Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books of 2017 I’m Looking Forward To

Here’s a great topic for Top Ten Tuesday which I totally missed so I’m doing it now, on a Friday, because I’m rebellious like that. Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. 2016 has been such a busy year for great new releases, even better than 2015 And I am SO. VERY. BEHIND. on reading all of those new books. However, I already have a list of stuff I’m looking forward to next year. Here are my top ten:

Top Ten 2017 Releases I’m Looking Forward To

In order to spare you my incessant gushing about Cat Valente, I have split this list into sections. You can skip whichever one you want to avoid.

Part I: The Valentes

Catherynne M. Valente – The Lords of Glass Town

The Brontës as children, stepping into their made-up portal fantasy? Written by Cat Valente?! GIMME GIMME GIMME! The book doesn’t have a cover yet (I’m sure it will be epic) but here’s what little Goodreads says about the plot:

The Lords of Glass Town follows Charlotte, Emily, Branwell, and Anne Brontë as they discover a portal into Glass Town, a Narnia-like fantasy world of their own creation.

Catherynne M. Valente – Matryoshka

Unlike The Lords of Glass Town, I’m not sure this will actually be published in 2017. If it is, I’ll be the first to pounce on it and in this case, I’ll probably need the UK and US edition to go with my UK and US editions of Deathless.

The Deathless companion novel is a retelling of Ivan and the Firebird set during the children’s evacuation of Leningrad.

Catherynne M. Valente – The Spindle of Necessity

Valente said recently on Twitter that this third of her Prester John books would be Kickstarted next year. I still haven’t read the second book in the trilogy, but come on. Like I’m going to miss out on that. Plus, if it’s on Kickstarter, there may be some awesome extra swag to go with the book. Cat Valente is the one author I’ll gladly throw all my money at. No regrets.

Catherynne M. Valente – The Refrigerator Monologues

refrigerator-monologuesCat Valente has been busy writing, it appears, with four books coming out in a single year. This happens to be the perfect amount of Valente books per annum, if you ask me, and she could totally keep doing that forever and ever. AND this book is illustrated, so yay!

The lives of six female superheroes and the girlfriends of superheroes. A ferocious riff on women in superhero comics.
From the New York Times bestselling author Catherynne Valente comes a series of linked stories from the points of view of the wives and girlfriends of superheroes, female heroes, and anyone who’s ever been “refrigerated”: comic book women who are killed, raped, brainwashed, driven mad, disabled, or had their powers taken so that a male superhero’s storyline will progress.
In an entirely new and original superhero universe, Valente subversively explores these ideas and themes in the superhero genre, treating them with the same love, gravity, and humor as her fairy tales. After all, superheroes are our new fairy tales and these six women have their own stories to share.

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Part II: The Obvious Choices

Scott Lynch – The Thorn of Emberlain

thorn of emberlainNo idea if this will come out in 2017. It’s been pushed back several times and I’ll have to re-read The Republic of Thieves anyway. But despite my fading memories of a terrible reveal and new cliffhanger, I will look forward to this until it is finally in my hands.

With 50,000 copies sold of The Republic of Thieves and with praise from the likes of Joe Abercrombie and George RR Martin the saga of the Gentleman Bastard has become a favourite and key part of the fantasy landscape. And now Locke Lamora, thief, con-man, pirate, political deceiver must become a soldier.
A new chapter for Locke and Jean and finally the war that has been brewing in the Kingdom of the Marrows flares up and threatens to capture all in its flames.
And all the while Locke must try to deal with the disturbing rumours about his past revealed in The Republic of Thieves. Fighting a war when you don’t know the truth of right and wrong is one thing. Fighting a war when you don’t know the truth of yourself is quite another. Particularly when you’ve never been that good with a sword anyway…

Nnedi Okorafor – Binti: Home

binti-homeI adored Okorafor’s Tor.com novella, Binti, and I cannot wait for the sequel. Although Binti told a full story, the world is wide open for more and I am so glad Okorafor decided to share more of it with her readers. The cover is gorgeous again.

It’s been a year since Binti and Okwu enrolled at Oomza University. A year since Binti was declared a hero for uniting two warring planets. A year since she left her family to pursue her dream.
And now she must return home to her people, with her friend Okwu by her side, to face her family and face her elders.
But Okwu will be the first of his race to set foot on Earth in over a hundred years, and the first ever to come in peace.
After generations of conflict can human and Meduse ever learn to truly live in harmony?

Caitlín R. Kiernan – Agents of Dreamland

agents-of-dreamlandThe description actualyl doesn’t sound like my thing but it is a new Caitlín R. Kiernan novel and it’s sure to be weird and creepy and wonderful.

A government special agent known only as the Signalman gets off a train on a stunningly hot morning in Winslow, Arizona. Later that day he meets a woman in a diner to exchange information about an event that happened a week earlier for which neither has an explanation, but which haunts the Signalman.
In a ranch house near the shore of the Salton Sea a cult leader gathers up the weak and susceptible—the Children of the Next Level—and offers them something to believe in and a chance for transcendence. The future is coming and they will help to usher it in.
A day after the events at the ranch house which disturbed the Signalman so deeply that he and his government sought out help from ‘other’ sources, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory abruptly loses contact with NASA’s interplanetary probe New Horizons. Something out beyond the orbit of Pluto has made contact.
And a woman floating outside of time looks to the future and the past for answers to what can save humanity.

Susan Dennard – Windwitch

windwitchHere’s an unexpected one. I didn’t think I’d come to like Truthwitch as much as I did. It had flaws, sure, but overall, the fun aspect was stronger and I find myself eagerly awaiting the sequel.

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In this follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, a shadow man haunts the Nubrevnan streets, leaving corpses in his wake—and then raising those corpses from the dead. Windwitch continues the tale of Merik—cunning privateer, prince, and windwitch.

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Part IV: The Not-So-Obvious Choices

Katherine Arden – The Bear and the Nightingale

Ibear-and-the-nightingalef you read the synopsis, you’ll know why I want this. It has all my buzzwords right there. Fairy tales, Russian ones at that, a wild, willful girl – I need this!

A young woman’s family is threatened by forces both real and fantastical in this debut novel inspired by Russian fairy tales.
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.

S. Jae-Jones – Wintersong

wintersongThis is a Labyrinth retelling/sequel/spinoff!!! I was worried for a long time because this could go so very, very wrong. However, a handful of early reviews are up (by authors and trusted people) and they all sound quite positive. This appears to be less YA-tropey than expected so I’m all in.

Beware the goblin men and the wares they sell.
All her life, nineteen-year-old Liesl has heard tales of the beautiful, mysterious Goblin King. He is the Lord of Mischief, the Ruler Underground, and the muse around which her music is composed. Yet, as Liesl helps shoulder the burden of running her family’s inn, her dreams of composition and childish fancies about the Goblin King must be set aside in favor of more practical concerns.
But when her sister Käthe is taken by the goblins, Liesl journeys to their realm to rescue her sister and return her to the world above. The Goblin King agrees to let Käthe go—for a price. The life of a maiden must be given to the land, in accordance with the old laws. A life for a life, he says. Without sacrifice, nothing good can grow. Without death, there can be no rebirth. In exchange for her sister’s freedom, Liesl offers her hand in marriage to the Goblin King. He accepts.
Down in the Underground, Liesl discovers that the Goblin King still inspires her—musically, physically, emotionally. Yet even as her talent blossoms, Liesl’s life is slowly fading away, the price she paid for becoming the Goblin King’s bride. As the two of them grow closer, they must learn just what it is they are each willing to sacrifice: her life, her music, or the end of the world.

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Part V: Non-Fiction

Jo Walton – An Informal History of the Hugos

informal-history-of-the-hugosI feel like I’ve read a dozen informal histories of the Hugos during the last three years and their accompanying Hugo disasters. But next year I’ll actually be attending WordCon for the first time, so more Hugo writing is welcome. Plus, I love Jo Walton’s non-fiction.

The Hugo Awards, named after pioneer science-fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback, and voted on by members of the World Science Fiction Society, have been given out since 1953. They are widely considered the most prestigious award in science fiction.
Between 2010 and 2013, Jo Walton wrote a series of posts for Tor.com, surveying the Hugo finalists and winners from the award’s inception up to the year 2000. Her contention was that each year’s full set of finalists generally tells a meaningful story about the state of science fiction at that time.
Walton’s cheerfully opinionated and vastly well-informed posts provoked valuable conversation among the field’s historians. Now these posts, lightly revised, have been gathered into this book, along with a small selection of the comments posted by SF luminaries such as Rich Horton, Gardner Dozois, and the late David G. Hartwell.
Engaged, passionate, and consistently entertaining, this is a book for the many who enjoyed Walton’s previous collection of writing from Tor.com, the Locus Award-winning What Makes This Book So Great.

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Between starting this post and finishing it, I have accumulated a whole new list of books to look forward to in 2017. I believe it’s going to be a good year for SFF.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings On Goodreads

This was much easier than expected. The Broke and The Bookish picked an excellent topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. I love finding underrated and not-so-well-known books and I love telling others about all the underrated books that I know. Now, I’m not sure I interpreted the Goodreads ratings correctly because I only checked the number of ratings on whichever edition of a book I own (or whichever came up first). I’m sure if one adds the ratings on all available editions, all these books have more ratings but, honestly, I don’t know if Goodreads gives you that number and I was way too lazy to add the ratings up myself.

So I’ve included the number of ratings (of my edition) in brackets next to each title to show you just how unloved these gems are. I also linked to my review if I wrote one. Seriously though, pick these books up, they’re all excellent!

My Top Ten Books With Less than 2000 Ratings on Goodreads

Angela Slatter – Sourdough (82 ratings) and The Bitterwood Bible (73 ratings)

Oh my god, you don’t know what you’re missing! Angela Slatter is an Australian author who weaves the most beautiful fairytale-esque stories you can imagine. Her two short story collections are much more than just some short stories put together. They actually tell a much larger story. In Sourdough every story gives you a new puzzle piece about the history of a place and its inhabitants. The Bitterwood Bible spins this further (although it is a sort of prequel), with recurring characters, intertwining stories, and lots of fantastic female characters. I love these books to bits and urge you to get yourself an ebook copy – they’re affordable and available worldwide. Yay for the internet!

Régis Loisel – Peter Pan(434 ratings)

I suppose French comics aren’t read very widely and my own interest in them comes from having lived in France for a while. But if you like Peter Pan and comics, this is for you. Loisel gives J. M. Barrie’s story a new spin and although there are many recognisable characters and plot points, this is not the children’s story you remember. It is brutal, devastating, not for kids, and absolutely heartbreaking. The six-part series is completed so you won’t have to wait for sequels either. So pick it up.

Theodora Goss – In the Forest of Forgetting (615 ratings)

Another short story collection that deserves to be better known. Theodora Goss has a distinctly lyrical, fairy tale style that makes the most mundane things seem magical. The titular story is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read, and some of her other tales stuck in my mind, refusing to let go.

Luiz Eduardo de Oliveira (Leo) – Aldebaran (161 ratings)

Another comic book series, yippie! Aldebaran is a science fiction comic and I’ll be honest with you – I’m not a huge fan of the artwork. But the story, now that’s quite brilliant. A village on Aldebaran is devastated by some sort of natural (or not so natural?) catastrophe, so the survivors set out to find what happened and to make a new home for themselves. They discover way more than they thought was possible. This is a story that spans years and many miles, and while I may not love the art, Leo came up with some incredible flora and fauna for his planet. It is well worth checking out.

Sarah Pinborough – Poison (1869 ratings), Charm (1150 ratings), and Beauty (1071 ratings)

Anyone who loves fairy tales and retellings should pick up these three short novels. The titles tell you which fairy tale they’re about (Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty respectively), but these are twisted, more adult versions of the stories you know. They are connected and you only get the full ending if you read them all, but you can also pick up each book on its own and enjoy it. With covers like these, I honestly don’t understand why they don’t have more ratings.

Ysabeau S. Wilce – Flora’s Dare (1217 ratings), Flora’s Fury (685 ratings), and Prophecies, Libels & Dreams (97 ratings)

The first book in the adorable, original, quirky Flora series has more than 2000 ratings on Goodreads but for some reason (I think I know which) people don’t continue reading. The first book is very childish, although it already shows the greatness that is Ysabeau Wilce and her imagination. House ghosts, magical boots, an Aztec-inspired Empire, and in the middle of it a young girl who just doesn’t want to join the military like her parents, but wants to be a ranger. I adore Flora and Flora’s Dare is by far the best book in the series. If you’re unconvinced, try the short story collection set in the same world – algthough featuring other characters. I am still hoping for sequels.

Catherynne M. Valente – Speak Easy (258 ratings), Radiance (1438 ratings), and Six-Gun Snow White (1818 ratings)

Okay, so Radiance is still pretty new and has been getting nothing but rave reviews. I know reading a Valente book can be a big leap. Her language is demanding and beautiful, her subject matter varies from whimsical fairy tales to deeply difficult themes. In Speak Easy, a novella, it is the language that makes the book so great. That is, until the ending. That ending destroyed me.
Six-Gun Snow White was hard to read simply because the main character is put into such a horrible position and her stepmother mistreats her, all under the guise of love and care. But it is also an amazing twist on the Snow White story, seven “dwarves” and all.
Radiance is perfect. That’s all I have to say.

Nalo Hopkinson – Midnight Robber (1274 ratings)

Another book that gains a part of its appeal through language. Written in patois, it isn’t easy to get into if (like me) you were unfamiliar with that way of speaking. But I love discovering new languages and this felt like such an organic way to speak English, it took me a couple of chapters and I was all in. The story itself is breathtaking, a mix of science fiction and coming of age story with Caribbean influences. It was the first Hopkinson book I read and I can promise you that although this is my favorite so far, she is a fantastic writer to follow.

Karin Lowachee – Warchild (1459 ratings)

Any book that can pull off even a single chapter written in second person singular deserves a chance. In the best cases, you don’t even notice that the book is written in second person. This was the case in Warchild – and don’t worry, only the beginning is written about “you” – and it made the life-defining things that happen to the protagonist all the more immediate and touching. The title keeps its promise and Lowachee does tell the story of a Warchild. Someone born in war, swept up in it, fighting in it, and suffering everything that comes with it. This was a deeply moving, closely drawn portrait of a young boy growing up. It also has cool aliens and space battles.

Genevieve Valentine – Mechanique (2002 ratings)

Ok, so I’m cheating a bit because this book actually has ever so slightly more than 2000 ratings, BUT it doesn’t have nearly as many ratings as it deserves. I think Genevieve Valentine’s genius is slowly becoming more appreciated but I suppose few people go back to her novel Méchanique, a book that broke my heart so many ways I stopped counting. The premise is the story of a strange travelling circus – so far, so ordinary. Except everyone in this circus seems to have secrets, carry emotional baggage, or fight silent feuds against other circus members. Finding these secrets in a steampunky world was just amazing. Plus, Valentine throws in sentences that say so much more than an entire other novel would. She knows excatly what she’s doing with language and for that Méchanique is still my favorite of her stories.


Also, yes, these are a bit more than ten books, but I’ve grouped them all nicely for you so I’m sure you’ll let it slide. Plus, that just means more great reading for you guys. Now I can’t wait to discover all the books I’ve never heard about that others are recommending. There’s still room on my wishlist, after all.

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Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases For The Second Half Of The Year

It’s another great topic from The Broke and the Bookish. Their weekly Top Ten Tuesday is something I’d love to participate in all the time but sometimes I find it difficult coming up with 10 books (or any) for their chosen topic. Not this week though. Oh no, I have plenty of books on my wishlist, most of which haven’t come out yet. So here they are, my

Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016

N. Kobelisk gate. Jemisin – The Obelisk Gate

OH MY GOD GIVE IT TO ME NOW!!! I read The Fifth Season pretty late, just in time to nominated it for a Hugo Award but long past most other book bloggers out there. But this book, man. It has blown me away. Everything about it is perfect. There are twists, there are the most amazing characters and the coolest, most original world-building I’ve encountered in a long, long time. Actually, I can’t think of anything quite as refreshing that didn’t also come from Jemisin’s brain. Give me the sequel already, I can’t wait to find out what happens next to these beloved characters.

Publication date: August 2016


Sarah Porter – Vassa in the Nightvassa in the night

An author I’ve never heard of before so not something I’d naturally freak out about. But a book description that starts with “In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn…” and then promises magic and Baba Yaga (Babs Yagg) is just begging to sit on my shelf. I love retellings and I love Russian fairy tales. So give me Vasilisa, give me Baba Yaga, and let’s not forget that beautiful cover which is partly responsible for my excitement.

Publication date: September 2016


Becky Chaclosed and common orbitmbers – A Closed and Commom Orbit

Another sequel, one to the amazing, make-you-warm-and-fuzzy-inside The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet. It introduced the crew of the Wayfarer, a super cool space ship with even cooler people living on it. I’m pretty much okay with whatever Becky Chambers has in store for Lovey and Pepper, who I’ve come to love in the first book and who will be the protagonists in this new story. Chambers writes with heart and great care for her characters and I can’t wait to wrap this book around my brain like a cozy blanket on a cold day.

Publication date: October 2016


Scott Lynch – The Thorn of Emberlainthorn of emberlain

A new Locke Lamora!!!! It was a long wait between the second and third book in this amazeballs series and while The Republic of Thieves disappointed in the romance department, it was full of witty banter, clever cons, and a few twists that turned my world upside down. I desperately want to know more about the things uncovered in the last book and I always want more Locke Lamora.

Publication date: September 2016


last days of new parisChina Miéville – The Last Days of New Paris

A new China Miéville book is always reason for excitement. I’m really bad at catching up on his backlist because his books are just so damn big. But I have yet to read anything bad by Miéville so I’m going to get this book as soon as it’s out. I mean, Paris in 1941, Surrealist fighters, streets that are “stalked by living images and texts” – how could I resist? This sounds like dream and nightmare fuel alike and since it’s written by China Miéville I think I’m in for a treat again.

Publication date: August 2016


Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples – Saga Volume 6saga volume 6

Saga has been continuously excellent with the last collected volume one of the stand-out great ones. I pre-order these things as soon as they’re listed on Amazon and then forget about them until they show up surprisingly in the mail. But that doesn’t mean I don’t look forward to every new instalment in my favorite comic book series. What started as an interplanetary Romeo and Juliet has grown so much bigger, with a cast that I absolutely love, heroes and villains alike, and a world that offers so much more room for exploration. I also appreciate that the dream team Vaughan and Staples have stuck together to work on this. Let’s never stop, okay?

Publication date: July 2016 (so soon, yay!)


accident of starsFoz Meadows – An Accident of Stars

I have loved Foz Meadows’ non-fiction writing for a while so, naturally, I’m curious to see her fiction. With a cover like that – what are these people riding and where can I get one for myself? – and a portal fantasy description, I am giddy with excitement. Add to that four women protagonists, and I don’t even mind the otherwise fairly standard-sounding plot of world-saving. For some reason, I don’t think Meadows will go the tropey route of girl saves world so I want to book just to find out how she’ll subvert the tropes and stereotypes of the genre.

Publication date: August 2016


Angela Slatter – A Feast of Sorrowsfeast of sorrows

A new thing by Angela Slatter!!! *heavy breathing* If you missed it, Angela Slatter is my newest author crush. I shall devour all that she writes forever and ever. This is a collection of short fiction, so there will probably be some tales I’ve read already. But it also includes two brand-new novellas so I cannot miss it. Plus, Slatter got another great cover that immediately makes you think Snow White… a very dark version of Snow White. Which is just how I like it.

Publication date: October 2016


nevernight1Jay Kristoff – Nevernight

I’m on the fence. I had mixed feelings about Jay Kristoff’s debut novel, but I’ve been super excited about the acclaimed Illuminae (which he co-wrote with Amie Kauffman). Now this new book sounds amazing and has a wonderful cover to boot. There are so many buzzwords in the description: a “city built from the bones of a dead god“, “a land where three suns almost never set“, assassin schools, a protagonist who has to beat her opponents in “contests of steel, poison and the subtle arts“… aaaargh okay I give up, I want this book!

Publication date: August 2016


sex criminals volume threeMatt Fraction, Chip Zdarsky – Sex Criminals Volume 3

Another comic book series that I just pre-order without even reading the description anymore. The first volume was just wonderful in its depiction of a relationship between two extraordinary humans who thought they were all alone in the world. And then Matt Fraction started really playing around in this world he’s created. There are many more secrets to discover, the characters still have a lot of growth in them and there is always room for more humor (glowing genitalia aside).

Publication date: June 2016 (next week!)


So these are my most anticipated releases for the second half of 2016, although I’m sure there are more to come. What books are you looking forward to?

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

This week’s topic of Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is just up my alley. There are many books that I like while reading them, but then, a few months later, when I think about them, I have very different feelings about them. The same thing happens in reverse. Certain books don’t seem like much when I read them, but they grow in esteem, they get stuck in my mind, I think about them long after reading them. Because this has definitely happened to me, I picked some examples of both changed-for-the-better and changed-for-the-worse books. I only came up with seven examples, though.

Seven Books I Feel Differently About After Time Has Passed

old man's war1. John Scalzi – Old Man’s War

Here’s a book that was a lot of fun while it lasted. However, not even long after finishing, I couldn’t remember the characters’ names or, indeed, many plot points. The fact that so very, very little of the plot or characters stuck with me makes me like the book less in retrospect. I now think of it as fluffy, forgettable science fiction. Nonetheless, I do know that reading it was enjoyable.

2. Mira Grant – Feedfeed

Similar (but not quite) to the Scalzi book, I enjoyed some of this zombie novel. It was incredibly slow to start, most of the plot points were sorely predictable, but the second half of the book was written really well, so I kept turning the pages. Now that some time has passed, all that book makes me think of is that it has one original idea – and a beautifully clever title – but otherwise lacks any depth.

3. Ellen Kushner – Swordspointswordspoint

I really have to re-read this book, especially with the Serial Box stories that were recently published. Swordspoint is the opposite example of the two books above. I read it in English when I was still rather shaky on my feet concerning the language, and that is an injustice to this book. Kushner’s language is beautiful and demands to be savored, something I just wasn’t able to at the time. But whenever I think back on the book, certain scenes stand out so clearly in my mind and make me want to go back to the world of Riverside. This book definitely grew on me over time and I intend to re-read it soon.

4. Alaya Dawn Johnson – The Summer Princesummer prince

I gave this book a pretty good rating right after I read it. But this is the prime example of books that’s don’t want to let go. I still think about the themes of the story, see the pyramid city of Palmares Tres in my mind, and happily remember the joy this book brought me. It was a good book when I read it, but I believe I did have some criticism. Now, all negative aspects have been forgotten (which doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just that my brain decided to filter them out) and all that remains in my mind is a perfect gem of a novel.

5. Naomi Novik – His Majesty’s Dragonhis majestys dragon

I don’t know what happened, but I didn’t like the first two Temeraire books very much. After having read – and ADORED – Uprooted, I’m starting to think it may have been my mood at the time. The parts of the book I can remember all sound good in my mind and I really don’t know what my problem was when I first read it, so I am making plans to re-read the two Temeraire books I have already read and then give the rest of the series a try as well. So here’s a book I didn’t like much when I read it but which I now think I should have loved.

6. Miyuki Miyabe – Ico: Castle in the Mistico1

I had a lot of problems with this book and I still remember them vividly. But, now that ploughing through the boring parts is in the past, I have to appreciate the author’s original ideas all the more. Thinking back, I just leave out the boring bits, and instead only remember the good parts, which makes me like this book a whole lot more than I did while I was actually reading it.

7. Juliet Marillier – Daughter of the Forestdaughter of the forest1

Due to the hype surrounding this book – at least in the places I go to for reviews and recommendations – I may have expected more than there is to it. So there was some disappointment when I finally read the book and it wasn’t what I expected. But over time, I have come to think of this story more fondly. Yes, it was a quiet book, but there are so many layers to it – and it is exactly these layers that keep coming up when I think about books I loved.


That’s it from me. What are some books that you changed your mind about long after reading them?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Recent Reads

The year has only just begun but I’ve already discovered a few amazing reads. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is the perfect opportunity to share them with you. May your TBRs grow and your wallets suffer as much as mine.

Top Ten Recent Reads

  1. N. K. Jemisin – The Fifth Season
  2. Becky Chambers – The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
  3. Sofia Samatar – A Stranger in Olondria
  4. Benjamin Alire Sáenz – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  5. Andy Weir – The Martian
  6. Noelle Stevenson – Nimona
  7. Susan Dennard – Truthwitch
  8. Angela Slatter – The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings
  9. Catherynne M. Valente – Radiance
  10. Matt Wallace – Envy of Angels

I have linked my reviews to all of these in case you want to know more about them and why I love them so much. What I notice with great joy is how different and varied these recent favorites are. Sure, there are some obvious choices for me – Cat Valente is pretty much guaranteed to make me happy with whatever she writes. Angela Slatter was a new discovery last year and by the second book I knew I had found another forever-in-my-heart favorite. I have still to find something of hers I don’t like. Those two authors are the easy picks and made the list to noone’s surprise.

But I also have a graphic novel on this list – Nimona – that I didn’t expect to like and ended up adoring, I have a non-SFF novel about a boy growing up and discovering not just the secrets of the universe but secrets about himself and his best friend in the entire world. I have a YA SFF novel that could have gone very wrong but was amazing fun with a surprisingly engaging romance (talking about Truthwitch here).
Then there is N. K. Jemisin’s utterly perfect post-apocalyptic The Fifth Season  that can’t be compared to anything else because it is so original and mind-blowing. Add to that a literary fantasy novel about the power of books and words and belief. Which also has a ghost in it and let me travel the wondrous streets of Olondria.
The two science fiction novels also couldn’t be more different. While The Martian is hilarious hard sci-fi about surviving on Mars (mostly on potatoes) and fighting the odds, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet is an intimate space opera about a diverse group of people (human and otherwise) and their stories and relationships.
Lastly, there is the non-stop chuckle-inducing Sin du Jour series by Matt Wallace which I thought would just be good fun – and it was – but which ended up as the opening chapter to a much bigger world. I can’t wait to giggle my butt off reading the next volume.

So, this is me, giving myself a pat on the shoulder for trying things out of my comfort zone. Out of my comfort zone is where all the new favorite books are hiding, after all…

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.

Top Ten Tuesday – Ten Out of My Comfort Zone Books I Enjoyed Recently

I used to read widely. This has become a thing of the past because my favorite genres always were and will be fantasy and science fiction. Long ago, when a lack of books (and language skills) kept the supply of fantasy novels that interested me low, I branched out into other genres – and hey, I enjoyed those a lot. Now, I read mainly in English, the internet exists, I have an e-reader… it is so easy to get the books you want when you don’t have to rely on the meager foreign language section in your local bookstore. Plus, so much awesome fantasy is published that I don’t even have time for other stuff.

But reading things from different genres can really pay off, and until you try you won’t know if there’s a subgenre that may become a new favorite. Here is a selection of my favorite books that took me out of my comfort zone:

aristotle and dante1. Benjamin Alire Sáenz – Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Contemporary YA novels are something I avoid, especially if they contain a love story. But Ari and Dante kept showing up on all my favorite internet places, so I gave it a try and ended up loving this book. This coming-of-age tale has nothing in common with what I have come to expect (and fear) from this “kind” of book. It’s a touching, slowly building romance, but it is also the tale of a beautiful friendship, of family and trust and finding your place in the world.

raven boys2. Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven Boys

This is fantasy but not the kind that I usually go for. Again, the internet is to blame for my interest in the series and I couldn’t be more thankful. This book (and the series) contains paranormal stuff and romance, two things that can go very wrong for me. In this case, they went just right and not only turned me into a total Maggie Stiefvater fangirl but also showed me one of the most beautiful set of characters I’ve ever read about. Not long until The Raven King comes out and I will be reduced to a puddle of tears. (Here are my thoughts on The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue)

remains of the day3. Kazuo Ishiguro – The Remains of the Day

A book about the life of a butler, without the slightest hint of magic, is not something anyone would recommend to me when they look at what I usually read. But, guess what, this was delightful! Its power lies as much between the lines as it does in the strength of its protagonist. You can read this first person narrative as the account of an unreliable narrator, a man who has wasted many opportunities for honor and duty, but the only magic here is in the language and in the way Ishiguro plays with your emotions. That ending had me in tears.

silentium4. Wolf Haas – The Brenner Books

Here’s another genre that’s unusual for me: crime. Austrian writer Wolf Haas has a particular charm, though, that I simply can’t resist. I sadly doubt that an English translation can do it justice because the way he writes is just so utterly, utterly Austrian. The (for a while, at least) unnamed narrator speaks to you, the reader, as if you were sitting in a pub over a glass of beer. He tells of the adventures of police man/detective Brenner who solves crimes in Austrian cities. The murder mysteries as such are cleverly set up and thrilling to follow but it’s the voice that absolutely enchants me.

glennkill5. Leonie Swann – Glennkill (Three Bags Full)

And another crime story, except the protagonists and detectives are sheep. You read that right: sheep! This herd of sheep is investigating, in a very sheepish way, the murder of their shepherd who died of spade-in-the-body. They know that this is not a natural cause of death, even for humans, and go to find out who did it. As annoying as their behaviour can be at times, one cannot deny that these sheep are believable. There are clever ones, there are ones concerned mostly with food (and who can fault them?), and there are relationships and feuds among them. It’s a charming, adorable story. And who can resist the idea of sheep solving a crime?

shining girls6. Lauren Beukes – The Shining Girls

Lauren Beukes is an SFF writer but The Shining Girls and has only one speculative element to it. A time-travelling serial killer. It’s much more crime thriller than science fiction story, as Beukes is not very concerned with the mechanics of time travel. It’s about the one survivor and her trying to find her almost-killer. I don’t know if this reads like a “regular” crime thriller but I simply couldn’t put this book down. Beukes’ fiction flows beautifully and she managed to walk the tightrope of describing horrific crimes without being gratuitous. I loved this book and its characters to bits.

stupeur et tremblements7. Amélie Nothomb – Stupeur et Tremblements (Fear and Trembling)

I’ve read a lot of Nothomb’s fiction since I discovered her. She is hard to classify as her books are just weird. She writes about all sorts of subjects, her characters are all batshit crazy, and her very short books sometimes leave a bad taste in your mouth. I frequently closed one of her books and asked myself what the hell I’d just read. But although she is a bit hit and miss, I love going on crazy 200-page trips with this author and taking a glimpse into her strange mind. (Also that’s her on the cover – what you see is what you get.)

ruby red8. Kerstin Gier – The Ruby Red trilogy

These books are silly teen time-travel romances and I don’t care one bit about plot holes or unnecessary teen drama or stupidly obvious sub-plot romances. They are just wonderful the way they are. A young girl discovers she has the time travel gene which makes her jump through time uncontrollably – now she has to learn to navigate the past (and leave her cell phone at home), uncover an ancient conspiracy, and somehow get along with the handsome yet arrogant Gideon. You see where this is going. I saw where this was going. This doesn’t take away from the pure popcorn pleasure that can be gained from this trilogy.

flavia 19. Alan Bradley – The Flavia de Luce series

Hm… it’s looking a lot like crime might be a good genre for me, after all. Flavia de Luce is easily the cutest, cleverest 11-year-old to ever solve crimes around her home town. She has a knack for chemistry, two annoying and cruel sisters, a dead mother, and a silent father. Again, it isn’t so much the whodunnit that interests me with this series, it’s Flavia and her relationships with the people surrounding her. But there is no denying that she is an excellent detective. These books live off Flavia’s charm but they are also seriously funny and have some truly touching moments.

non-fiction10. Chuck Palahniuk – ANYTHING BY CHUCK PALAHNIUK!!!

I discovered the man in the opening credits to Fight Club and my love for his skill as a writer has only grown since then. I’ve only reviewed one of his books here but I’ve read almost everything he’s written. Palahniuk writes dark books, and funny books, and he always finds an ugly part of society to poke his finger into. My favorites are Choke and Haunted, although I don’t suggest you start with Haunted because you may not sleep or want to eat after reading it. Palahniuk is his own brand of weird and all his books haunt you long after you’ve finished reading them. Good starting points are Fight Club, Choke, or Survivor.

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Couples in SFF Books

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme arrives just at the right time. Since I read Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses, I have been thinking about why the romance didn’t work for me in that book but other romances in SFF novels push all my buttons. I don’t have a quick answer to the question, but I did remember some of my very favorite couples from fantasy books. They range from tender, romantic, slowly-developing love stories to steamy, sexy, take-me-I’m-yours type romances.

Top Ten Romantic Couples in SFF Books

uprooted#1  Naomi Novik – Uprooted (Agnieszka and the Dragon)

This book is not about the romance and I wouldn’t recommend you read it solely for the romance. It is about so many things, all of them awesome, but – WOW – did that love story take me by surprise and get me all emotional. Agnieszka and the Dragon are programmed to push my buttons. They bicker, he is a dick to her most days, there seems to be dislike between them but then they discover that they are both so much better when they work together. There are two scenes in particular that were just so well written, so perfect in every way, that I bookmarked them in case I want to remember what a good sex scene is like…

#2  Maggie Stiefvater – The Raven Cycle (Blue Sargent and Richard Gansey III)

dream thievesThis romance is, by default, much more tame and innocent. Blue cannot kiss a boy because it has been prophecied that her kiss will kill her true love. Whether Gansey actually is her “true love” or not, everyone can see that it’s better not to risk it. Maggie Stiefvater manages, without actual kissing or sex scenes, to create an atmosphere between her characters that can only be called sexy. Blue and Gansey’s yearning for each other is tangible and the fact that they can’t act on it is as much torture for the reader as it is for them.
There is a second couple that I really like in these books, but mentioning them would lead into spoiler territory and I want all of you uninitiated to pick up The Raven Boys spoiler-free and fall in love with it as hard as I did.

broken kingdoms#3 N. K. Jemisin – The Broken Kingdoms (Oree and Shiny)

Jemisin does romance really well. In the first book of the series, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, I loved the tension between Yeine and Nahadoth, but it was the second book that made me jump up and down on my couch, hoping for two characters to get together. Oree was a fascinating character by herself, but when Shiny steps into her life, I couldn’t keep my eyes of their relationship. This is another romance that goes from initial dislike to love (I know I have a thing…) and I can’t tell you exactly why it worked so well for me. All I know is that by the end of the book I was wringing my hands, full of feelings, needing these two to be together, no matter how impossible it is.

#4 Jaida Jones & Danielle Bennett – Havemercy (Thom and Rook, Royston and Hal)

havemercyThis is a book with only one romance, but I really wanted there to be a second one… I kind of hate the authors for doing what they did with my second couple of choice, but I understand why there is only one couple. Man, it’s really hard to explain this without spoilers…
Royston and Hal are thrown together by coincidence and their romance develops slowly and beautifully. A magician and a young, innocent boy who knows nothing of court intrigue and life in the big city, they each find something to love in the other.
My second couple begins spewing curses at each other. One of them is just a hateful, aggressive, impulsive dick, the other tries to kick some sense and manners into him. It’s hilarious and wonderful and intense to watch.

outlander#5 Diana Gabaldon – Outlander (Jamie and Claire)

Well, there’s a reason these books are now a TV show (an excellent one, I might add). Jamie and Claire are one of my favorite couples, not only because they go through some serious shit together, but because their story starts where most love stories end. The getting together bit is taken out of their hands and they only really get to know each other after they are married (by necessity). It’s also refreshing to see a couple go past the initial honeymoon phase and grow into something sturdier, based on love and loyalty, not just hormones.

 

tigana#6  Guy Gavriel Kay – Tigana (spoiler and spoiler)

Okay, this is difficult to talk about. There are two characters who, somewhere in the middle of the book, fall in love with each other. It is heartbreaking and beautiful and a little bit sexy, and that’s all I can tell you without spoiling the book.
But to make up for that, I’ll tell you about a surprisingly hot scene at the beginning of the book. No actual love involved, just a couple of young people stuck in a small room. This was my first Guy Kay book and I really didn’t expect to read a scene that was so sensual and hot. I’d love to read a book by him that has a romance at its center.

deathless#7 Catherynne M. Valente – Deathless (Marya Morevna and Koschei the Deathless)

You knew there’d be a Valente book here somewhere, didn’t you? Well, here’s my choice. Marya Morevna is taken away by Koschei the Deathless to be his bride. So far, so accurate to the Russian fairy tale. There are no explicit sex scenes in this book but, trust me, when you read about these two just eating food together, you’ll feel the sexual tension! However, it is  a different scene that cemented their love for me. After being separated for a while, Koschei shows up at Marya’s doorstep and delivers the most heartbreaking declaration of love I have ever read. Absolutely stunning!

#fairyland 38 Catherynne M. Valente – The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two (September and Saturday)

I lied. There’s another Valente book that needs to be on this list. September and Saturday were kind of, sort of, meant to be together from the start (honestly, they even catch a glimpse into their own future). They are children, of course, and grow older over the course of the book series, but it was this third instalment that used their romance to put a dagger in my heart and twist it really hard. Again, no details because spoilers, but I get all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it.

#9 Marissa Meyer – The Lunar Chronicles (Cress and Thorne)

cressHere’s the fluffy book for my list. The Lunar Chronicles in general are very fluffy, fun reads without too much depth. But the third and fourth book gave me Cress and Carswell Thorne. Thorne has been the star of the series ever since he showed up in Scarlet, and juxtaposing him with his very own fangirl Cress was bound to deliver some hilarious and romantic scenes. Their romance is a slow-building thing, mostly due to Thorne’s rogue nature, his arrogance and inability to notice when somebody honestly cares about him. I adored their back and forth, and the little moments they shared. Cress has to grow into herself, Thorne has to realise that he, too, has a heart, and it all ends up as a lovely, romantic action comedy.

charm#10 Sarah Pinborough – Tales from the Kingdoms (Snow White, Cinderella, and spoilers)

These are three very sexy retellings of Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty. The couples who end up together are not always the ones you’d expect, and the sexy scenes are not always between the couples who end up together. If that makes sense. Three short reads, they are each incredibly sexy without being smut (not that that would be a bad thing). My favorite character is the Huntsman, but I also adored the romance of Snow White. If you want a quick read with steamy sexy times, pick these up.

Honorable mentions:

  • The kiss in The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
  • Tiffany and the Wintersmith in Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
  • The ending of Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
  • The slow romance in The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord
  • The hot-and-cold romance in The Precious Stone Trilogy by Kerstin Gier
  • The romance in Graceling by Kristin Cashore

 

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.

TTT – Top 10 New-To-Me Favorite Authors I Read in 2015

2015 has been good to me, it really has. I’m not sure I can pick ten new favorite authors that I read this year but there were a few authors that gained my everlasting loyalty with their fiction and of course I want to share them with you. Thanks to Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and The Bookish), here’s my chance:

Top Ten New-To-Me Favorite Authors of 2015

1. Angela Slatter

I’ve made no secret of the growing love I have for Slatter’s fiction. She writes beautifully, poetically, mixes fairy tales and folklore with her very own ideas and creates mosaic novels out of short stories that can be enjoyed many different ways. Whether you read her collections in publication order (Sourdough, then The Bitterwood Bible) or in chronological order (the reverse), whether you pick and choose single stories or read them as fix-up novels – her writing is gorgeous, her characters vibrant and multi-faceted. Discovering something new about a side-character from a previous story, finding out the history of a place you visited earlier… it’s like diving into a place and time and looking at it from a multitude of angles. There are witches, vampires, poisoners, chroniclers, women looking for revenge, women looking for love, women looking for peace. It’s wonderful!

2. Alaya Dawn Johnson

summer prince

I’ve only read The Summer Prince but I’ve been busy buying Johnson’s other books during the year. But The Summer Prince was so damn good and it came so out of nowhere for me that it has left a lasting impression. I still think about the futuristic Brazil the story is set in and I still catch myself reliving scenes from the book. This was such a powerful story with a gorgeous cover to boot. It’s one of my resolutions for next year to catch up with Johnson’s short fiction and her other novels. If they are anything like The Summer Prince, I’m in for a treat.

3. Laura Ruby

bone gap

Again, I’ve only read the one book by Laura Ruby but, my god, was it beautiful! In Bone Gap, I discovered layer upon layer of awesome. It’s part fairy tale retelling, part coming-of-age novel, and many other parts that would enter spoiler territory so I’ll shut up about them. The way this story deals with beauty and its implications was just stunning. You discover what it means to be beautiful – or ugly – from different angles, through different characters, and every single one of them is amazing. I don’t think Ruby’s backlist is my type of stuff but I’m eagerly awaiting anything new she publishes and will jump on it if it sounds even the tiniest bit up my alley.

4. Shirley Jackson

we have always lived in the castle

So Shirley Jackson. I finally picked up one of her books and it’s true what everyone says – WOW! I didn’t manage to read more of her books or short stories but there is no question I will next year. We Have Always Lived in the Castle was completely different from what I expected but it turned out to be so much better. Unreliable narrators, the question whether the characters’ memories are to be trusted, whether they are insane, whether there is something supernatural going on or things have a mundane explanation – that alone would have kept me intrigued. But Jackson also draws her characters so well that I just loved following their story simply because I cared about them. Yeah, I need me some more Shirley Jackson.

5. Paul Cornell

witches of lychford

This was unexpected. I had liked Paul Cornell a lot from the SF Squeecast and his presenting of the Hugo Awards. He seems like such a nice guy, yet I’d never read any of his writing. Then the Tor.com novellas came along and gave me the perfect starting point. Although I’m not a big fan of urban fantasy, Paul Cornell convinced me to give it a chance. His Witches of Lychford told a lovely tale about three very different women coming together to save their home town. I can’t wait for the sequel. Most warmly recommended.

6. Theodora Goss

This new favorite comes with a caveat. I adored the short story collection In the Forest of Forgetting but I didn’t quite love the two-sided novel The Thorn and the Blossom. Goss’ strength lies in short stories, it seems, or maybe she’s just not as good with contemporary romance? Her language is beautiful and lyrical, and I won’t let one mediocre book keep me from reading more of this great author. Her Songs for Ophelia is on my TBR right now and on my must-read-in-2016 list.

7. Karin Lowachee

warchild1

Military science-fiction is something I haven’t explored very much (except for Heinlein’s Starship Troopers) but Karin Lowachee does something really awesome with it. Warchild is a character-centric story about a kidnapped and abused boy coming into his own, discovering who he is in an interstellar war between humans and the alien species that basically raised him. It’s not the fastest moving novel at first, but there are plenty of space battles if that’s what you’re in for. For me, Jos was the reason to keep me reading. I felt for him so deeply that even without a single battle scene, I would have adored this book.

8. V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade final for Irene

Victoria Schwab has been on my radar for a while but it wasn’t until this stunning book with its stunning cover(s) came out that I pounced. Parallel London’s, magicians, a thief, a prince… the premise and world-building are enough to get any fantasy fan interested. But the plot is fast-paced, fun, quite dark at times, and the characters – although not as flawlessly drawn as I would like – will get you invested in no time. I pre-ordered the sequel right after I finished reading A Darker Shade of Magic, and there’s no question I’ll read it as soon as it arrives next year.

9. Kerascoët

Not an author but a graphic novel illustrator, Kerascoët nonetheless is a new favorite of mine. In Beautiful Darkness, it is precisely the art that makes the story what it is. Had anyone else drawn the pictures for this graphic novel, I doubt it would have been as effective. Credit must of course go to the writer, but the pictures are really what make this story great.
The second graphic novel illustrated by Kerascoët that I read, Beauty, I think would have worked also with a different illustrator. But I was deeply impressed with the shift between Beauty’s real looks (she’s supposed to be hideous) and the way people perceive her – which is utter beauty that nobody can resist.

10. Emily St. John Mandel

station eleven

Station Eleven blew me away. I didn’t think I’d like it because all blurbs I read made it sound super tropey and boring. But the clear language, the shifts in perspectives and time periods, the hopeful undertones of what is essentially a broken world, all made it into a surprisingly enjoyable post-apocalyptic story. Some chapters even squeezed a tear or two from my eyes, not because a character died or something terrible happened, just because you have to confront the implications of a world stripped of 99% of its population and all the comforts we take for granted. If something remains of art and beauty and hope – that’s the stuff that makes me cry…
Despite all of my love for Station Eleven, I don’t think I’m the audience for Mandel’s other books. But who knows, I may just try a shorter book of hers and see if I like it.

So there you go, I did discover 10 amazing new authors this year, even though some of them may remain one-book-ponies, simply because of my taste in fiction, not because of their skill as writers. I am pretty sure many of the books mentioned here will also make it onto my Top Ten Books of the Year list.