Indie Review: Shadows of the Highridge by Jay Swanson (2015)

ARC provided by author, because he’s a gentleman and a scholar.

Shadows of Highridge is a tight, action-packed story set in the foothills of the Highridge Mountains. It follows a bright, evolving cast of characters who are rarely what they seem to be on the surface, and unravel piece by piece throughout the story. Tolly, a farmgirl, watches as her family is brutalized; helpless, scared, she flees for her life. Vanig is a drought-stricken farmer who lost his family previously, searching for water when he is approached by mercenaries, sent to apprehend him for crimes he didn’t commit. Salisir is a mysterious soldier from a far away land, appearing at a suspicious time, and getting rolled into the group.

Oh, and did I mention there are Tremors-style groundworms? Yeah, there’s giant effing worms.

Jay’s writing grows with each piece I read from him, and in the case of this book, the characterization and action are in the forefront. Each of the various people in the book have depth, evolve, and slowly reveal the pieces that make them who they are. None of the main characters seem to lack an “OHHHH!” moment, as their motivations, past actions, motivations etc are revealed, sometimes out of left field and in complete surprise. Jay thought these characters through, gave them reasons for their actions, explanations as to why they acted and spoke the way they did. This is the backbone of his story, and is what really drives the point forward.

Additionally, there is AMPLE high-energy action scenes, chases, escapes, puzzle solving, and very dire situations. While the ancillary characters died with abandon and the main characters had a hint of plot armor (spoiler: not all of them), every one of these scenes was nail-biting, and Jay handles his suspense extremely well. The characters drove the plot, but the suspense and action kept the book exciting, and gave great changes of pace.

Jay is growing as a writer, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read from him thus far. He’s pushing some boundaries with his crowdsourced writing, and the end products are a lot of fun, and the physical books are gorgeous, of nice quality, and something I proudly display on my shelves. I’m excited to watch as he continues to develop, and as his world continues to evolve. Anyone looking for a quick, exciting read, with really great characters, should grab this one up while they can.

Book Review: The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson (2015)

Wow.

I am not really sure where to even categorize The Traitor Baru Cormorant. It’s not really fantasy, yet based on it’s tone and setting, it would generally fall in that category. It pushes boundaries – moral, sexual, political. It presents many tough questions, tough situations, tough outcomes. The scope is both sprawling and incredibly tight, yet never feels to be too much of either.

It has the makings of a masterpiece, but didn’t always quite fire on all cylinders for me. However, it sure as hell gets close enough.

Baru Cormorant is a young girl, innocent, when The Empire Of Masks arrives to change her island forever. The book’s pitch hits the premise pretty well:

The Empire of Masks is coming, armed with coin and ink, doctrine and compass, soap and lies. They’ll conquer Baru’s island, rewrite her culture, criminalize her customs, and dispose of one of her fathers. But Baru is patient. She’ll swallow her hate, prove her talent, and join the Masquerade. She will learn the secrets of empire. She’ll be exactly what they need. And she’ll claw her way high enough up the rungs of power to set her people free.

Seems simple enough, almost cliche; the innocent child, the invading force, the revenge! But this book is so much more than that. It presents itself almost as a stereotypical coming-of-age fantasy, a variation on the destiny-bound farmboy. However, it’s nothing of the sort. The book shows Baru in her innocence, then jumps ahead to the meat of the story, using the beginning merely as a contrast. There’s no destiny, there’s no foretelling, none of that – just a girl, growing to a woman, with a very real cunning and desire.

And Seth NAILS it. Characterization, at times, feels like a lost art in fantasy novels, an afterthought; a sidecar ride for the action that is driving the plot. Traitor Baru is the opposite – the characters run this story, their development, their interplay, their dilemmas, their crushing tragedies. Baru is one of the most relatable, visceral, realistic characters I’ve ever read. She grows throughout the story, encapsulates everything it is to be a human, every emotion, every trouble, every feeling from one end of the spectrum to the other. It’s impossible to read this novel and NOT care about her, feel for her losses and dilemmas, suffer for her pains, and cringe for each of her crushing defeats – both internal and external.

The book is beautiful in it’s simplicity, while simultaneously gripping with it’s complexity. Baru fights her way up the Masquerade ranks, getting herself wrapped up in a rebellion, partially trapped within by a secret she is compelled to reveal – one which will tear apart all of her plans if released publicly. There is plot line on top of plot line on top of plot line; so many pieces, the entire bundle a powder keg ready to burst in on Baru, collapsing the house of cards she’s built. However, Dickinson keeps things focused, keeps centered on Baru, allows the reader to follow all of the intricate lines without feeling overwhelmed, or lost, or confused – unlike his protagonist, who routinely feels all of those.

The prose, while not Gaiman or Rothfuss, is elegant, approachable, and interesting all at once. It’s a very easy book to read, despite it’s intense topics and happenings, however does not lack in sophistication. The dialogue is very realistically presented, the characters keeping you surprised, but not acting in sporadic or outlandish ways simply to move the plot forward. The battles, while sparse, are well done, technical, and exciting. The emotions are the crux of it all – I could not help but feel, not just for Baru, but for all of the characters, the ancillaries, the antagonists. Everyone is compelled in some way, motivated by very real forces, and feel the weight of their actions and thoughts, the affects of everything happening around them.

Dickinson hits on some tough topics, including homosexuality, oppression, and cultural discrimination. I felt they were all handled brilliantly – the items were main plot points, without feeling hamfisted or blunt. All were deftly handled, present but not overused, leveraged just enough to twist the heart-strings and emphasize the struggles that the people of his world faced on a daily basis.

The worldbuilding, while somewhat limited, is creative and intriguing. The generic bad guy is not present in this book, rather, a very well-fleshed culture clashes with other well-fleshed cultures, various very different beliefs on display at once. The geography takes a backseat to the pieces filling the lands, but at no point did I feel confused by the world, and I was constantly amazed by the overall variations in characters, cultures, and beliefs.

And, without any spoilers, the last 1/4 of this book was incredible. Things escalate extremely quickly, and the last few chapters are perhaps the most jarring, shocking, breathtaking of any book I’ve read this year. Several moments of pure, unadulterated bad-assery. Gut-wrenching emotional situations, characters facing horrendously painful decisions that are made, often, with a calculated precision that belies the truly crushing nature of their consequences. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, and left me in awe.

The books flaws are few, however are present. The novel, being largely character and drama driven, can be very dry at points, and I found myself waiting for things to progress a bit more quickly, despite staying interested. The middle portion, or I should say the 1/3 – 2/3 marks of the book, bog down a bit, as the pieces fall into place, as the twisted plotlines come together and develop, preparing for the finale. Additionally, Seth’s writing, while very nice, can be extremely repetitive. He was quite proud of his knowledge of scurvy, and mentioned it constantly – scurvy this, scurvy that, scurvy-ridden troops, etc. A lot of words were repeated almost ad nauseum – phalanx, scurvy, duchy, etc. While this is unavoidable in some cases, it felt fairly pronounced in this novel, and I found myself cringing at times when one of the constantly used words or phrases was brought up for the umpteenth time in that chapter.

Overall, the book was really quite pleasant. I thought it handled a lot of delicate topics with a deft hand, keeping things interesting most of the time, and finishing with an incredible bang. The characters were top-notch, as good as any I’ve read this year, and the writing was very good. The Traitor Baru Cormorant was well worth reading, and I’d easily put it among my top books of the year. Not perfect, but very close.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

Book Review: The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis (2015)

I fell for Tregillis’ unique stylings when his first major novel, Bitter Seeds, was introduced to me. I found his writing style, prose, creativity, and plot progression to be incredibly enjoyable, and his characters shone. However, with those books, I honestly felt they all hovered in the “4-star” area, where they were fun, had tons of potential, but just lacked a bit of polish and “glue”, so to speak, to pull them together into greatness.

However, with The Mechanical, Tregillis has pulled all these pieces together into one cohesive package that is simply thrilling.

The Mechanical is an alternate history, one that obviously shares many similarities to our world and history, however with many very large twists. The book is based in the early 1900s, 250 years after the Dutch Empire and the Brasswork Throne took world control, lead by their army of sentient robots, called Clakkers. Dutch Scientist Christiaan Hyugens helps imbue the robots with intelligence, an alchemical and magical secret process, one held tightly by the Dutch at The Forge, the home and source of all the clakkers. There are varying types of clakkers, from servitors, who are peon-level mechanicals, to assist in tasks, building, etc. There are also military-grade clakkers, those to fight, kill with precision, speed and strength that a human cannot match.

The Dutch, after years of uncontested rule, are facing a growing opposition, from the French Papists, who have a large spy network in the Dutch lands, attempting to undercut the Dutch, disable their clakkers, and end their rule.

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These mechanicals are all sentient – they think, they process, they communicate, they learn and adapt. They have feelings and emotions, albeit limited. What they lack, however, is free will. This is an overriding theme of the entire book – what free will means, it’s importance, and philosophical looks at the various factors at play. The mechanicals are controlled by the geas, a compulsion to follow the orders given by their human masters. There are varying levels of the geas – basic direct instructions, that must be followed exactly. Metageas, which are overriding commands that all clakkers are compelled to follow. This geas manifests in an almost physical pain – almost like a mental attack by a mind flayer or something like that, it is a crushing internal force that can only be resisted a short time, before the mechanicals are forced to give in and follow their commands exactly. Their lives are spent in constant avoidance of the pain and suffering caused by the geas.

However, among clakkers and humans alike, are tales of rogue clakkers, those who somehow have their geas disabled, are able to think and make decisions for themselves, who are no longer controlled by their human overlords. Jax is one such clakker, a servitor model over 100 years old, having spent more than a human lifetime serving, suffering, stuck. He finds himself inadvertently crossing paths with Berenice Charlotte de Mornay-Périgord, a French spymaster, while on a ship – where Jax is unknowingly being used to transport intelligence across the Atlantic.

While on this transport, tragedy strikes Berenice, and at the same time, Jax is touched by an artifact that somehow removes his geas, giving him free will; and simultaneously, making him the Dutch’s most wanted fugitive. Berenice, meanwhile, is fueled by pain and rage, and sets out to undercut the Dutch in revenge. We subsequently meet Visser, a Catholic spy living among the Dutch, who is subsequently discovered and subjected to a torture of his own – one which exposes a lot of the secrets behind the mechanicals, the geas, and the true power at the hands of the Guild.

The varying layers of intrigue in the book are astounding – three distinct storylines, independent yet intertwined, and each filling in holes in the story, filling in background, giving an understanding of how all the various aspects of the world work. Things are an onion, peeled back a layer at a time, rather than presented in an infodump or bland blocks of background text. It’s skillfully done, keeps the plot moving at a rapid pace throughout the book, and prevents any periods of disinterest. I was suitably enthralled at all times in the book – around the 30% mark, things do slow down a tad, but not nearly as much as they do in some other novels. Around the halfway point, things really pick up, and it’s incredible from there on out.

Jax, in particular, is an incredible character. His internal struggles, his fight for self-identity, and his plight as he runs from his rulers is as moving as it is exciting. The themes of identity, free will, slavery, oppression and the rights of sentient creatures are all handled very deftly by Tregillis. The intense pain, PTSD, sense of loss – all the human emotions felt by Berenice are also handled excellently, as were the intense changes Visser went through, and his terror was palpable.

The worldbuilding was, well, it was something else. The creativity involved in this world was staggering. It’s not as though alternate histories, sentient robots, or the Dutch being evil (lol) are new concepts – however, Tregillis’ version is very well crafted, very fleshed out, very well described. I felt like I was part of the world, that time period, that technology, that struggle. He describes things without an overabundance of flowery filler, without describing every minute detail – yet he also paints a vivid picture, lets imagination fill out the tapestry, but gives you a color by numbers template to do it with. It was satisfying.

The ending was exciting and heartbreaking at once, even with it being left open-ended to address the future novels in the series. The ending all the characters find couldn’t have gone better for me, and I left the book excited about it, feeling suitably impacted by the difficult parts, and suitably happy with the outcome. This book was the Tregillis I have been waiting for after the Milkweed Triptych –  finally putting the pieces together, hitting his stride in almost every aspect, finding that “glue” he needed to make a cohesive, complete, and exciting novel.

I loved it.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott (2015)

Kate Elliott is an author who so many people, namely people whom I respect the opinion of, seem to be very fond of. I hung out with her at Worldcon and found her to be a lovely person – funny, smart, laid back, and a blast to be around. I had been under the impression that she wrote female-targeted fantasy (as in, aiming for a younger female audience, not ‘by’ or ‘about’ women). This is great, but it’s generally “not my thing”. I can enjoy this style if the writing is good (ie Mary Robinette Kowal, Marie Brennan, etc), however even if it is, I tend to not enjoy it as much as books that are more in my subject matter wheelhouse. I’ve been informed that I was not technically correct in that assumption; however, with this novel, my ridiculous assumption wasn’t wholly incorrect.

Court of Fives is a YA offering from Kate, which centers around a semi-noble family that is in the midst of turmoil after their patron lord passes away. The protagonist, Jessamy, is a young teen, interested in Running the Fives, an athletic event that is essentially a Ninja-Warrior style gauntlet event; one that is highly respected and spectated, however is not considered a necessarily honorable thing for noblefolks to compete in.

The book begins with several chapters that were, frankly, a big turnoff for me – very much YA-style writing, focusing on whiny, obnoxious teenage girls, in a society obsessed with honor and propriety. Normally, this sort of things is like nails on a chalkboard for me, however I understand why people enjoy it. This is very much a personal preference, so I’m not going to condemn a book for it. I was, however, afraid after a few chapters that this is what I’d be getting into the rest of the book. Luckily for me, it turns out it was largely a setup – definitely to appeal to a certain audience, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Literal iceberg, because I’m like that

The book, frankly, surprised me after this start. It got serious in a hurry, and very much full drama. Kate wrote in a lot of nice little details and hints of future events, and seamlessly integrated the worldbuilding aspects, history, etc, into the story. Some things were casually mentioned then largely forgotten (animatronic spider anyone? No other instances of similar things I can remember, but my memory sucks), but in general it all came back around, and when you read about something happening, it mattered to later events. The book was quite tight in that way – not a ton of fluff, not an excess of anything, not a lot of wasted space.

And, at the risk of spoilers or anything – THAT. FUCKING. ENDING.. I actually said “OH SNAP!” aloud when I read the ending. I thought PERHAPS she’d go that direction, I thought MAYBE she would, but I was still shocked when she did. It’s incongruous with some of the tone of the book – hard, edgy, and jarring. I thought Kate handled the ending very well, and gave the book a much more memorable final portion.

Overall, the book was an thrilling hybrid of “not my style” type elements, combined with a big pile of “wow this is awesome”. I thought the writing was high quality, the action was subtle but exciting, and the worldbuilding – while smaller-scale – was quite  tight and deftly handled. I could live without the whiny teenage girl aspect, but again, I know the target audience of this book is more into that kind of thing than I am – I don’t think Kate had 30 year old bearded males in mind when writing this novel. Maybe she did, I’m pretty memorable. Overall, this book surprised me a lot, especially how invested I got, and how much I ended up enjoying it. It’s definitely turned me on to reading more of Kate’s work.

Rating: 4.25/5

Book Review: Knight’s Shadow by Sebastien de Castell (2015)

Holy crapping crapsnacks.

That’s all.

Ok, that’s not all. I LOVED Traitor’s Blade an incredible amount – it was tight, entertaining, well-written, funny, and exciting. Not twisting words – it was gods-damned great. I was told that Knight’s Shadow took things up a notch from that book, and I believed it – however, I did not really think it could be THAT much of an improvement.

Whoops, misjudged that one.

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In a way, Knight’s Shadow really continued off from where Traitor’s Blade left us – without spoilery details, that means deep in some very intricate plots, but largely also in “traveling group” fantasy mode. Which is great – it was refreshing to find a book that had some of that old-school simplicity to it, the feel of the road-weary party of folks dealing with problems and tribulations. However, it was never that simple with this story, and could never be. This plot had too many pieces, too much going on behind the scenes that was hinted at, slowly revealed, and very deftly handled. Always so much more to discover with this story, so much more to love.

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The story rolls on as I’ve become accustomed to in the previous volume – our three heroes, their party of misfits, chasing their quests, following their destinies…and then it all crumbles. All of the seemingly obvious pieces fall apart, all of the paths that it seemed so obvious they were following suddenly became nonexistent, and turned them around. The complication of the various stories happening here are so brilliantly handled by de Castell that I often forgot about these individual pieces, about the bits he foreshadowed, about the details of his worldbuilding that seemed inconsequential but ended up being such major pieces.

And despite all of that, nothing, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING THING, prepared me for what was coming in the final 1/4 of this book. Nothing. There aren’t words to describe what happens, and I will say that in all my time of reading, of all the hundreds of fantasy books and books of all genres I’ve read, NOTHING has hit me in the feels harder than the ending of this book. NOTHING. Falcio has already established himself as one of the pinnacles of protagonists for me, especially first-person protagonists, but nothing had me ready for what he endured in this book, nothing gave me warning of the true breakdown, of what torture could be. This is not the physical abuse that Sand dan Glokta dished out in The First Law – this is something so much deeper, so much more debilitating, and de Castell ruined my life with it. He crushed me.
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I don’t think much more needs to be said. I’ve never had to push through a portion of a book I loved, never had to endure this much abuse. But it wasn’t gratuitous, it wasn’t overdone, it wasn’t a vulgar self-indulgence. It was just, simply, the hardest thing I’ve had to read in a piece of fiction, happening to a character I’ve come to know and love. And I wanted to cry at the end, and hug Sebastien, for being so brilliant.

But yet, after all that’s over, there’s still more twists, more things that made me say “NO DAMN WAY!” outloud, while sitting in public reading (at a bar, of course, because I needed alcohol to cope with this kind of drama). As I said, I’m very, very rarely moved by books, very rarely surprised, very rarely shocked. Yet, Sebastien did it again and again at the end of this novel, twisting me left and right and left and right. And then, at the end, I got a satisfying, if slightly cheesy, feel-good ending, as if that would be more than a bandaid to fix the emptiness in my soul that was left behind after the previous portions.

This book is so much more than it seems, this story is SO much more than it seems. It is brilliance; it’s subtle, it’s heartwrenching, and it’s wonderful. It takes you to the highest highs and the lowest lows, it hits grimdark and it hits epic and it hits romance and it hits low fantasy politics. It takes the best pieces of so many of my favorite works and puts them into one brilliant piece of book.

I can’t say any more than this – it’s fucking phenomenal.

Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (2015)

NK Jemisin has always been an author I’ve kept on my radar; she’s a social activist, an incredibly interesting person to follow, and, above all else (from a book review standpoint), a pretty damn good writer.


Generally speaking, I try to avoid politics when it comes to authors and books, but I often get looped in – many of the authors I follow lean one way or the other politically and socially, often very vehemently so. Most believe similar things to what I do, and then there are people like the Sad Puppies. Nora Jemisin is part of the former in that group, much moreso than I am – a proponent of human rights, equality, and fair treatment, both in her books and in her life.

And that translates well into her novels, luckily. More on that later.

The Fifth Season is a really exciting book – the premise alone had me hooked, the cover art is grabbing, and, of course, the writer drew me in. I’ve read a couple of Jemisin’s other books, and largely enjoyed them – she’s very much in what I call ‘The Polansky Category’: Great prose, good subject matter, but never quite puts the pieces all together to hit the perfection (for me – I have unique tastes and qualifications, though). This book, however, is about as close to that “whole package” as I think most authors could ever aspire to, and yet still left me feeling like she has so much more to offer, which is a very exciting prospect.

Link to my review of a previous Jemisin novel

I will try to avoid being too spoilery while talking about the book, though most people figure out how things are going fairly early on into reading. The Fifth Season follows three storylines; three women of varying ages, in different locations, in different time periods. Essun, a woman living in a small village, has a major secret. Upon discovering her secret, her husband murders one of their children, and kidnaps their other child, abandoning them. Essun embarks on a quest to find him, avenge the death of her son, and hopefully save the life of her daughter.

Syenite is an Orogene – a group of magically gifted people, feared and reviled, as much as they are necessary to the land’s health. They possess the power to move and manipulate the earth in drastic ways, and are understandably dangerous due to this ability. Syenite is controlled by the Fulcrum, the training and control center of the Orogenes, and is sent on a routine earth shaping mission with a powerful 10-ringer, Alabaster, who she is also expected to become impregnated by for the good of the Fulcrum.

Damaya is a young Orogene, taken from her home by a Guardian – one of the Fulcrum’s powerful Orogene neutralizers and controllers. She is taken to the Fulcrum to begin her training as an Orogene, working her way up through the schooling as her life becomes a whirlwind of change and events.

Each of these three storylines are intricate and detailed, incredibly gripping, and very interesting. I found myself caring about the characters, their situations, what happened to them. They all went through events that were scary, heart wrenching, and downright tragic, and had to deal with the emotions and scars from those events, all while growing as people. The characterization is very deftly handled; Jemisin understands human emotions, variations, growth. Her female characters have an expected level of realness and are skillfully written, but her male characters are also fairly close to spot on (although many of them felt like the outwardly-callous-but-with-a-very-soft-side type). Her dialogue, emotions, feelings, love, conversations; they all make sense, they all are engrossing and heart wrenching and beautiful.

The worldbuilding is also quite fantastic here – the story takes place on a continent called The Stillness, which, ironically, is a continent in extreme turmoil. They are on many tectonic plates, and are in constant motion and threat of eruptions, earthquakes, and the like. The Orogenes who can control the earth are, in many cases, the only things keeping the continent safe, which is part of the reason they are tolerated by the general population (or “Stills“). The world also is exposed to catastrophic “seasons”, periods of extreme turmoil and geological events that threaten the lives of the Stills. There is a constant threat of another major event setting off another Season, which could spell the end for so many people.

The elements of the world, the magic, the characters all come together beautifully, and the story grabs you from start to finish. Jemisin’s writing ties it all together, with wonderful prose that is both beautiful and easy to read. Her beliefs shine through in her characters; multiple trans characters, characters of many different races, and relationships such as an MMF polyamorous threeway (for lack of a better way of describing it in my vocabulary) are present in the book. Jemisin inserts these underused and underrepresented character types into her story with skill, and while there sometimes feels like as many possible sexual and racial type are represented in the story, it’s done with deftness in general, and feels quite natural. It is a point, without being an intrusive one – never feels like there’s a hard message being shoved in your face, but rather just an translation of the diversity of our world into the world she has created. The fact that I’m even pointing all of this out means that these are so underrepresented in fantasy that it’s a point of note when they ARE present in any numbers, which is why I believe authors like Jemisin are essential to moving forward the genre, as well as moving forward western values as a whole.

The only complaints I had about the book were that one of the storylines was presented in a second-person perspective, while the other two were in third person. I have read lots of reviews that say it “made sense in the end”; I personally felt it still could have been handled in third person entirely, and felt that the third person chapters were much easier to read, and the transitions in POV were a bit jarring, even after hundreds of pages. Personal feeling only, from a literary standpoint, it might have been the right choice. For me, it just made reading those chapters a bit more awkward than they could have been.

Overall, I can safely say I loved this book. I wanted to read it whenever I wasn’t, I wanted to find out what was happening. The ending was heartbreaking and moving, and so much of the story was emotionally taxing, and so brilliantly handled. Jemisin’s writing is great, and I feel like I’ve enjoyed each book of hers more than I enjoyed the previous one. I’m very excited to see where this series ends up.

Rating: 5/5

We’re Back! Review Of My 2015 Read List

Holy smokes! I started writing again in this blog around the turn of the new year, but life quickly got in the way, and I was unable to keep up the pace. When we last spoke, I was speaking on novellas; shortly before that, I was giving my 2015 year in preview. I laid out numerous novels that I was looking forward to, as well as some I was cautiously optimistic about.

In the name of keeping things simple, I’m going to give a brief summary – a followup to the previous post. For starters, I’ve read 85 books so far in 2015 (well ahead of my pace!). For those wondering, here’s a full list. Not all have been from this year, which skews that number quite a bit. For now,

I’ll give a top 10 of 2015 published books:

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10: The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin (review)

9: The End of All Things by John Scalzi (review)

8: The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu (review)

7: The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan (review)

6: The Skull Throne by Peter V Brett (review)

5: Half The World by Joe Abercrombie (review)

4: The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence (review)

3: Golden Son by Pierce Brown (review)

2: Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey (review)

1: Knight’s Shadow by Sebastian de Castell (review)

Before I give any kind of breakdown, I need to say that there have been a lot of great books released this year. To honor those, here’s my…

Honorable mention:

1: Time Salvager by Wesley Chu (review)

2: The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (review)

3: Half A War by Joe Abercrombie (review)

4: The Unremembered (A.D.E.) by Peter Orullian (review)

5: Those Above by Daniel Polansky (review)

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And while we’re doing lists, let me throw out my…

Favorite novellas/short stories:

3: Shadowgirl by Kate Ristau (review)

2: A Drink Before We Die by Daniel Polansky (review)

1: In Midnight’s Silence by T. Frohock (review)

And of course, this wouldn’t be complete without my..

Anticipated/forthcoming reads of 2015! 

There’s still 3 months of year left, and some seriously exciting books coming out soon. In this list, I will also add 2015 releases that I have not yet read but plan to:

  • Price of Valor by Django Wexler (July)
  • The Providence of Fire by Brian Staveley (January)
  • Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal (April)
  • Sword of the North by Luke Scull (May)
  • The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi (January)
  • Without Light Or Guide by T. Frohock (November)
  • Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson (October)

I plan on getting back into the groove on this blog, and reviewing books as I read them, and hopefully getting some pre-release reviews from some of my favorite authors who have ARCs releasing soon!