Wednesday, February 03, 2016

NoaF: The Fifth Season and Other Stuff

Wednesday, February 03, 2016 0
Hey kids!

I'd like to point you to another review that I did (!!!) over at Nerds of a Feather. This time, I've reviewed N. K. Jemisin's phenomenally good The Fifth Season. Seriously, the more I think about it, the more I like the book. If had read it last year, it would be the top book on my 2015 list. It's that good.

In other news, I contributed to the collected Nerds of a Feather Hugo Recommendation Longlists and even did the work compiling / formatting two of them!. Here are the links to parts 1, 2, 3, and 4.

Even more exciting (and I'm really excited about this), I set up two mini interviews in the 6 Books Series with authors Charlie Jane Anders and Lois McMaster Bujold. Pretty awesome, y'all.

Coming up, I have a review of Larry Correia's Son of the Black Sword, my next entry in my Reading Deryni Series, a joint conversation what we might expect to see in Star Wars VIII next year, a potential post on reading resolutions, a Hugo Awards essay, and the first entry in a four part Reading Deverry series that could take several years to finish.  I haven't been this busy blogging in years, nor had this much fun doing it.

I'm also working on reviews of Black Wolves, Meeting Infinity, and Central Station. By "working on", I mean I'm still reading the books / have to start, so they'll be a while. I have some other ideas on more authors to include in the 6 Books series, and eventually, a new entry in the Nerd Music series.  We'll see when I get back to that, though.

Until next time!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Books Read: January 2016

Tuesday, February 02, 2016 0
Now that we've completed the first month of the year, we can take a look at the books I read during January. It's a doozy, even by my standards.


1. Chimera, by Mira Grant
2. The Dragon Revenant, by Katharine Kerr
3. The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
4. Rules of Conflict, by Kristine Smith
5. Son of the Black Sword, by Larry Correia
6. Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, by Michael Klastorin
7. Going Dark, by Linda Nagata
8. Future Visions, by Jennifer Henshaw and Allison Linn (editors)
9. The Shootout Solution, by Michael R. Underwood
10. The Invaders, by Karolina Waclawiak
11. The Complete Peanuts: 1997-1998, by Charles M. Schulz
12. Saint Camber, by Katherine Kurtz
13. Our Souls at Night, by Kent Haruf
14. A Spool of Blue Thread, by Anne Tyler (unfinished)
15. The Whites, by Harry Brandt
16. Planetfall, by Emma Newman
17. Court of Fives, by Kate Elliott


Best Book of the Month: The Fifth Season. This book is so good I am actually mad I haven't read any of Jemisin's other novels and it moves The Obelisk Gate to my #1 must read novel of 2016, no matter what else comes out (and yes, this includes *that* book)

Disappointment of the Month: While I mostly read science fiction and fantasy, I'm following along with the short list for the Tournament of Books and will try to read as much of that as I can before the tournament begins in March. I wouldn't say that A Spool of Blue Thread is bad, and I will still read at least one more Anne Tyler novel (the Pulitzer Prize winning Breathing Lessons), but I was disinterested. So, why continue if I don't care?

Discovery of the Month: Planetfall. This could well have been The Fifth Season, because I have no idea how I've gotten by in life without having read Nora Jemisin's novels. But - The Fifth Season was also the best book of the month by a solid margin and I don't like to double up here. Emma Newman's Planetfall is likewise one of the top novels of the month and of 2015 and I wish I had read it last year.

Worth Noting: I'd have to do some digging, but I feel that 17 books in January my strongest month of reading in a long time. I'm not quite sure how that happened.

Gender Breakdown: Having finished 17 books this month, I'm happy to report that 11 of them were written by women. My year in reading opens with a 64.70% percentage. While I do not a have specific goal this year to read more books written by women than those written by men, I would like to at least keep the breakdown near a 50/50 split.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

My 2016 Hugo Awards Longlist Recommendations

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11
After somewhat of an exhausting year of awards, especially with everything that went down with the Hugo Awards in 2015, it's time to restart that entire cycle this year. But, here at Adventures in Reading, we're going to do things just a little bit differently. In past years I would piece together my ballot over a series of posts beginning in late January.

That's not going to happen this year.  Even though I have never viewed how I worked out my nomination ballot as anything other than doing my thinking in public with little expectation of having an audience or influencing anyone beyond maybe a potential "hey, this is awesome, you should read this and think about it" - because that's all that a recommendation list really is - I'm not going to do it this time.  Not like I have in the past where I would end up with my final ballot posted before the nomination period closed.

With all of the shenanigans regarding groups putting together slates to directly influence what gets on the final ballot, what I'm going to do instead is post a growing long list of stuff I thought was awesome in 2015. This list will likely grow and change as I continue to discover stuff published in 2015 that I likewise think is awesome.

I'm listing everything alphabetically either by title or author, so don't view anything listed at the top of a category as being my ranked order. It's not.

It is also worth nothing that several individuals are already recusing themselves from this year's Hugo Awards. I will still list them as part of my long list recommendations (and may even nominate them anyway), but these individuals have publicly stated they will not accept a Hugo Award nomination. I will note this as they appear on my list.

Novel 
Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear (Tor) 
Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho (Ace)
The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard (Roc)
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson (Tor) 
Fool’s Quest, by Robin Hobb (Del Rey)
Empire Ascendant, by Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot)
The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (Orbit) 
Signal to Noise, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia (Solaris)
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
The End of All Things, by John Scalzi (Tor)  (will not accept a nomination)
Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)

Novella 
The Witches of Lychford, by Paul Cornell (Tor.com Publishing)
“Ur”, by Stephen King (Bazaar of Bad Dreams)*
Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)
Binti, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing) 
The Builders, by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com Publishing)
Sunset Mantle, by Alter S. Reiss (Tor.com Publishing)
The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, by Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing)
*King notes that "Ur" is "considerably revised" from its original 2009 publication on Amazon.com

Novelette 
And the Balance in Blood”, by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny Magazine, Issue 7, November 2015) 
“The Heart’s Filthy Lesson”, by Elizabeth Bear (Old Venus) 
“The Tumbledowns of Cleopatra Abyss”, by David Brin (Old Venus) 
“Obits”, by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams)
"Another Word for World", by Ann Leckie (Future Visions)
Our Lady of the Open Road”, by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, June 2015)

Short Story
In Libres”, by Elizabeth Bear (Uncanny Magazine, Issue 4, May 2015)
"Elephants and Corpses”, by Kameron Hurley (Tor.com, May 13, 2015)
The Light Brigade”, by Kameron Hurley (Lightspeed, November 2015) – published on Patreon 2015 “Cat Pictures Please”, by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
Points of Origin”, by Marissa Lingen (Tor.com, November 4, 2015)
"Hello, Hello", by Seanan McGuire (Future Visions)
Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams”, by Sunny Moraine (Cyborgology, June 2, 2015)
Tear Tracks”, by Malka Older (Tor.com, October 21, 2015)
The Merger”, by Sunil Patel (The Book Smugglers, June 23, 2015)
Oral Argument”, by Kim Stanley Robinson (Tor.com, December 7, 2015)

Graphic Story
Bitch Planet: Extraordinary Machine (Vol 1), by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Lazarus: Conclave (Vol 3), by Greg Rucka
Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy (Vol 1), by Noelle Stevenson*
Lumberjanes: Friendship to the Max (Vol 2), by Noelle Stevenson
Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson*
Rat Queens: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth (Vol 2), by Kurtis S. Wiebe
Saga, Volume 5, by Brian K. Vaughan.
The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud
Stand Still. Stay Silent: Book One, by Minna Sundberg
*The first collection of Lumberjanes was published in 2015, but the issues were all from 2014. I am unsure of its eligibility. The collected edition of Nimona was also published in 2015, but the webcomic is from 2012. Is it eligible?

Related Work
A History of Epic Fantasy, by Adam Whitehead
Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, by Michael Klastorin
Prune – iOS game from Joel McDonald
Rocket Talk Podcast
Speculative Fiction 2014, by Renay Williams and Shaun Duke (editors)*
The Wheel of Time Companion
You’re Never Weird on the Internet, by Felicia Day
*I have an essay in the Speculative Fiction 2014 anthology

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form 
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Dramatic Presentation, Short Form 
Game of Thrones: “Hardhome”

Editor, Short Form
John Joseph Adams (Lightspeed, Nightmare, everything)
Lee Harris (Tor.com Publishing)
Jonathan Strahan (Meeting Infinity)
Lynne M. Thomas (Uncanny)
Michael Damien Thomas (Uncanny)
Sean Wallace (Clarkesworld)

Editor, Long Form 

Professional Artist 
Richard Anderson (Empire Ascendant)
Daniel Dociu (Nemesis Games)
Shan Jiang (Illustrated Man in the High Castle)
Stephan Martiniere (The Dark Forest, Dragondrums)
Victor Mosquera (Luna: New Moon)
David Palumbo (Binti)
Cynthia Sheppard (Karen Memory)
Sam Weber (Illustrated Dune)
Stephen Youll (Navigators of Dune)

Fan Artist 
Ariel / Orisoni
Megan Lara
Gabriel Picolo
Sarah Webb

Semiprozine 
Uncanny Magazine

Fanzine 
Chaos Horizon (will not accept a nomination)
File 770
Lady Business
Nerds of a feather, flock together*
SF Mistressworks
*I am a contributor to Nerds of a Feather

Fan Writer 
Rob Bedford
Brandon Kempner (will not accept a nomination)
Abigail Nussbaum
Paul Weimer
Adam Whitehead
Renay Williams*
*Renay is the co-editor of Speculative Fiction 2014, which contains one of my essays

Fancast 
Cabbages and Kings
Fan Girl Happy Hour*
Speculate!
*One half of FGHH is Renay, co-editor of Speculative Fiction 2014

John W. Campbell Award
Lou Anders
Becky Chambers 
Malka Older
Kelly Robson 
Andy Weir
Alyssa Wong 
Isabel Yap


Monday, January 04, 2016

NoaF: Uprooted

Monday, January 04, 2016 0
Hey all! I have a couple of new articles up on Nerds of a Feather. The most recent is my review of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, which you can check out here.

Second, we've got a series going over there called Nerd Music. Guess what it is about. My contribution is on Tori Amos.


Books Read: December 2015

The beginning of a new month brings with it the opportunity to look back at the month gone by and to give one last glance at what I most recently read. The below listed books are what I read during the month of December. Let's see how I closed out the year, shall we?

1. Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie
2. Dear Mr. You, by Mary Louise Parker
3. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers
4. Fool's Quest, by Robin Hobb
5. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
6. Gemini Cell, by Myke Cole
7. Slow Bullets, by Alastair Reynolds
8. Extremes, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
9. The Wheel of Time Companion, by Robert Jordan, Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, Maria Simons


Best Book of the Month: I am so happy all of the hype over Uprooted was justified, because after 7+ months of folks talking about it, I was nervous. Uprooted is so good, people. It plays with fairy tale tropes, while feeling both like a fairy tale and a novel for adults.

Disappointment of the Month: The Wheel of Time Companion had such an opportunity to be something truly special for fans of The Wheel of Time, and after The World of Ice and Fire last year showing how to make a high quality fantasy "guide / compendium", I think our expectations were high. Turns out that this is a very comprehensive encyclopedia, but it contains very little that was not already included in the books themselves. I would have preferred and expected some glimpses into the future (what happened with Mat in Seanchan, what about Elayne and Aviendha and their children?). This was dry and frequently dull.

Discovery of the Month: If I hadn't read Uprooted this month, The Fifth Season would have easily been my #1 book and even here, it's so damn close. The Fifth Season was a revelation and I was surprised each time one of the three storylines finally merged with others.

Worth Noting: Slow Bullets. Reynolds has written an excellent novella. One worth remembering at awards time.

Gender Breakdown: I'm not sure how to quantify The Wheel of Time Companion but I am categorizing it as male authored since Robert Jordan's name is first on the cover (though there is an even split of credited authors).So, with that, 6 of the 9 books I read in December were written by women. This brings my final total to 75 out of 128, or 58.59% of the books I read in 2015 were female authored. I'll have a lot more to say about this in a future article,  but suffice it to say for now that my goal was achieved. Hurrah.


Previous Months:
January
February
March 
April 
May  
June
July
August 
September
October 
November

Friday, January 01, 2016

29 Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2016

Friday, January 01, 2016 2
Let's start the year off right, shall we?  I gave a quick look through the LocusForthcoming List as well as a nice list from Barnes and Nobles, did a quick search on stuff I have saved on Goodreads, and voila! We have list!   

As such, this isn’t exhaustive or authoritative.  While this list is far larger than any I've put out in the past, this is still just a list of 29 books, in presumed publication followed by alphabetical order, that I’d like to read this year.  I’m sure I missed something awesome.  Maybe many somethings awesome. I probably did.

January (4): This is an exciting month. City of Stairs was my top read of 2015, a new China Mieville demands to be read, of course I'm going to read new Sanderson, and I've been excited to read Charlie Jane Anders' debut since discovering her short fiction.

All the Birds in the Sky, by Charlie Jane Anders
City of Blades, by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Census Taker, by China Mieville
Bands of Mourning, by Brandon Sanderson

February (2): I am so behind on Bujold, but this is a Cordelia story and the two Bujold's I've read have focused on Cordelia. A Criminal Magic imagines a Roaring Twenties where Prohibition passed, but the Prohibition was on magic. Bootlegging sorcerers! Count me in!

Gentleman Jolie and the Red Queen, by Lois McMaster Bujold
A Criminal Magic, by Lee Kelly

March (1): Quiet month, I think, but we've got an MRK novella from Tor.com Publishing.

Forest of Memory, by Mary Robinette Kowal

April (2): A Joe Abercombie First Law short story collection AND Valentine's sequel to Persona. Have I mentioned that I'm a big fan of Valentine's fiction?

Sharp Ends, by Joe Abercrombie
Icon, by Genevieve Valentine

May (2): A new Joe Hill novel should be considered an event. He's one hell of a writer. While the last two books from Terry Brooks have taken a step back (after the improved Dark Legacy trilogy), I don't think I can step away from Brooks at this point. I've been reading him for far too long.

The Sorcerer's Daughter, by Terry Brooks
The Fireman, by Joe Hill

June (5): The biggest month of the year. New King, new Expanse. Exciting debuts from Yoon Ha Lee and Malka Older, and a new Strahan anthology. Can't miss this month!

Babylon's Ashes, by James S. A. Corey
End of Watch, by Stephen King
Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee
Infomacracy, by Malka Older
Drowned Worlds, by Jonathan Strahan

July (3): I have a copy of Chu's Time Salvager sitting at home. I loved his Tao novels, so I really should pick read Time Salvager so I'm ready for Time Siege. Likewise, I've had Republic of Thieves sitting on my shelf for at least a year. At this point, do I re-read the first two books or just jump right in with The Thorn of Emberlain dropping this year? Ghost Talkers is the first in a new series from MRK.

Time Siege, by Wesley Chu
Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Thorn of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch

August (3): It's like this: I assume I'm going to love the first books in the respective series from Elliott and Jemisin. If so, I will jump right in to the next.

Poisoned Blade, by Kate Elliott
The Obelisk Gate, by N. K. Jemisin
The Last Days of New Paris, by China Mieville

September (1): KKR brings us an anthology of classic science fiction stories written by women. Here's a chance to dip into some of the fiction that helped shape the genre.

Women of Futures Past, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

October (2): By now, you all know how much I love the White Trash Zombie series, so the announced publication of a new volume is a cause for joy and celebration. As is the second novel from Sylvia Moreno-Garcia (Signal to Noise was her excellent debut).

Certain Dark Things, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia
White Trash Zombie Unchained, by Diana Rowland

Unknown (4): The trouble with doing this list at the beginning of the year is that except for the hugely major releases, we don't have many announced publication dates for late in the year and the farther away we are from publication, the greater the chance that dates will shift. So, I know that the Hurley, Bear, and Hobb are tentatively scheduled for 2016. I hope to see them. George R. R. Martin will always be on this list, even without announcing that the book is finished. The publisher will probably be insanely happy to rush the production schedule if he finishes early enough in the year. I could probably put another half dozen books in this section of the list, but I think there is enough uncertainty on those books being finished.

The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin
The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley
Ancestral Night, by Elizabeth Bear
Assassin's Fate, by Robin Hobb

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Missing: 2015

Thursday, December 31, 2015 0
I posted a similar list last year, and I think it is worth posting a number of the books I didn't read in 2015.  Now, the actual list is absurdly long, but this is a decent representation of books I would have liked to have read and, for various reasons, never did.

For the sake of keeping this list manageable, I limited it to genre books.  If I browsed through listings of LitFic and Nonfiction, well, the list would be absurd. Even strictly genre, I could probably grow triple this list with ease.  Let's just say that reading more than 120 books in a year doesn't get you as far as you might think, even if all you read were books published that year (which I didn't). This still doesn't even scratch the list of SFF works that I missed this year. Heck, this only scratches the surface of the "notable" books that were half on my radar that I missed. I'll probably find another dozen in a few months.

I have put stars by the books that I currently own / have at home. I'm halfway through The Fifth Season right now, but am unlikely to finish it today (but if I did - I'm pretty sure it would have been near the top of my Best Of lists)

Half the World, by Joe Abercrombie
Half a War, by Joe Abercrombie
Twelve Kings in Sharakhai, by Bradley P. Beaulieu
The Skull Throne, by Peter V. Brett
The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher
Corsair, by James Cambais
Prudence, by Gail Carriger
Armada, by Ernest Cline

Nemesis Game, by James S. A. Corey
*Time Salvager, by Wesley Chu
*Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott
The Court of Fives, by Kate Elliott
Last First Snow, by Max Gladstone
Harrison Squared, by Daryl Gregory
The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins
*The Fifth Season, by N. K. Jemisin
Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Cold Iron, by Stina Leicht
Day Four, by Sarah Lotz
The Autumn Republic, by Brian McClellan
Planetfall, by Emma Newman
Half Resurrection Blues, by Daniel Jose Older

Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson
A Darker Shade of Magic, by V. E. Schwab
Meeting Infinity, by Jonathan Strahan
The Mechanical, by Ian Tregellis
*Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente
*Sisters of the Revolution, by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

The Just City, by Jo Walton

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Nine Favorite Reads of 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 1
As I've mentioned elsewhere: Some people do a top ten list, others do a top eleven, yet others may only do five. My list is 9 books long. Why? Partly to be a little bit different and partly because I want the tenth spot on my list to be reserved for that really great book which I simply did not get the chance to read during 2015. That really great book may also be something I have only heard whispers about and I may not discover for several more years. Whatever that tenth great book is, I’m holding a spot for it on my list.

Unlike my list of the top books published in 2015, this list is for the top books I read in 2015, no matter when the book was published. I'm also going to cheat a little and where a book overlaps with the previous list, I'm going to use most of the same text.  Because I'm lazy.


1. City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett: The sole reason this was not at the top of last year's list is that I didn't read it until the beginning of January and it just missed out. An investigation into the murder of a historian turns into a quest into the central nature of whether all of the gods were really killed and holy shit, this is good. This is epic fantasy, this is a mystery, this is an awesomely fantastic book that you need to read right freaking now.

2. Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie: Tonally different from the previous two volumes, Ancillary Mercy is a crushingly good book that closes out Leckie's Imperial Radch trilogy. I was in awe of just how much I loved this book, the characters, the setting. While I always wanted to know just a little bit more about what was going on in other places of the universe, the story kept me rooted and grounded and focused. I loved it.

3. The Martian, by Andy Weir: At this point I believe everyone in the world has heard of The Martian, and that includes my 74 year old mother who doesn't watch much tv beyond Dancing with the Stars or read fiction. I suspect even people who actually live under a rock will say "The Martian? Yeah, that's the one where that guy sciences the shit out of something." Well, Mark Watney does science the shit out of Mars and the voice and the science and the story here is damned good and fun and tense and thrilling and yeah - The Martian is great.

4. Uprooted, by Naomi Novik: I finished Uprooted as I began work on this list and it immediately shot nearly to the top. After all the hype and build up as I somehow didn't read this earlier, I was concerned that Uprooted would ultimately be a let down. It was not. It was oh so good. There is something to be said for a great standalone fantasy novel (see last year's The Goblin Emperor, but damn, they always leave you wanting more).

5. Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson: Destroy the moon with the first sentence of the book, see how quickly I want to read your book. "The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason." This was my first Neal Stephenson novel. It will not be the last.

6. Daughters of the North, by Sarah Hall: I'm not sure I can do this short novel justice in only a few sentences, so what I'd like for you to do is read the first three paragraphs of the co-review over at Lady Business (stop at the second Renay section if you don't want extensive story details).  Then come back for the rest of this list. Daughters of the North (or, The Carhullan Army, as it was originally published as) is a novel that has stuck with me for most of 2015 and is one that I'm actively looking forward to revisiting.

7. Signal to Noise, by Sylvia Moreno-Garcia: Described as a "literary fantasy about love, music, and sorcery, set against the backdrop of Mexico City." Flipping between 1988 and 2009, Moreno-Garcia has written a beautiful novel that caught me up in its spell.

8. The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson: A comment from Dickinson on Goodreads mentions that there will be a sequel, though preferably only one. I would love to see Baru's story continued and wrapped up - to see if she's able to get her revenge on the Masquerade by destroying herself in the process. Brutal. Wonderful.

9. Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho: Though the novel is technically the story of Zacharias Wythe, the titular character in Victorian England, the beating heart of the story is that of Prunella Gentleman, a wonderful character and a bit of a force of nature. Sorcerer to the Crown is set in Victorian London, so we've got "vicious politeness", as Amal El-Mohtar so eloquently put it. I highly recommend this.


Previous Best Reads
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2013
2014

 
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