The State of SFF – June 2022

Welcome to June and a catch-up State of SFF!

Due to pregancy stuff (buying things for the baby, doctor’s appointments, and so on), I was too preoccupied to keep up with reading or revieweing or even posting anything at all. The good news is that everything is perfectly fine, we’re all healthy and happy, and we now know that our little baby is a boy. 🙂

As you can imagine, reading and blogging have simply not been my highest priority, but I hope to catch up on all those unwritten reviews and new TBR additions soon. “News” this months may be a little older as I’ve collected things that interested me from both April and May.

Quickie News

  • The Locus Award Finalists are out! The list isn’t surprising but it has all the most talked about and well liked books from 2021. I find it notable that Naomi Novik’s novel The Last Graduate is not listed as YA but as Fantasy Novel (as well it should be). You can find all the finalists here.

  • And so is the shortlist for the Nommo Awards. Here we see familiar names such as Tade Thompson, Nnedi Okorafor, and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, but also newer ones with books still on my TBR (looking especially hard at you, T.L. Huchu’s Library of the Dead!). The list is well worth checking out if you’re looking for interesting books to read.

  • In sadder news, Award-winning author Patricia McKillip died in early May. I have only read one of her books so far (The Forgotten Beasts of Eld), but it was a deeply touching one that made me look forward to exploring the rest of her work all the more.


The Nebula Award Winners Have Been Announced

Congratulations to all the finalists and of course the winners!

Best Novel went to P. DjèlĂ­ Clark for his novel A Master of Djinn and although it’s not my favorite work of his, I am thrilled that Clark won the Nebula. I hope he writes many more novels and novellas, whether they are set in his alternate version of Cairo or elsewhere. Congratulations!

Best Novella was a happy surprise in that a Neon Hemlock book won rather than a Tordotcom or Uncanny finalists (I love both of them dearly but variety is important!). Premee Mohamed’s And What Can We Offer You Tonight took home the award.

The Andre Norton Award for YA/Middle Grade Fiction went to Darcie Little Badger’s A Snake Falls to Earth which is also nominated for a Hugo (and I have yet to read it).

Best Novelette went to Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki for O2 Arena, and Best Short Story was taken by Sarah Pinsker for “Where Oaken Hearts do Gather”, another Hugo finalists that I haven’t read yet but am incredibly excited for. Ekpeki’s acceptance speech came last during the ceremony, due to connection issues (live from Nigeria), but otherwise, the ceremony went smoothly without any real technical mishaps.
And for another completely virtual event, it was quite lovely. Connie Willis is a treasure, with or without a live audience, and Neil Gaiman’s appearances were stellar as well.

You can find the list of all finalists and winners here.


Nimona is coming to Netflix

I picked up the Graphic Novel by ND Stevenson years ago but didn’t expect to fall in love with it as hard as I did. The story of a teenage shapeshifter who desperately wants to become a villain’s sidekick offers some twists and turns that make it not just funny, but heartwarming and even romantic. After some delays and ultimately a cancellation by Disney, Netflix is now taking on the job and bringing us the animated movie version of the beloved comic.

The movie is set to release in 2023, so we have some time to wait yet. But that doesn’t mean we can’t all be collectively excited, right?


The Mythopoeic Award Finalists 2022 Are Out (link opens PDF)

Of particular interest to me, because I just like this award, are the finalists for the 2022 Mythopoeic Award. Among them, you will recognize Hugo/Nebula/Locus finalists (or winners) but there’s also always some titles that other awards have overlooked or that simply do something particularly interesting with fairy tales, mythology, magical realism, and that kind of subgenre.

  • Katherine Addison – The Witness for the Dead (Tor, 2021)
  • Ryka Aoki – Light from Uncommon Stars (Tor Books, 2021)
  • P. DjèlĂ­ Clark – A Master of Djinn (Tordotcom, 2021)
  • Susanna Clarke – Piranesi (Bloomsbury, 2020)
  • Garth Nix – Terciel and Elinor (Katherine Tegen Books, 2021)
  • Jo Walton – Or What You Will (Tor 2020)

Congratulations to the finalists. I’m particularly happy to see Piranesi on here and I am now highyl interested in Jo Walton’s Or What You Will.


Books From the Future (or: Feed Your Wishlist)

It’s great to know what books we can buy very soon (like the ones in the section below) but I also find it really nice to have something to look forward to that’s still far in the future. Such as these three books I’ve chosen for this month’s section of “I’ll be giddily awaiting you for about a year and staring at your covers longingly until then”:

  • T. J. Klune is bringing us In the Lives of Puppets, a Pinocchio inspired and probably heartwarming tale that I cannot miss. Set to come out at in March 2023. Sidenote: I love the covers for his books so much!
  • Margaret Owen revealed the cover for Painted Devils, the May 2023 sequel to her amazing Little Thieves. I cannot get over how good that book was and how perfectly the cover for the new one fits the series (the author does them herself, as well as the inside illustrations so I shouldn’t be surprised).
  • Lastly, Kelly Barnhill’s The Crane Husband was announced and it not only sounds up my alley but also has a lovely cover to offer. A gender-flipped fairy tale with a recommendation from Cat Valente is an auto-buy if I’ve ever seen one. We’ll have to wait for February 2023, though.

Exciting June Publications

I’m a little said I missed the May edition fo this blog feature, so I’ll just casually drop some titles you may have missed last month: Maggie Stiefvater’s Bravely, Holly Black’s adult debut Book of Night, Nghi Vo’s Siren Queen, Guy Gavriel Kay’s All the Seas of the World,

J. M. MIRO – ORDINARY MONSTERS (June 7th)

“Labyrinthine” is a buzzword I just can’t resist. Add to that orphans, gaslit streets of London, crime, and superpowers, and I’m all yours.

A STUNNING NEW WORK OF HISTORICAL FANTASY, J. M. MIRO’S ORDINARY MONSTERS INTRODUCES READERS TO THE DARK, LABYRINTHINE WORLD OF THE TALENTS

England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness—a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a brutal childhood in Mississippi, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When a jaded female detective is recruited to escort them to safety, all three begin a journey into the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a story of wonder and betrayal, from the gaslit streets of London, and the wooden theatres of Meiji-era Tokyo, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh where other children with gifts – the Talents – have been gathered. There, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of what is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

Riveting in its scope, exquisitely written, Ordinary Monsters presents a catastrophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it.


ROSE SZABO – WE ALL FALL DOWN (June 7th)

I’m approachign this one with caution as early reviews had a lot to say about the representation of the Black character in this story. But I’m also still interested enough to want ot make up my own mind.

The first book in a dark fantasy YA duology by Rose Szabo, the author of What Big Teeth, about the power and danger of stories and the untold costs of keeping magic alive, perfect for fans of Aiden Thomas and Marie Rutkoski.

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life—work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists—not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other—and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.


KATHERINE ADDISON – THE GRIEF OF STONES (June 14th)

More Goblin Emperor world is always a win. In this case, we get a direct sequel to Witness for the Dead which follows Celehar. I love this world and its characters, so this is a must-buy.

In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a direct sequel to The Witness For The Dead

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses. The love of his friends will lead him out again.


ALIX E. HARROW – A MIRROR MENDED (June 14th)

Look, until Harrow somehow writes a truly terrible book, I’ll be reading all her stuff. Her fractured fairy tales are especially nice. Bite-sized twists on the stories I’ve loved since childhood with social commentary and lots of references. I guess you have to like that sort of thing but if you do you’ll be very happy with this series. ETA: Aaaand I just got an ARC of this which I will be devouring during my holiday in Southern Italy. 🙂

A Mirror Mended is the next installment in USA Today bestselling author Alix E. Harrow’s Fractured Fables series.

Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty, is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends, and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone. Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request and save them both from the hot-iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?


A. G. SLATTER – THE PATH OF THORNS (June 14th)

Angela Slatter’s spiritual successor to All the Murmuring Bones (which, btw, you should all check out and here’s why) is another tale with gothic vibes. It sounds like part Jane Eyre, part Jekyll and Hyde, part fairy tale and if that doesn’t intrigue you, I don’t know what to say.

Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby. It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensible to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora. Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.


AVA REID – JUNIPER & THORN (June 21st)

I enjoyed Reid’s debut novel, even though it had its flaws, but it also offered enough really good stuff for me to look forward to her newest book. Fairy tales, pitched as “for fans of Cat Valente” (we’ll see… we’ll see), and gothic horror all sounds excellent.

From highly acclaimed bestselling author Ava Reid comes a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree, set in another time and place within the world of The Wolf and the Woodsman, where a young witch seeks to discover her identity and escape the domination of her wizard father, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Catherynne M. Valente.

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


SAARA EL-ARIFI – THE FINAL STRIFE (June 23rd)

This was on my wishlist before that cover was revealed, but I’ll be honest, this cover would have been enough for me to want that book. The story doesn’t sound all that original but it has a trial of combat and skill and I always enjoy reading about competitions of some kind, especially when in a fantasy seetting.

In the first book of a visionary African and Arabian-inspired fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel Empire that divides people by blood.

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.

Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.

Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.

As the Empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.


SAM J. MILLER – BOYS, BEASTS & MEN (June 14th)

I have an ARC of this, teehee. Sam J. Miller always comes up with the most interesting characters and ideas that are somehow unlike anything I’ve read before. So I can’t wait to dive into a whole collection of his short stories.

In Nebula Award-winning author Sam J. Miller’s devastating debut short-fiction collection, featuring an introduction by Amal El-Mohtar, queer infatuation, inevitable heartbreak, and brutal revenge seamlessly intertwine. Whether innocent, guilty, or not even human, the boys, beasts, and men roaming through Miller’s gorgeously crafted worlds can destroy readers, yet leave them wanting more.

“Miller’s sheer talent shines through in abundance . . . Boys, Beasts & Men is an outrageous journey which skillfully blends genres and will haunt you with its original, poetic voices as much as its victims, villains, and treasure trove of leading actors.”

—Grimdark Magazine

Despite his ability to control the ambient digital cloud, a foster teen falls for a clever con-man. Luring bullies to a quarry, a boy takes clearly enumerated revenge through unnatural powers of suggestion. In the aftermath of a shapeshifting alien invasion, a survivor fears that he brought something out of the Arctic to infect the rest of the world. A rebellious group of queer artists create a new identity that transcends even the anonymity of death.

Sam J. Miller (Blackfish City, The Art of Starving) shows his savage wit, unrelenting candor, and lush imagery in this essential career retrospective collection, taking his place alongside legends of the short-fiction form such as Carmen Maria Machado, Carson McCullers, and Jeff VanderMeer.


News from the blog

April was all about the Orilium Spring Equinox which means I readathon-ed myself successfully through the month and even managed to post a few reviews on time. More are to come soon!
May was less productive, blog-wise, and I mostly read non-fiction about breastfeeding and raising a child and such. Excellent books, but not exactly fitting for this blog. Thus the hiatus.

What I read last month(s):

I also read some novelettes and short stories but I won’t review them in detail so they don’t get their own seperate posts. I do talk about them briefly in my Orilium Readathon Wrap-Up.

Currently reading:

  • C.S.C. Cooney – Saint Death’s Daughter (ARC)
  • Sarah Gailey – Just Like Home (ARC)
  • C. L. Polk – Stormsong

I basically dropped everything in favor of my readathon book picks so now it’s time to catch up on those half-read books I’ve been dragging along. And I have a new Cat Valente middle grade adventure waiting here for me, so that will probably make an appearance soon as well.

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

My Thoughts on the Hugo Award Finalists 2022

One of the best surprises is when the Hugo Award Finalists are announced much earlier than expected. It’s true, book people of the world, ChiCon have announced the finalists today and that means it’s time to share first impressions.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE FINALISTS!

Same procedure as every year. 🙂 I’ll go through the categories one by one, see how many books I’ve already read and what I think about the finalists. I will leave out the categories about which I have little to say and/or which I don’t plan to vote in (like Best Editor Long Form) or which don’t really fit this blog (the Dramatic Presentation categories).

Warning: This is going to be a long post. Feel free to skip ahead to a certain category or to my general thoughts at the very end.


BEST NOVEL (5/6)

Five out of six is crazy! Then again, I felt that last year was filled with a lot of very, very good books but almost no standout ones that everyone could get on board with and cheer for. None of these finalists are surprising, as they were all talked about and praised quite a lot, but I also don’t have an immediate winner in mind, despite having read almost all of them already.

I have been looking forward to She Who Became the Sun since it came out and I even own a stunning hardback edition. Don’t know why I haven’t read it yet but I have high hopes. Maybe this is the one that will make me go “Here’s my winner!”

As for the others, my favorite was probably Becky Chambers final Wayfarers novel The Galaxy and the Ground Within (review coming on Monday) because it’s just what I had hoped for, the audiobook version was absolutely wonderful yet again, and there’s just something about Chambers’ writing and characters that works for me.
A close second was a surprise for me because it’s Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I was expecting a bit of lighthearted, sciency fun. A space adventure with a dash of saving the world and great humor. And I got that, but I also got so much more. Granted, I listened to this book during the phase of my pregnancy when it was hardest to concentrate, so I think the audiobook narrator Ray Porter deserves extra praise. But the way the book kept my attention and made me feel for the characters was impressive to say the least.

Now I’d like to see P. DjèlĂ­ Clark’s career keep soaring the way it is and I did have fun with A Master of Djinn but I also preferred his shorter works. The novel, while great for many reasons, was lacking in other areas. The murder mystery part of the story fell flat for me, but I did continue to love the world building which was begun in Clark’s short story and novellas set in the same world. I also adored some of the character interactions. So it wasn’t love at first read, but I also wouldn’t begrudge this book a Hugo win.

A Desolation Called Peace by Arkady Martine had the tough job of following a big favorite of mine and Hugo Best Novel winner in its own right, A Memory Called Empire. I loved many things about this book and I thought Martine did a great job pushing her story further and giving her characters a satisfying plotline while also introducing new ones. But – as unfair as that may be – the novelty of said world is gone and so I didn’t quite love the book as much as its predecessor. I was also under the impression that it’s the middle book of a planned trilogy but I guess that’s wrong and the duology is finished.

Lastly, Light of Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki was another wonderful, not-a-boring-moment science-fantasy novel that stood out mostly for its characters, not so much for its science fictional ideas. It’s wacky and fun and deep, it asks important questions, and it puts a trans character center stage, describes lovely queer relationships, and it’s also a love letter to music! I really have no complaints about this book other than that it didn’t focus all that much on SFF world building/magic system things but rather on characters. That’s not a bad thing at all, but when having to decide between several excellent books, it’s one aspect I’m taking into consideration.


BEST NOVELLA (3/6)

Well look at that, all three of my nominations made the final ballot! I am so proud. Mostly, I am overjoyed that Cat Valente’s beautiful, heartbreaking, eye-opening, lovely novella The Past is Red made it! Although I will read the other finalists, I doubt any of them is going to touch me the way this little book has. Honestly, I still pick up my copy and stroke the cover from time to time, thinking back lovingly to the moments spent with Tetley in Gargabetown. It may be short but this story packs a punch.

Seanan McGuire is back again with her latest Wayward Children novella, Across the Green Grass Fields. I’m not surprised because McGuire getting nominated is just a thing that happens, but I am a little surprised because even fans of the series said that they found this to be a particularly weak instalment and many people didn’t like it, despite being big McGuire fans. So I’ll go into this with very low expectations and hope it will be a happy surprise like the fourth volume in that rather middling series.

Becky Chambers’ A Psalm for the Wild-Built was just what I expected but also quite different. It was quieter and had less plot than I had anticipated, but that doesn’t mean I liked it any less. I felt so damn understood and I loved the philosophical questions the story posed. It wasn’t as much of an emotional gut punch as the Valente, but I’m glad it made the final ballot (I nominated it, after all).

Similarly, Alix E. Harrow’s A Spindle Splintered was just my jam even though I think it’s not in the same league as my other two nominations. This was more of a fun exploration of fairy tales, a feminist kick in the trope-butt, a book that made me giggle at all its references. It has an emotional core and its premise isn’t funny at all, but I think despite Harrow being a Hugo favorite, she will have a hard time winning this category.

I generally like Aliette de Bodard and Fireheart Tiger has been on my TBR for a while. Adrian Tchaikovsky is an author I keep wanting to try but I haven’t found a good (read: non-threatening because 7-book epic saga) entry point yet. This Elder Race novella looks like my perfect opportunity.


BEST NOVELETTE (1/6)

There’s almost nothing new to see here. All of the finalist authors are well-established Hugo contenders, with the exception of Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, who is a Nommo and Otherwise winner and a Nebula finalist but hasn’t been on the Hugo ballot so far. I look forward to his novelette. In with the new stuff!

Obviously, I am thrilled to see Cat Valente‘s novelette on here. Her take on Orpheus and Eurydice and what comes after the aventure we all know felt like a slap in the face, but what a beautiful, gorgeously written slap it was.

As for the others, I look forward to reading all of them. Most of the authors I’ve read and liked before so I’m sure I’ll enjoy this category. Also, Uncanny magazine has such pretty covers. I could stare at them for hours.


BEST SHORT STORY (1/6)

It is not the Valente story that I’ve read but “Mr. Death” by Alix Harrow! I rarely read short fiction and I pretty much never actively look up short stories. I lean more toward novels and novellas, but this I couldn’t miss after reading Andreas’ review. I thought I knew where this story was going when I really didn’t, and then my heart got wrenched and my eyes somehow went glassy and the short story landed on my nomination ballot…

A Cat Valente short story is always a good thing, especially since I totally missed that she published one. Many heaps of shame upon my head but also yay for something to really, really look forward to. (Narrator voice: Later that day…) I have read the story now and, damn, it’s atmospheric and gut-punchy, alright. But! I didn’t love it as much as “Mr. Death”.

There’s a short story that has been entirely published on Twitter on here which is about as 2020ies as things can get. I have no idea what the story is about but I am intrigued. Also, more Uncanny Magazine. They’re just really good.


BEST SERIES (3ish/6)

  • Fonda Lee – The Geen Bone Saga
  • C. L. Polk – The Kingston ycle
  • Seanan McGuire – Wayward Children
  • Charles Stross – Merchant Princes
    • The Family Trade
    • The Hidden FAmily
    • The Clan Corporate
    • The Merchant’s War
    • The Revolution Business
    • The Trade of Queens
  • Ada Palmer – Terra Ignota
    • Too Like the Lightning
    • Seven Surrenders
    • The Will to Battle
    • Perhaps the Stars
  • T. Kingfisher – The World of the White Rat
    • Clocktaur War
      • Clockwork Boys
      • The Wonder Engine
    • Swordheart
    • The Saint of Steel
      • Paladin’s Grace
      • Paladin’s Strength
      • Paladin’s Hope

I was afraid last year that InCryptid would be back in 2022, so I am now counting myself lucky that it was McGuire’s Wayward Children series that once again made the ballot. I have to read the latest book for the Novella category anyway, so I’m glad I can get away with that one short book. That’s a definite win. I already know that series will at best make the middle of my ballot because, overall, I don’t find it partiularly strong, but we’ll see how I like this latest addition.

Why I haven’t already devoured Jade Legacy is anyone’s guess. Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga is one of those series that have made a real impact on SFF by doing something fresh and new even though she may be playing with well-known tropes and ideas. It doesn’t hurt that her writing is just brilliant. So yeah, can’t wait to finish the series and see if the Kaul family gets out of this mafia-esque clan war unscathed.

The Kingston Cycle by C.L. Polk started out very nicely with Witchmark. Unfortunately, I never continued the series (because I suck) but I very much look foward to reading the other stories set in that universe. I also like that this is more of a charming kind of story, very different in tone and setting from the other finalists.

Although my first thought upon looking up The World of the White Rat by the inimitable T. Kingfisher was “holy shit, this is a lot” I am super excited about this finalist. I mean, it’s not like all of these books aren’t on my TBR anyway, it’s just that this particular world has several series set in it and I’m not quite sure where to start. I suppose I’ll let my mood decide. There’s Steampunk, fantasy romance (yay), and there’s a standalone that sounds hilarious.

I am also happy that I will finally have to read Terra Ignota by Ada Palmer. I’ve had my eye on that series for ages but somehow it always slipped through the cracks. If this year is anything like last year, I am in for happy surprises and great new series discoveries.

The wild card on the ballot is Charles Stross’ Marchant Princes. I had honestly never even heard of this series before (Stross is more famous for his Laundry Files, I guess) and it sounds like a strange amalgamation of rather old-timey tropes. Modern woman, portal fantasy, scheming rival clans, knights on horseback… there seems to be a bit of everything here and it could go either way. I’ll be honest and say the covers aren’t encouraging, but I will definitely give it a try. It wouldn’t be the first time my fellow Hugo nominators lead me to discover unexpected favorites.


BEST GRAPHIC STORY (0.5/6)

  • Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans – DIE, vol. 4: Bleed
  • N. K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell – Far Sector
  • Rachel Smythe – Lore Olympus, vol. 1
  • Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda – Monstress, vol. 6: The Vow
  • Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain – Once & Future vol. 3: The Parliament of Magpies
  • Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner – Strange Adventures

Well, as per usual, I haven’t caught up on most of the series that are perennial Hugo favorites but I look forward to it. I have read some of Lore Olympus online (as this started as a webcomic before it was published traditionally) and I found it cute and all but I wasn’t hooked enough to continue. Maybe it was also reading on my phone that turned me off… We’ll see how I like it when I read it on the iPad.

DIE vol. 4, Once & Future vol. 3, and Monstress vol. 6 are all continuations of series that have previously been nominated. Some of them I find more promising than others but what’s interesting here is the speed with which Kieron Gillen seems to put out his work. Last year, we got volume 1 of Once & Future and volume 2 of DIE, this year we’ve “skipped” a volume each. I hope the missing volumes are included in the voter packet so we can form an opinion on the series as a whole so far as well as the latest instalment. I will also do a re-read of the first volumes because my bain is useless and remembers almost nothing.

Seeing N. K. Jemisin on a Hugo finalist list is no surprise, although I previously knew nothing about this comic Far Sector. It’s apparently a Green Lantern story and the synopsis honestly doesn’t sound that great to me. But it’s Jemisin, so I’m sure she turned a small idea into something amazing.

Strange Adventure seems to be a reinvention of old-timey pulpy superhero science fiction and I’m keeping an open mind. I guess I’ll end up either loving or hating it. If it’s funny and I like the art, yay. If the content reads like it’s from the 50ies, I will have to pass.


LODESTAR (1/6)

  • Jordan Ifueko – Redemptor
  • Naomi Kritzer – Chaos on CatNet
  • Xiran Jay Zaho – Iron Widow
  • Charlie Jane Anders – Victories Greater Than Death
  • Darcie Little Badger – A Snake Falls to Earth
  • Naomi Novik – The Last Graduate

Looks like we have a lot of sequels on our hands, as well as some returning Hugo or Lodestar finalist authors. The exception – and the book I’m most excited for – is Xiran Jay Zhao’s Iron Widow. As with many other finalists this year, I’ve owned the book for quite some time. It’s the actual reading that seems to take me forever. 🙂

I very much look forward to the second Naomi Kritzer book, Chaos on CatNet as the first one totally unexpectedly stole my heart! Darcie Little Badger’s A Snake Falls to Earth looks very pretty but sounds like it’s mostly a repeat of the themes and structure we got in Elatsoe which I liked fine, but which read much, much younger than I was led to believe from the synopsis and marketing. But I’m curious to see how the author has grown and developed and what this new story has to offer.

Apparently, Naomi Novik is writing YA after all. And there I was, thinking all those articles did her wrong, automatically classifying a work by a female fantasy writer as YA just because it happens to have a school setting. I am still not convinced this was meant to be YA, but it looks like declining an awards nomination is just a bit too hard – but okay, if this is how it is, I hope the author doesn’t complain when people call her books YA. You can’t have it both ways. I am not un-excited to read The Last Graduate but it will have to up the game in comparison to A Deadly Education.

Reading Charlie Jane Anders is always intriguing and her first foray into YA has me positively giddy with excitement. Victories Greater Than Death also got optioned for a TV series, so that makes me expect quite a bit of action and a compelling plot. Anders always has great ideas, diverse characters, and complicated world building. I cannot wait!

The one book I have read (and nominated) is Jordan Ifueko’s Redemptor. I didn’t love it quite as much as Raybearer but it was a fantastic ending to a duology, it wrapped the story up neatly, raised the stakes, offered some great twists, and I adored its complex romantic as well as found family relationships. It’s too early to say where it will land on my ballot, though. The competition is stiff!


ASTOUNDING AWARD (3/6)

I nominated Micaiah Johnson, just like last year, because The Space Between Worlds is one hell of a debut and makes me highly anticipate the author’s next work. (I also nominated Freya Marske who may not have been eligible due to some shorter work published earlier? Anyway, she’s great, just had to meantion this here!)

Everina Maxwell‘s debut was fun and well written but didn’t leave too much of an impression on me. I’m happy to see the author nominated and I’ll be on the lokout for her next work but it wasn’t an instant author crush for me.

Shelley Parker-Chan and Xiran Jay Zhao are nominated in two categories each, one Best Novel/Lodestar, the other the Astounding Award. So they both made quite an impact, it seems, which only makes me more excited to read their novels. Again, I find it very nice that I can cover several categories with a single book. Gives me more of a chance to catch up on those Best Series!

A.K. Larkwood is back from last year. I still haven’t read The Unspoken Name but I hope to get to it this year. By now, the second book in that series is also out.
Tracy Deonn‘s sequel to Legendborn only comes out in November which is too late for reading it within the voting period. But I’ve read and enjoyed her first book and will rank her in this list as best as I can.


GENERAL THOUGHTS

Most of the categories are not surprising at all. There’s plenty of Hugo favorites, either authors who have been nominated or won before, or direct sequels to works that have been finalists.

Obviously, my biggest joy is seeing Catherynne M. Valente in three categories! My favorite of last year, The Past is Red, wasn’t all that surprising because lots of people liked it. But I didn’t expect her novelette “L’Esprit de L’Escalier” to make it (even though I nominated it because, obviously, it’s brilliant) and then to see her nominated for Best Short Story as well. Can you see me jumping up and down like a crazy person? Because I totally am.

I’m so, so happy that T. Kingfisher is becoming a Hugo fixture. I’ve been reading her indie works for years but seeing how fandom has caught on and is appreciating her genius is just wonderful. Plus, her acceptance speeches are THE BEST! I also hope this makes it easier for her to keep writing and publishing because I selfishly just want more T. Kingfisher books!

My Seanan McGuire rant is cancelled this year. Really, I’m fine with it. I don’t think this year’s novella contender will be good but hey, at least it’s only one novella and a short story. And I have loved some of McGuire’s short stories so there’s that.

Only a handful of works came out of left field for me and they are, first of all, the Charles Stross series that I’d never even heard mentioned before and, secondly, the Strange Adventures comic. Then again, I’m not as in the loop about graphic novels and comics as other people so that may just be my fault.

What do you think about the finalists? Did your nominees make it? Are you going to read the finalists and if yes, are you voting?

The State of SFF – April 2022

Welcome back, everyone. 🙂
I was too scared to make any promises last time, but it seems like I’m back in a somewhat regular blogging schedule. My reading is more or less normal again, I have a much easier time concentrating, and my pregnancy is going well. Also, I’m starting to feel more and more like a unicorn for not having had Covid yet. Even many of my friends who have been vaccinated three times are catching it (which may have to do with our government being absolute idiots and opening everything up and dropping all sorts of measures during a time with the highest, record-breaking incident numbers since the pandemic started… oh well).

I hope you are all doing well, that all your loved ones are safe and healthy, and that your reading is giving you nothing but joy.

Quickie News

  • The Hugo Award Finalists will be announced on April 7th which is very soon and thus all the more exciting. Get your TBRs ready, make sure to get plenty of rest and fluids, and then we can start reading our way through those finalists like the crazy book people we are.
  • Tor.com have graciously collected the information Brandon Sanderson has shared about his four secret novels that managed to break all Kickstarter records. Soif you want a quick overview about what these are all about, go check out the article.
  • Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronciles are being adapted as an animated film. I’ve been hoping for a movie or TV version of this guilty pleasure of mine, fairy tale retellings set in the future, with a sci-fi twist and lots of adorable romance. But I think I’m even more excited to find out it’s going to be animated. This opens up a whole new world for visuals.

Orilium Readathon

Last month, we got a week-long Orilium Gear-Up Readathon, this month, it’s the big one! G from the YouTube channel Book Roast has outdone herself. If you’re in the mood for a month-long readathon that feels like the character creation part of a video game at the same time as going to magic school, then this is for you. Naturally, I already signed up and have my TBR sort of planned out.

The rules may be many and intricate but G is known for keeping it all super low pressure. You can adapt and change the prompts and rules however you see fit. This is meant to be fun for everyone and the community is one of the most welcoming, kind ones I’ve met on the interwebs. Seriously, come play with us! We’d love to have you.


A Word about Subscription Box Special Editions and Entitled Customers

You may or may not know about book subscription boxes, a service you may subscribe to and which sends you a box with a mystery new publication plus some mechandise or useful items every month. There are plenty of them, for different genres, age gropus, and tastes and usually with different options such as “book only” or “full box” etc.

In recent years, these boxes have tried to set each other apart buy customizing their editions of a given book to be extra special. That menas sprayed edges, embossing on the hardcover, exclusive art for the endpapers or the reverse of the jacket, you get the idea. Sometimes, that also means a book will be signed by the author. Sometimes it won’t.

Now the box I subscribe to – Illumicrate – has sent out a book in March without an author signature and they’ve just announced their May book (Holly Black’s Book of Night) also won’t be signed. I know, what’s the big deal, right? Well, if you ask me, no deal at all. If you go to the comment section of their announcment however, you’ll see a whole bunch of people actually complaining and demanding to know if this is “a new trend” and how dare Illumicrate not have a signed copy for every single customer when Waterstones and other chain bookstores have them on offer?

This is just one example (and a more reasonable one) of those complaints. The comments are filled with way harsher words and that simply baffles me.

Those people, should they stumble across my blog, I would remind of the following things:

  • You didn’t sign up for a subscription box that offers signed copies guaranteed.
  • Authors are humans! Maybe if Holly Black has already signed thousands of books, she didn’t want to sign another thousand? Maybe she physically can’t? Maybe she has a deal with her publishers that grants certain stores exclusive rights to signed editions? Maybe she has better things to do, such as, I don’t know, write her next book?
  • Think about the supply chain. There may not have been time for signed editions. Books have to be printed and shipped and, in case you forgot, we’re still in a pandemic with an added war in Europe and the world is not exactly running smoothly.
  • If you’re so desperate for a signed edition, skip this month’s subscription and order a sigend edition!
    It’s not like it’s signed to you personally so what’s the big deal if you have to get it from somewhere other than your subscription box?
  • The Illumicrate team are humans as well. It’s their decision what extras to feature on any given book, it’s their work that makes all this possible. If you don’t like their work, unsubscribe. there is literally a waitlist full of people who’d be more than happy about those unsigned editions.
  • You can give feedback without sounding like an entitled brat.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk. That needed to be said or I would have exploded.


Exciting April Publications

A new Cat Valente, hooray, and a new C.S.E. Cooney (which I’m already reading), yay, and one of my most highly anticipated debuts, and it’s all happening in April!

EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL – SEA OF TRANQUILITY (April 5th)

It’s a new book from Emily St. John Mandel, the author who ripped our hearts out and filled us up with hope with her wonderful Station Eleven. I have yet to read her last novel, The Glass Hotel, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look forward to this one.

The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal–an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She’s traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.


GRACE D. LI – PORTRAIT OF A THIEF (April 5th)

One of my most highly anticipated debuts of the year and not just because it’s about thieves and has a gorgeous cover. Okay, maybe mostly because it’s about thieves and has a gorgeous cover. But also Harvard seniors (I’m a sucker for reading about academia), a diverse cast, and themes of colonialism. Gimme!

Ocean’s Eleven meets The Farewell in Portrait of a Thief, a lush, lyrical heist novel inspired by the true story of Chinese art vanishing from Western museums; about diaspora, the colonization of art, and the complexity of the Chinese American identity.

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.

Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son who has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a mysterious Chinese benefactor reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imag­ine—or at least, the closest he can get. A con artist: Irene Chen, a public policy major at Duke who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering major who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted at­tempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.

Equal parts beautiful, thoughtful, and thrilling, Portrait of a Thief is a cultural heist and an examination of Chinese American identity, as well as a necessary cri­tique of the lingering effects of colonialism.


EMILY J. TAYLOR – HOTEL MAGNIFIQUE (April 5th)

This book’s synopsis has a few anti-buzz words for me, as I thought both Caraval and The Night Circus were books with pretty settings and little substance. I will definitely wait for reviews before I get this book but I’ll remain cautiously interested.

For fans of Caraval and The Night Circus, this decadent and darkly enchanting YA fantasy, set against the backdrop of a Belle Époque-inspired hotel, follows seventeen-year-old Jani as she uncovers the deeply disturbing secrets of the legendary Hotel Magnifique.

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.


RORY POWERS – IN A GARDEN BURNING GOLD (April 5th)

Rory Powers must be a favorite of the cover gods because, damn! Also magical twins defending themselves and their siblings against their crazy father, mythology, and lots of backstabbing. Teehee.

Twins imbued with incredible magic and near-immortality will do anything to keep their family safe—even if it tears the siblings apart—in the first book of a mythic epic fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls.

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.


CHRIS PANATIER – STRINGERS (April 12th)

Comparisons to Hitchhiker’s Guide are always a daring choice, but they also always work on me. So here I am, wanting desperately to get my hands on this very green book.

“Where Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy recommended towels, this slapstick and semisweet space opera sends its Earthlings out among the aliens armed only with a jar of pickles…Readers are in for a treat.” — Publishers Weekly in a starred review

“Panatier combines humor, action, and a memorable cast of characters to deliver a read perfect for fans of Becky Chambers who appreciate a good fart joke and fans of Douglas Adams interested in considering serious moral quandaries in between chuckles.” — ALA Booklist

Knowledge can get you killed. Especially if you have no idea what it means.

Ben is NOT a genius, but he can spout facts about animals and wristwatches with the best of experts. He just can’t explain how he knows any of it.

He also knows about the Chime. What it is or why it’s important he couldn’t say. But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble.

After he and his best friend Patton are abducted by a trash-talking, flesh-construct alien bounty hunter, Ben finds out just how much he is worth… and how dangerous he can be. Hopefully Patton and a stubborn jar of pickles will be enough to help him through. Because being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice isn’t going to save them.


C.S.E. COONEY – SAINT DEATH’S DAUGHTER (April 12th)

I am reading this already because lukcy me got an e-ARC. Cooney stole my heart with her collection Bone Swans (seriously, go read it if you want a treat) so her first big novel was something I wouldn’t miss for the world. It’s as if Gideon the Ninth got hit across the head with a cheerfulness hammer, blasted with a highly creative mythology gun, and then soaked a few hours in poetic language stew. I’m loving it so far!

Fun, froofy and glorious: a coming-of-age story in a new trilogy from World Fantasy Award-winning author C.S.E. Cooney.

Nothing complicates life like Death.

Lanie Stones, the daughter of the Royal Assassin and Chief Executioner of Liriat, has never led a normal life. Born with a gift for necromancy and a literal allergy to violence, she was raised in isolation in the family’s crumbling mansion by her oldest friend, the ancient revenant Goody Graves.

When her parents are murdered, it falls on Lanie and her cheerfully psychotic sister Nita to settle their extensive debts or lose their ancestral home—and Goody with it. Appeals to Liriat’s ruler to protect them fall on indifferent ears… until she, too, is murdered, throwing the nation’s future into doubt.

Hunted by Liriat’s enemies, hounded by her family’s creditors and terrorised by the ghost of her great-grandfather, Lanie will need more than luck to get through the next few months—but when the goddess of Death is on your side, anything is possible.


EMILY X.R. PAN – AN ARROW TO TH EMOON (April 12th)

Keeping with the Asian mythology trend of 2022, we get this Romeo and Juliet version but with interesting-sounding twists. The supernatural wind definitely caught my eye as did the contemporary setting. (The pretty cover doesn’t hurt either.)

Romeo and Juliet meets Chinese mythology in this magical novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Astonishing Color of After.

In Fairbridge, a series of bizarre phenomena brings together a pair of star-crossed lovers from rival families.

Hunter Yee has perfect aim with a bow and arrow, but all else in his life veers wrong. He’s sick of being haunted by his family’s past mistakes. The only things keeping him from running away are his little brother, a supernatural wind, and the bewitching girl at his new school.

Luna Chang dreads the future. It’s the last year of high school, and her parents’ expectations are stifling. When she begins to break the rules, she finds her life upended by the strange new boy in her class, the arrival of unearthly fireflies, and an ominous crack spreading across the town.

As Hunter and Luna navigate their families’ enmity and secrets, everything around them begins to fall apart. All they can depend on is their love…but time is running out, and fate will have its way.


REBECCA ROANHORSE – FEVERED STAR (April 19th)

Finally we get the continuation of the series that started with the well-written but very non-standalone Black Sun to see where the tales of Serapio, Xiala, and Naranpa will take us.

Return to The Meridian with New York Times bestselling author Rebecca Roanhorse’s sequel to the most critically hailed epic fantasy of 2020 Black Sun—finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, Lambda, and Locus awards.

There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart. â€”Teek saying

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.


NICOLA GRIFFITH – SPEAR (April 19th)

I swear, Hild has been on my TBR for way too long yet I keep not picking it up. Maybe with this novella, I’ll finally get the push to dive into Nicola Griffith’s work.

The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.

And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.


ADRIENNE TOOLEY – SOFI AND THE BONE SONG (April 19th)

I love when fantasy involves music as a central element and the idea of the super diligent student up against what appears to be a natural (no lessons, just pure talent) appeals to me.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 55004093.jpg

In this gorgeous, queer standalone fantasy, a young musician sets out to expose her rival for illegal use of magic only to discover the deception goes deeper than she could have imagined—perfect for fans of An Enchantment of Ravens!

Music runs in Sofi’s blood.

Her father is a Musik, one of only five musicians in the country licensed to compose and perform original songs. In the kingdom of Aell, where winter is endless and magic is accessible to all, there are strict anti-magic laws ensuring music remains the last untouched art.

Sofi has spent her entire life training to inherit her father’s title. But on the day of the auditions, she is presented with unexpected competition in the form of Lara, a girl who has never before played the lute. Yet somehow, to Sofi’s horror, Lara puts on a performance that thoroughly enchants the judges.

Almost like magic.

The same day Lara wins the title of Musik, Sofi’s father dies, and a grieving Sofi sets out to prove Lara is using illegal magic in her performances. But the more time she spends with Lara, the more Sofi begins to doubt everything she knows about her family, her music, and the girl she thought was her enemy.

As Sofi works to reclaim her rightful place as a Musik, she is forced to face the dark secrets of her past and the magic she was trained to avoid—all while trying not to fall for the girl who stole her future.


CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE – OSMO UNKNOWN AND THE EIGHTPENNY WOODS (April 26th)

AAAAAAAAAAH a new middle grade adventure by my favoritest of authors and it has a PANGIRLIN in it. That’s right, pan-girl-in. My heart! Plus, this is Valente’s underworld novel for kids so I just know there’s going to be lots of nods to mythology and folklore in it as well as adorable characters.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 55004093.jpg

A fantasy following a boy journeying away from the only home he’s ever known and into the magical realm of the dead in order to fulfill a bargain for his people.

Osmo Unknown hungers for the world beyond his small town. With the life that Littlebridge society has planned for him, the only taste Osmo will ever get are his visits to the edge of the Fourpenny Woods where his mother hunts. Until the unthinkable happens: his mother accidentally kills a Quidnunk, a fearsome and intelligent creature that lives deep in the forest.

None of this should have anything to do with poor Osmo, except that a strange treaty was once formed between the Quidnunx and the people of Littlebridge to ensure that neither group would harm the other. Now that a Quidnunk is dead, as the firstborn child of the hunter who killed her, Osmo must embark on a quest to find the Eightpenny Woods—the mysterious kingdom where all wild forest creatures go when they die—and make amends.

Accompanied by a very rude half-badger, half-wombat named Bonk and an antisocial pangolin girl called Never, it will take all of Osmo’s bravery and cleverness to survive the magic of the Eightpenny Woods to save his town…and make it out alive.


VAISHNAVI PATEL – KAIKEYI (April 26th)

To be honest, most of the description for this sounds like rather generic women’s uprising fare. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just like my fantasy to offer more layers. So it’s the “evil from childhood stories” that drew me in after all and makes me want to give this Ramayana retelling a go.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 55004093.jpg

“Patel’s mesmerizing debut shines a brilliant light on the vilified queen from the Ramayana….This easily earns its place on shelves alongside Madeline Miller’s Circe.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story. The only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she is raised on tales about the might and benevolence of the gods: how they churned the vast ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality, how they vanquish evil and ensure the land of Bharat prospers, and how they offer powerful boons to the devout and the wise. Yet she watches as her father unceremoniously banishes her mother, listens as her own worth is reduced to how great a marriage alliance she can secure. And when she calls upon the gods for help, they never seem to hear.

Desperate for some measure of independence, she turns to the texts she once read with her mother and discovers a magic that is hers alone. With this power, Kaikeyi transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most favored queen, determined to carve a better world for herself and the women around her.

But as the evil from her childhood stories threatens the cosmic order, the path she has forged clashes with the destiny the gods have chosen for her family. And Kaikeyi must decide if resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak—and what legacy she intends to leave behind.

A stunning debut from a powerful new voice, Kaikeyi is a tale of fate, family, courage, and heartbreak—of an extraordinary woman determined to leave her mark in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come.


T. KINGFISHER – NETTLE AND BONE (April 26th)

Not only are we getting a new Cat Valente adventure in April, we’ll also get a T. Kingfisher fairy tale-esque novel about sisters and witches and impossible tasks. The fact that they want to kill the prince makes this 100% cooler, and I just know I will fall in love with the demon-possessed chicken.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 55004093.jpg

A dark and compelling fantasy about sisterhood, impossible tasks and the price of power, from award-winning author T. Kingfisher

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra―the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter―has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince―if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.


FONDA LEE – THE JADE SETTER OF JANLOON (April 30th)

The crowning finale of April is a new (if shorter) work in the mind-blowing Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee. If you want the limited hardback edition, go to Subterranean Press now. These usually sell out quickly! I’ll stick with the e-book but I cannot wait to see what this prequel novella has in store for us.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 55004093.jpg

THE JADE SETTER OF JANLOON is a standalone novella in The Green Bone Saga. It takes place two years before the events of Jade City, and it will be coming out from Subterranean Press in early 2022, in beautiful limited edition hardback and ebook.


News from the blog

I am back in the game. It wasn’t a record-breaking month, especially considering that I picked a few shorter books to read, but I am okay with it.

What I read last month:

I am so glad I finally started the Divine Cities trilogy because now I know why everyone says it’s so good. Because it is! I’m afraid my brain wasn’t all that fair to Tasha Suri’s book but then I had fun with two shorter instalments by authors I like, and I tried a new book (first adult after only YA) by a new-to-me author that left me underwhelmed.

Currently reading:

  • C.S.C. Cooney – Saint Death’s Daughter (ARC)
  • Robert Jordan – The Dragon Reborn
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
  • V.E. Schwab – Gallant
  • Jessica Townsend – Hollowpox: The Hunt for Morrigan Crow

Yeah, yeah, so my Wheel of Time read-through isn’t exactly going smoothly. I do read a chapter every once in a while but then I’m reminded that the book is treating me like I’m a little stupid, with its many repetitions (what is up with the braid tugging?!), its rather one-minded female characters (who gets to marry Rand, my ass, don’t you have bigger problems?), and its long-winded explanations of things that have been made perfectly clear already. But I still kind of want to know where it’s all going, so I will read on. Just very, very slowly.

My e-ARC of C.S.E. Cooney’s first full-length novel is brilliant and wonderfully weird and very intriguing. I have no idea what direction the story will take me in and that is just how I like it. The Raadchai mood has left me a little but I am still on the Ancillary books. And the Orilium readathon gave me the push to pick up two middle grade books. Both the Schwab and the Townsend are quite fun so far.

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

Magical Readathon: Spring Equinox 2022 – Careers, Prompts, and My Tentative TBR

It’s finally here, the first Magical Readathon where our characters get to go to Orilium Academy and take classes there. I can barely contain myself I’m so excited!!! Here is G’s announcement video with a brief overview of what’s to come, how the readathon works and even a few hints about what the Autumn Equinox will look like (it’s very similar to the previous Magical Readathon in terms of structure).

Orilium Spring Equinox 2022

How awesome is that?!

To sum up the essentials:
This is a month-long readathon that runs throughout April. You and the character(s) you created get to choose which career you want to pursue, you find the classes you need to pass listed alongside and then you check the syllabus to see the reading prompts that go with them. After that it’s just a matter of planning a TBR and waiting giddily for April alongside us other crazy bookish people. 🙂


Career Choice(s)

G has outdone herself yet again with the beautiful careers booklet that she created. You can browse through the many options, either going for a career that you (or your character) identify with the most, or you can pick them by the classes they require. Each Guild also has one career choice that is exclusive to them. I chose one primary career to pursue and one secondary career that just sounds so damn cool but that I will only try to achieve if I do well enough on my main career.

Scribe

It comes as very little surprise that I chose a career that has to do with collecting and writing down knowledge for future generations. This also fits my character Sistani, who loves to be surrounded by people, travel the world, and learn new things. Just because you know how to have fun doesn’t mean you can’t also have an organized mind and want things to be written down neatly. So if we achieve this career goal, I see Sistani traveling all over Aeldia, meeting new and interesting people from all over, listening to their spells and stories, and collecting them in tomes upon tomes upon tomes.
For this career I need to pass the following classes:

  • Elemental Studies
  • Inscription
  • Spells & Incantations
  • Restoration
  • Lore

During the Autumn Equinox, I will have to read a total of seven books to qualify for this carer.

Illusionist Rogue

Now this is the slightly more mischievous career choice. It goes very well with my traveling scribe, as Illusionist Rogues also travel a lot. Except they also have a gift of changing their appearance, influencing people with their charisma (and maybe a bit of magic) and making friends everywhere. Sure, the career could be used for not 100% morally acceptable reasons, but Sistani is a very kind person who tries to use her powers for good.
To become an Illusionist Rogue I need to pass these additional classes (sadly, no overlap):

  • Shapeshifting
  • Art of Illusion
  • Psionics & Divination

During the Autumn Equinox, I will have to read a total of four books to qualify for this carer.


Classes and Reading Prompts

This is where it gets interesting. G has been very kind with her reading prompts again, keeping most of them vague enough for everyone to find a fitting book. Although there are some that don’t sound difficult, they turned out to be super tricky. You can find the full syllabus linked here on Google Drive, I am only listing the classes and prompts here that I need to fulfill for my career(s) of choice.

ClassReading PromptBook
Elemental Studiesunder 100 pagesClap Back
Inscriptionan intimidating readThe Winged Histories
Spells & Incantationsshort story/essay collectionSnow White Learns Witchcraft
Restorationfeaturing healersHollowpox
Loremythology inspiredThe Star-Touched Queen
Shapeshiftingcreature with claws on the coverOver the Woodward Wall
Illusiona trope I likePortrait of a Thief
Psionics & Divinationset in the futureThe Marrow Thieves

For my Scribe career, most prompts were clear and I had no problem finding a fitting book, but that healer prompt drove me nuts. Not only did I have no idea how to approach my TBR in search of books with healers but, often, whenever I thought there might be healers involved in a story, there’s really no way for me to find out from the synopsis. So I went with my best guesses, assuming that where a magical illness plays a big role, there will also be healers of some kind.

For the Illusionist Rogue, it was the claws on the cover that posed some difficulty. But with a large enough TBR it’s possible to find a few dragons and tigers and birds that provide the necessary claws.


My Readathon TBR

As I’m not the fastest reader at the moment and my mood changes rather quickly these days, I needed to make sure I have one thing covered with my TBR: choices!
So I have three books picked out for each reading prompt in the hopes that even if I bounce off one of them, I’ll enjoy one of the other ones. As the Hugo Award finalists for 2022 will be announced in April, I may ignore all of this careful planning and see if I can fit the finalists into these prompts somehow.

A BOOK UNDER 100 PAGES

This sounds like a gift but it actually isn’t that easy to find a book under 100 pages. Novellas tend to fall somewhere between 100 and 200 pages, so I had to go with a short story for this prompt. It’s either going to be No Good Deed by Angela Slatter or Clap Back by Nalo Hopkinson. Both of these are under 50 pages, so I am safe. Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff would also fit. Plus, this prompt will give me a quick motivational boost for finishing the first class in one day.

AN INTIMIDATING READ

Sure, one could simply use a big fat doorstopper novel for this prompt but I wanted something that intimidates me for other reasons. I went with Gallant by V.E. Schwab because I have been so disappointed by this author and all her books that came after the lovely A Darker Shade of Magic. I’m afraid this is the book that will decide whether I’m going to keep giving her chances or just stop reading her altogether. My second choice is Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey for somewhat similar reasons. I discovered and loved the Pern books when I was still pretty young and I haven’t read any of them for a long time. I am afraid that I will find the themes and especially gender roles in the series dated. So while I want to continue the series, I’m also scared it will ruin the beautiful image I have in my memory. And then there’s The Winged Histories by Sofia Samatar which is only intimidating because A Stranger in Olondria was so beautiful and dense that it’s hard to follow.

A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES

I have so many books for this and I look forward to all of them. First, there is the Mythopoeic Award winning collectin Snow White Learns Witchcraft by Theodora Goss, then an e-ARC of Boys, Beasts & Men by Sam J. Miller, and thirdly I could read The Tallow-Wife by Angela Slatter. I am looking forward to all of these and will have to completely let my mood guide me when it comes to choosing one.

A BOOK FEATURING HEALERS

The search was long and tedious but I have found two books I hope will fit the prompt. There is the third book in the Nevermoor series, Hollowpox by Jessica Townsend. The synopsis says there is a strange illness that affects Wunimals, so I hope that it will also involve healers.
My second pick is Before Mars by Emma Newman in which the protagonist is not supposed to trust the colony psychologist. Although I don’t know how prominently healers really feature in these books, I am confident they’ll at least show up an help me fulfill the prompt. And lastly, one that definitely fits is Conjure Women by Afia Atakora.

A MYTHOLOGY INSPIRED READ

My TBR is filled with books inspired by mythology, so in order to narrow it down, I looked at the page count and chose a few shorter books. I don’t have to make things extra hard for myself after all. I’ve been dying to read Ariadne by Jennifer Saint but if I feel more in a YA mood I could also go for The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi. I mean, I’m only years behind everyone else in finally reading something by this author and I can’t resist a good Hades and Persephone retelling! And in case I get pressed for time, I’ll throw in Valiant by Holly Black because I just know it’s going to be a quick read.

A BOOK WITH A CREATURE WITH CLAWS ON THE COVER

This was surprisingly tough. I thought as a fantasy reader, it would be easy to find covers with dragons and griffins and whatnot but it turns out I don’t have that many covers with animals on them. And horses definitely don’t have claws. I did find When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo where you can actually see the tigers’ claws. Alternately, I have Princess Floralinda and the Forty-Flight Tower by Tamsyn Muir on my TBR. Since I have my difficulties with Muir’s writing style (but somehow ended up loving Harrow the Ninth anyway), I am curious to see how I like it when she does a twisted fairy tale. The dragon on the cover surely has claws even if they’re not visible, and that little goblin creatures even waves a claw out of the window. Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker (Seanan McGuire) has birds on the cover and birds have claws, so that counts.

A BOOK WITH A TROPE I LIKE

This prompt is a pure gift and I am going to read a brand new release. Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Lin puts a spin on the thieving crew doing a heist trope and I am here for it! This book comes out in early April and since I’ll only get to this prompt once I’ve finished the ones for my Scribe career, it should fit into my reading plan nicely. If it counts as a trope, I’m choosing a retelling of a classic, The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo which tells The Great Gatsby not just from a different perspective but also changes that perspective to a queer immigrant woman. For the book within a book trope, I’m picking The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern which is also me giving the author a second chance at delivering a plot.

A BOOK SET IN THE FUTURE

Another easy choice for a reader of science fiction. The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline has been on my radar since it was a book club pick for the Sword & Laser Podcast. And if I feel like catching up on a newer release, I’ll go for Goliath by Tochi Onyebuchi. And to top it off with something even more different, I’m adding Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro to the list which is about an AI and that’s all I know.


My Character

Other readers got super creative and elaborate with their characers so I felt inspired to give my Sistani a little more backstory as well. As the daughter of an Iltirian and an Elf, she is a rather unusual girl, especially considering that she grew up in a bustling city on Kerador, surrounded by all sorts of cultures and people. Her childhood has instilled upon her a love for meeting new people, learning their languages and cultural habits, and generally being open to new experiences. She is rather quirky for a Half-Iltirian and rather uninterested in the moon for a Half-Elf but then, who doesn’t rebel against their parents when they are young?

Sistani is passionate about the written word but she also loves solving riddles and being clever. Whether it’s training and managing to run a particularly difficult obstacle course or solving a puzzle, her ambition usually grants her the strength to pursue her goals single-mindedly. She has been called a know-it-all on more than one occasion…

Unsurprising, she was chosen to join the Guild of Archivists who get full access to the amazing underground library of Orilium Academy. Here are the traits I have achieved through participating in readathons so far:

  • Half-Iltirian, Half-Elf
  • Urban from Kerador
  • Archivist
    • bonded to the goddess Ausra
    • Conduit is a staff

Now let’s use this coming month to turn her into a Scribe and level up her status within the Guild. I cannot wait to see you all at Orilium Academy! Happy reading, everyone. 🙂

Looking Toward 2022: Exciting New SFF Publications

There are only a few days of 2021 left so it’s the perfect time for making lists and pre-ordering and generally looking forward to all the books to come out next year, right?
This will be a very long post. In order to keep it a bit more organized, I’ve grouped these upcoming books into categories. There’s still a LOT of books on this list and those are only the ones that we know at this time will be published in 2022. More will be announced for sure once 2022 has arrived. Let us all take a moment of silence in mourning for our collective wallets.

The categories of my list are:

  • Debut Novels (Adult and Young Adult)
  • Sequels (Adult and Young Adult)
  • New books by established authors (Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade)

I’ll post the cover and synospsis for each book (unless it hasn’t been revealed yet) and if I have something to say about a release my thoughts will be posted on blue background . So, let’s get into it. Prepare your lists, get your Goodreads account ready, and off we go:


SARA A. MUELLER – THE BONE ORCHARD (March 2022)

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren’t real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

But now–Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil — her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.

Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.


GRACE D. LI – PORTRAIT OF A THIEF (April 2022)

I don’t know why but I feel like this is going to be one very hyped book. I haven’t actually seen that much on the internet but it just feels right. We’ll see if my instinct is correct and if we’ll see a lot more buzz about this closer to publication but I am excited either way. I’m even tempted to make a five-star-prediction…

History is told by the conquerors. Across the Western world, museums display the spoils of war, of conquest, of colonialism: priceless pieces of art looted from other countries, kept even now.

Will Chen plans to steal them back.

A senior at Harvard, Will fits comfortably in his carefully curated roles: a perfect student, an art history major and sometimes artist, the eldest son that has always been his parents’ American Dream. But when a shadowy Chinese corporation reaches out with an impossible—and illegal—job offer, Will finds himself something else as well: the leader of a heist to steal back five priceless Chinese sculptures, looted from Beijing centuries ago.

His crew is every heist archetype one can imagine—or at least, the closest he can get. A conman: Irene Chen, Will’s sister and a public policy major at Duke, who can talk her way out of anything. A thief: Daniel Liang, a premed student with steady hands just as capable of lockpicking as suturing. A getaway driver: Lily Wu, an engineering student who races cars in her free time. A hacker: Alex Huang, an MIT dropout turned Silicon Valley software engineer. Each member of his crew has their own complicated relationship with China and the identity they’ve cultivated as Chinese Americans, but when Will asks, none of them can turn him down.

Because if they succeed? They earn fifty million dollars—and a chance to make history. But if they fail, it will mean not just the loss of everything they’ve dreamed for themselves but yet another thwarted attempt to take back what colonialism has stolen.


MARY MCMYNE – THE BOOK OF GOTHEL (July 2022)

Everyone knows the story of Rapunzel in the tower, but do you know the story of the witch who put her there? Told from her own perspective, The Book of Gothel is a lush, historical retelling filled with dark magic, crumbling towers, mysterious woods, and evil princes. This is the truth they never wanted you to know, as only a witch might tell it.

Haelewise has always lived under the shadow of her mother, Hedda—a woman who will do anything to keep her daughter protected. For with her strange black eyes and even stranger fainting spells, Haelewise is shunned by her village, and her only solace lies in the stories her mother tells of child-stealing witches, of princes in wolf-skins, of an ancient tower cloaked in mist, where women will find shelter if they are brave enough to seek it.

Then, Hedda dies, and Haelewise is left unmoored. With nothing left for her in her village, she sets out to find the legendary tower her mother used to speak of—a place called Gothel, where Haelewise meets a wise woman willing to take her under her wing.

But Haelewise is not the only woman to seek refuge at Gothel. It’s also a haven for a girl named Rika, who carries with her a secret the Church strives to keep hidden. A secret that unlocks a shadow world of ancient spells and murderous nobles behind the world Haelewise has always known…


FRANCES WREN – EARTFHLOWN

When Ethan saves the life of a Firestarter, it’s nothing unusual. He’s one of only three Healers in the hospital — and that gunshot wound isn’t going to regenerate itself.

But his patient turns out to be Corinna Arden, heiress to a pharmaceutical empire controlling Britain’s water supply. Her twin, Javier, is a man who (a) starts sending Ethan flowers at work, (b) seems terrified of a secret, and (c) has the cheekbones and earnestness to make up for both.

Ethan indulges in what he thinks will be a brief and harmless romance but quickly finds himself knee-deep in a conspiracy involving murder, a drug cartel, and a bid for the multi-trillion-pound reconstruction tender: Project Earthflown.

Meanwhile, Oliver is a journalist preoccupied with a dead body he found on the end of a too-convenient tip. Oliver would also like to know what Javier Arden is doing on his couch.

Earthflown is a character-driven speculative novel exploring the water crisis, hyper-privatisation and love. Set in a London that has long abandoned the earth to the rising sea, the story takes a science-based approach to conventional fantasy archetypes, where futuristic medicine meets a bit of magic.


J. M. MIRO – ORDINARY MONSTERS

England, 1882. In Victorian London, two children with mysterious powers are hunted by a figure of darkness—a man made of smoke.

Sixteen-year-old Charlie Ovid, despite a brutal childhood in Mississippi, doesn’t have a scar on him. His body heals itself, whether he wants it to or not. Marlowe, a foundling from a railway freight car, shines with a strange bluish light. He can melt or mend flesh. When a jaded female detective is recruited to escort them to safety, all three begin a journey into the nature of difference, and belonging, and the shadowy edges of the monstrous.

What follows is a story of wonder and betrayal, from the gaslit streets of London, and the wooden theatres of Meiji-era Tokyo, to an eerie estate outside Edinburgh where other children with gifts – the Talents – have been gathered. There, the world of the dead and the world of the living threaten to collide. And as secrets within the Institute unfurl, Marlowe, Charlie and the rest of the Talents will discover the truth about their abilities, and the nature of what is stalking them: that the worst monsters sometimes come bearing the sweetest gifts.

Riveting in its scope, exquisitely written, Ordinary Monsters presents a catastrophic vision of the Victorian world—and of the gifted, broken children who must save it.


SARAA EL-ARIFI – THE FINAL STRIFE

In the first book of a visionary African and Arabian-inspired adult fantasy trilogy, three women band together against a cruel Empire that divides people by blood.

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.

Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.

Clear is the blood of the servants, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the Empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the Empire. But dust always rises in a storm.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution.

As the Empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.


AKSHAYA RAMAN – THE IVORY KEY (January 2022)

Magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war. When magic runs out, four estranged royal siblings must find a new source before their country is swallowed by invading forces. The first in an Indian-inspired duology.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic–a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict–she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumored to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key–and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani needs it to clear his name. And Riya, a runaway who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who want to strip the nobility of its power.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harboring secrets and their own agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family–and their world–for good.


SUE LYNN TAN – DAUGHTER OF THE MOON GODDESS (January 2022)

A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.


VANESSA LEN – ONLY A MONSTER (Febraury 2022)

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

But she soon learns the truth. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story . . .

. . . she is not the hero.


DEBORAH FALAYE – BLOOD SCION (March 2022)

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster.
I will be the worst monster they ever created.


Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.


VAISHNAVI PATELl – KAIKEYI (April 2022)

In the vein of Madeline Miller’s Circe comes a bold and sweeping debut that reimagines the life of Kaikeyi, the vilified queen of the Indian epic the Ramayana.

“I was born on the full moon under an auspicious constellation, the holiest of positions—much good it did me.”

So begins Kaikeyi’s story, that of a young woman determined to create her own destiny in a world where gods and men dictate the shape of things to come. But as she transforms herself from an overlooked princess into a warrior, diplomat, and most-favored queen, Kaikeyi’s will clashes with the path that has been chosen for her family. And she must decide if her resistance is worth the destruction it will wreak.


JUDY I. LIN – A MAGIC STEEPED IN POISON (March 2022)

Judy I. Lin’s sweeping debut A Magic Steeped in Poison, first in a duology, is sure to enchant fans of Adrienne Young and Leigh Bardugo.

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”


For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.


EMILY J. TAYLOR – HOTEL MAGNIFIQUE (April 2022)

All her life, Jani has dreamed of Elsewhere. Just barely scraping by with her job at a tannery, she’s resigned to a dreary life in the port town of Durc, caring for her younger sister Zosa. That is, until the Hotel Magnifique comes to town.

The hotel is legendary not only for its whimsical enchantments, but also for its ability to travel—appearing in a different destination every morning. While Jani and Zosa can’t afford the exorbitant costs of a guest’s stay, they can interview to join the staff, and are soon whisked away on the greatest adventure of their lives. But once inside, Jani quickly discovers their contracts are unbreakable and that beneath the marvelous glamour, the hotel is hiding dangerous secrets.

With the vexingly handsome doorman Bel as her only ally, Jani embarks on a mission to unravel the mystery of the magic at the heart of the hotel and free Zosa—and the other staff—from the cruelty of the ruthless maître d’hôtel. To succeed, she’ll have to risk everything she loves, but failure would mean a fate far worse than never returning home.


GINA CHEN – VIOLET MADE OF THORNS (July 2022)

A darkly enchanting fantasy debut about a morally gray witch, a cursed prince, and a prophecy that ignites their fate-twisted destinies—perfect for fans of The Cruel Prince and Serpent & Dove.

Violet is a prophet and a liar, influencing the royal court with her cleverly phrased—and not always true—divinations. Honesty is for suckers, like the oh-so-not charming Prince Cyrus, who plans to strip Violet of her official role once he’s crowned at the end of the summer—unless Violet does something about it.

But when the king asks her to falsely prophesy Cyrus’s love story for an upcoming ball, Violet awakens a dreaded curse, one that will end in either damnation or salvation for the kingdom—all depending on the prince’s choice of future bride. Violet faces her own choice: Seize an opportunity to gain control of her own destiny, no matter the cost, or give in to the ill-fated attraction that’s growing between her and Cyrus.

Violet’s wits may protect her in the cutthroat court, but they can’t change her fate. And as the boundary between hatred and love grows ever thinner with the prince, Violet must untangle a wicked web of deceit in order to save herself and the kingdom—or doom them all.


LAURA LAM, ELIZABETH MAY – SEVEN MERCIES (January 2022)

  • sequel to Seven Devils

After an ambush leaves the Novantae resistance in tatters, the survivors scatter across the galaxy. Wanted by two great empires, the bounty on any rebel’s head is enough to make a captor filthy rich. And the seven devils? Biggest score of them all. To avoid attacks, the crew of Zelus scavenge for supplies on long-abandoned Tholosian outposts.

Not long after the remnants of the rebellion settle briefly on Fortuna, Ariadne gets a message with unimaginable consequences: the Oracle has gone rogue. In a planned coup against the Empire’s new ruler, the AI has developed a way of mass programming citizens into mindless drones. The Oracle’s demand is simple: the AI wants its daughter back at any cost.

Time for an Impossible to Infiltrate mission: high chance of death, low chance of success. The devils will have to use their unique skills, no matter the sacrifice, and pair up with old enemies. Their plan? Get to the heart of the Empire. Destroy the Oracle. Burn it all to the ground.


MARLON JAMES – MOON WITCH, SPIDER KING (February 2022)

  • sequel to Black Leopard, Red Wolf

In Black Leopard, Red Wolf, Sogolon the Moon Witch proved a worthy adversary to Tracker as they clashed across a mythical African landscape in search of a mysterious boy who disappeared. In Moon Witch, Spider King, Sogolon takes center stage and gives her own account of what happened to the boy, and how she plotted and fought, triumphed and failed as she looked for him. It’s also the story of a century-long feud—seen through the eyes of a 177-year-old witch—that Sogolon had with the Aesi, chancellor to the king. It is said that Aesi works so closely with the king that together they are like the eight limbs of one spider. Aesi’s power is considerable—and deadly. It takes brains and courage to challenge him, which Sogolon does for reasons of her own.

Both a brilliant narrative device—seeing the story told in Black Leopard, Red Wolf from the perspective of an adversary and a woman—as well as a fascinating battle between different versions of empire, Moon Witch, Spider King delves into Sogolon’s world as she fights to tell her own story. Part adventure tale, part chronicle of an indomitable woman who bows to no man, it is a fascinating novel that explores power, personality, and the places where they overlap.


REBECCA ROANHORSE – FEVERED STAR (April 2022)

  • sequel to Black Sun

There are no tides more treacherous than those of the heart. —Teek saying

The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Welcome back to the fantasy series of the decade in Fevered Star—book two of Between Earth and Sky.


TADE THOMPSON – THE LEGACY OF MOLLY SOUTHBOURNE (May 2022)

  • sequel to The Murders of Molly Southbourne
  • and The Survival of Molly Southbourne

From Arthur C. Clarke Award-winner Tade Thompson, The Legacy of Molly Southbourne continues his chilling series.

Whenever Molly Southbourne bled, a murderer was born. Deadly copies, drawn to destroy their creator, bound by a legacy of death. With the original Molly Southbourne gone, her remnants drew together, seeking safety and a chance for peace. The last Molly and her sisters built a home together, and thought they could escape the murder that marked their past.

But secrets squirm in Molly Southbourne’s blood—secrets born in a Soviet lab and carried back across the Iron Curtain to infiltrate the West. What remains of the Cold War spy machine wants those secrets back, and to get them they’re willing to unearth the dead and destroy the fragile peace surrounding the last copies of Molly Southbourne.

The Legacy of Molly Southbourne brings the story to a bloody end.


ROBET JACKSON BENNETT – LOCKLANDS (June 2022)

  • sequel to Foundryside
  • and Shorefall

A god wages war—using all of humanity as its pawns—in the unforgettable conclusion to the Founders trilogy.

Sancia, Clef, and Berenice have gone up against plenty of long odds in the past. But the war they’re fighting now is one even they can’t win.

This time, they’re not facing robber-baron elites, or even an immortal hierophant, but an entity whose intelligence is spread over half the globe—a ghost in the machine that uses the magic of scriving to possess and control not just objects, but human minds.

To fight it, they’ve used scriving technology to transform themselves and their allies into an army—a society—that’s like nothing humanity has seen before. With its strength at their backs, they’ve freed a handful of their enemy’s hosts from servitude, even brought down some of its fearsome, reality-altering dreadnaughts. Yet despite their efforts, their enemy marches on—implacable. Unstoppable.

Now, as their opponent closes in on its true prize—an ancient doorway, long buried, that leads to the chambers at the center of creation itself—Sancia and her friends glimpse a chance at reaching it first, and with it, a last desperate opportunity to stop this unbeatable foe. But to do so, they’ll have to unlock the centuries-old mystery of scriving’s origins, embark on a desperate mission into the heart of their enemy’s power, and pull off the most daring heist they’ve ever attempted.

And as if that weren’t enough, their adversary might just have a spy in their ranks—and a last trick up its sleeve.


ALIX E. HARROW – A MIRROR MENDED (June 2022)

  • sequel to A Spindle Splintered

Zinnia Gray, professional fairy-tale fixer and lapsed Sleeping Beauty is over rescuing snoring princesses. Once you’ve rescued a dozen damsels and burned fifty spindles, once you’ve gotten drunk with twenty good fairies and made out with one too many members of the royal family, you start to wish some of these girls would just get a grip and try solving their own narrative issues.

Just when Zinnia’s beginning to think she can’t handle one more princess, she glances into a mirror and sees another face looking back at her: the shockingly gorgeous face of evil, asking for her help. Because there’s more than one person trapped in a story they didn’t choose. Snow White’s Evil Queen has found out how her story ends and she’s desperate for a better ending. She wants Zinnia to help her before it’s too late for everyone.

Will Zinnia accept the Queen’s poisonous request, and save them both from the hot iron shoes that wait for them, or will she try another path?


KATHERINE ADDISON- THE GRIEF OF STONES (June 2022)

  • sequel to The Witness for the Dead

In The Grief of Stones, Katherine Addison returns to the world of The Goblin Emperor with a direct sequel to The Witness For The Dead

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses. The love of his friends will lead him out again.


BECKY CHAMBERS – A PRAYER FOR THE CROWN-SHY (July 2022)

  • sequel to A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Becky Chambers’ stories are always a treat but I don’t think I’ve looked forward to one quite as much as I am now. Whatever else 2022 may bring, at least we’ll get this as well.

After touring the rural areas of Panga, Sibling Dex (a Tea Monk of some renown) and Mosscap (a robot sent on a quest to determine what humanity really needs) turn their attention to the villages and cities of the little moon they call home.

They hope to find the answers they seek, while making new friends, learning new concepts, and experiencing the entropic nature of the universe.

Becky Chambers’s new series continues to ask: in a world where people have what they want, does having more even matter?


TASHA SURI – THE OLEANDER SWORD (August 2022)

  • sequel to The Jasmine Throne

The prophecy of the nameless god—the words that declared her rightful empress of Parijatdvipa—has been Malini’s blessing and curse. She is determined to claim the crown that fate has offered her. But even with the rage in her soul and an army of loyal men at her back, deposing her brother from the throne is going to be a brutal and bloody fight.

The power of the deathless waters flows through Priya’s blood. Thrice born priestess, Elder of Ahiranya, Priya’s dream is to see her country rid of the rot that plagues it: both Parijatdvipa’s poisonous rule, and the blooming sickness that is slowly spreading through all living things. But she doesn’t yet understand the truth of the magic she carries.

Their chosen paths once pulled them apart. But Malini and Priya’s hearts remain as entwined as their destinies, and they soon realize they must come together again if they wish to save their kingdom from those who would rather see it burn—no matter what it will cost them


TAMSYN MUIR – NONA THE NINTH (September 2022)

  • sequel to Gideon the Ninth
  • and Harrow the Ninth

Wait, what?! It took me until I finished Harrow the Ninth to be come a proper Locked Tomb fan but now I want to know what happens next and this synopsis especially makes me giddy. I mean, read the first three lines and tell me this doesn’t sound even more bonkers than the previous two books.

Her city is under siege.

The zombies are coming back.

And all Nona wants is a birthday party.

In many ways, Nona is like other people. She lives with her family, has a job at her local school, and loves walks on the beach and meeting new dogs. But Nona’s not like other people. Six months ago she woke up in a stranger’s body, and she’s afraid she might have to give it back.

The whole city is falling to pieces. A monstrous blue sphere hangs on the horizon, ready to tear the planet apart. Blood of Eden forces have surrounded the last Cohort facility and wait for the Emperor Undying to come calling. Their leaders want Nona to be the weapon that will save them from the Nine Houses. Nona would prefer to live an ordinary life with the people she loves, with Pyrrha and Camilla and Palamedes, but she also knows that nothing lasts forever.

And each night, Nona dreams of a woman with a skull-painted face…


S. A. CHAKRABORTY – THE RIVER OF SILVER (October 2022/audio March 2022)

  • sequel to: The Daevabad Trilogy

Bestselling author S.A. Chakraborty’s acclaimed Daevabad Trilogy gets expanded with this new compilation of stories from before, during, and after the events of The City of Brass, The Kingdom of Copper, and The Empire of Gold, all from the perspective of characters both beloved and hated, and even those without a voice in the novels. The River of Silver gathers material both seen and new—including a special coda fans will need to read—making this the perfect complement to those incredible novels.

A prospective new queen joins a court whose lethal history may overwhelm her own political savvy…

An imprisoned royal from a fallen dynasty and a young woman wrenched from her home cross paths in an enchanted garden…

A pair of scouts stumble upon a secret in a cursed winter wood that will turn over their world…

Now together in one place, these stories of Daevabad enrich a world already teeming with magic and wonder. From Manizheh’s first steps towards rebellion to adventures that take place after The Empire of Gold, this is a must-have collection for those who can’t get enough of Nahri, Ali, and Dara and all that unfolded around them.


BRANDON SANDERSON – THE LOST METAL (November 2022)

  • sequel to The Alloy of Law
  • and Shadows of Self
  • and The Bands of Mourning

For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organization the Set—with his late uncle and his sister among their leaders—since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. Conflict between Elendel and the Outer Cities only favors the Set, and their tendrils now reach to the Elendel Senate—whose corruption Wax and Steris have sought to expose—and Bilming is even more entangled.

After Wax discovers a new type of explosive that can unleash unprecedented destruction and realizes that the Set must already have it, an immortal kandra serving Scadrial’s god reveals that Harmony’s power is blocked in Bilming. That means the city has fallen under the influence of another god: Trell, worshipped by the Set. And Trell isn’t the only factor at play from the larger Cosmere—Marasi is recruited by offworlders with strange abilities who claim their goal is to protect Scadrial…at any cost.

Harmony’s vision of future possibilities comes to an abrupt halt tomorrow night, with only blackness after that. It’s a race against time, and Wax must choose whether to set aside his rocky relationship with God and once again become the Sword that Harmony has groomed him to be. If no one steps forward to be the hero Scadrial needs, the planet and its millions of people will come to a sudden and calamitous ruin.


YOON HA LEE – TIGER HONOR (January 2022)

  • sequel to Dragon Pearl

Sebin, a young tiger spirit from the Juhwang Clan, wants nothing more than to join the Thousand World Space Forces and, like their Uncle Hwan, captain a battle cruiser someday. But when Sebin’s acceptance letter finally arrives, it’s accompanied by the shocking news that Hwan has been declared a traitor. Apparently, the captain abandoned his duty to steal a magical artifact, the Dragon Pearl, and his whereabouts are still unknown. Sebin hopes to help clear their hero’s name and restore honour to the clan.

Nothing goes according to plan, however. As soon as Sebin arrives for orientation, they are met by a special investigator named Yi and his assistant, a girl named Min. Yi informs Sebin that they must immediately report to the ship Haetae and await further instructions. Sebin finds this highly unusual, but soon all protocol is forgotten when there’s an explosion on the ship, the crew is knocked out, and the communication system goes down. It’s up to Sebin, three other cadets, and Yi and Min to determine who is sabotaging the battlecruiser. When Sebin is suddenly accused of collaborating with the enemy, the cadet realizes that Min is the most dangerous foe of all…


RACHEL HARTMAN – IN THE SERPENT’S WAKE (February 2022)

  • sequel to Tess of the Road

MIND OF THE WORLD,
OPEN YOUR EYES.


At the bottom of the world lies a Serpent, the last of its kind.
Finding the Serpent will change lives.

Tess is a girl on a mission to save a friend.
Spira is a dragon seeking a new identity.
Marga is a woman staking her claim on a man’s world.
Jacomo is a priest searching for his soul.

There are those who would give their lives to keep it hidden.
And those who would destroy it.

But the only people who will truly find the Serpent are those who have awakened to the world around them—with eyes open to the wondrous, the terrible, and the just.


AKWAEKE EMEZI – BITTER (February 2022)

  • prequel to Pet

Bitter is thrilled to have been chosen to attend Eucalyptus, a special school where she can focus on her painting surrounded by other creative teens. But outside this haven, the streets are filled with protests against the deep injustices that grip the town of Lucille. Bitter’s instinct is to stay safe within the walls of Eucalyptus . . . but her friends aren’t willing to settle for a world that the adults say is “just the way things are.

Pulled between old friendships, her creative passion, and a new romance, Bitter isn’t sure where she belongs – in the art studio or in the streets. And if she does find a way to help the revolution while being true to who she is, she must also ask: at what cost? 


JOANNA RUTH MEYER – WIND DAUGHTER (May 2022)

  • sequel to Echo North

I was totally swept away by Echo North because I did not see coming where Meyer would take that fairy tale. It was bittersweet and beautiful and it had a magical library that let you step into books and that should really be all you need to know. It also doesn’t hurt that the covers are breathtaking.

A companion novel to Echo North and about the daughter of the former North Wind, whose lost power is causing the world to unravel. Satu embarks on a perilous journey to reclaim her father’s magic, finding herself in a deadly race with the Winter Lord, who wants the North Wind’s destructive power for himself.


TRACY DEONN – BLOODMARKED (July 2022)

  • sequel to Legendborn

The shadows have risen, and the line is law.

All Bree wanted was to uncover the truth behind her mother’s death. So she infiltrated the Legendborn Order, a secret society descended from King Arthur’s knights—only to discover her own ancestral power. Now, Bree has become someone new:

A Medium. A Bloodcrafter. A Scion.

But the ancient war between demons and the Order is rising to a deadly peak. And Nick, the Legendborn boy Bree fell in love with, has been kidnapped.

Bree wants to fight, but the Regents who rule the Order won’t let her. To them, she is an unknown girl with unheard-of power, and as the living anchor for the spell that preserves the Legendborn cycle, she must be protected.

When the Regents reveal they will do whatever it takes to hide the war, Bree and her friends must go on the run to rescue Nick themselves. But enemies are everywhere, Bree’s powers are unpredictable and dangerous, and she can’t escape her growing attraction to Selwyn, the mage sworn to protect Nick until death.

If Bree has any hope of saving herself and the people she loves, she must learn to control her powers from the ancestors who wielded them first—without losing herself in the process.


NNEDI OKORAFOR – AKATA WOMAN (October 2022)

  • sequel to Akata Witch
  • and Akata Warrior

OMG I am so excited!!! I can’t wait for the third Nsibidi Scripts book, mostly because I will totally re-listen to the first two audiobooks, expertly narrated by Yetide Badaki.

From the moment Sunny Nwazue discovered she had magic flowing in her blood, she sought to understand and control her powers. Throughout her adventures in Akata Witch and Akata Warrior, she had to navigate the balance between nearly everything in her life–America and Nigeria, the “normal” world and the one infused with juju, human and spirit, good daughter and powerful Leopard Person.

Now, those hard lessons and abilities are put to the test in a quest so dangerous and fantastical, it would be madness to go…but deadly not to. With the help of her friends, Sunny embarks on a mission to find a precious object hidden deep in a magical realm. Defeating the guardians of the prize will take more from Sunny than she has to give, and triumph will mean she will be forever changed.


TOCHI ONYEBUCHI – GOLIATH (January 2022)

In the 2050s, Earth has begun to empty. Those with the means and the privilege have departed the great cities of the United States for the more comfortable confines of space colonies. Those left behind salvage what they can from the collapsing infrastructure. As they eke out an existence, their neighborhoods are being cannibalized. Brick by brick, their houses are sent to the colonies, what was once a home now a quaint reminder for the colonists of the world that they wrecked.

A primal biblical epic flung into the future, Goliath weaves together disparate narratives—a space-dweller looking at New Haven, Connecticut as a chance to reconnect with his spiraling lover; a group of laborers attempting to renew the promises of Earth’s crumbling cities; a journalist attempting to capture the violence of the streets; a marshal trying to solve a kidnapping—into a richly urgent mosaic about race, class, gentrification, and who is allowed to be the hero of any history.


SCOTTO MOORE – BATTLE OF THE LINGUIST MAGES (January 2022)

In modern day Los Angeles, a shadowy faction led by the Governor of California develops the arcane art of combat linguistics, planting the seeds of a future totalitarian empire in Scotto Moore’s Battle of the Linguist Mages.

Isobel is the Queen of the medieval rave-themed VR game Sparkle Dungeon. Her prowess in the game makes her an ideal candidate to learn the secrets of “power morphemes”—unnaturally dense units of meaning that warp perception when skilfully pronounced.

But Isobel’s reputation makes her the target of a strange resistance movement led by spellcasting anarchists, who may be the only thing stopping the cabal from toppling California over the edge of a terrible transformation, with forty million lives at stake.

Time is short for Isobel to level up and choose a side—because the cabal has attracted much bigger and weirder enemies than the anarchist resistance, emerging from dark and vicious dimensions of reality and heading straight for planet Earth!


PALLE E. K. OSWALD – HALF A LION (January 2022)

It takes a village to raise a child.

In a land of brutal conquests, twisted histories and forbidden magic, the Lion tribe is in crisis. The chief has three heirs. The warrior, the worker, and the accursed. For one to ascend the lionchair, the others must be broken.

It takes the demons to make a man.

Sakhan fights captivity, shamans, and shapeshifters – all while caring for an ailing mother and vowing to win a throne he does not want. Betrayed, hunted and alone, Haikachi dreams of revenge as he puts his trust in the loyalty of sworn enemies. His destiny is a chief – if his allies do not kill him first. Helpless husband to a murdered wife, Neneh is free of expectations. With nothing else to lose, he is at an advantage – but nothing is a double-edged blade.

Destiny is a choice.

As folklores come alive and dark clouds gather, amid tragedy and victory, honor and betrayal, everyone must gamble for that most elusive of places – survival.


REBECCA ROSS – A RIVER ENCHANTED (February 2022)

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.


C.S.E. COONEY – DARK BREAKERS (February 2022)

I am currently reading an e-ARC of this and it is utterly charming, filledw ith magic and creativity and a love for words that is hard to describe. My hardcover copy is already pre-ordered.

“Welcome to a Gilded Era like you’ve never before known and will never be able to forget. C. S. E. Cooney’s DARK BREAKERS will transfix and transform you, and, should you chance upon its characters in a glittering hallway, you had best be wearing your fanciest moonlight, and be ready to dance. If Titania herself were to commission a book, it would be this one.”
—Fran Wilde, two-time Nebula Award-winning author of UPDRAFT and RIVERLAND

A young human painter and an ageless gentry queen fall in love over spilled wine—at the risk of his life and her immortality. Pulled into the Veil Between Worlds, two feuding neighbors (and a living statue) get swept up in a brutal war of succession. An investigative reporter infiltrates the Seafall City Laundries to write the exposé of a lifetime, and uncovers secrets she never believed possible. Returning to an oak grove to scatter her husband’s ashes, an elderly widow meets an otherworldly friend, who offers her a momentous choice. Two gentry queens of the Valwode plot to hijack a human rocketship and steal the moon out of the sky.

DARK BREAKERS gathers three new and two previously uncollected tales from World Fantasy Award-winning writer C. S. E. Cooney that expand on the thrice-enfolded worlds first introduced in her Locus and World Fantasy award-nominated novella DESDEMONA AND THE DEEP.


GREER MACALLISTER – SCORPICA (February 2022)

A centuries-long peace is shattered in a matriarchal society when a decade passes without a single girl being born in this sweeping epic fantasy that’s perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Circe.

Five hundred years of peace between queendoms shatters when girls inexplicably stop being born. As the Drought of Girls stretches across a generation, it sets off a cascade of political and personal consequences across all five queendoms of the known world, throwing long-standing alliances into disarray as each queendom begins to turn on each other—and new threats to each nation rise from within.

Uniting the stories of women from across the queendoms, this propulsive, gripping epic fantasy follows a warrior queen who must rise from childbirth bed to fight for her life and her throne, a healer in hiding desperate to protect the secret of her daughter’s explosive power, a queen whose desperation to retain control leads her to risk using the darkest magic, a near-immortal sorcerer demigod powerful enough to remake the world for her own ends—and the generation of lastborn girls, the ones born just before the Drought, who must bear the hopes and traditions of their nations if the queendoms are to survive.


MARION DEEDS – COMEUPPANCE SERVED COLD (March 2022)

Seattle, 1929—a bitterly divided city overflowing with wealth, violence, and magic.

A respected magus and city leader intent on criminalizing Seattle’s most vulnerable magickers hires a young woman as a lady’s companion to curb his rebellious daughter’s outrageous behavior.

The widowed owner of a speakeasy encounters an opportunity to make her husband’s murderer pay while she tries to keep her shapeshifter brother safe.

A notorious thief slips into the city to complete a delicate and dangerous job that will leave chaos in its wake.

One thing is for certain—comeuppance, eventually, waits for everyone.


SIMON JIMENEZ – THE SPEAR CUTS THROUGH WATER (March 2022)

Two warriors shepherd an ancient god across a broken land to end the tyrannical reign of a royal family in this new epic fantasy from the author of The Vanished Birds.

The people suffer under the centuries-long rule of the Moon Throne. The royal family—the despotic emperor and his monstrous sons, the Three Terrors—hold the countryside in their choking grip. They bleed the land and oppress the citizens with the frightful powers they inherited from the god locked under their palace.

But that god cannot be contained forever.

With the aid of Jun, a guard broken by his guilt-stricken past, and Keema, an outcast fighting for his future, the god escapes from her royal captivity and flees from her own children, the triplet Terrors who would drag her back to her unholy prison. And so it is that she embarks with her young companions on a five-day pilgrimage in search of freedom—and a way to end the Moon Throne forever. The journey ahead will be more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Both a sweeping adventure story and an intimate exploration of identity, legacy, and belonging, The Spear Cuts Through Water is an ambitious and profound saga that will transport and transform you—and is like nothing you’ve ever read before.


SARAH TOLMIE – ALL THE HORSES OF ICELAND (March 2022)

A hypnotic historical fantasy with gorgeous and unusual literary prose, from the captivating author of The Fourth Island.

Everyone knows of the horses of Iceland, wild, and small, and free, but few have heard their story. Sarah Tolmie’s All the Horses of Iceland weaves their mystical origin into a saga for the modern age. Filled with the magic and darkened whispers of a people on the cusp of major cultural change, All the Horses of Iceland tells the tale of a Norse trader on the Silk Road and the ghostly magic that followed him home to the land of fire, stone, and ice. His search for riches will take him from Helmgard, through Khazaria, to the steppes of Mongolia, where he will barter for horses and return with much, much more.

All the Horses of Iceland is a delve into the secret, imagined history of Iceland’s unusual horses, brought to life by an expert storyteller.


JOHN SCALZI – THE KAIJU PRESERVATION SOCIETY (March 2022)

When COVID-19 sweeps through New York City, Jamie Gray is stuck as a dead-end driver for food delivery apps. That is, until Jamie makes a delivery to an old acquaintance, Tom, who works at what he calls “an animal rights organization.” Tom’s team needs a last-minute grunt to handle things on their next field visit. Jamie, eager to do anything, immediately signs on.

What Tom doesn’t tell Jamie is that the animals his team cares for are not here on Earth. Not our Earth, at at least. In an alternate dimension, massive dinosaur-like creatures named Kaiju roam a warm and human-free world. They’re the universe’s largest and most dangerous panda and they’re in trouble.

It’s not just the Kaiju Preservation Society whose found their way to the alternate world. Others have, too. And their carelessness could cause millions back on our Earth to die.


TARA SIM – THE CITY OF DUSK (April 2022)

Set in a gorgeous world of bone and shadow magic, of vengeful gods and defiant chosen ones, The City of Dusk is the first in a dark epic fantasy trilogy that follows the four heirs of four noble houses—each gifted with a divine power—as they form a tenuous alliance to keep their kingdom from descending into a realm-shattering war.

The Four Realms—Life, Death, Light, and Darkness—all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favor from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs—Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light— will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.


RORY POWER – IN A GARDEN BURNING (April 2022)

Twins imbued with incredible magic and near-immortality will do anything to keep their family safe—even if it tears the siblings apart—in the first book of a mythic epic fantasy from the New York Times bestselling author of Wilder Girls.

Rhea and her twin brother, Lexos, have spent an eternity helping their father rule their small, unstable country, using their control over the seasons, tides, and stars to keep the people in line. For a hundred years, they’ve been each other’s only ally, defending each other and their younger siblings against their father’s increasingly unpredictable anger.

Now, with an independence movement gaining ground and their father’s rule weakening, the twins must take matters into their own hands to keep their family—and their entire world—from crashing down around them. But other nations are jockeying for power, ready to cross and double cross, and if Rhea and Lexos aren’t careful, they’ll end up facing each other across the battlefield.


C.S.E. COONEY – SAINT DEATH’S DAUGHTER (April 2022)

I have an ARC of this, doobedoobedooo. Seriously though, Cooney is one of my favorite authors and she has published far too few books so far. So not only am I excited to get something new by her but to get a full novel and a big one at that. Goodreads currently lists the book at over 600 pages so I am in for a treat!

Life gets complicated when Death gets involved.

To be born into a family of royal assassins pretty much guarantees that your life is going to be… rather unusual. Especially if, like Miscellaneous “Lanie” Stones, you also have a vicious allergy to all forms of violence and bloodshed, and an uncanny affinity for bringing the dead back to life.

To make matters worse, family debt looms – a debt that will have to be paid sooner rather than later if Lanie and her sister are to retain ownership of the ancestral seat, Stones Manor. Lanie finds herself courted and threatened by powerful parties who would love to use her worryingly intimate relationship with the goddess of death for their own nefarious ends. But the goddess has other plans…


NICOLA GRIFFITH – SPEAR (April 2022)

The girl knows she has a destiny before she even knows her name. She grows up in the wild, in a cave with her mother, but visions of a faraway lake come to her on the spring breeze, and when she hears a traveler speak of Artos, king of Caer Leon, she knows that her future lies at his court.

And so, brimming with magic and eager to test her strength, she breaks her covenant with her mother and, with a broken hunting spear and mended armour, rides on a bony gelding to Caer Leon. On her adventures she will meet great knights and steal the hearts of beautiful women. She will fight warriors and sorcerers. And she will find her love, and the lake, and her fate.


CHRIS PANATIER – STRINGERS (April 2022)

Ben isn’t exactly a genius, but he has an immense breadth of knowledge. Whether it’s natural science (specifically the intricacies of bug sex), or vintage timepieces, he can spout facts and information with the best of experts. He just can’t explain why he knows any of it. Another thing he knows is the location of the Chime. What it is or why it’s important, he can’t say.

But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble, as a trash-talking, flesh construct bounty hunter is on his tail and looking to sell him to the highest bidder. And being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice won’t be enough to get him out of it.


T. KINGFISHER – NETTLE & BONE (April 2022)

A dark and compelling fantasy about sisterhood, impossible tasks and the price of power, from award-winning author T. Kingfisher

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra―the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter―has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince―if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last.


HOLLY BLACK – BOOK OF NIGHT (May 2022)

In Charlie Hall’s world, shadows can be altered, for entertainment and cosmetic preferences—but also to increase power and influence. You can alter someone’s feelings—and memories—but manipulating shadows has a cost, with the potential to take hours or days from your life. Your shadow holds all the parts of you that you want to keep hidden—a second self, standing just to your left, walking behind you into lit rooms. And sometimes, it has a life of its own.

Charlie is a low-level con artist, working as a bartender while trying to distance herself from the powerful and dangerous underground world of shadow trading. She gets by doing odd jobs for her patrons and the naive new money in her town at the edge of the Berkshires. But when a terrible figure from her past returns, Charlie’s present life is thrown into chaos, and her future seems at best, unclear—and at worst, non-existent. Determined to survive, Charlie throws herself into a maelstrom of secrets and murder, setting her against a cast of doppelgangers, mercurial billionaires, shadow thieves, and her own sister—all desperate to control the magic of the shadows.

With sharp angles and prose, and a sinister bent, Holly Black is a master of shadow and story stitching. Remember while you read, light isn’t playing tricks in Book of Night, the people are.


GUY GAVRIEL KAY – ALL THE SEAS OF THE WORLD (May 2022)

On a dark night, along a lonely stretch of coast, a small merchant ship sends two people ashore: their purpose is assassination. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. The consequences of that act will affect the destinies of empires as well as lives both great and small.

One of those arriving on that stony strand is a young woman who had been abducted by corsairs as a child and sold into years of servitude far from her home. Having escaped, she is trying to chart her own course — and is bent upon revenge. The man who will bring the others out from the city on his ship — if they survive their mission — still remembers being exiled as a boy with his family, for their faith; it is a moment that never leaves him. In what follows, through a story both intimate and epic, unforgettable characters are immersed in the fierce and deadly struggles that define their time.

While it shares a vivid setting, timeless themes, and signature “quarter-turn to the fantastic” with his most recent novels, A Brightness Long Ago and Children of Earth and Sky, Guy Gavriel Kay’s All the Seas of the World is a stand-alone page-turning drama that also offers moving reflections on memory, fate, and the random events that can shape our lives — in the past, and today.


NGHI VO – SIREN QUEEN (May 2022)

It was magic. In every world, it was a kind of magic.

“No maids, no funny talking, no fainting flowers.” Luli Wei is beautiful, talented, and desperate to be a star. Coming of age in pre-Code Hollywood, she knows how dangerous the movie business is and how limited the roles are for a Chinese American girl from Hungarian Hill—but she doesn’t care. She’d rather play a monster than a maid.

But in Luli’s world, the worst monsters in Hollywood are not the ones on screen. The studios want to own everything from her face to her name to the women she loves, and they run on a system of bargains made in blood and ancient magic, powered by the endless sacrifice of unlucky starlets like her. For those who do survive to earn their fame, success comes with a steep price. Luli is willing to do whatever it takes—even if that means becoming the monster herself.

Siren Queen offers up an enthralling exploration of an outsider achieving stardom on her own terms, in a fantastical Hollywood where the monsters are real and the magic of the silver screen illuminates every page.


SAMIT BASU – THE CITY INSIDE ( June 2022)

This near-future epic by the internationally celebrated Samit Basu pulls no punches as it comes for your anxieties about society, government, the environment, and our world at large—yet never loses sight of the hopeful potential of the future.

“They’d known the end times were coming but hadn’t known they’d be multiple choice.”

Joey is a Reality Controller in near future Delhi. Her job is to supervise the multimedia multi-reality livestreams of Indi, one of South Asia’s fastest rising online celebrities—who also happens to be her college ex. Joey’s job gives her considerable culture-power, but she’s too caught up in day-to-day crisis-handling to see this, or to figure out what she wants from her life.

Rudra is a recluse estranged from his wealthy and powerful family, fled to an impoverished immigrant neighborhood where he loses himself in video games and his neighbors’ lives. When his father’s death pulls him back into his family’s orbit, an impulsive job offer from Joey becomes his only escape from the life he never wanted.

But no good deed goes unpunished. As Joey and Rudra become enmeshed in multiple conspiracies, their lives start to spin out of control, complicated by dysfunctional relationships, corporate loyalty, and the never-ending pressures of surveillance capitalism. When a bigger picture begins to unfold around them, they must each decide how to do the right thing in a shadowy world where simply maintaining the status quo feels like an accomplishment. Ultimately, resistance will not—cannot—take the same shape for these two very different people.


AVA REID – JUNIPER & THORN (June 2022)

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


A.G. SLATTER – THE PATH OF THORNS (June 2022)

Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby. It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensible to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora. Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.


ALEXANDRA ROWLAND – A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON (June 2022)

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen’s new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.

To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.


SARAH GAILEY – JUST LIKE HOME (July 2022)

A new Sarah Gailey novel is always a reason to cheer. This one sounds like it’s going to be creepy and dark and full of twists. There is literally a blood-covered house on the cover, so I think this will be much more like The Echo Wife than Magic for Liars and I am perfectly okay with hits.

“Come home.” Vera’s mother called and Vera obeyed. In spite of their long estrangement, in spite of the memories — she’s come back to the home of a serial killer. Back to face the love she had for her father and the bodies he buried there.

Coming home is hard enough for Vera, and to make things worse, she and her mother aren’t alone. A parasitic artist has moved into the guest house out back, and is slowly stripping Vera’s childhood for spare parts. He insists that he isn’t the one leaving notes around the house in her father’s handwriting… but who else could it possibly be?

There are secrets yet undiscovered in the foundations of the notorious Crowder House. Vera must face them, and find out for herself just how deep the rot goes.


TASHA SURI – WHAT SOULS ARE MADE OF (July 2022)

Okay, this is not technically SFF but it is by an SFF writer who has made quite the name for herself in recent years. Also, it’s a retelling of one of my favorite classics, so I am definitely going to pick this up.

What Souls Are Made Of, British Fantasy Award-winning author Tasha Suri’s masterful new take on BrontĂ«’s Wuthering Heights, will leave readers breathless.

As the abandoned son of a Lascar—a sailor from India—Heathcliff has spent most of his young life maligned as an “outsider.” Now he’s been flung into an alien life in the Yorkshire moors, where he clings to his birth father’s language even though it makes the children of the house call him an animal, and the maids claim he speaks gibberish.

Catherine is the younger child of the estate’s owner, a daughter with light skin and brown curls and a mother that nobody talks about. Her father is grooming her for a place in proper society, and that’s all that matters. Catherine knows she must mold herself into someone pretty and good and marriageable, even though it might destroy her spirit.

As they occasionally flee into the moors to escape judgment and share the half-remembered language of their unknown kin, Catherine and Heathcliff come to find solace in each other. Deep down in their souls, they can feel they are the same.

But when Catherine’s father dies and the household’s treatment of Heathcliff only grows more cruel, their relationship becomes strained and threatens to unravel. For how can they ever be together, when loving each other—and indeed, loving themselves—is as good as throwing themselves into poverty and death?


RUTHANNA EMRYS – A HALF-BUILT GARDEN (July 2022)

On a warm March night in 2083, Judy Wallach-Stevens wakes to a warning of unknown pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. She heads out to check what she expects to be a false alarm–and stumbles upon the first alien visitors to Earth. These aliens have crossed the galaxy to save humanity, convinced that the people of Earth must leave their ecologically-ravaged planet behind and join them among the stars. And if humanity doesn’t agree, they may need to be saved by force.

The watershed networks aren’t ready to give up on Earth. Decades ago, they rose up to exile the last corporations to a few artificial islands, escape the dominance of nation-states, and reorganize humanity around the hope of keeping their world liveable. By sharing the burden of decision-making, they’ve started to heal the wounded planet.

But now corporations, nation-states, and networks all vie to represent humanity to these powerful new beings, and if any one accepts the aliens’ offer, Earth may be lost. With everyone’s eyes turned skyward, everything hinges on the success of Judy’s effort to create understanding, both within and beyond her own species. 


T. KINGFISHER – WHAT MOVES THE DEAD (July 2022)

From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic “The Fall of the House of Usher.”

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.


FOZ MEADOWS – A STRANGE AND STUBBORN ENDURANCE (July 2022)

“Stolen me? As soon to say a caged bird can be stolen by the sky.”

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.


KELLY ROBSON – HIGH TIMES IN THE LOW PARLIAMENT (August 2022)

Kelly Robson is back with fairies, scribes, and many many kisses in High Times in the Low Parliament.

Lana Baker is Aldgate’s finest scribe, with a sharp pen and an even sharper wit. Gregarious, charming, and ever so eager to please, she agrees to deliver a message for another lovely scribe in exchange for kisses and ends up getting sent to Low Parliament by a temperamental fairy as a result.

As Lana transcribes the endless circular arguments of Parliament, the debates grow tenser and more desperate. Due to long-standing tradition, a hung vote will cause Parliament to flood and a return to endless war. Lana must rely on an unlikely pair of comrades—Bugbite, the curmudgeonly fairy, and Eloquentia, the bewitching human deputy—to save humanity (and maybe even woo one or two lucky ladies), come hell or high water.


R.F. KUANG BABEL, OR THE NECESSITY OF VIOLENCE: AN ARCANE HISTORY OF THE OXFORD TRANSLATORS’ REVOLUTION (August 2022)

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOM!!! I don’t think I need to explain my excitement after what The Poppy War Trilogy did to me but just as a cherry on top, one of the most incredible new writers of our time has taken on a sub-genre and topic I happen to love. Translation, academia, and magic?! Hell yes!

Traduttore, traditore: An act of translation is always an act of betrayal.

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation — also known as Babel.

Babel is the world’s center of translation and, more importantly, of silver-working: the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation through enchanted silver bars, to magical effect. Silver-working has made the British Empire unparalleled in power, and Babel’s research in foreign languages serves the Empire’s quest to colonize everything it encounters.

Oxford, the city of dreaming spires, is a fairytale for Robin; a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge serves power, and for Robin, a Chinese boy raised in Britain, serving Babel inevitably means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to sabotaging the silver-working that supports imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide: Can powerful institutions be changed from within, or does revolution always require violence? What is he willing to sacrifice to bring Babel down?

Babel — a thematic response to The Secret History and a tonal response to Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell — grapples with student revolutions, colonial resistance, and the use of translation as a tool of empire.


TAHEREH MAFI – THIS WOVEN KINGDOM (February 2022)

Clashing empires, forbidden romance, and a long-forgotten queen destined to save her people—bestselling author Tahereh Mafi’s first in an epic, romantic trilogy inspired by Persian mythology.

To all the world, Alizeh is a disposable servant, not the long-lost heir to an ancient Jinn kingdom forced to hide in plain sight.

The crown prince, Kamran, has heard the prophecies foretelling the death of his king. But he could never have imagined that the servant girl with the strange eyes, the girl he can’t put out of his mind, would one day soon uproot his kingdom—and the world.

Perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Tomi Adeyemi, and Sabaa Tahir, this is the explosive first book in a new fantasy trilogy from the New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi. 


CLAIRE LEGRAND – EXTASIA (February 2022)

Her name is unimportant.

All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain—an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.

She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.

Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?

This searing and lyrically written novel by the critically acclaimed author of Sawkill Girls beckons readers to follow its fierce heroine into a world filled with secrets and blood—where the truth is buried in lies and a devastating power waits, seething, for someone brave enough to use it.


AXIE OH – THE GIRL WHO FELL BENEATH THE SEA (February 2022)

Deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland for generations. Floods sweep away entire villages, while bloody wars are waged over the few remaining resources. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curses them with death and despair. In an attempt to appease him, each year a beautiful maiden is thrown into the sea to serve as the Sea God’s bride, in the hopes that one day the “true bride” will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe that Shim Cheong, the most beautiful girl in the village—and the beloved of Mina’s older brother Joon—may be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is to be sacrificed, Joon follows Cheong out to sea, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina seeks out the Sea God, only to find him caught in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man named Shin—as well as a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits—Mina sets out to wake the Sea God and bring an end to the killer storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: A human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking…


TRACI CHEE – A THOUSAND STEPS INTO NIGHT (March 2022)

From New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist, Traci Chee, comes a Japanese-influenced fantasy brimming with demons, adventure, and plans gone awry.

In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.


ALLISON SAFT – A FAR WILDER MAGIC (March 2022)

When Margaret Welty spots the legendary hala, the last living mythical creature, she knows the Halfmoon Hunt will soon follow. Whoever is able to kill the hala will earn fame and riches, and unlock an ancient magical secret. If Margaret wins the hunt, it may finally bring her mother home. While Margaret is the best sharpshooter in town, only teams of two can register, and she needs an alchemist.

Weston Winters isn’t an alchemist–yet. Fired from every apprenticeship he’s landed, his last chance hinges on Master Welty taking him in. But when Wes arrives at Welty Manor, he finds only Margaret and her bloodhound Trouble. Margaret begrudgingly allows him to stay, but on one condition: he must join the hunt with her.

Although they make an unlikely team, Wes is in awe of the girl who has endured alone on the outskirts of a town that doesn’t want her, in this creaking house of ghosts and sorrow. And even though Wes disrupts every aspect of her life, Margaret is drawn to him. He, too, knows what it’s like to be an outsider. As the hunt looms closer and tensions rise, Margaret and Wes uncover dark magic that could be the key to winning the hunt – if they survive that long.

In A Far Wilder Magic, Allison Saft has written an achingly tender love story set against a deadly hunt in an atmospheric, rich fantasy world that will sweep you away.


JUDY I. LIN – A MAGIC STEEPED IN POISON (March 2022)

I used to look at my hands with pride. Now all I can think is, “These are the hands that buried my mother.”

For Ning, the only thing worse than losing her mother is knowing that it’s her own fault. She was the one who unknowingly brewed the poison tea that killed her—the poison tea that now threatens to also take her sister, Shu.

When Ning hears of a competition to find the kingdom’s greatest shennong-shi—masters of the ancient and magical art of tea-making—she travels to the imperial city to compete. The winner will receive a favor from the princess, which may be Ning’s only chance to save her sister’s life.

But between the backstabbing competitors, bloody court politics, and a mysterious (and handsome) boy with a shocking secret, Ning might actually be the one in more danger.


MAGGIE STIEFVATER – BRAVELY (May 2022)

Maggie Stiefvater has created some of the most amazing characters I’ve read about and this is a new direction for her that I’m super curious about. BRAVE may not be my favorite Disney movie but I must say I am excited to see what happens to Merida in Stiefvater’s capable hands.

Merida goes on an all-new, life-changing adventure in this original YA novel set several years after the close of Brave!

What if you had one year to save everything you loved?

ONE PRINCESS. Merida of DunBroch needs a change. She loves her family—jovial King Fergus, proper Queen Elinor, the mischievous triplets— and her peaceful kingdom. But she’s frustrated by its sluggishness; each day, the same. Merida longs for adventure, purpose, challenge – maybe even, someday, love.

TWO GODS. But the fiery Princess never expects her disquiet to manifest by way of Feradach, an uncanny supernatural being tasked with rooting out rot and stagnation, who appears in DunBroch on Christmas Eve with the intent to demolish the realm – and everyone within. Only the intervention of the Cailleach, an ancient entity of creation, gives Merida a shred of hope: convince her family to change within the year – or suffer the eternal consequences.

THREE VOYAGES. Under the watchful eyes of the gods, Merida leads a series of epic journeys to kingdoms near and far in an attempt to inspire revolution within her family. But in her efforts to save those she loves from ruin, has Merida lost sight of the Clan member grown most stagnant of all – herself?


ROSE SZABO – WE ALL FALL DOWN (June 2022)

The first book in a dark fantasy YA duology by the author of What Big Teeth, about the power and danger of stories and the untold costs of keeping magic alive, perfect for fans of Aiden Thomas and Marie Rutkoski.

In River City, where magic used to thrive and is now fading, the witches who once ruled the city along with their powerful King have become all but obsolete. The city’s crumbling government is now controlled primarily by the new university and teaching hospital, which has grown to take over half of the city.

Moving between the decaying Old City and the ruthless New, four young queer people struggle with the daily hazards of life—work, school, dodging ruthless cops and unscrupulous scientists—not realizing that they have been selected to play in an age-old drama that revives the flow of magic through their world. When a mysterious death rocks their fragile peace, the four are brought into each other’s orbits as they uncover a deeper magical conspiracy.

Devastating, gorgeous, and utterly unique, We All Fall Down examines the complex network of pain created by power differentials, even between people who love each other—and how it is possible to be queer and turn out just fine.


EMILY LLOYD-JONES – THE DROWNED WOODS (August 2022)

Once upon a time, the kingdoms of Wales were rife with magic and conflict, and eighteen-year-old Mererid “Mer” is well-acquainted with both. She is the last living water diviner and has spent years running from the prince who bound her into his service. Under the prince’s orders, she located the wells of his enemies, and he poisoned them without her knowledge, causing hundreds of deaths. After discovering what he had done, Mer went to great lengths to disappear from his reach. Then Mer’s old handler returns with a proposition: use her powers to bring down the very prince that abused them both.

The best way to do that is to destroy the magical well that keeps the prince’s lands safe. With a motley crew of allies, including a fae-cursed young man, the lady of thieves, and a corgi that may or may not be a spy, Mer may finally be able to steal precious freedom and peace for herself. After all, a person with a knife is one thing…but a person with a cause can topple kingdoms.

The Drowned Woods—set in the same world as The Bone Houses but with a whole new, unforgettable cast of characters—is part heist novel, part dark fairy tale.


FRANCES HARDINGE – UNRAVELLER (September 2022)

There is always something magical about a new Frances Hardinge book because you never know what direction she will go in. Judging from the cover and title, there will be some curse unravelling but maybe also some literal spider-y unravelling? But for all I know Hardinge has created an entirely new and original society that lives on the moon, uses feathers for currency and unravels curses every weekend. Either way, I am in.

Kellen and Nettle live in a world where anyone can create a life-destroying curse, but only one person has the power to unravel them. But not everyone is happy he can do so and, suddenly, he’s in a race to save both himself and all those who have been touched by magic…

A spell-binding new tale from the master of speculative fiction.


AIDEN THOMAS – THE SUNBEARER TRIALS (September 2022)

Welcome to The Sunbearer Trials, where teen semidioses compete in a series of challenges with the highest of stakes, in this electric new Mexican-inspired fantasy from Aiden Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of Cemetery Boys.

“Only the most powerful and honorable semidioses get chosen. I’m just a Jade. I’m not a real hero.”

As each new decade begins, the Sun’s power must be replenished so that Sol can keep traveling along the sky and keep the evil Obsidian gods at bay. Ten semidioses between the ages of thirteen and eighteen are selected by Sol himself as the most worthy to compete in The Sunbearer Trials. The winner carries light and life to all the temples of Reino del Sol, but the loser has the greatest honor of all―they will be sacrificed to Sol, their body used to fuel the Sun Stones that will protect the people of Reino del Sol for the next ten years.

Teo, a 17-year-old Jade semidiós and the trans son of Quetzal, goddess of birds, has never worried about the Trials…or rather, he’s only worried for others. His best friend Niya―daughter of Tierra, the god of earth―is one of the strongest heroes of their generation and is much too likely to be chosen this year. He also can’t help but worry (reluctantly, and under protest) for Aurelio, a powerful Gold semidiós and Teo’s friend-turned-rival who is a shoo-in for the Trials. Teo wouldn’t mind taking Aurelio down a notch or two, but a one-in-ten chance of death is a bit too close for Teo’s taste.

But then, for the first time in over a century, Sol chooses a semidiós who isn’t a Gold. In fact, he chooses two: Xio, the 13-year-old child of Mala Suerte, god of bad luck, and…Teo. Now they must compete in five mysterious trials, against opponents who are both more powerful and better trained, for fame, glory, and their own survival.


JOAN HE – STRIKE THE ZITHER (November 2022)

Joan He has hit me right in the feels not once, but twice. First Descendant of the Crane delivered twist after twist while balancing multi-faceted characters, a very understated romance, and a kick-ass setting. Then she follows up with The Ones We’re Ment to Find and seals the deal for me. I’ll read whatever she writes next.

A reimagining of the Chinese military epic Romance of the Three Kingdoms, in which a strategist must help her warlordess to victory against the rival kingdoms to the north and the south while overcoming her fate as written by the gods. Publication is scheduled for fall 2022.


VICTORIA SCHWAB – GALLANT (March 2022)

Everything casts a shadow. Even the world we live in. And as with every shadow, there is a place where it must touch. A seam, where the shadow meets its source.

Olivia Prior has grown up in Merilance School for girls, and all she has of her past is her mother’s journal—which seems to unravel into madness. Then, a letter invites Olivia to come home—to Gallant. Yet when Olivia arrives, no one is expecting her. But Olivia is not about to leave the first place that feels like home, it doesn’t matter if her cousin Matthew is hostile or if she sees half-formed ghouls haunting the hallways.

Olivia knows that Gallant is hiding secrets, and she is determined to uncover them. When she crosses a ruined wall at just the right moment, Olivia finds herself in a place that is Gallant—but not. The manor is crumbling, the ghouls are solid, and a mysterious figure rules over all. Now Olivia sees what has unraveled generations of her family, and where her father may have come from.

Olivia has always wanted to belong somewhere, but will she take her place as a Prior, protecting our world against the Master of the House? Or will she take her place beside him?

New York Times bestselling author Victoria Schwab crafts a vivid and lush novel that grapples with the demons that are often locked behind closed doors. An eerie, standalone saga about life, death, and the young woman beckoned by both. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Melissa Albert, and Garth Nix will quickly lose themselves in this novel with crossover appeal for all ages. 


CATHERYNNE M. VALENTE – OSMO UNKNOWN AND THE EIGHTPENNY WOODS (April 2022)

Oh look, it’s my favorite author with a new Middle Grade novel that has a pangirlin in it. Also, underworld travels, a half-wombat, and woods!

Osmo Unknown hungers for the world beyond his small town. With the life that Littlebridge society has planned for him, the only taste Osmo will ever get are his visits to the edge of the Fourpenny Woods where his mother hunts. Until the unthinkable happens: his mother accidentally kills a Quidnunk, a fearsome and intelligent creature that lives deep in the forest.

None of this should have anything to do with poor Osmo, except that a strange treaty was once formed between the Quidnunx and the people of Littlebridge to ensure that neither group would harm the other. Now that a Quidnunk is dead, as the firstborn child of the hunter who killed her, Osmo must embark on a quest to find the Eightpenny Woods—the mysterious kingdom where all wild forest creatures go when they die—and make amends.

Accompanied by a very rude half-badger, half-wombat named Bonk and an antisocial pangolin girl called Never, it will take all of Osmo’s bravery and cleverness to survive the magic of the Eightpenny Woods to save his town…and make it out alive.


JESSICA TOWNSEND – SILVERBORN: THE MYSTERY OF MORRIGAN CROW (October 2022)

Morrigan Crow is ready for a new adventure. In Silverborn: The Mystery of Morrigan Crow, we will travel to places in Nevermoor that we’ve never seen, we’ll meet people from Morrigan’s past who will be very important in untangling the mystery of who she is … as she sides with someone very dangerous to learn more of the Wundrous Arts.

Enter a place of hope and imagination in this Wundrous series, winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and with film rights sold to Fox.


Aaaaand this concludes the long list of wallet doom. Damned if we don’t all need something to look forward to in 2022 so I hope this helped. I wish you all a Happy New Year! 🙂

#WyrdAndWonder Day 8: Currently Reading

Oh boy, this really is the perfect challenge prompt for me at the moment. While I am okay with reading several books at once, I don’t usually go overboard the way I am doing currently. But you’ll see it’s really not my fault. How can I help it when reading challenges have great prompts, finalists for some major SFF awards are announced, and then an e-ARC falls into my lap that actually made me run around the house screaming because I’m so happy. Add to that my long-time projects or books I’ve put to the side hoping the right mood will strike me soon to finish them…

ACTUALLY currently reading

Tade Thompson – The Rosewater Insurrection

I read the first book in the Wormwood Trilogy last year because it was a finalist for the Best Series Hugo Award. Although it was a difficult book to read – different timelines, crazy ideas, complex characters – I really enjoyed it. Just before Wyrd and Wonder started, I got the audiobook of the second volume and I think I’m enjoying this one even more than the first. It’s science fiction, not fantasy, but I don’t think I can wait until the end of Wyrd and Wonder to finish the book. I may just finish it today which means more time for the next fantasy book.

Catherynne M. Valente – Under in the Mere

This take on Arthurian legends by my favorite author is one of her older works, which means it’s even wordier and has even less of a plot than her newer books. Although it’s very short, I’m reading this in half-a-chapter-increments because, man, does Cat know a lot of words! Some chapters are more readable than others, painting a picture of one of Arthur’s knights and his particular plight. Others are more like a fever dream, with tons of references to classical myths, and very little substance. It’s just pretty words strung together prettily. Also, I am not sure I completely understand it. It’s told from the POV of Arthur’s knights but they’re in California? Maybe you need to know a lot more about Arthurian legend than I do to get it.
So this won’t end up at the top of my Valente list but it also doesn’t change her status as my very favorite author!

Brandon Sanderson – Words of Radiance

This is a re-read (or technically a re-listen) because I haven’t actually read Rhythm of War yet and want to get myself back up to speed. The third book in the Stormlight Archive, Oathbringer, especially had lots of new important information about the world and characters and I remember very little of it. That’s no way to go into a new Sanderson book, so I’m re-reading the series before diving into the newest book. I actually started with the last two parts of The Way of Kings (just the ending, which in Sanderson means 250 pages) and am now reading all of Words of Radiance. It’s still as exciting as it was the last time, except now I am catching more hints for things to come than I did on my first read.

T. Kingfisher – The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking

I’ve only just started this book but ever since I met the sourdough starter named Bob in the very first chapter, I knew this would be hilarious. T. Kingfisher has been a favorite of mine for years (I actually first loved her fairy tale retellings) but combining baking, magic, and her brand of humor must be a new high. I cannot wait to join protagonist Mona on a search for who dropped that dead body in her bakery…

Marjorie Liu – The Tangleroot Palace

This isn’t technically a current read as I write this but by the time this post goes up, I will have started it. It’s an e-ARC (not the one I screamed about, but another one that makes me fairyl excited) and it comes out in June, so now is the perfect time to read it. This short fiction collection promises twists on fairy tales, magic in cool settings, and a full-length novella. And it’s by the writer of the Monstress comic book series.


Officially but not really currently reading

Okay, so I maaaay have started a book last year (!), put it aside and never picked it up again. I still want to finish it but there’s always other stuff that I need to read first. The book in question is Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James and if you’ve read, or sampled, that book, you’ll know why I needed a break. It’s not only dark in terms of subject matter, plot, and characters, but the language is complex and sometimes difficult to understand. At least for me, as a non-native speaker. I’ve been waiting for the urge to read the second half of that book for months now and it hasn’t really struck yet. But I’m not giving up. I definitely want to know how that crazy story ends!

Second, a similar situation, although I do read a few pages here and there, is Little, Big by John Crowley. This book was fun enough for the first third or so. Then I kept wondering when the plot would finally start or at least when all those stories about multiple generations of the Drinkwater family would make sense. I am at about 65% and the thought of picking this book up feels more like a chore than fun. But it’s my favorite author’s favorite book and I do like the general atmosphere of it. I just hope that I’ll get some kind of plot within the next 5% or at the very least a mind-blowing twist at the end…

And last but not least, a book I’m only reading casually to practice my Spanish (or rather to revive my Spanish, as it seems to have mostly left my brain after years of not using it). Harry Potter y la piedra filosofal, the first Harry Potter book, is something I’m reading without any pressure. I’ll pick it up and read a few pages one day, then put it down again for a few days – it’s not like I don’t know the story after all. The first few chapters took me forever because I had to look up so many words. By now, I can read without pausing after every sentence, but my brain is still much slower when processing Spanish than German or English. If I finish the book before our trip to Barcelona (if that even happens), that’s fine. No pressure, just lechuzas and varitas. 🙂


In case you’re wondering, the e-ARC I mentioned above is Cat Valente’s The Past is Red and I do want to dive into it right away. But. It’s science fiction, so not really the right fit for Wyrd and Wonder. And I am also feeling super guilty about those other books and feel like I should at least use this beautiful monthlong event to read a few chapters of them.

Then again, I already know reading everyone else’s #currentlyreading posts and tweets will distract me and draw my attention to all those exciting books I’ve been meaning to pick up and then my current reads will suddenly be forgotten again. It’s like a curse but at least we’re all suffering it together. 🙂

My Thoughts on the Hugo Finalists 2021

It is time for excitement, for making reading lists, for having opinions. Because DisCon III announced the Hugo Award finalists on April 13th!

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL THE FINALISTS!

I’ll do this the same way I did it last year. I’ll go through the categories one by one, see how many books I’ve already read and what I think about the finalists. I will – again – leave out the categories about which I have little to say and/or which I don’t plan to vote in (like Best Editor, Long Form) or which don’t really fit this blog (the Dramatic Presentation categories).

Warning: This is going to be a long post. Feel free to skip ahead to a certain category or to my general thoughts at the very end.


BEST NOVEL (3/6)

  • Martha Wells – Network Effect
  • N. K. Jemisin – The City We Became
  • Susanna Clarke – Piranesi
  • Tamsyn Muir – Harrow the Ninth
  • Mary Robinette Kowal – The Relentless Moon
  • Rebecca Roanhorse – Black Sun

Network Effect and The City We Became were both books I nominated for obvious reasons. I left out Piranesi because, well, I knew it didn’t need my help and I had some other, less buzzy books I wanted to support (Micaiah Jonson’s The Space Between Worlds ended up on my ballot for example – Johnson is an Astounding finalists so that makes me happy). And as much as I loved Clarke’s newest book, I don’t feel it’s a Hugo novel. It feels more like a World Fantasy or Mythopoeic Award kind of book, you know?

I look forward to finally continuing Mary Robinette Kowal’s excellent Lady Astronaut series and I knew – I just knew – that my fellow Hugo nominators would make me read the entire Locked Tomb series simply by nominating it. I was one of the very few people who didn’t find much to like in Gideon the Ninth but I’m willing to give Harrow a try. Although from what people have been saying it’s even more bonkers than the first so I don’t have high hopes that I will like it. But hey, I’m open for it. Maybe this time, aesthetics and cool names will be enough to entertain me.

I’m surprised that Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno Garcia didn’t make it. It was on my nominations ballot and there was a lot of hype surrounding that book. The author beats her own marketing drum hard all year round and it’s impossible to miss this book’s gorgeous cover. I was so sure she would make it onto the final ballot. Then again, horror books have a hard time at the Hugo Awards, so I guess I should have known better.
I also expected Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Ministry for the Future to be on here because Robinson is an old Hugo darling and always ends up as a finalist. To me, he is one of the authors the older Hugo voter generation nominates simply because he has written something – which doesn’t mean he isn’t deserving! I haven’t yet read any of his works so I wouldn’t know but I dislike authors being nominated rather than books and that seems to happen a lot. I guess times have changed a little and I can’t say I’m too upset. 🙂


BEST NOVELLA (4/6)

  • P. DjèlĂ­ Clark – Ring Shout
  • Sarah Gailey – Upright Women Wanted
  • Nghi Vo – The Empress of Salt and Fortune
  • Tochi Onyebuchi – Riot Baby
  • Nino Cipri – Finna
  • Seanan McGuire – Come Tumbling Down

Ah, the inevitable Seanan McGuire and her Wayward Children series. Look, I’ll be the first to admit that last year’s novella was actually very good but that doesn’t change the fact that, overall, she just shouldn’t be a finalist every year simply for having lots of fans. Not EVERY SINGLE ONE of her books is award-worthy. That’s not me being mean to her in particular, that goes for every author, even someone like N. K. Jemisin. But you can be sure, if McGuire has written something (and she’s always written something) it will end up on the Hugo ballot wherever it fits, taking a potential spot from a debut or underrated or marginalised author.
I’ll read Come Tumbling Down and I hope it’s another good one, but can we please all admit someday that apparently, she just doesn’t write Hugo Award novels/novellas? She has won once for the first Wayward Children novella and then nothing ever again. And it’s really not for lack of chances as you’ll see when we meet her again further down the ballot, not once, but twice, because of course.

I wasn’t a big fan of Upright Women Wanted, and Riot Baby surprisingly fell flat for me. I loved the message of both these novellas but they lacked story/plot and didn’t hit me emotionally the way they promised. I think that’s mostly me, though, not the quality of the work. Gailey and Onyebuchi are both authors whose other work I adore!
(This is a good example of how not to nominate authors simply because I like them but to nominate based on the quality of their eligible work. I would gladly throw Hugos at Gailey and Onyebuchi (figuratively speaking) but these particular books weren’t for me so I didn’t nominate them. It’s really not that hard…)

Ring Shout is a different story. I nominated it because that novella did everything right and completely blew me away. With two novellas still to read, I am fairly certain it will remain on the top of my ballot. The Empress of Salt and Fortune was also excellent, although very different in tone. So far, these are my top two. I’m going to check out Finna and the McGuire, mull things over a bit and then decide on my final ranking.

Generally, I’m very sad that the entire ballot is made up of Tordotcom novellas. I love Tordotcom as much as the next guy but it wouldn’t hurt to have more variety on the ballot. And because I am one of the culprits who only nominated stuff from Tordotcom, I know that I myself should do better as well.
So, here’s my appeal to other publishers: Please step up your game and promote your novellas the way you do novels if you want them to reach a wide reader base. Dear old-timey magazines: It’s 2021 so get with the times and make sure your online presence is inviting. Then people will come and read your stuff and, if it’s good (which I suspect it is), they will nominated it for awards.


BEST SERIES (5/6)

Boy, am I glad it’s a Toby Daye year, not an InCryptid year! I’m only two books into the series (14 novels published so far, plus a ton of shorter stuff) but I genuinely liked both. I didn’t consider them award-worthy, because they are fun and have interesting characters but tons of books have that. For a Hugo Award, there should be a little more. I’m hoping to catch up a LOT on this series because people say it gets better and better and I’m curious to see if I hit the point where I go “oh, I get it now” and where I think the series as a whole should get a Hugo Award. Either way, this is one Seanan McGuire series I enjoy and would continue even without the bi-yearly nomination.

If you think it’s clear that Murderbot will win, wait a second. Yes, it’s universally beloved and it totally deserves an award. BUT. The series is still ongoing which means it has a chance of being nominated again and then winning, whereas The Daevabad Trilogy and the Poppy War series are finished. If we want to honor them with a Hugo, now is the time! That said, I also totally think Murderbot will take home the award.

I loved City of Brass and just started Kingdom of Copper which is also very good so far. I love how much more depth and politics the first book offered than I had expected. I also admit to shipping a certain couple and I’m curious to see where that goes. The question I’m going to ask with all the finalists here is whether the series as a whole is more than the sum of its parts – if it makes a difference whether you’ve just sampled the world and story or actually followed through until the end.
The Poppy War is a tough one, in every way. I loved the first book, as much as you can love something that so utterly depresses you. I want to finish the trilogy but knowing a little of what’s ahead (pain, tears, death,…) it’s difficult to get in the right mood. I will absolutely read the other two books before the voting period ends but I need to pick them up between some super happy stuff!
I enjoyed The Calcuating Stars a lot and it earned its Hugo Award two years ago. With the third in the series/universe being up for a Best Novel Hugo again, I’m even more excited to continue. Although I’ve mixed things up in the past – with Becky Chambers’ books for example – I will go in publication order here and read The Fated Sky before I dive into The Relentless Moon.
The only series I haven’t even started yet is Scalzi’s Interdependency. I heard great things about the first book and… not so great ones about the last book. Scalzi is a strange one for me. I am a huge fan of him as a person and his online writings. I haven’t been such a fan of his fiction which makes me all the more curious to see what this sci-fi trilogy is like. My fingers crossed but I’m keeping expectations low.


BEST GRAPHIC STORY (0/6)

  • Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans – DIE, Volume 2: Split the Party
  • Seanan McGuire, Takeshi Miyazawa, Rosie Kämpe – Ghost-Spider vol. 1: Dog Days Are Over
  • G. Willow Wilson, Christian Ward – Invisible Kingdom, vol 2: Edge of Everything
  • Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda – Monstress, vol. 5: Warchild
  • Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora – Once & Future vol. 1: The King Is Undead
  • Octavia Butler, Damian Duffy, John Jennings- Parable of the Sower: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Okay, okay. There’s nothing too surprising on this ballot but I’m looking forward to all of those, even the – who would have expected this nomination?! – Seanan McGuire comic. (Can you tell I’m a little bitter when it comes to her? Cause I am definitely a little bitter and will tell you more at the bottom of this page.)
Although I have technically read zero out of these finalists, I have read the first volume(s) of 3/6 of them.

Monstress is on the ballot yet again and while I’ve never fallen head over heels for this series, I find it beautifully drawn, I like the story, and I don’t begrudge it its success. It just doesn’t get me emotionally for some reason but I’ll gladly read the latest instalment when and if it’s included in the Hugo Voters Packet. Last year’s packet was amazing so I’m all caught up on the series except for this newest volume.

I am thrilled that G. Willow Wilson’s Invisible Kingdom vol 2 is on here because I read volume 1 a few months ago and immediately put the second part on my wishlist. I haven’t gotten to it yet but I’m cackling in anticipation! This is such a cool world with original characters.
Last year, Die vol. 1 was nominated and I found it pretty good, very dark, but also a bit too much of a set-up volume to really grip me. Again, this is a universe and an idea I’ll happily explore further and Kieron Gillen is someone I’ve come to trust.
Gillen is nominated a second time, for the first volume in a new series, Once & Future, which seems to be a dark contemporary spin on the King Arthur legend. I have no idea what to expect but I’m here for it. King Arthur seems to be cool again, he also shows up in the Lodestar category.
I also can’t wait to see what the Graphic Novel adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower will be like. It hasn’t been that long since I read the book so it’s all still fresh in my mind and I know there are things in that book that I do not want to see… I’m intrigued to read the graphic novel and see how things are depicted but at least I know the story is good.
And last but not least, Seanan McGuire has written a Gwen Stacy comic titled Ghost-Spider. I am always up for some Spider Gwen, although reviews of this one are pretty middling. Also, it appears this “volume 1” is set after two volumes of Spider Gwen, the second of which is called Ghost-Spider Vol. 2? I haven’t made sense of it it yet and need to do more research but I am properly confused.


LODESTAR (3/6)

  • Jordan Ifueko – Raybearer
  • Tracy Deonn – Legendborn
  • Naomi Novik – A Deadly Education
  • Darcie Little Badger – Elatsoe
  • T. Kingfisher – A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • Aiden Thomas – Cemetery Boys

Aaaaaaaah, this is such an exciting ballot! With the exception of Naomi Novik’s book – more on that later – I love how diverse and different all these books are.

Obviously, my beloved Raybearer is on here. I am so hyped for its sequel (and duology ender) so maybe I’ll give this a re-read before voting is over. I haven’t heard many people talk about this book so I am doubly glad enough people read and liked and nominated it. Because now even more people will read it and get to know Sunshine Girl and this beautiful found family!
I just read Legendborn and enjoyed it quite a bit. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the way the King Arthur legend was used, but as a story of its own about a secret society at college, it worked fine. Its strengths were definitely the themes of dealing with loss and grief, racism and finding a place to belong. So I’m happy to see it nominated but for now, it feels like a middle of the ballot kind of book.

I have so much excitement for Elatsoe – it has a ghost dog, apparently! – as well as Cemetery Boys – a trans, Latinx protagonist is something new for me and I love reading different perspectives from my own. And T. Kingfisher is just T. Kingfisher. I can’t wait to meet her latest pragmatic protagonist and the shenanigans they get into. Maybe I should read this after one of the R.F. Kuang books…

Now, about A Deadly Education. We’re talking arbitrary frontiers here, like what even is the line between YA and adult fiction? Most of these lines are drawn by publishers and/or book sellers who put the book in a category and that’s what we sticks. I could be wrong (I can’t find the interview I remember reading) but didn’t Naomi Novik herself make clear that this is not YA? Like how dare we assume that just because a book is written by a woman and takes place at a magic school with teenage protagonists, it’s automatically YA? And I agree, that assumption is stupid and we should all be better than that. But then, when it gets nominated for an award, it’s suddenly okay again that the book is considered YA? That leaves a bad taste in my mouth, to say it mildly.
I was one of the people who enjoyed this book – although I still can’t quite tell you why, it has so many problems – but I find the author’s behaviour a little strange. Add to that the fact that Novik is well established and beloved in the SFF community and doesn’t really need an awards boost. If you look at the other authors, they are all either new or not well know or not the big bestselling types and can each benefit greatly from being nominated. If Novik had declined the nomination (based on the fact that she doesn’t consider her book YA and it thus doesn’t fit the category), who would have gotten the last finalist spot? Guess we’ll have to wait until December to find out.


ASTOUNDING AWARD (2/6)

So that’s where those other buzzy books went. 🙂
The Unspoken Namen by A. K. Larkwood has been popping up here and there over the course of the last year. I haven’t read it yet but I’m glad to pick it up for Award reading. The same goes for The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons and the rest of the series – the speed with which these books are being published is stunning. I don’t know if it was the Game of Thrones-y style of the covers that kept me from picking them up so far or something else. But I look forward to checking it out.

The two authors I’ve read are Micaiah Johnson – I nominated her myself – and Emily Tesh. Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds was excellent and I even nominated it for Best Novel as well. I read the first of Tesh’s novellas, Silver in the Wood which was good, but didn’t stick in my memory for very long. I’ll read the second one, Drowned Country, but unless it has more memorably characters or a more exciting plot, I can’t say anything much nicer than that Tesh is a competent writer.

I am most excited about Simon Jimenez‘ novel The Vanished Birds. This feels like such a quietly buzzy book. I kept coming across it, in more literary circles as well as genre spaces, but the reactions to this book were overwhelmingly positive. So I cannot wait!
Lindsay Ellis wasn’t on my radar at all, although I have seen Axiom’s End floating around. Whisleblower/first contact/conspiracy story sounds intriguing, especially because it’s not my usual cup of tea.


BEST FANCAST (5/6)

  • Be the Serpent
  • The Coode Street Podcast
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show
  • Worldbuilding for Masochists
  • Kalanadi
  • Claire Rousseau’s YouTube channel

Here’s another category that gives me OPINIONS. Or, to say it better, that makes me feel like a bit of a fool.

Last year, I was so excited that a BookTuber was nominated, and even one that I knew and liked. Claire Rousseau used to do these Genrewise SFF News videos that summed up what’s going on in the field really well. She has a nice D&D based TBR game going with herself, and I liked her reviews, even when we didn’t agree. So I felt she totally deserved her nomination (last year). But in 2020, she has barely uploaded any videos – which I absolutely don’t mean to sound reproachful. It’s a pandemic and holy shit, we all understand when you have other things on your mind than creating content. But if you don’t create anything, should you be nominated for an award? Like, for what? For having made some videos for the first few months of the year and then just stopped? I follow Claire’s channel and I get notified when she uploads new stuff. She was completely off my radar for the second half of 2020 because there was simply nothing there. Her channel literally shows you the newest video (one day ago) and the video before (7 months ago). Again, I’m not saying Claire has any obligation to produce videos but I do believe that we should award fancasters who actually, you know, fancast.
Her channel will probably be at the bottom of my ballot because I’ve already seen all her 2020 videos and they will have a hard time keeping up with what the other finalists have to offer. But I’m glad she plans to re-launch her channel and I’ll happily nominate her next year if she makes great videos again in 2021.

This year, Claire isn’t the only BookTuber on the Hugo ballot this year. Rachel from Kalanadi, a wonderfully calm and thoughtful person, has been making videos consistently for years. I also follow her (although I didn’t nominate her, I instead nominated The Fancy Hat Lady Reads, another BookTuber) and I especially like her long-term projects of reading certain award winners – she did the Tiptree a while back, she’s reading through the SF Masterworks, but she’s also very self-aware and checks in on her goals and reading stats. As with any reviewer, we don’t always agree, but I appreciate her reviews and the way she talks about books. I would definitely be happy to see her take home a Hugo Award.

Now to the podcasts. I like The Coode Street Podcast and its two incredibly well-read hosts, which I say every year. 🙂 I sometimes love, sometimes don’t like Skiffy and Fanty, also like every year. I have to listen to Be the Serpent more to make up my mind properly. And I don’t know Worldbuilding for Masochists at all, so this is exciting. I love discovering new things through the Hugo ballot and this is one of the few that’s actually completely new to me.

I will admit to a general bias on my part towards the BookTubers. This category has been going to podcasts for so long that I feel it’s time for a change. Having two BookTube finalists on the ballot is already a win but unless Be the Serpent or Worldbuilding absolutely blow me away, Kalanadi will be my first choice for this award.


GENERAL THOUGHTS

In general, there is nothing overly surprising on this year’s ballot. In the Best Novel category, so many potential great books could have made it, it was really just a matter of who was nominating this year and what their personal favorites were. Some years, you just know one or two of the most hyped books, the ones everyone was talking about. But 2020, we were all talking about many buzzy books that we loved.

The one thing that I did notice last year, and in part with the Hugo finalists, is the blurry distinction between YA and adult novels. The Bone Shard Daughter, for example was very well received but was it YA or adult? I think it’s sold as adult but the marketing campaign gave it YA vibes, if you know what I mean. Maybe that kept people from nominating it or maybe some nominated it as Best Novel, others as a Lodestar? I’ll be interested to see the final stats in December.

The Best Related Work category is interesting this year. I don’t have enough to say about it to warrant its own section in this (huge) post, but it’s cool that a convention is nominated – although I have no idea how I, as a non-attendee, am supposed to judge that – as well as the ConZealand Fringe, a sort of side event alongside regular WorldCon which can be watched on YouTube. Add the obligatory ranty blog post and one actual non-fiction book and you have a pretty diverse category.

My (yearly) Seanan McGuire rant:

I’m so tired of having to read so much Seanan McGuire every year. You guys, I know I can sound mean when I talk about her, but I’m really just tired. It’s like this war inside me where, on the one hand, I want to give all nominated books a chance and vote fairly for what I thought was best, but on the other hand, I spend my precious time reading her books when I could be reading a debut author, a marginalised author, an underrated author, or even re-reading an old favorite.
It’s getting to the point where I want to just not read her work, no matter the book – just the way she gets nominated every year, no matter the book. And if I don’t read it, I won’t vote for it. If her fans can convince themselves that every single of her works deserves an award, then I can convince myself of the opposite. The truth is probably somewhere in between but I guess we’ll never know because people aren’t always fair and authors aren’t always gracious.

Seanan McGuire is by far not the only author who has lots of Hugo nominations but only a single (or even no) win. The difference is that she writes so damn much that she takes up space in at least two categories every year. If she wrote a novel, a novella, and an instalment in a series, you can be damn sure she will be on the ballot in all three categories. If she really were that much of a literary genius, shouldn’t she be swimming in Nebula Awards? World Fantasy? Mythopoeic? I mean, those are the ones that get judged by other authors, by her peers. Interestingly, she was only nominated and won once for Every Heart a Doorway which is also her sole Hugo win (except for fancast but she was part of a larger group there).
I know nothing I say here will sway the hardcore McGuire fans. And look, I’m glad she has so many fans and I’m glad they love her work that much. Finding a favorite author is a great thing, especially when that author churns out a ton of content every year.
But if you count together all the spots taken up by McGuire works in the last few years, spots which eventually all ended up not winning – the potential other books for those spots could have given at least 10 other authors a hands up in the industry, a chance for a career, a chance to build their own fan base just like the one McGuire has. Simply not accepting a nomination – at least in one of the three/four/five categories – has apparently never crossed McGuire’s mind. After being told by the voters that her work is not deserving of a Hugo this many years in a row, maybe giving someone else a chance is a viable option?

This year, I will read all her nominated works again because I would feel like a quitter otherwise and they all sound interesting. But next year, I will definitely skip InCryptid – the first one is a book I’d be ashamed to have published – and only pick and choose the rest. Depending on this year’s Wayward Children novella, I may or may not read next year’s. And if you think these won’t make the ballot next year, don’t make me laugh. If it has the name Seanan McGuire on it, it will be on the ballot…

So now that’s out of the way again, I have decided to focus on the postives. There are so many books, graphic novels, and series I look forward to discovering or continuing this year. I hope this ballot will push me towards my goal of finally finishing up some series I’ve started and show me some new authors and creators I can follow in the future.

What do you think about the finalists? Did your nominees make it? Am I too touchy about Seanan McGuire? 🙂 Are you going to read the finalists and if yes, are you voting?

2021 Five Star Predictions

I’ve done five star predictions only once before but I liked it so much that I’m doing it again. It’s a great way to see not only how well I know myself and my reading tastes but also to check if those book blurbs and publisher promotions raise the right expectations.

Here are the books I intend to read this year and  which I think will receive the highest rating. On my blog, that would be somewhere between 8 and 10 stars which translates to 5 stars on Goodreads. I am curious to see if my predictions hold up and if I even manage to read all the books on this list.

Fonda Lee – Jade Legacy

I’m starting with an easy one, the last part on the Green Bone Saga trilogy. I promised, this year, I’d be more adventureous with my predictions but you have to give me this one. I’m sure I will love it as much as the first two books in the series and I’m so excited to get back into the world of magical jade, feuding mafia clans, and great characters.
I’m very, very sure I will love this book and I trust Fonda Lee will deliver an amazing ending to this saga.

Hannah F. Whitten – For the Wolf

Here’s me being daring. This book sounds just up my alley, but you never really know before you read it. It has Red Riding Hood vibes, is recommended to fans of Uprooted and The Winternight Trilogy and those are all things I adore.
I have never read anything by Whitten before so the writing style and plot could still mess this one up. But I am optimistic and hoping to discover a new favorite.

Everina Maxwell – Winter’s Orbit

Another one that could go either way. Everything about this book sounds great, especially the “there’s only one bed” trope that keeps being mentioned on social media. An M/M romance in space that’s like if Anciallry Justice met Red White and Royal Blue. I can’t quite imagine what this will be like and it’s probably a book I either end up loving or hating, but I want to stay positive and hope for a five star read.
I also really like both the US and UK cover (this one is the UK version) and it gives me wonderful space opera vibes. Let’s make sure I read this when I’m in the right mood and then nothing can go wrong, right?

Vonda M. McIntyre – Dreamsnake

So far, these are all 2021 publications, but I don’t want to neglect my backlist TBR. Dreamsnake has been to-be-read for ages and while I’ve definitely encountered some less than great Hugo winners from the past, I think this one will work for me.
A dangerous quest in a far-future post-apocalyptic landscape with magical healing snakes? It sounds wild and I have never read anything by McIntyre before but here’s to hoping I didn’t completely misjudge my own reading tastes.

Catherynne M. Valente – The Past is Red

Oh look, it’s a new novella by my favorite author. I wonder if I’ll like it.
Okay, joking aside, even if this wasn’t written by Cat Valente, the premise sounds so good and the cover is so stunning that I am fully expecting this to get five stars. I mean, it’s set in a place called garbagetown, in a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by climate change. That’s all I need to know really. And because this is a novella (so, probably short) and another safe choice, I’ll add a sixth book to my predictions list.

Alechia Dow – The Sound of Stars

Okay, this is tagged as “a girl who risks her life for books” so what could possibly go wrong? There’s also an alien who loves forbidden pop music. That sounds so damn cute I want to read it right now!
Although the word this book is set in does not sound inviting – alien invasion, forbidden books and music – I think the premise has so much potential. Again, this is an author I don’t know yet but if it’s well written and tells a compelling story, I don’t see why this shouldn’t get five stars.
The fact that the cover is gorgeous also doesn’t hurt.


I did go for two easy choices but, just so you know I am restraining myself a little, I left off the next Murderbot novella, Rivers Solomon’s new novel Sorrowland, and the next instalment in Arkady Martine’s series – all of which I expect to love to pieces.

I’ll do my very best to read and review these books in 2021 so we can check back at the end of the year.

A Mini-Update – Where I Break All My Plans and Read What I Want

As you probably know, I love lists. I love following them, checking things off them, and boy do I love finishing them. Whether it’s To Do lists at work, tasks I have to do at home, or (of course) reading lists. I had great plans for the months of May and June, mostly consisting of lots of Hugo nominations and a few new releases here or there. But what does my brain want? Well… whatever it wants, apparently.

Recently Read

Fables by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

For no reason I can discern, my eye fell on my bookshelf a few days ago and got stock on my Fables shelf. I’ve been reading this graphic novel series for years. It’s big! It’s finished, at least, but it’s still a looooong series and as much as I adored the first instalments, there was no way I could read them all in one go, especially since the editions I own weren’t even all published then. I had three of the deluxe volumes left (collecting three to four of the paperback volumes, which in turn collect several comic issues… yeah, it’s complicated; which is why I went for the rather expensive deluxe editions because they just collect everthing). By whim or fancy or whatever else, I picked up Volume 13 and I was BACK in that world and there were cliffhangers and twists and character deaths and there was no way for me to stop reading until I was done.

I feel a bit deflated now because finishing a series that long, leaving characters that have been in the back of my mind for many years, well, it’s a sad occasion. I was quite happy with how things turned out story-wise, but now… no more Fables. At least no more main-story Fables. I still have the Fairest spin-off series to read and a new Wolf Among Us game was announced, although we’ll probably have to wait at least another year for it to come out. But that’s something to look forward to, right?

Overall, I can recommend this series to anyone who loves comic books, fairy tales, and epic fantasy. Maybe one of these days, I’ll gather my thoughts enough to post a review of the entire series, although it will be one hell of a challenge to do that without spoilers.

Currently Reading

Again, instead of following my own plan of getting the Hugo books read before anything else, I picked up some books by gut-feeling, just because I wanted to. My track record with finishing series I’ve started is generally not great, so I am mostly happy that I’ve decided to continue some of them before I forget what the first books were all about. But it does mean I’ll have less time to get to those Hugo finalists…

The Farthest Shore by Urusula K. LeGuin

I thought the Earthsea Cycle just wasn’t for me when I first read A Wizard of Earthsea. But then, on a re-read, I discovered new things about that book that I just couldn’t appreciate the first time around. I still didn’t love it but it was good enough for me to pick up the sequel. And that completely stole my heart! So of course, I had to continue reading. Again, the fact that the series is finished gave me the necessary push to finally catch up. I’m not as taken with this book as I was with The Tombs of Atuan but I still enjoy it a lot and I’ll probably dive straight into Tehanu once I’m finished.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

I have yet to read a bad book by Jemisin (I doubt I ever will) but this is something else! Although very, very different from her epic fantasies, this books is just sooooo good, you guys! The city of New York comes to life but it’s too much to hold for one single person as its avatar, so every burrough gets its own avatar. Except they’re not entirely sure what to do with themselves and not each of them has all the puzzle pieces needed to fight the strange threat to their city. So they have to find each other and figure out where to go from there. There is a ton of social commentary here, there are fantastic, amazingly diverse characters, the writing is stellar, and I just can’t get enough of it. I already know this will be on my Hugo ballot for next year even though I’m only at about 60% right now.

Magician by Raymond E. Feist

This book (or technically the first half of this book) is the May pick for the Sword & Laser book club and while I’ve read the first half – Magician: Apprentice – many years ago, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to continue the series. But because my memory was hazy at best, I started from the beginning. I am now smack dab in the middle of the book, my re-read of the first half is done and now I only have new stuff ahead of me.
Magician has a ton of flaws but it also offers comfort in these trying times. It may not be original, but it is kind of nice to read about humans, elves, dwarves, and trolls in a medieval Europe-ish setting. There’s nothing new here, no fantasy species I have to learn about, no interesting power dynamics, no difficult politics… it’s just two boys having the adventure of their life. There’s an alien invasion, war, learning magic, and potential romance. Look, this won’t end up being a favorite and you’ll hear all my gripes in my review, but I’m enjoying it anyways.

Plan to read next

In my last post, I had a whole plan. I started only one of those planned books (the only one not currently nominated for awards or sent to me for review…). The same thing will probably happen again this time, but I will do my best to somewhat stick to it, at least.

  • Emma Newman – Planetfall (series finalist)
  • Tade Thompson – Rosewater (series finalist)
  • Martha Wells – Network Effect (new release)
  • Ted Chiang – Exhalation (novella and novelette finalists)
  • Frances Hardinge – Deeplight (Lodestar finalist)
  • Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (novella finalist)

Okay, I should manage reading some of those Hugo finalists in the next few weeks, right? Except, we all know I will pick up the long-awaited Murderbot novel before anything else… because who can resist Murderbot, especially now that another novel has been announced. I am so excited!
If I only read some of those planned books, I will count it as a victory. Having finished all the finalists in the Best Novel category, a large chunk of reading is done. The novellas, novelettes, and short stories are all shorter so I’m sure I can finish all of them as well. However, the Lodestars have a couple of big books that are nominated, and let’s not even talk about the Best Series shortlist.

I hope all of you are healthy and well, wherever in the world you are! Take care of yourselves and your loved ones. We’ll all get through this together! And until then, pick up a good book or two to distract yourself from this very real-life pandemic.

Currently Reading – Pandemic Edition

This post is way less dramatic than it sounds, I promise. As I’ve been publishing three posts per week for the last month or so  in order to do my small part in keeping you dear readers entertained, I have actually reached the end of the review wait queue. There is one review of Kathleen Jenning’s Flyaway scheduled for July (it was great and you should buy it if you like your stories gothic, weird, and atmospheric) but other than that, I’m all out of reviews.

But so you know what’s coming up next, as soon as I finish reading them, here are my current reads and the books I intend to pick up next.

Currently Reading

Mark Lawerence – Red Sister

This is Booktube’s fault. Everybody there seems to love and admire The Book of the Ancestor, especially people who love Brandon Sanderson’s books. So I thought I’d finally give it a try and see if the fuss is justified. I’m 75% done with this and while the beginning was very strong and the ideas super interesting, nothing much has happened for quite a while now. Sure, we learn teeny tiny bits about the world and the characters, but compared to how amazing the beginning was, I’m a bit disappointed. But, let’s not judge the book before knowing the ending. For all I know, it might be mind-blowing.

Charlie Jane Anders – The City in the Middle of the Night

This is the last book I need to read for the Hugo Award Best Novel category.  I’m almost halfway done and I’m still waiting for the book to connect with me. There are interesting ideas, flawed yet intriguing characters, but somehow I’m missing that spark. I expected to love this so I’m surprised it hasn’t happened yet. But there’s still a bit more than half the book left – we’ll see if it can conquer my heart yet.

Raymond E. Feist – Magician

I didn’t think I’d ever pick this book or this series up again. I read the first half of the first book as a teenager (the paperback is split into two for the US edition – Magician: Apprentice and Magician: Master) and while I liked it, I never continued the series. However, it is the May book pick for the Sword and Laser Podcast and so I took this as an opportunity to re-read the part I’d read before and then add the “Master” part of the book as well.
It’s incredibly generic fantasy but knowing what you’re going to get is pretty comforting right now. I’m not even a third done with this and it will probably still be a while. This chonker has over 800 pages.

Next in the Reading Queue

These are the book babies that I will probably pick up next, right after I’m finished with the ones listed above.

For the Hugo Awards:

  • Tade Thompson – Rosewater (for Best Series)
  • Seanan McGuire – In an Absent Dream (for Best Novella)
  • Frances Hardinge – Deeplight (for the Lodestar)

Review copies:

  • Melissa Bashardoust – Girl, Serpent, Thorn
  • Victoria McCombs – The Storyteller’s Daughter

Just because:

  • Ursula K. LeGuin – The Farthest Shore