March 16, 2021 at 10:39 pm #304878
15. Down Among the Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire (2017)
Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with Down Among the Sticks and Bones—a truly standalone story suitable for adult and young adult readers of urban fantasy, and the follow-up to the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List book Every Heart a Doorway
Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.
This is the story of what happened first…
Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.
Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.
They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.
They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.March 17, 2021 at 4:56 pm #304879
16. Beneath the Sugar Sky – Seanan McGuire (2017)
A glorious fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s Alex-award winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway
Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.
When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest – not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)
If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…
A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.
Warning: May contain nuts.March 21, 2021 at 12:59 pm #304891
17. In An Absent Dream – Seanan McGuire (2018)
A stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s Alex award-winning Wayward Children series, which began in the Alex, Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Award-winning, World Fantasy Award finalist, Tiptree Honor List Every Heart a Doorway
This fourth entry and prequel tells the story of Lundy, a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.
When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.March 21, 2021 at 9:35 pm #304892
18. Come Tumbling Down – Seanan McGuire (2019)
The fifth installment in Seanan McGuire’s award-winning, best-selling Wayward Children series, Come Tumbling Down picks up the threads left dangling by Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones.
When Jack left Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children, she was carrying the body of her deliciously deranged sister – whom she had recently murdered in a fit of righteous justice – back to their home on the Moors.
But death in their adopted world isn’t always as permanent as it is here, and when Jack is herself carried back into the school, it becomes clear that something has happened to her. Something terrible. Something of which only the maddest of scientists could conceive. Something only her friends are equipped to help her overcome.
Eleanor West’s “No Quests” rule is about to be broken.
Again.March 28, 2021 at 9:29 pm #304917
19. Exit West – Mohsin Hamid (2017)
FINALIST FOR THE BOOKER PRIZE
10 BEST BOOKS OF 2017, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
WINNER OF THE L.A. TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR FICTION and THE ASPEN WORDS LITERARY PRIZE
“A breathtaking novel…[that] arrives at an urgent time.” —NPR
“It was as if Hamid knew what was going to happen to America and the world, and gave us a road map to our future… At once terrifying and … oddly hopeful.” —Ayelet Waldman, The New York Times Book Review
“Moving, audacious, and indelibly human.” —Entertainment Weekly, “A” rating
A New York Times bestseller, the astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands.
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through….
Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.May 2, 2021 at 8:36 pm #305038
20. Empire of the Sun – J. G. Ballard (1984)
The classic, award-winning novel, made famous by Steven Spielberg’s film, tells of a young boy’s struggle to survive World War II in China.
Jim is separated from his parents in a world at war. To survive, he must find a strength greater than all the events that surround him.
Shanghai, 1941—a city aflame from the fateful torch of Pearl Harbor. In streets full of chaos and corpses, a young British boy searches in vain for his parents. Imprisoned in a Japanese concentration camp, he is witness to the fierce white flash of Nagasaki, as the bomb bellows the end of the war…and the dawn of a blighted world.
Ballard’s enduring novel of war and deprivation, internment camps and death marches, and starvation and survival is an honest coming-of-age tale set in a world thrown utterly out of joint.May 9, 2021 at 10:25 pm #305054
21. The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes (2011)
Winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize and #1 international bestseller, The Sense of an Ending is a masterpiece.
The story of a man coming to terms with the mutable past, Julian Barnes’s new novel is laced with his trademark precision, dexterity and insight. It is the work of one of the world’s most distinguished writers.
Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they navigated the girl drought of gawky adolescence together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they swore to stay friends forever. Until Adrian’s life took a turn into tragedy, and all of them, especially Tony, moved on and did their best to forget.
Now Tony is in middle age. He’s had a career and a marriage, a calm divorce. He gets along nicely, he thinks, with his one child, a daughter, and even with his ex-wife. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove. The unexpected bequest conveyed by that letter leads Tony on a dogged search through a past suddenly turned murky. And how do you carry on, contentedly, when events conspire to upset all your vaunted truths?May 30, 2021 at 9:43 pm #305099
22. Dead Astronauts – Jeff VanderMeer (2019)
A 2020 LOCUS AWARD FINALIST
Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts presents a City with no name of its own where, in the shadow of the all-powerful Company, lives human and otherwise converge in terrifying and miraculous ways. At stake: the fate of the future, the fate of Earth — all the Earths.
A messianic blue fox who slips through warrens of time and space on a mysterious mission. A homeless woman haunted by a demon who finds the key to all things in a strange journal. A giant leviathan of a fish, centuries old, who hides a secret, remembering a past that may not be its own. Three ragtag rebels waging an endless war for the fate of the world against an all-powerful corporation. A raving madman who wanders the desert lost in the past, haunted by his own creation: an invisible monster whose name he has forgotten and whose purpose remains hidden.June 6, 2021 at 9:38 pm #305118
23. The Only Good Indians – Stephen Graham Jones (2020)
A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
From USA TODAY bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones comes a “masterpiece” (Locus Magazine) of a novel about revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition. Labeled “one of 2020’s buzziest horror novels” (Entertainment Weekly), this is a remarkable horror story that “will give you nightmares—the good kind of course” (BuzzFeed).
From New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones comes a novel that is equal parts psychological horror and cutting social commentary on identity politics and the American Indian experience. Fans of Jordan Peele and Tommy Orange will love this story as it follows the lives of four American Indian men and their families, all haunted by a disturbing, deadly event that took place in their youth. Years later, they find themselves tracked by an entity bent on revenge, totally helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.June 18, 2021 at 5:07 pm #305145
24. We’ll All Be Burnt In Our Beds Some Night – Joel Thomas Hynes (2017)
Scrappy tough guy and three-time loser Johnny Keough is going a little stir-crazy awaiting trial for an alleged assault charge involving his girlfriend, Madonna, and a teapot. Facing three to five years in a maximum-security prison, Johnny knows this might just be the end of the road. But when Madonna doesn’t show up for court due to a fatal accident, shell-shocked Johnny seizes his unexpected “clean slate” as a sign from above and embarks on an epic hitchhiking journey across Canada to deliver her ashes to a fabled beach on the outskirts of Vancouver.
Johnny’s wanderings see him propelled in and out of the driver’s seat of stolen cars, knocking heads with cagey cops, nearly decapitated by a moose, coming face-to-face with his incarcerated biological father in a Kingston jail, and finding surprising connections with strangers on the lonely road west. But most of all, he revisits the choices and mistakes of his past—his relationships with his adoptive father and a cousin who meant the world to him, and his first real chance at love with the woman who is now lost to him.
We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night is the story of one man’s kicking-and-screaming attempt to recuperate from a life of petty crime and shattered relationships, and somehow accept and maybe even like the new man emerging from within, the one he so desperately needs to become.June 29, 2021 at 11:47 am #305165
25. The Medusa Frequency – Russell Hoban (1987)
When his creative juices dry up, writer Herman Orff abandons serious novels for comic books. In despair, he tries an acquaintance’s electronic device for brain galvanizing and is rewarded by several strange visions of the head of Orpheus, with whom Orff and other characters in the novel are obsessed. Orff’s conversations with the head give him a clear understanding of his past and of what being human is, demonstrating the true import of the book: how art acts on and makes sense of experience, which can be fully perceived only when — like Eurydice — it is lost entirely. An interesting but mannered retelling of the Orpheus myth.June 30, 2021 at 10:06 pm #305168
26. This Is How You Lose the Time War – Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone (2019)
HUGO AWARD WINNER: BEST NOVELLA
NEBULA AND LOCUS AWARDS WINNER: BEST NOVELLA
“[An] exquisitely crafted tale…Part epistolary romance, part mind-blowing science fiction adventure, this dazzling story unfolds bit by bit, revealing layers of meaning as it plays with cause and effect, wildly imaginative technologies, and increasingly intricate wordplay…This short novel warrants multiple readings to fully unlock its complexities.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review).
From award-winning authors Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone comes an enthralling, romantic novel spanning time and space about two time-traveling rivals who fall in love and must change the past to ensure their future.
Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandment finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.
Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, becomes something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.
Except the discovery of their bond would mean the death of each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win. That’s how war works, right?
Cowritten by two beloved and award-winning sci-fi writers, This Is How You Lose the Time War is an epic love story spanning time and space.July 11, 2021 at 2:32 pm #305184
27. Call for the Dead – John le Carré (1961)
George Smiley is no one’s idea of a spy—which is perhaps why he’s such a natural. But Smiley apparently made a mistake. After a routine security interview, he concluded that the affable Samuel Fennan had nothing to hide. Why, then, did the man from the Foreign Office shoot himself in the head only hours later? Or did he?
The heart-stopping tale of intrigue that launched both novelist and spy, Call for the Dead is an essential introduction to le Carré’s chillingly amoral universe.July 26, 2021 at 4:59 pm #305222
28. True Grit – Charles Portis (1968)
Charles Portis has long been acclaimed as one of America’s foremost writers. True Grit is the basis for two movies, the 1969 classic starring John Wayne and the Academy Award® winning 2010 version starring Jeff Bridges and written and directed by the Coen brothers.
True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father’s blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory. True Grit is eccentric, cool, straight, and unflinching, like Mattie herself. From a writer of true status, this is an American classic through and through.August 13, 2021 at 2:58 pm #305266
29. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights – Salman Rushdie (2015)
From one of the greatest writers of our time: the most spellbinding, entertaining, wildly imaginative novel of his great career, which blends history and myth with tremendous philosophical depth. A masterful, mesmerizing modern tale about worlds dangerously colliding, the monsters that are unleashed when reason recedes, and a beautiful testament to the power of love and humanity in chaotic times.
Inspired by 2,000 years of storytelling yet rooted in the concerns of our present moment, this is a spectacular achievement–enchanting, both very funny and terrifying. It is narrated by our descendants 1000 years hence, looking back on “The War of the Worlds” that began with “the time of the strangenesses”: a simple gardener begins to levitate; a baby is born with the unnerving ability to detect corruption in people; the ghosts of two long-dead philosophers begin arguing once more; and storms pummel New York so hard that a crack appears in the universe, letting in the destructive djinns of myth (as well as some graphic superheroes). Nothing less than the survival of our world is at stake. Only one, a djinn princess who centuries before had learned to love humankind, resolves to help us: in the face of dynastic intrigue, she raises an army composed of her semi-magical great-great–etc.–grandchildren–a motley crew of endearing characters who come together to save the world in a battle waged for 1,001 nights–or, to be precise, two years, eight months and twenty-eight nights.
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