Today’s guest is Angie from Angieville! Angie reviews all kinds of genres including SF&F, and one of her favorite genres is fantasy. She is one of my favorite bloggers because her enthusiasm for books is contagious and she gives amazing recommendations. I’ve also gained a much greater appreciation for young adult books from reading her blog and have learned not to judge books by that category largely because of her. With great recommendations like Kristin Cashore and Megan Whalen Turner, I discovered young adult does not mean there can’t be subtlety or darkness in a story – and I am grateful to her for helping me discover some fantastic young adult fantasy! Another reason I love Angie’s blog is that she also gives plenty of attention to older books with her Retro Fridays feature for talking about books that were not recently released that she loves like Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana and Robin McKinley’s Sunshine.
I hope you enjoy Angie’s post and recommended reading list as much as I did! As for me, I’m going to add every one of these books I haven’t read already to my wish list right now.
I have always loved that quote by the wonderful playwright Tom Stoppard,
I’m going to be dead before I read the books I’m going to read.
It may be a bit perverse, but I find this conviction oddly comforting. For me it encompasses one of the driving forces of my life–the need to read–along with the knowledge that the duration of my single life will never stretch long enough to read all the books I want to. Yet somehow my acceptance of that truth never conflicts with my determination to do it anyway. To read them all. At the same time, I believe life’s too short to read bad books. It’s too short to read only the books you think you’re supposed to. It’s too short to be ashamed of the books you love and choose to read. And it is far too short to operate under silly misconceptions such as the notion that science fiction and fantasy (both book and blogwise) are male-dominated arenas. On the contrary, I’ve been reading both for a donkey’s age. I’ve been blogging about a wide range of speculative fiction for going on seven years now. And I can tell you one thing–I am not alone. The vast majority of speculative fiction books and blogs I read are written by women. Why? Because they’re me. In all their wondrous variety and diversity, they reflect back to me pieces of myself, and they show me a dizzying array of lives and possibilities. I marvel at their audacity, their bravery, their humor, and their endless, endless imaginations. And seeing them, immersing myself in their beautiful visions of this world and so many others, I am reminded that I am one of many, that I am not alone.
I spend a fair bit of time on my blog talking about under-the-radar books, little gems I’ve run across and want to share with other like minded readers. So today I figured I’d share a few of my very favorite, lesser-known SF&F books written by women.
Old School SF&F
The Warhorse of Esdragon trilogy by Susan Dexter
I am continually amazed that Susan Dexter’s books remain out of print. And so glad I bought my copies when I had the chance. This trilogy features three separate heroines and one fascinating warhorse. If pressed, I choose The Wind-Witch as my favorite, but they are each excellent and do not have to be read in order.
The Crystal Gryphon series by Andre Norton
Part of the famous Witch World series, these three are part of Norton’s High Hallack cycle, and they are my favorites of her long backlist. There’s a fair bit of gender role reversal here, and an eerie world full of cold magic and danger.This was also my first introduction to the notion of marriage by proxy. These three should be read in order.
Roberson has an impressively long resume, and I have read most of her books. This is the series I saved for last, and I was not disappointed. It is the story of a northern sword-singer named Del and a southern sword-dancer named Tiger. The two supremely unlikely companions are forced to journey together on various quests. Six books in the series and they only get better and better as they go.
Part urban fantasy, part ghost story, part love letter to Emily Dickinson, this shockingly good debut novel makes for an excellent crossover, in my opinion. I return to it again and again for the beautiful writing, the themes of redemption, and the sweet love story.
This one flew much further under the radar than I would have liked. Having suffered from an inescapable, but unfair comparison to The Hunger Games, I think it deserve to be read entirely on its own merits. I could not put this dystopian gladiator novel down. Bleak and disturbing, the novel and its protagonist Lyn manage to capture your attention and keep it.
I’ve talked a lot about this one and recently. So I’ll leave it at this: revisionist retelling of the Lady of Shallott in verse.
Fun, character-driven fantasy with extremely thoughtful undertones and a world free of gender stereotypes. I’m basically of the opinion that too much praise cannot be lavished upon this series. I adore Lee and Taro, and I am always up for another adventure in their esteemed company. For the curious, be sure to read Moira’s contribution to SF&F month.
A steampunk fantasy set in the world of Ondinium and featuring a metal-winged icarus as main character. This world is built on the carefully delineated contrast between humanity and technology, privilege and humility. I was utterly engrossed and cannot wait to read the sequel.
This duology is one of my favorite discoveries of the past year. True science fiction with an enticing hint of romance, these two books reminded me why I fell in love with the genre. The strong characters reeled me in, but I stayed for the detailed look at the ethics of exploration and the treatment of humankind on the grand scale as well as the organic worldbuilding.
On the Horizon
In a world of series, here is a standalone to sate your appetite. This beautiful, beautiful book is a post-apocalyptic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I know! The best part is, it kills it on every level. I am in deep smit with this book and am so looking forward to it hitting the shelves round about June 12th.
This debut urban fantasy lands on the raw side of the genre, but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. Nurse Edie is all human. On the paranormal ward of the county hospital, this makes her fairly fragile. But she makes up for it with scrap and nerve. I suspect she may be hiding something, and I’m eager to find out what. Kudos to Ms. Alexander for providing me with my first zombie crush. Due out May 22nd.
And that’s it from me. Thanks for having me, Kristen!