Anticipated Books of 2016

It’s the 17th December and that means it’s two weeks to go until it’s 2016! Where has the year gone…

Like last year, 2015 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, or even give myself dedicated time to enjoy) and gives me an excuse to read them asap, putting aside other things on my To Do list…

As always the start of the year was spent wrapping up the previous Aurealis Awards, and the second half was spent in the role as duel Judging Coordinator along with Tehani, which brings a surprising amount of paperwork. In addition, we introduced a new award to the Aurealis Awards known as The Sara, for Sara Douglass, which is to find the best Australian speculative fiction series finished between 2011-2014 which meant reading about 200 books.

thornemberlainBecause of this I’ve finally decided to forgo judging duties in 2016. Judging since 2011 has been amazing, but I need a year to catch up on books I simply haven’t had time for.

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

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.

  • Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

So I haven’t even read the first in this series yet so I have no clue what’s going on, nor have I looked for the synopsis of this one… but I know I’ll love it once I get around to reading it, so book two gets a place on the list regardless!

  • Untitled (Zeroes #2) by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan, Deborah Biancotti

So there’s no title or synopsis, but I’m so there for this one (and not just because I share a dinner table and discuss knitting with one or two of the authors when there’s a convention on).

This is such an excellent and fun series. We have a collection of characters who have interesting and diverse powers – some scarier than impressive, such as the very politician-style ability to command or coerce those around him to see his view and follow his lead. Heck with that! I can’t wait to see where this goes in the second book, and try to figure out which characters/parts each of these awesome authors have control over.

  • Marked in Flesh (The Others #4) by Anne Bishop

MarkedinFleshThis is a series I’ve been refreshing review sites for madly for months, and now it’s finally appeared! Fingers crossed I get approved…

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the delicate dynamic between humans and Others changed. Some, like Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn, see the new, closer companionship as beneficial—both personally and practically.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don’t realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land that belongs to the Others—and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to protect what is theirs…

  • In The Labyrinth of Drakes (Memoir by Lady Trent #4) by Marie Brennan

In The Labyrinth of DrakesI’ve adored all books in this series so far, so this is another book I’m totally on board for.

Even those who take no interest in the field of dragon naturalism have heard of Lady Trent’s expedition to the inhospitable deserts of Akhia. Her discoveries there are the stuff of romantic legend, catapulting her from scholarly obscurity to worldwide fame. The details of her personal life during that time are hardly less private, having provided fodder for gossips in several countries.

As is so often the case in the career of this illustrious woman, the public story is far from complete. In this, the fourth volume of her memoirs, Lady Trent relates how she acquired her position with the Royal Scirling Army; how foreign saboteurs imperiled both her work and her well-being; and how her determined pursuit of knowledge took her into the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth of Drakes, where the chance action of a dragon set the stage for her greatest achievement yet.

  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

I will follow Brosh anywhere, just as I will for Jenny Lawson. Anyone who can take anything delicate and hard such as mental health and make it something we can feel normal and not so alone about is a hero in my eyes. And then they even manage to make us laugh about it. I adore her work so much.

If you haven’t yet read Hyperbole and a Half then lucky you, you have something to tide you over until this one comes out.

  • Successor’s Son (Millennium’s Rule #3) by Trudi Canavan

There’s no synopsis out for this one yet, and I haven’t read the second book just yet as I need to re-read the first to bring all the subtitles back to the front of my mind. Hopefully over the Christmas break I’ll get the chance to read the first two again, and maybe I’ll take pointed notes for myself so I’m all ready for the third when it comes out! I loved the first book in this series and have high hopes for the second two.

  • Keep Calm & Kill the Chef (Café La Femme #3) by Livia Day

Currently if you sign up to Livia Day’s newsletter, you get access to the promotional library, which includes a sneak preview of the first chapter of this, which is all about one of the best characters – Xanthippe. This offers a unique look of our main character, Tabitha, and what makes this cosy crime series just so fantastic – pointing out how squishy and lovely Tabitha is which makes her such a terrible amateur detective, no matter how many ‘accidental corpses’ fall into her path. It’s Livia’s amusing humour which makes this series so much fun to read and adore.

  • Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

So this book is nearly out and my review friends have enjoyed it greatly, so I’m looking forward to getting it when it comes out.

TruthwitchIn the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

  • Defying Doomsday by Tsana Dolichva, Holly Kench

This is an anthology I backed for funding via pozible, and I know most of the people involved, so I’m counting down the days until I get my hands on this one!

Apocalypse fiction rarely includes characters with disability, chronic illness and other impairments. When these characters do appear, they usually die early on, or are secondary characters undeveloped into anything more than a burden to the protagonist. Defying Doomsday will be an anthology showing that disabled characters have far more interesting stories to tell in post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction.

The anthology will be varied, with characters experiencing all kinds of disability from physical impairments, chronic illnesses, mental illnesses and/or neurodiverse characters. There will also be a variety of stories, including those that are fun, sad, adventurous and horrific.

The stories in Defying Doomsday will look at periods of upheaval from new and interesting perspectives. The anthology will share narratives about characters with disability, characters with chronic illnesses and other impairments, surviving the apocalypse and contending with the collapse of life as they know it.

  • On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

Corinne’s Otherbound was one of my favourite books read in 2014 and I can’t wait for this one. One chapter will apparently make us cry, and I’m sure it’ll be hard-hitting, not afraid to be utterly blunt with how being autistic changes Denise’s options and treatment.

EdgeofGoneJanuary 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.

Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

  • 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 enjoyed the majority of her work not so much the latest YA…) so I’m incredibly hopeful/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.

  • The Rebirth of Rapunzel by Kate Forsyth

This will be a collection that will contain Kate’s research on the Rapunzel story that underpinned her stunning, award-winning novel, Bitter Greensas well as several other pieces related to fairy tales and folklore. The book is not your usual reference work, but an wonderful exploration of the subject matter, written in Kate’s clever and engaging style.

  • The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen #1) by Alison Goodman

DarkDaysSo this one has apparently been moved forward at the last minute to be published before Christmas 2015 rather than early 2016, but now it’s not like I’ll get to read it until 2016 anyway so here it can stay.

I’ve read a sample of this through NetGalley and can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

  • Assassin’s Fate (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy #3) by Robin Hobb

Okay so this book I really will need to take the day off to read when it comes out – and if I get my hands on an ARC again I will be highly likely to squeal again – first time I was in a hotel room at a judging conference and I dashed out to McDonalds before we started that morning in order to download it (and I think that failed, and I begged Tehani to be able to use her mobile data to do so?), and the second I was at work. My co-workers pretended to understand.

There’s no synopsis out for this one yet – who needs one? Our hearts will be torn out, our poor Fitz and Fool and everyone they hold dear will feel pain of unimaginable suffering, and a good time will be had by all.

  • The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil

Life in Outer Space was one of Melissa’s earlier books, and really quite enjoyable… so I’m on board for this one! I also hope to have time to read The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl sometime soon.

Meet Sophia: former child prodigy and 17-year-old maths mastermind. She’s been having panic attacks ever since she realised that a) high school is almost over, and b) after high school, former child prodigies tend to either cure cancer – or go crazy.

It’s a lot of pressure. So Sophia doesn’t have the patience for games right now, and she especially doesn’t have the patience to figure out why all these mysterious playing cards keep turning up inside her textbooks.

Meet Joshua: highly intelligent, cheerfully unambitious, and an amateur magician. He’s Sophia’s classmate, and he’s admired her for as long as he can remember.

He thinks the time is perfect to tell Sophia how he feels. And he doesn’t know how wrong he is …

  • The Sidekicks by Will Kostakis

SidekicksI loved Will’s first book, The First Third – it was a book like Melina Marchetta’s – so perfectly showing the blending of cultures that occurs in Australia when you’re born here but your parents aren’t, so you’ve Australian but other things from other cultures are also deeply important, and sometimes clash in awkward, heartbreaking, and/or hilarious ways. So I’m totally there for his next book. It’s books like these that show just how damn strong Australian YA really is – not that there’s any surprise in that regard for us who live here. You just hope they get the worldwide recognition they deserve.

Isaac, Ryan, Harley and Miles aren’t four best friends, they’re three guys with the same best friend. When Isaac dies, they have to learn to fill the space he’s left in each other’s lives. And after so many years of being sidekicks, it’s harder being stars than they ever anticipated.

  • False Hearts by Laura Lam

HeartsFalseCommence high-pitched squealing for Laura Lam. Her writing is AMAZINGFalseHearts and I can’t properly articulate just how excellent this series is. Spoilt as I am, I’ve beta-read both this and the next in the series so I can confidently say – just you wait. It’s amazing.

Also look at these covers. Aren’t they stunning!

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

MasqueradeAnother piece of awesome to get hyper about – the close to a series Laura started publishing with Angry Robot, and has since moved to Tor with. If you’ve read the first two and can’t wait for the third, be sure to check out the four novellas set in this world in a mini-series called the Vestigial Tales which should tide you over for a short while at least.

This is actually due out in early 2017, but ARCs should be available in 2016 so I’m leaving it here – and the re-release of the first two in this series (Pantomime and Shadowplay) are due out at the end of 2016 with stunning new covers. Don’t know what this series is about? Never fear!

Gene’s life resembles a debutante’s dream. Yet she hides a secret that would see her shunned by the nobility. Gene is both male and female. Then she displays unwanted magical abilities – last seen in mysterious beings from an almost-forgotten age. Matters escalate further when her parents plan a devastating betrayal, so she flees home, dressed as a boy.

The city beyond contains glowing glass relics from a lost civilization. They call to her, but she wants freedom not mysteries. So, reinvented as ‘Micah Grey’, Gene joins the circus. As an aerialist, she discovers the joy of flight – but the circus has a dark side. She’s also plagued by visions foretelling danger. A storm is howling in from the past, but will she heed its roar?

  • The Fall of the Dagger (The Forsaken Lands #3) by Glenda Larke

There’s no synopsis out for this one yet, and I haven’t read the second book just yet as I need to re-read the first to bring all the many awesome characters back to the front of my memory… so with a week or two to go before the release of this one I’ll start my re-read, and it’ll be glorious. I can’t recommend Glenda’s work enough, and she’s amazing in person if you ever get the chance to chat or listen to her read/answer questions.

  • Shaming the Devil by Melina Marchetta

Melina was my favourite author growing up, so to hear she has a new book coming out fills me with a whole lot of hyper joy.

Bashir “Bish” Ortley is a London desk cop. Almost over it. Still not deaing with the death of his son years ago, as well as the break up of his marriage.

Across the channel, a summer bus tour, carrying a group of English teenagers is subject to a deadly bomb attack, killing four of the passengers and injuring a handful of others. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board. The suspect is 17 year old Violette LeBrac whose grandfather was responsible for a bombing that claimed the lives of dozens of people fourteen years ago; and whose mother, Noor, has been serving a life sentence for the part she was supposed to have played in the attack.

As Bish is dragged into the search for the missing Violette, and the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put away, the more Bish realizes that they may have got it wrong all those years ago, and that truth wears many colours. Especially when it comes to the teenagers on board the recent bus bombing. Including his daughter.

  • Den of Wolves (Blackthorn & Grim #3) by Juliet Marillier

There’s no ETA for this one, but I’m hopeful as the first two were released one a year. I can’t wait for the third one for this one, Blackthorn and Grim are some of my favourite current characters so I’m desperate for more. This is another series I would take a day off work to enjoy without fail.

  • The Burning World (Warm Bodies #2) by Isaac Marion

Do you follow Marion on instagram? You should. Did you read the first book in the Warm Bodies series, or just see the movie? Read the book.

Being alive is hard. Being human is harder. But since his recent recovery from death, R is making progress. He’s learning how to read, how to speak, maybe even how to love, and the city’s undead population is showing signs of life. R can almost imagine a future with Julie, this girl who restarted his heart—building a new world from the ashes of the old one.

And then helicopters appear on the horizon. Someone is coming to restore order. To silence all this noise. To return things to the way they were, the good old days of stability and control and the strong eating the weak. The plague is ancient and ambitious, and the Dead were never its only weapon.

How do you fight an enemy that’s in everyone? Can the world ever really change? With their home overrun by madmen, R, Julie, and their ragged group of refugees plunge into the otherworldly wastelands of America in search of answers. But there are some answers R doesn’t want to find. A past life, an old shadow, crawling up from the basement.

  • Every Heart a Doorway (Every Heart A Doorway #1) by Seanan McGuire

DoorwayMcGuireTaken from Alex’s excellent review of this:

McGuire has presented a story about the girls and boys who come back from fairyland… and wish they hadn’t.

Nancy went to the Halls of the Dead and basically learnt to act as a statue to please the Lord and Lady there. Her parents, of course, do not understand what she experienced and think she needs to be helped through whatever trauma is causing her to tell such dreadful tales.

Isn’t that all one needs to know to be hooked in? Also, I’ll read anything by Seanan/Mira. The only slight ‘issue’ with this is that it’s short at only 150 pages or so, I already know I’ll want more than that! The good thing with McGuire though is that she comes out with so damn much a year that we’ll always have something more to read soon enough.

  • 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.

  • Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

GhostTalkersAlternate history? Mary Robinette Kowal? I am so there.

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, 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…

  • Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6) by Brandon Sanderson

I adore the Mistborn series, not for the plot which is all a bit weak and dull, but for the characters. Wax and Wayne are amazing together with their witty banter, but Steris is where it’s at: she’s incredible.

A kandra researcher has returned to Elendel with images that seem to depict the Bands, as well as writings in a language that no one can read. Waxillium Ladrian is recruited to travel south to the city of New Seran to investigate. Along the way he discovers hints that point to the true goals of his uncle Edwarn and the shadowy organization known as The Set.

  • The Dark Talent (Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians #5) by Brandon Sanderson

I’ve only read the first in this series also, but it’s one that I’m going to enjoy once I get the time to.

  • A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows FinalSo this is only part of the synopsis, but…

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

It seems to be enough to be getting on with, doesn’t it? I’ve already read the first third thanks to a NetGalley sample and my goodness I can’t wait to get the rest. I adore Delilah so much!

I’ve already written up about the sample I’ve read, and you can read that right here… but basically, Delilah is amazing, followed swiftly by the awesome that is Kell, and we also get an amazing plot in that of the Element Games. Bring it on.

  • The Returned (The Archived #3) by Victoria Schwab

Not much is known about this one, but it’s been announced it’s happening. I could have listed it below in my list of books I don’t expect to be out this year, but Schwab writes damned fast and I think if it’s ready the publisher will hand it to us asap rather than a year and a half later, so fingers crossed!

  • This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity #1) by Victoria Schwab

I really don’t know just how many books Schwab can bring out in a year, but baby I’m all there for all of them on day one, eagerly grabbing and reading as soon as possible. If it’s possible to take the day off for the release, well, I’m there for that too.

SavageSongThe city of Verity has been overrun with monsters, born from the worst of human evil. In North Verity, the Corsai and the Malchai run free. Under the rule of Callum Harker, the monsters kill any human who has not paid for protection. In the South, Henry Flynn hunts the monsters who cross the border into his territory, aided by the most dangerous and darkest monsters of them all—the Sunai, dark creatures who use music to steal their victim’s souls.

As one of only three Sunai in existence, August Flynn has always wanted to play a bigger role in the war between the north and the south. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate Harker, daughter of the leader of North Verity, August jumps on it.
When Kate discovers August’s secret, the pair find themselves running for their lives and battling monsters from both sides of the wall. As the city dissolves into chaos, it’s up to them to foster a peace between monsters and humans.

A unique, fast-paced adventure that looks at the monsters we face every day—including the monster within.

  • Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor

Taylor is another author I’ll throw everything aside for and squee for more.

Strange the Dreamer is the story of:
the aftermath of a war between gods and men.
a mysterious city stripped of its name.
a mythic hero with blood on his hands.
a young librarian with a singular dream.
a girl every bit as perilous as she is imperiled.
alchemy and blood candy, nightmares and godspawn, moths and monsters, friendship and treachery, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

  • Necessity (Thessaly #3) by Jo Walton

Walton’s Thessaly series was one that really took me by surprise, if only in the way that it reads as a highly literary series that I’d otherwise think I’m too dumb for. While I think I am missing many subtleties not having read the books this is all spawned from, it’s still a wonderful and highly enjoyable series that I can’t recommend highly enough.

More than sixty­-five years ago, Pallas Athena founded the Just City on an island in the eastern Mediterranean, placing it centuries before the Trojan War, populating it with teachers and children from throughout human history, and committing it to building a society based on the principles of Plato’s Republic. Among the City’s children was Pytheas, secretly the god Apollo in human form.

Convinced by Apollo to spare the Cities, Zeus instead moved everything on the island to the planet Plato, circling its own distant sun.

Now, more than a generation has passed. The Cities are flourishing on Plato, and even trading with multiple alien species. Then, on the same day, two things happen. Pytheas dies as a human, returning immediately as Apollo in his full glory. And there’s suddenly a human ship in orbit around Plato­­a ship from Earth.

  • The Edge of Worlds (The Books of the Raksura #4) by Martha Wells

Wells was one of my new favourite authors of all time very quickly, to the point where I’m now savouring several of her books as a treat once I have some bloody time to myself again – I can’t wait. This is a book I’d immediately jump to as soon as it comes out though, timelines be damned.

Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.

  • In Your Face (anthology) edited by Tehani Wessely

I read anything that comes out from FableCroft, and so here we have their next anthology.

A collection of Australian speculative fiction stories that deal with very provocative and/or confronting themes, but with purpose – they will be pieces that perhaps make readers uncomfortable because they are a bit too hard-hitting or close to the bone, but which do so in order to interrogate these themes and ideas, and make a point about the world we live in.

  • One Would Think Deep by Claire Zorn

OneWouldThinkDeepSet in 1997, centred around seventeen year old Sam. Sam has been raised by his mother and was very close to his maternal grandparents, his aunt and his cousin, until a rift caused his mum to become estranged from them. In the aftermath of his mum’s sudden death, Sam finds himself reunited with his extended family and moved to a small coastal town south of Sydney.

Claire’s previous books The Sky So Heavy and The Protected have both been devoured in an afternoon each, so although there’s barely anything known of this one yet, I’m eagerly awaiting this one. Bring on May!

~

Other books I would of course jump for, but don’t expect to come out in 2016 are:

  • The Burning (Luther #2) by Neil Cross
  • Untitled (Cormoran Strike, #4) by Robert Galbraith
  • The Bastards and the Knives (Gentleman Bastard, #0.5) by Scott Lynch
  • Doors of Stone (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #3) by Patrick Rothfuss
  • Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive, #3) by Brandon Sanderson
  • The Lost Metal (Mistborn #7) by Brandon Sanderson
  • Untitled (Blood and Gold, #2) by Kim Wilkins
  • Rewind (Newsflesh #4) by Mira Grant
  • Untitled (Wolf By Wolf #2) by Ryan Graudin
  • Untitled (Magonia #2) by Maria Dahvana Headley

~

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.

  • All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

AlltheBirdsChildhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn’t expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one’s peers and families.

But now they’re both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who’s working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world’s every-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together–to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.

A deeply magical, darkly funny examination of life, love, and the apocalypse.

  • Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here by Anna Breslaw

Meet Scarlett Epstein, BNF (Big Name Fan) in her online community of fanfiction writers, world-class nobody at Melville High. Her best (read: only) IRL friends are Avery, a painfully shy and annoyingly attractive bookworm, and Ruth, her pot-smoking, possibly insane seventy-three-year-old neighbor.

When Scarlett’s beloved TV show is canceled and her longtime crush, Gideon, is sucked out of her orbit and into the dark and distant world of Populars, Scarlett turns to the fanfic message boards for comfort. This time, though, her subjects aren’t the swoon-worthy stars of her fave series—they’re the real-life kids from her high school. Scarlett never considers what might happen if they were to find out what she truly thinks about them…until a dramatic series of events exposes a very different reality than Scarlett’s stories, forever transforming her approach to relationships—both online and off.

  • Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

  • Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

ExitBearHermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

  • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn’t seen in hundreds of years — a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

  • Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

RadioSilenceFrances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past…

  • These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker, Kelly Zekas

England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.

~

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 2016 pondering are as follows. If you’ve posted one, let me know in a comment and I’ll check it out!

 

2014 – December

This month I managed to read 29 novels. I made a concentrated effort to read as much as possible once again – before work as soon as I woke up, often early. During lunch breaks. Even during work sometimes (shush!) because there was just no work some days when too many people had the day off so it was just a whole lot of sitting around, waiting for emails or phone calls to come in, or things to go wrong!

And thanks to working a bit of overtime a few weeks ago, nothing really did.

I also get a bit OCD about finishing as much as I can before the end of the year, so I can start the new year afresh. This meant clearing out as many reviews as possible, and as many books from reading lists as possible.

Below I’ll list the novels read for my part in judging the fantasy novel category in the Aurealis Awards which I’m not able to discuss, then below shall carry on as normal for books I’ve read for enjoyment or review.

  • Bound (Alex Caine #1) by Alan Baxter
  • Blood of Innocents (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence #2) by Mitchell Hogan
  • Inside Out by Will Elliott
  • The Caller (Shadowfell #3) by Juliet Marillier
  • Obsidian (Alex Caine #2) by Alan Baxter
  • The Unfortunate Deaths of Jonathan Wild (The Memoirs of Pascal Bonenfant) by Stephen Hart
  • Altaica (The Chronicles of Altaica, #1) by Tracy M. Joyce
  • Bespelled by Dani Kristoff
  • The Other Tree by D.K. Mok
  • North Star Guide Me Home (Children of the Black Sun #3) by Jo Spurrier
  • Abduction (Alex Caine #3) by Alan Baxter
  • The Godless (Children, #1) by Ben Peek
  • Immagica by K.A. Last
  • Clariel (Abhorsen #4) by Garth Nix

And now, onto the novels read in December!

Vision in Silver (The Others, #3)

Vision in Silver by Anne Bishop was a book I got to review really quite early – I don’t think it’s out until next year. I really love this series – it’s constantly excellent and expanding (some series the second book suffers a little, but not in this case!) this is the third book in the series and it’s still left me hungry for more. I’m not allowed to review this one until the actual release date so unfortunately no link for this one – all I can say is that it’s incredible.

Kaleidoscope: Diverse YA Science Fiction and Fantasy Stories

Kaleidoscope anthology, edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios is a book I should have read months ago – I feel really guilty that I didn’t. It was a mixture of being busy with books that had a deadline, and that greedy feeling I get when I have a book I KNOW is going to be good – so I want to store it away for later, like a chipmunk and nuts for winter. Which is silly, I’m weird. This anthology is AMAZING and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s going to win all the awards, so get in early and read it now so you can be ahead of the crowd. You can read my review of it here.

To Love a Sunburnt Country (The Matilda Saga, #4)

To Love a Sunburnt Country by Jackie French is a book I really shouldn’t have read because during December I had far too much reading I had to do like Aurealis judging and reviewing… but I adore Jackie’s work, and one weekend I just needed to have a little ‘me’ time to de-stress. (Even if it added more stress by not working, go figure.) From the rest of the books in this post, they’ll all say something along the lines of how I should have read them ages ago.

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.

Yesterday's Kin

Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress is a book I should have read months and months ago (see above). When I finally picked it up I devoured it in one sitting. I really enjoy any and all books or shorts I’ve read so far by Nancy Kress so next time I’m pretty sure I’ll be hanging out for whatever book comes out next! You can read my review of it here.

Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor was read for the December challenge, and 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 Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers is another read for the December challenge, going on pretty well from Jackie French’s ‘To Love a Sunburnt Country’ and the war theme. This was a quick, sad read where you see the terror of war in much more of a stark way – Jackie’s book is incredibly sad, but this book was written from a solider’s point of view so it was pretty depressing the whole way through.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater was another book for the December challenge – a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and that River made sure I read! And I’m so glad I did – this 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 so I can feel justified reading a book not for judging, reviewing or the December challenge if I get everything else done/progressed sufficiently!

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars, #2)

Mr Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas is the second in the new Veronica Mars book series, and continues on after the movie and first book so it should all be read in order – this is a series for the fans, even though it’s well written enough as a crime book by itself – it’s use of characters we know and love from the tv show but lack of explanation of who they are exactly could make it a little confusing, or make the reader wonder why they should care. You can read my review here.

Moriarty

Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz is kinda the second in his Sherlock Holmes series (that began with The House of Silk) but doesn’t really continue on from each other – both could be read independently quite easily. Both are beyond-excellent books, and this one had me screeching ‘WHAT!?’ at the end and wanting to throw the book at the wall (in a good way!) I won’t say why though – you’ll have to read it yourself to find out. You can also read my review of it here.

Temeraire (Temeraire, #1)

Temeraire by Naomi Novik was received from the very awesome Alex, and read for the December challenge under two challenges – award winner Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2007), Locus Award for Best First Novel (2007), Compton Crook Award (2007) and gifted by a friend. This was SUCH a fun book to read! I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the series. This book is kinda in the same realm of thinking as Marie Brennan’s series, so I’m glad I have her second book listed in the December challenge, too. Here’s hoping I get there in time!

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)

The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski wasn’t as good as the first, unfortunately, and has quite awkward wording throughout that constantly pulled me from the narrative. It’s hard going from so many excellent books to something a little less-so, and I think it makes the judgement all that more harsh when compared. It is a bit of a relief to have one less series to keep an eye out for though!

The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1)

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd was another book read for the December challenge, and was read in a few hours thanks to a slow day at work. (Shush!) Mixed thoughts on this one really – another that rather pales in comparison to other recent things. Such as…

Seven Days of Joyeux (Musketeer Space, #0.5)

Seven Days of Joyeux by Tansy Rayner Roberts is a Christmas gift to her readers – this is a prequel novella to her web-serial Musketeer Space which shows Athos (my sudden favourite!), Porthos and Aramis dealing with things going wrong every day of Joyeux which, as Musketeers, is up to them to fix. And get drunk. And up to other shenanigans.

This was so much fun, made all the better with cute artwork and festive feel. Living in Australia where it’s bloody hot makes feeling festive a bit hard some years, so reading about a space station where they too would be relying on artificial air temperatures made me feel right at home.

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

The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan was a book I’ve meant to read all dang year, and I’m glad I listed it as part of the December challenge! This is easy reading and recommended for fans of Temeraire by Naomi Novik  because dragons and the style it’s written in. I read this on Christmas and Boxing day, and it was very relaxing indeed.

Havenstar

Havenstar by Glenda Larke was also read for the December challenge, another I’m so glad I got to! I adore Glenda’s work, and this was her debut novel, it’s interesting to go all the way back and see how it compares to her current work – though, she republished this up on smashwords in 2012 and edited it up a bit – I’d love to see how much was changed, because this was dang good. Very good in fact.

I love the characters, love the world-building, love the idea behind it all and aaah! I wish this was a trilogy! such a good way to end the year, too. Ending on a high for sure.

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.

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.

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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

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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!

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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!

2014 Snapshot – Glenda Larke

SnaphotLogo2014

GLENDA Larke spent most of her adult life abroad, living in Malaysia (including Borneo), Austria and Tunisia, but has recently returned to live in W.A. She has worked as an English teacher and as a conservationist, specifically tropical bird conservation, on jobs that have taken her from peat swamps and tropical islands to logging camps and fishing villages. Her 11 published novels include three trilogies (Isles of Glory, Mirage Makers and the Watergivers) and she has had books short-listed seven times for the Aurealis Best Fantasy of the Year. Her latest trilogy, The Forsaken Lands, is a fantasy version of the 18th century European spice trade, involving buccaneers, birds of paradise, witchery and magical daggers. Book one, The Lascar’s Dagger, is now available; the second, The Dagger’s Path, comes out worldwide in January 2015.

Find Glenda online at www.glendalarke.com and on her blog,www.glendalarke.blogspot.com.

1. The Lascar’s Dagger is the first book in The Forsaken Lands series (published March 2014), which has a strong sense of setting and culture throughout the book. What inspires you especially down this path, and how important do you think cultures are to the speculative fiction scene?

TheLascarsDaggerWhen I was 25, I went to live in my husband’s country. Very little about it was familiar — language, climate, customs, family structure, law, religion, food, festivals: those things were all fundamentally different for someone brought up in Australia, especially in that era. We weren’t privileged expatriates; we were locals, paid a local salary; I became part of my husband’s family. For me, it was an exciting adventure, but also a traumatic adjustment; it was a wonderful, broadening experience, yet also a destabilising upheaval. In fact, all those things at one and the same time. I was mostly accepted and welcomed — but not always.

As if that experience was not enough, we later moved to Austria and then Tunisia. Believe me, if there is one thing living on four different continents taught me, it is how fundamental setting and culture are to our lives, to our sense of security, to our personal happiness.

I write stories that I hope are entertaining, but at the same time I like to think that speculative fiction can also encourage readers to think about issues that are important to us as individuals and as a society — without the confrontational aspects of: “Hey, that’s MY culture/race/beliefs you’re talking about there!” We pride ourselves in Australia for being multicultural and tolerant. That’s the theory. We sometimes don’t succeed at being either, and I think we should be aware of why not. Looking at an artificially constructed fictional culture might help, even as the story entertains.

2. Your Isles of Glory series has been re-released with FableCroft Publishing in ebook form, would you be able to tell us a little about this series, and what it’s been like to have it re-released?

It’s given the story a new lease of life — and I’ve found new readers because of it. It never was published as a paperback in the UK, so for readers there the eBooks have given them a chance to get to know Blaze Halfbreed. Happily, the tale seems to have aged well, and the end of Gilfeather (book two) still blows readers away…

3. What lies in store for us with the next two books in The Forsaken Lands series? The Dagger’s Path (book two) is currently due out in January 2015; what has been decided for the third book?

Neither a title nor a publication date has yet been confirmed for Book 3. It is already underway though, and I’m not a writer who believes in keeping my readers waiting for years! I’m hoping it will be in print within a year of Dagger’s Path, which is already in the final stages of publication.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

At the moment I’m reading Bruce McCabe’s Skinjob — so far, a fabulous SF thriller-mystery. In fact, I’ve enjoyed enormously some of the latest Australian SF — The Rook (Daniel O’Malley) and Lexicon (Max Barry), for example. In horror, I thought Lee Battersby’s The Corpse-Rat King was excellent and I must get the sequel.

As for fantasy, the best Australian novel I’ve read this year is Karen Miller’s The Falcon Throne, bar none. This is book 1 of The Tarnished Crown, which promises to be a remarkable 5 part epic. I think it will prove to be on a par with the work of some of the greats of fantasy, such as Robin Hobb and G.R.R. Martin. It comes out in September. Not to be missed. For classic-fantasy readers, there’s Satima Flavell’s The Dagger of Dresnia… Young adult? Dave Freer’s Cuttlefish and The Steam Mole.

TheLastStormlord5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

There aren’t too many writers unaffected by what has been happening. Present advances are not what writers were getting fifteen years ago! I was just getting to the stage where I had enough books published to actually earn a decent living — when bookshops began to disappear… I haven’t the faintest idea what will happen next.

My first reaction was to self-publish/go to small presses to publish my backlist, and I’m happy to say having all my early books available again in one form or another, is finding me new readers. For my new work, I will continue with traditional publishing if possible. If not, I will probably go to a small press. (Luckily, Australia has some very fine and dedicated small press editors!) Failing that, I’ll self-publish. I have to write, so I may as well aim to have readers too!

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This interview was conducted as part of the 2014 Snapshot of Australian Speculative Fiction. We’ll be blogging interviews from 28 July to 10 August and archiving them at SF Signal. You can read interviews at: