“Champions of the Genre” – Explanation and Examples

As I write more and more reviews on this blog, you’ll see a small notation/badge (that I’ve yet to design) sometimes appear beside the review score: “Champions of the Genre.” You’ll also notice an identically-named shelf on my Goodreads page. It’s a designation plagiarized from inspired by video game critic Jim Sterling from the Jimquisition. And it means what it sounds like it means: the best of the best.

Many books feature beautiful prose, complex characters, dazzling worldbuilding, and deep exploration of human issues. But only a few among them shatter barriers with the violence to make the sky tremble and take notice. The barrier around the pre-conceived limit of a genre. The barriers of pre-packaged societal constructs. The barrier to the core of your heart.

These are books that I (read: subjective. Don’t send me angry messages) believe represent the best of what a genre can do.

They are the pathfinders. Ones that elevate the field to heights previously unimagined.

They are the defiant. Ones that look at all the injustice in the world and respond with simmering anger and purpose.

They are the clingers. Ones that tear through to the center of your being, latches on and stares into you, daring you to pull it away.

They are books you would buy multiple copies of without a single look of remorse for your weeping wallet. One to read to tatters. Two to read sparingly. Another to just lounge on your shelf looking pretty and pristine. And let’s not forget all the different editions. Before you know it, your shelf has become a shrine.

And today I present to you ten nine and a half examples of such stories.

~.~.~

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The first time I read this, I nearly stopped after the first three chapters. Everything was vague and strange and confusing. But I’d bought it with what measly pocket money I had as a 15-year old, so, swallowing buyer’s remorse, I forced myself to continue. One of the best book-related decisions I would ever make, it turns out.

Imagine for a moment that you’re walking through the woods. Not quite lost, but just drifting…exploring. You let the world fall away from you until all you see and hear is the pulse of the moment. The moment where the past, the present, and future tangle all about you in a flurry of warmth
and then
just

stops.
And time settles around you in quiet repose. And in that moment you feel such a oneness with the world it’s enough to make you weep and laugh aloud at once.

Melina Marchetta takes that feeling and weaves it into an entire novel.

I disagree with Printz award selections more often than not. But On the Jellicoe Road deserves every accolade and more.

~.~.~

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Warchild takes your classic space opera plot–a war between the aliens and the humans, with pirates muddling things up in between–and swivels the focus onto the foremost victims of any war–the children. It can be read as a story about a young boy who gets trained to be a soldier and a spy. And it can be read as a story about child soldiers and the traumas of war and how they linger with deadly tenacity in someone so young. Karin Lowachee juggles many difficult subject matters and pulls them off with astounding realism. Her characters are compelling and multi-faceted, all of them being so much more than what they first seem. I absolutely adore it when a book makes me do a complete 180 on my feelings towards a character, and Warchild had two such moments.

Brutal. Heartbreaking. And necessary.

~.~.~

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At Swim, Two Boys is one of those books that makes you think, No human could have written this. And, Only a human could have written this. It’s probably the most beautifully-crafted piece of work I have ever read. O’Neil manipulates the English language with the finesse of a god and the pathos of a mortal. He has been (rightly) compared to James Joyce, but I find his work much more accessible than the latter (though no less groundbreaking). Because although story is a historical one–one that slides a lens over the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland–at it’s core, it’s a story of the endurance of love, friendship, and youth amidst violence and hatred. And anyone, regardless of sexuality, nationality, age, or gender, can relate to that.

~.~.~

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In the latest 10th anniversary edition of The Name of the Wind, there’s a blurb by Lin-Manuel Miranda saying, “No one writes like Pat Rothfuss.” And I’m inclined to agree. The Kingkiller Chronicles isn’t perfect by any means. I have issues with Kvothe and some of the side characters, as well as the pacing. But, my god, the writing. NotW opened my eyes to the fact that beautiful, just-the-right-side-of-purple, prose has a place in epic fantasy. And not just any epic fantasy–one about a magic school. It was completely mind-blowing to me at the time, and Pat’s work has since become a big inspiration to myself and countless writers.

~.~.~

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Boy’s Life stands as the prime example of what a coming-of-age novel should be. It reaches into the heart of childhood and draws out the magic that lies entwined with the reality of growing up. The author understands so, so well that being a child is not all carefree happiness and sunshine. That there are pains and fears and uncertainties mixed in with the joy and wonder. McCammon transcribes all of that through gorgeous prose and a vivid setting that you swear you can just reach out and touch.

~.~.~

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The Traitor Baru Cormorant is many things. Less a fantasy and more of a political thriller set in a secondary world, it’s one of the few economic-centric stories that didn’t make me want to stick a poker through my eye–that made me actually invested (ha!) in the nitty-gritty details of how the flow of money controls an entire country. Its main character, Baru, is one of the most complicated protagonists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting–ruthless, clever, and often unlikable, but so determined to set the world right. It’s also one of only two book I’ve read (the second being The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue) that gives you a map with notations made by the main character. (I’m baffled as to why it’s not done more often. A notated map can show something–however small– about a character in a way that you can’t do in the actual story.)

But what really makes it an entry on this list is how masterfully the author uses the readers’ expectations against them. You think you know what’s happening and you cling hard to that belief. And then the book blindsides you. I was left physically shaking and rummaging through the pieces of my heart by the end.

~.~.~

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This book shifted the foundation of my world. It was the first time I saw words being used to create something so wholly different and yet so honest. A WW2 book like no other, it touts a weary Death as a narrator who tells the story of a young orphan girl growing up in Nazi Germany. Using a kaleidoscope of beautiful imagery, the writing juxtaposes the brutality of the time period with the beauty of kindness and underscores the power inherent in language, both written and spoken. I read it, cried a year’s worth of tears, and read it again…and again. And reread it at least twice a year for five more years. The Book Thief became the foremost inspiration for my own writing style, and a copy of the rambling letter I’d sent to Marcus Zusak, and the reply I got, is still stuck up on my wall.

~.~.~

The-Fifth-Season-banner2You can always count on N.K. Jemisin to bring something new and/or important to fantasy, whether it’s an Ancient Egyptian inspired setting, a cast that comprises mostly of PoC characters, or bi(pan?)sexual Gods. Though The Broken Earth trilogy is not my favourite of her books (that goes to the Dreamblood duology), I think it’s her most important. It belongs in the “defiant” category– a story of oppression and conquerors and motherhood. And anger. So much righteous anger. The Fifth Season not only introduces a brilliantly clever narrative structure, a unique world, and complex characters, it features diversity of all kinds–sexuality, race, gender. The series is everything that modern fantasy can–and should–be, and it deserves all the awards (Hugo 2018, here we come!)

~.~.~

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And the best for last. Technically, all of Robin Hobb’s Realm of the Elderlings books are Champions of the Genre, but I figure you don’t want to scroll through 16 additional entries, all featuring the same comment: “I will conduct blood sacrifices in Robin Hobb’s name.”

I can say with utter confidence that nothing will top this series for me (I’ve gone into details of what these books mean to me in this post). And my advice to newcomers? Don’t trust the blurbs. They make it sound like any other fantasy story where a young boy trains to become a master assassin. But it’s not.

Why? Because of the characters.

No one, in any genre of literature, writes characters like Robin Hobb does. Her characters feel like people you can pluck out into our world and have conversations with. Their relationships mirror the complexity of our own, spanning years and decades, filled with awkward bumps and painful distances. You will cry and yell and rejoice and despair alongside them. I’d heard someone say that you don’t read a Robin Hobb book, you live it. And that’s exactly it. It’s a long, winding journey through all the strangeness of life (plus magic and dragons and wolf brothers). And you sit there at the end of it a different, better, person.

~.~.~

And because I was short on time, a quick half-mention to The Isle of Blood (The Monstrumologist #3) by Rick Yancey. It’s horror. It’s beautifully philosophical. And it incorporates Nietzsche quotations without reading like a quirky contemporary indie feat. white teens. Read it.

~.~.~

And there you have it! I’ll probably compile a full list on a separate page and add to it as I go along.

Feel free to tell me some of your Champions of the Genre and throw some recommendations!

 

[Review] The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle – Twisty, Original, and Utterly Spellbinding

The Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

Title: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
Author: Stuart Turton
Publisher: Raven Books (Imprint of Bloomsbury UK)
Release Date: February 8th, 2018 (UK); September 18th, 2018 (NA)
Genre(s): Mystery, Science Fiction
Page Count: 528 pages
Goodreads

Rating: 9.5/10

 

 

Stuart Turton is a twisted fucking genius. I doff my hat to the mysterious acid-fueled voice that must have whispered into his brain at 3 AM that an Agatha Christie/Quantum Leap/Groundhog Day mashup would be the perfect debut novel. Because holy hell, it’s been a while since I’ve had this much fun reading. The Seven (7 1/2 in the North American version) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the best whodunit story I have ever read and it has just reserved itself a VIP spot on my Best of 2018 list.

It starts with a lost memory. A name torn from the throat (“Anna!”). A mad chase through the woods. A woman’s scream. Our protagonist (Aiden) does not remember who he is or how he came to be at Blackheath House, a crumbling Georgian manor situated in the middle of nowhere. It is where the Hardcastles are throwing a masquerade ball to celebrate the return of their daughter, Evelyn, from France. Except Evelyn will be murdered by the end of the evening. And Aiden will need to solve her murder in order to leave this place.

Here’s the catch, though: every time he wakes up, the day rewinds itself and he’s thrown into the body of a different guest.

Eight same days. Eight different hosts. One woman murdered. Again and again. Fail by the end of day eight and the cycle begins anew.

Simple enough?

…Not quite.

There are many things that set Seven Deaths apart from your standard mystery:

1) The whole, you know, body hopping thing.

2) A protagonist with a…fluid personality:
Our protagonist is a bit of a sponge. He exhibits his own personality, but whenever he wakes up in the body of a new guest, much of their personality ends up seeping into his own. This makes things doubly interesting. It’s also one of the only times I can say, “this character is so inconsistent,” and have it be a good thing.

3) A non-linear timeline:
I don’t want to elaborate much more because it’s best to experience this for yourself, but let’s just say bodies aren’t the only thing Aiden’s hopping through.

I can safely say I have never read anything like Seven Deaths before. It’s a perfect meld of scifi and mystery, with a plot that branches out into a million different directions. And just when you think you’ve seen the last of the author’s tricks, you get one more surprise, and then another…and another. Until they all accumulate and build up to a rousing crescendo of a finale. It’s absolutely brilliant and your brain will be twisted into knots. The prose is also fantastic. Short and to-the-point in tense moments, but beautiful and meandering in others. It’s not just a fun story; it’s also an introspective one that ruminates on the nature of individuality and redemption.

Add to all this a protagonist who is stubborn and empathetic–a combination that makes him so easy to root for–and an eclectic cast of side characters–likeable and shy, clever and witty, arrogant and repulsive, and every one of them hiding sordid secrets–and you have a story that is destined to leave a mark in literary history.

I can’t further articulate how enamoured I am with this book without spoiling stuff, so I’ll just leave you with a mental image of wild flailing arms and incoherent screeching. And two words: Read it.

If you love mysteries, read it.

If you hate mysteries and love scifi, read it.

If you want a story that takes one of the most audaciously brilliant premises ever and pulls it off with aplomb and fireworks, then read it.

If you want your characters complex and interesting and not 2D cardboard cutouts of the Clue cast, read it.

Don your tiaras and plague doctor masks and go get ready for the Hardcastle Masquerade Ball. Oh, and strap on some knives and a pistol or two, because things are going to get very strange and very, very bloody.

~
Note: If you’re in North America, you’re going to have to wait until September 18th for the release. Or, if you’re impatient (and you should be), you can pick it up from Book Depository.

 

[Review] How to Stop Time – A Moving Look at Time and Happiness

How to Stop Time
Title:
How to Stop Time
Author: Matt Haig
Publisher: Harper Avenue
Release Date: February 6th, 2018
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Sci-fi, Contemporary
Page Count: 336 pages
Goodreads

Rating: 7.5/10

 

 

 

 

I think every one of us has, at one point or another, wished our lives were longer. That we could take the distance between one moment to the next and give it a nice, long pull. And when you think of your time in this world not in terms of decades, but hundreds, maybe even thousands, the possibilities can seem endless. You can witness hundreds of years of technological advances. Scour every corner of the globe for its natural and human wonders. Read and watch and play every piece of creative media out there. Sink yourself into your passions without the threat of a ticking clock looming over your head.

Well, Matt Haig has heard your musings and replied with an old, but sensible, adage: Be careful what you wish for.

Tom Hazard is weary. Living for hundreds of years is not sexy or liberating; it becomes the same pattern repeated over and over. His life has been a long stretch of loneliness punctuated by moments of happiness, then grief and hardships, and stretches and
stretches of gray nothingness. Now he just feels lost. Lost in the maelstrom of identities he had worn over the years.

Tom’s elongated life span is not presented as a curse or a feat of magic, but rather a very unique medical condition, which I found refreshingly different from other stories with similar premises–he’s not cursed or chosen, he just is. Those with the condition are known collectively as “albas,” named after albatrosses that were once thought, mistakenly, to live a very long time. Their secrets and identities are protected with the help of the Albatross Society (which is kind of like a union), founded by a man called Hendrich.

Hendrich is an interesting figure. I found him manipulative, arrogant, and divisive. He says the right things, in a long, winding, charming kind of way, but there’s something hollow about it all. And I love that sense of wrongness in a character. Unfortunately, I found all the other side characters, especially Camille (Tom’s love-interest-to-be) and the famous historical figures Tom encounters, lacking. Though they intrigued me, I felt like there were many more layers to them that we never got a chance to uncover, and that’s a bit of a shame.

The chapters alternates between flashbacks to Tom’s earlier years–from medieval England to the Roaring Twenties–and the present. A simple but introspective prose makes it very easy to empathize with the main character and I quite loved his sense of humour. It’s not the laugh-out-loud kind, but a wry, quiet one that threads through the narrative with ease.

One of the most notable things about the book is that it’s chock full of quotable lines. Ones you would frame and plaster all over your walls. Matt Haig has a talent for expressing sentiments that should feel trite and annoying but end up being very moving. There’s such an unabashed honesty to his writing that I couldn’t help but love.

7.0 was the review score that was hovering in my mind when I was about a chapter away from the end. Despite the lovely writing, I couldn’t deny that the book had its share of flaws–a somewhat disappointing plot, a climax that felt rushed, and characters that felt unfulfilled.

But then I encountered this passage:

And just as it only takes a moment to die, it only takes a moment to live. You just close your eyes and let every futile fear slip away. And then, in this new state, free from fear, you ask yourself: who am I? If I could live without doubt what would I do? If I could be kind without the fear of being fucked over? If I could love without fear of being hurt? If I could taste the sweetness of today without thinking of how I will miss that taste tomorrow? If I could not fear the passing of time and the people it will steal? Yes. What would I do? Who would I care for? What battle would I fight? Which paths would I step down? What joys would I allow myself? What internal mysteries would I solve? How, in short, would I live?

This paragraph knocked me breathless and frozen for what seemed like eternity. I imagined myself doing this–unshackling myself from all my fears and doubts and hurts–and the possibilities that I glimpsed sent chills down my spine and tears to my eyes. Like the rest of the book, there’s a simplicity to the words. But the best truths are the simplest ones that you scorned in favour of the cool and flashy kinds. And I realized that’s what makes this book so special. Matt Haig overturns the recesses of the human mind and shines a light on things that we all know peripherally but have never fully examined. One powerful paragraph can’t erase all the criticisms I have, but it can damn well mute them.

The blurb makes the book sound like a romcom with a scifi bent, but that’s a shallow–and frankly, wrong–interpretation; those expecting a wild, passionate romance between Tom and Camille will be disappointed (their relationship doesn’t even kindle until near the end). The story is rather more about one man’s journey to find himself. And this man is you and me–all of us living in a world that feels alien and terrifying. This is a story about life and how we choose to live it, whether we have five or fifty or five hundred years ahead of us.

How to Stop Time is a prime example of a comfort book. One that gently dares you to rise above your fears and take a chance, and just see what happens.

I think this is one that I will end up revisiting many times in the future.

~
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[Review] The Only Harmless Great Thing – Of Sentient Elephants and Radium Girls

The Only Harmless Great Thing
Title: The Only Harmless Great Thing
Author: Brooke Bolander
Publisher: Tor
Release Date: January 23rd, 2018
Genre(s): Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Alternate History
Page Count: 96 pages
Goodreads

Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

 

Books like this remind me just why I love Sci-fi/Fantasy. Not that I need reminders. Not really. I grew up teething on SFF stories, after all. But occasionally a story comes along that fills me with so much fierce pride and wonder and envy, it leaves me breathless, and they become testaments to the (limitless) heights one can reach in the genre.

In The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander takes two true, but disparate, stories–that of the women who worked in U.S. radium factories and an elephant named Topsy–and weaves them together into something wholly original and no less heartbreaking.

This is a story of sentient elephants and radium girls and injustice heaped upon humans and animals alike.

From the late 1910’s to the 1920’s, radium factories began appearing in the United States. Women were hired by these factories to paint watch dials with a special radium paint that would make the numbers glow in the dark. Except, it turns out, radium is highly poisonous and the factories have doomed these women to severe illnesses and painful deaths.

In Bolander’s version, the girls who work at the factories are soon to be replaced by captured elephants. The logic is that the girls are dying (and have stirred up legal disputes) and the elephants are larger and hardier than humans so they’ll last longer. The girls’ job is to teach the elephants to paint the dials. Or, more appropriately: “I’m supposed to teach you how to die.”

One such girl is Regan, and one such elephant is Topsy.

The beginning is a little confusing, but stick through it and you begin to get a clearer picture of the cast, the timelines, and the different narrations. The story jumps all across history, from the ice age to the present day to the 1920’s. It alternates from fable-like narrations riddled with abstraction and strange, gorgeous metaphors, to more modern, conventional ones.

And the prose? The prose is glorious. Glorious and clever and brutal.

No matter what you did, forty or fifty or a hundred years passed and everything became a narrative to be toyed with, masters of media alchemy splitting the truth’s nucleus into a ricocheting cascade reaction of diverging realities.

The Only Harmless Great Thing is a very short read, but it packs a punch with the force of a thousand stampeding elephants. I am in awe of how the author managed to combine such different elements into something fantastical yet so very real. My only complaint is that it ended a little sooner than I thought it would and I wish there was more of it. Which really isn’t much of a complaint.

Brooke Bolander has become one of my authors to watch and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Review: Obscura – Space Murders and the Persistence of Memory

Obscura

Title: Obscura
Author: Joe Hart
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Release Date: May 8th, 2018
Genre(s): Thriller, Mystery, Science Fiction
Page Count: TBA
Goodreads

Rating: 6.0/10

 

 

 

A claustrophobic story of paranoia and murder in space that didn’t meet my expectations.

Obscura is set in the near future that’s more or less identical to our own, excepting a few advancements in technology and the appearance of a new neurological disorder called “Losians.” It is a severe form of dementia, and the affected not only experience memory loss, but also trance-states and outbursts of uncharacteristic anger. 

Dr. Gillian Ryan has lost her husband to it and her daughter is beginning to exhibit some of the more severe symptoms. So now she dedicates all her hours into researching a cure. Then, one day, she’s offered an interesting proposition from NASA. It turns out NASA has been developing teleportation devices in secret and their human testers have started exhibiting symptoms that eerily echo Losian’s. So Gillian is asked to join their space station as the lead researcher and get to the bottom of this mystery. As an incentive, they will provide funding for her research. But things don’t go at all like Gillian thought it would and, before she knows it, she’s embroiled in a murder investigation in which she is the main suspect.

This is the second thriller I’ve read this month that feature narrators with addiction problems. Obscura shares other similarities with Woman in the Window. The prose is simple and digestible. It’s feels very claustrophobic, there’s lots of isolation for the main character, and the narration is introspective. With Obscura, the spaceship sets the stage for paranoia and tension; reality begins to blur, and Gillian begins to question her sanity. I quite enjoyed these bits and found them genuinely creepy.

The science is, however, rather sparse. This is definitely more of a thriller/mystery set in a sciency environment with a scientist protagonist. I would have liked better details on how the teleporters worked, beyond “Meh, quantum computers.” A deeper exploration of Losian’s would also have been welcome.

The setting feels incredibly hazy and mundane. They’re in a glorified metal can for most of the book, sure, but it’s still a space ship/station from the (albeit, very near) future! And they get to go down to Mars! That’s pretty cool stuff, and I wanted to see some excitement and wonder seep into the narration. Instead, what I got was more or less along the lines of:

It was red, but not the bleeding color she’d seen from space. Up close it was muted, an orange-and-tan composite dotted with rocks. Past a house-size boulder twenty yards away was another biosphere half the dimensions of the one they stood in now, its rounded skin alabaster against the Martian landscape.

I mean, that’s not terribly awe-inspiring. This is her first close look at Mars but they may as well be in a bunker out in a random stretch of desert on Earth for all the lukewarm descriptions Gillian gives.

The big revelation at the end isn’t as revelatory as I wanted it to be, though the events that lead from it are pretty intense and crazy. The ending also feels abrupt, like the tension fizzled out just as it was building up to something big. Things get wrapped up too neatly and quickly, and the whole story feels…incomplete.

I also found it hard to connect with any of the characters apart from Gillian.

All in all, the story did not meet the expectations that I had from reading the summary. There were good moments and interesting ideas, interspersed with an uninspired setting, bland characters, and a disappointing finish.

Thank you to NetGalley and Thomas & Mercer for providing an ARC.

Most Anticipated Scifi & Fantasy: Feb-April 2018

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2018 has some incredible books coming out, and since I can’t narrow the list down to a reasonable number (and since you don’t want to spend days scrolling through a blog post), I’m dividing them into chunks! Three months per genre, starting with Scifi and Fantasy. And yes, I’m lumping them into one.

FEBRUARY

The Armored Saint by Myke Cole

The Armored Saint
First of a trilogy, The Armored Saint is Myke Cole’s first foray into epic fantasy. I haven’t had a chance to read his Shadow Ops series, but I’ve heard many good things about it, so I figure this would be a good introduction to his writing.

The story features Heloise, a young village girl fighting oppression in a land of machines and magic. It sounds dark, gritty, and the themes are right up alley.

Releases February 20th

MARCH

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Children of Blood and Bone

This YA fantasy debut has been receiving early accolatdes left and right, and no wonder. The cover is phenomenal, the worldbuilding sounds complex, and it’s already been nabbed by Fox for movie development. It’s yet another story revolving around oppression and revolution.

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Releases March 6th

Imposter Syndrome by Mishell Baker

Imposter Syndrome
Borderlines, the first book in The Arcadia Project series, is one of my favourite urban fantasy books and it introduced me to Millie Roper, who is, hands down, my favourite urban fantasy protagonist ever. Mishell Baker draws from her own experiences and seamlessly incorporates Millie’s BPD and disability into the story without letting it define her character. She’s clever, funny, and when she fucks up, she really fucks up.

I can’t wait to read more of her.

Releases March 13th

Master Assassins by Robert V.S. Redick

Master AssassinsIt’s been blurbed by Pat Rothfuss and given a rave review by Mark Lawrence–what more can I say? The generic title belies a summary that’s chock full of excitement and teases a dark adventure in a non-medieval setting. Most importantly, it promises something that I want to see more of in epic fantasy: sibling relationships. Plus, the cover features a saber cat and a lady whose arm appears to be on fire, which is always a cool combination.

Releases March 20th

 

Torn by Rowenna Miller

Torn
The first of the Unraveled Kingdom Series, Torn proposes a protagonist with a unique talent: magical dressmaking. I’m always on the lookout for fantasy stories that feature women in traditionally “domestic” roles, so this caught my eye immediately. Plus, it seems to have a bit of everything I love: revolutions, political intrigue, fancy balls, and romance.

Releases March 20th

 

Anna Undreaming by Thomas Welsh

Anna UndreamingAnna Undreaming is the first of the Metiks Fade trilogy. It’s an urban fantasy with a super fascinating premise–artists who can literally create new realities.

[Anna] finds herself hunted by Dreamers—artists, both good and evil, who construct new worlds—within a complex community that threatens to undermine reality itself. When Anna learns that she’s an Undreamer with powers she cannot yet comprehend, she must travel through their strange and treacherous creations to discover that there’s as much beauty in life as there is darkness. As her existence spirals into wonder and danger, Anna must look deep within herself and face the horrors of her own past, to save her old world as well as her new one.

Releases March 20th

The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton

The Queens of INnis Lear
Three Queens. One crown. All out war.

Tessa Gratton’s adult debut is a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear with a feminist bent.

I’m very interested to see what changes, if any, are made to the original plot, and how the fantasy elements are woven in.

Releases March 27th

 

APRIL

Grey Sister by Mark Lawrence

Grey Ssiter

I swear Mark Lawrence gets better with every book he writes. Red Sister was his best one yet, full of intricate magics, violence, and exploration of female relationships, all woven with lush prose.

If he continues on in this trend, I have no doubt Grey Sister will be my new favourite Lawrence book.

Releases April 3rd

 

 

Space Opera by Catherynne Valente

Space Opera

Catherynne Valente has a talent for weaving magic and poetry into the strangest concepts. And Space Opera looks to be the strangest of them all:

Once every cycle, the civilizations gather for the Metagalactic Grand Prix—part gladiatorial contest, part beauty pageant, part concert extravaganza, and part continuation of the wars of the past. Instead of competing in orbital combat, the powerful species that survived face off in a competition of song, dance, or whatever can be physically performed in an intergalactic talent show. The stakes are high for this new game, and everyone is forced to compete.

It’s basically Eurovision in space. And I am not missing that for anything.

Releases April 3rd

Fire Dance by Ilana C. Meyer

Fire Dance
I sound like a broken record at this point, BUT JUST LOOK AT THIS COVER. It’s probably my favourite of the batch, which says a lot. Ilana Meyer’s debut, Last Song Before Night, was one of my top ten reads of 2015, and if this book is anything like the first, the quality of the cover will be a direct reflection of the content. Meyer has a deft hand for character development and atmospheric worldbuilding, and Fire Dance looks to continue Lin’s tale from where the first left off.

Though it’s technically a standalone, I highly recommend reading the first beforehand.

Releases April 10th

 From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris

From Unseen Fire.jpg

The Dictator is dead; long live the Republic.

But whose Republic will it be? Senators, generals, and elemental mages vie for the power to shape the future of the city of Aven. Latona of the Vitelliae, a mage of Spirit and Fire, has suppressed her phenomenal talents for fear they would draw unwanted attention from unscrupulous men. Now that the Dictator who threatened her family is gone, she may have an opportunity to seize a greater destiny as a protector of the people—if only she can find the courage to try.

There are three more paragraphs to the summary, and I get stupidly excited every time I read through them. Set to be the first in the Aven Cycle, From Unseen Fire is a mesh of alternate history and fantasy that I needed yesterday.

Releases April 17th

Time Was by Ian McDonald

Time Was

In the heart of World War II, Tom and Ben became lovers. Brought together by a secret project designed to hide British targets from German radar, the two founded a love that could not be revealed. When the project went wrong, Tom and Ben vanished into nothingness, presumed dead. Their bodies were never found.

Now the two are lost in time, hunting each other across decades, leaving clues in books of poetry and trying to make their desperate timelines overlap.

Yet another blend of history and SFF, I’m intrigued by the unique concept and its potential to break my heart in two.

Releases April 24th