I wasn’t planning on doing a January wrap up ’cause I only read 2.5 books in the whole month (stressful and tiring time at the day job blah blah blah, you know how life gets), but my brain craves order and if I’m gonna be doing it for the rest of the year then my mind can’t deal with having a big ol’ gap for January. Plus, the two books I did read were awesome and deserve to be squeed about. So here it is bookwyrms, my January Wrap Up and February TBR.
January Wrap Up
COIL by Ren Warom was the first book I read in 2020 and it was a bloody great start to the year! A stylish and gritty noir murder mystery set in a future where biotech implants have become ubiquitous and mortician Bone Adams is one of the very few people without bits of technology grafted to or implanted in his body. Bone is drafted into a murder investigation by City Officer Stark and we get to follow these two great characters as they navigate the seedy underbelly of The Spires, unravelling the clues they hope will lead them to the perpetrator of a series of grizzly murders. This was a really great read that takes some of the most beloved noir tropes and does some really interesting things with them. Read the full review here.
IN THE VANISHERS’ PALACE by Aliette de Bodard is a short book that had been on my TBR for quite a while after reading another of her novellas, THE TEA MASTER AND THE DETECTIVE, which I loved. IN THE VANISHER’S PALACE is an adult f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast, except our ‘Belle’ character is a failing village scholar and ‘The Beast’ is a shapeshifting dragon! Aliette has such a graceful and evocative writing style and this story pulled me in so completely in a very short space of time. I’d recommend this one to anyone who loves fairytale retellings, evocative prose and just really great writing generally. Read the full review here.
Technically I didn’t finish JADE CITY by Fonda Lee in January, but I did start it and the formatting of pictures just works better in groups of three, so there you go. In any case, this book is fucking excellent. Seriously some of the best character work and world building I’ve read in recent times. Janloon is a city I’m convinced I could hop on a plane and fly to after reading this book. Not that I’d necessarily want to mind you; it’s a city controlled by mafia-style crime families, of corrupt politicians and gang warfare. I’ll be writing up a full review soon and I cannot wait to share my thoughts about this fantastic book.
EMPRESS OF SALT AND FORTUNE is the very first ARC I requested since starting the blog and to my great surprise it actually got approved! It’s a short read, another novella coming in at just over a hundred pages, and I’ve already devoured it in a single sitting. It chronicles the rise to power of a young royal, sent south to enter into a political marriage, before being sent into exile once she ‘does her duty’ of producing a male heir. I’ll be writing a full review shortly, but suffice to say I enjoyed Empress a lot and definitely recommend pre-ordering it for the March 24th release.
THE PENITENT DAMNED by Django Wexler is a story I discovered almost by accident. Scrolling through Twitter one day I saw this tweet pop up in my feed from an author who ‘wrote this whole series about fantasy Napoleon with demons, and it’s also very gay and there’s a revolution and a financial crisis and a lot of muskets‘. And folks, I don’t mind telling you I almost dropped my phone in my utter scramble to find out what this series is. Turns out it’s called THE SHADOW CAMPAIGNS and this is a short prequel story to the main series and I am beyond excited to read it.
PIMP MY AIRSHIP by Maurice Broaddus has been hovering near the top of my TBR for a few months now and I’ve decided February is the month I need to make space for it. It’s another book published by Apex, a small press who put out some very interesting and unconventional fiction. COIL, mentioned above, is also an Apex publication, as is SNOW OVER UTOPIA by Rudolfo A. Serna (which I wrote quite a well-received review for, check that out here). So I’m looking forward to PIMP MY AIRSHIP, which sounds like a less-quirky-more-gritty brand of steampunk, where a drug-addled poet named Sleepy becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue and airships with a professional protester and a young heiress whose father was recently murdered.
That’s the fantasy I have planned, now on to the science fiction. NEON LEVIATHAN by T. R. Napper is another ARC I’ve received, kindly given to me by Alex from Spells and Spaceships. This is a collection of cyberpunk short stories about the outsiders – the criminals, the soldiers, the addicts, the gamblers, the cage fighters, the refugees and the rebels. I don’t know a great deal about what to expect from this collection but honestly, I don’t have to, ’cause cyberpunk is my fucking jam. I love it. Adore it. I can’t get enough of it. Neuromancer is probably my favourite book of all time and I think, despite some contemporary cyberpunk stories losing the hard-edged radicalism of the breakout novels of the 1980s, there is so much potential for modern cyberpunk going into 2020 and I’m very excited for where T. R. Napper intends to take it.
VELOCITY WEAPON by Megan E. O’Keefe is another book that I’ve decided I finally need to bump to the top of the TBR. It was spurred on by the release of the nominations for the Philip K. Dick Award and my intention to read all the nominees. Velocity Weapon is the first book in THE PROTECTORATE series and sounds exactly like my brand of space opera, with dazzling space battles, intergalactic politics and rogue AI. Looking forward to this one a lot.
And finally, if you’ve been following me for even a remotely long period of time, you’ll know already how much I bang on about Gareth L. Powell’s EMBERS OF WAR SERIES, and LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS is the final instalment of the trilogy, set for release on February 18th. I’ve had this book pre-ordered for months now and cannot wait to get my grubby little mitts on it; the wait is almost over! I seriously can’t recommend these books highly enough and if you haven’t read the first two yet, have a gander at my reviews of EMBERS OF WAR here and FLEET OF KNIVES here, then go pre-order LIGHT OF IMPOSSIBLE STARS and thank me later.
So there you have it folks, my January wrap up and reading plans for the rest of February. Have you read any of the books I’ve mentioned? Let me know what you thought or if you plan to read any of these after looking through this post; it’s always lovely to hear when folks are inspired to read something I’ve loved after checking out my ‘lil blog. That’s all for now, happy reading bookwyrms.
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