A new pleasure I have recently discovered is reading books by different gender life partners writing together. I’ve explored books in Speculative Fiction, which includes Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Writing soft Sci-Fi are my new all-time favourites, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Having discovered their Liaden Universe stories last spring, I’m on my third read of my favourites of their books now, and most of my Christmas presents were their books! The intricate world building adds layers to stories which are coming of age stories, romances, space operas, and adventures. Fledgling, Necessity’s Child, Dragon in Exile, and Alliance of Equals are books available at Surrey Libraries which you can use to enter the series. The first book they wrote begins The Agent Gambit, which is available through Inter Library Loan.
On the Urban Fantasy side, Ilona Andrews is a pseudonym for another female-male writing partnership. Kate Daniels is a hard core merc with magic in her blood and a past to run from. World-building and adventure are again fantastic, and the romance is balanced with self-discovery and an appealing cast of secondary characters. Magic Bites is the first book in this series. (Submitted by Rebecca O.)
From the first page, I was hooked. I liked it so much I actually read it aloud so others would also want to read it. I like the short chapters and Elan’s use of language. This book has it all, time travel, romance, family dynamics, all tied up around what would happen if an event in the past was changed by the main character. The main character doesn’t have to wonder if he is living in the wrong timeline. He knows he is. After all, he was the one who messed it up. Read this book to find out why our reality is not like the Utopian future that the 1950s predicted. (Submitted by Deanna)
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I had just about given up on heroic fantasy. Then, I discovered Kings of the Wyld, a fresh and lively standalone adventure that is gripping, funny, and occasionally brutal. The plot is familiar. Circumstances force a former mercenary band of heroes to reform for one last quest. But the mixture of classic high fantasy tropes from Tolkien, the grittiness of Joe Abercrombie (without the pessimism), and the light satirical touch and humour of Terry Pratchett, give this story an engaging vigour.
In the end, it’s a very human story with sympathetic, likeable characters, especially the main protagonist Clay Cooper. He is an affable man who would like to put his violent past behind him and enjoy a peaceful life with his family. But of course, fate is not done with him yet. He must rise to the occasion one more time, and persuade his erstwhile companions to join him. Along the way they face every sort of magical and monstrous creature in the fantastic bestiary, and face some mighty foes in battle. They must rediscover the power of friendship and family, and what it means to be a hero.
Recommended for lovers of heroic fantasy or anyone who likes a rousing adventure and doesn’t mind a certain amount of graphic violence. (Submitted by Jim)
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Ah, the power of a page-turner. I hesitate to classify Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie as one particular genre because there are elements of urban fantasy, thriller, mystery, and contemporary fiction throughout. Vincent has created an alternate reality of sorts, where fantastical creatures (everything from the phoenix to human hybrid-esque mermaids, centaurs, etc.) live among us. Well, that’s not quite accurate. They don’t live among us. They have no rights at all. They are caged and abused, either for spectacle or research.
Enter Delilah, who is a smart young woman (too smart for her small hometown in Oklahoma) and is already opposed to the treatment of “cryptids.” While on a birthday trip to a traveling circus, Delilah is revealed to be more than what she seems – perhaps a cryptid herself. She quickly realizes just what this means as she is stripped of her every right and sold into the menagerie. Of course, now being on the other side of the bars means she must befriend her fellow cryptids while gaining a more thorough understanding of their lives. She also has to decide whether or not to trust the mysterious staff member Gallagher, who has his own story.
Vincent has created a world that feels absolutely real and there is a real battle of ethics here. I liked Delilah and I was desperate to know what happened next. Other reviewers have noted that the ending felt rushed, which I agree with, but it was such a thrilling read that it almost doesn’t matter. Serious page-turner alert! (Submitted by Veronica)
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Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel written by Ray Bradbury. Although the book was published more than half a century ago, it remains a classical best-seller. The novel’s subject is relevant and captivating today and, very likely, it will be just as pertinent in 50 years from now.
Guy Montag, protagonist of the novel, lives in the futuristic United States. He is married and has a respected job. Mr. Montag is a fireman; he searches for, captures, and burns books. In his world, books are dangerous, illegal objects. One day, after conversing with an uncharacteristically lively and intelligent teen, Guy starts feeling uneasy about his work, family, and life in general. He tries to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it, but it’s not simple to do in a society where critical thinking or even thinking at all is deemed subversive and abnormal. To make matters even shakier, Guy secretively saves a book from burning and brings it home – an action the cost of which can be his own life. (Submitted by Mariya)
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Imagine having a dragon for a friend: powerful and perhaps capricious, but with your best interests at heart. I have a favourite dragon friend book for every age. For younger readers (maybe 8 and up) I recommend Patricia Wrede’s Dealing with Dragons series, about a Princess who decides she’d rather live with the dragons than the princes. As a teenager, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsinger was my very favourite book. Once I read it through twice on the same day. Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight is one of the best dragon friend books for adults, and there are plenty of other books set in her world, Pern, to keep you busy for a while. (Submitted by Rebecca).
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Tracey Baptiste’s The Jumbies is middle grade fantasy. Corinne was taught by her father not to be afraid of the stories of monsters and strangeness in the woods, but while racing through the forest to save her mother’s locket she catches the attention of an old spirit. When the strangeness starts coming out of the woods, she must call upon the all her strengths as well as those of her friends to save herself and her village. A thrilling tale, the Jumbies is based on the classic Haitian folktale: the Magic Orange Tree. (Submitted by Meghan W).
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