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Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Week of May 15th

New SFF Books - May 15.png

This week is the week of the sequel, with so many second books from quite a few of last year's new sci-fi and fantasy series. You'll find follow-ups to: the Nebula-nominated deco-punk fantasy Amberlough, the action-packed military sci-fi of Vanguard (book 1 in the Genesis Fleet series), and the ongoing steampunk adventure of last year's The Guns Above (book 1 in the Signal Airship series). 

In keeping with the series theme of the week, there's also the conclusion to Victoria Aveyard's wildly popular Red Queen series, and a new spin-off to Charlie Holmberg's enchanting steampunk-ish Paper Magician series, only now with plastic! I adored the magical world of The Paper Magician, so I'm excited for this new series set in that same world.

It's not all follow-ups and spin-offs, though. There's new stuff too! Like the Publishers Weekly-starred start to Neal Asher's newest sci-fi series, set in the Polity universe. And a beautifully-written dystopian novel by Jason Mott, and a new series by Mindee Arnett for those who can't get enough palace intrigue and magic in their YA fantasy.

There's also my other reading pick of the week, Sophie Cameron's debut YA fantasy about angels and grief. I realize that for a few years angels were the new vampires in YA fantasy and publishers churned out some not so great books as a result, but I don't care — I'll always be a sucker for fresh takes on angel mythology, plus it's full of diversity and set during the Edinburgh festival, so I'm in. 

Here are this week's best new sci-fi and fantasy books...
 

Armistice

Amberlough Dossier #2

Lara Elena Donnelly 

Fantasy

Goodreads (4.27 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 15 ratings)

Armistice returns to Donnelly’s ravishing 1930s Art Deco-tinged fantasy world of the Nebula Award-nominated Amberlough with a decadent, tumultuous mixture of sex, politics, and spies

In a tropical country where shadowy political affairs lurk behind the scenes of its glamorous film industry, three people maneuver inside a high stakes game of statecraft and espionage:

Lillian, a reluctant diplomat serving a fascist nation,

Aristide, an expatriate film director running from lost love and a criminal past,

—and Cordelia, a former cabaret stripper turned legendary revolutionary.

Each one harbors dangerous knowledge that can upturn a nation. When their fates collide, machinations are put into play, unexpected alliances are built, and long-held secrets are exposed. Everything is barreling towards an international revolt...and only the wiliest ones will be prepared for what comes next.


Ascendant

The Genesis Fleet #2

Jack Campbell

Science Fiction | Military

Goodreads (4.29 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 17 ratings)

A young fleet officer and a Marine stand together to defend their colony in the continuation of the powerful and action-packed Genesis Fleet saga from New York Times bestselling author Jack Campbell.

In the three years since former fleet officer Rob Geary and former Marine Mele Darcy led improvised forces to repel attacks on the newly settled world of Glenlyon, tensions have only gotten worse.

When one of Glenlyon's warships is blown apart trying to break the blockade that has isolated the world from the rest of human-colonized space, only the destroyer Saber remains to defend it from another attack. Geary's decision to take Saber to the nearby star Kosatka to safeguard a diplomatic mission is a risky interpretation of his orders, to say the least.

Kosatka has been fighting a growing threat from so-called rebels--who are actually soldiers from aggressive colonies. When a "peacekeeping force" carrying thousands of enemy soldiers arrives in Kosatka's star system, the people of that world, including Lochan Nakamura and former "Red" Carmen Ochoa, face an apparently hopeless battle to retain their freedom. 

It's said that the best defense is a good offense. But even if a bold and risky move succeeds, Geary and Darcy may not survive it...


By Fire Above

Signal Airship #2

Robyn Bennis

Steampunk | Fantasy | Sci-Fi

Goodreads (4.21 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 14 ratings)

By Fire Above is the rip-roaring new adventure in Robyn Bennis's Signal Airship military fantasy series that Patricia Briggs hails as “full of sass and terrific characters.”

"All's fair in love and war," according to airship captain Josette Dupre, until her hometown of Durum becomes occupied by the enemy and her mother a prisoner of war. Then it becomes, "Nothing's fair except bombing those Vins to high hell."

Before she can rescue her town, however, Josette must maneuver her way through the nest of overstuffed vipers that make up Garnia's military and royal leaders in order to drum up support. The foppish and mostly tolerated Mistral crew member Lord Bernat steps in to advise her, along with his very attractive older brother.

Between noble scheming, under-trained recruits, and supply shortages, Josette and the crew of the Mistral figure out a way to return to Durum—only to discover that when the homefront turns into the frontlines, things are more dangerous than they seem.


The Crossing

Jason Mott 

Science Fiction | Dystopian

Goodreads (3.35 ★ ★ ★ ¼  | 26 ratings)

Stay and die, or run and survive.

Twins Virginia and Tommy Matthews have been on their own since they were orphaned at the age of five, surviving a merciless foster care system by relying on each other. Twelve years later, the world begins to collapse around them as a deadly contagion steadily wipes out entire populations and a devastating world war rages on. When Tommy is drafted for the war, the twins are faced with a choice: accept their fate of almost certain death, or dodge the draft. Virginia and Tommy flee into the dark night.

Armed with only a pistol and their fierce will to survive, the twins set forth in search of a new beginning. Encountering a colorful cast of characters along the way, Tommy and Virginia must navigate the dangers and wonders of this changed world as they try to outrun the demons of their past.

With deft imagination and breathless prose, The Crossing is a riveting tale of loyalty, sacrifice and the burdens we carry with us into the darkness of the unknown.


Onyx & Ivory

Mindee Arnett 

YA | Fantasy

Goodreads (3.9 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 105 ratings)

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett thrusts readers into a beautiful, dangerous, and magical world in this stunningly epic and romantic fantasy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Raasch.

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.


Out of the Blue

Sophie Cameron

YA | Fantasy | Angels

Goodreads (4.0 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 216 ratings)

When otherworldly beings start falling from the sky, it seems like the end of days are near—but for one girl, it’s just the beginning of an adventure that will change her life.

Jaya's life has completely fallen apart. Her mother is dead, her dad is on an obsessive wild goose chase, and mysterious winged beings are falling from the sky. For the past nine months, none of the them have survived the plummet to Earth, but when a female being lands near Jaya—and is still alive—she doesn’t call the authorities. She hides the being and tries to nurse her back to health.

Set against the backdrop of a society trying to come to grips with the possibility of a world beyond, Out of the Blue is the story of how one unexpected turn of events can put you on a path toward healing.

😍 MY READING PICK THIS WEEK!


The Plastic Magician

The Paper Magician #4 (spin-off)

Charlie N. Holmberg 

Fantasy

Goodreads (4.31 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 150 ratings)

Wall Street Journal bestselling author Charlie N. Holmberg returns to the enchanting world of The Paper Magician.

Alvie Brechenmacher has arrived in London to begin her training in Polymaking—the magical discipline of bespelling plastic. Polymaking is the newest form of magic, and in a field where there is so much left to learn, every Polymaker dreams of making the next big discovery.

Even though she is only an apprentice, Alvie is an inventor at heart, and she is determined to make as many discoveries—in as short a time frame—as she can. Luckily for her, she’s studying under the world-renowned magician Marion Praff, who is just as dedicated as Alvie is.

Alvie’s enthusiasm reinvigorates her mentor’s work, and together they create a device that could forever change Polymaking—and the world. But when a rival learns of their plans, he conspires to steal their invention and take the credit for it himself.

To thwart him, Alvie will need to think one step ahead. For in the high-stakes world of magical discovery, not everyone plays fair…

😍 MY READING PICK THIS WEEK!


The Soldier

Neal Asher

Science Fiction

Goodreads (4.14 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 7 ratings)

In a far corner of space, on the very borders between humanity’s Polity worlds and the kingdom of the vicious crab-like prador, is an immediate threat to all sentient life: an accretion disc, a solar system designed by the long-dead Jain race and swarming with living technology powerful enough to destroy entire civilizations. 

Neither the Polity or the prador want the other in full control of the disc, so they’ve placed an impartial third party in charge of the weapons platform guarding the technology from escaping into the galaxy: Orlandine, a part-human, part-AI haiman. She’s assisted by Dragon, a mysterious, spaceship-sized alien entity who has long been suspicious of Jain technology and who suspects the disc is a trap lying-in-wait. 

Meanwhile, the android Angel is planning an attack on the Polity, and is searching for a terrible weapon to carry out his plans?a Jain super-soldier. But what exactly the super-soldier is, and what it could be used for if it fell into the wrong hands, will bring Angel and Orlandine’s missions to a head in a way that could forever change the balance of power in the Polity universe. 

In The Soldier, British science fiction writer Neal Asher kicks off another Polity-based trilogy in signature fashion, concocting a mind-melting plot filled with far-future technology, lethal weaponry, and bizarre alien creations.


War Storm

Red Queen #4

Victoria Aveyard 

YA | Fantasy

Goodreads (4.22 ★ ★ ★ ★ ¼ | 1,021 ratings)

The #1 New York Times bestselling Red Queen series comes to a stunning conclusion in War Storm.

VICTORY COMES AT A PRICE.

Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all . . . starting with the crown on Maven’s head.

But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolish everything—and everyone—in his path.

War is coming, and all Mare has fought for hangs in the balance. Will victory be enough to topple the Silver kingdoms? Or will the little lightning girl be forever silenced?

In the epic conclusion to Victoria Aveyard’s stunning series, Mare must embrace her fate and summon all her power . . . for all will be tested, but not all will survive.