20 Sep 2019

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: THE HARP OF KINGS by Juliet Marillier

20 September 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

THE HARP OF KINGS

Author: Juliet Marillier
Series: Warrior Bards #1
Source: Finished Copy via Publisher
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: September 3, 2019


Summary:
A young woman is both a bard--and a warrior--in this thrilling historical fantasy from the author of the Sevenwaters novels.

Eighteen-year-old Liobhan is a powerful singer and an expert whistle player. Her brother has a voice to melt the hardest heart, and a rare talent on the harp. But Liobhan's burning ambition is to join the elite warrior band on Swan Island. She and her brother train there to compete for places, and find themselves joining a mission while still candidates. Their unusual blend of skills makes them ideal for this particular job, which requires going undercover as traveling minstrels. For Swan Island trains both warriors and spies.

Their mission: to find and retrieve a precious harp, an ancient symbol of kingship, which has gone mysteriously missing. If the instrument is not played at the upcoming coronation, the candidate will not be accepted and the people could revolt. Faced with plotting courtiers and tight-lipped druids, an insightful storyteller, and a boorish Crown Prince, Liobhan soon realizes an Otherworld power may be meddling in the affairs of the kingdom. When ambition clashes with conscience, Liobhan must make a bold decision and is faced with a heartbreaking choice. . 
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD

Describe THE HARP OF KINGS in 10 words or less.

Juliet Marillier: Secret agents in medieval Ireland: adventure, intrigue, music and magic.

What is the best part of incorporating your Celtic-Gaelic roots into your writing?


Juliet Marillier: I was born and raised in a very Scottish part of New Zealand and both my parents were musicians, so it’s not surprising that I love the traditional stories and music of Celtic-Gaelic countries. It was an absolute joy to write a book with bards as the central characters. I’m hoping readers will enjoy the way I’ve woven the songs and dances that Brocc and Liobhan perform into the fabric of this book. Music also plays a key part in interactions with the Otherworld! More generally, I love the way everything in those cultures is touched by magic, whether it’s the landscape or the people or the stories. Delve deep enough and you find it everywhere. 

What was your soundtrack while writing THE HARP OF KINGS?


Juliet Marillier: Celtic folk/rock band Runrig. The Irish-American Celtic group Cherish the Ladies, featuring virtuoso whistle player Joanie Madden (I’d love to see Joanie and Liobhan playing together.) Also Solas, Capercaillie, Clannad. Sometimes classical music – my tastes there are fairly broad.

What is your favourite part of this world and how does it affect our main characters?


Juliet Marillier: This world is the same one I used in the Sevenwaters and Blackthorn & Grim series, and my favourite part is different for each. Swan Island features strongly in the Warrior Bards series. The island houses the headquarters of a secretive band of elite fighters/spies/mercenaries that can be hired to perform special missions. The Swan Island community is made up of very tough individuals who match the rugged landscape of the island, but they have good hearts and an honorable code for living, though they operate outside the law when required! When they’re off duty they enjoy music, storytelling, and a nice jug of ale. The Swan Island culture affects all three of our main characters, who are competing for a place in the permanent warrior band. Liobhan and Dau are fiercely competitive and determined to succeed. Liobhan’s brother Brocc has different motivation for being there. The training they receive shapes the way they perform and how they grow as they are thrown into the mission that takes them off the island.

What can we expect from you next?


Juliet Marillier: The second book in the Warrior Bards series, provisional title A DANCE WITH FATE, will be published in September 2020. It’s in the editorial stage at present. When the revisions are complete I will be starting on Book 3, and also working on a c0llection of fairy tale-based short stories for Serenity Press, to be illustrated by the wonderful Kathleen Jennings. The title is MOTHER THORN.

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

18 Sep 2019

#BlogTour: SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID by Candace Ganger

18 September 0 Comments
Hello and welcome to my blog tour post for

SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID by Candace Ganger!

I have an excerpt of the book for you today! Be sure to check that out below. But first, let's learn more about the book...

SIX GOODBYES WE NEVER SAID

Author: Candace Ganger
Series: N/A
Source: eARC via Publisher
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: September 24, 2019

Summary:

Two teens meet after tragedy and learn about love, loss, and letting go.

Naima Rodriguez doesn’t want your patronizing sympathy as she grieves her father, her hero—a fallen Marine. She’ll hate you forever if you ask her to open up and remember him “as he was,” though that’s all her loving family wants her to do in order to manage her complex OCD and GAD. She’d rather everyone back the-eff off while she separates her Lucky Charms marshmallows into six, always six, Ziploc bags, while she avoids friends and people and living the life her father so desperately wanted for her. 

Dew respectfully requests a little more time to process the sudden loss of his parents. It's causing an avalanche of secret anxieties, so he counts on his trusty voice recorder to convey the things he can’t otherwise say aloud. He could really use a friend to navigate a life swimming with pain and loss and all the lovely moments in between. And then he meets Naima and everything’s changed—just not in the way he, or she, expects. 

Candace Ganger's Six Goodbyes We Never Said is no love story. If you ask Naima, it’s not even a like story. But it is a story about love and fear and how sometimes you need a little help to be brave enough to say goodbye.
Purchase:

AUTHOR’S NOTE

Hello, dear reader.

I think it should be known that, while Six Goodbyes is a work of fiction, I share the many characteristics, fears, and pains, in both the delicacy of Dew, and the confused ferocity in Naima. Please let this brief note serve as a trigger warning in regards to mental illness; self-care is of the utmost importance. And while I hope Six Goodbyes provides insight for those who don’t empathize, or comfort for those that do, I also understand everyone reacts differently.

Dew’s social anxiety is something I, and many others, struggle with. We carry on with our days and pretend it’s not as hard as it feels inside. Others can’t quite see how much it hurts but we so wish they could. Naima is the most visceral interpretation of all of my diagnosed disorders combined. Her obsessive-compulsive dis- order (OCD) and related tics, her intrusive thoughts, her utterly devastating and isolating depression, her generalized anxiety dis- order (GAD), which makes her so closed off from the world, and her post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from losing the biggest portion of her identity—those are all pieces of me. Very big pieces. They don’t define me, but it would be misleading if I didn’t admit they sometimes, mostly do. I’m imperfectly complicated like Naima. And though I’ve written extensively on both my mental illnesses and living biracial, between two worlds—never enough of one or the other; always only half of something and never whole or satiated—I often still feel misunderstood. Hopefully Dew and Naima’s stories will provide a little insight as to what it’s like inside their heads, and inside mine.

Both Dew and Naima want to hold on to the roots that have grounded them in their familiar, safe spaces. But once their meta- phorical trees are cut, and all the leaves shielding them from their pains have fallen and faded away, not even photosynthesis could bring them back to life. Those roots, Naima and Dew feel, will die off, and everything they had in their lives before will, too. There are many of you out there who feel the exact same way, but I assure you, Dew and Naima will find their way— they will grow new roots that flourish—and you, my darlings, will, too.

Thank you for reading, and may Six Goodbyes serve as per- mission to speak your truths—the good and the painful.

Here’s to another six airplanes for you to wish upon.
Candace Ganger is the author of Six Goodbyes We Never Said and The Inevitable Collision of Birdie & Bash as well as a contributing writer for HelloGiggles and obsessive marathoner. Aside from having past lives as a singer, nanotechnology website editor, and world’s worst vacuum sales rep, she’s also ghostwritten hundreds of projects for companies, best-selling fiction and award-winning nonfiction authors alike. She lives in Ohio with her family.

Connect with the Author:

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Are you excited for this one? Is it on your TBR?

14 Sep 2019

Stacking the Shelves (27): September 14, 2019

14 September 2 Comments
Stacking The Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews and is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts, and of course ebooks!
I am spending the weekend with the boyf in Toronto this weekend for my birthday! It's also Indigo YA Fall Preview time tomorrow so we thought we'd make a weekend of it, but I also am just excited for books! Catch some of what we're doing on Instagram, although I do like to keep the relationship private.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway on my review of I EAT MEN LIKE AIR by Alice Berman, which is a sweet Glossier prize pack! I absolutely adored this one - and it is a podcast theme a la Sadie - so pre-order the audiobook!

Next weekend I'm off to my parent's house to celebrate turning 27 so I am looking forward to that. But that means two weekends of barely any reading!!! My TBR and Goodreads challenge will hate me later.

How has everyone's 2019 been going so far?

  • BOOK
  • Review: SCREEN QUEENS by Lori Goldstein
  • Discussion: The 10 Best YA Speculative Fiction Reads of 2019 (So Far)
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: WILD CARDS, Volume 1 edited by George R.R. Martin
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13 Sep 2019

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays: WILD CARDS, Volume 1 edited by George R.R. Martin

13 September 0 Comments

Science Fiction and Fantasy Fridays

introduces readers who are unfamiliar with the Adult SF/F genre to books, authors, and discussions all about the vast expanse of the world of Adult SF/F!

WILD CARDS

Author: Anthology edited by George R.R. Martin
Series: Wild Cards #1
Source: Audible
Publisher: Tom Doherty
Publication Date: November 23, 2010 (originally published in 1986)


Summary:
Just after World War 2 over New York City, an alien virus transforms human genetics and goes recessive to create super heroes and villains. Most victims die, others experience physical or psychic changes: aces have useful powers, deuces minor maybe entertaining abilities, jokers uglified, disabled, relegated to ghettos.
Purchase:
Amazon | Chapters | TBD

"Prologue" by George R.R. Martin: 4*

I liked the introduction to the world and seeing what was coming from the rest of the compilation of stories. I thought it was an interesting mix of history and fiction so I can't wait to see where it goes from here!

"Thirty Minutes Over Broadway!" by Howard Waldrop - 3.5*

I really liked the characters and the idea of how soldiers come back from war and things can be different for them. I also really liked Jet Boy and his arc. I thought he was an interesting character to start with for this anthology. I would have liked a bit less of the politics in this one (who am I???) but overall I enjoyed listening.

"The Sleeper" by Roger Zelazny - 4*

I like that this introduced the idea of "Jokers" and "Aces" into the world building. I also liked how there was a switch and seeing that there are doctors working towards assisting the people who have been affected by the virus. However, I thought the character was kinda boring and would have liked more action rather than family drama.

"Witness" by Walter Jon Williams - 3*

It's not that I didn't like this, I just don't feel comfortable reading about civil rights movements through the eyes of someone who isn't really impacted by them. I would have liked to have the story from the perspective of someone else. And I realize this story was nominated for a Nebula but that doesn't change my feelings.

"Degradation Rites" by Melinda M. Snodgrass - 4*

I like this the most so far. I like that this is starting to all tie together and feel fairly cohesive. I am glad this is an anthology that is following a series of events and characters that all come together. I think this is such an interesting and fantastic way of writing this and Blythe is my new fave. I really would like more from this story, these characters, and this specific time. I have found that a lot of the stories thus far try to tie up some loose ends so that their stories and arcs are always "complete" but I don't really like that because it feels like we are "jumping" ahead in time rather than having it play out the way it should.

"Interlude One" by George R.R. Martin - 4*

I like getting the alternative history from this that ties together the politics and the way that it interacts with the characters in the novellas.

"Captain Cathrode and the Secret Ace" by Michael Cassutt - 2.5*

I liked the noir aspects to this but that was about it. I'm over women being treated terribly in this and having Jokers be metaphors for a life that these authors will never truly understand.

"Powers" by David D. Levin - 4*

I really like Frank and his story. I thought this was the most interesting of the stories so far and maybe that's because it didn't try to tie the others together or try to sound too similar to the others. Or maybe I just really liked Frank.

I liked that this tied in the bureaucratic part of this and how the people with powers would actually be viewed and used in the United States should this ever happen. I think people forget sometimes that the US wants to protect itself AND use its assets. If you don't think they would 100% use and abuse the people that had special powers to do things for them, you are highly mistaken. And once they weren't useful anymore? Get rid of them.

I liked that this really showcased that and made it very clear how the US isn't perfect when it comes to that while also demonstrating that the Wild Card virus spread around the world and wasn't contained just in North America.

"Shell Games" by George R.R. Martin - 4.5*

From the bit of research I did to find all the stories in this, I know that the main reason this was written was to showcase Turtle and his powers. Martin wanted to basically write just a story about Turtle but thought it couldn't be done without the rest. Honestly, I think it probably could have or that he could have taken up the mantle because this is the best story so far.

You can really tell in this one that Martin cares about the character, the plot, and the setting. He honestly is a fantastic writer and storyteller which definitely comes through in this short piece of fiction. I almost wish this had been earlier in the anthology because it made me really want to listen to the rest of it. There are still a lot of stories left in this but this is by far my favourite so far.

"Interlude Two" by George R.R. Martin - 3*

I like how this, and the other Interludes so far, brings us up to speed on the history and ties in the time periods so we can understand where the stories will be going. I would like them to be a little longer though because it never feels like enough for me.

"The Long, Dark Night of Fortunato" by Lewis Shiner - 1*

Why is the only black character turned into a literal monster? Plus literal hookers and sex being a power source. I am over the treatment of anyone other than white males in this book. I have a lot of hesitations with this one, especially because it is written by a white man. I hope that some of the other volumes and anthologies have more marginalized persons writing stories about marginalized people. Because you can tell that this is written by someone who doesn't have lived experience.

"Transfigurations" by Victor Milan - 2.5*

I don't know how I feel about the continual use of other things/substances used to kick start the powers. I feel like it is too cliche and the types of substances that are being used to do this are making me feel weird about the entire situation. However, I was pretty meh about this story in general and think that the book is on a bit of a downward trend now.

"Interlude Three" by George R.R. Martin - 2*

Again, the black people in this are made out to be stereotypes and racist caricatures of what they are. The only time women are discussed is to make them overly sexual. I can't handle the depictions and it definitely takes away from how cool the powers are, the setting, and the alternative history that is taking place. I seriously hope the future volumes are better.

"Down Deep" by Edward Bryant and Leanne C. Harper - 3.5*

I feel like this is one of those novellas that should have been a full novel because there was actually a lot of good things in this one but I think it felt too ambitious because of how short it was. I would have liked so much more of this if it had felt like a complete story that also meshed with the others instead of 3/4 of a story that sorta fit into the rest of the anthology.

"Interlude Four" by George R.R. Martin - 3*

I think these interludes do a good job of tying all the stories that have just been told into the overarching world. I like how they are more of the alternative history than the rest of the stories. I also think it makes the anthology a little more cohesive to have these thrown in every so often. But they are feeling a little redundant too.

"Strings" by Stephen Leigh - 2.5*

Again, I am not comfortable with white men writing about things they do not understand or have experience in. Because it comes from a place of "we want to help" (probably) but it isn't genuine or authentic. And that bothers me so much because some of these stories could have been amazing if written by marginalized persons who could give a lived experience perspective.

And honestly, I am not here for the amount of women who have been "main characters" but then raped or killed or given no agency because Men Need To Be In Charge. It is just ridiculous and I can't deal with it. The power relations in this too between the Jokers and the Senator is just ridiculous. I need people, especially men, to realize what writing these types of power relations as "love" or even giving them a type of normalcy can do to people who have tried to escape them.

"Interlude Five" by George R.R. Martin - 2*

This is the last Interlude in the anthology. I feel like it is trying to tie things together while allowing for more stories to come, both in the anthology and in the future (and I know there are a billion more volumes after), but it feels a little hokey and not like it is coming together the same way that the other Interludes did.

"Ghost Girl Takes Manhattan" by Carrie Vaughn - 4*

I liked this story a lot but it was one of those that should have been it's own novel. It had some of the characters from before make cameos and brought together some loose threads but overall it could have easily been it's own story. I will say that the best stories in this anthology have been written by women but I'm not surprised by that at all. Here's to the last couple of stories!

"Comes a Hunter" by John J. Miller - 2*

This was meh and not a good way to basically end the anthology. I feel like I barely even listened because I was so bored during the entire thing. I am glad that I don't have too much more to listen to in this one.

"Epilogue: Third Generation" by Lewis Shiner - 2*

Wow this was way too short. The only part of this that really matters is showcasing that there is going to be another anthology which like, obviously was going to happen. I would have liked an actual Epilogue instead of basically another Interlude that didn't tie anything together.

"Appendix: The Science of the Wild Card Virus" by Victor Milan - 3*

This was interesting to learn more about the Wild Card Virus and how the "Science" (aka the mythology that backs this story) has evolved over time. I think it was a good way to end this one because you don't necessarily have to read/listen to this for the rest of the anthology to make sense but it is an interesting thing to know. Especially if you want to continue listening to the volumes.

"Appendix: Excerpts from the Minutes of the American Metabiological Society Conference on Metahuman Abilities" - 3*

This is similar to the other Appendix piece: interesting but not really necessary. It was kind of a weak way to end the anthology, even if it isn't technically a need to read aspect. I would have liked a much stronger ending than this.

Overall - 3*

I liked this overall because it is an extremely interesting world and mythology surrounding all of it. I thought the anthology had a lot of threads that tied it together to make it cohesive, which I really liked. However, like most anthologies, there were stories I enjoyed a lot more than others and some I absolutely loathed. This anthology has a lot of issues, mostly because there is a lack of diversity in the authors and the experiences they bring to the table. I would have liked to see better treatment of women and the characters who were marginalized in some way, especially the black characters, because they were used as fodder for the stories. I have higher hopes for the newest volume, which will be out in August, because it's been 30 years so they should have learned by now, right?


George R.R. Martin was born September 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey. His father was Raymond Collins Martin, a longshoreman, and his mother was Margaret Brady Martin. He has two sisters, Darleen Martin Lapinski and Janet Martin Patten.

Martin attended Mary Jane Donohoe School and Marist High School. He began writing very young, selling monster stories to other neighborhood children for pennies, dramatic readings included. Later he became a comic book fan and collector in high school, and began to write fiction for comic fanzines (amateur fan magazines). Martin’s first professional sale was made in 1970 at age 21: “The Hero,” sold to Galaxy, published in February, 1971 issue. Other sales followed.

In 1970 Martin received a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, graduating summa cum laude. He went on to complete a M.S. in Journalism in 1971, also from Northwestern.

As a conscientious objector, Martin did alternative service 1972-1974 with VISTA, attached to Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. He also directed chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association from 1973-1976, and was a Journalism instructor at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa, from 1976-1978. He wrote part-time throughout the 1970s while working as a VISTA Volunteer, chess director, and teacher.

In 1975 he married Gale Burnick. They divorced in 1979, with no children. Martin became a full-time writer in 1979. He was writer-in-residence at Clarke College from 1978-79.

Moving on to Hollywood, Martin signed on as a story editor for Twilight Zone at CBS Television in 1986. In 1987 Martin became an Executive Story Consultant for Beauty and the Beast at CBS. In 1988 he became a Producer for Beauty and the Beast, then in 1989 moved up to Co-Supervising Producer. He was Executive Producer for Doorways, a pilot which he wrote for Columbia Pictures Television, which was filmed during 1992-93.

Martin’s present home is Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (he was South-Central Regional Director 1977-1979, and Vice President 1996-1998), and of Writers’ Guild of America, West.

Connect with the Author:

What are some of your favourite Adult SFF books?

11 Sep 2019

#Discussions: The 10 Best YA Speculative Fiction Reads of 2019 (So Far) // #GuestPost by Greg Josselyn of Reedsy

11 September 0 Comments

The 10 Best YA Speculative Fiction Reads of 2019 (So Far)

Speculative fiction allows us to escape into fantasy, but it can also put a mirror up to reality, exploring social issues like power, corruption, and choice. The heroes in these novels are often ordinary people put up against an oppressive force. The line between civil disobedience and violence is toed. Ultimately, speculative fiction asks hard questions and invites readers to consider a variety of answers.

While speculative fiction has been challenging readers to think outside the box for many years, this post presents recent bestsellers who depict prevailing themes in new and unique ways.

1. WILDER GIRLS

Author: Rory Powers
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Summary: Wilder Girls follows Hetty, an ordinary student at Raxter School for Girls, whose life turns upside down after a quarantine. The deadly disease Tox has killed all of the teachers and ravaged the outside community. The side effects of infection – making one’s body feel almost alien – turns Hetty’s town into an uncivilized and dangerous place. Promised by a vague body of government that a cure is forthcoming, Hetty and her classmates hide out. When Hetty’s friend Byatt disappears, she must escape the school to hunt her down. But a lie is soon exposed – and Hetty has to face a world full of complexities she never thought possible. 

2. STEPSISTER

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Scholastic Press 
Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Summary: Cinderella’s stepsisters rarely got much attention – until now. Stepsister takes them head (or foot) on with this retelling of the classic tale. It picks up with the prince surveying the townspeople with his infamous glass slipper. Desperate to make her feet fit and fool the prince, Cinderella’s stepsister Isabelle cuts off her toes. Of course, her feet don’t fit and no matter how much blood (literally), sweat, or tears she sheds, Isabelle can never quite seem to find her happily ever after. Yet with Prince Charming gone, an unlikely event is on her horizon, and it just might present her with a chance at redemption. 

3. THE RED SCROLLS OF MAGIC

Authors: Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu 
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: April 9, 2019

Summary: The Red Scrolls of Magic presents the adventures of the Shadowhunter Alec Lightwood and his boyfriend Magnus Bane. While on vacation in Paris, Magnus learns that a devil-worshipping cult he had started years ago as a joke has plans to terrorize the world at large. Fearing the worst, Magnus and Alec hunt down the cult to try and stop them. But their search throughout Europe is full of barricades and demons, all of which test their relationship. As they suss out the truth about the world around them, they must also face the truth about themselves. 

4. SORCERY OF THORNS 

Author: Margaret Rogerson
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books 
Publication Date: June 4, 2019

Summary: Sorcery of Thorns follows Elisabeth, an orphan whose unusual childhood involved living among sorcerers in a Great Library, where she learned all about magical grimoires — which can turn to destructive creatures if released from their chains. As a young girl, Elisabeth makes a promise to herself to guard them. But when a grimoire ends up getting loose and wreaking havoc on the kingdom, Elisabeth’s attempts to stop it backfires – and everyone blames her for its release. Soon enough she’s forced to seek out help from her archnemesis, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, forcing her to navigate what she thought she knew about her past and her hope for the future.

5. THE FALL OF CRAZY HOUSE

Author: James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Hachette Book Group
Publication Date: April 8, 2019

Summary: Following the breakout hit Crazy House, here we have its sequel The Fall of Crazy House, a story of escape with twin sisters Becca and Cassie. They live in a world controlled by a tyrannical government, so both of them have had to learn how to fend for themselves as warriors. But now they’re determined to overhaul the regime with those skills – and wage war. Faced with the responsibility to save their fellow citizens and maintain their values, they must examine the meaning of “an eye for an eye” once and for all.

6. KINGSBANE

Author: Claire Legrand
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 21, 2019

Summary: Meet Rielle Dardenne, the Sun Queen. She’s got a rather important job to do: repair the gate that locks up the angels. Spying on these angels is eventually gets her wrapped up in conspiracies and corruption. The story then fast-forwards to the newly crowned Sun Queen Eliana Ferracora, who is terrified of falling prey to the mistakes of Queen Rielle. Her fear is put to the test when she hears news of her friend Navi’s illness, and has to examine the ethics of using her own power for personal gain. 

7. WE HUNT THE FLAME

Author: Hafsah Faizal
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
Publication Date: May 14, 2019

Summary: We Hunt the Flame follows Zafira, a hunter, and Nasir, the Prince of Death. Nasir is the son of the sultan, and is on a murderous rampage against anyone who breaks the rule of law. Meanwhile, Zafira dresses as a man and hunts for food to survive. But when she hears of a lost artifact with magical powers that could help restore her community, she chases it. Not long after, Nasir is assigned to the case as her hitman, and the two characters collide on a journey that becomes more and more occult along the way. Deep magic unearths questions they didn’t anticipate, leading to surprising revelations.

8. DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN

Author: Adam Christopher 
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Summary: Told as a novel, this audiobook fills in the gaps for the Stranger Things-obsessed. It’s a deep dive into the character of Chief Jim Hopper and — spoiler! — the novel gives insight into Hopper’s life in 1984 Hawkins and 1977 New York City. Within these episodes, we get a major break from the Upside Down with an in-depth look at Hopper’s time in Vietnam and the NYPD. In Darkness on the Egde of Town, a version of Hopper is presented that the fast-moving show doesn’t always have time for – including the history and deeper motivations behind his character.

9. DRY

Author: Neal Shusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: Paperback edition September 3, 2019

Summary: The Tap-Out makes the lives of Alyssa and her neighbors unbearable. She’s in the middle of a life-threatening drought in the state of California, and can barely take a shower or get a sip to drink. Everything escalates when her parents go missing, so Alyssa must make quick decisions as the tap runs dry and her hometown falls to ruin. To save her family and make it out alive, Alyssa is forced to face her fears and trust her own judgment. 

10. THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA: SEASON OF THE WITCH 

Author: Sarah Rees Brennan 
Publisher: Scholastic Audio
Publication Date: July 9, 2019

Summary: Following Stranger Things’ flirtation with backstories, this Season of the Witch audiobook takes us back to Sabrina Spellman’s impending initiation into a Coven of Witches and Warlocks. The story goes deeper into Sabrina’s ruminations as she decides whether she’ll remain mortal or become a witch. She’s especially attached to her mortal boyfriend Harvey, so she tries to test their love, hoping that might help her decide which path to take. But as the decision grows in difficulty, she finds she must wrestle with her inner demons first.

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Greg Josselyn is a writer for Reedsy, a curated marketplace for writers and speculative fiction readers. As a storyteller, he’s covered everything from pop culture to poetry on a variety of different mediums.

What speculative fiction books have you enjoyed this year?