Honourable Mentions of 2014

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

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

Books due out in 2015 (but read in 2014)

Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall

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

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

Some Fine Day by Kat Ross

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books read and published in 2014

Admission (Pandora Jones #1) by Barry Jonsberg

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

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

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

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

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

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

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

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

Landry Park (Landry Park #1) by Bethany Hagen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

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

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

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Very Best of Tad Williams by Tad Williams

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

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

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday’s Kin by Nancy Kress

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

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

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

Books read in 2014 (yet published earlier)

2012 by Alisa Krasnostein and Ben Payne

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

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

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

The Archived (The Archived #1) by Victoria Schwab

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

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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

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

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

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

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

Nanberry by Jackie French

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

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

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

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

Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood

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

Steelheart (Reckoners #1) by Brandon Sanderson

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

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

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

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

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

Anticipated Books of 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Time Salvager by Wesley Chu

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

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

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

  • Armada by Ernest Cline (CO)

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

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

  • Fall of Fair Isle by Rowena Cory Daniells

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

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

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

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

  • The Lyre Thief by Jennifer Fallon

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

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

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

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

  • Birrung by Jackie French

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

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

  • The PaulandStormonomicon anthology edited by Paul and Storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • False Hearts by Laura Lam

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

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

  • Masquerade (Micah Grey #3) by Laura Lam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Musketeer Space by Tansy Rayner Roberts

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

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

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

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

  • Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And David wants in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Insert Title Here anthology edited by Tehani Wessely

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

  • Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

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

~

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

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

~

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell

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

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

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

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

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

  • The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

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

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

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

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

  • Truthwitch (The Witchlands #1) by Susan Dennard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

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

Aza Ray is drowning in thin air.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

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

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

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

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

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

~

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

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

Review: The Very Best of Tad Williams by Tad Williams

tvbotwPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616961376
ISBN 13: 9781616961374
Published: May 2014
Pages: 432
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended

Tad Williams is an author I’ve been meaning to try for a long time. I own most of his books and they look pretty fantastic on my shelves, but I haven’t yet actually started one of his novels. I think this comes under what I was talking of earlier – finding a book I know I’ll love, and then hoarding it away and now it’s mine and I can move on to collect other books!

But when I saw this anthology I thought it would be an excellent way to get into his work more so I can get so hungry for his work I get into the books finally. I’ve seen his work in a few anthologies so far, but reading a collection instead seemed the better way into it.

As it’s a collection, it’s probably better to review each short individually, as is my usual way:

The Old Scale Game

A very strong start to this collection – a dragon slayer and a dragon who team up to con villages of their gold. Dragon shows up -village is scared – slayer turns up and ‘vanquishes’ the dragon – villagers cheer and pay the slayer – slayer later meets up again with the dragon and they continue on their merry way.

This is a short I first read in Unfettered, an anthology edited by Shawn Speakman, and one of the reasons I knew I had to start reading Tad Williams’ work sooner rather than later. The tone in this short, with the characters and their voice is just delightful. One of my favourites by Tad.

The Storm Door

A paranormal investigator goes to visit his Uncle while a storm is brewing, fittingly having to travel to a tall, spooky house to do so.

A surprisingly sad tale, for one that seems to start out with a different direction. A very fitting ending, and surprisingly short all around. This short took me by surprise in numerous ways (as you can tell from how many times I’ve used the word!) and I like the short all the more because of it.

First published in ‘The New Dead: A Zombie Anthology’ edited by Christopher Golden

The Stranger’s Hands

A seemingly dimwitted man and his friend appear near a small town one day, and it quickly seems the dimwit can grant ones’ true desire… sometimes. Regardless, for those he can grant it seems like an amazing act of God, but turns out that there may be more behind this…

Quite predictable but very fun to read – the characters feel so real in this, and you get an instant sense of place as you do in ‘The Old Scale Game’, you could almost think they’re set in the same world. Highly enjoyable.

First published in ‘Wizards: Magical Tales from the Masters of Modern Fantasy’ edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.

Child of an Ancient City

A group of merchants are travelling, exchanging their stories and such when they encounter a being seemingly from one of their own tales – a vampyr.

Whilst engaging and excellent, this isn’t my favourite so far. It does an excellent job of capturing the mood of the setting as well as the terror of the men, but I’m exhausted by vampyr/vampire tales. This does vampires well for sure, but I prefer his other topics.

First published in ‘Weird Tales’ magazine, Fall 1988.

The Boy Detective of Oz: An Otherland Story

Oz. But with field dispatches and world jumpers.

I’m not really one for Oz tales, but this one gripped me from start to finish, and I’d love to hear what Oz fans think of it. If anyone’s read Dorothy Must Die, please read this and tell me what you think?

First published in ‘Oz Reimagined: New Tales from The Emerald City and Beyond’ edited by John Joseph Adams and Douglas Cohen.

Three Duets for Virgin and Nosehorn

A seemingly innocent and handsome artist stays in a tavern, and manages to convince the old maid in charge to allow him to draw a young serving girl. In exchange, the artist tells the young serving girl a tale in three parts, spellbounding both girl and reader alike.

I loved this tale, it juxtaposed both perfectly taking you between settings at exactly the right moment. Again, Tad has the perfect ending for this short, which only makes me realise just how pointless and rushed other short endings are.

First published in ‘Immortal Unicorn’ edited by Peter S. Beagle

Not with a Whimper, Either

Told in chat layout, we see members of a fiction chat channel slowly realise that something is going wrong in the world, until we’re left with only one user – ‘Wiseguy’, who then chats with the ‘Moderator’.

It’s chilling to see realistic reactions to a world disaster – this is the kind of world we live in now. Possibly one of my favourites from how it’s handled, and how chilling the beginning is. I can read horror novels quite comfortably – it’s this kind of realism with the dawning realisation of The End which gets me unnerved.

First published in ‘DAW 30th Anniversary: Science Fiction’ edited by Sheila E. Gilbert.

Some Thoughts Re: Dark Destroyer

Told in email format, Edward is providing feedback to Richard, writing on behalf of a group of a handful of others who have all tested Richard’s ‘Dark Destroyer #1’ seeming both adult with his delivery of crafted criticism and then seeming childish by signing off by saying ‘Let’s do lunch. I hear it’s Sloppy Joes.’ – Brilliant!

First published in ‘Subterranean’ magazine, Issue #5.

Z is for…

A man awakes at a party – perhaps – he thinks he’s drunk so much he can hardly remember. His head feels like the white claggy glue that dries with a sticky skin on top but lasts wet underneath always. He stumbled around, trying to figure out why something like Zebras remains an important thought in his mind…

An amusing tale that captures the confusion of waking with a hangover with something else regarding lose of thought and facilities to the same degree.

First published in ‘Midnight Zoo’ magazine, May/June 1991.

Monsieur Vergalant’s Canard

Two brothers who have a wonderful creation – even though something else is far more marvellous.

A clever, very short little piece that had me smiling.

First published in ‘The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’ September 1995.

The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of

A young woman visits an out-of-work magician about an old friend of his, another magician who happens to be her father, and now, sadly, deceased. An accident they say, or perhaps suicide… but she thinks it’s murder.

Fun to read. Sassy female characters are always a bonus. Through in magic and an amusing end that ties up all loose plot strands and you have a winner, here.

First published in ‘Beyond Imagination’ edited by David Copperfield.

Fish Between Friends

One time there was a cat, a raven, and a man with no ears. They were all friends and lived together in a house by the river. (Taken directly from the start of the piece, because, well, what else can be said here?)

A short, neat little tale.

First published in ‘Rite: Short Work’ published by Subterranean Press.

Every Fuzzy Beast of the Earth, Every Pink Fowl of the Air

Angels are building the new Earth, but are running into trouble and falling behind schedule. A lot of these shorts have religious undertones, but this one certainly has more than just an undertone to it…

Quite odd in all, and that’s what makes it good. It’s a trope that’s been done before, but it’s done in good fun and good to skim-read. Not one of my favourites in the collection, but not disappointing by any means.

First published in ‘Rip-Off!’ edited by Gardner Dozois.

A Stark and Wormy Knight

A little bubby dragon wants a story from his mam to help him sleep. As always, Tad excels in writing accents and cadences of words without it being jarring or annoying in any way, one of his strengths in writing.

Another I’ve read earlier, and another that fits in perfectly well with ‘The Old Scale Game’ and ‘The Stranger’s Hands’ which I think are my favourite overall. The language is what is fun in these shorts, with lively characters that make you smile, and stable genre-building bits and pieces that really build up dragon lore.

First published in ‘The Dragon Book’ edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois.

Omnitron, What Ho

Werner Von Secondstage Booster is ordered by his Aunt Jabbatha to fetch his cousin back from the arms of a floozy not even close to be worth their family’s name or blood. She also sends along her butler, Omnitron, to assist. As Booster is a bit of a dimwit, Omnitron will surely be needed.

A good ol’ hat tip to Jeeves and Wooster throughout. Aunt Agatha – Jabbatha (though I was imagining Jabba the Hutt throughout). Booster – Wooster. Jeeves – …Omni…tron… Yes. Throughout this is a bit of rollicking good fun, with a decent ending that is slightly unexpected but wholly right and in true Jeeves and Wooster fashion. Highly enjoyable.

This short was original to the collection

Black Sunshine

Written in script form this time, we have a horror story set in 1976 but also cutting to the present to show the consequences of what four teenagers did. Put simply, this is a tale all should read before any attempts to sample acid.

This is another horror story that’s managed to shake me slightly. Very effective, and very emotive.

First published in ‘A Stark and Wormy Knight’ published by Subterranean Press.

And Ministers of Grace

Lamentation Kane thinks he’s the hand of God – it doesn’t help that he’s also an enhanced human being. One can only guess what kind of tale we’re in for, when told than Kane is on a mission to kill the leader of a world that rejects religion.

Tad Williams has mentioned a few times now that he’s been thinking about writing an series in which Lamentation Kane will be a main character. More to see here, perhaps. Though that was a few years ago.

First published in ‘Warriors’ edited by Gardner Dozios and George R. R. Martin.

~

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

Now perhaps I’ll find myself finally taking The Dragonbone Chair from my bookshelf some day soon, it’s certainly gathered enough dust as it is!

Haul & News – 15 March 2014

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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:

  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (review) from PanMacmillan Australia
  • Glaze by Kim Curran (review) in eCopy
  • The Very Best by Tad Williams by Tad Williams (review) from Tachyon Publications via NetGalley in eCopy

My excitement for Fangirl is probably a bit obvious as I’ve already posted the review before even my Haul & News post! It really is a lovely book and makes me annoyed with myself for not having read Rowell’s work before. You can see my review of that book here.

Glaze was highly recommended by a favourite author of mine, Laura Lam. She retweeted that Kim was looking for reviewers for this book and I decided to give it a go. She’s also looking for more reviewers, so if you’re interested, get in contact with her over twitter! Or let me know, and I’ll pass on her details to you.

Petri Quinn is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.

Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.

Up front – I’m a terrible person who hasn’t yet read much Tad Williams. I note that I enjoy his parts in anthologies I’ve read, and as a mark of just how many books I buy and horde in true tsundoku fashion, I own seven of his novels that I’m still saving – I figure when I eventually start them, I’ll love them so much that I’ll need time or something!

But ramble aside, I’m excited to read this because I’m excited about Tad Williams. I’m so sure he’s going to become another favourite author, and honestly, anthologies are one of the best ways to discover new favourite authors.

News:

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During March, FableCroft Publishing is running the Cranky Ladies of History crowd-funding campaign on the Pozible platform. Read more about it and their blog tour here! You can also pledge towards the project here, which currently has a list of authors who have pitched in hopes to be included, such as Juliet Marilier, Garth Nix, Laura Lam, and Lauren Beukes – read who else is interested here!

I’ve pledged – have you? We’re almost getting there, so get in soon to join in with history!

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Twelfth Planet Press have joined in with the awesome by offering a paperback and ebook bundle – now when you buy a paperback from them, you can get the ebook thrown in for just $3 which is certainly an awesome move!

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So, Pottermore. I know, I know. It wasn’t as good as we were all expecting and hoping, but at least the information within it has been excellent. More of that has been added very recently, in Chapter 7 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where we get to learn more about Quidditch! Things such as the structure of the tournament and some of the more unusual and controversial entries in the Quidditch World Cup rulebook. Go on, log into your account again and give it a look.

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There’s been some good news about the Waterstones issue, thanks to numerous people – one being Emma who blogs here about a response she received from Waterstones from a letter she sent. In order for the impact to occur anyone who enjoys Speculative Fiction and has a local store, it would help immensely if you 1. let them know who your favourite authors and books are, and 2. let them know how happy you are with their displays when they get them balanced.

Other links of notice:

  • For Brandon Sanderson fans in the US, Tor are having a very excellent competition for very special cards.
  • For Brandon Sanderson fans in the UK and Republic of Ireland, Gollancz are also offering up an exclusive collectors card. Details are here.
  • I just thought it time to pimp out the podcast Galactic Suburbia, which is my go-to podcast of choice as it details speculative fiction news and chat. Especially around awards system or when anything happens in the news, they are excellent to listen to. Click here for more information and to try them out.
  • Penguin Australia have posted a list of 20 Australian books to read in your 20s – what do you think of it? As someone who is nearing the end of their 20s I haven’t read a single one of them – should I jump straight to that?

Review: Epic edited by John Joseph Adams

EpicPublished by: Tachyon Publications
ISBN: 1616960841
ISBN 13: 9781616960841
Published: October 2012
Pages: 624
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Publisher Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five
Lists: Recommended

‘Epic: Legends of Fantasy’ is an anthology edited together by John Joseph Adams featuring work that’s mostly previously published from many famous authors, and yet still a nice collection whether you’ve read it all before already or not.

The contents is as follows:

Foreword by Brent Weeks
“Homecoming” by Robin Hobb
“The Word of Unbinding” by Ursula K. Le Guin
“The Burning Man” by Tad Williams
“As the Wheel Turns” by Aliette de Bodard
“The Alchemist” by Paolo Bacigalupi
“Sandmagic” by Orson Scott Card
“The Road to Levinshir” by Patrick Rothfuss
“Rysn” by Brandon Sanderson
“While the Gods Laugh” by Michael Moorcock
“Mother of All Russiya” by Melanie Rawn
“Riding the Shore of the River of Death” by Kate Elliott
“The Bound Man” by Mary Robinette Kowal
“The Narcomancer” by N. K. Jemisin
“Strife Lingers in Memory” by Carrie Vaughn
“The Mad Apprentice” by Trudi Canavan
“Otherling” by Juliet Marillier
“The Mystery Knight” by George R. R. Martin

This anthology is worthwhile despite the inclusion of previously published work, because you’d be hard pressed to find a reader who’s read all work by all authors included. For example, one of the pieces was first published back in 1961. However, I wish it had been made more apparent, as I wasn’t aware some sections are simply chapters taken from novels, such as Brandon Sanderson’s ‘Rysn’.

The pieces are longer than the usual short story, which gives the chance to really submerge yourself in the world completely. The only bad thing is that it’ll mean you basically have to buy the books and probably the series that the pieces have been taken from, so make sure you have a spare few weeks and money ready and waiting.

This review was originally posted at SentientOnline on the 11th February 2013.