthorn and Grim, #2) by Juliet Marillier

I haven’t read the first in this series yet (though I will very soon for Aurealis judging!) but I love all of Marillier’s work, so I’ll certainly be jumping for this one as soon as it comes out. She’s also pretty reliable for books coming out constantly so this one will be an easier wait than some. I love her work!

  • To Hold the Bridge (A Short Story Collection) by Garth Nix

I’m quite a recent Nix fangirl – I only read his Sabriel series finally at the start of this year. I really, really love the series though, and can’t wait to read more of what Nix has on offer.

Far to the north of the magical Old Kingdom, the Greenwash Bridge Company has been building a bridge for almost a hundred years. It is not an easy task, for many dangers threaten the bridge builders, from nomad raiders to Free Magic sorcerers. Despite the danger, Morghan wants nothing more than to join the Bridge Company as a cadet. But the company takes only the best, the most skillful Charter mages, and trains them hard, for the night might come when only a single young cadet must hold the bridge against many foes. Will Morghan be that cadet?

Also included in this remarkable collection are eighteen short stories that showcase Nix’s versatility as he adds a fantastical twist on an array of genres including science fiction, paranormal, realistic fiction, mystery, and adventure.

  • Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts

musketeerspaceThe weird thing with this particular entry is that YOU CAN READ IT NOW! Not all of it though! So I’ve listed it here.

I’ve posted about it a few times here, but for those who’ve missed it, Tansy is writing a gender-bent version of the Three Musketeers, but it’s SET IN SPACE. She releases a chapter each Wednesday (up to four a month, if there happens to be five in the same month, then she gets a break. Except for when she posts another chapter anyway, because she loves us). You can support her on Patreon (and there’s still places available if you want to be able to name a spaceship! Or have a chapter dedicated to you!)

Sometime during 2015 it shall come out in full novel form (I think.) We’re almost at the halfway mark, but I guess I have no clue how long it’ll take to tidy it all together and release it in ebook form. But I’m pretty sure I’ve read somewhere it’ll be 2015, and even if not, it’ll just mean this’ll be posted in my 2016 blog post also.

But go start reading it now! It’s the highlight of my week! And you need to be ready for the special Christmas short story (that’s turned into a novella) that we’re getting in a few weeks!

  • Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Sarah Rees Brennan is another author I need more time for! I’ve enjoyed the little I’ve managed to read so far, and hear very good things of her from just about everywhere, so I’ll be marking this down and hoping I get the time!

This is about a young girl called Lucie who lives in a New York very different from the New York we know: the city is torn between two very different kinds of magic, and Lucie’s own family was torn apart years ago by that conflict. Lucie wears magic rings and carries a burden of guilt she can’t share with anyone.

The light in her life is her sweetheart boyfriend Ethan, but it turns out Ethan has a secret too: a soulless doppelganger created by dark magic, who has to conceal the face identical to Ethan’s with a hood fastened by a collar nobody but a Light magician with magical rings can take off… and who introduces himself to both of them by, for reasons nobody can understand, saving Ethan’s life.

  • Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson (CO)

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. 

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in.

  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5) by Brandon Sanderson (CO)

Oh heck yes, a sequel to The Alloy of Law, Wax and Wayne and sassy female characters who are blunt and determined and get things done! It’s so excellent to see what the metal-based abilities were like in the first Mistborn books of Elend and Vin, and then how they progressed so rapidly with Wax and Wayne. I can’t wait to see more of their world.

This novel was on my list last year, but it seems that Tor have just announced that we will indeed be getting this in October. Then ANOTHER one in January 2016! ‘Bands of Mourning!’ Commence squealing!

  • Untitled (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater

So I’ve only just read the first book in the series and there’s no information about this one at all (and good thing too, as I have no idea what happens in the two books in between!) but I expect I’ll be incredibly excited for it by the time it comes out.

  • A Darker Shade of Magic (A Darker Shade of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for IreneHigh pitched squealing activated. Schwab is one of my more recent Favourite Ever Authors and this, I’ve read the first 130 pages os this and wow. Just WOW. For fans of Scott Lynch, this series is going to win all the damn awards in 2015. It’s electric, the depth this has so instantly is incredible, the detail and the lushness of the everything and incoherent excited fangirl babble. Just get it. You won’t be disappointed.

Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel universes—as such, he can choose where he lands.

There’s Grey London, dirty and boring, without any magic, ruled by a mad King George. Then there’s Red London, where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne—a place where people fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. And once upon a time, there was Black London…but no one speaks of that now.

Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between the royals of each London. Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see—a dangerous hobby, and one that has set him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations, who first robs him, then saves him from a dangerous enemy, and then forces him to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive—and that is proving trickier than they hoped.

  • The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below (Stories of the Raksura #2) by Martha Wells

StoriesoftheRaksuraIIMartha Wells is someone friend-and-boss Tehani has got me hooked on during the year, even when I didn’t really have time for a new favourite author. This seems to be more novellas that I may or may not have already read on the author’s website, but I’ll certainly be getting the book anyway!

“The Dead City” is a tale of Moon before he came to the Indigo Court. As Moon is fleeing the ruins of Saraseil, a groundling city destroyed by the Fell, he flies right into another potential disaster when a friendly caravanserai finds itself under attack by a strange force. In “The Dark Earth Below,” Moon and Jade face their biggest adventure yet; their first clutch. But even as Moon tries to prepare for impending fatherhood, members of the Kek village in the colony tree’s roots go missing, and searching for them only leads to more mysteries as the court is stalked by an unknown enemy.

Stories of Moon and the shape changers of Raksura have delighted readers for years. This world is a dangerous place full of strange mysteries, where the future can never be taken for granted and must always be fought for with wits and ingenuity, and often tooth and claw. With these two new novellas, Martha Wells shows that the world of the Raksura has many more stories to tell…

  • Cranky Ladies of History anthology edited by Tehani Wessely and Tansy Rayner-Roberts

An anthology of historical short fiction inspired by cranky ladies of history,  here for more details. This is currently being edited as we speak, so fingers crossed I get a bit of a preview as I intern for the publisher!

  • Insert Title Here anthology edited by Tehani Wessely

Is an anthology that spawned another while slush reading – Phantazein – which was launched at Conflux a few months ago in Canberra. (Incidentally, that anthology is easily one of my favourites of all time!) Insert Title Here shall be launched at Swancon early 2015 and I can’t wait to read it! Details of the contents can be found here.

  • Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

Commence high pitched squealing again – I adore Fiona Wood’s writing so much, only discovering her as a Children’s Book Council judge when her book ‘Wildlife’ blew us all away. I then devoured ‘Six Impossible Things’ which is set in the same area and touches on a few of the same characters, but ultimately can be read individually of each other. I have no idea in the slightest of what this book involved, but if it’s Wood, then I know I will be doing all I can to get my hands on it as soon as possible.

~

Other books I would of course jump for, but don’t expect to come out in 2015 are:

  • The Burning (Luther #2) by Neil Cross
  • Untitled (Cormoran Strike, #3) by Robert Galbraith
  • The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard, #0.5) by Scott Lynch
  • Reflections (Indexing, #2) by Seanan McGuire
  • Doors of Stone (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #3) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Calamity (Reckoners, #3) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Skybreaker (The Stormlight Archive, #3) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Untitled (Blood and Gold, #2) by Kim Wilkins

~

And then because you can never have enough books, why not a list of books I’m not entirely sure of yet, but I may just check out. The above are all books from authors I know and love – the following are books that simply sound interesting, and may soon to join the above list.

  • The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1) by Renee Ahdieh

WrathDawnA sumptuous and epically told love story inspired by A Thousand and One Nights.

Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend.

She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.

  • The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell

LastLeavesAnd these are they. My final moments. They say a warrior must always be mindful of death, but I never imagined that it would find me like this . . .

Japanese teenager, Sora, is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Lonely and isolated, Sora turns to the ancient wisdom of the samurai for guidance and comfort. But he also finds hope in the present; through the internet he finds friends that see him, not just his illness. This is a story of friendship and acceptance, and testing strength in an uncertain future.

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher

The Cinder Spires is set in a world “of black spires that tower for miles over a mist-shrouded surface” and follows a war between two of the Spires: Spire Albion and Spire Aurora.

It’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies.

  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The first instalment of an adventure featuring stolen books, secret agents and forbidden societies – think Doctor Who with librarian spies!

Irene must be at the top of her game or she’ll be off the case – permanently…

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, which harvests fiction from different realities. And along with her enigmatic assistant Kai, she’s posted to an alternative London. Their mission – to retrieve a dangerous book. But when they arrive, it’s already been stolen. London’s underground factions seem prepared to fight to the very death to find her book.

Adding to the jeopardy, this world is chaos-infested – the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic. Irene’s new assistant is also hiding secrets of his own.
Soon, she’s up to her eyebrows in a heady mix of danger, clues and secret societies. Yet failure is not an option – the nature of reality itself is at stake.

  • Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

Garth Nix meets Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The series is set in a world where three empires rule and every member of the population is born with a magical skill set, known as a “witchery.
Now, as the Twenty Year Truce in a centuries-long war is about to end, the balance of power will fall on the shoulders of two young women, who must accept their fate, and themselves, to survive.

  • The Girl at Midnight (The Girl at Midnight #1) by Melissa Grey

GirlatMidnightBeing listed as for fans of Laini Taylor’s ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ series… 

Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she’s ever known.

Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she’s fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it’s time to act.

Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it’s how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.

But some jobs aren’t as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.

  • Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

MagnoliaNeil Gaiman’s Stardust meets John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in this fantasy about a girl caught between two worlds…two races…and two destinies.

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live.

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia.

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie?

  • Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori #1) by Heather Petty

Debut author Heather Petty’s Lock & Mori trilogy, in which a female Moriarty teams up with her classmate Sherlock Holmes to solve a mystery in modern-day London, until the answers lead him too close to all that she’s been hiding.

  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

  • The Witchwood Crown (The Last King of Osten Ard #1) by Tad Williams

Nothing known about this one, but I’ve loved Tad’s short fiction and have a stack of novels I’ve never got around to reading… So why not start with a brand new series!

~

What books are you eagerly awaiting? Do you have any suggestions for what I should keep an eye out for?

Other excellent blog posts I’ve come across for 2015 pondering are as follows. If you’ve posted one, let me know in a comment and I’ll check it out!