Goodness, where has the year gone? It’s been 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, straight to my lap and gives me an excuse to read them asap!
That said, I’m looking forward to picking my own books. Here’s a few, in alpha order by author’s last name to make it fair. Publishing dates are taken from Goodreads, so may not all be accurate. But here’s hoping we get them all during 2014 – if we do, what a year it’s going to be!
- 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.
There’s also talk about one of his novella’s coming out within the next year, so fingers crossed for that. And he has another short story in an anthology, but for the life of me I can’t find details of the name or editors. He read a section of it at Brighton WFC 2013 and it’s probably going to be my new favourite short story, jumping just ahead of In the Stacks – it’s honestly wonderful.
- Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3) by Leigh Bardugo
This series has been one that gets better as it goes along, and that’s with the first book being pretty darn good. I think the first arrived without request from the publisher for review, and I was instantly drawn in – the sequel was one I threw everything aside to read immediately. It has a strong female main character, and fairly complex supporting characters who you honestly don’t always know what their motives are – in the best got-to-keep-reading way possible.
- Murder of Crows (The Others, #2) by Anne Bishop
A series that took me by surprise – I think another I received the first to review and thought I’d give it a go, and was instantly drawn into the world for my trouble. It’s another vampires and werewolves series, but heck does it do it well. This is the book for everyone who is sick to death of shape shifter novels, because it does it so damn well, and it reminds you to not turn your back on any trope.
- Lair of Dreams (The Diviners, #2) by Libba Bray
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.
- Clockwork Universe anthology edited by Patricia Bray and Joshua Palmatier
A book that came from Kickstarter that has the tagline ‘When aliens reach Earth, they encounter the clockwork mechanisms and Victorian sensibilities of a full-blown steampunk civilization.’ It’s due for release (for backers at least) in May 2014 and currently has a list of authors including Scott Lynch, Bradley Beaulieu, Caitlin Kittredge, Gini Koch, Gail Z. Martin, Seanan McGuire, and Ian Tregillis, plus others.
- The Tropic of Serpents (Memoir by Lady Trent #2) by Marie Brennan
The first book in this series was a thing of beauty, and I expect nothing less from the sequel. Lady Trent is the world’s pre-eminent dragon naturalist in a time when a woman learning anything from books is entirely looked down upon, as it simply isn’t done. The first book was set in the year 1895 in a magical realm that’s quite alike Victorian England. Females are expected to grow to be proper and marry well, even when dragons exist and who really wouldn’t want to run away and be amongst them! The first book was dramatic, and it leaves me wondering what could dare happen in the second.
- UPGRADED anthology edited by Neil Clarke
Another kickstarter joy. An original science fiction anthology for the cyborg age. Edited by a cyborg. Stronger. Better. Faster. We will rebuild you. The following authors have already agreed to submit a story: Elizabeth Bear, Helena Bell, Tobias S. Buckell, Pat Cadigan, Greg Egan, Xia Jia, Caitlín R. Kiernan, Yoon Ha Lee, Ken Liu, Chen Qiufan, Robert Reed, E. Catherine Tobler, Genevieve Valentine, Peter Watts, E. Lily Yu
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.
- Drowned Vanilla (Café La Femme, #2) by Livia Day
Also known by the name Tansy Rayner-Roberts, Livia has an excellent series there that delights the reader with snappy and intelligent dialogue. And the descriptions of the food! The main character runs a café and the way she describes the food would make you hungry for it, even if it’s of food you wouldn’t normally eat. Or worse, are allergic to. The descriptions of the clothes are also one of Livia/Tansy’s strengths. And the characters. And then it’s crime. So basically it wins on all fronts.
- Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres
I haven’t read everything by de Pierres, but this book sounds dang interesting. Virgin Jackson is the senior ranger in Birrimun Park – the world’s last natural landscape, overshadowed though it is by a sprawling coastal megacity. She maintains public safety and order in the park, so when an imaginary animal from her troubled teenage years reappears, Virgin takes it to mean one of two things: a breakdown (hers!) or a warning. When the dead bodies start piling up around her and Nate, she decides on the latter. Something terrible is about to happen in the park and Virgin and her new partner are standing in its path…
- This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl
A collection of the journals, fiction, letters, and sketches of the late Esther Grace Earl, who passed away in 2010 at the age of 16. Photographs and essays by family and friends will help to tell Esther’s story along with an introduction by award-winning author John Green who dedicated his #1 bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars to her.
- Untitled (Cormoran Strike, #2) by Robert Galbraith
Also known by the name J. K. Rowling, this series was so excellent I kept thinking to myself ‘I really need to hunt out any other books by Galbraith!’ – I just kept forgetting who ‘he’ actually was, thanks to the writing style. I found the first book highly enjoyable, and could perfectly visualise Idris Elba in the MC role – partly thanks to his work in Luther of course, but because I think it would be excellent to see the actor do basically the same role in a way, yet manage to make it an entirely different character.
- Steampunk World anthology edited by Sarah Hans
Currently in Kickstarter mode so get on over and pledge if you’re interested! A diverse steampunk anthology from your favorite award-winning authors, including Jay Lake, Nisi Shawl, Ken Liu, and Lucy A. Snyder, due to be delivered somehow in February 2014.
- The Fool’s Assassin (The Fitz and The Fool Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb
Well, it’s Robin Hobb so this one’s a given. I admit I haven’t read all of her books just yet – Solider Son and her Megan Lindholm work is in my bookcase, glaring at me, but more Fitz and Fool will certainly jump the queue. Another lovely author I’ve had the pleasure of meeting twice now. She was so excellent on her panels at WFC in Brighton that my partner can’t wait to read her work.
- Blood of Innocents (Sorcery Ascendant Sequence #2) by Mitchell Hogan
Another series that proves that it is possible to do self-published well, and of quality. This one will apparently have ‘faster pace all the way through. A better balance of action, adventure, character building/development, dramatic tension and world building.’ We look forward to it!
- A Very Singular Guild (City of Orphans, #3) by Catherine Jinks
A very fun series that’s set in London where there are boggles, which are quite like Dementors in how they make everyone feel, but they also eat the poor little children. The series has the same core characters, but follows a different one each time. This book shall follow Ned, one of the boggle hunters. What works so well in this series is the sense of self and the characters, as they’re expertly woven together with lovely use of language to capture the time.
- This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Six months after the events of These Broken Stars, the second book in the trilogy follows a new pair of star-crossed lovers—one a rebel fighting for his home, the other a soldier, her mission to eradicate the rebellion—facing down a powerful darkness hidden in the wilderness of a newly terraformed world.
The first book did the characters well, and it was an enjoyable space opera. What stood out was the prose, it really is quite a lovely novel to read. It had alternating chapters which really worked quite well, and overal it’s simply a survival story, which is always interesting, especially in science fiction.
- Kaleidoscope anthology edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Julia Rios
Funded via Pozible rather than kickstarter, this anthology will be part of the QUILTBAG, neuro-diverse, disabled, from non-Western cultures, people of color, or in some other way not the typical straight, white, cis-gendered, able-bodied characters we see all over the place. That said, these aren’t going to be issue stories. The focus here is contemporary fantasy, and while the characters’ backgrounds will necessarily affect how they engage with the world, we’re not going to have a collection of “Very Special Episode” stories about kids coming to terms with their sexuality/disability/mental illness/cultural identity, etc. We want to see protagonists from all sorts of backgrounds being the heroes of their own journeys.
- Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction anthology edited by Alisa Krasnostein and Tehani Wessely
A reprint anthology for anything that was first published in 2013, that will collect the best young adult short fiction of the year published in the anthologies dedicated to the form, the occasional special edition of a magazine, and individual pieces appearing in otherwise “adult” anthologies and magazines, and bring them together in one accessible collection. So many young readers are avidly reading speculative fiction in novel form; we want to introduce them to the delight that can be found in the short story as well.
- Shadowplay (Pantomime, #2) by Laura Lam
So this one I’ve already read, but it’s due out in early January. You can read my review here, but in summary, I liked it even better than the first which is saying quite a lot. We meet the new characters Cyan and Maske and the book turns a little darker, providing excellent reasons to keep reading as fast as one can to make sure they all reach the end of the book safely!
- The Lascar’s Dagger (The Forsaken Lands, #1) by Glenda Larke
Another favourite Australian author where anything that has her name on the cover will be instantly devoured.
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 dagger puts Saker on a journey to distant shores, on a path that will reveal terrible secrets about the empire, about the people he serves, and destroy the life he knows. The Lascar’s dagger demands a price, and that price will be paid in blood.
- H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
Well, first things first, Helen is a friend. She’s also utterly amazing, and has done so much in her life that it’s feat she has time to babble on twitter and be part of one of the funniest twitter rps I’ve seen. That aside, her book is going to be fantastic and I’d say that whether she takes us on adventures around Cambridge when we visit or not.
From the age of twelve, when she first saw a trained goshawk, Helen Macdonald had determined to become a falconer. She learned the arcane terminology and read all the classic books, especially T.H. White’s tortured masterpiece The Goshawk, that describes White’s struggle to train a hawk as a spiritual contest.
When her father dies and she is knocked sideways by grief, she turns to White’s book again and becomes obsessed with the idea of training her own goshawk. She buys Mabel for £800 on a Scottish quayside and takes her home to Cambridge. Then she fills the freezer with hawk food and unplugs the phone, ready to embark on the long, strange business of trying to train this widest of animals.
- The Caller (Shadowfell, #3) by Juliet Marillier
Marillier’s work is always so lovely and emotive. She manages to work a complex layer of historical fiction with old myths and legends, and it comes together into something weighty and different to what else is out there. This will be the conclusion of her excellent trilogy:
Sixteen-year-old Neryn is alone in the land of Alban, where the oppressive king has ordered anyone with magical strengths captured and brought before him. Eager to hide her own canny skill–a uniquely powerful ability to communicate with the fairy-like Good Folk–Neryn sets out on a legendary journey that will explore her talents.
- Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn and Grim, #1) by Juliet Marillier
The start of a new series! All about a magical healer’s adventures in a world based on medieval Ireland.
- The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colors of Madeleine #2) by Jaclyn Moriarty
The first book was another that was flung my way from the publisher, who had taken note of my reading tastes and thought I may like it. Nope. I loved it. Set half in Cambridge, England, and half in the fantasy Kingdom of Cello, we have the main character of Madeleine Tully of Cambridge who has two friends, Belle and Jack; a mother who is ill and a father they left behind in some other part of the world.
In Cello (the town of Bonfire, to be exact) we have Elliot and the colours, dangers that roam around the kingdom laying havoc and destroying lives. Elliot’s own father is missing, but Elliot plans to find him and bring him home again. It’s already been a year without him – a year too long.
This novel is nothing but unique and is an instant favourite, one I’ve been desperate to read more of.
- 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!
- Valour and Vanity (Glamourist Histories #4) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Another author who was so amazing at WFC Brighton that my partner is eager to read her work. And I won one of her books from knowing Doctor Who – did you know there’s a Doctor cameo in each of her novels? I had no idea! She read out the parts in each 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’ as they’re 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!
- Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson
So I haven’t actually finished reading the first in this series, Steelheart, just yet. But anything Sanderson is engaging and this series has superheroes and all, so as soon as I’m done with my judging books, I’ll be straight into the first.
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
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.
- Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive, #2) by Brandon Sanderson
More Kaladin! Honestly, how does Sanderson do it. Come out with so many books so quickly, I mean. In my humble opinion most are of quality, or are at least fun. This one I hope has a good introduction so it brings back the first book to my awful memory, so I don’t have to read the thousand plus pages again. Which would be nice to re-read anyway, but with this list and perhaps judging again next year I’m already worried about lacking time!
- Athena’s Daughters anthology edited by Silence in the Library Publishing
Currently in Kickstarter mode, so get on over and pledge if you’re interested!
Athena’s Daughters is a collection of short speculative fiction by some of the industry’s best female authors. This anthology features stories written by women about women. some of the authors shall be Mary Robinette Kowal, Gail Z. Martin, Cleolinda Jones, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jean Rabe, Sherwood Smith, Janine K. Spendlove, Vicki Johnson-Steger, Cynthia Ward, and Jean Marie Ward and new and exciting talents like Maggie Allen, Conley Lyons, Doris Stever, and C.A. (Christine) Verstraete. With an introduction by retired astronaut and Space Shuttle Commander Pam Melroy.
- Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #3) by Laini Taylor
This is one of my favourite series, because Laini Taylor’s work is such a thing of beauty. There’s a novella set between the second and third book and it’s so perfect that someone (Heather Vee) said on twitter that it’s ‘so charming that it makes me want to punch love right in the goddamn mouth.’ And that’s so true. Laini’s work makes you almost wriggle with happiness. This series makes me desperate to visit Prague. If you haven’t read this series, get straight to it immediately.
Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.
- Veronica Mars: The First Book in an Original Mystery Series by Rob Thomas
The first book in an original mystery series featuring twenty-eight-year-old Veronica Mars, back in action after the events of Veronica Mars: The Movie. With the help of old friends—Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas—Veronica is ready to take on Neptune’s darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts.
- 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, with a list of leading ladies yet to be announced. Submissions are currently open, and you can see here for more details.
- Insert Title Here anthology edited by Tehani Wessely
Another that currently has submissions open, but Tehani’s anthologies are always such a joy that we know it’ll be fantastic.
- Crash (Twinmaker #2) by Sean Williams
I really enjoy Sean’s work – especially his earlier series The Change which is an incredibly visual, Australian-feeling tale. While the first book in the Twinmaker series was good, I found myself more interested in the world itself rather than the plot and characters. However, I’m looking forward to seeing how the series progresses.
In a near-future world in which technology can transport you anywhere instantly, can a coded note enable you to change your body—to become taller, stronger, more beautiful? Clair is pretty sure the offer is too good to be true. But her best friend, Libby, is determined to give it a try, longing for a new, improved version of herself. What starts as Libby’s dream turns into Clair’s nightmare when Libby falls foul of a deadly trap. With the help of Jesse, the school freak, and a mysterious—but powerful—stranger called Q, Clair’s attempt to protect Libby leads her to an unimagined world of conspiracies and cover-ups.
What books are you eagerly awaiting? Do you have any suggestions for what I should keep an eye out for?