Black Ships by Jo Graham
After I read Ursula K. Le Guin’s Lavinia last October, Fyrefly at Fyrefly’s Book Blog recommended I check out Black Ships, another book that retells The Aeneid from a minor female character’s perspective, to combat my complaints about Lavinia’s structure and pacing. While I’ve always been a fan of ancient Greece (although a greater fan of ancient Egypt), ancient Rome always struck me as a poor sequel as a kid, so I’ve not actually read The Aeneid, but I should really get around to it if I’m going to keep reading books like this. (Although I’ve never read The Wizard of Oz and that hasn’t stopped me one whit…)
Theft of Swords Michael J. Sullivan
I’m typing up this review on Iona, my trusty iPhone, as there is currently an Internet blackout at my parents’ house. (Equally unrelated to the bulk of this review—when did I cross over from calling it “my house” to “my parents’ house”? Is it pretentious?) Thus, images will be added when possible. (ETA: Done!) I am absolutely pathetic without the Internet. If the zombies manage to take it out during the zombie apocalypse, I will be the first to dip myself in barbecue sauce and throw myself to the ravenous hordes. In any case, today’s book caught my eye on NetGalley because it looked like fun. The fact that a handful of reviews (this is an Orbit reissue of a mostly self-published series) described it as “bromantic” certainly didn’t hurt.
Blood Rights by Kristen Painter
This is all my fault, really. I mean, look at at that gorgeous cover. The gold and red over a monochromatic frame and stormy sky, the long hair, the fantastical dress, and, of course, those tattoos. It’s the work of Spanish artist Nekro, and he just knocked it—as well as the other covers in the series—out of the park. But nothing about the summary, which involves courtesans who serve vampires (AWESOME!) and one of those plots that could destroy the entire world, said anything about being supernatural fiction (often wrongly called “urban fantasy”—that would be The Lies of Locke Lamora) set fifty or so years in the future. I was expecting a straight fantasy novel, or, at the very least, a novel set in medieval Europe. But, I thought, perhaps I’m just biased against mainstream supernatural fiction. I should give it a shot. This is exactly why I end up reading mediocre books; I’m swayed by a cover and then I don’t want to admit my weakness. We should really come up with a name for it, since I have a raging case of it.
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is a title that just sort of made its way onto my reading list in 2010—the ridiculously gorgeous cover turned my head, and I always like to investigate heroines of color in fantasy. But I was content to let it sit on the reading list until I heard of The Broken Kingdoms, the sequel released eight months after the first. (Orbit, bless ‘em, has a refreshing approach towards releasing series.) Intrigued, I put it on hold at my library at home so it could be one of the first books I picked up during the holidays.
The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee
I usually don’t buy newly published titles, even if I really want to read them; I’m always worried that I won’t like it enough to keep it. (This worry can be directly traced to Gregory Maguire’s A Lion Among Men.) But a Barnes & Noble in my area closed recently, and as I scooped up some lovely half-price Austens, I saw The Gaslight Dogs and made a decision–the eight dollars I’m saving by boycotting The Last Airbender ought to be used to support multicultural fantasy. It was a good decision.
The Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
I’ve been seeing Karen Miller’s novels around since high school. The American covers for her work are all gorgeous and in harmony with each other, and the back covers always sounded interesting–Empress, the Miller novel I really want to read, concerns a slave who manages to claw her way to the top of her desert empire. That sounds awesome. So I when I saw The Innocent Mage forlornly on its side in my local thrift store, I thought I might as well get acquainted with Karen Miller and her work.