Since it's technically summer, I can include the book I'm currently reading--the first installment in VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, which centers on an expedition into the mysterious Area X, where a calamity of unknown origin has upended many of the base assumptions of how reality is supposed to behave. So far it's a dense and extremely well-written slice of the New Weird, a subgenre I'm not that well acquainted with, but clearly have some affinity for. I've got the sequel, Authority, as well, so I might just power through.
I've made no secret of my affection for Hulick's debut Among Thieves, and I hear from reputable sources that the long-awaited sequel is top-notch. Not that I'm surprised--Drothe has been made a Gray Prince of the Kin, but acquired a host of powerful enemies in the process: what could possibly go wrong? With Among Thieves, Hulick showed that he has a knack for pace and writes just about the best sword fight you could ever imagine. Every nerd's summer reading list needs at least one straight-up adventure, and this one promises to be smarter and more rewarding than most.
I have to admit this wasn't really on my radar until recently, but from what I gather, Artemis Awakening is one of those "homages to the masters" (in this case, Andre Norton and C. L. Moore) that updates and problematizes rather than reproduces the tropes and stock devices of the source material. It's anthropological "lost world" SF too, and that's a niche I quite enjoy. Plus it might inspire me to re-read Forerunner!
Akashic has made a name for themselves with their municipal-themed anthologies of short noir fiction. And if you know Kansas City like I do, you know it's got all the elements in place for some serious grit. Editor Paul assembled a great collection of local authors, including Daniel Woodrell, Grace Suh, Nancy Pickard and J. Malcolm Garcia, so I'm confident this will be a good one. Bonus points to the first author who recognizes the superiority of Gates & Sons BBQ.
Hurley is best known for her "bugpunk" space opera series the Bel Dame Apocrypha; now she switches focus to epic fantasy. This will be my first taste of Hurley's fiction, but if reputation is anything to go by, I expect it to be heavy on the grit, but without a lot of the stuff people complain about when they complain about gritty/grimdark fantasy. Well, some of it at least. It wouldn't be gritty otherwise, would it?
6. Hot Lead, Cold Iron by Armi Marmell [Titan, 2014]
I don't usually go in for urban fantasy, but the review on Bookworm Blues got me hooked. See, my big problem with UF is that I just can't suspend disbelief when the magic and monsters and such are in the hear-and-now. I know, I know--if anything epic fantasy is less believable. But for whatever reason I can imagine wizards more easily when there are castles and swords and such. So this is me broadening internal SF/F horizons. Plus I hear the fantasy bits are restrained, and that's a plus for me.
The Book that Should Be on the List, but Isn't
The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler [Ace/ROC)
If you recall, Wexler's The Thousand Names was one of my Hugo ballot. And make no mistake--I am very excited to read the sequel. Unfortunately, the book has not found its way to me yet. If or when it does, then it will instantly shoot up to the top of the list.
The Book that Is Most Likely to Supplant Something on the List, Given a Shift in Mood
Another one I can thank Sarah from Bookworm Blues for (she calls it "too good to rate"). And this tale of what happens to soldiers bred to kill once the war is finished does sound like a serious page-turner. The only reason it didn't make my list is, well, the other books. Luckily there are three months of summer ahead of me, and I tend to read a lot while school is out of session.