Win an ARC of The End of All Things
Posted on July 8, 2015 Posted by John Scalzi 873 Comments
See the ARC of The End of Things that Zeus is assiduously guarding and/or not actually giving a damn about? It could be yours! It could be yours because I’m running a contest to give it away. And here’s what you do to enter:
In the comment thread, recommend a book that you enjoyed, which has been released since January 1, 2014. It can be fiction, non-fiction, YA, graphic novel, e-pubbed or indie-pubbed or “traditionally” pubbed. Anything is eligible to be recommended, so long as a) you have read it, b) it was published after January 1, 2014, c) you were not the author (and neither was I; I mean, people already know I have books out). If you want to leave a brief description about why you loved the book, that would be great, too. Basically, I’m giving away an ARC as an excuse to get people to recommend recent new books they loved.
Only one entry per person, please. If you leave multiple entries, sorry, I will disqualify you. If you leave a post and it’s put in moderation (for whatever reason); don’t panic — I’ll release it fairly soonish. No need to post again. Once is enough.
The contest runs from this moment until 1pm Eastern tomorrow (Thursday July 9, 2015). At which point I will close the comment thread and randomly select a winner, who I will notify at the e-mail address they use to leave a comment. I’ll sign (and if desired, personalize) the ARC for the winner and mail it to them wherever they are on the planet — so, yes, this contest is open to everyone everywhere on the planet Earth.
So: What book published after January 1, 2014 do you recommend? Leave it in the comments below!
1. The comment thread is for contest entries/book recommendations only. All other sorts of comments will be snipped out.
2. Please pay attention to the rules above. If you post a recommendation that starts off like “I know you said you only wanted books since 2014, but I really liked Dune,” your recommendation is going to be disqualified from winning.
3. If you’re not sure when a book was published, check its Amazon page — it usually has the publication date on it (although sometimes with older books it will note the pub date of the most recent version, not the very first publication).
4. After you’ve posted your own recommendation, why not go through the list and see if there are any book recommendations that leap out at you? I bet you’ll find at least a couple!
Seanan McGuire’s novella, “Rolling in the Deep”
A Crown for Cold Silver. Reminds me of Best Served Cold. Enjoyed it, looking forward to more.
I thought The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis was really good.
seveneves, by Stephenson. Glad that this particular master seems to be back on form. The jaw dropping Anathem left me hungry, but Neal’s wanderings into western martial arts, alternative novel formats, and a pretty straight thriller left me wondering if his best work was behind him. nope.
I enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves.
Charlie Stross’ latest Laundry novel, the Annihilation Score. Gets into the heads of both the main protagonist and his wife delightfully.
The best thing I’ve read recently is the short story anthology “Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future” – http://www.amazon.com/Hieroglyph-Stories-Visions-Better-Future/dp/0062204718
This is the anthology of stories that came out of the Hieroglyph Project: http://hieroglyph.asu.edu/
This is what sci-fi is all about, to me. Dreaming a better world. Some of the stories in the collection are “meh,” but some of them are A-MAZ-ING!!! Some of these futures, some of these technologies, I WANT! RIGHT NOW!!!
In These Times: Living In Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793-1815. A fascinating look at a turbulent era for Britain in industry, war, politics, society and so on. (And for Austen fans, this is essential for looking at the backdrop of her novels.)
[Remember what I said about anything not being an actual recommendation being deleted? Yeah, that.
Also, initial publication of any form — i.e., when the book was first offered for sale — counts here — JS]
“Golden Son” by Pierce Brown. I can’t get over how great it was. (Released in January 2015.)
Pretty Deadly Vol 1, and the entire Southern Reach Trilogy (can I recommend multiple books if it’s only one entry? Please? Technically you could buy these in just two bound volumes).
These are all amazing. Pretty Deadly is beautifully written and beautifully illustrated; the trilogy was so engrossing I stayed up till 2am finishing the first volume and then signed up for an overdrive account with my local library so I could digitally borrow the second volume instead of sleeping.
Really, really tough choice, but today I would have to say “Hold Still,” Sally Mann’s memoir. It’s full of photographs, descriptions of how she came to take photos the way she did and does, old family scandals, and excellent writing.
The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line, which launched Rob Thomas’ series of Veronica Mars books.
So far my favorite book of the year is THE MECHANICAL, by Ian Tregillis.
An ARC for an ARC: I thoroughly enjoyed Lawrence Schoen’s _Barsk: The Elephant’s Graveyard_
Firefight (Reckoners #2) by Brandon Sanderson. I’ll read pretty much anything he writes, but his YA fiction is especially fun.
My review of The Library at Mount Char, by Scott Hawkins, described it as belonging in the genre of WTF Fantasy — in a good way. I’ve never read anything remotely like it, and I doubt I ever will again.
The Martian by Andy Weir – one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, especially for an author’s first published novel.
I greatly enjoyed The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua.
It’s a humorous account of the partnership between Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, had the latter’s Anaytical Engine actually been successful, and their life fighting crime, typographical errors, and street musicians. And despite being an alternate history, it’s the most thoroughly documented graphic novel I’ve ever seen. Nearly every page has footnotes. Some footnotes have endnotes. Some of the endnotes have their own footnotes.* The supplementary material is written in a dryly witty style which matches the story itself.
* I suspect this was an homage to Lovelace’s translation of Luigi Menabrea’s article on the Analytical Engine, which contained more of her own notes than actual translateion.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
After hearing a review on NPR, I read Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo (translated by Neil Smith). Not my usual genre (crime thrillers), and I saw that some Amazon reviewers did not like it because it wasn’t the type of crime thriller they wanted. Perhaps I liked it for the same reasons other did not. I thought it was beautiful and I really enjoyed the almost lyrical simplicity of it all. “Lyrical simplicity” is also not my usual cup of tea, but little book has really stayed with me since I read it in April.
Ancillary Sword by Leckie, although the one which has stayed with me was published in paperback in 2014 (originally published in 2013 but I got the paperback) and that’s The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914
by Christopher Clark.
“Cakes, Custard and Category Theory”: an informal, conceptual introduction to current mathematical research by (Dr.) Eugenia Cheng, professor at the University of Sheffield (UK) and accomplished piano player. The book I would like* to give my non-mathematician friends (yes! I have some! Even some who aren’t theoretical physicists!) who are not into formulas, especially those that love desserts – did I mention every chapter is inspired by a recipe?
Key idea: mathematics, it’s not (necessarily) about numbers/formulas/geometric figures: it’s about patterns, noticing, reproducing, creating and applying. For those who don’t like reading, Eugenia has both good podcasts and short youtube videos, where she uses mathematics to address serious concerns such as how much clotted cream and jam should you put on a scone.
*Sadly, not all my friends read English, so I’ll have to wait for an Italian translation.
Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett. Terrific debut novel with a computer tech focus.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear.
Orison, by Daniel Swensen. Debut novel, excellent fantasy story with a compelling woman as the lead character.
The Fold by Peter Clines. (Read it as an audiobook narrated by Ray Porter).
I recently read and enjoyed Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s book Signal to Noise. It was like a heartwarming Pixar movie with more cursing.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
So wished The Boys in the Boat had been published a year later because the boat is in Seattle and Scalzi is coming back to Seattle, soon!
Abomination, by Gary Whitta. I had the pleasure of reviewing an ARC of this, and thought it was tons of fun. Gruesome, lovecraftian horror mixed with some solid corruptible paladins.
The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer.
I really enjoyed The Severed Streets by Paul Cornell (published May 2014). http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17910066-the-severed-streets
It’s the second in the Shadow Police series, about all kinds of nifty ghosts and demons and baddies running around London. Of course, very few people can see them. Some such people are police detectives (and an analyst) who use good old-fashioned police procedures to solve otherworldly crimes. I was at turns intrigued, shocked, horrified, and then intrigued again. If you like police procedurals or urban fantasy or fun, I recommend it.
The next book is due out soon, so now would be a great time to catch up!
The best book I’ve read so far this year is The Girl with all the Gifts by MR Carey!
You and Me and Him by Kris Dinnison — Released just this week and we love it.
Just finished Nemesis Games by James. S.A. Corey. As with every book in The Expanse series, it’s fantastic. And it completely blows up the entire universe they’ve created (almost literally).
Signal To Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. It has flashbacks to the late-80s, music, magic, and Mexico City. Plus, there’s a mixtape on the cover. I’ve been telling everybody to read it.
I really liked Graduation Day by Joelle Charbonneau. It is the final book in her trilogy. It was so good i wish she would write more books for the series.
I’d like to recommend “The Song of the Quarkbeast,” Jasper Fforde’s 2nd book in his new YA series, “The Chronicles of Kazam” (published Sept 2014). I’ve read all three in the series so far, but this was my favorite.
Why I like this: I’m a big fan of Jasper Fforde’s stuff, but the Thursday Next books–lapidary items that they are–are a bit dry and cerebral in places. You kind of need to put on your “A” game to read them. They’re always totally worth it, but they’re not completely relaxing because getting into them can be a bit of a climb. The Chronicles of Kazam has all the appeal of Fforde’s adult books, but they’re much more approachable right at the outset.
And, damnit, I *like* Quarkbeasts! They’re really fun. :)
You’ll like this, too.
Frank Tuttle’s latest in the Markhat series, The Darker Carnival.
Love his characters! So vividly drawn.
Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs, which thrilled me and left me itching for the sequel. Fantastic world building, intriguing, layered characters, good from cover to cover.
I enjoyed Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie (and its precursor, Ancillary Justice). She has created a complex and intriguing universe.
I have rarely enjoyed myself as much as when I was reading “The Royal We” by the Fug Girls (Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan). I devours it in less than a day.
I feel like everyone and their mother will be recommending The Martian, but I’m doing it anyway. I fell head over heels for that book, and have read it three times since August of last year (the audio is excellent). This is a big deal because I have so many books I want to read in a year that wasting time reading one three times means I REALLY liked it. I mean, it’s got everything. Science being fun! Space travel! Swearing! Lovable people in peril! People coming together despite their differences! Mars! More science and swearing! I loved it so much.
I really enjoyed Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. It was a very good book with a wonderfully described culture.
The Troop by Nick Cutter/Craig Davidson. Perfect balance of intelligence with body horror, and an outstanding subversion of the Lord of the Flies-style coming of age story.
The Broken Eye, Brent Weeks. 800 page epic continuation of the Lightbringer series.
“Trigger Warnings” by Neil Gaiman was one of my favourite books published after January 2014. It both scared me to the point of no sleep and made me want more. I rarely take less than 3 days to finish a book and this took me a day and a half. In other words it’s a very good…no, it’s a great read.
A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power by Jimmy Carter
‘Signal to Noise’ by Silvia Morena-Garcia! Magic, Mexico City, Music, teen angst – you can not resist it.
Charles Stross’ The Rhesus Chart, A fun new entry-point into the series, and very witty and smooth, interesting plot that keeps you guessing and the requisite amount of eldrich horror.
Also +1 Seveneves
A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab.
Beautiful language, multiverses, canonically bi characters, a really really interesting magic system, and Lila, one of my new favorite characters ever.
Not to mention the costumes, Kell’s very particular coat of many sides, a pair of psychopathic maniac royal twins, and just…just read the book. It’s lovely.
The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs. Sort of a fantasy Roman western. If you liked Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country, give it a try.
Scale-Bright, by Benjanun Sriduangkaew. Urban fantasy set in Hong Kong, queer ladies, goddesses trying to be aunts, and snake-women.
Seveneves from Neil Stephenson.
How can humanity survive to the end of the day.
Charlie Stross’s new one, “The Annihilation Score.” It’s a thumpin’ “Laundry” book, and I’m glad it just got auto-delivered *after* I turned in my summer class grades!
Love Is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson is wonderful.
I highly recommend Cash Crash Jubilee by Eli K. P. William, published this year. It has a very cool William-Gibson-meets-Cory-Doctorow vibe to it, what with its focus on the conjunction of infospace, AR, and copyright. The only downside is that it’s the first in a series, and I’m now stuck waiting for the next book!
Okay, this book isn’t “new”, but it’s a self-published author and she’s getting paperbacks out finally after being an e-book for about a year and half. It’s one of my favorite books. How To Repair A Mechanical Heart by J.C. Lillis.
The premise is fantastic. Some friends are fans of a cult show, similar to Star Trek, and they go on a road trip to hit all the cons that the show and stars are going to be at during the summer before college. Two of the friends have a web show where they talk about the show and fans of the web show start to “ship” the two friends whilst the summer trek to the cons is happening.
It’s several genres in one, it’s hilarious and sweet and quotable. It’s the first book by this author and she has put everything that is fun and awesome about being a fan and shipping and fanfic and squeeing about fandoms into this book.
There’s this incredibly insightful bit in the book about letting a work of art (movie, book, tv, whatever) go and letting it become its own entity, one that fans can add on to and create and destroy and rebuild. It’s lovely and bittersweet.
Anyway, this went on and on, but I love this book and want the world to see it.
I just finished Naomi Novik’s Uprooted this past weekend (pub. May 2015). I really enjoyed the first few Temeraire books, but by the last one I’d burned out on dragons (HOW???), and I wasn’t sure about this new book. But I jumped in anyway and boy was I surprised. Such a different book from the Temeraire series, and soooooooo fabulous. If you are interested in Polish/Russian fairy tales, you should check out this book. If you like real (i.e. Grimm-style) fairy tales, you should check this book out. If you like well-written, interesting characters, check it out.
Just go check this book out, is what I’m saying
Ink and Blood by Rachel Caine (came out on 7/7/2015)
This book reimagines a world where the library at Alexandria was saved and so became the ruling institution in the world rather than other countries /or religions.
The Dude and the Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman. Found it on sale at B&N last week. Not particularly deep (as I think Zen is intended to be), but a fun read.
I really liked Elements, by Suzanne Church. A collection of short, speculative fiction (which tor.com sent me for free). I was well and truly impressed, especially considering the tales I hear of how hard short fiction is to actually write.
Ursula Vernon’s ‘Castle Hangnail’ is amazing. You might have missed it because its target audience is technically middle-school students, but you shouldn’t skip reading it just because you’re an adult. The main character is a twelve-year-old girl who is attempting to become the Wicked Witch master of the magical Castle Hangnail, overcoming obstacles that include an overgrown vegetable garden, a serious plumbing problem, and a nefarious developer. So funny and so sweet.
Asbridge, Thomas. 2014. The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones. Harper Collins Publishers. 444 pages.
I hadn’t heard about William Marshall (c.1147 – 1219) before I saw this book in the library. The five kings he served were Henry (The Young King), Henry II, Richard I, John and Henry III. He was a great mover and shaker in his era. The book is a joy to read. Highly recommended if you’re interested in medieval English history.
Oliver Sacks’ “On the Move.” Biography of one of the most unusual and influential social psychologists (author of “The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat”). Has insights into social encounters like Stanley Millgram’s experiments. Fascinating!
Glory Main by Henry V. O’Neil. Not my usual cuppa, but not your average shoot-em up either. Part of a series that I will keep reading.
The Girl With All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey.
Yes, it’s a zombie book, and zombie books have been done to death, but I really liked how this one played out. It focused a lot more on mythology and characterization than brain-eating. If possible, pick up the audibook – the narrator KILLS it.
I really wanted to Rx some really obscure and hip genre piece for this, but here’s the reality:
I simply must point all readers to Neil Gaiman’s “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances”.
Among all the other fantastic short pieces, it contains a new “American Gods” novella and what is essentially an un-filmed episode of Doctor Who (Amy/11th vintage). Simply a must-read.
Natural Born Heros by Chris McDougall. It’s a very interesting take on natural physical training tied to a clandestine WWII operation in Crete. Very cool stuff.
I would Recommend Hollow World: Michael J. Sullivan its a very good hard science fiction book. I have read it twice now :D
The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker. Harry D’Amour and Pinhead, together! A great return to his older story style.
I thoroughly enjoyed lots and lots of books which I read during the last year, but they were either “the latest by [author I know quite well what to expect of]”, and so didn’t really quite cross that line to “love” (none ended up being the best by that author), or – for the gambles on authors I’d never heard off before that unexpectedly paid off big time and made me love with all my hearts – published before 2014, since those gambles tend to be paperback, and not immediately at the top of my to read pile.
There was one very clear exception to this pattern though. An author who, based on the strength of his first book, I immediately upgraded to “pre-order on the merest hint of a release date”, but whose second book didn’t quite live up to that promise, and who did something quite different and mostly standalone en route to his trilogy’s conclusion. Not just new viewpoints, but new ways of thinking and framing the world, with phrasings that linger in your mind for days, rewiring my vocabulary and my sensibilities. _That_ I loved, and adored, and recommend – not to everyone, but to carefully selected friends, as this book, like a carefulyl selected gift, is not for everyone, but very much for many.
I’m talking, of course, about Patrick Rothfuss’ “The Slow Regard of Silent Things”.
Felix Palma’s The Map of Chaos is the third book in his The Map of Time Trilogy. It’s a wonderful stories about HG Wells in several parallel universes. If you’ve read the first two books in the series (The Map of Time and The Map of the Sky), and you should have read them, you’ll understand why you need to read this book. Palma is a wonderful writer who not only has a great sense of story, but of character as well.
I really enjoyed Heritage by Sean Brock. It got me cooking more southern food (out of my comfort zone) and re-enforced my appreciation for gardening and seed saving. The pictures are pretty too.
Eureka! How to Think Like a Scientist, by Chad Orzel — an exploration of the process of science and how &why scientific thinking is important and part of our daily
I’d have to recommend ‘Red Rising’ by Pierce Brown. It’s like Lord of the Flies, Harry Potter, Ender’s Game and Hunger Games all rolled up into one amazing read.
I enjoyed City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. An interesting take on what happens after the gods are defeated by an invading army, and how the new imperial occupiers handle their return.
“The Sense of Style” by Steven Pinker. Simply the best book on writing in a long time.
I’m a fan of odd but believable characters written with wit, style and heart. This is why I like Scalzi’s work, and why I’d recommend David Handler’s “Phantom Angel”. Different genre, mystery, but Handler’s books are always great fun.
The Law of Moses by Amy Harmon – about a young, black man who sees the dead in a small-minded town, and the girl who falls in love with and tries to tame him. If you read it and don’t cry, you might not be human. I’m serious.
Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon is an hour of solid awesome giggling even if it is technically a kids book.
…oh well damn, looks like the person before me Recc’d this too. I FEEL SO UNORIGINAL NOW.
(Hopefully this comment isn’t duplicated, I had some trouble logging in.)
I just finished reading Clariel, by Garth Nix! I have been waiting for another addition to the Old Kingdom series as I started reading Sabriel (the first in the series) when I was in Sixth Grade. I’m now 23 and when I saw that Clariel was a prequel to the series I pretty much lost my mind. I usually hate prequels… I just find it hard to get in to a story when I already know how it ends!!! Garth Nix had no trouble pulling me back in to the Old Kingdom with his beautiful world of Charter and Free magic with the ever looming presence of death. I won’t spoil it here, but it wasn’t until about 3/4 of the way through the book that I saw where the story was going and I found myself relishing the origin story of a very important character. It didn’t feel like a prequel, it felt like an addition to the ever growing world that Nix is fabricating. Gah! It was just so goooooood!
“The Martian,” by Andy Weir. Almost doesn’t read like science fiction because it seems so plausible. The protagonist shows a great sense of humor in the midst of his impossible circumstances.
Hansel and Gretel, Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti
Dark, and wonderful, and all, and all
Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz. It was featured here on a Big Idea post and I picked it because of it. I like the Big Idea posts because it points me to good books.
I’ve purchased almost all of Ryk E. Spoor’s books because of that as well.
The Sense of Style, by Steven Pinker. A wonderful guide to use of language and writing; a liberating experience for any writer.
The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer, which wasn’t something I would have heard about or picked up, if not for his big idea piece.
Boy, Snow, Bird: A Novel by Helen Oyeyemi – so many issues to savor and think about. Timely and amazing.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast
Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie I like the “world” she creates and the inner thinking of the characters.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins. A little bit Neil Gaimanesque. Very weird and unique and very very readable.
There’s a wonderful curated collection just published called Sisters Of The Revolution that gathers feminist SF stories past and present, including works from the likes of Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Ursula K. LeGuin and James Tiptree Jr.
April 2015 – “Castle Hangnail” by Ursula Vernon
There are so many reasons I love this book, but mainly because it’s about a young teen girl (I believe she is 12) who is trying to be a wicked witch, but completes the tasks set to her without ever compromising her beliefs. She’s amazing.
The Martian by Andy Weir. Pure awesomeness from beginning to the end
M.R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS.
An absolutely tremendous book.
“The Water Knife”, Paolo Bacigalupi
If you read “Pump Six and other Stories” which was Bacigalupi’s premier anthology you would have encountered a short titled “The Tamarisk Hunter.” Much of what he has written are stories which live along a similar imagined time line and so its easy for readers to see the common threads that run through all his stories. But I think the “The Water Knife” has to be a window into Bacigalupi’s creative process. It draws heavily from his earlier work, but expands infinitely upon those themes. It’s amazing to see all the research, reading and imagination that must have occurred in the interim and “The Water Knife” does this while remaining a compelling, tale I had trouble putting down.
Rock With Wings by Anne Hillerman
I really liked Cibola Burn by James S.A. Corey. I’m perennially a book behind on that series, but this one recaptures some of the mystery of Leviathan Wakes that the intervening books steered somewhat away from.
In “A Darker Shade of Magic” by V.E. Schwab, published Feb. 2015, we find a world populated by magic and a man who can cross the barriers between 4 different Londons, separated by a veil of magic. Red London holds the most powerful magic. Grey London is our own world, where magic has receded from memory. White London is where magic still exists but is growing weaker, making the people there hungry for it. Black London is dead, due to their overuse of magic. Kell, the main character, travels between the worlds delivering messages for his King and Queen. All sorts of high-adventure happens in the fantastic modern fantasy.
I can’t recommend this book enough if you like writing in the vein of Neil Gaiman. V.E. Schwab handles her business in this book and it’s definitely one of my must reads for anyone interested in modern fantasy. Even if you’re not, I suggest checking this book out just for the beautiful narrative that happens. Truly a modern classic in my mind.
I started “The Truth Commission” by Susan Juby yesterday and got so engrossed that I finished it :) It’s a novel masquerading as a piece of “creative non-fiction” with copious footnote-asides by Normandy, a student at an arts highschool who has the burden of a famous graphic novelist older sister with (possibly dark?) secrets who has mined embarrassing moments in Normandy’s life for comedic material, parents whose entire world orbits around said sister, and bold friends who strongly believe that making other people confront the truth can heal them. It was funny and fast-paced, with quirky characters and a narrator who was both highly-discerning (noting, for example, that many teen artists struggle with the realization that just because they wear ironic hats does not mean that they can merely have ironic sex or take ironic drugs) and believably overwhelmed by revelations that come fast and furious as the novel progresses. Fun read!
A Call to Duty (Manticore Ascendant Book 1) by David Weber and Timothy Zahn. (the 2nd book comes out in October of this year). This is a prequel book in the Honor Harrington universe set in the early days of the Star Kingdom of Matnicore.
I enjoyed Andrew A. Smith’s GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE. It’s like Chuch Palahniuk writing a YA apocalypse.
The Peripheral by William Gibson
Its a near-term science fiction novel. Very creative and fulfilling extrapolation of existing technology and society trends, with a twist!
The First 15 Lives of Harry August by Claire North
Time Travel-ish novel where the protagonist relives his same life with memories of his future. It was an action adventure ground-hog day that was hard to put down and obviously outside my normal diet of space-based sci-fi. The main character is born in 1919 and lives through some exciting times outside his own struggles.
Brian Staveley’s The Providence of Fire (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne 2). I love how fast paced it is. The three siblings have their own strengths and weaknesses in their quest to reclaim their father’s throne. Can’t wait for the final installment. The author also seems to be a really cool guy based on his writings at tor.com – always a bonus in my book,
Was going to go with Seveneves. Excellent book. Instead recommending Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. I don’t usually go for supernatural stuff but this world is logical enough that it makes sense to me.
K. A. Laity’s Hard Boiled Witch series starts with Hocus Pocus, You’re Dead. The books are all short, fast reads, and they’re fun.
“What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” By Randall Munroe – I love how much thought was put into answering the ridiculous and often insane questions that were asked. My favorite is the answer to “What Would Happen if a Pitcher Threw a Baseball at the Speed of Light?”
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu. Completely blew me away, great story, great characters, even good physics. Also, for a sci fi novel to be popular in China in the first place, should tell you something.
Charles Stross: The Annihilation Score
The Goddess of Buttercups and Daisies by Martin Millar. There are gods behaving badly and goodly. Aristophanes has a brill part. Plato and Xenophon have an hilarious walk on bit.. There’s a struggling unknown poet, trying to break into the big time in Athens.
It’s Martin Millar, hence, awesomeness abounds!
“What If” by Randall Munroe. If you are an xkcd fan you are obligated to own and read this book! ;) Sit and geek out in all your geeky glory!
I loved Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear. It’s an alternate history steampunk Western with a terrific Jules Verne homage, including a submersible that will kick the Nautilis’ ass.
Covenant’s End by Ari Marmell
The Peripheral, by William Gibson. A great story of murder, mystery, and intrigue. It just seems that wherever you think the story is going, Gibson drives it somewhere else, not letting you catch your breath until the last pages.
Hey great idea, this. Several good sounding books in the comments that I’ll check out.
I really loved Paul Doiron’s mystery, The Precipice. The main character is a game warden in Maine, and the author’s love for the great outdoors is evident throughout.
So I’m hereby disqualifying myself because I want to buy the book, but I haven’t read anything as good as The Vorrh by Brian Catling in years. Maybe longer. It was published in the UK a bit ago but Vintage put it out in the US earlier this year, and holy shit. It has some of the most beautiful prose ice ever read and is also a totally original fantasy vision, with incredible ideas about The Bible, sex, death, and what makes a person a person. The characters, from Ishmael and Cyrena to the crazy sorcerer-monk Sidrus, were all beautifully realized, and Catling manages to show you all his people, in all their glory and weirdness, without really making them goodies or baddies. Also the thing with the mindless slaves and the power of the stillborn children… But I’ve said too much.
Paradise Sky by Joe Lansdale. I really enjoyed this book!
I see I’m not the first to recc Naomi Novik’s Uprooted, which was just outrageously good, so I’ll add in some love for Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (2014) a twisty and original book about a man who lives the same life over and over again but can make different choices each time (think a more thrilling sff take on groundhog day).
I found Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson a really engaging read. My first instinct was to suggest An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield, but while the paperback that I read came out in 2014, the hardcover was released at the end of 2013.
I really enjoyed Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.
I would recommend “When Mystical Creatures Attack” by Kathleen Founds, published October 2014. This is hard to categorize, as it is part poetry, part journal, and part just good storytelling, with one of the best opening pages since Pamela Dean’s “Tam Lin”.
The Library at Mount Char is great if you like your fantasy with a dash of horror.
Archangel by Marguerite Reed. Dying Earth, endangered space colony, sympathetically flawed and incredibly well drawn female main character, extremely well developed setting, tight plot.
The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell – a fascinating novel about a future where pandemic disease has devastated the human race, and fertility is compromised. The main character (who offers a unique voice and a perspective I haven’t read before) has somehow developed resistance or immunity to the pathogens and viruses plaguing the world. While there is some interesting description of the science of IVF and an interesting look at politics, ethics, and the remnants of the Internet, I think the most gripping part of this tale is what a parent will suffer to provide for their child. This could have been a story about an immigrant trying to make a better life and trying to navigate a new strange place and culture, if the scifi aspects of the story weren’t included. I also think it hilarious that in this world, with millions that have been infected, even the plague can’t kill bureaucracy.
I’d also recommend The Martian by Andy Weir, I devoured it in less than 24 hours, it was sooo good. Though I think technically it was published online prior to your date, since it didn’t get a hugo nom for that same reason.
Prince of Fools by Mark Lawrence
I really have to recommend Byony and Roses by T. Kingfisher (a.k.a. illustrator and writer extraordinaire, Ursula Vernon.) It was a lovely and refreshing take on Beauty and the Beast that, while it owes a lot to McKinley’s Rose Daughter, manages to freshen up the tale with the writer’s usual wit and insight.
I really enjoyed The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey. Great premise and interesting setting. Fungus has never been more unsettling.
The Politics of Crazy, by Chris Ladd.
If re-released counts (after author reworks) then I would recommend CHEMICAL BURN by Quincy J. Allen.
It’s part hard-boiled detective, part sci-fi, part urban fantasy, and a fantastic read.
If that doesn’t count I would recommend ENTER THE JANITOR by Josh Vogt. A totally different take on urban fantasy; slime monsters, angels (sorta), the potential end of the world, and all of it kept in check by janitors…
I really liked Rotholme by A.K. Miller. It’s only available on Kindle as far as I know (link below). A shape-shifting reporter fighting supernatural forces is always fun. Also: coolest take on zombies I’ve seen in a long time.
Floor 21 by Jason Luthor. Really nice dystopian with a first person narrator that has great presence. Hints of horror, apocalyptic struggles, class separation, and some really nice action.
Jinx’s Fire, the 3rd in Sage Blackwood’s series. It is YA, but not just for kids. Jinx is trying to save his friends, and keep the forest safe from invaders. There is magic, creatures like werewolves & elves… The female characters aren’t props, they are real people with ideas & motivations of their own. I highly recommend the whole trilogy, but this is the one published this year.
John, what a great way to add to your “to read” list.
My suggestion, The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah Epic historical Fiction tale of love and loss.
“The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell. Fantastic read – one of those that stays with you long after you’ve put it down.
xkcd creator Randal Munroe’s What If?, in which he gives serious science/engineering/math-backed answers to absurd questions like “What would happen if you try to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?” or “If you dropped a bowling ball into the Mariana Trench, how long would it take to hit the bottom?”
If you’re not familiar with it and want to get a feel for whether or not you’ll like it, head on over to whatif.xkcd.com/archive and read some of the entries (much of the book was taken from questions he’d answered online, with a few book-only questions/answers thrown in).
The Room: A Novel by Jonas Karlsson
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. The slow pace felt like a warm bath.
I’m amazed I’ve not seen ‘The Girl in the Road’ by Monica Byrne yet. I know Scalzi is familiar with it, but for everyone else it’s an incredible novel with such diverse characters and some really thought provoking prose. I loved it, and can’t wait for more from Byrne.
Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel was just beautiful.
The Peripheral by William Gibson
It’s yet another of Gibson’s books where there are crazy things happening, but I still find myself stopping and staring (metaphorically) at all the strange and beautiful objects he puts into the setting.
Man. The Martian was *amazing*. It read a bit like the movie Gravity, in a way, but with a clearly monumental amount of research behind it. The main character is entertaining and enterprising, and has a sense of humor that felt like it belonged in an OMW novel.
I LOVED Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It was part high fantasy, part folk tale and altogether wonderful. I listened to the audio version, which was exactly the right thing to do – the narrator’s accent added such depth to the character that I felt like I knew her. I was excited to know what happened next.
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. I laughed, I cried, I thought it was better than Cats.
Run by Julie Drew. (Dec 4, 2014)
This is the second book in her Tesla Effect series, and I think it’s the best of the three.
I would recommend “Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World” by Gillen D’Arcy Wood (April 2014). It’s a marvelous blend of science, history and literature, especially the chapter about Mary Shelley.
There are so, so, so many to recommend, but I’m going to go with Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s a beautifully written, thoughtful, literary post-apocalypse. All of my favorite things. (Her other titles are terrific, too.)
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey. Excellent entry in the series. My favorite so far, I think.
Probably no stranger to the other regulars here, but I’ve got to recommend Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. The first of a YA trilogy, it surprised me to look it up and see it came out July of 2014…as the third volume is just about to release.
However, Half a King is my recommendation because it’s the first in its series and I do prefer to start at the beginning. If you’re a fan of his earlier works, the “YA” apparently means slightly fewer people die then in his adult books. It does not take any of the edge off, though…plenty of excellent character building and adventure going on.
Go! Read this book and get hooked.
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Chixin Wonderful book. Excellent SF; thoughtful comments about humanity; incorporation of lots of science ideas; gaming involvement that you don’t have to be a gamer to enjoy, and the added bonus of insights into Chinese history and culture. It well deserves the award nominations.
Weak area: somewhat flat characters.
The conclusion was reasonably good stopping place, but it left a lot unsettled because this is book 1 of a trilogy. Now I am annoyed because the next book is not available ye
Just barely making in under the wire: Alpha and Omega, Volume 6 and the final chapter of the Locke and Key graphic novels from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez.
Why I liked it: Very low barrier to entry for a graphic novel newcomer, as it’s self-contained in 6 books, telling one story that has a start, middle, and end. Very satisfying Cthulu-ish story, with realistic and likable characters.
(i picked it up as part of a Humble Bundle, so just read it all last month.)
Rat Queens Volume Two: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth.
Beautifully illustrated tale of what happens when four kick-ass women face off against a Cthulu-esque god’s creatures. Can’t say enough about how enjoyable it ways. Definitely NOT FOR KIDS.
How can I rec just ONE? In recent days I have loved:
“Vermilion” by Molly Tanzer (Cross-dressing biracial ghost-hunting investigator in turn-of-the-century San Francisco hunts missing Chinese railroad workers.)
“The Archivist Wasp” by Nicole Khorner-Stace (Ghost-killing priestess meets Assassin’s Ghost – together, they unravel things that were supposed to be hidden.)
“Uprooted” by Naomi Novik (Creeping evil, magical apprenticeship)
“In Midnight’s Silence” by Teresa Frohock (Creepy angels, creepier demons, & a narrator caught in the middle.)
“Denton Little’s Deathdate” by Lance Rubin (YA – when everyone’s date-of-death is known at their birth, how do you process it when yours is at 17?)
“The Devil’s Detective” by Simon Unsworth (Holy cow so good – In Hell, everyone has a job. Hell’s detectives don’t investigate – until truly odd, unsanctioned murders begin cropping up – and he’s required to investigate them.)
Let me second the nod for “Station Eleven” above. It’s a wonderful book, one of if not the best post-apocalyptic books I’ve read. I’d put it up against “A Canticle for Leibowitz” – it’s that good.
The Fear of Things to Come by Kathryne Arnold. It’s totally outside of my normal genre, but I liked it. It’s the second in a trilogy and a great thriller as a standalone book too. The author did a fantastic job with going into the instabilities of the antagonist because she is also a psychotherapist and has tons of experience with the (very messy) human mind.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler. Easy read with lots of laughs.
The first fifteen lives of Harry August by Claire North. I read it last week and loved it, because it nicely plays with time travel and has a gripping high-stakes kind of plot, with well written characters.
Mmm…so many to choose from! I think I’m going to go with HALF A KING by Joe Abercrombie. It reminded me of the kind of books that drew me to fantasy as a kid. Solid world, solid characters, solid story.
I would like to recommend “Constitution: Book 1 of the Legacy Fleet Trilogy,” by Nick Webb. I downloaded a sample on my Kindke, read it and bought the book. It was sogood, I devoured it in one sitting…and now I’m anxiously awaiting the next book.
It’s about the end of a rough career for both the ISS Constitution – a starship that barely survived Earth’s war against The Swarm 75 years ago – and it’s captain, Tim Granger. The ship is heading back to become a museum piece and the captain is being sidelined.
But has The Swarm really been beaten? Or are they back, stronger than ever?
This is a gripper of a book. Kinda like “Old Man’s War, ” it had me from page one.
A Man Called Ove by a Swedish writer called Fredrik Backman, because it’s so damn funny. I read it (in swedish) and was giggling or laughing out loud so that my wife felt almost forced to read it when I was done. I don’t have to tell you that she loved it as well! Ove is a grumpy old man who lost his wife and are having problems living; he doesn’t know how. Wonderful book! :-)
“Shadows Beneath” by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Dan Wells
This not only gives 4 good stories, it gives a look into the process that went into writing them. It’s a great peek behind the curtain.
Paradise Sky by Joe Lansdale. Recently released it’s a fictional account based on the life of Nat “Deadwood Dick” Love, an African-American Cowboy. It’s a Western that’s inspired and derived from some shorter fiction he’s written. Lansdale is one of those writers where you find yourself enjoying the story along with just they way he puts words together and Paradise Sky is no different.
Girls of the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine. Set in 1920s New York City of dance halls, Prohibition and the Charleston about twelve sisters who sneak out at night to dance. I didn’t know that it was based on a fairy tale, I just got swept up in the story and the emotions. It’s like a Pixar movie in that it just rips at my heart strings, but no sooner do I finish it but I want to start it again.
“World of Trouble” (The Last Policeman Book III) by Ben H. Winters. This may be something of a stretch, since the first two books of the trilogy came out prior to JS’s start date, and you really (really) want to read those first. But this last book is fantastic, and first two were just as good. Neal Thompson on Amazon created an excellent tagline for it: “pre-apocalyptic police procedural.” To flesh that out, the setting is our world, and it’s going to end in six months via an asteroid strike. The asteroid’s been spotted, tracked, and announced so everybody knows this, and polite society is starting to break down. Policeman Hank Palace decides to keep doing his job anyway, and these three books are about how and why he does it, and what it means to believe in justice with the end of the world in sight.
Foxglove Summer, by Ben Aaronovich. Excellent continuation of the Rivers of London series. I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys modern fantasy stories. A police procedural, from the perspective of the magic branch of the Met.
Graphic novel “Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection” edited by Hope Nicholson, published by Alternate History Comics, Inc.
Beautifully told stories of Indigenous People by Indigenous People, with artwork that just blew me away.
I loved Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older (initial pub January 6, 2015). I had avoided urban fantasy as a genre, but friends recommended this book and the story sucked me right in. Carlos’s voice and POV, the way the city is an authentic part of the story and the world it describes not only seems like it could really exist, but that it *probably does* and is just invisible… Loved it.
Older has just released Shadowshaper, a YA novel in the same world (haven’t read it yet but it’s getting ALL THE STARS); Midnight Taxi Tango, the sequel to Half-Resurrection Blues, will be released in January. All have POC main characters, too. A+ recommend to diversify your bookshelf.
Another vote for What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe of xkcd fame.
Big Data Baseball, by Travis Sawchik. Compelling nonfiction in the realm of Moneyball.
I really enjoyed The Merit Birds, YA novel with exotic setting by Kelley Powell. It just came out, May 2015.
Memory of Water, by Emmi Itäranta
This is an odd and wonderful story set in a water-scarce future, about a young woman in the Scandinavian Union who has assumed the Tea Master duties of her father. The story sucked me in and I read most of it in one sitting.
Its a weird and evocative fusion of several different themes and I liked it enough to include it among my Hugo nominations for Best Novel.
The Martian, by Andy Weir
and as a bonus: Dark Intelligence, Neal Asher
How We Got to Now’ by Steven Johnson
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes is a fun read for fans of the movie. It’s an upbeat book with behind-the-scenes anecdotes — a nice rainy Sunday afternoon read.
Fighting Monks and Burning Mountains by Paul Barach
Moderately out of shape Microsoft office worker decides to go on the Shikoku Pilgrimage in Japan. Didn’t decide to do any research, road test his shoes, check the weather forecast, or learn rudimentary Japanese.
The Getaway God: A Sandman Slim Novel
by Richard Kadrey
Cibola burn by James s a Corey. Loved the whole series. This was no exception.
Although I liked A Darker Shade of Magic (already rec’d here), I preferred another novel by V.E. Schwab: Vicious. A different take on superheroes and lots of morally-gray characters.
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith. It’s best I don’t say anything–it’s that kind of book. You could read it in one undisturbed weekend or during tumultuous plane travel. It’s currently being made into a movie so, I’m not the only one who thinks it is good.
I’m enjoying everyone else’s recommendations. This was a great idea, John.
Good luck, everyone!
I’m adding my voice to those chorusing The Library at Mount Char. I enjoyed the world building. I’m not usually a fan of horror, but this one sucked me in.
Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer. That’s only the first volume, but you are allowed to go ahead and read the whole wonderfully weird Southern Reach trilogy :)
One of my favorite books of this year is The Fold by Peter Clines! A genius with an eidetic memory is recruited by his friend at DARPA to check out a new matter transporter. It doesn’t actually transport matter though, because of that pesky Heisenberg uncertainty principle. Rather, it brings two distant points together by creating a fold in space-time. What could go wrong? What starts as an SF techy thriller takes some unexpected twists and turns along the way to a very unexpected ending. Great geeky fun with plenty of laugh out loud humor too.
Persona by Genevieve Valentine was a fantastic political thriller with an engaging narrative voice and interesting, complex characters. I need more people to read it! It’s so good!
Abomination by Gary Whitta , hot off the presses and an excellent read
A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd (Feb 25, 2014)
This book’s cover and title make it sound like a silly mid-grades romp. It IS mid-grades (bordering YA), but it’s actually a family drama involving blessings and curses and random acts of kindness done in secret.
The main character and narrator has the gift of words, but is too shy to talk in front of a group. Every sentence in this book is a work of art; the language is just beautifulf , making it an almost sensual pleasure to read. The characters are engaging and (mostly) likeable, the plot is interesting, and even the magic ice cream isn’t used in a goofy way.
If I’d known about this book before the deadline, I might have had a Hugo nomination ballot this year.
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North was one of those novels that made me think “I could never have written this” (and I acknowledge the egotism inherent in the fact that I don’t think that more often). Time travel fiction can be difficult to write for a number of reasons, including having to decide when to begin. This novel, however, concerns characters who are living their lives over and over again, but with awareness that they are doing so and the ability to make different choices that affect not only their own lives, but those of others, including the other immortals. The result – without wanting to give too much away – is a ripple in the pond effect stretching backward over the decades that displays a technical virtuosity on the part of the author that I greatly admired. Oh, and I should mention that it’s also a murder mystery with a (to me at least) surprising conclusion.
As the Ash Fell by AJ Powers. First novel published on Amazon, I thought it a very good read.
I really enjoyed Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
Gender Failure, by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon.
This is a fantastic series of first-person non-fiction (but narrative/story-based) essays about being genderqueer artists; Coyote is a storyteller/performer and Spoon is a musician.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
by Karen Joy Fowler
I recently finished Prudence by Gail Carriger. It was a really fun read.
Scott Anderson’s superlative “Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East” (published in June 2014). It’s a fascinating voyage into the disjointed ambition, folly and Imperial hubris that leads to …well, our current mess.
Charles Stross’ The Rhesus Chart. What I admire the most in writing is the sense of how well the author has conceived of and executed a story. The Rhesus Chart, part of the Laundry Files series, shows Stross, page by page, in control just of the plot but of the smallest details. He’ll have his central protagonist, who has a strong background in computer technology, toss off an aside that both fits the character and serves as a call out to the reader. Charles Stross is an author who rewards a reader with these kinds of fillips even as he’s exploring the idea of how vampirism is a consequence of visualizing certain higher order mathematics.
It’s a tie-in novel, but I’ve bee enjoying the new Star Wars novels (Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne and Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp).
The Paper Magician (+ all following) by Charlie Holmberg. Absolutely fascinating magic system.
Inquisitor by RJ Blain
My review from last year:
I have read two other novels by Blain and I enjoyed them and look forward to the sequels. So, I unsuspectingly downloaded “Inquisitor” around 11 a.m. Unfortunately, it has ruined my day. I can’t put this book down. I blew off two appointments today and while I’m only half way through, I will make it to choir rehearsal tonight and then probably stay up until I finish this book.
Truly an amazing thriller wrapped in the supernatural. Saying this book is Urban Fantasy, is putting this book in a corner that will exclude many readers.
If you read one fiction book this year, make it this one!
The Fold by Peter Clines. A fun and freaky take on Teleportation.
I have to recommend “Redefining Girly” by Melissa Atkins Wardy. It’s a book about raising girls to be strong and unlimited in the midst of today’s sexism and oversexualization of childhood.
I just finished Fluency (Confluence Book 1) by Jennifer Foehner Wells. I thoroughly enjoyed it and now I have to wait until the next book comes out to see what happens. :(
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley is my recommendation. It’s a great mix of writing, creative weirdness, worldbuilding, and W.T.F. awesomeness. Highly recommended, and I’m looking forward to book 2 in the series.
(R)evolution (Phoenix Horizon Book 1) by PJ Manney
Good mix of suspense and tech fiction
Ancillary Sword (Imperial Radch) by Anne Leckie.
Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett. It’s his last main sequence Discworld novel, and while it’s not a return to the form of his best books it is still an excellent rounding out of the series and provides closure for many of the characters.
Definitely ‘Mort(e)’ by Robert Repino. A house cat is upgraded into a bipedal, intelligent warrior and drafted into the war between animals (led by giant ants) and humans, only to then embark on a noir-tinged quest to find his old friend from his just-a-pet-days, a dog named Sheba. It sounds ridiculous, but the book is gorgeously written, exciting, endlessly surprising and utterly delightful.
Linesman by S. K. Dunstall (who are actually two sisters). I just finished it. Read about it here in the big idea, downloaded a sample and was hooked immediately. Unique idea and great writing and characters. Looks like the start of a series (yeah!) but a great read on its own.
This interview that describes their writing process is interesting – I had no idea they were two people when I read the book http://qwillery.blogspot.com/2015/07/interview-with-s-k-dunstall-authors-of.html
I really enjoyed the Benevolence Archives Vol 1 (from May 2014) and Vol 2 (April 2015) by Luther M. Siler. The first one is a collection of short stories in the same universe, a sort of Star Wars inspired, fantastical galaxy, and the second is a novel. They’re fun reads, full of well rounded characters, cool action, and intriguing settings.
Justice Calling by Annie Bellet (and then the rest of The Twenty-Sided Sorceress series). I only heard of her due to the Hugo situation (she withdrew her short story nomination after being Puppy co-opted) so decided to give her a try and am glad I did!
“Shadow Scale” by Rachel Hartman. It’s a sequel to “Seraphina,” which came out in 2012, and *that* book re-used the setting of her minicomic “Amy Unbounded” which she wrote 20 or so years ago. The cold war between humans and dragons is heating up, and young Seraphina Dombegh is tasked with recruiting some unlikely allies….
I have always enjoyed short story anthologies – and one of the best published currently is The Years Best Science Fiction 31st annual edition Edited by Gardner Dozois (pub July 15 1984) This years edition comes out this week. I have read all of the editions starting with the 7th.
If you like science fiction from the 1930s-1940s I recommend Adventures in Time and Space edited by Raymond J. Healy and J. Francis McComas, published in 1946
I realize that I’m just some random internet person that you’ve never met, might not be real, and therefore, may not have a soul. Shortcomings aside, I highly recommend The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks.
This book is preceded by two others; The Black Prism and The Blinding Knife. It’s an epic fantasy novel that takes a different approach to “magic”. Magicians/Wizards are instead “Drafters”. You draft based on a color of the prism, that color is the halo around your eye. Drafting steals and redirects the colors from objects. Green drafters can steal the light color from grass, trees, etc. Red drafters from blood, and on and on.
A terrific read, truly. Word of warning. Originally supposed to be a trilogy, I thought The Broken Eye was the finale. And as I sat and thought I approached the end, I cannot for the life of me begin to describe or reproduce the angry torrent of consonants that came spewing from my mouth upon realizing there’d be one more book!
Data & Goliath by Bruce Schneier.
My recommendation is _The Jesus Cow_ by Michael Perry.
Michael Perry is quite simply one of the most gifted writers I have ever encountered. I reread his books and essays multiple times just for the sheer joy of his phrasing and the words he chooses. Most of his works have been nonfiction, either essays or memoirs, but he has recently begun to explore fiction as well. He released a YA novel last year, and his newest novel, _The Jesus Cow_, was released just this past May.
Perry is an up-nort small-town Wisconsin fellow, the son of a farming family. He is an RN, a volunteer EMT and a farmer in a small way, and he writes compellingly and beautifully about the world he knows. Folks who have read his nonfiction will recognize the setting, the characters, and many of the situations he describes in _The Jesus Cow_, although it is unambiguously fiction.
_The Jesus Cow_ tells the story of a middle-aged introverted bachelor farmer in northern Wisconsin whose milk cow gives birth to a calf on Christmas Eve. The black-and-white calf is born with a detailed and highly recognizable image of Jesus Christ on its side. The farmer, who is not particularly religious, takes one look at his newly arrived livestock and mutters “Well. There’s trouble.” The next couple hundred pages expand in well-written and often hilarious detail just how much trouble a calf with the image of Christ in its fur can cause, and I highly recommend it to anyone who would like a fast and thoroughly engaging read.
I recommend “Strange Magic: A Yancy Lazarus Novel (Pilot Episode)” by James Hunter. Yancy Lazarus is a quirky mage living off his ability at cards (changing the luck of the draw using magic) who gets stuck in the middle of magical doings because of his sense of responsibility rather than his wanting to. I put Yancy in the neighborhood of Harry Dresden in fun and wit with Yancy’s brains making him more dangerous than his wizardry.
Dragon in Exile
by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller
first printing June 2015
I have been following this series for years and have so enjoyed the character and world building.
While I have long lost judgement as to the writing, my love of the series remains rock steady.
Anniversary day saga by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. This is a 8 book saga about a bombing on The Moon and the search for the culprits. This is in the retrieval artist universe. Books 3 through 8 were released monthly starting in January. I listened. (Read?)this from Audible with Jay Snider as the narrator. I do recommend all of her books.
I’m about 100 pages from the end of The Grace Of Kings by Ken Liu. I was a bit dubious starting it because I bounced hard off Three Body Problem which Liu translated, but I’m happy to say the problems I had with 3BP are not the translator’s fault. The setting is not the default medieval western Europe (though it is a sexually-striated culture), and the scarcity of female characters in the beginning of the book is remedied somewhat as it continues.
It’s a fine start and I’m looking forward to further volumes.
I am also going to recommend A Man Called Ove. I don’t often laugh out loud while reading (although our good host’s book are a frequent exception), but this book not only made me laugh, it made me cry. It is not only one of the best books I have read this year, it is one of the best books I have ever read!
A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias was great!
I just recently finished Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine and damn it was a good read. The premise is the Library of Alexandrian didn’t burn and now in modern times it controls all info and technological growth in the world. This is a YA novel but don’t let that dissuade you from reading it. So far it is a top contender for my Hugo ballot next year.
“Toad Words and Other Stories” by T. Kingfisher (the selfpub penname for Ursula Vernon)
I just finished Station Eleven and completely loved it.
I don’t know if series were what you had in mind, but Ruth Downie’s new Ruso book came out in August, 2014. They are all wonderful, and I think they really do need to be read in order for the character development (the mysteries themselves are stand alone, but there’s a process to getting to know the recurring characters). The series is set primarily in Roman-occupied Britain, and follows an army doctor as he bumbles his way through various mysteries.
In this latest one, Tabula Rasa, they are up by Hadrian’s Wall as it’s being built, and there’s lots of lovely details about the conflicts (and mingling) of the Romans with the local tribes. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book (and the series as a whole, really), for me, is seeing Tilla’s evolving relationship with the other native Britons. Since she’s married to a Roman, she’s seen as an outsider, but she’s also an outsider to the Romans, and seen as a “way in” for Ruso to talk to the natives. It’s a pretty cool dynamic.
Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie!
I can think of a few things I’d like to recommend, but let’s go with Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. Lizzie Borden vs Deep Ones, and if that doesn’t make you want to read it, there’s no help for you.
The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell – the latest in the great Warrior Chronicles series.
Soul Meaning (Seventeen #1)
by A.D. Starrling
A new take on “Immortals”
The Just City by Jo Walton. It’s hard to beat a fantasy about a bunch of time travelling philosophers who all meet at one point in time in an attempt to create Plato’s Republic on earth and which climaxes in a knockdown, drag out debate between Socrates and the goddess, Pallas Athenae.
I Found My Friends: The Oral History of Nirvana, by Nick Soulsby
James S.A Corey – Nemesis Games.
The latest episode in a rollicking, funny yet deep-thinking story. A rollercoaster ride from beginning to end.
I’m not the first to suggest it, and there are a LOT of really good books from the first half of this year, but Uprooted by Naomi Novik is the one that I wish I was a billionaire so I could buy a couple million copies, put little yellow-fruit-shaped parachutes on them, and air-drop them across the continent at people.
I would have to recommend “Station Eleven” by Emily Saint John Mandel. There are a lot of dystopian novels (and movies) out there, but most of them focus on the science or malevolent intent . This novel stands out because of its focus on the lives of those remaining and their need to survive as well as to be together.
I was going to say Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (which was very well written), but that’s been taken…
So, instead, I will recommend The Conformity by John Hornor Jacobs, which is the final book in his YA Incarcerado trilogy. The whole trilogy is pretty interesting and fun, and I don’t think it’s particularly well known.
Derelict by LJ Cohen is some fantastic YA Space Opera. The sequel is probably better, but start with Derelict.
Two Serpents Rise by Max Gladstone. Interesting world building.
The Secret Place by Tana French.
This is the latest of her Dublin Murder Squad novels, all of them brilliant murder mysteries. Among the best I’ve read. Each book features different detectives, which allows her to work mayhem with them.
Brandon Sanderson’s “Words of Radience”. Great Epic fantasy novel. It’s the second in the series, but was easily the best book I read last year. (Including yours, Mr. Sclazi…good bu tnot quite as good as this one). The first book in the series (“The Way of Kings”) was very good as well and might need to be read to truly get into this one.
The Emperor’s Blades, by Brian Staveley. One of those books you pick up without knowing anything about the author or the plot and catches you by surprise. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17910124-the-emperor-s-blades
I’d like to recommend Something to Prove by Kimberly Lang. The first of a series of romance novels with a Southern flair.
Closer to the interests of more of your audience is, I suspect, The Crimson Campaign: The second book in Brian McClellan’s The Powder Mage trilogy, which combines a Brandon-Sanderson-like magic system with Napoleonic warfare in a fantasy world. It’s a lot of fun.
The End Has Come, the third of the Apocalypse Triptych anthologies edited by John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey came out May 1, 2015. I’d been anxiously awaiting it since I read the first two, to see how the story arcs finished. (For those who don’t know, this is a three-volume set of anthologies, with stories that carry across all three volumes). I think the reason I loved this book, and the whole series, was the sheer variety: of characters, settings, apocalypses, voices, styles, etc. I found a bunch of new writers to follow and will now need to quit my job to have to time to read all this great stuff.
You said book, I don’t see novel… This is non-fiction. I wanted to make sure I picked a good one that someone else likely won’t pick. Most of these history of video games books are terrible. This one is very good.
Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time Paperback – February 7, 2014
by Bill Loguidice (Author), Matt Barton (Author)
Check out Youtube channel ‘Matt Chat’ Its Matt Bartons channel. Lots of interviews with older game developers and he talks about the history of the video game industry. Lots of juicy incites into how some of these games were created and on how the older game studios rose and fell. Most of these channels are boring… he is very good. The guy is an English Professor.
He also reviews alot of old school games.
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison is wonderful and heartwarming and just *good* in a way that a lot of the grim dark books nowadays really aren’t (though I often love those too).
Grr. darn typos…”Words of Radiance” and Scalzi obviously. :(
Gotta chime in with the other folks recommending The Southern Reach Trilogy, particularly the first book. It was very atmospheric, and the characterization was just dandy.
“The Serpent of Venice” by Christopher Moore. Combines “Othello”, “Merchant of Venice”, and Poe’s “Cask of Amontillado” for a wonderfully witty and bawdy tale.
Hollow World by Michael Sullivan, very different and fun
The book that has surprised me most recently (in a good way) is The Pendragon Protocol by Philip Purser-Hallard. It appears to be something that’s a rare beast these days, an entirely new type of urban fantasy. Not that I don’t like wizards in cities, or werewolves and vampires, or parallel worlds etc, but this is something new. To describe exactly what would spoil some of the joy of discovery, but we start out being introduced to the modern military tactics of a Knight of the Round Table.
A sequel has recently been released but I haven’t read it yet so can’t comment.
I’M NOT TRYING TO SNEAK IN A SECOND CHANCE REALLY
BUT the reason I didn’t finish Grace Of Kings last night is that Lois McMaster Bujold issued a new novella in her Five Gods World — ‘Penric’s Demon” — and nothing in the multiverse was going to stop me from reading that first.
I have read exactly one book that meets the criteria. Fortunately I don’t feel bad for recommending it:
The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross – Not sure I’d suggest starting with this book as an entry point into the Laundry Files, but it’s a solid entry into the series. The audio book reader is perfect for the book, and it’s a very enjoyable listen.
I’d recommend the Ann Leckie books if I had the energy to finish them, but they require more attention and focus to read that I have had to spare for a book in years. Very, very interesting, but unfortunately unfinished.
To everyone else, thanks for the recommendations all around, I might have to dig myself out of my comfort reading pile and check out some new things this summer.
Nethereal by Brian Niemeier. A fantastic debut space opera.
I enjoyed the hell out of SEVENEVES, by Neal Stephenson.
Wow, long list. Will have to peruse at my leisure… when I have some leisure time.
For me, Greg van Eekhout’s California Bones was pretty damn fantastic. Urban fantasy meets LA noir, with a particularly cool magic system to boot. Double-plus recommend.
Claire North (aka Kate Griffin aka Catherine Webb) might possibly be my new favorite author. Touch was released this year and is an excellent meditation on what it means to be a person (along with cool sci-fi/thriller/chase/geo-politics stuff.)
I read and enjoyed Andy Weir’s “The Martian”; the hype for the book had me intrigued and as an engineer I enjoyed the problem solving. Looking forward to the movie!
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennet, I loved this book soo much. When I read it I had no idea that there would be more books in the setting. The story is told very well as a stand alone, so more books is a total bonus.
Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson. A brilliant webcomic collection that explores identity and what it means to be a hero. The setting is a wonderful mix of medeival and modern – Knights! Science fairs! Jousts! TV anchors! – and Nimona herself is impulsive and tempestuous and silly and scary. A great story that evolves considerably from beginning to end.
Ghost Train To New Orleans by Mur Lafferty. Its book two in a series (after The Shambling Guide to NYC). Zoe is a human author/editor for a series of travel guides for non-humans. There is no way this can POSSIBLY go wrong. Intrigue, action, monsters and beignets.
Academic Exercises by K.J.Parker (who turns out to be Tom Holt, which boggles me), an incredible collection of long and short stories that I found myself reading more and more slowly so I wouldn’t have to finish the book. Good stuff.
“A Wizard’s Henchman” (serialized as ” The Kaslo Chronicles” in Lightspeed Magazine) by Matthew Hughes- weird and different
A book which I enjoyed very much was the book “Hawk” by Steven Brust. Like all of the books in his Vlad Taltos series it is full of action, mystery and adventure. I really enjoyed it, and have read it several times.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer, published Feb 4, 2014.
Not for any extra credit, but I’m also wolfing down Authority and have Acceptance in the to-be-read stack, which are the 2nd and 3rd books of his Southern Reach Trilogy. These are so internal and reflect the indeterminate nature of reality once the mind is open to all possibilities. Kind of spooky, too. Really get why he won a Nebula for Annihilation.
Monica Byrne’s THE GIRL IN THE ROAD. Amazing near-future scifi that brings a ton of much-needed diversity to the genre: non-Eurocentric, full of queer, disabled, and mentally ill characters, full of amazing women, and it tells an incredibly universal and captivating story.
I enjoyed the Mad Tinker’s Daughter series by JS Morin, the 4th book Tinker’s Justice came out late last year.
The Peripheral by William Gibson, after a dozen or so years of not reading Gibson (for no real reason) it’s reminded me of what I’ve been missing & even better means I now have the double pleasure of rereading the early novels & of catching up on those I’ve missed
Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey.
The Annihilation Score, the latest in the Laundry series from Charlie Stross.
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson. Amazing sci-fi and world-building all wrapped into one.
I’ll join others who have recommended Claire North/Catherine Webb’s “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August”. To add something new to the conversation, I’ll also add that I just finished “Touch” by the same author, and enjoyed it as well. It is a fascinating character study of someone in a very unique situation. There were hints of “The Lives of Tao” with some distinct differences and more of a fantasy feel.
The Just City by Jo Walton. First in a series of three and book 2 just came out. Gods, robots, time travelers and Socrates in ancient Greece.
Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
An Untamed State, by Roxane Gay (May 2014). Amazing, relentless, and fierce. I can’t wait for her next book, but it isn’t scheduled for publication until 2016.
Others have already recommended it, but I have to say SEVENEVES by Neal Stephenson. I’m only hallway through it, but I’m enjoying it and I haven’t read much brand new stuff besides Scalzi in the last year and a half. I’ve been discovering slightly older stuff.
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Because I love the answers. And no, it’s not 42.
Authority from the Southern Reach trilogy. It always felt like something amazing / horrible was on the precipice.
As with so many others, The Martian by Andy Weir would be my recommendation. It’s one of those rare books that can combine good story telling with scientific attention to detail. I found the rare switch to God’s-eye narration to be jarring but forgivable — I also the protagonist particularly relatable, in his drive to solve problems confounded with occasional bone-headed moves.
If The Martian is disqualified for its earlier self-publishing date, then I’d recommend The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North — a good romp with a nifty premise (okay, the third act dragged in a couple of places but recovered quickly). There were some interesting nooks & crannies in the Big Idea that are begging to be explored, and it’s a credit to the author’s discipline that she didn’t try to put too much into the book by exploring them just yet.
The graphic novel ‘Rat Queens’ is incredibly fun to read, has an all-female main cast (the whole cast is pretty diverse in general) and the artwork is lovely, too. It’s a comedic take on a band of mercenaries having D&D style adventures in a medieval fantasy world.
It’s an ongoing series and the first two volumes are out, here’s the amazon link for the first volume:
William Gibson’s The Peripheral. By far my favorite book since the last book Gibson wrote. I’ve already read it twice. I love his writing and the premise is very cool. He drops you into the world and it is sink or swim. No hand holding.
“Legally Undead” by Margo Bond Collins. fun and snarky.
“The Martian” by Andy Weir was tremendous — the kind of book that makes you a bit sad when you finish, because you realize you’ll never again be able to read it for the first time. Deeply involving, alternately moving and hilarious, and startlingly plausible. Read it before the movie comes out.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things, by Patrick Rothfuss. In the event I win, please donate the ARC to WorldBuilders.
Castle Hangnail by Ursula K. Vernon
Augie and the Green Knight by Zach Weinersmith and Boulet was just fantastic. I wish it had been around when I was young so my mom could read it to me and I could revel in being able to read it myself as I got older. As it is, I’m glad to have it as an adult.
Only one? Dang. Okay, Dave Hutchinson’s “Europe in Autumn” (it just squeaks in there with a publication date of 1/28/14). A really different take on a dystopian future that feels less like fantasy and more like a completely possible reality, and some incredible character development, to boot. (If it’s not too gauche, if anyone wants to read further about it, here’s a link to my review: http://litstack.com/litstack-review-europe-in-autumn-by-dave-hutchinson/
I have recently read “Seveneves” by Neal Stephenson, and it is about what humanity does after the moon is destroyed.
“The Abyss Beyond Dreams”
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff. Book Three in a series that I really, really enjoyed even though Urban fantasy is not usually my thing. Lots and lots going on and a really well-integrated world full of character, magic and plot.
Just finished Half A King and Half The World by Joe Abercrombie. Greatly looking forward to Half A War on July 28th! I couldn’t have planned reading this trilogy at a worse moment than if I had actually planned it. Alas, Half A King was a library hold, so I got it when my number came up. Of course, as soon as I finished it, I hit the “Buy” button on Half The World, instead of going to sleep, and now I have to wait 20 excrutiating days for the payoff. My life, it is so very hard.
Henna House by Nomi Eve. Fascinating read about pre- and post-Holocaust Yemenite Jews.
Really enjoyed the ARC I read of Abomination, by Gary Whitta. The storyline goes places I didn’t expect and loved the challenges the characters end up facing. Plus, Lovecraftian monsters in a medieval setting!
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest is the creepiest book I’ve read in a long time.
Just finished reading Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. Real fun read, an interesting take on the fantasy genre and fairy tales in particular. i loved the world building and felt like the characters were real interesting. Fun times!
Tainted Blood: A Generation V Novel by M.L. Brennan (Publication Date: November 4, 2014)
This is the third book in the Generation V series (I do recommend starting at the beginning; the fourth one will be out this August).
Tainted Blood is urban fantasy at its best (plus I love a good mystery). It’s also a bit of a vampire coming of age tale for the protagonist,Fortitude Scott. M.L. Brennan takes the vampire mythology that we all know and changes it to fit her world – she makes them make sense biologically as Apex predators (and does a fantastic job of populating her world with other mythological creatures). Highly recommended for fans of urban fantasy :-)
I’ll go with a different offering from Peter Clines, Ex-Purgatory, the fourth in his delightfully engaging Ex-Heroes series. What’s great about this latest entry is how, in addition to playing with the regular superhero and zombie tropes like previous books, it also plays with the conventions and characters that have been established for the series itself, putting the latter in new, sometimes perfect, sometimes ill-fitting roles, that give us a better glimpse at who they are while also setting into motion some deeply intriguing and very human plotlines that will affect the heroes and regular folks alike.
The Martin by Andy Weir. Great hard science fiction. Our Hero has to think is way out of the problems, not just have a bigger ray gun.
“What If?” by Randall Munroe. My brother got it for me last Christmas and I for him – we both loved our presents!
I’d really wanted to suggest something new, but most candidates were published in 2013 or even earlier.
Enter the Janitor by Josh Vogt. Made me laugh more than anything else this year.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
I’ve gotta go with Half resurrection Blues by D J Older. Some of the most original urban fantasy I’ve ever read.
Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold. Novella set in the 5 Gods World, just released this week. Yee-haw!
I really enjoyed “American Ghost: A Family’s Haunted Past in the Desert Southwest” by Hannah Nordhaus. It’s a mixture of ghost story, family history and the settlement of Santa Fe, NM.
The Dark Defiles by Richard K Morgan. The final book from the Land for Heroes trilogy. Superb storytelling, complex characters. I was always a sci-fi only person. No fantasy for me. Morgan converted me with this series. A wonderful read with no letdown in the finale. Now, if we can get just one more Takeshi Kovacs novel out of this guy….
‘Hold me Closer, Necromancer’ by Lish McBride. This is classified as YA, but it’s a great read for anyone. This takes the ‘what happens when you find out you have magical powers’ and combines it with urban fantasy to create a story that is just sooo good. It is filled with dark, sarcastic humor, genuine feels, peril, tension, and fast food.
Well, bit of pre-2015 Hugo for the not-a-hugo –
Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta. Well done, despite some worldbuilding creaks
For a series, the new Neil Asher, Dark Intelligence – kind of Culture-like if the Minds were more evil
I really liked The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu. High fantasy in a non-western setting. More please!
Of Dice and Men by David M. Ewalt
Fantastic history of the life of Role Playing Game.
Prudence, by Gail Carriger. I have been loving Carriger’s work and this new series really is amazing.
I also enjoyed The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua. She’s a hoot, and the drawings are so lively.
“Dark Intelligence” by Neal Asher.
Rogue, murderous and possibly insane AI war drones. What’s not to love?
Last one I finished that qualifies was “Gathering Prey” by John Sandford–a good entry in his Prey series. Others that I’ve seen people upstream mention that I can also recommend include “The Martian,” “What If,” and “The Three-Body Problem.”
Another vote for The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. Just wonderfully done.
Corsair, by James L. Cambias
Published in May 2015.
I picked it up last month during the Tor kerpupple. It takes a while to get going, but I’m looking forward to the next one.
Dim Sum, Dead Some, the second in the Josie Tucker series by EM Kaplan. Mystery novels with a snarky, sarcastic heroine who’s also a food critic with stomach problems. Good, good stuff.
Words of Radiance, the second book of The Stormlight Archive, by Brandon Sanderson.
Because. That, and he’s like the Scalzi of fantasy. Well, a Scalzi that writes 1000-page novels. But reads just as fast.
Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indriðason. The latest in the Inspector Erlendur series set in Iceland. If you like Nordic crime fiction (e.g. Steig Larsson, Jo Nesbo, etc.), you’ll like these.
Trigger warning by Neil Gaiman – it is one of the best novel books I’ve ever read.
Well, we don’t have to go far into 2014 for one of my favourites still not mentioned. “The Magicians Land” by Lev Grossman, published on Jan 1 2014 (if my mad internet skillz haven’t failed me).
This concludes Grossmans Magician triology and it is a solid wrap up of a solid triology. Highly recommended, every one of them!
I loved “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell – a sort of literary urban fantasy for people who aren’t fans of urban fantasy (the fantasy elements are in the background for large portions of the book). Great prose, incredible characterization and scope, compelling – awesome read.
The latest novel in Steven Gould’s “jumper” series, EXO.
As several other people picked “The Martian” by Andy Weir, I’ll go with a second choice, which is “Rewinder” by Brett Battles. He merges alternate history with time travel and does so remarkably well.
Cibola Burn by James S. A. Corey was great .
A God in Ruins by Kate Aktinson. One of the best books I’ve read in years.
My recommendation is the book “The Oversight” by Charlie Fletcher. It takes place in Victorian London and centers on a group called “The Oversight” who protect an unknowing populace from the Sluagh, and other supernatural beings.
The Wicked by Douglas Nicholas. It’s the second in a medieval fantasy series that reads more like really good historical fiction with a magical twist.
I recently finished, nay, devoured Brandon Sanderson’s “Words of Radiance,” and I can’t wait for the next book in the series. I can’t believe it took me so long to read his stuff! The magic systems he uses in his books are incredibly detailed, and I love the illustrated editions with the maps & drawings of creatures & fashions in his worlds.
This might be cheating, but the three volume arc of “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin” from last year was, frankly, some of the best military science fiction in the past 5 years.
Specifically, the three graphic novels I’m referring to are Volume 5: Char and Sayla, Volume 6: To War, and Volume 7: Battle of Loum. The arc is a flashback arc that’s original to the manga, showing how the parents of Char Aznable (nee Casval Deikun), and Sayla Mass (nee Artesia Deikun) die, how the war between The Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation started, and the first colony drop. It’s intensely written, it’s incredibly tragic, and it takes characters (like Dozle Zabi) who were two-dimensional characters in the original TV show, and it makes them fleshed out, tragic figures, who are characters who you don’t want to win, but you also want to turn away from the path they’re traveling down.
I actually put forward Volume 7 forward for a Hugo Award nomination in the Best Graphic Novel category this year, though it did not make the nomination list.
The Martian by Andy Weir. I consumed this in audio form, and the narrator was top notch.
My favorite book so far this year is A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay. It’s about a young girl whose older sister is schizophrenic. Unfortunately, their father has recently lost his job and become deeply religious to find solace. His religion makes him believe the elder daughter is in fact possessed, and his lack of a job makes him desperate enough for money to sign the family up for an exorcism-based reality show. Naturally, there are very tragic consequences.
The Book of Life (#3 in the All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness
Best for people who like both history and nerdy intellectual pursuits AND vampires AND romance (but not your typical romance or supernatural romance at all)
Apex by Ramez Naam, third book in the Nexus series. Cutting edge almost reality sci fi
I highly recommend Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I have just finished reading it and I intend to read it again immediately, as I do with books I have instantly fallen in love with. The characters are well drawn and the story is engrossing and very hard to put down.
Entering the contest here! I’d go with Monica Byrne, The Girl in the Road. Loved it.
AFTERPARTY by Daryl Gregory! Published in April 2014. I just read it, and it’s my favorite book of 2015 so far, even though it’s not a 2015 release.
The Just City (January 2015) and The Philosopher Kings (June 2015), by Jo Walton.
Golden Son.- The second book in the Red Rising Trilogy. Great follow up. Couldn’t put it down and eagerly awaiting the final book next year.
Love, love, love!!! Station Eleven. It has that Canadian sense of place that I love, in all its bleakness, with a hopefulness that’s missing from most of my other Canadian favourites.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss – one of the most beautifully, delicately crafted books I can recall reading.
I would note that this is essentially a character study of a supporting character from Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles so you would need to read The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear before this would make sense (and I wholeheartedly recommend those books as well).
She Who Waits is the last of a trilogy by Daniel Polansky. This darkly humorous fantasy novel finishes off a great series very satisfyingly. I highly recommend this underappreciated story!
Here’s one you won’t see much on this page, a romance novel! Three Weeks with Lady X by Eloisa James. I am a fan of all kinds of books and this one tickled me.
Dearest by Alethea Kontis. It’s the 3rd book in her Woodcutter Sisters series, but it can also stand alone. It’s a great mix of Swan Lake and other fairy tales. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series.
I quite liked “Tracks” by K.M. Tolan (March 27, 2014) I read the Kindle version, I hear there is a paperback out as well. It’s a steampunk-esque romp through an alternate world ruled by Hobo kings and steam trains. It was a fun read!
Post-Human Book 5 : Inhuman, published on April 27, 2014, it’s the fifth booth (natch) in the Post-Human series, so maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s the panacea to my bitter disappointment in all the Singularity / Post-Singularity movies and television episodes that I’ve seen recently where they got to the cusp of how incredibly open the future is going to be and then take a step back (looking at you Transcendence). The covers of the books unfortunately scream something other than quality work, but trust me, this is quality stuff.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HYLX4R4/ if you’re interested :)
I really enjoyed The Broken Eye (Lightbringer Book 3) by Brent Weeks. I always appreciate an innovative magic system and the Lightbringer’s is one I have never seen before. Hint: It’s based on the electromagnetic spectrum.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt
Hey, The Martian was a terrific read, I agree, but the standout book for me was The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I’m more of a military and hard SF fan and not typically interested in fantasy, but this book was loads of fun and I can’t wait for more!
Have to go with “Words of Radiance” by your nemesis Brandon Sanderson. I can not get enough of Shards and Spren.
I read Mr. Stross’s “The Rhesus Chart” and enjoyed it a bit more than the previous Laundry novel.
The Martian by Andy Weir. (probably already recommended, but its my current favourite.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik: published May 2015 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22544764-uprooted
This is a book full of beautiful images, bravery, and a lovely system of magic. The villain of the piece is as much an allegory for rage and despair as anything else but acts in ways that make sense, and shows the costs of letting those feelings take over. And throughout the story the main characters are human and flawed and wonderful company. Recommended.
Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword, which I’d never have heard of if it weren’t for the Hugo kerfuffle, but so glad I did.
I absolutely loved Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer. Its a really unique concept of time travel and, since I have enjoyed his (soon to be defunct) webcomic, Basic Instructions, it was an easy purchase for me. It was Scotts 1st book and he has 2 others in the series that are also good. If you want a chance to preview his sense of humor, check out his comic. If you giggle, even a bit, you will most likely love this book!
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Not a revolutionary recommendation, but mine is this: Sleeping Late on Judgement Day by Tad Williams. This is number 3 in the Bobby Dollar series, so do go read the other two first. And then also read the Gentlepig novella also. These books are straight up fantasy crime noir, heavy on the kitsch and comedy but with a lot of heart, too. If you’re a Dresden fan, you’ll be into Bobby, too. I’m specifically recommending book 3 because sometimes series fizzle. This one doesn’t. And I want you to read it because I want more like this from Tad Williams.
Most of the books I might have said have already been mentioned, so in the interest of something different:
Wage Slave Rebellion by Stephen W. Gee
It’s the author’s first novel so it has a few rough edges, but overall it’s an enjoyable, lighthearted fantasy adventure with some cinematic and anime/manga influences.
I really enjoyed Seanan McGuire’s “Pocket Apocalypse.” I like all of her urban fantasy stuff and I would recommend that anyone into urbfan read her Incryptid and October Daye series. (Next October Daye book comes out this fall and I am super excited about it.)
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson! It’s a YA graphic novel about a girl who wants to be the sidekick to an evil villain. It’s hilarious and touching, and the art work is awesome, by the illustrator of Rainbow Rowells book covers :)
Girl with all the gifts!
Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five, the third book in his Craft sequence. A diverse cast of characters and an intriguing world in which gods and spirituality have been analyzed, manipulated, and treated as engineering projects or manipulated like securitized financial products.
Nemesis Games by James. S.A. Corey, I too love all of the books in the expanse series
I really enjoy the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne, the latest of which is Shattered.
Cool magic, gods of many pantheons, and an awesome dog! What’s not to love?
The Martian by Andy Weir.
Louise Penny! The Long Way Home, latest book in the Three Pines/Gamache series.
Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore. I’ve always loved Moore’s writing and humor. This is a brilliant sequel of Fool, an satirical version of King Lear from the perspective of the court fool, Pocket.
Just last night I stayed up to the wee hours finishing Darkened Blade, the sixth (and last, at least for now, apparently) book in the “Fallen Blade” series by Kelly McCullough. The first few books of the series are outside the contest window, but I’m recommending the last one, which came out just a couple months ago!
(I am also recommending–strictly NOT for contest purposes of course–that folks read the earlier books in the series first.)
What I like about these books is they are in the grimdarkish vein, but much more optimistic and thoughtful of how the world works. Are there terrible people? Yes, mostly the bad guys. Are the good guys shades of gray? Heck, yeah, especially considering that the main hero is an assassin, from a whole religion of assassins. But this is something McCullough addresses thoughtfully, and he has a full range of assassin characters with varying degrees and varieties of moral bent.
In short, the characters’ motives and choices don’t go unquestioned by the narrative. Even if ultimately we agree with them doing something “bad,” it’s more than just declared by fiat. This last book, in particular, brings the whole notion to a crescendo: the main problem for Aral Kingslayer is that he is faced with a choice between two really big evils, and there is no way around the choice and no one else to make it for him (also a theme: he is responsible for his own actions).
And another reason I’m recommending this book in specific, is you can see McCullough upping his game from book to book. This isn’t the first series he wrote, but it grows and the plots get more complex and the characters keep developing in interesting ways. This being the last book, it is imo the best of the series.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (Feb 2014) gets my vote. It is the most haunting of the Southern Reach Trilogy and also the most lyrical.
In it, a biologist, who has idiosyncrasies that generally compel her to enjoy observing nature rather than interacting with people, enters the mysterious Area X with other specialists in order to try to decipher it’s true nature.
Area X has transformed the coastline into an otherworldly place with bizarre sights that no one fully understands.
A compelling, unsettling read.
I must third the recommendation of The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. My bookshelves are full enough that I rarely *buy* books (yay libraries!) but I ran out and bought this one as soon as I finished reading it.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik.
This is going to sound like faint praise to start off because I don’t like fantasy in general; I tend more toward hard science fiction (A. Reynolds type stuff) and I enjoy Scalizi’s work because of the way he writes dialog, and the fact the humans aren’t always the good guys.
That being said, this is a great, well written, YA book my 14 year old and I enjoyed. It startes out like a fairy tale with what you think is a predicatable plot. It has a nice twist in the plot near the end that seems to turn those fairly tale tropes upside down.
Worth a read, go check it out at your local library!
Dry Bones (Walt Longmire, #11) by Craig Johnson. – The original incarnation (not to be confused with the equally entertaining alt-universe version that inhabits the TV series) has only gotten better with age.
Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone!
It is a particular highlight of his Craft Sequence, which approaches Modern Fantasy from the Fantasy side rather than the Modern one. The series as a whole has tremendously dark and creepy magic, scads of sharp social commentary, and very human protagonists. This book of the series in particular takes a very interesting approach to gods and worship.
It resonates thematically with The God Engines in a number of ways, come to think of it.
I was going to suggest Seveneves by Neal Stephenson but that will be recommended enough. Instead will will suggest something different, Josh Lieb’s Ratscalibur. It’s about a boy who is turned into a rat and saves a princess and it is really a lot of fun. It may be aimed at 5th graders but I’d recommend it to just about any one.
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson because it surprised me a few times and not so many books do that these days.
The Prophecy Con, by Patrick Weekes
Jacksonland: President Andrew Jackson, Cherokee Chief John Ross, and a Great American Land Grab by Steve Inskeep. Wonderful documentation of what Manifest Destiny did to the Naive Americans. Quite tragic.
^^^ …and as I can’t edit the previous entry (sorry!)–I liked it because it was smart, funny, fast-paced, and features a woman of color as the protagonst and a talking warhammer.
I finally got to Scott McCloud’s The Sculptor a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it
(If anyone is looking for a second (eighth?) opinion, I’m also about half of the way through Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, and at this point would enthusiastically agree with the others above that have recommended that one — but then I tend to feel that way about everything Stephenson writes)
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes. Really edge of the seat stuff. I listened to the full cast audio book which really worked brilliantly for this book.
For those who do not read Chinese, I recommend the English translation (2014) by Ken Liu of Cixin Liu’s novel The Three-Body Problem. Written within the first-contact sub-genre of science fiction, the fascinating fact (not a spoiler, it is on the dust jacket) that some of humankind is aligned with and helping the aliens come and take over human civilization on earth makes it rather unique. Very well written and keeps you reading late into night. At least it kept me up, and I do like my sleep.
I think I have to go with “Shadows Beneath” – the anthology from Writing Excuses, with shorts stories by Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Dan Wells, and Howard Tayler. My wife (an author) loves the fact that you get to see the development of the stories: brainstorming sessions, early drafts, feedback from the other authors. I thought that was interesting, but mostly I just loved the stories. I enjoyed Tayler’s “An Honest Death” and Wells’ “I. E. Demon”, and loved Sanderson’s “Sixth of the Dusk” (that story being the reason I bought the book). But Kowal’s “A Fire in the Heavens” is one of the best short stories I’ve read. That one story alone is worth buying the book.
Was a fun read. Kickstarted/self published paperback copy this year.
I done did really liked “City of Stairs” by Robert Jackson Bennett.
The Silver Ships, by S. H. Jucha, is an inventive, fast-paced, character driven space adventure that was a delight to read. A fun read like that of Nathan Lowell or Robert Heinlein.
Defenders by Will McIntosh
The Left-Hand Way by Tom Doyle, a stand alone sequel to American Craftsman (which you should also read). Tom’s take on nature-related magicians coupled with his knowledge of history makes for fascinating reading.
Going Through the Change by Samantha Bryant was a fun read with several females that unintentionally become superheroes and/or villains. The plot was unpredictiable and well played.
Little Failure, by Gary Shteyngart (published January 7, 2014). Very sad, very funny. He’s such a wiseass that my wife finally abandoned reading it, but I loved it.
Augie and the Green Knight
by Zach Weinersmith (Author), Boulet (Artist)
The Amazon pub date is listed as August 2015, but the kickstarter backers already got their copies. I finished mine last night and it is amazing!
It’s about 20,000 words long, and is a retelling of when King Arthur’s court encounters a strange giant Green Knight. In this book, we get to hear the Green Knight’s side of the story through the lens of a young nerdy girl named Augie.
Definitely a children’s book that can be enjoyed by all ages!
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. Lots of fun.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. Such a sweet book.
“A Slip of the Keyboard”, nonfiction by Terry Pratchett. I’ve been hoarding this. Alas, there will be only one or two more chances to read a new Pratchett for the first time.
And Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Of Noble Family”, the latest of the Glamourist Histories – Regency Romance AND Magic, this time in the West Indies. Things aren’t quite what they expected but Jane and Vicent manage to cope.
I will go ahead and plug Linesman, by SK Dunstall (who did a Big Idea piece here on it, which is why I picked it up). Really entertaining space opera. I’d say that if you enjoy the Expanse series and are looking for similar, give it a try. Although no noir. But lots of space, and cool alien tech.
Skin Game by Jim Butcher. I’m a sucker for Harry Dresden.
The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi. The world-building in the series is fascinating and different from any other that comes to mind. Highly recommended.
The Cartel by Don Winslow was very enjoyable–I loved the battle of Keller trying to not become the very thing he was trying to capture. I also really liked that while the book is fiction, the crimes and how the narco lords behave are based on actual events. I usually stick to sci-fi and fantasy but was recommended this one by my local bookstore, The Poisoned Pen, and I tore through it in a few days.
I’ll join the list for Andy Weir’s The Martian. The ultimate MacGyver homage and science all over the place.
Working Stiff, by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell, published August 12, 2014.
Actually, the full title is “Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner” and it’s the memoir of one rookie forensic pathologist’s two years’ rotation in New York City, which happened to coincide with 9/11. It’s geeky, warm-hearted, and reads like a nerd nerding out about things she loves, which in this case is autopsies. Her husband and co-writer is an actual writer, too, which means that the language flows beautifully. It’s full of adorable phrases such as “the spleen is a weird organ” and fiddly details you wouldn’t have known about, like how testicles are biopsied inside-out and then righted, so that the family of the deceased won’t see any damage done to the genitals afterward. Fabulous stuff. I loved this book and everyone should read it (as long as you’re not too squeamish).
I enjoyed “The President’s Shadow” by Brad Meltzer. It is part of his ‘culper ring’ series.
Mirror Sight by Kristen Brittain – it’s the fifth book in her Green Rider series and while it’s totally different to the rest of the series but I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next book.
The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor. Great blend of sci-fi and fantasy and wonderful!
I’m delighted to see all the love for THE LIBRARY AT MOUNT CHAR by Scott Hawkins. I loved it, too, but since others have recommended it, I’m freed up to suggest THE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND by Dan Wells. It’s the beginning of a new trilogy about John Wayne Cleaver, a wanna-be serial killer who is fighting hard not to become one, and in the meantime is killing demons. It’s a very dark novel. I don’t know why it’s considered YA except that Cleaver is only 17 years old. I interviewed Wells about the book, and asked about the YA thing, and he said he just writes and lets the categorization in the hands of others — he’s not specifically writing to the YA market. You don’t really need to have read the first trilogy (I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER, MR. MONSTER and I DON’T WANT TO KILL YOU), nor the novella issued with this novel (NEXT OF KIN), but they’re all great so you might want to. But my official recommendation is THE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND.
Thanks, all, for the great suggestions. My wish list has expanded, my library has increased, and my public library has received several new requests for holds. This thread is a fine way to spend an hour or more.
It took me a while to find a book recent enough to recommend but I found one: Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman. It was full of absorbing historical detail and engaging characters.
uh, well, self-published in 2011. I heard about in 2014: The Martian, by Andy Weir.
hmm, seems that book is lousy in this comment thread. How about another cheaty recommendation?
The Valerian and Laureline series is being translated into English at the moment. Why not try out Chatelet Station, Destination Cassiopeia, which came out this year?
Thanks for the contest, John. I just posted a review for a collection I found really good: Wrestling With Gods: Tesseract Eighteen. It came out in April.
“Annihilation,” by Jeff VanderMeer. I read it months ago and it is STILL creeping me out.
I very like “Off to Be the Wizard (Magic 2.0) MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged
by Scott Meyer “
I’d recommend Clariel, as well as the rest of the series of the Old Kingdom books, written by Garth Nix. His stories have a deep well of backstory and history that come out in drips and drabs in the books, so there’s always something new to piece the puzzle together with. It was published last year October 2014, and most of the rest of the series is easily findable at your local library!
“Toad Words and Other Stories” by T. Kingfisher.
I love the title story so so much.
It turns out that what was supposed to be a punishment was actually a blessing and what was supposed to be a reward, wasn’t all that much. Also a radical new method for amphibia conservancy.
Academic Exercises by K.J. Parker. I got this as part of a Humble Bundle (along with your The Mallet of Loving Correction which I also enjoyed) and figured I’d try it out as it looked interesting. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it (especially since I usually am not hugely into short stories) and I’ll definitely be trying out more books by the author.
I see someone else recommended it too!
Forgotten Mage D.W. Jackson
So, just to be clear, this is only one entry (so don’t disqualify me . . . please) but two books:
Fiction: Skin Game, by Jim Butcher. One of the things I like about this series, and this latest book, is that while it is essentially “the same” as other books in general plot, the continual evolution of the relationship between the characters, the twists in what we thought we knew versus what is divulged in the progression of each book, and the growth and change of each character keeps the reader interested. Of course, one has to like this kind of urban fantasy (I presume that’s that’s it is).
Non-fiction: Future Crimes: Everything is Connected, Everyone is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It, by Marc Goodman. So, Skin Game has terrifying monsters . . . which are nowhere as scary as what’s in this book. People who embrace everything about the Internet should read this book. People who don’t use the Internet should read this book. Politicians should first learn how to read, and then read this book. I will guarantee you will soil your pants (or should give serious consideration to doing so). Basically, the book covers all the “holes” we left open in our rush to “innovate and bring out the next BIG thing”. Holes that a whole lot of players, from criminals to authorities (arguably also criminal) can and do exploit to their monetary or political advantage. The victims; us.
I am a little torn as I have read several really good books that are worthy of mention. My first choice is “Traitor’s Blade” (Greatcoats #1) by Sebastien de Castell.
This book got to me in a way that books very rarely do.** The protagonist’s devotion to the idea of the rule of law and that no person should be above the law is quite profound.
This is a fun read if all you want is a fun read. It also has some pretty deep messages if you like messages in your fiction.
If this book isn’t on all the award lists for the coming year, then there is something broken with the awards. It is that good.
As a bonus, reading book 1 will lead to book 2 which was just as good.
A close second is The Skull Throne (Demon Cycle, #4) by Peter V. Brett.
Again, fun if you want fun. Messages if you want messages. Should be up for award consideration.
**The death of Kathy Perry in OMW would be an example of another passage that got to me in a way that books rarely do these days.
Seveneves by Neil Stephenson…because….well…because Neil Stephenson
Half a King by Joe Ambercrombie. I’ve always liked his work, and was interested to see how he would handle bringing his grit (and, in his other novels, adult themes) into a YA work. He pulled it off brilliantly, maintaining great storytelling and grit with the non-YA appropriate things gone without any loss. Very highly recommended.
God…I am like the 400th person to say Seveneves by Neal Stephenson, but there it is. I inhaled it over a 3 day vacation to Key West (which is beautiful by the way, no wonder so many writers relocate there). Although bits of it made me mad (how could they not know about the others !? I mean the president was there with them… did she just not share out of pure spite?), the world building and the sheer imaginative power as well as the strong female characters (Dinah FTW.. or Ivy? which one would you pick?) made it a favorite.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford on the 2014 National Book Award Longlist, Young People’s Literature
John Golden: Freelance Debugger by Django Wexler.
Fun take on IT in a magical world.
Shoot This One by Javier Grillo-Marxuach. Some of the best writing on being a working (and non-working) screenwriter since William Goldman.
It looks like I may get to be the first to rave about Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds. The pre-release description intrigued me– It’s actually two novels in one (the chapters of each alternate throughout): A YA Fantasy that follows Lizzie’s sudden induction into becoming a psychopomp AND a YA Contemporary Fiction novel about the first novel’s in-world author Darcy as she moves to NYC to work on revisions and the sequel, and live the “glamorous” (*snerk*) life of a writer (and completely blow up her Pollyanna budget!).
This is one of the very few books that have ever made me want to nominate it for ALL THE AWARDS it’s eligible for (The other would have been Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, incidentally). Unfortunately, I did not get a Worldcon membership of any kind in time to nominate it this year (not that it would have done any good!). This was not just one wonderful tale but a pair of them!
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne was quite excellent.
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. Hands down one of the most refreshing, boundary pushing, lots of killing. Best thing I’ve read in ages.
Skin Deep Vol 3: Greetings from Dogpatch. I love Kory Bing’s work, and this one really explores Native American mythology (specifically those tribes native to the Missouri area) while furthering Michelle’s quest to figure out what is going on with her heritage. I liked it a lot!
Also, “How Lovely Are Thy Branches” by Diane Duane – a novella set in the revised Young Wizards universe and excellent. Especially the scene where they decorated Filif (an alien whose species look rather like ambulatory conifers). Makes me even more excited for Games Wizards Play next year!
I enjoyed Necessity’s Child by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller published last year. I am ashamed to admit that I am not current on the series, (latest book, Dragon in Exile got some love above) but I truly enjoy the characters and world building in the Liaden Universe and highly recommend it to anyone looking for space opera with lots of other genres added to the mix.
M.R. Carey’s The Girl with All the Gifts.
Great take on zombies, and a compelling tale with some interesting twists.
A bit fluffy fluffy, but I rather enjoyed “To Honor You Call Us (Man of War Book 1)” by Paul Honsiger. Think British navy brought forward into space opera, with generally silly rat faced bad guys, a breezy plot, and generally not completely cheesed up dialog. Recommended for (very) quick light summer read.
Wow! So many great books listed above that my To Read list seems never-ending. Which, I guess, is a great problem to have.
I’ll add Jacaranda, a novella by Cherie Priest, to the mix. Published by Subterranean Press (2015). Could not get enough of her steampunk Clockwork Century series, so was delighted when she revisited that world with this story. She never disappoints!
Dragon’s Danger by Edward Bradley (YA) Great “young teens” adventure.
James S.A. Corey – Nemesis Game
Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr, published February, 2015. I really like Tarr’s writing and have been a fan of her fantasy work for years. This book has more of a science fiction flavor and is a really fun read.
I loved The Martian.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik. Loved it!
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, by Judy Melinek, M.D., and T.J. Mitchell
This work of nonfiction is a fascinating and very personal look at what goes on in the morgue. As Melinek tackles natural deaths, suicides, homicides, and even the victims of the September 11 attacks on New York City, she shares both her professional and her very human thoughts and feelings about the nature of life and death.
I was especially drawn to the care and compassion Melinek is able to show the families and loved ones who are left behind, and not just because her own father committed suicide when she was an adolescent. Parts of this book are necessarily gruesome—which will appeal to some and be off-putting to others—but the real meat of this book is found in the humanizing of the too often nameless and faceless medical examiner.
The Shadow Throne, by Django Wexler – second in a series, so it’s worth reading The Thousand Names first, but this is excellent flintlock fantasy with French Revolution setting and awesome characters.
“The Three-Body Problem.” Fantastic SF story with a lot of scope, and the fact that it is translated from the Chinese provides great parallax on our own Earth cultures.
I second the recommendation for Uprooted.
City of Angles Book 3 Lucidity by Stefan Gagne all three can be found at http://stefangagne.com/cityofangles/
Its really good, the series was described to me as Matrix, meets Inception, meets Homestuck. That’s an okay description but this is so much more. So good so freaking good.
Ah… sometimes picking just one title can be beyond difficult! :)
“The Detainee” by Peter Liney: powerful, lyrical writing in a dystopian story that – for once – does not focus on teenagers but rather on older people. The kind of book that makes you *think* – in other words, the very best kind…
One, just one? OK, trying for one that wasn’t already mentioned (there are some FANTASTIC reads already mentioned).
We Are All Completely Fine / Daryl Gregory
A story about survivors of supernatural and eldritch horror, brought together into group therapy. Good level of creepiness and subversion of normal life. Novella rather than full-length novel, so good for a quick read. I liked the creativity of the concept/setting.
I’d recommend Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch the latest in his Rivers of London series… Wonderful book
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link.
(published Feb 3. 2015) It’s a weird/slipstream-y short story collection. It’s atmospheric without getting bogged down in its details. It’s funny without losing its punch. It’s serious without being ponderous. I really, really enjoyed it.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the World? Published 2December 2014 according to Amazon, author Andrew Lawler.
Your life will be much better after you read the natural history of the chicken!
The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith (aka J. K. Rowling :-))
It’s definitely one of the better crime fictions I’ve read recently. The reviews were often a bit snooty, of the “Not bad for somebody who wrote silly magical boarding school books for kids” variety, but the storytelling is unsurprisingly solid; most characters are three-dimensional, grey, and interesting; and the story is nicely balanced with trademarked flashes of humour.
It was also hugely popular so you may have already read it.
Let me recommend “The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage” by Sydney Padua.
A graphic novel set in an alternate Victorian England, but based on historical characters. Charles Babbage and Ada, Countess of Lovelace, build a mechanical computer and use it to have thrilling adventures and fight crime. Many foot- and endnotes connect the (mostly) fictional storyline to historical facts.
I really enjoyed finding out how much I didn’t know about the Lusitania… Dead Wake by Erik Larson was enthralling.
Ciry of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.
What If? by Randall Munroe. I got the audiobook so I could listen in the van, and my then 8 year old was so fascinated by it that we kept it on repeat for over a month. (More than three full times through the book before his younger brother finally rebelled.)
I’ll have to add my voice to those singing the praises of Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs. It’s intriguing and innovative, and I’m hoping for a sequel.
“Seveneves”. Because it s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d my mind in so many ways.
I would recommend, “The Invention of Wings,” by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s a masterful blend of fiction and non-fiction, telling the story of the relationship between historical figure Sarah Grime and her fictional slave.
“Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll. This grahic novel has not only beautifully drawn illustrations, although all of them are very eerie, but also five ghost stories that make you wish xou had read in broad daylight. A perfect Halloween read.
I have to echo Felicia and marybeth from above and recommend Clariel by Garth Nix, particularly for those who have read the other Old Kingdom books. The world-building is spectacular and the handling of the main character’s journey is very deft.
Kitten Clone, by Douglas Coupland. The story of Alcatel-Lucent, a not-so-boring company (at least, not the way Coupland tells it).
I’m going to go with Of Noble Family by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’ve really been enjoying the series and was happy to see a new one come out this spring. Admittedly, after watching the boom-chick-a-wow-wow video she made reading your tweets a while back, it took a moment to get into the world she wrote, but it was worth the minor effort.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. The founder of the Equal Justice Initiative tells the story of his work with special focus on the effort to free one particular wrongly convicted death-row prisoner, with chapters interspersed exploring other sorts of injustice the attorneys at the EJI fight. It’s engaging, enraging, inspiring, compelling, poignant, and as a good read as it is meaningful.
Atomic Robo Volume 8: The Savage Sword of Dr. Dinosaur.
The continuing adventures of an atomic robot built by Nikola Tesla, featuring everyone’s favorite time-travelling genius raptor/crazy genetic experiment.
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition might sound like a boring, technical read. But in fact, the textbook is an engaging encounter with psychology, philosophy, and many other disciplines. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in designing any type of game.
My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart
Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge is fantastically creepy. She manages to make conventions feel fresh and her writing takes turns I never see coming.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Leigh Statham’s The Perilous Journey of the Not-So-Innocuous Girl. Steampunk historical fiction.
Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I bought this book by mistake, thinking it was the latest by Sara Gruen of Water For Elephants fame. While it isn’t the best book I’ve read since January 2015, it’s the best I’ve read that has been published since January 2014.
Dead Wake by Erik Larsson was really, really good. His best book, in my opinion, though I admittedly haven’t read all of them.
A great book that I just finished is Servants of the Storm by Delilah Dawson. It’s a great story set in South Georgia.
My recommend has to be ‘Being Mortal’ by Atul Gawande.
It’s a non-fiction book. It is beautiful and it is important. It’s insightful and eye opening, and since reading it I have recommended it to so many people (I’m a bookseller) who have read it and loved it.
This is my choice. No doubt.
Would go with The Martian as my favorite of the year but I think it was self published before 1/1/14 How about Veil of the Deserters by Jeff Salyards? Sequel to Scourge of the Betrayer it’s a military fantasy reminiscent of Jerry Pournelle’s best (without the spaceships, of course.) And most recent would be Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory. Sorry, I could never name just one!
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson. Left me with a reeling mind and wanting more.
Unbound (Magic Ex Libris, book 3) by Jim C. Hines – What I love about this book is that it shows the effects and consequences of what happens when magic has been hidden from the majority of the population, but the secret starts to get out (not surprising in the day and age of social media, youtube, etc.). I think it works well as a stand-alone novel; although obviously there is added depth and background if you read the previous books in the series, especially in terms of character development for the main characters; Jim writes convincing characters who grow, change, suffer set-backs, etc., and I was moved to both tears and laughter throughout the course of the book.
Grounded, by Megan Morrison – an interesting junior fiction mash-up of several fairy tales
The Flight of the Silvers by Daniel Price! It was published last February and I don’t think I have ever had so much fun reading a science fiction, time travel-y, adventure book. Price’s world building is air tight and his characters are awesomely flawed, but not flawed in a bad writing kind of way. He writes realistic women and men and there are several scenes that are like, whoa. Seriously though, it’s been a long time since I’ve read anything so refreshing both in terms of fun and getting your brain gears turning.
The Outsourcerer’s Apprentice by Tom Holt
How exactly would a fairy-tale kingdom actually function? What are the economics of dragon slaying? If all you have in your area are kindly woodcutters, who’s buying all the wood and why are they doing so when they could just walk out of their house and pick it up for free? Buttercup is this land’s version of Little Red Riding Hood, except she asks the hard economic questions and she’s getting tired of slaughtering wolves every day. Sir Turquine sells dragon carcasses to the king for bulk meat. And as for Prince Florizel, well, he’s kind of a lost cause. In this sharp satire Holt explores the idea of what would happen if we could outsource our jobs to alternate realities and the results – while occasionally laugh-out-loud funny – are all too sobering.
So you’ve been publicly shamed by Jon ronson. His audio narration was fantastic.
Dead Wake by Eric Larson
“Extinction Point: Revelations” by Paul Anthony Jones. Part 3 of the Extinction Point series. Terrific “end of the world” scenario. Very likeable heroine, amazing description of an earth terraformed by an alien intelligence. Many reviewers on Amazon didn’t like the ending, though I liked it just fine. Best of all: the story continues with Book 4 (and hopefully more) Nov. this year.
Eureka! by Chad Orzel.
I loved The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison, so will add my voice to the others who have recommended it.
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It’s a thoughtful, joyous, character driven space opera and an amazing first novel.
“The Fold” by Peter Clines. Ray Porter, who narrated the audiobook, is a phenom.
The Martian, by Andy Weir.
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear is an entertaining steampunk Western thriller with a diverse set of characters and surprises around every corner. Bear is a fearless, genre-stomping storyteller and this book has been the highlight if my summer!
Forgotten Suns, by Judith Tarr. I accidentally stayed up until dawn to finish it two weeks in a row. (I reread books a lot, but not usually that soon!) I’m recommending it to everyone I know.
Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security by Laurence J. Kotlikoff , Philip Moeller and Paul Solman. Readable and will save you tons of money when the time comes.
“Slow Bullets” by Alastair Reynolds! Short but sweet space opera.
There’re a few up there that I’d second, but my nomination is ‘The Last Roundhead’ by Jemahl Evans, it’s a Flashman-esque piece set at the beginning of the English Civil War in 1642 and was incredibly well researched as well as being a damn good story. The kindle version came out in January 2015, and the paperback comes out in August (I got an ARC to review on my blog).
The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
It’s book #2 in the Paper Magician Trilogy
“How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America” by Kiese Laymon. It’s a book of essays, which is not the most appealing format for me, but they are autobiographical and completely gripping. The writing is amazing.
The Grace of Kings by Ken Liu was a great start to a new fantasy epic – I reviewed it on my site in more detail here: https://lanternhues.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/the-grace-of-kings-by-ken-liu/
The Autumn Republic
Fantastic conclusion to the brilliant powdermage trilogy.
Looking at the world from a very different view point: “The slow regard of silent things” by Patrick Rothfuss.
I just finished The Hanged Man by P. N. Elrod and loved it. A nice mixture of fantasy and mystery in an alternate Victorian Age. Alex Pendlebury is a Reader in Her Majesty’s Psychic Service. Life is complicated enough when your godmother is the Queen, your father has been missing for ten years, and your relatives don’t quite know what to make of you. When Alex is called in to investigate what seems to be a suicide by hanging, life gets just a little more complicated.
It’s almost a straight mystery—that is, a mystery where psychic readers aid the police; and where the fastest way for Alex and her father to travel across the western part of the North American continent was to take an airship. A world where Queen Victoria married someone else and got women the vote. I’d looking forward to reading more about Alex and her world.
Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves
Reamde was a disappointment, but I am happy to say it looks like it was also an aberration.
I know it i has already been recommended a lot but it is the only NEW book I read in the last 18 months. I got caught up in a new topic (philosophy) and have been reading old stuff.
I loved Max Gladstone’s Full Fathom Five. His Craft sequence novels just keep getting better.
Fluency (Confluence Book 1) by Jennifer Foehner Wells. Great book. Also can’t wait for sequel.
Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance
I know I’m not going to be the first to recommend this, “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” but definitely a favorite of mine. I absolutely love the writing style, and there was a moment with Brazen that brought tears to my eyes. I’ve had a small obsession with it since, and have bought a couple of items in relation to it.
If Scalzi’s books are not eligible…
Brandon Sanderson – Words Of Radiance… Though it’s a little insane to invest in a 10 book story… But I am sure it’s likely that it ends before A Song Of Ice And Fire…
Probably redundant if you’re on this comment thread, but Lock In by the above Mr. Scalzi. Seriously how did this go unmentioned?
Pretty kitteh! :)
Foxglove Summer by Ben Aaronovitch. Book 5 in the PC Peter Grant series. Every time I finish a Peter Grant book I want to go back to page 1 and start all over again.
“Elements of Mind” by Walter H. Hunt was a very cool read. A neat use of mesmerism.
The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson. He does a stunning job of exploring the long term implications of social networks. Absolutely brilliant from a writer whose body of work was already extraordinary.
I really liked Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest.
I would recommend The Life in Papers of Sophie K., by Octavia Cade. It’s a novella and a fictionalized biography of the 19th century mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya. It does not have much of a plot, but was more a rumination on the choices a 19th century female mathematician in Russia had to make in order to be a mathematician. The language is beautiful, and though it is not fantasy, gives a feeling of magical realism because of the extended use of the metaphor of her unconventionality and mathematical ability as a monster.
Another favorite is What Makes This Book so Great, by Jo Walton.
Please do not include me in the drawing since I already own the book.
Most interesting thing I’ve read recently is Jonathan Rauch’s Political Realism: How Hacks, Machines, Big Money, and Back-Room Deals Can Strengthen American Democracy. (Short summary: the typical American view that more democracy and more public participation may be doing more harm than good; in order to have the space to make the compromises that good governance demands, leaders need both space to make such deals and means to enforce them; the political machines of the early 20th Century, though flawed, were much better at this than the parties of today.)
i liked two current (i’m catching up on my backlist, so most are older then 2014)–liaden universe constellation 2, pub jan 2014. it’s a collection of short stories in the liaden universe. the other is obsession in death by jd robb–easy read for my lunch break at work.
Naomi Novik – Uprooted. Fun spin on the classic fairy tale motif
I loved Robert Jackson Bennett’s City of Stairs. I bought it out of curiosity, as I’d followed him on Twitter; and his posts are often quite different. The book, on the other hand, is brilliant and thoughtful, with wonderful characters.
Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll. I first came across his work about 15 years ago. He has an incredible ability to create normal people and put them into fantastic situations. Not quite fantasy not quite scifi – his works don’t fit into any genre I could name.
Check it out!
James S.A. Corey’s Cibola Burn in the Expanse Series
Red Rising by Pierce Brown was recommended to me by my brother – so I enjoyed not only reading it, but also talking about the book with him. :)
“Off To Be The Wizard” by Scott Meyer was published in 2014 and is book one in the Magic 2.0 series. The audible is read by Luke Daniels who does a great job. The book extends Clarke’s observation t