While my TBR includes a few new releases, I need to spend most of my time catching up with books I haven’t had time to sit down and finish yet; books I’ve been looking forward to for years, some of them, but for a variety of reasons I haven’t been getting a lot of reading done recently. (…Maybe not the best time to set up a book blog, huh? Oops.)
The full list of books I need to catch up with comes in at just under 100 (gulp) so I’m just going to list a few of them here – along with one coming out in the next few months I’m really excited for!Mornnovin (The Way of the Falling Star Book 1) by Alyssa Marie Bethancourt
on 9th April 2019
Genres: Epic Fantasy, Fantasy, Queer Protagonists, Secondary World Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Loralíenasa Raia is the last surviving member of an elven family that has existed since the dawn of recorded time, and the weight of that responsibility has shaped her entire life. Her people stand upon the brink of extinction after a brutal war with humanity drove them into hiding.
When an ancient avenging force threatens to destroy all of Asrellion, Loralíenasa must decide whether to risk her own people’s survival in order to stop what seems like an inevitable apocalypse for the very humans who once sought to purify the world of her kind. As if saving humans isn’t bad enough, she must also contend with being forced to accept their help when it seems she might not be able to do it on her own.
In a tale of pride, prejudice, and powerful magic, the ghosts of the bloody past give battle to a future where peace might prevail if hearts are allowed to change. And as Loralíenasa has always been told by her elders, elves are incapable of change.
I backed this book on Kickstarter – something I don’t usually do; while I’m a total Kickstarter addict, most book-campaigns don’t think to include the first chapter as a sample, or something, so you don’t have much idea what you’re getting into. (How often have we all been let down by an amazing-sounding blurb?) But Bethancourt was clearly as into worldbuilding as I am, and her book really did sound amazing, and throughout the campaign she was posting character sheets and little mini-essays about parts of her world, and what the hell, right? It’s not a huge risk.
I only got a few pages into my copy when it arrived – not because it’s bad, but because I got distracted. I really loved what I read though, and I’m really excited to get back to it and read it properly!The Ruin of Kings (A Chorus of Dragons, #1) by Jenn Lyons
There are the old stories. And then there’s what actually happens.
Kihrin is a bastard orphan who grew up on storybook tales of long-lost princes and grand quests. When he is claimed against his will as the long-lost son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds that being a long-lost prince isn't what the storybooks promised.
Far from living the dream, Kihrin finds himself practically a prisoner, at the mercy of his new family's power plays and ambitions. He also discovers that the storybooks have lied about a lot of other things things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, true love, and how the hero always wins.
Then again, maybe he’s not the hero, for Kihrin isn’t destined to save the empire.
He’s destined to destroy it . . .
Uniting the worldbuilding of a Brandon Sanderson with the storytelling verve of a Patrick Rothfuss, debut author Jenn Lyons delivers an entirely new and captivating fantasy epic. Prepare to meet the genre’s next star.
I’m not sure where or when I discovered Ruin of Kings, but I had it pre-ordered and pounced on it when it downloaded to my Kindle. And was not disappointed! It’s big and epic and real, darker than I would have been comfortable with as a teenager, but now it just – it’s not there for shock value, it’s meant to make you uncomfortable, and it serves as a beautiful contrast to all the really gorgeous parts of the story. The worldbuilding is just so cool, and there! are! dragons!!! For all that dragons are considered a fantasy staple… I actually don’t see them around that often. And the ones here are proper dragons.
Also, disaster!bisexual main character. And footnotes! Less comedic than Good Omens’ footnotes, but still really interesting, not least because they throw into doubt the story being narrated. Someone is either lying or mistaken as they tell the story to the reader, but I have yet to figure out who. You think you know unreliable narrators? Call me when you’ve got an immortal cannibal shapeshifter telling the story using the memories of people she ate, a literally soulless thief with every reason to lie, and the transcriber with his acerbic commentary calling them both liars and idiots every other page.
As for why I haven’t finished this one: well, actually, this time it is the author’s fault: this book is too good. I get overwhelmed by books I really love and can only handle reading a few pages at a time, else I have a Delight Meltdown. Thus: I can only get through this one very slowly. But! That’s not so bad, because the sequel is out in Autumn, and if I time it right I’ll finish book one just as book two comes out!
That’s the plan, anyway.Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve
When genderqueer fourteen-year-old Z Chilworth wakes from death after a car crash that killed their parents and sisters, they have to adjust quickly to their new status as a zombie. Always a talented witch, Z can now barely perform magic and is rapidly decaying. Faced with rejection from their remaining family members and old friends, Z moves in with Mrs. Dunnigan, an elderly witch, and befriends Aysel, a loud would-be-goth classmate who is, like Z, a loner. As Z struggles to find a way to repair the broken magical seal holding their body together, Aysel fears that her classmates will discover her status as an unregistered werewolf. When a local psychiatrist is murdered in an apparent werewolf attack, the town of Salem, Oregon, becomes even more hostile to monsters, and Z and Aysel are driven together in an attempt to survive a place where most people wish that neither of them existed.
This books is literally everything I have ever wanted out of urban fantasy, and I want to carve out a week of my holidays to devote to it. Look at that summary! Do I really need to explain??? And I can tell you, from what I have read of this so far, that it’s a lot more social justice-focused than that blurb makes it sound.Queer Magic: Lgbt+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World by Tomás Prower
Queer Magic and Mysticism in History and Today
Queer Magic provides nourishment for LGBT+ souls and their allies who are interested in learning about the significant presence and influence of queer folks throughout history. Explore fascinating insights into queer relationships and spiritual practices from different regions of the world. Learn about deities, heroes, and historical figures who embody the power of the queer spirit. Discover inspiring contributions from contemporary LGBT+ Pagans, Catholics, Buddhists, Muslims, and others as they share personal stories of their experiences as well as spells, prayers, and meditations from their own practices. With practical suggestions and enlightening perspectives, this book is a unique resource for LGBT+ spiritual seekers who want to experience the sustaining energy and strength of the worldwide queer community.
"Queer Magic asks us to unlearn what we've thought about the global past and instead substitutes an inclusive, more accurate world history, where queer identities are plenty."--ForeWord Reviews
"Tom�s Prower takes us on a global journey, a quest to find queer magick across the world. Our stories are not confined to any one place, time, or religion, and this book is truly a diverse guide to understanding our often lost and forgotten myth and history. Certain to inspire LGBTQ+ magickal practitioners for years to come!"--Christopher Penczak, Gay Witchcraft
"In his latest work, Queer Magic, Tom�s Prower takes us on a journey that spans both time and continents to examine the myths, magic, and spiritual lives of those who exist outside the culturally sanctioned heterosexual binary. Surprisingly detailed, Prower examines not only the practices of pre-modern native cultures, but also the effects of Christian colonialism and its devastating and history-robbing effects upon them. He demonstrates how those cultures' near-universal acceptance of queer sexual expression has been usurped, and he shines a light on how those traditions have found ways to survive--and even thrive--in spite of being the victims of revisionist history. With interesting bits of history and lore (I may never think of Dracula quite the same way again) combined with practical exercises to help us view sexual expression and gender outside of our common modern restrictions, this book should be considered essential reading for all LGBT+ practitioners of magic and spirituality. Highly recommended."--Storm Faerywolf, author of Betwixt and Between
"More often than not, people whose sexual identities, gender identities, social roles, affectional preferences, relationship styles, and so on are in the minority and tend to be erased or misrepresented in our culture. Queer Magic is a journey around the world and through the centuries to uncover some of these hidden stories. This book is not only history and mythology, it also contains vignettes, experiences, and practices from modern people from diverse backgrounds. One book cannot address everyone and everything, but Queer Magic is a heartfelt effort that will encourage you to continue the work of discovering these treasures of the spirit."--Ivo Dominguez Jr., author of The Keys to Perception
I don’t read non-fiction often, but – I’m a queer witchling. You’d better believe I pounced on this book when I found it! And I really love what I’ve read of it so far. Now I just need to finish it.Sworn to the Night (The Wisdom's Grave Trilogy #1) by Craig Schaefer
on 2nd January 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Queer Protagonists
Marie Reinhart is an NYPD detective on the trail of a serial killer. When she sleeps, though, she dreams of other lives; she dreams of being a knight, in strange wars and strange worlds. On the other side of the city, Nessa Roth is a college professor trapped in a loveless marriage, an unwilling prop in a political dynasty. She's also a fledgling witch, weaving poppets and tiny spells behind closed doors.
When Marie's case draws her into Nessa's path, sparks fly. What comes next is more than a furtive whirlwind affair; it's the first pebbles of an avalanche. Nessa and Marie are the victims of a curse that has pursued them across countless lifetimes; a doom designed to trap them in a twisted living fairy tale, with their romance fated to end in misery and death.
They aren't going out without a fight. As they race to uncover the truth, forces are in motion across the country. In Las Vegas, a professional thief is sent on a deadly heist. In a Detroit back alley, witches gather under the guidance of a mysterious woman in red. Just outside New York, an abandoned zoo becomes the hunting-ground for servants of a savage and alien king. The occult underground is taking sides and forming lines of battle. Time is running out, and Nessa and Marie have one chance to save themselves, break the curse, and demand justice.
This time, they're writing their own ending.
I’ve gotten myself into an interesting predicament with this one, because I picked it up not knowing that it was the third (?) trilogy set in a shared universe reminiscent of Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere series – there are multiple different dimensions/worlds involved, but there seems to be one overarching story that eventually comes together in – you guessed it – Sworn to the Night. I only discovered this once I was about a third of the way through the book (which is utterly marvellous, by the way). Schafer insists that all the respective trilogies stand alone and you don’t have to read them all…but I’m a completest and can’t stand not getting the references or having the full picture.
The problem is that the first trilogy is set in a Medieval-esque world and I keep bouncing off the first few chapters, but I need to get those books read before I can get back to my wonderfully queer, fantastical Sworn to the Night.
Sigh.Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends...
First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.
The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.
As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?
If you pay any attention to the book-blogosphere at all, you’ve almost certainly heard of this book. With good reason! I’m only two chapters in and it’s lovely. I haven’t read contemporary fiction in ages and ages, but I mean – with that premise, of course I was going to pick this one up. And it’s actually been really good at soothing my mind when I’m all manic, so I can calm down enough to read. It’s very much a curl-up-all-snug book.
At least so far. There might be more drama to come. Guess I’ll see!The Lost Coast by Amy Rose Capetta
The spellbinding tale of six queer witches forging their own paths, shrouded in the mist, magic, and secrets of the ancient California redwoods.
Danny didn't know what she was looking for when she and her mother spread out a map of the United States and Danny put her finger down on Tempest, California. What she finds are the Grays: a group of friends who throw around terms like queer and witch like they're ordinary and everyday, though they feel like an earthquake to Danny. But Danny didn't just find the Grays. They cast a spell that calls her halfway across the country, because she has something they need: she can bring back Imogen, the most powerful of the Grays, missing since the summer night she wandered into the woods alone. But before Danny can find Imogen, she finds a dead boy with a redwood branch through his heart. Something is very wrong amid the trees and fog of the Lost Coast, and whatever it is, it can kill. Lush, eerie, and imaginative, Amy Rose Capetta's tale overflows with the perils and power of discovery — and what it means to find your home, yourself, and your way forward.
Queer witches. QUEER WITCHES. That’s literally all you need to make me come running. And when it’s by the same author as The Brilliant Death???Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1) by Jacqueline Carey
The land of Terre d'Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good... and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.
Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission... and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel's Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.
Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair... and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.
Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel's Dart-a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.
Kushiel’s Dart is one of the most important books in my life (along with the rest of the Kushiel’s Universe series). It found me when I was a teenager all messed up over my sexuality – long story short, I was fighting in court to have my Roman Catholic mother’s custody of me rescinded, and my developing interest in sex was her main justification for beating the crap out of me. And I hadn’t even figured out I was queer yet. The irony, huh?
And then comes along this big, beautiful, sex-positive epic fantasy that just…completely deconstructed all the shame before it really had a chance to mess me up. And proved that women could and did write fantasy, way before I ever learned there were people who thought they couldn’t. The D’Angeline tenet – Love as thou wilt – was the speck of stardust around which the pearl of grown-up!Sia developed. I wouldn’t be me without this book.
And I kinda like me, you know?
I haven’t yet blogged about what I called book-witchery in my About page, but my mission to reread the Kushiel series is a part of that, and I hope to be writing about it soon!Blood and Iron (Promethean Age, #1) by Elizabeth Bear
She is known as Seeker. Spellbound by the Faerie Queen, she has abducted human children for her mistress's pleasure for what seems like an eternity, unable to free herself from servitude and reclaim her own humanity. Seeker's latest prey is a Merlin. Named after the legendary wizard of Camelot, Merlins are not simply those who wield magic--they are magic. Now, with the Prometheus Club's agents and rivals from Faerie both vying for the favor of this being of limitless magic to tip the balance of power, Seeker must persuade the Merlin to join her cause-or else risk losing something even more precious and more important to her than the fate of humankind..
Elizabeth Bear’s Promethean Age series is one of the most subversive fantasies I’ve ever read, and I love them all. For FAR TOO LONG the fourth book, Hell and Earth, has been out of print; but Gollancz is re-releasing the entire series in ebook form this summer. Thus, another series re-read is due! Along with…The Red-Stained Wings (Lotus Kingdoms, #2) by Elizabeth Bear
Hugo Award-winning author Elizabeth Bear returns the epic fantasy world of the Lotus Kingdoms with The Red-Stained Wings, the sequel to The Stone in the Skull, taking the Gage into desertlands under a deadly sky to answer the riddle of the Stone in the Skull.
The Gage and the Dead Man brought a message from the greatest wizard of Messaline to the ruling queen of Sarathai, one of the Lotus Kingdoms. But the message was a riddle, and the Lotus Kingdoms are at war.
Elizabeth Bear created her secondary world of the Eternal Sky in her highly praised novel The Range of Ghosts and its sequels. She continued it the first book of the Lotus Kingdoms, The Stone in the Skull.
Bear’s Eternal Sky trilogy is one of my all-time faves – think traditional Epic Fantasy, but set in fantasy-Asia and really not that traditional at all – and the Lotus Kingdoms series is set in the same world, with characters who are just as amazing as the cast of the previous trilogy. You don’t need to have read Eternal Skies to read Lotus Kingdoms, but it helps you grasp the worldbuilding, I think.
Anyway, I loved book one, and I’ve just started Red-Stained Wings, and I am VERY EXCITED!The Fever King (Feverwake, #1) by Victoria Lee
In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.
The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.
Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.
This is yet another wonderful book that fell by the wayside when life got hectic. Bah. I already have the sequel pre-ordered, despite only getting about a quarter of the way through Fever King. It’s that good.Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1) by Elizabeth Lim
on 9th July 2019
Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she'll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There's just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.
Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia's task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor's reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.
And finally, a book that hasn’t been released yet! This one had my attention when all we had was the pitch, and I’m completely in love with the full synopsis now we have it!
Also, a Tran Nguyen cover?! Someone in the publishing team really believes in this book. I’m not going to lie; that cover would definitely have been enough to get me to buy this one even if I hadn’t already been interested.
That’s what book covers are for, right? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
That’s it from me! What’s everyone else looking forward to this summer?