Thursday, December 5, 2013
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I've been gearing up to do a year's best books list since the end of the first quarter. But in looking over the books I've read thus far (I'll probably add at least four or five more by the end of the month) I realized that I've read a pretty large number of older works and that perhaps including those doesn't give a wholly accurate view of this year's best novels. So with that in mind, I've decided to do a separate list for books that were released prior to this year. Thanks to the realization that I had been reading with a bias toward male authors this fall, I've been making an effort to seek out books by female authors that I may have overlooked. I'm happy to report that many of those authors have made their way not only onto this list but also into my "must buy" list of authors. I'll be posting a list of the best of 2013 closer to the end of the year.
Monday, December 2, 2013
Zombies are a bit of a cultural phenomenon, in case you’ve been living in a cave somewhere. With the success of The Walking Dead there are plenty of novels about the living dead to choose from and I’ll admit to liking more than a few of them. I’d heard of Mira Grant’s Feed earlier in the year, but passed on reading it because it was told after the zombacalypse. I’m a huge fan of end of the world tales and the idea of a novel that was set after the exciting parts were over just didn’t do it for me. But after realizing my own gender bias was brought to my attention, I started seeking out female genre writers and after sampling one of the Seanan McGuire’s (Mira Grant is a pseudonym) other work and enjoying it, I decided to give Feed a go. And despite my earlier misgivings, I couldn’t be happier with this unique and refreshing take on the world post-zombie outbreak. Feed easily ranks as one of the best novels I’ve read this year and it’s taking all of my willpower not to rush out and dive into the rest of the Newsflesh trilogy.
Monday, November 25, 2013
One of the best things about being connected to the reviewing community is hearing about novels that I wouldn’t otherwise have picked up on my own. Will McIntosh’s Love Minus Eighty is one of those finds I wouldn’t have made if not for social media. After seeing review after glowing review in my Twitter feed, I picked it up and set it on the top of Mount To Be Read, where it was promptly buried. It took a few months before I had time to pick it up, but I managed to devour it over the weekend, despite being fairly busy with other social obligations. I don’t normally read a lot on the weekends due to a fairly busy schedule when I’m not working, but McIntosh’s fascinating tale of love and technology just wouldn’t let me go, so I finished it in record time. I’m happy to report that despite having a strong romantic element to its story line that Love Minus Eighty is one of the best novels I’ve read this year.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Teresa Frohock’s Miserere is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a far too long. Sadly, as is the case with a lot of debut novels by female authors, I’ve had a hard time locating a copy in my local bookstore. But eventually I gave up looking and just ordered myself a copy. When I concluded my Round Table of Gender Bias in SF/F, I gave readers the opportunity to choose my next read To Be Read pile and Miserere was the clear favorite. I dove right in, and immediately regretted that I’d waited this long to delve into Frohock’s fascinating debut. With engaging world building, deeply realized characters and plenty of pathos Miserere is a debut novel that begs for a wider readership.
Monday, November 18, 2013
Urban fantasy is a tricky business, especially when the author uses a first person point of view. But when it’s done well, the results can be exceptional. Seanan McGuire’s Discount Armageddon is a good example of how the strength of the viewpoint character’s voice can carry the story in spite of some questionable story choices.
Discount Armageddon is the story of Verity Price, a crypto-biologist who dreams of a being a professional ballroom dancer but is torn between her personal ambitions and her place in the family business studying cryptids, monsters of both the sentient and non-sentient variety. When female cryptids begin to disappear, Verity discovers Dominic Deluca, a member of the Covenant of St. George, an ancient organization that views cryptids as threats to humanity that should be exterminated operating in Manhattan. Is he the culprit or is there a larger threat to both humanity and cryptids alike?
Monday, November 11, 2013
It’s always an interesting proposition when an author jumps to another genre. Will the elements of their successes in one venue parlay into equal success in another? Will the story be as entertaining as the previous works, despite a complete change of storytelling scenery, with different tropes and expectations? Readers of this blog are well aware that I’m decidedly more comfortable with fantasy novels, only branching into science fiction rarely. So when I heard that Michael J. Sullivan was using Kickstarter to produce a science fiction story, I was curious to see if my love for Sullivan’s work would extend to a story outside of the Riyria series. I’m happy to report that not only does Hollow World establish Sullivan as a force to be reckoned with in any genre he chooses to ply his talent to, it also is a prime example of one of the reasons speculative fiction is so important. Hollow World is an excellent and thought provoking novel that tackles big issues yet does so in such a way to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions once they reach the end of this thoughtful, entertaining and compelling science fiction murder mystery.