Bookburners: Season Four (2017) Written by: Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Francis Slattery, Andrea Phillips, Mur Lafferty Genre: Urban Fantasy Pages: 463 pages (ARC) Series: Bookburners Publisher: Serial Box Disclaimer: I received a copy of season four of Bookburners from the publisher, Serial Box. The fact that I received it for free will not impact my opinion/rating of the book.…
If the several 90+ degree days we had last week are any indication, summer has arrived! But before we completely close the door on spring, I’d thought I’d list into my favorite books for April, May and June. Just like my Best of Winter selections, these are not necessarily books that came out during those months, but books that I happened to read in said time period. The list isn’t quite as long as last season, because I found myself falling into MULTIPLE reading slumps, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to some really great books.
And here are the cream of the crop.
A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Science Fiction)– I’ve been hearing good things about this once since it was just a kickstarter project. And now that I’ve read it, I can totally see where all the praise comes from. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet tells the story of the ship Wayfarer, it’s crew, and the adventures they experience after a job sends them into deep space. What worked the best about this book was just how lovable and varied the cast of characters are. I especially love how Chambers is able to create individuals that are truly alien, yet incredibly sympathetic. I already have the second book downloaded to my kindle, and look forward to diving in.
Renegades by Marissa Meyer (Superheroes/Science Fiction/Young Adult)– I really liked Meyer’s sci-fi series, The Lunar Chronicles, but felt that my enjoyment dropped off a bit in the final volume as things got more epic, and less character focused. This is probably why I put off reading Renegades until now. And wile it may have taken me some time to get to it, I’m so glad that I did. By having Renegades take place in a post apocalyptic sci-fi world, Meyer ends up doing a wonderful job of putting her own unique spin on the superhero genre. The book is centered around a romance between a hero and a villain (a trope very close to my heart), and I felt like she did a good job exploring both of their perspectives. The book also plays some fun tricks with secret identities that goes beyond your typical superhero fare. It’s clear that I won’t be waiting quite as long to pick up the sequel (especially after that cliffhanger!), which is set to come out this November.
Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland (Urban Fantasy)– Remember how I mentioned multiple reading slump in my intro? This is the book that broke me out of the first one. Secrets of the Demon is the third book to focus on Kara Gillian, a homicide detective who moonlights as a demon summoner. I really enjoy urban fantasy books that mix crime and supernatural elements, and this book was no exception. The part I liked the most about Secrets was the romance, which is kind of surprising given that it hasn’t always been my favorite aspect of this series. There’s defiantly a love triangle going on here, where both sides of the triangle have their fair share secrets, including some that the series has yet to fully explore. I’m certainly planning on reading further.
Head on by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)– Head on is the sequel to Lock In, a near future novel where a portion of the population is infected with a condition called Haden’s Syndrome, that paralyzes them inside their own bodies. To allow them to interact with the world, their consciousness is transferred to a robotic body. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that their problems are over, as they frequently find themselves facing prejudice in their daily lives. What I really like about Head On (or any Scalzi book I’ve read) is how he’s able to take really interesting ethical/technological concepts and combine them with a total crowd pleaser of the story. The main character, Chris, is a detective, and Head On features them (Chris is never explicitly gendered) investigating a murder involving a bloodthirsty Hayden sport. Head on is an exciting page turner that was over too fast. I hope to see more books in this series soon.
My Brother’s Husband, vol 1 by Gengoroh Tagame (Contemporary)– You didn’t think I’d get through this list without a graphic novel or two, did you? My Brother’s Husband is a moving slice of life manga about Yaichi, a Japanese stay-at-home-father who’s twin brother, Ryoji, has died. When Ryoji’s husband comes to visit, Yaichi is forced to confront his own biases. My Brother’s Husband is incredibly charming, handing the topics of homophobia in Japan with a light touch. I found myself quickly getting attached to the cast of characters, especially Ryoji’s burly Canadian husband, Mike, and Yaichi’s sweet daughter, Kana. My Brother’s Husband is not only enjoyable to read, but also a really good selection for anyone who is struggling to come to terms with the reality that one of their loved ones happens to be gay. The series is set to conclude with a final volume, coming out this fall.
Paper Girls, vol 4 by Brian K Vaughan (Science Fiction)– Paper Girls is about a gaggle of 1980s paper deliver girls who come across an intergalactic, inter-generational war. If they are to survive, they will need to grow up fast, and come to terms with some tough truths about themselves. Oh! And there’s time travel! Volume four is where this time travel aspect worked the best for me, as it takes place around the Y2K scare, which I remember incredibly well. Only in Paper Girls the new millennium is actually worth being scared about. From what way things ended, I can’t help but feel as if this series is on the verge of wrapping up in the next volume or so. I am very curious to see how things end.
Honorable Mentions: Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, Attack on Titan, vol 24 by Hajime Isayama, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 7: I’ve Been Waiting for a Squirrel Like You by Ryan North, My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon, We Are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor
Looking for a new type of fantasy novel? Then why not check the Nebula nominated Amberlough. Click the link to read my review on Speculative Chic.
Amberlough (2017) Written by: Lara Elena Donnelly Narrated by: Mary Robinette Kowal Genre: Fantasy Length: 11h, 26m (Audiobook) Series: The Amberlough Dossier Publisher: Macmillan Audio Why I Chose It: When I first heard about Amberlough, I was intrigued by its unique, cross-genre premise (the fact that one of my favorite authors narrated the audiobook was a…
A while back I ran a book blog called Temporaryworlds over on livejournal (which should give you an idea on what I mean by “a while back”). And although it’s been some time since I’ve felt the urge to review every single book that I read, I still come across a lot of great books that I want to talk about and recommend to others. So, I figured why not do that here on a quarterly basis? Below you’ll find my top reads for Winter of 2018- or January, February, and March. Selections include both novels and graphic novels, as I read plenty of both.
Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron (Fantasy/Science Fiction)- The fifth and final book in Rachel Aaron’s wonderful Heartstriker series combines the vastness of epic fantasy, the fast moving plotting of urban fantasy, and the worldbuilding of post apocalyptic sci-fi. Julius, once shamed for being a nice dragon, has gained plenty of allies and BIG responsibilities over the course of multiple books. And he’s going to need all the help he can get if he’s to face his biggest challenge yet: the literal embodiment of the end of the world. This is one of my favorite series, filled with lots of action, great humor and compelling relationship dynamics (both of the romantic, and platonic variety). I was so happy to see it end on a high note.
Lady Killer, vol 2 by Joelle Jones (Horror)– The second volume in this story about a housewife who moonlights as a contract killer doubles down on both the gleeful violence of the first, as well as the nail biting suspense. I don’t know what I find more impressive, the skill in which Josie’s double life is brought to page on a visual level (the colorful fashions of the 60s against all the bloody carnage is an interesting contrast), or how Jones creates sympathy for a protagonist who does such awful things. We’re going to get a volume three, right? You just can’t leave things on that cliffhanger! Artwork also by the writer, Joelle Jones.
Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)- The third volume in the Stormlight Archives delves deep into the character of Dalinar Kholin, and brings our heroes face to face with some hard truths about themselves, and the world around them. If you’re a fan of massive fantasy tomes, no one is dong the genre better right now then the master of magic systems, Brandon Sanderson. Filled with high stakes, sympathetic characters, and worldbuilding that you can really delve into, Oathbringer earns every one of its 1200+ pages. The only bad thing about finishing this book is knowing that I will need to wait years before the fourth volume hits the shelves.
The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)– The first book in The Interdependencey series has everything you could want from a John Scalzi book: humorous dialogue, eye opening sci-fi concepts, and characters you can really fall in love with. The fact that the audiobook version is narrated by Wil Wheaton makes it even more impossible to put down. As you may have guessed from the title, The Collapsing Empire tells the story of a large inter-planetary empire, and what happens when it’s discovered that the intergalactic channels that connect its many pieces are about to collapse. I am eagerly looking forward to book two, which is set to come out later this year.
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)– Fuzzy Nation is actually a book that I’ve owned for a while now, having purchased the audio version in a sale YEARS ago. Despite being a fan of the author’s work, I put off reading it because it was a retelling of a classic sci-fi novel-Little Fuzzy-which I had yet to read. But after enjoying the shit out of The Collapsing Empire, I decided to it was time to dive in, regardless of how familiar I was with the source material. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. Fuzzy Nation tells the story of a prospector on an alien planet who comes across adorable cat-like creatures that he dubs “Fuzzies.” Only when he introduces his latest find to a local biologist, he discovers that these creatures might be more than just animals, but sapient beings who rightfully own the planet they are currently mining the shit out of. Fuzzy Nation combines adorableness with genuinely interesting ethical dilemmas, and the suspense of a court room drama. It was a fast read (I flew threw it in just a couple of days), but a really worth while one.
Jem and the Holograms, vol 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson (Contemporary)– Showtime is the cartoon Jem rebooted in comic book format, and boy is it great. Think about everything you loved about the cartoon as a kid, only less soap opera-y, and updated for a modern audience. They even make the music performance aspect really work, despite the fact that it’s not an auditory medium. Unfortunately, my library does not have access to any of the other volumes in this series, so I’m going to have to go through other avenues if I want to continue the series. Artwork by Sophie Campbell.
Saga, vol 8: by Brian K Vaughan (Science Fiction)– Here’s a great example of a comic book series that’s still going strong, years after its debut. While previous volumes of Saga have taken things to epic sci-fi heights, volume eight takes a smaller route by examining the very real tragedy that comes with a miscarriage. We see this on a practical level, as Alanna and Marko struggle to find a place that will perform a late-term abortion on the dead fetus, as well as a more emotional one, as Hazel must come to terms with the loss of the brother she never had a chance to meet. Really strong stuff this time around. Artwork, as always by Fiona Staples.
Ms. Marvel, vol 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson (Superheroes)– Ms. Marvel remains one of Marvel comics most consistent offerings, and the latest volume Mecca really shows you why. Author G. Willow Wilson uses the storyline of people targeting super powered individuals in Jersey City as a metaphor for examining prejudice and radicalization. There are some pretty big twists this time around, and things end on a bit of a cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see how things are resolved in volume 9, which is supposed to come out on my birthday (!!!) July 31st.
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Historical Fiction/Romance)– This has to be the strongest stand alone graphic novel I’ve read in years. The Prince and the Dressmaker is a love story, set in France, between a poor dressmaker with big dreams, and a prince who sometimes likes to wear dresses. This book is filled with lovable characters that you can route for, and wonderful artwork (especially when it comes to the dresses!). If you have any interest in graphic novels and historical romances, I’d recommend picking this up ASAP. Artwork done by the writer, Jen Wang.
Geek Actually: Season 1 by Cathy Yardley, Melissa Blue, Cecilia Tan, and Rachel Stuhler (Contemporary/Chick Lit)– Now here’s something a little different. Geek Actually is a Serial Box Production, meaning that it’s basically a television series in fiction form. Each serial is written in “seasons”, and the story is broken down into episodes that roughly take the same amount of time to read as it does to watch an episode of television. Geek Actually is my second serial that I’ve experienced through Serial Box, and I’m really impressed with the results. It focuses on the story of five different nerd women from different walks of life, each struggling with the challenges related to their professions, love lives, sexualities and more. I think the thing I like the most about Geek Actually is the variety of perspectives presented, covering everything from the gaming industry, to publishing, to cosplay. The characters themselves are both complex and diverse, each one having a significant arc. The story starts off lighthearted and fun, but it’s not afraid to examine with some of the darker struggles that women have to deal with- including stalking and sexual assault. It’s clear from the finale that there is more story to tell, and I look forward to seeing where our five leading ladies will go in season two.
Honorable Mentions: Desperate Hours by David Mack, Black Bolt: Vol 1: Hard Times by Saladin Ahmed, Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn, The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu.
So that’s it! What books have you fallen in love with lately?
Lately, I’ve been posting a lot about Red and Black, my upcoming superhero book. But while I’ve talked about my writing habits, and my decision to self publish, I haven’t actually told you anything about the book itself.
Which is exactly how you end up selling books. By refusing to tell people anything about it. Keeping it all some grand secret. Right?
Er…. maybe not. Which brings me to the following teaser! This is what I’ve been using to explain the books to professional editors and such, and may end up being the back of the book summary.
Have any interest in superheroes? Then do read on.
Dawn Takahashi knows a thing or two about superheroes, from the fictional ones that populate her favorite comic books, to the real-life vigilantes who keep people safe. So when she’s granted an impressive set of powers of her own, she dives right in, eager to prove herself as Bailey City’s first legitimate superhero. Dressed in red and black, Dawn spends her night jumping from rooftop to rooftop, apprehending criminals with a smile. But by day, she finds her interactions marred by crippling social awkwardness.
Alex Gage is used to life giving him the short end of the stick, from his working class upbringing, to the recent death of his mother. He works hard to support his younger sisters, hiding his anger and frustration behind laid back charm. It’s this charm that first draws Alex and Dawn together, but their secrets may tear them apart. Because while Dawn protects the city against threats, Alex unknowingly undermines her efforts by working as a henchmen for Calypso, a mysterious woman who has the ability to make anyone loyal to her with a single touch of her hand.
It’s all a case of boy meets girl. And hero versus villain. Where only one side can win.
So there you go! Red and Black is chock full of roof-top jumping action, delicious desserts, and all the joy that comes with accidentally falling for your nemesis. If you’d like a free copy, then why not sign up for my mailing list? I’m on the look out for a few good reviewers who can provide an honest review in exchange for a free ARC. If you think there’s the possibility you may be that person (reviews would go up on amazon, goodreads and/or personal blogs), please click here and sign up for said mailing list. I promise not to flood your inbox with useless crap. Only the good stuff.
Looking for a unique take on AI in novella form? Then check out All Systems Red. We’re reviewing the Philip K. Dick nominees over at Speculative Chic, and I was fortunate enough to get to review the first in the Murderbot Diaries. Click the link below to check it out.
All Systems Red (2017) Written by: Martha Wells Genre: Science Fiction Pages: 144 (ebook) Publisher: Tor.com Why I Chose It: All Systems Red had been nominated for the 2017 Philip K. Dick Award, and here at Speculative Chic, we’re reading the nominees! I chose All Systems Red based on the positive reviews and feedback I had been…
Attention Stormlight Archive fans! My review of Oathbringer is now up on Speculative Chic.
Oathbringer (2017) Author: Brandon Sanderson Narrated by: Kate Reading, Michael Kramer Genre: Epic Fantasy Series: The Stormlight Archive (Book 3) Length: 1,248 pages (Kindle); 55 h and 4 m (Audiobook)* Publisher: Tor Books Why I Chose It: I read Oathbringer as part of 2018’s Resolution Project. Also, I’m a big fan of both the series and the…