The State of SFF – June 2021

It’s already June and that feels more than a little crazy. But in the most excellent news, I got my Covid shots and I couldn’t be happier! I’m still drowning in work and trying to balance that with some exercise and cooking healthy meals which leaves very little time for reading or blogging. But I don’t want to complain. Overall, things are good.

Quickie News

  • It’s Pride Month and Book Riot has a quiz that helps you choose your next LGBTQIA+ read. I got The House in the Cerulean Sea which I should have read already but haven’t because I suck. Anyway, it seems like a really got fit for me and I enjoyed taking the quiz, so maybe it will help you find a good book for Pride Month as well.
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  • Hugo Award voting is open! If you’re a member of DisCon III, you can sign in to vote here. Votes can be changed as many times as you like until the voting period is over. No news about the voter packet as of May 28th but fingers are crossed that it will be available soon.
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  • Timothée Chalamet is going to play Willy Wonka in an origin story movie. And I have to ask: Why would anyone make this? Who wants to see a Willy Wonka origin story and why doesn’t Hollywood throw its money at something new for a change?! Or not even new, just not a remake/prequel/sequel/in-between-quel of an established movie or series but something not yet filmed. There’s literally a ton of books you could adapt, and I’m sure there are just as many original screenplays.
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  • Catherynne M. Valente has posted the first chapter of Space Oddity, the sequel to the hilarious Space Opera on her Patreon. Not that I want to make you jealous or anything but it’s pretty awesome!

TorCon is happening (June 10th – June 13th)

For my readers in a better suited time zone than mine, TorCon is an upcoming online event of interest. This virtual convention will run from June 10th through June 13th and there are a lot of cool and interesting things to see. Below is the panel schedule and you can find all the details and links to sign up here.

I am particularly interested in “All the Feels” and “Etherial & Eerie”, the first because it’s just totally up my alley and the second because I love to geek out over seasonal reads and I love it even more when my favorite author (Cat Valente) does it. As both of these panels are happening on Saturday and the times are acceptable (11pm for me), I will try to watch them live. Yay!


The third Skyward book is titled CYTONIC and has a cover

I am a big Sanderfan and although I definitely like some of his series more than others (not fond of Steelheart), I do enjoy his YA sci-fi series about aspiring young pilot Spensa, the sentient ship M-Bot, and a whole lot of secrets. The third volume, set to come out this November, finally has a title and cover. You can say what you want about Brandon Sanderson, but the guy is a writing machine!

This might be the first time I don’t love the UK cover (the proportions of that person seem off to me) but I’ll buy it anyway because it goes with the two UK covers I already have. 🙂

Exciting June Publications

June will be great, trust me. I don’t read many ARCs (because I suck at sticking to a TBR, in case you haven’t noticed) but I did get to read two June publications early and I can recommend them both. In addition to those, there are a lot of books coming out that sound cool.

NGHI VO – THE CHOSEN AND THE BEAUTIFUL (June 1st)

If you haven’t read Nghi Vo’s novella The Empress of Salt and Fortune, do yourself a favor and pick it up. And afterwards, you will be just as excited for this novel as I am. It’s fantasy Great Gatsby from a fresh new perspective and I cannot wait!

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Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society―she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She’s also queer, Asian, adopted, and treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo’s debut novel reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice. .


HANNAH F. WHITTEN – FOR THE WOLF (June 1st)

This book has been on my wishlist SO LONG. In my mind, it’s quite similar to the book that comes next in this list. Both have a Red Riding Hood vibe, both seem to be a bit darker, both have very pretty covers, and both are written by debut authors that I’m excited to get to know.

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The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn’t the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he’ll return the world’s captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can’t control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can’t hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn’t learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.

The author has provided a list of content warnings here.


AVA REID – THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN (June 8th)

Helloooooo, shiny book that wants to be mine. Here’s the second book with the same comparisons as For the Wolf. Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale are both big favorites here so I am super curious to see how these new books hold up. For some reason – and I really have nothing to go on here – I think I will like this book better than Hannah Whitten’s. It’s a total hunch but I look forward to finding out if I’m right.

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In the vein of Naomi Novik’s New York Times bestseller Spinning Silver and Katherine Arden’s national bestseller The Bear and the Nightingale, this unforgettable debut— inspired by Hungarian history and Jewish mythology—follows a young pagan woman with hidden powers and a one-eyed captain of the Woodsmen as they form an unlikely alliance to thwart a tyrant.

In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. The villagers blame her corrupted bloodline—her father was a Yehuli man, one of the much-loathed servants of the fanatical king. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman—he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.


HELENE WECKER – THE HIDDEN PALACE (June 8th)

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG! It’s the follow-up to the brilliant, wonderful, gorgeous The Golem and the Jinni which I discovered much later than everyone else but didn’t love any less for that. As excited as I am for this new Wecker book, I will probably save it for the right moment, when I’m ready to sink into that world and see those lovely characters again.

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Chava is a golem, a woman made of clay, able to hear the thoughts and longings of the people around her and compelled by her nature to help them. Ahmad is a jinni, a perpetually restless and free-spirited creature of fire, imprisoned in the shape of a man. Fearing they’ll be exposed as monsters, these magical beings hide their true selves and pretend to be human—just two more immigrants in the bustling world of 1900s Manhattan. Having encountered each other under calamitous circumstances, Chava and Ahmad’s lives are now entwined—but they’re not yet certain of what they mean to each other. 

Each has unwittingly affected the humans around them. Park Avenue heiress Sophia Winston, whose brief encounter with Ahmad left her with a strange illness that makes her shiver with cold, travels to the Middle East to seek a cure. There she meets a tempestuous female jinni who’s been banished from her tribe. Back in New York, in a tenement on the Lower East Side, a little girl named Kreindel helps her rabbi father build a golem they name Yossele—not knowing that she’s about to be sent to an orphanage uptown, where the hulking Yossele will become her only friend and protector.

Spanning the tumultuous years from the turn of the twentieth century to the beginning of World War I, The Hidden Palace follows these lives and others as they collide and interleave. Can Chava and Ahmad find their places in the human world while remaining true to each other? Or will their opposing natures and desires eventually tear them apart—especially once they encounter, thrillingly, other beings like themselves?


TASHA SURI – THE JASMINE THRONE (June 10th)

I only recently read my first book by Tasha Suri and I definitely want more! This sounds like so much fun. Inspired by Indian epics and history, I’m expecting the same atmospheric writing and creative magic that I got to know and love in Empire of Sand.

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Author of Empire of Sand and Realm of Ash Tasha Suri’s The Jasmine Throne, beginning a new trilogy set in a world inspired by the history and epics of India, in which a captive princess and a maidservant in possession of forbidden magic become unlikely allies on a dark journey to save their empire from the princess’s traitor brother.

Imprisoned by her dictator brother, Malini spends her days in isolation in the Hirana: an ancient temple that was once the source of the powerful, magical deathless waters — but is now little more than a decaying ruin.

Priya is a maidservant, one among several who make the treacherous journey to the top of the Hirana every night to clean Malini’s chambers. She is happy to be an anonymous drudge, so long as it keeps anyone from guessing the dangerous secret she hides.

But when Malini accidentally bears witness to Priya’s true nature, their destinies become irrevocably tangled. One is a vengeful princess seeking to depose her brother from his throne. The other is a priestess seeking to find her family. Together, they will change the fate of an empire.


MARJORIE M. LIU – THE TANGLEROOT PALACE (June11th)

I have already read this collection of shorter works from the author of the comic book series Monstress. If you like the comics, you will probably like this collection as well. If you don’t like (or don’t know) the comics, then there is something in this collection for you. The stories range from creepy, gothic horror stories to post-apocalyptic zombie tales, to fairy tales retold, to near future sci-fi pieces. I enjoyed this book immensely, my review will be up soon, and I now want to read many other books by Liu.

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New York Times bestseller and Hugo, British Fantasy, Romantic Times, and Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel, Monstress, Marjorie Liu leads you deep into the heart of the tangled woods. In her long-awaited debut story collection, dark, lush, and spellbinding short fiction you will find unexpected detours, dangerous magic, and even more dangerous women.

Briar, bodyguard for a body-stealing sorceress, discovers her love for Rose, whose true soul emerges only once a week. An apprentice witch seeks her freedom through betrayal, the bones of the innocent, and a meticulously-plotted spell. In a world powered by crystal skulls, a warrior returns to save China from invasion by her jealous ex. A princess runs away from an arranged marriage, finding family in a strange troupe of traveling actors at the border of the kingdom’s deep, dark woods.

Concluding with a gorgeous full-length novella, Marjorie Liu’s first short fiction collection is an unflinching sojourn into her thorny tales of love, revenge, and new beginnings. 


A. C. WISE – WENDY, DARLING (June 15th)

Look at that, a Peter Pan retelling/reimagining by an author I’ve had my eyes on for a while. If done well, Peter Pan retellings are my favorites, but unfortunately I’ve come across very few truly clever and original ones. I have to say the synopsis is pretty much exactly the same as every other Peter Pan retelling. Neverland is dark, Peter isn’t actually nice (he isn’t in the original either) and grown-up Wendy looks back on her time as a kid. But I have high hopes for this book, nonetheless.

A lush, feminist re-imagining on what happened to Wendy after Neverland, for fans of Circe and The Mere Wife.

For those that lived there, Neverland was a children’s paradise. No rules, no adults, only endless adventure and enchanted forests – all led by the charismatic boy who would never grow old.

But Wendy Darling grew up. She left Neverland and became a woman, a mother, a patient, and a survivor. Because Neverland isn’t as perfect as she remembers. There’s darkness at the heart of the island, and now Peter Pan has returned to claim a new Wendy for his lost boys…


KERSTIN HALL – STAR EATER (June 22nd)

I am super unsure about this one. It sounds really great but it also makes my Spidey-sense tingle. Because I don’t know if I’m only intrigued by the super cool elevator pitch “cannibalistic nuns” and will end up disappointed when it turns out all the good stuff was “in the trailer” (you know what I mean), or whether there’s also a great story there. But I do love spy stories, books where women run things, and fantasy that plays with the theme of religion. So I think I’ll be cautiously optimistic about this one.

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All martyrdoms are difficult.

Elfreda Raughn will avoid pregnancy if it kills her, and one way or another, it will kill her. Though she’s able to stomach her gruesome day-to-day duties, the reality of preserving the Sisterhood of Aytrium’s magical bloodline horrifies her. She wants out, whatever the cost.

So when a shadowy cabal approaches Elfreda with an offer of escape, she leaps at the opportunity. As their spy, she gains access to the highest reaches of the Sisterhood, and enters a glittering world of opulent parties, subtle deceptions, and unexpected bloodshed.

A phantasmagorical indictment of hereditary power, Star Eater takes readers deep into a perilous and uncanny world where even the most powerful women are forced to choose what sacrifices they will make, so that they might have any choice at all.


KATHERINE ADDISON – THE WITNESS FOR THE DEAD (June 22nd)

Me and pretty much everyone else fell utterly in love with Addison’s The Goblin Emperor a few years ago. So a new story set in that world, even one that doesn’t involve our beloved emperor Maia, is something to look forward to. I’ve had the pleasure of reading an e-ARC of this rather short book. I enjoyed it a lot, but I do warn people that it’s quite different than The Goblin Emperor. It’s much more fast paced and less character-focused. It does have an excellent murder mystery plot, shows more of the world, and of course, there’s tons of crazy polysyllabic names. I quite loved it.

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Katherine Addison returns to the glittering world she created for her beloved novel, The Goblin Emperor, in this stand-alone sequel.

When the young half-goblin emperor Maia sought to learn who had set the bombs that killed his father and half-brothers, he turned to an obscure resident of his father’s Court, a Prelate of Ulis and a Witness for the Dead. Thara Celehar found the truth, though it did him no good to discover it. He lost his place as a retainer of his cousin the former Empress, and made far too many enemies among the many factions vying for power in the new Court. The favor of the Emperor is a dangerous coin.

Now Celehar lives in the city of Amalo, far from the Court though not exactly in exile. He has not escaped from politics, but his position gives him the ability to serve the common people of the city, which is his preference. He lives modestly, but his decency and fundamental honestly will not permit him to live quietly. As a Witness for the Dead, he can, sometimes, speak to the recently dead: see the last thing they saw, know the last thought they had, experience the last thing they felt. It is his duty use that ability to resolve disputes, to ascertain the intent of the dead, to find the killers of the murdered.

Now Celehar’s skills lead him out of the quiet and into a morass of treachery, murder, and injustice. No matter his own background with the imperial house, Celehar will stand with the commoners, and possibly find a light in the darkness.


G. WILLOW WILSON & CHRISTIAN WARD – INVISIBLE KINGDOM Vol. 3: IN OTHER WORLDS (June 1st)

I’ve copied the synopsis below blindly because I’ve only read the first volume and don’t want to get spoiled. 🙂 But I did adore the first book in this series, the second volume is currently nominated for a Hugo Award and I’ll read it as soon as the voters packet is available. For everyone who joins me in this endeavour, we can then continue straight onto the third book which is already out by the time this post goes up.

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The Eisner Award winning series concludes!

Just when the crew of the Sundog thought they’d made it through the most dangerous edge of space–they are taken by a faction of mysterious new Nones to an even further and more deadly place: The Point of No Return. As revolution looms, these Siblings of Rebirth have an unthinkable mission to carry out, and they can’t do it without Vess…or with Grix in the picture.

But who can be trusted? And will Vess choose destruction…or love?


SUSAN DENNARD – WITCHSHADOW (June 2nd)

I am one book behind on this series and I’m still not even sure I want to continue. I was very positively surprised by the first book. It set up great relationships, especially the central female friendship, but also the romances. YA romances don’t often work for me but they did here so I stuck with it. The second book turned out to be quite a drag but the prequel/sequel was good again. So you see, I’m a bit torn, but I kind of do want to know what happens next.

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Susan Dennard’s New York Times bestselling, young adult epic fantasy Witchlands series continues with Witchshadow, the story of the Threadwitch Iseult.

War has come to the Witchlands . . . and nothing will be the same again.

Iseult has found her heartsister Safi at last, but their reunion is brief. For Iseult to stay alive, she must flee Cartorra while Safi remains. And though Iseult has plans to save her friend, they will require her to summon magic more dangerous than anything she has ever faced before.

Meanwhile, the Bloodwitch Aeduan is beset by forces he cannot understand. And Vivia—rightful queen of Nubrevna—finds herself without a crown or home.

As villains from legend reawaken across the Witchlands, only the mythical Cahr Awen can stop the gathering war. Iseult could embrace this power and heal the land, but first she must choose on which side of the shadows her destiny will lie.


ZOE HANA MIKUTA – GEARBREAKERS (June 29th)

I’ll admit, that cover and the words “for fans of Pacific Rim” are what did it for me. I don’t even know how that would work in book-form but I’m willing to find out. This will probably be one of those books where I wait for early reviews and then decide whether to go for it or not.

Two girls on opposite sides of a war discover they’re fighting for a common purpose–and falling for each other–in Zoe Hana Mikuta’s high-octane debut Gearbreakers, perfect for fans of Pacific Rim, Pierce Brown’s Red Rising Saga, and Marie Lu’s Legend series.

We went past praying to deities and started to build them instead...

The shadow of Godolia’s tyrannical rule is spreading, aided by their giant mechanized weapons known as Windups. War and oppression are everyday constants for the people of the Badlands, who live under the thumb of their cruel Godolia overlords.

Eris Shindanai is a Gearbreaker, a brash young rebel who specializes in taking down Windups from the inside. When one of her missions goes awry and she finds herself in a Godolia prison, Eris meets Sona Steelcrest, a cybernetically enhanced Windup pilot. At first Eris sees Sona as her mortal enemy, but Sona has a secret: She has intentionally infiltrated the Windup program to destroy Godolia from within.

As the clock ticks down to their deadliest mission yet, a direct attack to end Godolia’s reign once and for all, Eris and Sona grow closer–as comrades, friends, and perhaps something more…


NEWS FROM THE BLOG

I didn’t really stick to any kind of schedule during May and I didn’t post nearly as much as I wanted to but I LOVED Wyrd and Wonder and reading everyone else’s reviews, lists, and creative posts.
My TBR for May might as well not have existed at all. I mostly ignored it and somehow ended up reading all my e-ARCs instead. As they were all good books, that wasn’t a bad decision but it also means I have more Hugo reading to catch up on now. And the reviews I wrote in May won’t be published until later. I’ve linked them below but they will each go live one day before the book’s publication.
My Stormlight Archive re-read is also not helping but if I want to properly enjoy Rhythm of War, it is necessary. I have forgotten so many details and the re-read is actually a lot of fun!

What I read:

  • Catherynne M. Valente – The Past is Red (comes out July 20th)
    OMG I LOVE IT SO MUCH – ahem… – hilarious – post-apocalyptic, post climate-change – heartbreak and humor – favorite book of the year so far – go pre-order it – that cover is to die for
  • Darcie Little Badger – Elatsoe
    fun and cute – characters felt much younger than the were supposed to be – emotionally distant – cool murder mystery
  • Marjorie Liu – The Tangleroot Palace (comes out June 15th)
    collection of stories – Superman-inspired sci-fi and fairy tale novella were my favorites – seriously great writing
  • Brandon Sanderson – Words of Radiance
    re-read – still so much fun – not quite as good as the first time – I have a much better sense of the world-building now
  • Katherine Addison – The Witness for the Dead (comes out June 22nd)
    murder mystery – interesting world building – not that character-focused – great book – just don’t expect The Goblin Emperor 2.0
  • Seanan McGuire – Come Tumbling Down
    exciting beginning – Jack-focused story – world building and characters suffer in the second half – okay ending – tried to cram too much onto too few pages

Currently reading:

  • Brandon Sanderson – Oathbringer
  • T. Kingfisher – A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • Nino Cipri – Finna

I’m sure I’ll finish Defensive Baking either today or tomorrow. It’s so much fun, T. Kingfisher’s humor is hilarious, and this book has a sort-of-character who is a sourdough starter named Bob Do you need to know more?
Oathbringer will take me a bit longer, which is totally okay. I’m re-reading it without any pressure, I just want to be up to speed when I finally tackle Rhythm of War.
I haven’t started Finna as of writing this but it is prepared and I will start reading it today. Not only is it nominated for a Hugo Award, but it also fits into Pride Month as the author is trans/nonbinary. And right after that I’ll get started with Cerulean Sea.

Until next month: Stay safe, stay kind, and keep reading. 🙂

3 thoughts on “The State of SFF – June 2021

  1. Jenny @ Reading the End says:

    Gosh, there really are such a lot of wonderful books coming out this June. The Chosen and the Beautiful is the one I’m most hyped for, chiefly because I want everyone else to know how amazing it is and scream about it with me, but there are loads that I just can’t wait to get my hands on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tammy says:

    I just got a copy of The Past is Red and now I’m really excited! This is the first I’ve heard of the Willy Wonka movie and it doesn’t surprise me. Hollywood is more likely to stick to familiar stories and rehashes than try anything original, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Andrea C says:

    I am so happy I found your blog! Thank you so much for all these amazing recommendations! I just ordered “The Empress of Salt and Fortune” – I love Gatsby and I love fantasy/sci-fi so I am very excited to check this out. Thank you. I don’t mean to add to your daunting TBR pile but I wanted to recommend my favorite paranormal suspense/science fiction book so far this summer. I think it might be right up your alley. It’s called “Shimmers” by author J.P. Strecker (https://jonathanstrecker.com/).The general premise is that scientists accidently release a force into a nearby forest and it is discovered by twin brothers, one enters and goes missing. The remaining brother, James, continues to be affected by the “Shimmer” through the years and recruits his friends to help him get his brother back. I really got invested in the characters, I have always loved the protagonists as a group of close friends (IE IT, Goonies, Stranger Things, etc). The author did a wonderful job of humanizing them and really getting to the root of their motivations…and seeing the fallout of some of the decisions made throughout the book really had me on the edge of my seat. If you do end up reading it please be sure to share your thoughts! Happy Summer and Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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