#ReadDiverse2017 – An Update and a TBR Pile

I am so happy I found the Read Diverse 2017 Challenge! I have been reading and reviewing books for this challenge since January and have discovered so many new authors, books, and bloggers.

Normally, I am super motivated to read all the books for a challenge right away but then I lose interest. Not so with this challenge! Because the goal isn’t to read one type of book or genre but simply to take a closer look at the authors and books you want to read anyway.  Turns out – and I’m sure this is true for most people with a big TBR – I didn’t even have to buy new books for this challenge (although I did anyway) because many of my unread books were written by marginalised authors and featured diverse characters. And because the experience has been so much fun, I wanted to share the books I’ve read for the challenge and the books I have lined up for the next few months with you guys. May your wishlists grow.

What I’ve read so far

I have read a total of 16 books in 2017 so far, five of which were written by LGBTQI authors and/or featured LGBTQI characters. Five books were written by Authors of Color and/or featured POC main characters. Two books had protagonists with a disability, and five were #ownvoices books.
There was oviously quite a bit of overlap and in reality, I read only 10 books for this challenge so far. But 10 out of 16 is a pretty amazing ratio if you ask me.

And for anyone who believes that I am changing my reading habits or forcing myself to read certain books for the sake of diversity, I can only say that all of these books (except for Peter Darling which I discovered through the challenge) were already on my TBR and I would have read them anyway. The Read Diverse 2017 challenge only pushed them a bit further up on my TBR pile, that’s all.

Here are my diverse reads so far, all of which I would recommend. My full reviews can be found behind the links.

  • Emma Donoghue – Kissing the Witch
    A short story collection retelling fairy tales, most of which feature lesbian protagonists, and all of which focus on women.
  • Zoraida Córdova – Labyrinth Lost
    This book is a wonderful story about a young girl, dealing with her cultural heritage, her place in her family and witchcraft. After messing things up she tries to fix her dire situation. Incudes a trip to the underworld with a fantastic bisexual protagonist.
  • Leigh Bardugo – Six of Crows
    Not so much a heist story as a character study of six amazing, diverse, and absolutely lovable protagonists. Kaz is disabled and walks with a cane, Inej is dark-skinned, and I suspect (though don’t know yet) that at least one character is gay. I loved all of them!
  • Mishell Baker – Borderline
    This is such an amazing book. Millie is a double amputee after her attempted suicide who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder. She also starts to work for the secret Arcadia Project which polices the traffic between our world and Fairyland. And it’s set in Hollywood. Everything about this book was perfect.
  • S. L. Huang – The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist
    A retelling of The Little Mermaid that gets really dark and broke my heart into a million pieces. The protagonist is a lesbian who falls in love with a “mermaid” and trades her voice for fins. But trust me, it’s much better and more sinister than I make it sound.
  • Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours
    A story collection by the brilliant Helen Oyeyemi that features a diverse cast of characters, most of all highlighting women. I didn’t love all the stories but the collection overall was solid.
  • Marissa Meyer – Wires and Nerve
    Meyer’s first graphic novel, set after the Lunar Chronicles, finally gives Iko her own story. The protagonist android loves her body (which is a Woman of Color) and she deals with questions of identity, feelings, and friendship. It’s a lovely, quick comfort read and I need the sequel now!
  • Catherynne M. Valente – Palimpsest
    Valente’s characters in this book may not all be bisexual, but pretty much everyone sleeps with everyone in this luscious tale of a sexually transmitted city. There are no graphic or particularly steamy sex scenes here, but instead there are breathtaking descriptions of Palimpsest. The language and imagery are stunning, but you should like flowery prose if you pick this up.
  • Austin Chant – Peter Darling
    What if Peter Pan grew up as Wendy Darling? In this very short novel, Peter is a transgender man who comes back to Neverland as an adult. To my utter delight, he and Hook fall in love. I had some problems with this book (there was just not enough of it) but overall, I enjoyed it.
  • Nnedi Okorafor – Binti: Home
    I adored Okorafor’s Binti and couldn’t wait for this sequel. Binti, who has run away from home to study at a university far away from her home planet, has returned. She has to deal with her own identity, her past, her family’s culture and the life she wants for herself. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is that it ends on a pretty mean cliffhanger. Review to come.

What’s on my TBR

I have SO MANY BOOKS! Seriously, there is no shortage of diverse books in my home, but I do have a few lined up that I want to read very soon.

  • Yoon Ha Lee – Ninefox Gambit
    I’m already reading this and as much as the beginning tried to break my brain, I am completely in love with it now and can’t wait to find out how the story continues. If you start reading this, please don’t give up. Push through the first chapters and you will be rewarded!
  • S. Jae-Jones – Wintersong
    I am not sure if I will finish this book. I read half of it and it’s a huge disappointment. A whiny heroine who wallows in self-pity, a bland “romance”, and no plot to speak of. Maybe I’ll write something even if I DNF this book… we’ll see. For now, it’s on hiatus.
  • Heidi Heilig – The Girl From Everywhere
    This book just sounds soooo good. Time travel, maps, a biracial protagonist, a romance, and ships! Plus, the sequel is out already (I think), so if I love it I won’t have to wait for the next book.
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate
    I actually saved this book up because I know it will ruin any book that is unfortunate enough to follow it. Jemisin is a phenomenal writer and this world is her most complex and ambitious yet. The cast ist effortlessly diverse and Jemisin’s writing is always stunning.
  • Rhoda Belleza – Empress of a Thousand Skies
    I’m a bit on the fence about this but people have said it has lots of diverse characters and a fast-moving plot. So I hope this book leaves away all the YA tropes and delivers an exciting space adventure.
  • Madeline Miller – The Song of Achilles
    I’ve wanted to read this for ages but somehow, every time I choose a new book to read this one slips my mind. Must remember this time.
  • Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett – Dragon Soul
    I love this series so much! The first book told (among other plot lines) a beautiful romance between two very different men, and all the characters are superb. Can’t wait to continue reading about this world of steampunk dragons, and the crazy people who fly them.
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Agents of Dreamland
    I love everything Kiernan writes and most things Tor.com publishes, so this is a book that is practically a guaranteed hit.
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
    I am SO behind on this series. The first book was my favorite the year it came out but then I never caught up with the sequels. It’s time to rectify that situation! If you don’t know this series, it’s about a former space ship AI, now existing in one human body, who uses all-female pronouns because it’s an AI and doesn’t know or care about gender. Also, it’s a super exciting space adventure with amazing characters.

The way I know myself, this reading plan will probably be thrown away pretty fast, especially with the amount of exciting recommendations this reading challenge produces. But then, I read for fun. So I’ll do my best to stick by this TBR but if I stray, so be it. 🙂

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Books in the Queue – The Summer Reading List

The struggle is real, guys. I don’t know what to read because there are TOO MANY GREAT BOOKS! I have a total book overload and whatever I start reading doesn’t do it for me because I know there are fifty other great books I also want to be reading right now. But I’m tackling this ridiculous first world problem head on and making a list. These are some (!) of the books I wish I could eat up at this very moment, but being semi-reasonable at times, I know that it will take me a while to catch up on all of these. I also know that I don’t ever stick to strict reading plans, so I won’t plan my reading order. I hope that I can get through all of these during the summer – that includes June, July, and August – and you’ll see some reviews of these soon-ish.

My Summer Reading List

Catching up on sequels

  • Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home
  • Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven King

I’m currently reading both of these, so you can definitely expect reviews within the next weeks. Spoiler alert: I’m loving both books, so be prepared for some squeeing.

Shiny and chrome new stuff

  • Mishell Baker – Borderline
  • Kat Howard – Roses & Rot
  • Angela Slatter – Vigil

I got a review copy of Angela Slatter’s first novel. You know what this means! I will crawl into my bed, start this book and won’t come out until I’m done. Maybe some music is allowed in there with me but that’s it. Food and human company are overrated anyway, especially when there’s an Angela Slatter novel involved.

Both Borderline and Roses and Rot have picked up some rave reviews and while Kat Howard’s novel sounds just up my alley, I don’t know whether Mishell Baker’s book will be my thing at all. But they both sound fantastic and throw around so many buzzwords that I can’t wait to start them.

Books for reading challenges

  • Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
  • C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans
  • Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours
  • N. A. Sulway – Rupetta

Ah, reading challenges. A blessing and a curse. I do love them dearly but I am – again – falling behind on some of them. Summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up, so wish me luck.

…and all the rest

  • Jordanna Max Brodsky – The Immortals
  • Dexter Palmer – Version Control
  • Kelly Lee – A Criminal Magic
  • Hermione Eyre – Viper Wine
  • Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff – Illuminae
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
  • April Genevieve Tucholke – Wink Poppy Midnight

These are just a few books that keep staring at me with puppy dog eyes, begging to be read soon. They each have something that completely drew me in, whether it’s Prohibitian Era magic, Greek gods, unreliable narrators, time machines, music, crazy literary romps, or complicated relationships – I could pick up any of these right now and be happy (if it weren’t for the other books looking resentful at me. Yes, books really can look resentful, you just have to leave them on your TBR pile too long and they start hating you. I’m serious!)

Other than that, I still have some Hugo Awards reading to do. I have read Uprooted and The Fifth Season, which will definitely be my first two choices. Unless of course one of the other books is so overwhelmingly amazing that it overtakes them, but I very much doubt that. Still, I look forward to Jim Butcher’s book and I’m curious if Seveneves will be the first Neal Stephenson book I finish. So it’s going to be a long summer filled with lots of books. The way my luck goes, by the time I’ve finished all of these, some of the sequels I’m waiting for will have been published and I can start the whole thing over. If too many books is my biggest worry, however, I consider myself a very happy girl indeed.

Bout of Books 16 – Goals and Books

Bout of Books It’s time for Bout of Books and I am so ready to catch up on my reading. I did pretty well during the first few months of the year but what with my inability to say no to a challenge, I do have a lot of books to finish.

Seeing as I was all big-mouthed and said I would decide on the books to read and then stick to that plan, here are my goals and the books I’ve picked:

  • Read one comic book/graphic novel
  • Finish whichever current book I’m reading
  • Finish one other book that is part of a reading challenge
  • Start listening to one new audiobook

My graphic novel of choice is Fables: The Deluxe Edition Volume 11. I’m still enjoying the Fables series a lot, although I’ve noticed that the deluxe collected volumes got bigger and bigger. This volume is almost 450 pages thick. PLUS, in order to read all of this graphic novel, I need to take a quick side-trip into the Jack of Fables comics. That’s another 200 to 300 pages. And yes, there are pictures and all that but Fables can be pretty dense stories. Anyway, I look forward to catching up.

The audiobook is easy to pick. It will be The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. Although I ordered the hardcover to sit on my shelf next to all the other beautiful Raven Cycle books, I also got myself the audiobook version which I’ve been kind of avoiding because I don’t want the series to end.

My current read – and I don’t understand why I took such a long break from the book – is A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab. I loved the first book A Darker Shade of Magic, but this one took a long time to get started and I guess I just wasn’t in the right mood. But it’s really time to pick it up again and finish it.

Aaaaaaand for my last goal, I will pick a book that is part of one of my reading challenges. There is a lot to choose from, mind you, because I’m an idiot who thinks she can read a billion books a year. But I’ve narrowed it down to a challenge (reading more authors of color) and even a book: Helen Oyeyemi – What is Not Yours is Not Yours. I’ve read two of Oyeyemi’s books and I adore her style. Maybe I should have tried an author that is new to me, but for this read-a-thon, I thought a collection of short fiction would be better because I can read one story per evening or ideally even a story per train ride to and from work.

The big post of pages/books read and mini-challenges and other stuff will be posted tomorrow. By the way, there’s still time to join the read-a-thon if you feel like it. Just go here and sign up.

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books On My Spring TBR

Oh, the glorious TBR. What would I do without it? Curl up and die, that’s what. While it can be daunting sometimes, looking at the hundreds (yeah, really) of books that I own but haven’t even started yet, there is a nice sense of comfort to knowing that even if I’m cut off from the outside world, I’ll have enough to read to last me until I die of hunger or cold. For today’s Top Ten Tuesday, The Broke and the Bookish want us to look at our top ten books on our spring TBR.

I seriously hope spring is coming soon but independent of the current (shitty) weather situation, here’s what I’m most excited to read in the near future:

1 Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home

I may be pushing this book on and on because it’s the last in a series I love. September was the reason I started this blog and she’s been my constant companion ever since. Letting her go will be difficult, but suppressing my excitement to know What Will Happen will probably harder.

fairyland 5Quite by accident, September has been crowned as Queen of Fairyland – but she inherits a Kingdom in chaos. The magic of a Dodo’s egg has brought every King, Queen, or Marquess of Fairyland back to life, each with a fair and good claim on the throne, each with their own schemes and plots and horrible, hilarious, hungry histories. In order to make sense of it all, and to save their friend from a job she doesn’t want, A-Through-L and Saturday devise a Royal Race, a Monarckical Marathon, in which every outlandish would-be ruler of Fairyland will chase the Stoat of Arms across the whole of the nation – and the first to seize the poor beast will seize the crown. Caught up in the madness are the changelings Hawthorn and Tamburlaine, the combat wombat Blunderbuss, the gramophone Scratch, the Green Wind, and September’s parents, who have crossed the universe to find their daughter…

2 Giambattista Basile – The Tale of Tales

This sounds like it was made for me. With a distinct Pan’s Labyrinth vibe to it, I couldn’t help but buy this the day it came out. Fairy tales, dark princesses eating hearts, mermaids, mazes… this is literally pushing every single one of my buttons.

tale of talesBefore the Brothers Grimm, before Charles Perrault, before Hans Christian Andersen, there was Giambattista Basile, a seventeenth-century poet from Naples, Italy, whom the Grimms credit with recording the first national collection of fairy tales. The Tale of Tales opens with Princess Zoza, unable to laugh no matter how funny the joke. Her father, the king, attempts to make her smile; instead he leaves her cursed, whereupon the prince she is destined to marry is snatched up by another woman. To expose this impostor and win back her rightful husband, Zoza contrives a storytelling extravaganza: fifty fairy tales to be told by ten sharp-tongued women (including Zoza in disguise) over five days.
Funny and scary, romantic and gruesome—and featuring a childless queen who devours the heart of a sea monster cooked by a virgin, and who then gives birth the very next day; a lecherous king aroused by the voice of a woman, whom he courts unaware of her physical grotesqueness; and a king who raises a flea to monstrous size on his own blood, sparking a contest in which an ogre vies with men for the hand of the king’s daughter—
The Tale of Tales is a fairy-tale treasure that prefigures Game of Thrones and other touchstones of worldwide fantasy literature.

3 Lee Kelly – A Criminal Magic

Here’s to book bloggers! Neither cover nor description spoke much to me but when I read a couple of rave reviews, I started getting interested. By now, I’ve worked up enough hype to barely contain myself. I need dis nao.

criminal magicMagic is powerful, dangerous and addictive – and after passage of the 18th Amendment, it is finally illegal.
It’s 1926 in Washington, DC, and while Anti-Sorcery activists have achieved the Prohibition of sorcery, the city’s magic underworld is booming. Sorcerers cast illusions to aid mobsters’ crime sprees. Smugglers funnel magic contraband in from overseas. Gangs have established secret performance venues where patrons can lose themselves in magic, and take a mind-bending, intoxicating elixir known as the sorcerer’s shine.
Joan Kendrick, a young sorcerer from Norfolk County, Virginia accepts an offer to work for DC’s most notorious crime syndicate, the Shaw Gang, when her family’s home is repossessed. Alex Danfrey, a first-year Federal Prohibition Unit trainee with a complicated past and talents of his own, becomes tapped to go undercover and infiltrate the Shaws.
Through different paths, Joan and Alex tread deep into the violent, dangerous world of criminal magic – and when their paths cross at the Shaws’ performance venue, despite their orders, and despite themselves, Joan and Alex become enchanted with one another. But when gang alliances begin to shift, the two sorcerers are forced to question their ultimate allegiances and motivations. And soon, Joan and Alex find themselves pitted against each other in a treacherous, heady game of cat-and-mouse.

4 Hermione Eyre – Viper Wine

This straddles the line between Literary Fiction and genre fiction and I don’t care a bit where it’s shelved. It sounds too good to pass up.

viper wineAt Whitehall Palace in 1632, the ladies at the court of Charles I are beginning to look suspiciously alike. Plump cheeks, dilated pupils, and a heightened sense of pleasure are the first signs that they have been drinking a potent new beauty tonic, Viper Wine, distilled and discreetly dispensed by the physician Lancelot Choice.
Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. But now she is married and her “mid-climacteric” approaches, all that adoration has curdled to scrutiny, and she fears her powers are waning. Her devoted husband, Sir Kenelm Digby – alchemist, explorer, philosopher, courtier, and time-traveller – believes he has the means to cure wounds from a distance, but he so loves his wife that he will not make her a beauty tonic, convinced she has no need of it.
From the whispering court at Whitehall, to the charlatan physicians of Eastcheap, here is a marriage in crisis, and a country on the brink of civil war. The novel takes us backstage at a glittering Inigo Jones court masque, inside a dour Puritan community, and into the Countess of Arundel’s snail closet. We see a lost Rubens altarpiece and peer into Venetia’s black-wet obsidian scrying mirror. Based on real events, Viper Wine is 1632 rendered in Pop Art prose; a place to find alchemy, David Bowie, recipes for seventeenth-century beauty potions, a Borgesian unfinished library and a submarine that sails beneath the Thames.

5 Silvia Moreno-García – Signal To Noise

Another book I would have overlooked if it weren’t for trusted book bloggers. I admit, the fact that it’s set in Mexico helped because I have that world travel challenge going and need to fill some spots.

signal to noiseA literary fantasy about love, music and sorcery, set against the background of Mexico City.
Mexico City, 1988: Long before iTunes or MP3s, you said “I love you” with a mixtape. Meche, awkward and fifteen, has two equally unhip friends — Sebastian and Daniela — and a whole lot of vinyl records to keep her company. When she discovers how to cast spells using music, the future looks brighter for the trio. With help from this newfound magic, the three friends will piece together their broken families, change their status as non-entities, and maybe even find love…
Mexico City, 2009: Two decades after abandoning the metropolis, Meche returns for her estranged father’s funeral. It’s hard enough to cope with her family, but then she runs into Sebastian, and it revives memories from her childhood she thought she buried a long time ago. What really happened back then? What precipitated the bitter falling out with her father? And, is there any magic left?

6 Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – Illuminae

You see where this is going. A bland-ish cover, a standard description, an uninterested me. Buuuuut The Book Smugglers loved it, many other people loved it, so here I am, wanting to read it too. Plus, the sequel comes out this year which means I won’t have to wait that long to continue the series, and that’s always a plus.

illuminaeThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

7 C. S. E. Cooney – Bone Swans

Another book – well, collection of novellas and stories – that seems to have been written solely for me. I don’t know about you, but I find it wonderful that authors are writing stuff that caters to my readerly needs. I doubt I’ll ever get enough of subverted fairy-tales. Plus, the cover illustration is by Kay Nielsen and that is pure Dina-bait.

bone swansA swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.
World Fantasy Award winner Ellen Kushner has called Cooney’s writing “stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible.” BONE SWANS, the infernally whimsical debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, gathers five novellas that in the words of Andre Norton Award winner Delia Sherman are “bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time.” Cooney’s mentor, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Gene Wolfe, proclaims in his introduction that her style is so original it can only be described as “pure Cooney,” and he offers readers a challenge: “Try to define that when you’ve finished the stories in this book.”

8 Nike A. Sulway – Rupetta

This book fell into my hands through unconventional (for me) ways. I love Angela Slatter so, so much that I was browsing on her publisher’s home page and discovered Rupetta. It sounded really good so I bought the e-book.

rupettaFour hundred years ago, in a small town in rural France, a young woman creates the future in the shape of Rupetta. Part mechanical, part human, Rupetta’s consciousness is tied to the women who wind her. In the years that follow she is bought and sold, borrowed, forgotten and revered. By the twentieth century, the Rupettan four-fold law rules everyone’s lives, but Rupetta—the immortal being on whose existence and history those laws are based—is the keeper of a secret that will tear apart the world her followers have built in her name. The closeness between women is mirrored in the relationship between Henri and Miri, a woman at the college with whom she fall in love, and also between mothers and daughters and grandmothers and granddaughters – a heritage of affection that loops down over the centuries.
This stunning new novel by award-winning Australian writer Nike Sulway invokes the great tradition of European fantasy/horror fiction and moves it forward in a superbly imaginative, highly original fashion.

9 China Miéville – This Census-Taker

Come on, it’s China Miéville! That’s all the reason I need to read a book but as happens so often with his novels, it also sounds highly interesting and original. I have no idea what really  to expect but if China Miéville wrote it, I’ll probably like it. And there’s usually some mind-blowing element in his books and having my mind blown is a favorite pastime, so there you go.this census-taker

For readers of George Saunders, Kelly Link, and Karen Russell, This Census Taker is the poignant and uncanny new novella from award-winning and bestselling author China Miéville.
After witnessing a profoundly traumatic event, a boy is left alone in a remote house on a hilltop with his increasingly deranged parent. When a stranger knocks on his door, the boy senses that his days of isolation are over—but by what authority does this man keep the meticulous records he carries? Is he the boy’s friend? His enemy? Or something altogether other?

10 Nicole Korner-Stace – Archivist Wasp / Hannah Moskowitz – A History of Glitter and Blood

I’m cheating. Number ten is a tie, but because both books landed on my wishlist and eventually my shopping basket because of The Book Smugglers, I think I can bend the rules a little bit. Archivist Wasp was just nominated for the Andre Norton Award and A History of Glitter and Blood just sounds amazing.

Archivist Wasp:

archivist waspWasp’s job is simple. Hunt ghosts. And every year she has to fight to remain Archivist. Desperate and alone, she strikes a bargain with the ghost of a supersoldier. She will go with him on his underworld hunt for the long-long ghost of his partner and in exchange she will find out more about his pre-apocalyptic world than any Archivist before her. And there is much to know. After all, Archivists are marked from birth to do the holy work of a goddess. They’re chosen. They’re special. Or so they’ve been told for four hundred years.
Archivist Wasp fears she is not the chosen one, that she won’t survive the trip to the underworld, that the brutal life she has escaped might be better than where she is going. There is only one way to find out.

A History of Glitter and Blood:

history of glitter and bloodSixteen-year-old Beckan and her friends are the only fairies brave enough to stay in Ferrum when war breaks out. Now there is tension between the immortal fairies, the subterranean gnomes, and the mysterious tightropers who arrived to liberate the fairies.
But when Beckan’s clan is forced to venture into the gnome underworld to survive, they find themselves tentatively forming unlikely friendships and making sacrifices they couldn’t have imagined. As danger mounts, Beckan finds herself caught between her loyalty to her friends, her desire for peace, and a love she never expected.
This stunning, lyrical fantasy is a powerful exploration of what makes a family, what justifies a war, and what it means to truly love.

Books in the Queue – The Catching Up Edition

2015 was a crazy good year for SFF books and there is still so much I haven’t read. And 2016 is already shaping up to be as good (if not better) when it comes to new releases, so I have my hands full. But before all the great books from last year – or the years before, come to think of it – get lost in all the shiny new stuff, I want to do some catching up. Here’s what I plan to read soon-ish or am currently reading in my attempt to keep up with the fast-moving world of SFF.

Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

I started this a few days ago and I am already in love with it. The book has a Firefly feel to it, what with the spaceship crew of insanely interesting characters who each have their own life and hopes and dreams.

long way to a small angry planetWhen Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The Wayfarer, a patched-up ship that’s seen better days, offers her everything she could possibly want: a small, quiet spot to call home for a while, adventure in far-off corners of the galaxy, and distance from her troubled past.

But Rosemary gets more than she bargained for with the Wayfarer. The crew is a mishmash of species and personalities, from Sissix, the friendly reptillian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the constantly sparring engineers who keep the ship running. Life on board is chaotic, but more or less peaceful – exactly what Rosemary wants.

Until the crew are offered the job of a lifetime: the chance to build a hyperspace tunnel to a distant planet. They’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years… if they survive the long trip through war-torn interstellar space without endangering any of the fragile alliances that keep the galaxy peaceful.

But Rosemary isn’t the only person on board with secrets to hide, and the crew will soon discover that space may be vast, but spaceships are very small indeed.

N.K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season

This I started a while ago but I haven’t found the quiet time I need to enjoy this book. It’s not an easy quick read, it wants to be savored and read carefully. I’m pretty sure I can finish it before the sequel comes out, I just need a weekend to myself and some quiet around the house.

fifth seasonThis is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans

I have been all over this book from the moment I saw the cover. Then I read the description and started believing Cooney wrote this only for me. It pushes all my buttons and looks like just my cup of tea. Fairy tales subverted, twisted, lyrical language, great reviews all around… I can’t wait to get started!

bone swansA swan princess hunted for her bones, a broken musician and his silver pipe, and a rat named Maurice bring justice to a town under fell enchantment. A gang of courageous kids confronts both a plague-destroyed world and an afterlife infested with clowns but robbed of laughter. In an island city, the murder of a child unites two lovers, but vengeance will part them. Only human sacrifice will save a city trapped in ice and darkness. Gold spun out of straw has a price, but not the one you expect.

World Fantasy Award winner Ellen Kushner has called Cooney’s writing “stunningly delicious! Cruel, beautiful and irresistible.” BONE SWANS, the infernally whimsical debut collection from C. S. E. Cooney, gathers five novellas that in the words of Andre Norton Award winner Delia Sherman are “bawdy, horrific, comic, and moving-frequently all at the same time.” Cooney’s mentor, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Gene Wolfe, proclaims in his introduction that her style is so original it can only be described as “pure Cooney,” and he offers readers a challenge: “Try to define that when you’ve finished the stories in this book.”

Lawrence M. Schoen – Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard

Since this book came out so late in 2015, it has gone a little under the radar. But thanks to SFWA’s recommendations for the Nebulas (and a gorgeous, gorgeous cover) I found it anyway and it has raced all the way up on my to-read list. A book that can garner so much support from professionals in such a short time must be pretty damn good.

barskAn historian who speaks with the dead is ensnared by the past. A child who feels no pain and who should not exist sees the future. Between them are truths that will shake worlds.

In a distant future, no remnants of human beings remain, but their successors thrive throughout the galaxy. These are the offspring of humanity’s genius-animals uplifted into walking, talking, sentient beings. The Fant are one such species: anthropomorphic elephants ostracized by other races, and long ago exiled to the rainy ghetto world of Barsk. There, they develop medicines upon which all species now depend. The most coveted of these drugs is koph, which allows a small number of users to interact with the recently deceased and learn their secrets.

To break the Fant’s control of koph, an offworld shadow group attempts to force the Fant to surrender their knowledge. Jorl, a Fant Speaker with the dead, is compelled to question his deceased best friend, who years ago mysteriously committed suicide. In so doing, Jorl unearths a secret the powers-that-be would prefer to keep buried forever. Meanwhile, his dead friend’s son, a physically challenged young Fant named Pizlo, is driven by disturbing visions to take his first unsteady steps toward an uncertain future

So these are my most urgent want-to-reads, but I didn’t even mention all the others I’m also itching to read.

  • Kate Elliott – Black Wolves
  • Molly Tanzer – Vermilion
  • Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
  • Aliette de Bodard – The House of Shattered Wings
  • Linda Nagata – The Red: First Light
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy (I know, I know)

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I’ve Recently Added To My TBR

Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish,  is a fun book blogging meme in which I plan to participate a lot more this year. The topics aren’t always up my alley but as I love making lists (especially lists of books), here’s my first TTT post of the year.

Top Ten Books I’ve Recently Added To My TBR

These are not the most recent additions to my TBR, but they are somewhat recent and definitely the ones I’m most excited to read. Some are a few months old, some even older, but I’ve just recently discovered them or decided to buy them.

  1. China Miéville – This Census-Taker
  2. Anna Tambour – Crandolin
  3. Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Signal to Noise
  4. Nike Sulway – Rupetta
  5. Lisa L. Hannett & Angela Slatter – The Female Factory
  6. Susan Dennard – Truthwitch
  7. Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – Illuminae
  8. Daniel Polansky – The Builders
  9. Carla Speed McNeil – Finder (Book 1)
  10. C.S.E. Cooney – Bone Swans

 

 

Why am I so excited?

Anything new by China Miéville is cause for major excitement and this new book of his is surprisingly short. It also sounds dark and creepy and like there might be a few twists along the way. And for some reason, I believe it will make a perfect winter read.

Anna Tambour’s Crandolin had been on my wishlist only for a little while when it was included in one of the Humble Story Bundles – so naturally I bought the bundle and got a bunch of other intriguing books in the mix.

Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Signal to Noise has garnered lots of praise throughout 2015 but for some reason, I thought I wouldn’t like it. But the more I read about the book, the more I wanted to experience it for myself. So now it’s mine and I want to read it very soon.

Rupetta and The Female Factory are both products of my love for Angela Slatter. Rupetta is published by the same publishing house as Slatter’s beautiful short fiction collections, and Slatter co-wrote The Female Factory – which is one of Twelfth Planet Press series of short story collections. I just read Love and Romanpunk from them so that gave me the additional push to buy the book.

Truthwitch and Illuminae are two books that I bought purely on hype. Illuminae actually put me off with its cover, the authors both didn’t speak to me (Kaufman’s other books sound like generic teen romances, I found Kristoff’s Stormdancer novel only okay), but The Book Smugglers and many other people were so impressed that I have to read the book for myself. Truthwitch hooked me with the premise (again, the cover is not so much my thing), and the crazy amount of tweets this book has gotten – all of which are full of love and praise – did the rest.

Polansky’s Builders was always going to be read by me. It’s part of the Tor.com novella line-up from 2015 (which has been excellent!) and look at that cover! Come on, how could I resist?

Finder was an impulse buy after re-listening to old episodes of the SF Squeecast. They squeed well, they squeed convincingly, and I went out and bought this huge brick of a graphic novel. And that’s only part one!

Bone Swans tickles all my spots. The cover is a Kay Nielsen illustration, the author plays with fairy tales, her prose is described as lyrical – that’s really all it takes.

So this is it, my list of books that get me giddy with excitement and make me jump up and down in my chair a little when I think about them. Now all I have to do is read them, and quickly, because 2016 promises to be another great year for SFF publishing.

2016 Challenges – Fairy Tale Retellings

Mel at The Daily Prophecy has been hosting this challenge for a while, but last year I was too late to sign up. I will not miss it again! Not only do I love Mel’s writing about books, her bingo cards, challenges, and other posts, I also owe her my gorgeous copy of Naomi Novik’s Uprooted which I won in one of her givaways. Thanks again, Mel!

(Fairy Tale) Retelling Challenge – Level: Goose Girl

Retelling Challenge 2016

If you don’t like fairy tale retellings, other retellings are also allowed – mythology, folklore, classics, and so on.

For what is probably the first time ever, I resisted the urge to aim for the highest goal (or the coolest sounding level) and went for something realistic. Here are the challenge leves (from Mel’s blog):

There are 6 different levels you can aim for:

-Enchanted Moura: 1 – 4 books.Retelling Challenge Goose Girl
-Goose Girl: 5 – 9 books.
-Evil Queen: 10 – 15 books.
-Wise princess: 16 – 20 books.
-Kuma Lisa: 21 – 25 books.
-Cheshire cat: 26+ books

See? I’m reasonable for once. I totally wanted to go for Cheshire Cat because it’s the highest level and also IT’S CALLED CHESHIRE CAT! Don’t ask me how I resisted, but for 2016, I shall simply be the Goose Girl.

And because no sign-up post is much fun without a list of some sort that I create with great care and thought only to dismiss once the year has arrived, here are some books I plan to read for the challenge:

Books in the Queue – The Sprint to the End of the Year Edition

Oh man, I have so many books to read this year still. Whether it’s for challenges, for Hugo award consideration, because I’ve been waiting for their publication, or simply because I need to read them because otherwise a little part of me will die – I have way too many books lined up that I still want to finish in 2015. Here’s a look at the ones that are looking at me with the biggest puppy dog eyes and that want to be read most urgently:

  • Catherynne M. Valente – Radiance
    Oh my god, why is this book not in my hands yet I’m dying here! I’ve read a sneak peek of this via NetGalley and fell in love so hard that I had a book hangover. And that was only the beginning. How broken with the rest of the book leave me, I ask you? I don’t care, give it to me now!
  • N. K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season
    It’s no secret I love Nora Jemisin’s writing and people have had nothing but praise for this latest of her books. My fingers are twitching in anticipation.
  • Sara Monette – Mélusine
    The Goblin Emperor stole my heart, so now I want to read everything by Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison.
  • Hannah Moskowitz – A History of Glitter and Blood
    It’s The Booksmugglers’ fault. The cover caught my eye but the plot sounded only meh. Then Ana and Thea RAVED about this and seconds later, I owned the book. It happens.
  • Terry Pratchett – The Shepherd’s Crown
    I’m a little torn here. On the one hand, Tiffany Aching and Granny Weatherwax are my favorite Discworld characters and I desperately want another adventure with them. On the other hand, this is the last Discworld book ever and it breaks my heart in so many different ways that I don’t want to read it just yet.
  • Nicole Kornher-Stace – Archivist Wasp
    Again, The Booksmugglers. You guys are going to ruin me! In this case, I think Liz Bourke also raved about it in her column Sleeps With Monsters.
  • Elizabeth Bear – Karen Memory
    I bought this right when it came out but it kind of got lost under a bunch of other books. I can’t quite remember why I didn’t jump into this right away, it sounds so good! And because it sounds so good, I suspect it might be a Hugo contender and I need to read it before nominating starts. Informed decisions and all that.
  • Seth Dickinson – The Traitor Baru Cormorant
    I think the internet has said enough about this to make everyone read it. My excitement about this book has been building since early this year. Now let’s see if the marketing hype has promised too much. Either way, I look forward to this very much.
  • Angela Slatter – Of Sorrow and Such
    I still have Slatter’s shor story collections to read before this (because reasons) but whatever happens, I must read this soon. Everything about it is wonderful. The cover, the blurb, the idea… yes. This is for me.

And here are a few that I need to list because I’m worried I’ll forget about them otherwise and they really didn’t do anything to deserve that (and yes, I am aware that I talk about books as if they were sentient).

  • S. M. Wheeler – Sea Change
    I’ve had this lined up for ages. It sounds just perfect for me, the blurb pushes all my buttons already. Why haven’t I read this yet? Do you know, cause I don’t.
  • Octavia Cade – The August Birds
    This sounds heartbreaking and beautiful and it’s by Octavia Cade and I know it’s going to leave me in a puddle of tears but that’s fine.
  • Molly Tanzer – Vermilion
    It didn’t get a lot of hype but with that cover and that synopsis, it was a sure thing for me. This feels like the kind of book that will end up as an underrated gem.
  • Angela Slatter – Sourdough and Other Stories
    I first heard about Angela Slatter (pronounced slay-ter, I’m told) on the Writer and the Critic podcast, and she sounds like  THE writer for me. I bought both her story collections and am eagerly waiting for her Tor.com novella.
  • Rachel Bach – Honour’s Knight and Heaven’s Queen
    I adored the first book in this sci-fi, alien, conspiracy, romantic, space adventure trilogy and don’t really know why I haven’t finished it yet. It’s about time.
  • Jeff Vandermeer – Authority and Acceptance
    See Rachel Bach. To be fair, though, Annihilation was a very weird book so my taking a break after it is understandable. I’d still like to complete the trilogy and maybe get some answers about Area X and all the strangeness that’s going on there.
  • Cecilia Dart-Thornton – The Ill-Made Mute
    A fairy tale retelling that sounds so exquisite and original that I put it on two of my challenge lists.
  • John Crowley – Little, Big
    A book I’ve been putting of for far too long. It’s Cat Valente’s favorite book – that should be incentive enough. I mean, she is my author goddess! If she likes it, I probably will, too. Page count and writing density have kept me away but this year, I’ll dive into it. Pinkie swear.
  • Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett – Dragon Soul
    I’ve read one Jones/Bennett book per year since I discovered the lovely Havemercy and I don’t see any reason to discontinue that trend. These are wonderful fantasies of manners involving diverse romantic couples as well as court intrigue, mechanical (sentient) dragons, magicians, and the most wonderful bickering between characters.

On the plus side, there are a few books I’m really excited about but that I’m waiting to read on purpose. Brandon Sanderson’s newest Mistborn trilogy, for example. By now, I know how evil that man can be with a cliffhanger, so I’m biding my time until the trilogy is out and then I’ll dive into the universe of allomancy and feruchemy again. I’m also saving up Ancillary Mercy for my next holiday because I want to (re-)read the entire trilogy in one go.

And since there are still more books lined up for this year that I didn’t tell you about, I better shut up now and get reading.

Books in the Queue – The Late Summer Edition

Lately, I’ve been switching between reading slump and reading burst and I have no idea what’s going on. For weeks I can’t bring myself to read more than 10 pages, and then suddenly I devour 3 books in as many days. But whether it’s hormonal or related to the weather, I am currently in that motivated, must-read-all-the-books phase. And because we’re already well into the second half of the year, I am tackling some reading challenges and review copies during the rest of the summer.

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Ellen Kushner – Thomas the Rhymer

(Ages ago) I read Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, and then forgot almost everything about it. I remember liking the book while I read it but can’t for the life of me tell you the plot or the character names – which could be either because my memory sucks or because the book really was forgettable. So I was hesitant about Thomas the Rhymer – a few pages in, however, I am positively ecstatic. This will be a good one, I just know it!

thomas the rhymerAward-winning author and radio personality Ellen Kushner’s inspired retelling of an ancient legend weaves myth and magic into a vivid contemporary novel about the mysteries of the human heart. Brimming with ballads, riddles, and magical transformations, here is the timeless tale of a charismatic bard whose talents earn him a two-edged otherworldly gift.
A minstrel lives by his words, his tunes, and sometimes by his lies. But when the bold and gifted young Thomas the Rhymer awakens the desire of the powerful Queen of Elfland, he finds that words are not enough to keep him from his fate. As the Queen sweeps him far from the people he has known and loved into her realm of magic, opulence—and captivity—he learns at last what it is to be truly human. When he returns to his home with the Queen’s parting gift, his great task will be to seek out the girl he loved and wronged, and offer her at last the tongue that cannot lie.

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Stephen King – Wolves of the Calla (The Dark Tower #5)

Oh man, The Dark Tower has been with me since I was in my teens. I kind of like spreading out this epic series over many years. But the boyfriend (who finished the entire series in a few weeks after I gave him The Gunslinger) keeps pestering me. He wants me to finish it so we can discuss All The Spoilers. Somehow, I got in the mood again to return to my favorite ka-tet.

wolves of the callaRoland Deschain and his ka-tet are bearing south-east through the forests of Mid-World on their quest for the Dark Tower. Their path takes them to the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis. But beyond the tranquil farm town, the ground rises to the hulking darkness of Thunderclap, the source of a terrible affliction that is stealing the town’s soul. The wolves of Thunderclap and their unspeakable depredation are coming. To resist them is to risk all, but these are odds the gunslingers are used to. Their guns, however, will not be enough…

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Sarah Monette – Mélusine

My one big hope for this year’s Hugos is that The Goblin Emperor takes home the award for best novel. I loved that book so, so much! As I’ve owned a paperback copy of  Mélusine for over a decade, I thought it was time to finally read more by Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette. This sounds dark and tragic and absolutely wonderful (despite the cover).

melusineMélusine — a city of secrets and lies, pleasure and pain, magic and corruption — and destinies lost and found.
Felix Harrowgate is a dashing, highly respected wizard. But his aristocratic peers don’t know his dark past — how his abusive former master enslaved him, body and soul, and trained him to pass as a nobleman. Within the walls of the Mirador — Melusine’s citadel of power and wizardry — Felix believed he was safe. He was wrong. Now, the horrors of his previous life have found him and threaten to destroy all he has since become.
Mildmay the Fox is used to being hunted. Raised as a kept-thief and trained as an assassin, he escaped his Keeper long ago and lives on his own as a cat burglar. But now he has been caught by a mysterious foreign wizard using a powerful calling charm. And yet the wizard was looking not for Mildmay — but for Felix Harrowgate.” Thrown together by fate, the broken wizard Felix and the wanted killer Mildmay journey far from Melusine through lands thick with strange magics and terrible demons of darkness. But it is the shocking secret from their pasts, linking them inexorably together, that will either save them, or destroy them.

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Zen Cho – Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1)

Aaaaaah, I got a review copy of this and I’m so excited! Zen Cho’s novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo wasn’t a great hit with me, but mostly because it was too short. I loved the language and just wanted more time to get to know the characters. Now Cho has written a novel which promises all those things. Plus magic.

sorcerer to the crownIn this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…
The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

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Fran Wilde – Updraft

Another review copy! I actually really dislike the cover but I’ve been hearing so many great things from early readers that I couldn’t resist. The story sounds ambitious and intriguing. Having never read anything by Fran Wilde, I’m curious how this will turn out.

updraftIn a city of living bone rising high above the clouds, where danger hides in the wind and the ground is lost to legend, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves.
Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.
Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother’s side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city’s secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.
As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn’t destroyed outright.

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Now I’m only hoping that my current reading mood persists and I can catch up on everything I missed in July. Seriously, I only read two books in July. TWO! But August looks to be a quiet month at work so I’m hoping I will find enough time to read all these beauties up there.

Books in the Queue – The Super Excited Edition

During the last months, I was entirely taken in by Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Trilogy and couldn’t bring myself to read anything else. Now that the book hangover has subsided, my brain made some space for new books. And as it happens on the interwebs, many trusted people give many fantastic recommendations. It’s been a while since I’ve been this torn about what to pick up next. EVERYTHING SOUNDS SO GOOD!!!

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V.E. Schwab – A Darker Shade of Magic

Not only does this book come recommended from practically everyone, it also has two brilliant covers (both UK and US look gorgeous for once – ETA: And check out book two, it’s so shiny!). A few days ago, I listened to this charming podcast Cooking the Books, and Victora Schwab was so passionate and excited about her book, I’m itching to start reading it right now. Edit: And I’m already halfway through…

A Darker Shade final for IreneKell is one of the last Travelers—rare magicians who choose a parallel universe to visit.
Grey London is dirty, boring, lacks magic, ruled by mad King George. Red London is where life and magic are revered, and the Maresh Dynasty presides over a flourishing empire. White London is ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. People fight to control magic, and the magic fights back, draining the city to its very bones. Once there was Black London – but no one speaks of that now.
Officially, Kell is the Red Traveler, personal ambassador and adopted Prince of Red London, carrying the monthly correspondences between
A Gathering of Shadows Finalroyals of each London. Unofficially, Kell smuggles for those willing to pay for even a glimpse of a world they’ll never see. This dangerous hobby sets him up for accidental treason. Fleeing into Grey London, Kell runs afoul of Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She robs him, saves him from a dangerous enemy, then forces him to another world for her ‘proper adventure’.
But perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, Kell and Lila will first need to stay alive — trickier than they hoped.

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Laura Ruby – Bone Gap

This is Renay and Ana’s fault. In their Fangirl Happy Hour podcast, they made this book sound irresistible. I think this will be like the kind of story that sticks with you after you’re done reading. I skipped the spoilery bits and still got totally excited to pick up the book for myself.bone gap

Bone Gap is the story of Roza, a beautiful girl who is taken from a quiet midwestern town and imprisoned by a mysterious man, and Finn, the only witness, who cannot forgive himself for being unable to identify her kidnapper. As we follow them through their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures, acclaimed author Laura Ruby weaves a heartbreaking tale of love and loss, magic and mystery, regret and forgiveness—a story about how the face the world sees is never the sum of who we are.

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J. Kathleen Cheney – The Golden City

I don’t remember how I found this book but since it’s set in Portugal, I immediately bought it for my Read Around the World challenge. The cover is a bit generic (girl in nice dress looking over her shoulder) but “spy” and “court” and “sea folk” are buzz words for me, at least when combined. This also sounds like it has a bickering couple in it and you know how I get weak in the knees when it comes to bickering couples.

golden cityFor two years, Oriana Paredes has been a spy among the social elite of the Golden City, reporting back to her people, the sereia, sea folk banned from the city’s shores….
When her employer and only confidante decides to elope, Oriana agrees to accompany her to Paris. But before they can depart, the two women are abducted and left to drown. Trapped beneath the waves, Oriana’s heritage allows her to survive while she is forced to watch her only friend die.
Vowing vengeance, Oriana crosses paths with Duilio Ferreira—a police consultant who has been investigating the disappearance of a string of servants from the city’s wealthiest homes. Duilio also has a secret: He is a seer and his gifts have led him to Oriana.
Bound by their secrets, not trusting each other completely yet having no choice but to work together, Oriana and Duilio must expose a twisted plot of magic so dark that it could cause the very fabric of history to come undone….

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Ken Liu – The Grace of Kings

Another book that has garnered nothing but praise (with the occasional reservation) and that I’ve been excited for since last year. I don’t really know what to expect but I look forward to diving into this epic fantasy. Also, “silk-draped airships” and “conspiring goddesses” sounds totally up my alley.

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

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Elizabeth Bear – Karen Memory

I still haven’t finished The Eternal Sky trilogy but Karen Memory looks too delicious to wait. That cover makes me giddy! Again, Renay and Ana are partly to blame for my excitement. I got this book as soon as it came out but it climbed up all the way on my to read pile after their episode of Fangirl Happy Hour.

karen memory“You ain’t gonna like what I have to tell you, but I’m gonna tell you anyway. See, my name is Karen Memery, like memory only spelt with an e, and I’m one of the girls what works in the Hôtel Mon Cherie on Amity Street. Hôtel has a little hat over the o like that. It’s French, so Beatrice tells me.”
Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.
Bear brings alive this Jack-the-Ripper yarn of the old west with a light touch in Karen’s own memorable voice, and a mesmerizing evocation of classic steam-powered science.

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So these are the books I’m itching to read very soon. Since starting this post, I already cound’t keep my hands off one of them and it’s just as good as everyone said. May the other books follow suit. And once I’m through this pile, I can finally catch up on City of Stairs and the rest of Vandermeer’s Area X trilogy. Man, reading is stressful sometimes…