When a new fan asked me for book recommendations, I realized it's been a while since I've freshened up my reviews, mostly due to the fact that I've been too busy writing to read! Then they asked me a great question: "What are the writers reading?"
Every time I hit a conference there are a handful of books everyone is talking about. And I mean, everyone; high fantasy, low fantasy, hard scifi, science fantasy, YA, agents, editors, authors, booksellers, fans, everyone telling me about the same books, no matter the genre. So in this series I offer you a list of the books I recommend over and over, not necessarily because I've read them, but because when the best in the industry tell you something, you listen.
Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: Nora Jemisin's premier novel was nominated for the 2011 World Fantasy Awards Best Novel against a bank of incredible talent, and years later I continue to hear about Kingdoms on podcasts like Writing Excuses and Adventures in SciFi Publishing. I honestly can't escape it and from the recommendations I keep hearing, I don't want to.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Again and again, this book comes up among professionals, and I've finally seen it leaking into the general public. The opening paragraph alone is so clean, so subtle, so concise, and offers so much setting and feel that the average reader may not even notice how well it's executed. To those of us who spend an absurd amount of time trying to make the complicated simple, what Laini Taylor accomplished will leave you aching to see what else she has up her sleeve.
The Lies of Locke Lamora: Another premier piece from a premier author, Lies has become a modern classic. Often described as "Robin Hood meets Ocean's Eleven", the world Scott Lynch created draws you in and keeps you guessing. Scott shows mastery over a technique often avoided by most professional writers, the flashback. Every scene, present or past, moves the story forward while bringing his characters alive. Perfect for urban fantasy, mystery, thriller, low fantasy fans, as well as team-oriented stories like Mission Impossible, Ocean's 11, and The Italian Job.
Shiver: Forget the vampires, I'm a werewolf fan through-and-through and there's nothing I love more than a unique take on a classic tale. So many people recommended this book to me at World Fantasy 2011 I couldn't pass it up. Maggie Stiefvater brings us a paranormal romance that feels real. YA author Mary G. Thompson, in a blog on the pitfalls of writing teen romance, says it all:
"I love these books because both the supernatural elements and the romance elements are believable. Grace and Sam are well-rounded and intelligent, and their true love grows organically. At the same time, Sam’s life as a werewolf has realistic challenges, and the less-prominent characters add just the right amount of color and fullness to the central story. The romance works because it is part of a fully formed world that doesn’t fall prey to either human or supernatural caricatures."
Don't forget to support your Friendly Local Bookstore. In the San Diego or Redondo Beach areas? Check out my favorite FLBS: Mysterious Galaxy.