My 2017 To-Be-Read Pile

I read quite a bit last year (125 books between traditional books, graphic novels, audiobooks, and manga), but have once again found myself fallen behind on some of my favorite authors. To make up for this, I’ve decided to make a list of the books I want to make top priority in 2017.

The lists can be found below. I’ve separated it out into books that I own, published books that I don’t own, and some of my most anticipated releases of 2017.

Books That I Already Own
The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron (read 01/17)
Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong
Otherworld Chills by Kelley Armstrong
Wild Seed by Octavia Butler
Imprudence by Gail Carriger
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemisin (read 01/17)
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Ghost Train to New Orleans by Mur Lafferty (read 01/17)
A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin
Calamity by Brandon Sanderson (read 01/17)

Books that Have Already been Released (pre 2017)
In the Labyrinth of Drakes by Marie Brennan
Like a River Glorious by Rae Carson
The Days of Tao by Wesley Chu
The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu
Rise: A Newsflesh Collection by Mira Grant
Feedback by Mira Grant
False Hearts by Laura Lam
Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
Arcanum Unbounded by Brandon Sanderson

Most Anticipated 2017 Releases
Heartstrikers: Book 4 by Rachel Aaron*
A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs
Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale
The Stone Sky by NK Jemisin
Magic for Nothing by Seanan McGuire
The Dark Prophecy by Rick Riordan
White Trash Zombie Unchained by Diana Rowland
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson*
Dawn Study by Maria V. Snyder
Batgirl at Superhero High by Lisa Yee (read 01/17)

Genre Breakdown
Fantasy- 14
Sci-Fi- 8
Paranormal- 7
Superhero- 2
Thriller- 2

The two books in the “most anticipated” section are starred due to the fact that they do not have a solid release date. They ARE supposed to come out in 2017 though!

So those are my top priority books of 2017. Obviously, I’m going to read more than just those, but these are the ones I really want to get to (or at least try out. If a book doesn’t work for me, I’m unlikely to force myself to finish unless I’m a huge fan of the writer/series). Also, as we’re a ways into 2017 already, I’ve actually already dug into a few of these. I’ll be doing regular posts on the books I’ve been reading, so expect to hear my thoughts about those soon!

Updated Feb to reflect January reads

Thought on Nominating for the Hugo Awards

Hugo award nominees are due Tuesday, March 10th! So if you have a membership to one of the participating WorldCons, don’t forget to vote!

The Hugo Awards are given out once a year to honor great works (mostly literary, although not 100%) in the sci-fi/fantasy field. In order to be eligible to nominate and vote on these award you have to be a WorldCon member. This does cost money, although there is a special lower cost category for people who just want to vote and won’t actually be attending the con. This is my second year participating in the awards, and I found it to be a lot easier than the first time around. A lot of this has to do with the fact that I knew well in advance that I was going to be voting this year, while last year I waffled back and forth for a while before committing (guess I’m a fickle gal!). This allowed me to keep an eye out for really promising books that would likely be worth my attention come voting time.

Because I recently filled out my ballot (a more time intensive process then you might think!), I decided to share a few of my nominees. I’m not going to go into the whole slate because that would be waaay too long and I’m pretty sure no one would actually want to read that (myself included). Instead, I’ll share the ones I’m the most excited about.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison for Best Novel– Now, if you told me last year that one of my favorite novels from 2014 was a book about elves who are in the habit of speaking in first person plural, I would have looked at you like you were a crazy person. But there’s something about this book that just works. I was swept up into Maia’s world on page one, and I couldn’t help but route for this unlikely goblin Emperor until the very end. This is one I’m pretty sure is going to make the official ballot, given that it is a Nebula nominee and has a lot of positive buzz online.

The Ninety-Ninth Bride by Catherine K King for Best Novelette– On the other hand, I would be shocked to see this one actually make the official ballot. But I loved it, and I think it deserve accolades, so I’m putting it on there. The Ninety-Ninth Bride was published by The Book Smugglers, who did a whole series on subversive fairy tale retellings last year. The Ninety-Ninth Bride retold one of my favorites, Arabian Nights, and the author did such a good job putting her own personal stamp on this beloved tale. I loved the characters and was sad when it was over. I’d recommend reading it, even if it doesn’t get nominated.

Rocket Talk, hosted by Justin Landon for Best Related Work– This is one of my favorite podcasts (the other being Writing Excuses, which I also nominated). The focus here is issues facing the book-loving sci-fi/fantasy community, making it perfect for the Hugos. The host, Justin Landon, does a fantastic job of picking guests. He also has a great talent for knowing when to steer the conversation, or when to just let the guest go off. Last year, Rocket Talk was filled with episodes that were both insightful and entertaining, which is what I really need to keep me awake on my 45 minute commute.

Ms. Marvel, vol 1: No Normal by G Willow Wilson for Best Graphic Story– Holy crap was this category difficult to narrow down! There were so many great comics last year. One of the ones I really hope to see on the ballot is the new Ms. Marvel comic, which introduces Kamala Khan, a Pakistan-American teenager who discovers that she has superpowers. In addition to being really fun, I think this comic is very easy for new readers to pick up which, for whatever reason, isn’t always the case with first volumes!

The Legend of Korra: Season 4 for Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form– Regardless of it’s shaky second season, The Legend of Korra has always succeeded in bringing a level of sophistication and quality that you’re not used to seeing in children’s television. It’s also a show that it perfectly willing to take risks, which Season Four did again and again. This begins with the decision to jump ahead a few years, bringing our teenage characters into young adulthood, and ends with a final scene that establishes our heroine Korra as a bisexual protagonist. How often do you find that in regular television shows, never mind a kids cartoon? This show has been denied any Hugo love over the past few years. I hope to see that rectified this year, either in the Long Form, or Short form categories (where I nominated the two part finale).

Captain America: Winter Solider for Best Dramatic Presentation: Long Form– Boy was 2014 a great year for superhero movies not made by Sony! But where Guardians of the Galaxy (which I also nominated) is clearly the most popular, I find The Winter Solder to be the best of the best. Captain America was just a perfect blend of bombastic action sequences, lovable characters, and real life issues. Also, wasn’t it satisfying to see the bad guys getting taken down by a team of primarily women and POCs? Marvel has set the bar awfully high for Age of Ultron.

SL Huang for the Campbell Award (Not-a-Hugo)– Sometimes you’re drawn to a writer for the quality of their writing, or the strength of their characterizations. Other times, they just have really neat-o ideas and execute them extremely well. And while Huang doesn’t fail or anything in the first two categories, it’s the third where she knocks it out of the park. I highly recommend picking up her debut, Zero Sum Game, which is about a superheroine who gets her powers from being really good at math. Her stand alone short story, Hunting Monsters, is also really cool. Huang is also self published, so it would be nice to see some indie love on the ballot.

Those were some of my nominees! Who do you hope to see on the official ballot?

Reflections on My 2014 Reading

So yesterday, I finished up my list of everything I read in 2014. It was quite an undertaking, something I’ve actually been working on since October. While compiling this list, I found myself struck by quite a few things (I read THAT in 2014, instead of 2013? Wow we didn’t get that many issues of Saga this year, did we), but there were a few things that grabbed me the most. They were…

1. Equal love between formats- I separated my list between books (both paper and ebook), audiobooks, graphic novels, short ebooks, literary magazines and comic books. One thing I found kind of funny that between books, audiobooks, and graphic novels, I unknowingly read about the same amount in each category- roughly forty. This wasn’t really a shock as much as something that I found to be a neat coincidence.

2. More love for Nonfiction- The vast majority of what I read is fiction, and will probably always be fiction, but the fact that I went from reading only one nonfiction book in 2013 to reading thirteen works of nonfiction in 2014 is a pretty significant increase, even if the end number isn’t hugely impressive. I think it’s because for such a long time, I always equated nonfiction with “slow,” which is totally not the case. There’s a wide variety of pacing with nonfiction books, just like fiction. It’s all about finding what you’re in the mood for. In fact, three of my favorite reads of last year were nonficiton: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson, Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan, and Wild by Cheryl Strayed, three incredibly different (and incredibly good) titles. I hope this increase in interest continues into 2015.

3. Reading more graphic novels/trade paperbacks- Last year I read twenty-six graphic novels. This year it was forty-three. That’s a big shift! This more or less continues my trend of reading more comics, as well as my new found trend of reading more trade paperbacks versus single issues. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always read plenty of comics in single issue form, especially the ones that I’m already following that way. But comics that feature more complex storylines (especially when combined with a less consistent release schedule), often feel more satisfying when read in big chunks. Oh, and it’s usually cheaper that way.

4. MVPs- The authors I found myself revisiting the most this year rank as follows. I read four works by Kelley Armstrong (three books, one short ebook), Tamora Pierce (four books), Brandon Sanderson (one book, three audiobooks), Agatha Christie (four audiobooks), Gail Simone (four graphic novels), Brain Azzarello (four graphic novels), and Marjorie M. Liu (four graphic novels). I read five works by Laura Lam (one novel, four short ebooks), and Scott Snyder (five graphic novels). And my MVP of the year was Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant. I read two books, listened to four audiobooks, and read one short ebook. That’s a grand total of seven works!

4. Weakness as a Reader in 2014– I’m not a book blogger any more, but I do still read them from time to time. This is the time a year when people might post a master list of what they’ve read, or a list of their favorites. One thing I’m conscious of is when women writers are underrepresented on one of these lists. I don’t think people need to be 50/50 when it comes to gender representation (especially not regular readers, as opposed to book bloggers). I’m not (excluding the single issue comics, I read 74 works written by women, 62 works written by men, and 8 that were a collaborative work somehow between men and women), but it strikes me strange that some readers seem to go out of their way, consciously or subconsciously, to read only works by men.

At the same time, I don’t feel very comfortable complaining about that, because you could look my list and say that it looks like I go out of my way to read mostly works by white people. Excluding collaborative projects, I barely squeak over a dozen, and that could be better. So for one of my New Year’s Resolutions, I’d like to make it an effort to read more fantastic works by POC authors. I usually make a goal to read a hundred books in a year, so if twenty of those are by POC, then that’s an improvement. If I read more (which I usually do), then I should increase that number. This will include reading work by authors I already enjoy (both NK Jemisin and YS Lee have new books coming out this year), as well as finding new writers that I can add to my list of authors to watch. I consider variety to be an important part of anyone’s reading diet, so I’m happy to add a little more variety to mine.

Anything you noticed about the books you read this year? Do you have any reading goals for 2015?

Everything I Read In June 2014

As you see, I got a bunch of the short fiction reading done for the Hugos last month. Links lead to reviews on goodreads, but I’d be willing to discuss in more detail here. I went out of my comfort zone a lot last month. Sometimes the results were gone, sometimes not so much.

Novels
Paris Was the Place by Susan Conley

Audiobooks
Goliath by Scott Westerfeld
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
The Bat by Jo Nesbo
Attack the Geek by Michael R. Underwood
The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson– BEST AUDIOBOOK

Short Fiction
The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere by John Chu
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette KowalBEST SHORT FICTION
The Waiting Stars by Aliette De Bodard
If you were a dinosaur, my love by Rachel Swirsky
The Snake Charm by Laura Lam
The Ink Readers of Doi Saket by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
Selkie Stories Are for Losers by Sofia Samatar
Opera Vita Aeterna by Vox Day

Literary Magazines
Lightspeed Magazine, April 2014
Inaccurate Realities: Magic
Luna Station Quarterly Issue 018

Graphic Novels
Untold Tales From the Brothers Grimm by Gina BiggsBEST GRAPHIC NOVEL
Avengers: The Enemy Within by Kelley Sue DeConnick
Batman, Vol. 2: The City of Owls by Scott Snyder

Comic Books
All New X-men #28
Angel and Faith #2-3
Black Widow #6-7
Cyclops #2- BEST COMIC BOOK THAT’S NOT SAGA
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 10 #3
Guardians of the Galaxy #15
Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider Man #2
Mighty Avengers #10
Saga #19- BEST COMIC BOOK
Serenity: Leaves on the Wind #4-5
She-Hulk #4-5
Superior Spiderman #1-2
Velvet #5
Wolverine #7-8

Goodbye Strange Chemistry

So a while back, I mentioned that one of the places I had submitted Lady of Darkwood happened to be a small press. I was really excited about this potential opportunity, because this was a publisher whose work I’ve enjoyed as a reader and, after reading my submission package, they had requested to see the entire of the book. Now, as rejection letter after rejection letter was rolling in, I was subconsciously putting all of my hopes in this small press.

Only, it was taking a long time for them to get back to me. Probably close to eight months.

So a little while back, I sent an email to submissions asking for an update. This morning, I got an email from their editor letting me know that the reason that I haven’t heard anything is because the press was shutting down.

That small press was Strange Chemistry. Hearing this news was doubly painful. Not only was I hoping that they might take a chance on my book, but I’m also a big fan of the Pantomime series by Laura Lam. I’ve since heard that books that were supposed to come out as soon as August won’t be hitting the shelves as a result of this closure. Since Strange Chemistry is part of Angry Robot, I can only hope that some of the staff and writers will find places there, because it would suck if a lot of people were put out of work. Granted, there are rumors that Osprey (Angry Robot’s parent company) is looking to sell Angry Robot, so who knows what will come of that.

One thing I’ve taken from this is just how fragile small presses are. Yes, they’re sometimes willing to take more risks then the big guys, they’re more open to new authors, and they’re a nice alternative to the big-business feel that larger presses give off. But at the same time, they can fall apart. We saw this recently with Night Shade, and now we’re seeing it with Strange Chemistry. Granted, the alternatives aren’t perfect. The bigger guys typically won’t let you in the door without an agent. Self publishing comes with no support at all, and requires a financial investment to start up that not everyone can handle. There’s no perfect option.

I have no idea if Lady of Darkwood was seriously considered for publication. They may have take one look at it months ago, decided against it, and just didn’t get to me about it. Maybe, they never even got to where I was in the slush pile. Regardless, this means I’m going to have to make some big decisions over the future of the Lya Darkwood trilogy that may be hard to swallow. I can only imagine how difficult it is for writers who were supposed to have books coming out (some as soon as August!) that are now caught up in limbo. I also know a lot of readers are frustrated as well, especially those who are two book into incomplete trilogies.

It’s a tough time for a lot of people right now.

Everything I Read in April 2014

This month I read, not one but TWO works of nonfiction! ::collective gasp::

As always, links go to short reviews on goodreads, but I’m always willing to discuss them here as well.

Books Read
Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
Sword and Laser Anthology by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton– BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH

Audiobooks Read
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Short Fiction Magazines Read
Lightspeed Magazine, January 2014

Graphic Novels Read
Daken/X-23: Collision by Daniel Way and Marjorie M. Liu
Wonder Woman, Vol 2: Guts by Brian Azzarello– BEST GRAPHIC NOVEL OF THE MONTH
Wonder Woman, Vol 3: Iron by Brian Azzarello
X-23: Chaos Theory by Marjorie M. Liu

Comics Read
All New X-men #25
Angel and Faith #1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2
Guardians of the Galaxy #14
Lazarus #8
Mighty Avengers #9
Ms. Marvel #3
Pretty Deadly #5
She-Hulk #2-3- BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH (tie)
Trillium #8
Veil #2- BEST COMIC OF THE MONTH (tie)
Wolverine #4