We all know what it’s like to pile up unread books. Those dastardly 99p Kindle sales. Pre-orders we swear we’ll read on release day. The miscellaneous acquisitions we’re actually really excited about but somehow never get round to reading. I have all these books and more, piling up on that unwieldy and out-of-control TBR. However! 2020 is the year I’m going to start enjoying all the awesome books that have been sat lonely and unread for too long. Or some of them at least – achievable goals and all that. So let’s dive right in to the Five Shelved Books I WILL Read In 2020!
VELOCITY WEAPON by Megan O’Keefe
This book has been recommended to me by a bunch of people, including one of my fave space opera writers Gareth L. Powell, who boosted it back in Ye Olden Days when I interviewed him for one of my very first blog posts (check out the interview with Gareth here). VELOCITY WEAPON is the story of siblings Sanda and Biran, a gunship sergeant and rising star politician respectively, who find themselves separated in space and time when Sanda’s ship is blown out of the sky during an escalating war that Biran tries desperately to prevent. Honestly it sounds like everything I love in space-faring, galaxy-spanning sci-fi; big space battles, political intrigue and fully fleshed-out AI characters. Not to mention a bit of mystery and suspense to push the story along. Very excited about this one.
THE POPPY WAR by Rebecca F. Kuang
I know, I know, I KNOW! Actually can’t believe I haven’t made time for THE POPPY WAR yet because it sounds like everything I need in a fantasy book. Deep world-building; empires at war; morally questionable characters and more than a hint of darkness. If, like me, you haven’t read The Poppy War yet, it starts the tale of Rin, a poverty-stricken war orphan who aces the Empire-wise test to learn at the Academies and is enlisted into the most elite military school in the country, where she discovers an aptitude for the semi-mythical art of shamanism. While war looms in the Empire, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive and that by communing with them she may be the only hope the Empire has at winning the war. But at what cost for Rin…? Aaaagh just hook this book directly to my veins!
THE FIFTH SEASON by N. K. Jemesin
THE FIFTH SEASON is another canyon-sized hole in my fantasy backlist and it’s about time I gave this book the attention it apparently deserves. Jemesin barrelled on to my radar relatively recently, after her barnstorming speech at the 2018 Hugo Awards (which she won for this series of books), calling out the shit ton of work the SFF community still needs to do to overcome the systemic bias against and hostility towards writers who aren’t straight and white and male. The Fifth Season starts The Broken Earth trilogy, which begins with an ordinary woman called Essun discovering her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter, while the world-spanning empire and bedrock of civilisation they live in begins to crumble and a great rift opens in the earth, spewing enough ash to darken the world for centuries. It is the story of Essun pursuing her family through a deadly, dying land while shattered nations wage war for the basic resources of survival. A land Essun must traverse if she ever wants to save her daughter.
FOUNDRYSIDE by Robert Jackson Bennet
FOUNDRYSIDE is a book I actually picked up fairly recently, after hearing Calvin Park and Caitlin, from Realms Of My Mind, waxing lyrical about it. It piqued my interest and when I looked up the blurb I immediately needed it in my life. Thief hired to do a shady job? Check. Stolen object turns out have unimaginable power? Check. Unscrupulous factions scheming for power? Check check check. The setting sounds very different to most of the fantasy I tend to read as well, with a kind of pseudo-modernity taking the place of the Middle Ages backdrop of a lot of fantasy. Paul Krueger’s Steel Crow Saga did this too and I LOVED that book. It’s also something I know Fonda Lee has written in her Green Bone Saga books, though I’ve not got round to reading those yet. This will be the first Jackson Bennett book I read, but by all accounts this sounds like another series I’m going to love.
EMPIRE OF SAND by Tasha Suri
Yet another highly-acclaimed book that has slipped through my grasp. Until now! From the way almost everyone I know who has read this book gushes about it, I’m gonna assume I’m missing out on some great storytelling by not reading EMPIRE OF SAND. It begins The Books of Ambha series and is a Mughal-India inspired fantasy that tells the story of Mehr, the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled nomad mother she has little memory of, but whose magic she has inherited. When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics she must use every ounce of will, subtlety and power she has to resist their cruel agenda. And should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance.
There you have it folks, the five books that have undeservedly sat on a shelf gathering digital dust for too long. I’m more excited to dive into these books than I’ve ever been after writing this post!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Which backlist titles do you hope to read this year?
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