My Favorite Scifi Books of 2022 (So Far) #ScifiMonth2022

So, as my first—and possibly only—contribution to Scifi Month 2022, here are my six favorite science fiction releases from 2022 (thus far). In no particular order, since I really do enjoy giving my top books of the year.

I would like to mention that there are several appealing books that I haven’t yet gotten around to reading this year. As opposed to links and titles, I’m just going to throw a bunch of covers up at the end.

“It is a supremely cruel thing to have your mind conjure a desire which it is functionally unable to realize.”

Upgrade is another Blake Crouch thriller—this one centering around Logan Ramsay, federal agent, and son of the most infamous gene criminal in history. Everything he’s done following his arrest has been to distance himself from his family’s shadow, and from the child he once was. But when he’s infected by what surely is the evolution of his late mother’s work, a virus that makes him smarter, faster, stronger, Logan must confront his past demons. And do it all while trying to keep the virus from spreading across the globe.

Training was one hundred percent about dying. I don’t remember them dedicating much time at all to staying alive.

Mickey7 is the sixth iternation of Mickey Barnes, the only expendable on the ice world Niflheim. His job is simple: do whatever dangerously stupid jobs still require a human, or those that are so insanely irresponsible as to void the insurance on any equipment that might break in the process. Which, as you might expect, means he dies a lot. Luckily, there’s a printer on-site ready to pop out another clone whenever Mickey fails to return from a mission. Unluckily, Mickey7 just returned from his latest mission to find Mickey8 in his bed—a mistake that could see both clones die painfully and for good, if anyone else ever finds out.

“My fellows are really not happy with you, Torquell.”
It’s such an understatement you blink. “Good?” you try.

Ogres are bigger than you. Ogres are stronger than you. And that’s why Ogres rule the world. From an idyllic corner of the world comes Torquell: precocious scoundrel, son of the headmaster, next in line to lick the boots of the overlords. But Torquell’s not in the mind to lick any boots. Not when he kills the Ogre in charge of his corner of the world. And no human kills a Master and lives. Indeed, Torquell may just be another footnote in the margins of history—or maybe he can rewrite it.

“The screens in the hall are all glitching red, and judging by the frantic way Miles and his father are assaulting their keypads, this isn’t a marketing stunt; it’s a breach.
We’re being hacked.”

18-year-old Sil Sarrah is the pride of the Mindwalker program—her perfect record a shining beacon to any would-be client, or a well-deserved shiner to any would-be competition—at least, until she fails a mission and is forced to go rogue. Now, alone and hunted, Sil must risk the only course that can get her reinstated: infiltrate the Analog Army—a terrorist group and the biggest thorn in Syntex’s side. The only hope she has of returning home is to find something—anything!—that will help take the cell down. And she’s working against a clock; no Walker lives past the age of 20, most die at 18 even. Lucky for her there are no complications and the assignment is straightforward and romance-free. Lucky Sil Sarrah. Lucky…

“They invented multidimensional travel but they haven’t figured out how to make guns?”

Prison of Sleep wraps up the Journals of Zaxony Delatree (at least for now), with a thrilling if yawn-inducing chase through the æther. One day, Zax was forced to watch a patient kill herself. He fell asleep covered in her blood. And woke up somewhere else. One thousand worlds later Zax has found true love, only to lose it—twice. While he’s no closer to discovering his own place in the multiverse, he does know his purpose. At least, the one he’s decided on: to help save the multiverse from the tunneling-horror trapped outside of time, and its legion of followers trying to free the great Worm once and for all. Zax just hopes he can have a nice, quiet sleep afterwards.

They gathered in doorways and crouched beside the dresser, and in the dead of night they came out and gathered around her beside like viewers at a funeral while she lay paralyzed.

A decade ago, Sean Wren had a family, a future, and a home. And then the Ministers came to Krystrom. A dozen years and one disastrous mission later, Sean is forced to once again confront these immortal aliens—albeit in a place where they’re not the most terrifying thing around. Probably don’t make the top five, even. Aboard an abandoned ship circling a dying star, Sean must do what no human has managed in the millennia before him: unravel the secrets of immortality. And he must do it before the star supernovas, something kills him, or the Immortality Thief comes to a close. Tall order, that.

One Dark Window – by Rachel Gillig

standalone

Fantasy, Gothic, Romance

Orbit Books; September 27, 2022

392 pages (paperback)

GoodreadsStoryGraph
Author WebsiteSocials

DNF at 92 pages

As is usual for my DNFs, this will be a fairly quick review. If I don’t like something—unless it annoys or offends me on a truly rant-worthy level—my thoughts on it are typically pretty succinct. In this case, I just didn’t meld well with it. It never claimed my attention in the first place and then just couldn’t hold it as the pages began to turn.

I mean…

Well, this was an absolutely frustrating book. Strange, uneven pacing. A plot told in starts and stops. I never understood the cards, which were such a big part of the plot (in the beginning at least). I didn’t like the romance—which had barely even begun by the time I DNFed it.

I’ve seen an incredible variation in the ratings for One Dark Window among people that I know (and whose opinions I really, actually, somewhat care about). Among the rest of everyone—it’s a hit. Overwhelmingly praised, albeit with quite a few non-rating DNFs. If you read this to the end, odds are you’ll like it. Love it, even. But if you don’t love it, it probably won’t hold your attention.

I’m actually tempted to believe that there’s a decent read here, if you can find it. But I didn’t, and it wasn’t for me. And if I’m not enjoying something, I won’t push through it in search of what everyone else can see. I don’t see it—and that’s enough for me.

I can’t thank Orbit enough for—not only granting me access to a digital ARC—but also providing me with a lovely physical copy. Sorry I didn’t like it, but that’s the chance you take, I suppose. This particular copy will be donated to my local library so that it will hopefully fall into the hands of someone(s) who will give it the love that it deserves.

Tread of Angels – by Rebecca Roanhorse (Review)

novella / standalone (?)

Fantasy, Mystery, Novella

Gallery / Saga Press; November 15, 2022

208 pages (ebook)

GoodreadsStoryGraph
Author WebsiteSocials

5 / 10 ✪

I was kindly granted an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Gallery Books, Saga Press, and NetGalley for the eARC! All opinions are my own.

The year is 1883. Goetia is a boom town that draws the rich and poor, the ambitious and desperate, miners and prospectors, doves and demons alike in search of work, wealth, and a life to call their own. The town’s main source of income is not gold nor iron, silver nor lead, but Divinity. Goetia is a town gotten rich on mining the long dead corpses of angels and demons, fallen in the age old war that defined heaven and hell.

Celeste is a card sharp. Goetia’s native daughter, she grew up in the poorest slums but has since managed to make a name for herself, at least among some. She is also part Fallen herself, though she bears none of its marks. Something that would relieve Celeste, if not for their presence about her sister.

Mariel is a singer accused. Arrested and charged with the murder of a Virtue—law and morality enforcers who can trace their blood back to divinity as well, they despise the Fallen and their descendants purely on principle—Mariel is hauled off to a pit for execution, and it’s up to Celeste to save her. Something that may yet cost her more than just the life of her only sister.

Angels and demons, guns and dusters, corruption and ambition collide in Goetia—and it’s important to know: there are no innocents in this story.

Sadly, the mystery wasn’t terribly mysterious. As a whodunnit, it never really gets off the ground. There’s really only one person it could be and even the lead doesn’t really try to spread the blame overly long. From then it’s less of a who and more of a why. Unfortunately, this too is cleared up rather easily. Honestly, I found what happened next more entertaining than the entire mystery.

Not enough world building. The set dressing is nice enough, but the world behind is might as well be a cardboard cutout. There’s very little depth, and I’m entirely lost on much of the history and rules. Everything we know is what is told on the fly, as there’s nothing granted up front. It’s not exactly that every term or concept worth knowing has its own info-dump, however. Some things we’re just expected to figure out—but mostly, yeah, everything has its own info-dump.

Goetia reminds me of Landfall (the Boy with the Porcelain Blade). Just as Landfall is covered in a dense fog, anything outside of immediate purview in Goetia is ignored as unimportant. The outside world may as well not exist. Certainly don’t remember it being mentioned, except as a vague concept like, “I’ve stayed here too long, there’s an entire world to see”—but that’s it. I’m not getting any kind of sense of either the city or the world as a concept. They’re simply ignored unless absolutely pertinent to the story. I understand keeping the novella on track, but occasionally you can do that while giving the slightest peeks into the world beyond.

I could do without some of the references to Jesus, such as Calvary or Golgotha. In a world still reeling from an open war between heaven and hell, where angels and demons live openly alongside the humans, well, surely Jesus wouldn’t be a thing? They’re only really mentioned as descriptions, place names, but still. The story is listed as taking place in 1883—in the blurb—though this seems more about setting up the western narrative more than anything else.

Despite my criticisms of this book, I would actually be interested in seeing more of this world. Not the characters from Tread, however. I’m a fan of the angels and demons, western aesthetic. Tread of Angels reminded me quite a bit of Golgotha (from R.S. Belcher), only with a more openly biblical presence. Anyway, same concept, different story, different cast?—sure, I’m on board, let’s do this.

TL;DR

While I feel Tread of Angels—as a concept, at least—has promise, the novella itself came off a bit half-cocked. Actually, instead of the concept itself being solid—I’d say the proof of concept has promise. That’s because the chosen setting of Goetia falls a bit flat. It needs more world-building. Like, anything outside the story’s immediate purview. The entire outside world is ignored. I’m honestly not sure if it was entirely destroyed or just not designed in the first place. The mystery isn’t terribly mysterious, as the whodunnit quickly devolves into a whydunnit more than anything. The best thing I can really say about this is that as a read, it wasn’t bad. I moderately enjoyed the majority of the time I spent in Goetia, and while there’ll have to be a number of improvements to lure me back in the future, it is a world I would consider revisiting. But it needs work.

Mindwalker – by Kate Dylan (Review)

standalone (?)

Scifi, Cyberpunk, YA

Hodder & Stoughton; September 1, 2022

320 pages (ebook)
10hr 42m (audiobook)

GoodreadsStoryGraph
Author WebsiteSocials

8.5 / 10 ✪

I was kindly granted an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for the eARC! All opinions are my own.

I apologize in advance if this is a bit rougher and more… rambly (?) than my other reviews. I’ve been struggling with my headspace for months now, and it’s affected my ability to word properly.

Eighteen-year-old Mindwalker Sil Sarrah is the best of the best at what she does. Shame she’s due to die in under twelve months, when the supercomputer grafted to her brain burns out. But while she may die young, Sil is determined to go out on top.

The Mindwalker program: the pride of the Syntex Corporation. This secret program is dedicated to commandeering agents minds from afar (with the agents’ consent, of course) and using their Walkers’ supercharged skills and supercomputer intellect to extract the agents from whatever situation they’ve gotten themselves into. After ten years in the program, Sil retains a perfect record—not a single agent lost, not a single mission failed.

A record Sil’s determined to keep; a way to ensure that her legacy survives her.

Until she fails a redacted mission on the public stage, disobeying a direct order in the process. Forced to flee the company she’s called home for over half her life, Sil is completely cut off: no way to contact her friends, no reason to contact her family, and with no resources to bring to bear—though at least she still has access to her CIP (Cerebral Intelligence Processor), Jarvis. And at least she has a plan to regain her standing, and return home.

To do so she must infiltrate the Analog Army—the biggest thorn in Syntex’s side—and do whatever she can to bring the terrorists to justice.

But after a few days on the lam, Sil already has a mounting list of problems. Not the least of which is the cocky smile and good looks of Ryder, an AA cell leader. Though there’s also the conspiracy she’s stumbled upon. “Mindjacking”, so-called as it focusses on hijacking the unwilling minds of anyone connected to the net and wearing their body like a meat-suit. Which, in this enlightened future, is pretty much anyone at all. A conspiracy that apparently centers on the one place Sil can’t go—the Syntex Corporation.

Mindwalker came out back in September to rave reviews. While it wasn’t initially on my radar—or the radars of any of my friends or followers, really—after maybe a week of scrolling through the endless praise and comments, I knew I had to read it. Set in a dystopian world where a fractured United States (yeah, I know those terms contradict one another) rules only by outsourcing so much of their process to corporate contractors, the setting for this evokes a dystopian sphere, heavy with science fiction and cyberpunk themes.

Fresh into its pages I was immediately taken with the world—albeit… less so with the plot. While done in an interesting way, Mindwalker is essentially a new take on an old classic; a dystopian world where our corporate protagonist joins up with the ragtag rebels to expose a conspiracy and win the day! I mean, it’s not exactly breaking the mold here. That said, despite this far-from-unique model, and a somewhat lacklustre romance, Mindwalker is really quite a good read.

The setting makes the story, but the characters keep the focus—and Sil is far from the eminently hatable corporate rat that I initially took her for. Stubborn, distrusting, but somehow full of emotion and passion (no, not that kind), she makes a good lead, even through the romance which usually bores me. That said, the romance in this is only really heavy at the close, and even then it never takes the pace from the overarching story completely. Lena, Jondi, Miles, even Lin and Risler help set the plot up as believable, a world made up of human characters in a plausible setting. Before long this list includes Ryder and more, but never expands beyond the memorable handful of faces, leaving a sea of nameless, faceless masses without a story or purpose. Despite the world supposedly being massive, it doesn’t feel like it from the handful of characters. I’d’ve liked to see a few more (even) throwaway characters, or randoms. Instead, we get a few bullet-sponges, soon-to-be dead’uns, and nameless guards, that Sil—despite her decade in the program—doesn’t recognize. Neither does she recognize (or at least mention) any other Walkers beyond her two friends. So, to recap: characters—great main, good supporting, but anything after that is a complete wash.

All in all, I had little problem getting into Mindwalker and—despite the fact that it took me a month to read (which I ascribe more to the goings-on in my personal life than anything of the text itself)—was never of the illusion that I’d not finish it. Though my opinion of the book isn’t exactly the golden standard that I’ve seen set for this title, it does speak well to its success. Currently on Goodreads, only 13% of all ratings are under 4 stars (9% of these are 3). Which means that even the people who don’t absolutely love this really enjoy (or quite) it.

Where was I going with this? I guess that I’d recommend it? Because I would. Pretty good read.

November 2022

If I was into the idea of lengthy titles, this would’ve been called “November 2022: the Curse of the Unplanned Hiatus”—though the hiatus in question was really just a case of reading burnout. After October 7th, when I finished the tremendous Immortality Thief, I worked on portions of five separate books. Two I eventually abandoned: one I simply couldn’t care about, the other I didn’t enjoy (and didn’t care to try). Two more, I’m still kinda working on—the Dark Between the Trees and Mindwalker—though the latter is the only one I feel any investiture in. And while I haven’t snapped out of this funk, I have finally managed to finish something.

This month has been reading hell. I had a rough idea of doing some Halloween themed lists and reads, none of which I even started on, let alone saw through. My mind wandered. The words and sentences blurred together. I couldn’t focus. The plot was fuzzy and indistinct. I couldn’t remember who any of the characters were, or why I should care. The settings still came through, for the most part, but it’s hard to read a book (and care) when all you have is a setting. Yet while I couldn’t focus on reading anything, neither did I care for writing about them. I have a few books on the backburner—ones I’ve read but don’t have reviews for. Additionally, there are some old favorites or latest reads in a series that I could’ve written up, but whenever I tried I just found my attention absent.

I’ll admit, it’s possible that this is related to something in my personal life. Hard to say; hasn’t been helping, at any rate. Could also be because my anxiety has been worse lately, or my circadian rhythm is out of whack. Again, I’d say while neither of these have been helpful, neither are they the root of the problem.

I’m pretty sure this is just a case of burnout, made worse by those other factors. It’ll pass—but it will probably take some time. As such, while I do have a few ARCs for November lined up, I probably won’t get to many (or any) of the science fiction themed reads I’d considered for Scifi Month. Also, it’s a good bet my posts will be a bit sparse for the month. But I’ll be back to it in time.

ARC

The Hollows – by Daniel Church (11/08)

Standalone

GoodreadsStoryGraph

In a lonely village in the Peak District, during the onset of a once-in-a-lifetime snow storm, Constable Ellie Cheetham finds a body. The man, a local ne’er-do-well, appears to have died in a tragic accident: he drank too much and froze to death.

But the facts don’t add up: the dead man is clutching a knife in one hand, and there’s evidence he was hiding from someone. Someone who watched him die. Stranger still, an odd mark has been drawn onto a stone beside his body.

The next victims are two families on the outskirts of town. As the storm rises and the body count grows, Ellie realises she has a terrifying problem on her hands: someone – or some thing – is killing indiscriminately, attacking in the darkness and using the storm for cover.

The killer is circling ever closer to the village. The storm’s getting worse… and the power’s just gone out.

Reckoning – by W. Michael Gear (11/08)

Donovan #6

GoodreadsStoryGraph

The sixth book in the thrilling Donovan sci-fi series returns to a treacherous alien planet where corporate threats and dangerous creatures imperil the lives of the colonists.

Three years after Ashanti spaced for Solar System, Turalon reappears in the Donovanian sky. The Corporation has returned. Donovan’s wealth is a lure for the powerful families who control the Board. Unburdened by morals, they are bringing their battle for supremacy to Port Authority and a showdown that could tear The Corporation apart.

Much to her disgust, Falise Taglioni has been chosen to ensure that her family emerges triumphant; she comes with instructions for her brother, Dek. After all, she could always manipulate him to her will. And she will again, even if she has to destroy Talina Perez in the process. And if her war with the Grunnels, Xian Chans, and Radceks destroys Port Authority in the process? Who cares?

But nothing on Donovan is static, and in the three years since Ashanti’s departure, life on the planet has hardened Kalico Aguila and the scrappy inhabitants of Port Authority. Life in the bush breeds a different kind of human, genetically altered, tough, and self-reliant. And on Donovan, determining who is predator, and who is prey has never been easy.

Meanwhile, for Kylee Simonov and her bonded quetzal, Flute, there will be a final comeuppance. Because on Donovan, blood vendetta needs to be paid. And then she’s going to town. After which, nothing will be the same.

Empire of Exiles – by Erin M. Evans (11/08)

Books of the Usurper #1

GoodreadsStoryGraph

Twenty-seven years ago, a Duke with a grudge led a ruthless coup against the empire of Semilla, killing thousands. He failed. The Duke was executed, a terrifyingly powerful sorcerer was imprisoned, and an unwilling princess disappeared. 

The empire moved on. 

Now, when Quill, an apprentice scribe, arrives in the capital city, he believes he’s on a simple errand for another pompous noble: fetch ancient artifacts from the magical Imperial Archives. He’s always found his apprenticeship to a lawman to be dull work. But these aren’t just any artifacts — these are the instruments of revolution, the banners under which the Duke lead his coup. 

Just as the artifacts are unearthed, the city is shaken by a brutal murder that seems to have been caused by a weapon not seen since the days of rebellion. With Quill being the main witness to the murder, and no one in power believing his story, he must join the Archivists — a young mage, a seasoned archivist, and a disillusioned detective — to solve the truth of the attack. And what they uncover will be the key to saving the empire – or destroying it again.

I actually started this one a while back. It has a good plot, interesting mystery and concept, and although it starts a little slow, well, I shouldn’t’ve had as much trouble with it as I did. But what can I say? Sometimes it’s just like that.

Such is life.

Tread of Angels – by Rebecca Roanhorse (11/15)

Standalone / Novella

GoodreadsStoryGraph

Celeste, a card sharp with a penchant for trouble, takes on the role of advocatus diaboli, to defend her sister Mariel, accused of murdering a Virtue, a member of the ruling class in the mining town of Goetia, in a new world of dark fantasy.

High in the remote mountains, the town of Goetia is booming as prospectors from near and far come to mine the powerful new element Divinity. Divinity is the remains of the body of the rebel Abaddon, who fell to earth during Heaven’s War, and it powers the world’s most inventive and innovative technologies, ushering in a new age of progress. However, only the descendants of those that rebelled, called Fallen, possess the ability to see the rich lodes of the precious element. That makes them a necessary evil among the good and righteous people called the Elect, and Goetia a town segregated by ancestry and class.

Celeste and Mariel are two Fallen sisters, bound by blood but raised in separate worlds. Celeste grew up with her father, passing in privileged Elect society, while Mariel stayed with their mother in the Fallen slums of Goetia. Upon her father’s death, Celeste returns to Goetia and reunites with Mariel. Mariel is a great beauty with an angelic voice, and Celeste, wracked by guilt for leaving her sister behind, becomes her fiercest protector.

When Mariel is accused of murdering a Virtue, the powerful Order of the Archangels that rule Goetia, Celeste must take on the role of Advocatus Diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) and defend her sister in the secretive courts of the Virtue. Celeste, aided by her ex-lover, Abraxas, who was once one of the rebels great generals, sets out to prove Mariel innocent. But powerful forces among the Virtues and the Elect mining barons don’t want Celeste prying into their business, and Mariel has secrets of her own. As Celeste is drawn deeper into the dark side of Goetia, she unravel a layer of lies and manipulation that may doom Mariel and puts her own immortal soul at risk, in this dark fantasy noir from the bestselling mastermind Rebecca Roanhorse.

Wormhole – by Eric Brown & Keith Brooke (11/22)

Standalone

GoodreadsStoryGraph

2110. Earth is suffering major resource shortages, and the impact of climate change is peaking, with much of the planet’s equatorial regions turned to lifeless desert and populations displaced. Colonies have been established on Mars and the Moon, but these cannot hope to sustain any more than a scant population of hundreds of citizens.

Attention has turned to the need to discover an extra-solar colony world.

European scientists, using discoveries made at CERN, have identified the means of creating a wormhole in the space-time continuum, which would allow interstellar travel. However, to do so they must first physically transport one end of the wormhole to where they want it to be, so settingup a wormhole will always rely on physical travel first of all.

A ship is sent to Mu Arae, earth-like planet discovered 10 years before. It is a journey that will take 80 years, the crew, who will eventually set up the wormhole on the planet, kept in suspended animation. But only a few years into the trip, catastrophe strikes and the ship blows up en route, killing all aboard.

2190, eighty years after the starship set out.

Gordon Kemp is a detective working in the cold case department in London. Usually he works on cases closed ten, twenty-five years earlier. Now, however, he has been assigned a murder investigation closed, unsolved, over eighty years ago. What he unearths will change history and threatens everything we know about what the powers that be have planned for Earth. The tragedy that befell the ship 80 years before is not what it seems and the past and the present are radically different to what everyone on Earth believes. We made the journey. Why has it been kept a secret?

Other Releases

The Lost Metal – by Brandon Sanderson (11/15)

Mistborn #7 / Wax & Wayne #4

GoodreadsStoryGraph

For years, frontier lawman turned big-city senator Waxillium Ladrian has hunted the shadowy organization the Set—with his late uncle and his sister among their leaders—since they started kidnapping people with the power of Allomancy in their bloodlines. When Detective Marasi Colms and her partner Wayne find stockpiled weapons bound for the Outer City of Bilming, this opens a new lead. Conflict between Elendel and the Outer Cities only favors the Set, and their tendrils now reach to the Elendel Senate—whose corruption Wax and Steris have sought to expose—and Bilming is even more entangled.

After Wax discovers a new type of explosive that can unleash unprecedented destruction and realizes that the Set must already have it, an immortal kandra serving Scadrial’s god reveals that Harmony’s power is blocked in Bilming. That means the city has fallen under the influence of another god: Trell, worshipped by the Set. And Trell isn’t the only factor at play from the larger Cosmere—Marasi is recruited by offworlders with strange abilities who claim their goal is to protect Scadrial…at any cost.

Harmony’s vision of future possibilities comes to an abrupt halt tomorrow night, with only blackness after that. It’s a race against time, and Wax must choose whether to set aside his rocky relationship with God and once again become the Sword that Harmony has groomed him to be. If no one steps forward to be the hero Scadrial needs, the planet and its millions of people will come to a sudden and calamitous ruin.

Tor was nice enough to give me the 10 chapter preview (which I didn’t actually request), while rejecting me for the full thing (which I did). That said, I wasn’t really expecting them to give me either, so, I guess… thanks? If the rest of the book is as good as the first 10 chapters, I’m betting it’s going to be one exciting conclusion, though the beginning really could’ve used a bit of zhuzhing up, if I’m honest.

Africa Risen – by Various Authors (11/15)

Omnibus

GoodreadsStoryGraph

From an award-winning team of editors comes an anthology of thirty-two original stories showcasing the breadth of fantasy and science fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora.

A group of cabinet ministers query a supercomputer containing the minds of the country’s ancestors. A child robot on a dying planet uncovers signs of fragile new life. A descendant of a rain goddess inherits her grandmother’s ability to change her appearance—and perhaps the world.

Created in the legacy of the seminal, award-winning anthology series Dark Matter, Africa Risen celebrates the vibrancy, diversity, and reach of African and Afro-Diasporic SFF and reaffirms that Africa is not rising—it’s already here.

Purchases

All of Our Demise – by Amanda Foody & Christine Lynn Herman

All of Us Villains #2

GoodreadsStoryGraph

“I feel like I should warn you: this is going to be absolutely brutal.”

For the first time in this ancient, bloodstained story, the tournament is breaking. The boundaries between the city of Ilvernath and the arena have fallen. Reporters swarm the historic battlegrounds. A dead boy now lives again. And a new champion has entered the fray, one who seeks to break the curse for good… no matter how many lives are sacrificed in the process.

As the curse teeters closer and closer to collapse, the surviving champions each face a choice: dismantle the tournament piece by piece, or fight to the death as this story was always intended.

Long-held alliances will be severed. Hearts will break. Lives will end. Because a tale as wicked as this one was never destined for happily ever after.

Siege of Rage and Ruin – by Django Wexler

Wells of Sorcery #3

GoodreadsStoryGraph

Isoka has done the impossible–she’s captured the ghost ship Soliton.

With her crew of mages, including the love of her life Princess Meroe, Isoka returns to the empire that sent her on her deadly mission. She’s ready to hand over the ghost ship as ransom for her sister Tori’s life, but arrives to find her home city under siege. And Tori at the helm of a rebellion.

Neither Isoka’s mastery of combat magic, nor Tori’s proficiency with mind control, could have prepared them for the feelings their reunion surfaces. But they’re soon drawn back into the rebels’ fight to free the city that almost killed them.

I’m actually still one behind in this series, but I couldn’t resist picking up a used hardcover to complete the trilogy.

Written in Red – by Anne Bishop

The Others #1

GoodreadsStoryGraph

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

Currently Reading

As I said, I’m still struggling to get into stories. Therefore, I’m reading somewhere between a lot of books and nothing at all. I just finished a reread of the opener to one of my favorite series—Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan—and now I’m trying to decide whether or not to jump to the second, or try something else. As such, I’ve included the Crimson Campaign, along with Mindwalker, and the Darkness Between the Trees, which have been on my somewhat-am-reading shelf for a few weeks.

Music

Two more albums out this October—one a collection full of acoustics, covers, and demos; the other an actual album full of new music. The first is Other Worlds from the Pretty Reckless, a collection of various tracks, out this Friday the 4th. The second is Cold Kingdom’s third studio album, Life // Love, out November 18th. I’m not super excited for either album, to be honest, as I’m not a huge fan of collections, nor did I think Cold Kingdom’s sophomore release was particularly good.

In addition, there are likely several singles out that I’m not aware of, but the one I am happens to be Your Frequency from Breathing Theory on the 4th. Obviously no link yet, but I’ll try and remember to update this come the fourth. In the meantime, here’s some artwork:

Life

Yeah, I’ll probably come up with something before tomorrow.

If not, just return to the burnout bit at the top.

How was your month? Any good reading? You know all those releases from October I didn’t read—how were they? Let me know!