My TBR is a pulsating, intangible being, existing in an area spanning my to-read shelf on goodreads, my wishlists on amazon/audible, and the fuzzy mold-like stuff growing in the back of my cranium, occasionally throwing out a spore of “Hey, remember once a couple of years ago you read a review somewhere that said this author was somehow similar to (or opposite to) that other author, and you also saw this title mentioned inside the text of that other novel you read….” – you know. It’s a large and beautiful beast, my TBR. Pretty sure I have something like four hundred books contained in it, all things added up.
And I feel pretty good about that. I insist on feeling good about that. I’m just really tired of stressing out or feeling weirdly ashamed of saying “Ooh, that looks cool!” at a much higher rate than I can actually read things. And I’ve realised I probably treat my TBR differently than the people who regularly cut it down like a bonsai bramble.
As for recent additions to the list:
1. A key, an egg, an unfortunate remark by Harry Connolly
A MYSTERIOUS KILLING
After years of waging a secret war against the supernatural, Marley Jacobs put away her wooden stakes and silver bullets, then turned her back on violence. She declared Seattle, her city, a safe zone for everyone, living and undead. There would be no more preternatural murder under her watch.
But waging peace can make as many enemies as waging war, and when Marley’s nephew turns up dead in circumstances suspiciously like a vampire feeding, she must look into it. Is there a new arrival in town? Is someone trying to destroy her fragile truce? Or was her nephew murdered because he was, quite frankly, a complete tool?
As Marley investigates her nephew’s death, she discovers he had been secretly dabbling in the supernatural himself. What, exactly, had he been up to, and who had he been doing it with? More importantly, does it threaten the peace she has worked so hard to create? (Spoiler: yeah, it absolutely does.)
2. Lois McMaster Bujold (Modern Masters of Science fiction) by Edward James
Readers have awarded Lois McMaster Bujold four Hugo Awards for Best Novel, a number matched only by Robert Heinlein. Her Vorkosigan series redefined space opera with its emotional depth and explorations of themes such as bias against the disabled, economic exploitation, and the role of women in society.
Acclaimed science fiction scholar Edward James traces Bujold’s career, showing how Bujold emerged from fanzine culture to win devoted male and female readers despite working in genres–military SF, space opera–perceived as solely by and for males.
(There is also a new Vorkosigan book coming! And I haven’t yet read Bujold’s fantasy stuff, so obviously those are also books on my TBR list. The only reason I haven’t bit into them yet is, of course, the insane amount of good, but lengthy, fantasy going around. Anyway, Bujold is fantastic, and if you’re into audiobooks, Grover Gardner made them into excellent gateway-audiobooks for me.)
The city of Voortyashtan was once the home of the goddess of death, war and destruction, but now it’s little more than a ruin.
General Turyin Mulaghesh is called out of retirement and sent to this hellish place to find a Saypuri secret agent who’s gone AWOL in the middle of a mission.
But the ghosts of past wars have followed her there, and soon she begins to wonder what happened to the souls in the afterlife when the gods were defeated by her people, the Polis. Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death? Or do they have plans of their own?
This sequel to City of stairs was recently given a release date, which must have induced a worldwide happy sigh from everyone who wants to know what Sigrud is doing right now. I can’t wait.
4. Return of the black death – The world’s greatest serial killer by Susan Scott & Christopher Duncan
If the twenty-first century seems an unlikely stage for the return of a 14th-century killer, the authors of Return of the Black Death argue that the plague, which vanquished half of Europe, has only lain dormant, waiting to emerge again—perhaps, in another form. At the heart of their chilling scenario is their contention that the plague was spread by direct human contact (not from rat fleas) and was, in fact, a virus perhaps similar to AIDS and Ebola. Noting the periodic occurrence of plagues throughout history, the authors predict its inevitable re-emergence sometime in the future, transformed by mass mobility and bioterrorism into an even more devastating killer.
Um, so, on Seanan McGuire’s tumblr, someone asked about recommended nonfic about plagues and other fun things. This is the one she named, so it flew straight onto my wish list. It’s pretty handy to find an author who not only writes wonderfully enjoyable books, but also, as a person, displays a lot of interests and preferences that overlap with the awed reader who stumbled across her. I mean, uh, however one would say that without sounding like a potential crazy we are the same, nyah-hah-hah kind of stalker. (I have picked up more recs from her this way, and have high hopes for all of them. I probably trust the Newsflesh author more than I like peanut butter.
And it’s about the black death. I’m SO into this.
(Oh, come on. You knew this would happen when you gave six year-old me the book about the ship that came to Norway in 1349….)
Set in a future Great Britain scarred by fracking and ecological collapse, The Race is the first full-length novel from Nina Allan, winner of the 2014 BSFA Award for Best Short Fiction (Spin, TTA Press), and the prestigious Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire for Best Translated Work (Complications/The Silver Wind, Editions Tristram).
The Race opens in the coastal town of Sapphire, dominated by the illegal sport of smartdog racing: greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA. For Jenna, the latest Cup meet bears a significance far beyond the simple hunger for victory. Christy’s life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, a stranger she knows only by name. Together they must face their demons, wherever that may lead. Raised at the Croft, a secret government programme focussing on smartdogs, Maree has to undertake a journey through shipping lanes haunted by the enigmatic and dangerous Atlantic whale. What she discovers en route will change her world forever.
The story of four damaged people whose lives are inextricably linked, The Race is a novel of tender nuances, brutality, insight and great ambition, a narrative that lays bare the fears and joys of being human, and, ultimately, offers hope to us all.
“Totally assured – this is a literate, intelligent, gorgeously human and superbly strange SF novel that will continually skewer your assumptions.” – ALASTAIR REYNOLDS
6. Viper Wine by Hermione Eyre
Famed beauty Venetia Stanley is so extravagantly dazzling she has inspired Ben Jonson to poetry and Van Dyck to painting, provoking adoration and emulation from the masses. Stampedes follow her arrival in town. But as she approaches middle age, the attention turns to scrutiny. Her adoring husband Sir Kenelm Digby – philosopher, alchemist and time-traveller – wishes she would age naturally, but Venetia discovers a potent and addictive elixir of youth, Viper Wine. Set on the eve of the English Civil War, and based on a true story, this brilliant novel asks a very contemporary question: what is the cost of beauty?
I think I discovered this – and the Nina Allan one – from the Kitchies list of nominees. Which perfectly illustrates how awards are nice and useful, because I had never heard of these before, and now I really, really want to get to know them better.
7. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.
I know! Everyone else has read this already. I had – and I’m sorry – completely ignored it through the whole kerfluff, as the cover art and genre together had me swimming in prejudice. Then someone made me actually read the blurb, and emphasized that it’s actually good, and also it was very cheap in the kindle store at that moment, so – okay. I’m going to become one of the people who read this.
Human/android tensions AND plague, right? How the heck did I let this float under my radar?
Who is the Inventor, and what does he want with the all-new Ms. Marvel and all her friends? Maybe Wolverine can help!
Kamala may be fan-girling out when her favorite (okay maybe Top Five) super hero shows up, but that won’t stop her from protecting her hometown. Then, Kamala crosses paths with Inhumanity for the first time – by meeting the royal dog, Lockjaw! Every girl wants a puppy, but this one may be too much of a handful, even for a super hero with embiggening powers. But why is Lockjaw really with Kamala? As Ms. Marvel discovers more about her past, the Inventor continues to threaten her future. The fan-favorite, critically acclaimed, amazing new series continues as Kamala Khan proves why she’s the best (and most adorable) new super hero there is!
Yes. I read the first of the new Ms.Marvel volumes, and I’m hooked. This is just done so well! I have almost zero in common with Kamala Khan, and yet, she’s completely relatable, which is a lovely thing. I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to wait for my library to stock this one, or if I’ll cave in and buy it so I can read it now now now. I don’t really have a history as a Marvel reader, so Kamala could very well be my gateway hero, as it were.
In the American Southwest, Nevada, Arizona, and California skirmish for dwindling shares of the Colorado River. Into the fray steps Angel Velasquez, detective, leg-breaker, assassin and spy. A Las Vegas water knife, Angel “cuts” water for his boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert, so the rich can stay wet, while the poor get nothing but dust.
When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in drought-ravaged Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. There, he encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist with no love for Vegas and every reason to hate Angel, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas refugee who survives by her wits and street smarts in a city that despises everything that she represents. With bodies piling up, bullets flying, and Phoenix teetering on collapse, it seems like California is making a power play to monopolize the life-giving flow of a river.
For Angel, Lucy, and Maria time is running out and their only hope for survival rests in each other’s hands. But when water is more valuable than gold, alliances shift like sand, and the only thing for certain is that someone will have to bleed if anyone hopes to drink.
I’ve been a Bacigalupi devotee since The windup girl exploded all over the genresphere some years ago. He also gave me one of my very first “Wow, I’m reading a short story collection, and I enjoy it”-experiences.
10. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig
Miriam Black knows when you will die.
She’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, and suicides.
But when Miriam hitches a ride with Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be murdered while he calls her name. Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim.
No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.
I’m still angry that I didn’t read this while it was still available on Scribd – it went out of the catalogue just the week I had… probably intended to get around to it. Oh, it’s okay, I’m happy to buy it, because I have very high expectations of Wendig female-protagonist-badassery. It’s also turning into a TV thing, which could be…fun?
Hey, by the way? In a couple of days I move my flesh vehicle in the direction of my first ever EasterCon, which is making me all kinds of fangirly-giggly. Also, I’ll be in close proximity to cadbury creme eggs, which is… okay, not nearly as exciting as great authors talking about fun things, but still. I might post some excited status updates over Easter, for my imaginary readership, and I also have some good intentions in the direction of April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, but I don’t do so well with intentions, so really I should just shut up and erase this paragraph.