2014 – March

March went by so fast! How embarrassing, last month I posted: ‘My now-retired boss has loaned me The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan so I really should read that as quickly as possible…’ – guess how much I’ve read of it since then. Utterly nothing – zilch. Oops.

I’ve also basically failed at my monthly genre challenge – I was supposed to read something science fiction this month, and though the Doctor Who novel could count, the point of my challenge was to clear out some of the novels I’ve been meaning to read for years. I’m part way through ‘Debris by Jo Anderton’ but haven’t given it much attention, just too swamped with a whole lot of nothing much, so… I’ve failed.

Nothing I can do but try harder in April!

Only nine novels read during March. I wasted a lot of time, decided to try to lose a few kgs to get within healthy BMI (then the chorus starts of ‘you don’t need to lose weight!’ which is always nice to hear, but my BMI says otherwise…) and I think that drained a lot of my motivation for pretty much everything, other than tumblr and starting a few new tv shows.

A new Nintendo 3dS game also came out that I’m quite excited for – Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney. Not that I’ve managed to play much yet. Another thing to feel guilty about!

Murder of Crows: A Novel of the Others

Murder of Crows (The Others #2) by Anne Bishop was a book I’ve been waiting on for a while, after being taken by surprise by the first – it was so much better than I was expecting, being as biased as I was towards vampires and werewolves novels. This series turns the trope on its head, has such fantastic characters and so many interesting ideas. This novel develops the world so much in very exciting ways, and I can’t wait for the next!

Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories

11 Doctors, 11 Stories is a collection of Doctor Who short stories, the first being about the First Doctor, the second being of the Second Doctor, and so on and so on. It has fantastic authors such as Patrick Ness and Neil Gaiman, and most are pretty dang good. This was put together for the 50th Anniversary and it’s really something that they can be proud of.

Prisoner of Night and Fog (Prisoner of Night and Fog, #1)

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman is a book reviewed for Hachette, one I’m so glad I requested. Set in the 1930s in Munich, just after World War I (then called The Great War) Germany is in turmoil. Gretchen Müller is a young adult, and a proud member of the National Socialist Party along with the rest of her family. Times are hard, but she is confident that a close family friend will look after them. He’s always been important to them, since the war. Especially since her own father saved the man’s life, by jumping in front of bullets meant for him. Gretchen, his favourite girl – his sunshine – calls him Uncle Dolf. Others call him Adolf Hitler – this was such a fascinating novel, that really captured the awful time they were trapped in, and the realisation of the type of people they were becoming. Highly recommended.

Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeleine #2)

The Cracks in the Kingdom (Colours of Madeleine #2) by Jaclyn Moriarty is another long-awaited book that then took me a while to get into – I think it’s just my reading habits now, rather than anything book related. This slump has gone on a while now!

This book quickly gets into something excellent, such a perfect blend of the other world and ours, written in a way that may be hard to get used to at first for some readers, but is well worth giving a darn good try with. The reward is worth it. The prose is lovely.

Landry Park (Landry Park, #1)

Landry Park (Landry Park, #1) by Bethany Hagen was an interesting one. The characters are what drive this novel, and the world fascinated me – I wish this book was longer! A thrilling debut novel by Hagen which will keep her on my scope to see what else she comes out with. A fun, quick read overall.

In Real Life

In Real Life written by Cory Doctorow and Illustrated by Jen Wang is a graphic novel that isn’t counting towards my reading tally, but I wanted to write about it here anyway. What a lovely comic! I adore Wang’s art style, and the storyline was relatable (gaming wise) and important overall, especially for younger readers. Give it a go if you come across it.

The Visitors

The Visitors by Sally Beauman is a historical fiction novel about young Lucy. Recovering from typhoid which managed to take her mother and destroy her father, Lucy and her escort Miss Mack are in Egypt during the time of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb – but it’s the adult world that she and her new friend Frances catch glimpses of.

This is an interesting novel, but it deserves quite a bit of time set aside for it to really concentrate on and appreciate – it’s quite hard to pick up and put down while you’re travelling to or from work, or when you grab a quick bite to eat. It really is worth giving proper time to though, as it’s fantastically well written.

The Wizard’s Promise (The Hanna Duology, #1)

The Wizard’s Promise (Hanna Duology #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke is by the author of The Assassin’s Curse series, and the excellent stand-alone The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, one of my favourite books of 2013. This book had a lot to live up to, and I admit I was disappointed by the start and how slow it was; it failed to grab me. It then somehow twisted into something really quite excellent without you even realising it, and before you know it you can’t put it down.

I do wonder whether or not the duology couldn’t have been released into one, larger book, that could have possibly had tighter editing, in order to fix the first 30% or so.

Still, a very enjoyable book overall, and I’ll be eager to get the second as I’m sure it’ll take off on the high it leaves you on.

The Lascar's Dagger (The Forsaken Lands, #1)

The Lascar’s Dagger (#1) by Glenda Larke is a book I’ve had on pre-order for over half a year – I was SO eager for this novel. I adore the author – she’s lovely in person also – and her last series Watergivers was one of my favourites of 2009. This didn’t disappoint! Such a great cast of characters, such a detailed fantasy world and I’m already desperate for the second novel. Next year! Can’t wait :D

Should get to reading her backlog of books – I’ve been unable to read them all too fast because I’m weird with things I love too much. I horde them even more. Rarrgh. I should just get on with it and think of it along the lines of then I can re-read them all so much sooner!

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1)

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars #1) by Rob Thomas is set directly after the recent movie. We see basically everyone, even Weevil and Dick. It’s pretty decent after another slow start, getting established and repeating a bit too much info for those who haven’t seen the movie, I’m guessing. It’s not such a bad thing, though, and it really gets going into something pretty fun and quick to read. I’d highly recommend it to other Veronica Mars fans, but probably not as an introduction to the series.

I can’t wait until the second book!

This One Summer

This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki, Mariko Tamaki is another graphic novel this month, that I didn’t quite like as much as I thought I would, despite the lovely illustrations (which are what kept me reading). The storyline was grim and realistic, things that are important for sure, but just struck me a little cold. It’s told very well, but I suppose I was after something a little happier at the time.

~ ~ ~

So currently I’m still reading Debris (The Veiled Worlds, #1) by Jo Anderton annnnd The Very Best of Tad Williams by (well, big surprise…!) Tad Williams. I really could have finished these two novels during March, but I was just lazy. That’s all I can really say.

For the first week of April I’m away from home, in a conference for one of the judging books things. I’m not sure if this means I’ll get to read more than usual, or if I hardly get any reading done at all.

All I know is I’m taking along The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, which was gifted to me by the awesome Sam, and I can’t wait to get to the airport so I can start!

Review: The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty

KingdomSeries: The Colours of Madeleine #2
Published by: Pan Macmillan
ISBN: 1742612873
ISBN 13: 9781742612874
Published: February 2014
Pages: 544
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Related Reviews: A Corner of White (The Colours of Madeleine #1)

‘The Cracks in the Kingdom’ by Jaclyn Moriarty is the second in the Colours of Madeleine series. This book focuses more on Princess Ko and the troubles in the family, and less with Madeleine’s friends; though they still feature. If time has passed since the first book, it’s not obvious, but neither does it seem to start directly where the first book left off, though one would assume so.

This book goes more into the world of Cello as Elliot and the other members of the small group that Princess Ko has rallied in order to help the royal family, known as the Royal Youth Alliance. They have a public image of being there to discuss youth-related matters when really, they’re banding together to help Princess Ko get her family back.
We meet Sergio who is usually one of the stable boys, and Ko’s best friend. We already know Elliot from the farms and his delightful letters through the cracks to our world – Cambridge, to be precise – and his brief glimpses with Madeleine. There is also Samuel who is a verbose, chubby, academic boy who makes you smile. Finally there’s Keira, the technological genius who I found most interesting. She’s snappy and harsh with her tone, words and actions and really keeps the book going, stepping in to save the day and otherwise keep it interesting.
Other characters I’d loved to have seen more of are the two agents who are Princess Ko’s bodyguards – Agents Nettles and Ramsay. The small roles they played were entertaining and I’d love to see perhaps a short story or novella featuring them.
Princess Ko is probably supposed to be more loved than I eventually felt for her. I loved her weird exclamations as she tries to seem dumber than she actually is, so the people won’t suspect she’s up to anything, but overall I was more interested in the above.

I enjoy this series because it’s quite different to the norm, both with how everyone acts, and the writing style. They capture the characters accurately, and there are a range of different characters so you can be assured that you’ll find a favourite somewhere.

The plot seems a little unbalanced, but, well, life is at times, and I can’t particularly find a fault – it’s simply something jarring that I can’t pinpoint in where I would have liked to see more of something – the book seemed perfectly thick as it was.

Overall this book is a decent addition to the series, especially as it shows us more of Cello which is the most interesting part, especially when they go seeking spells. It took me quite some time to get into the book however, which is a shame as I’d been looking forward to it for what felt like such a long time. Somehow the beginning felt flat, though as I progressed it got more engaging.

I’ll certainly be getting the next book, as I’m guessing the minor gripes I had came down more to my current mood and nothing more.

TTT – Australian Female Fantasy Writers

TTT

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish.

Australian Female Fantasy Authors

(That got me reading fantasy)

Today I’m discussing Australian female fantasy authors, listed in the order I first started reading them.

1. Jackie French

SAtCBack in primary school one of my favourite books was Somewhere Around the Corner, set in the time of the Depression in Australia about a girl called Barbara who travels back in time. This book was my introduction to historical fiction (as far as I can remember at least) and I loved the characters, as well as the almost-familiar farm setting as that’s where I spent my holidays, with my mum’s side of the family.

From there, Jackie French has remained one of my favourite authors as she has many historical fiction books coming out constantly, and also came out with the Outlands Trilogy right when I was curious of vampire novels (before they were popular, thankfully!) Her fantasy books were always so different and unique to what I was used to also, such as Tarjore Arkle. Recently she’s become the Australian Children’s Laureate and really does such great things for Australian writing, especially for children.

2. Jennifer Fallon

tIPMy first real fantasy novel loaned to me by a friend who was astonished I wasn’t well into fantasy novels during high school – I got into it so late. She loaned me The Immortal Prince, the first in the Tide Lord series and from there I devoured each book Jennifer had out at the time, which kept me busy for months. Seeing as she came from remote Australia and lived quite close to me, relatively, she was incredibly kind and met with me for lunch, and kept a friendly eye at me at Supanova writing classes in Brisbane. I have a lot to thank her for, as she’s really the reason I got into fantasy books so quickly (finally!)

Her books, to me, are easy epic fantasy. They have power plays, government and lands interacting, and a large cast of characters with their own interests and connections which bounce you through the plots. It’s the type of fantasy that pulls you deep into the world, and really care for the characters.

 

3. Sara Douglass

AxisThis is where I moved onto next (though at the same time as reading Fallon) because of course everyone was always talking about the Axis trilogy and Wayfarer, as well as her other books. You can hardly read Australian fantasy unless you’ve tried Douglass’ work. Australia really have lost someone great – her work was and is a thing of beauty and her books add to much to the fantasy genre.

Like the above, these are deep fantasy that really pull you in to a whole other world. With Douglass’ work she invites you to a whole different way of living, with other creatures and hybrids. There’s so much on offer with her books. Thankfully there are many books to her name, and they’re even better when you’re re-reading them, you keep discovering little hints to further reveals or other elements you hadn’t yet noticed in her world. If you haven’t tried Sara’s work before, I highly recommend starting with Battle Axe.

4. Glenda Larke

TlSI’m not entirely sure how I came across The Last Stormlord, the first in her Watergivers trilogy. Perhaps just listened to the hype, and then discovered for myself how well justified it is. I was then lucky enough to write a review for it which won her entire set of books, which allowed me to give her others I had already on my shelves to friends, who have in turn bought all her books themselves! See, competitions work :D

Glenda’s another who has a thankfully large amount of books out there already waiting to be dug into, that are being helpfully renewed electronically by Fablecroft. Her books are especially excellent for strong, female leads.

While any and all of Glenda’s work is amazing, I think you can start with The Last Stormlord, as that’s where I started and haven’t yet regretted it. Or start with the book that comes out in March – The Lascar’s Dagger (The Forsaken Lands, #1)

5. Juliet Marillier

tDMI came across Marillier’s work at Worldcon 2010 when it was hosted in Melbourne, as a friend I was conning with, Kaylee, utterly adores her books and encouraged me along to a kaffeeklatsch, where Juliet very helpfully gave out copies of her books. Juliet’s books are also amazing, a very clever blend of folk lore, historical fiction and fantasy. I started with The Bridei Chronicles and they probably remain my favourites by her to this day, though honestly, everything she writes has been highly enjoyable.

Juliet’s a good author to follow because she seems to come out with a new book often, something harder and harder to do in this current climate. YOu can also start just about anywhere with her books, though I would suggest reading The Bridei Chronicles in order, and her Sevenwaters series could be even better in order, but I’m somehow reading them randomly and it still provides enough information for you to be reminded where you are in their generations of family as they spiral out.

6. Tansy Rayner Roberts / Livia Day

PowerHrm. I think I tried the first in the Creature Court series after … I think it was Continuum in Melbourne in July 2011? I remember as it was during that where I won the cameo for Scott Lynch’s series. The con was over, and friend Lana and I went shopping one last time in Minotaur (Melbourne’s best but also quite expensive spec fic store) where I bought the book after hearing so much about it. I had trouble putting it down, it’s lucky I was on a flight so soon after for reading time! I devoured the series and haven’t looked back.

Tansy’s work ranges between the beautiful and fantastically, to an almost Pratchett sense of zany and humour. Her books are especially excellent if you like sewing and food because she describes both so very well. If you want something stunning, try Creature Court. If you want humour, try Mocklore Chronicles. You can also listen to Tansy (along with Alex and Alisa) on their Speculative Fiction podcast – Galactic Suburbia.

7. Deborah Biancotti

BadPowerIs utterly fantastic at short stories. They make you want more so badly – the story may be satisfying but goodness would you love to see more of the idea expanded because it was presented so well. I haven’t had the chance to read every short by her – they’re so hard to collect when they’re not, y’know a simple novel series, but Deborah is certainly someone I’ll be keeping an eye on in future to see what she has next.

The tag line on the book pictured here? ‘Hate superheroes? Yeah. They probably hate you, too.’ How could that not make you want to read immediately? This collection of shorts shows Deborah’s ability as they could have so easily fallen flat, or turned out clichéd – but these are just beyond excellent, some of the best shorts I’ve ever read. These are also excellent to read if you like a book that gives you perfect visuals while reading. One of the first things that strike you with her work is how easily it could be turned into a mini series or movie.

8. Jaclyn Moriarty

CornerHer book A Corner of White is one of my instant favourites. I’m currently reading the sequel Cracks in the Kingdom and her ability with words is just stunning. Such a lyrical way of writing that draws you in, young adult and yet with ideas that can be expanded upon if you give it thought and time. Wonderful characters, and a wonderful way of capturing the places in a way that make you desperate to visit – or re-visit. Cambridge (UK) is one of her settings, and it honestly makes me homesick for a place I’ve only visited three times, usually just for a few hours.

This is perhaps a hard book to get into, because it’s a little different. I can only strongly recommend that you give it a chance, because the difference is what makes it such a strong YA novel. It’s quirky and wonderful and the characters are simply lovely. It’s very surreal and it tries to keep you on the edge of knowing just what the heck is going on. So just trust the novel and let it carry you to the end as a book should.

9. Jo Spurrier

WinterWas an author recommended to me by a co-worker who’s reading quirks I pay much attention to. This is a series that really immerses you in the landscape. Being someone from Australia who hasn’t really had contact with snow before (though it does snow in parts of Australia), Spurrier really makes you feel how bitter and deadly the snow can be even if you don’t know the first thing about it.

She also really shows characters who you can’t ever trust – what side have they truly allied with, and how far will they go in order to get what they want. Her characters are often desperate which makes for great reading, and with the third due to come out in June this is the perfect time to give this author a try.

For her first series, this is a pretty amazing set of novels.

10. Rowena Cory Daniells

tKBRowena is an author I’ve been meaning to try for an embarrassingly long time, and finally – finally – whilst in Brighton last year in November I finally gave Kin Rolen’s Kin a go. What a cracking series. Such a huge cast of characters that are all surprisingly equal in holding your attention. Generally when a book is split into following a certain character around for a bit, I whine in my head about wanting to go baaack to the character we were just following – don’t leave it there, I need to see what happens next! – but with this series, each and every character is just as gripping.

Happily, Rowena has another series out already – The Outcast Chronicles – so I know what I’ll be starting next moment I get…

This is very, very decent epic fantasy, another author where you get totally lost in the characters and the world, and certainly an author to watch.

~

Some other Aussie authors I’ve been meaning to try and really need to get my act together and find time for are Jo Anderton, Karen Miller, Marianne de Pierres and Mary Victoria.

Which Australian female authors do you love? And why? Which of their books would you highly recommend someone start with?

Haul & News – 22nd February 2014

HnN

I’ve decided that each weekend shall be the time I take to discuss books I’ve received to review and/or books I’ve bought the week before, and any news that particular caught my interest.

Books Received:

  • Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3) by Laini Taylor (review) from Hachette Australia via NetGalley
  • Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeleine #2) by Jaclyn Moriarty (review) from PanMacmillan Australia
  • The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris (bought)

I don’t think I can accurately sum up how excited I am for Laini Taylor’s third book. I think I made a strangled kind of noise when I saw that it was available on NetGalley for reviewing. The days waiting for approval felt ten times longer – all this for a series I was initially reluctant to even try when I first received the first book to review out of nowhere. Then fell in love with by the end of the first page.

I sneakily got the review copy onto my kindle whilst at work within minutes of being approved for Dreams of Gods and Monsters and started it in my lunch break. And quickly realised I really had to re-read the first two in order to appreciate it properly. Which isn’t exactly a bad thing because it’s been incredibly enjoyable to re-read, but goodness did I just want to start the new book STRAIGHT AWAY. Amazingly, the series was even better than I remembered and I enjoyed the re-read immensely.

I’m also SO excited for Cracks in the Kingdom, which arrived on a rainy day last week. The postman didn’t put the mail in the box correctly so it was utterly soaked and warped. I’ve managed to dry it best I can but it’s still a little disappointing. Also, the book is printed in a different size with totally different artwork than how the first was printed here – not sure if we’ll be getting a different version later?

News:

18001518

The long awaited book ‘Dreams of Gods and Monsters’ by Laini Taylor, third in the ‘Daughter of Smoke and Bone’ series is almost here. You can actually start reading it (the first two chapters, at least!) over on EW’s Shelf Life. You can find a link to it here.

8452340

For iBooks and kindle readers in Australia and New Zealand, you can currently download Juliet Marillier’s ‘Shadowfell’, first in her Shadowfell series – to celebrate the near release of the third in the series. This offer runs out on March 1st 2014. Click here for a link to iTunes. and click here for a link to Amazon

JK_Rowling_Pottermore-lancio

In other news, did you know that at J. K. Rowling’s recent talk at the Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford University she reportedly stated that instead of “Harry Potter,” her title character was initially named Harry Batt.

Other links of notice:

Cover Reveals:

RuinandRisingRuin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo.
Expected publication: June 17th 2014 by Hachette.

ThisShatteredWorldCover Not Final – This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.
Expected publication: November 11th 2014 by Allen & Unwin.

UnmadeUnmade (The Lynburn Legacy #3) by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Expected publication: September 23rd 2014 by Random House.

Anticipated Books of 2014

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

MurderCrowsA 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

TropicofSerpentsThe 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

  • Armada by Ernest Cline

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

peacemakerI 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

LascarsDaggerAnother 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.

HisforHFrom 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

ValourvanityAnother 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

WordsRadianceMore 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

GodsMonstersThis 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 crashtale. 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?