Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Week of May 1st

The 2018 Hugo Nominated Stories Online Right Now APRIL 27, 2018  BOOK LISTS, SHORT STORIES The 2018 Hugo Nominated Stories Online Right Now Another year, another SFF awards season is well underway, as the Hugo Award finalists were announced earlier this month. Get a jump start on your award reading with all the 2018 Hugo nominated short stories and novelettes (and one lonely novella) available to read online right now.  Keep in mind that only supporting and attending members of Worldcon 76 (and members with equivalent voting rights) who join the convention before the end of final ballot voting will be eligible to vote on the final ballot. Makes sense! This year's Worldcon will be August 16-20 in San Jose, so you have until summer to get your read on and your membership happening. Hopefully having these 13 stories all in one place will help...   Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw APRIL 25, 2018  BOOK REVIEWS Book Review: The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw TLDR: ★ ★ ★ ★ Languid and lyrical, I was enthralled by this atmospheric tale of a rain-soaked coastal Oregon town cursed by three witchy sisters — and all the riveting mystery and heartbreak their 200-year-old curse brings, even if it was sometimes a bit too predictable.  Thanks to my love of witches in fiction, an absolutely stunning book cover, and a description calling it "Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials," The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw has been on my can't wait to read list since last fall. And while this was much more poignant and not at all the lighthearted fun of the movies it's compared to — the only similarities being a trio of witchy sisters and a curse — this was still well worth the wait.  Set amid the misty haze of a coastal Oregon town, The Wicked Deep follows Penny Talbot as her junior year ends and the locals prepare for Swan season: a three-week period in June when the town is besieged by tourists morbidly eager to witness the curse of the Swan sisters. According to legend, three girls' bodies are inhabited by the spirits of three sisters killed for witchery 200 years ago so they can lure young men into the ocean's depths, drowning the boys as punishment for the town's sins against them.  The local teens have their own Swan season rituals, involving drunken bonfires on the beach and girls testing fate by going for a swim, daring a sister to take them. For Penny, these rituals are usually to be avoided, but this summer is different: her friend drags her to the bonfire party, where she's saved from a handsy drunk by the brooding new boy in town, Bo.  Though he's an outsider, Penny hires him to help out on the lighthouse island where she lives alone with her mother — her father having vanished three years ago — thus charting a new course for the summer that brings love, but also builds to a series of revelations both haunting and sad…   Best New Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books: Week of May 1st

Like last week, there's quite a bit of YA fantasy in this week's new releases, from the final book in Amy Tintera's bestselling Ruined series to a novella bridging events in between books of the massively popular A Court of Thorns and Roses, along with the start of a Game of Thrones-ish series full of magic and devious plots and betrayals. 

Unlike last week, there's also new adult fantasy as well — and both books feature diversity, which makes me happy! There's the start of a romantic New Adult fantasy series set in a treacherous world of magic and discrimination. And there's a fantasy series debut inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century that's also filled with treachery and magic, but being hailed by some as the fantasy debut of the year. The reviews for this are all kinds of amazing, which is why it's one of my reading picks this week.

On the sci-fi front, this week brings the conclusion to the Themis Files, an awesome giant robot invasion series (which hopefully means that now they'll finally get cracking on the movie adaptation). There's also my second reading pick of the week, which is a Jane Eyre retelling. But, like, in space. Yes, Jane Eyre. In space. On a ship called the Rochester. I mean... how could you not want to read this? 

With that, here are this week's best new sci-fi and fantasy books...

Allied (Ruined)
By Amy Tintera


Ruined #3

Amy Tintera

YA | Fantasy

Goodreads (4.4 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 50 Ratings)

In the final book in the New York Times bestselling Ruined series, the romance of The Selection and the epic stakes of Red Queen come together in a story of revenge, adventure, and unexpected love.

Emelina Flores and her sister, Olivia, were determined to bring peace to the people of Ruina. But as the war for liberation raged on, what triumph and freedom meant to Em and Olivia slowly changed. As Olivia’s violence and thirst for vengeance became her only ambition, Em was left to pick up the pieces. 

But it’s not only Em who is upset by Olivia’s increased violence. Other members of the Ruined army are beginning to see the cracks, and soon a small group of them defects from Olivia’s army and joins Em instead.

The two sisters are soon pitted against each other in an epic battle for the kingdom and the future, and only one will win.

Brightly Burning
By Alexa Donne

Brightly Burning

Alexa Donne

YA | Sci-Fi | Retelling | Jane Eyre

Goodreads (4.06 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 221 Ratings)

Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship. On the Rochester, there’s no water ration, more books than one person could devour in a lifetime, and an AI who seems more friend than robot.

But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet. Surrounded by mysteries, Stella finds her equal in the brooding but kind nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo. When several attempts on his life spark more questions than answers, and the beautiful Bianca Ingram appears at Hugo’s request, his unpredictable behavior causes Stella’s suspicions to mount. Without knowing who to trust, Stella must decide whether to follow her head or her heart.

Alexa Donne’s lush and enthralling reimagining of the classic Jane Eyre, set among the stars, will seduce and beguile you.


A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1

Sarah J. Maas

YA | Fantasy | Novella

Goodreads (4.53 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 811 Ratings)

Narrated by Feyre and Rhysand, this bridges the events in A Court of Wings and Ruin and the upcoming novels in the series. 

Feyre, Rhys, and their close-knit circle of friends are still busy rebuilding the Night Court and the vastly-changed world beyond. But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it, a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can't keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated—scars that will have far-reaching impact on the future of their Court.

Only Human 

Themis Files #3

Sylvain Neuvel

Science Fiction

Goodreads (4.1 ★ ★ ★ ★ | 176 Ratings)

Pacific Rim meets The Martian in the explosive follow-up to Sleeping Giants (“One of the most promising series kickoffs in recent memory.”—NPR) and Waking Gods (“Pure, unadulterated literary escapism.”—Kirkus Reviews).

Brilliant scientist Rose Franklin has devoted her adult life to solving the mystery she accidentally stumbled upon as a child: a huge metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. The discovery set in motion a cataclysmic chain of events with geopolitical ramifications. Rose and the Earth Defense Corps raced to master the enigmatic technology, as giant robots suddenly descended on Earth’s most populous cities, killing one hundred million people in the process. Though Rose and her team were able to fend off the attack, their victory was short-lived. The mysterious invaders retreated, disappearing from the shattered planet . . . but they took the scientist and her crew with them.

Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find a devastating new war—this time between humans. America and Russia are locked in combat, fighting to fill the power vacuum left behind after the invasion. Families are torn apart, friends become bitter enemies, and countries collapse in the wake of the battling superpowers. It appears the aliens left behind their titanic death machines so humankind will obliterate itself. Rose is determined to find a solution, whatever it takes. But will she become a pawn in a doomsday game no one can win?

The Poppy War: A Novel
By R. F. Kuang

The Poppy War

R.F. Kuang

Fantasy | Historical | Military | Diversity

Goodreads (4.44 ★ ★ ★ ★ ½ | 88 Ratings)

A brilliantly imaginative talent makes her exciting debut with this epic historical military fantasy, inspired by the bloody history of China’s twentieth century and filled with treachery and magic, in the tradition of Ken Liu’s Grace of Kings and N.K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy.

When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.

But surprises aren’t always good.

Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.

For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .

Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.


Song of Blood & Stone

Earthsinger Chronicles #1

L. Penelope

New Adult | Fantasy | Romance | Diversity

Goodreads (3.78 ★ ★ ★ ¾ | 539 Ratings)

L. Penelope's Song of Blood & Stone is a treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive--an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack's mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and its people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda's Earthsong to do it. They escape their vicious captors and together embark on a perilous journey to save the land and to uncover the secrets of the Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

The Smoke Thieves
By Sally Green

The Smoke Thieves

Sally Green

YA | Fantasy

Goodreads (3.8 ★ ★ ★ ¾ | 291 Ratings)

Unforgiveable betrayals, devious motives, and forbidden love collide in the first installment of internationally bestselling author Sally Green’s epic new fantasy series, perfect for Game of Thrones fans. 

In a land tinged with magic and a bustling trade in an illicit supernatural substance, destiny will intertwine the fates of five players: 

A visionary princess determined to forge her own path. 

An idealistic solider whose heart is at odds with his duty. 

A streetwise hunter tracking the most dangerous prey. 

A charming thief with a powerful hidden identity. 

A loyal servant on a quest to avenge his kingdom.

All are driven by ambition, honor, and desperation on the cusp of war. But who will be left standing when the smoke clears?