Vote for the Best Books of 2018 in the Goodreads Choice Awards Final Round!

It’s the Final Round of the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards! The Opening Round and Semifinal Round have pared down the nominees to a final 10 choices in each category; among the finalists are Martha Wells’ Artificial Condition, John Scalzi’s Head On, Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti: The Night Masquerade, Seanan McGuire’s Beneath the Sugar Sky, V.E. Schwab’s Vengeful, Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, and Jen Wang’s The Prince and the Dressmaker.

Below find your choices for the Final Round in science fiction, fantasy, horror, the Best of the Best, and more.

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Sleeps With Monsters: Unexpected Fun

I would never have heard about Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s The Unkindness of Ravens if Marissa Lingen hadn’t mentioned it on her blog. That would’ve been a shame: The Unkindness of Ravens is a lovely novella, and a compelling one.

The story sets itself in a land where eight lineages or Houses are under the protection of eight different gods, each with a different (animal) aspect. Those not part of the Houses, not accepted under the gods’ protection, are the “Scorned,” part of a caste of untouchable people, contact with whom creates ritual pollution for members of the Houses.

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Series: Sleeps With Monsters

5 Overworked Fantasy Characters Who Could Use a Vacation

What with all the cursed jewelry and chthonic adversaries and apocalyptic prophecies to deal with, fantasy characters often seem a bit overworked and overstressed. Sure, these people might be fictional, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t treat themselves to a nice, relaxing holiday from time to time.

Now I have it on good authority that countless fantasy folk, from the Pale Man to Pyornkrachzark, read, so I thought this post would be the perfect opportunity to recommend some amusement parks for a few characters to visit over the holidays. As a world-renowned theme park enthusiast, I feel that writing this piece is my responsibility.

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Power and Compassion: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

I’m not in love with Orbit Books’ whole list, but in recent years, they’re one publisher with a consistent and happy knack of publishing female authors whose works go straight to my happy place. Especially debut authors. Now Tasha Suri can join a roll-call that includes Ann Leckie, K.B. Wagers, and Melissa Caruso: debut authors that made me stop in my tracks and say: Yes. This. Give me MORE.

I’ve spent a week trying to figure out how to write this review, how to tell you exactly what I enjoyed about it, and why. That’s always an issue with books I find speak to me on an emotional level while also being technically adept: to be honest about what one loves is to expose a vulnerability, to lay bare something more often kept quiet.

Empire of Sand is an astonishingly accomplished debut, set in a richly realised world. It’s a novel about power and about colonialism. It’s a novel about unequal power relationships, and about the abuse of power. It’s a novel about trust and its lack, about choices and compromises. And at its heart, it’s a novel about compassion: about the risks, and the rewards, of choosing to be kind.

[Read more] Reviewers’ Choice: The Best Books of 2018

It’s been a year, hasn’t it? It started with losing Le Guin, and it’s hard to say it’s improved since then. But books? Those were good. We picked some favorites in the middle of the year, and now we’ve picked even more—some titles make a second appearance on this list, but as is usually the case, the second half of the year packed in a lot of winners. If your TBR stack isn’t already teetering, it will be after you read this list.

What did you love in this year’s reading?

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Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings Brought Tolkien from the Counterculture to the Big Screen

As you’ve probably heard, Amazon has announced that it’s producing a show set in Middle-earth, the world created by J.R.R. Tolkien in his landmark novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. With the new series reportedly headed into production in 2019, I thought it was time to revisit the various TV and big screen takes on Tolkien’s work that have appeared—with varying quality and results—over the last forty years.

Today we look at the first feature film adaptation of Tolkien, Ralph Bakshi’s animated The Lord of the Rings, released in November 1978.

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Reading The Ruin of Kings: Chapter 5

‘Allo, chaps and chappettes! This here’s another Reading ROK, innit? Right then!

This blog series will be covering the first 17 chapters of the forthcoming novel The Ruin of Kings, first of a five-book series by Jenn Lyons. Previous entries can be found here in the series index.

Today’s post will be covering Chapter 5, “Leaving Kishna-Farriga”, which is available for your reading delectation right here.

Read it? Great! Then click on to find out what I thought!

[With their flippy-floppies]

Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons: Chapter 5

Debut author Jenn Lyons has created one of the funniest, most engrossing new epic fantasy novels of the 21st century in The Ruin of Kings. An eyebrow-raising cross between the intricacy of Brandon Sanderson’s worldbuilding and the snark of Patrick Rothfuss.

Which is why is releasing one or two chapters per week, leading all the way up to the book’s release on February 5th, 2019!

Not only that, but our resident Wheel of Time expert Leigh Butler will be reading along and reacting with you. So when you’re done with this week’s chapter, head on over to Reading The Ruin of Kings for some fresh commentary.

Our journey continues….

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Series: The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons

Reading the Wheel of Time: The Theme of Return in Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt (Part 16)

Welcome back again to Week 16 of Reading The Great Hunt! There’s a huge amount of info in the chapters we’re covering this week (28 and 29) and a lot of it is difficult to understand, because our pov characters—Perrin, Geofram Bornhald, and Bayle Domon—are encountering a lot of things they don’t understand. Domon in particular is going to have a lot of words and information talked at him that he can’t really follow, and the significance of these things, for Domon and for us, will only become clear later down the road.

So buckle up for a nice long recap of Perrin and Domon’s adventures! Oh, and also Bornhald Sr., I guess.

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Series: Reading The Wheel of Time

Download a Free Ebook of The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang Before November 17, 2018!

Each month, the eBook Club gives away a free sci-fi/fantasy ebook to club subscribers.

We’re excited to announce that the pick for November 2018 is the Hugo- and Nebula-nominated novella THE BLACK TIDES OF HEAVEN by JY Yang, one of a pair of unique, standalone introductions to Yang’s Tensorate Series, which Kate Elliott calls “effortlessly fascinating.” For more of the story you can read its twin novella The Red Threads of Fortune, available simultaneously.

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Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, Chapters 8 and 9

This week, Ivan and Tej appreciate each other aesthetically in the Admiral’s suite on Desplaines’s courier. That’s not the point though—Tej has been focused on what she is escaping from, and now she’s confronting what she is escaping to. Chapter 8 is sprinkled with little reminders of who Tej is and where she comes from; She has the Cetagandan ear, and the the genetically engineered facility with languages. She’s been carefully trained to be charming—those Betan instructors her parents imported to teach their children? They were instructors in the erotic arts. Ivan is a wilder specimen and came by his social strategies by way of experiment. His first lover was an older teenager who worked in Lord Piotr’s stables. Tej and Ivan seem to be pleased with each other as lovers. I’m happy for them, but their pleasure is a lower priority than Tej and Rish’s escape.

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Series: Rereading the Vorkosigan Saga

Back on Track with Andre Norton’s Key Out of Time

I was apprehensive about Key Out of Time after the big huge NOPE of The Defiant Agents, but I’m happy to report that not only did Norton get back on track with this 1963 sequel, I really enjoyed it.

Ross Murdock and his mentor, Gordon Ashe, are back, along with a familiar set of villains. The debacle that led to the stranding of a group of Apaches on an alien world—we know what happened, but no one on Terra does—has led to some changes in the way the Time Agents operate, but they’re still sending ships out to worlds once colonized by the alien Baldies, still trying to stay ahead of the evil Reds, and still trying to populate them with members of “primitive” cultures.

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