Falling in Love with Hominids
by Nalo Hopkinson
240pp (Paperback)
My Rating: 7/10
Amazon Rating: 4.5/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.05/5
Goodreads Rating: 3.95/5

Falling in Love with Hominids contains eighteen short stories by acclaimed author Nalo Hopkinson, whose accolades include a World Fantasy Award, a John W. Campbell Award for Best First Novel, a Locus Award for Best First Novel, a Philip K. Dick Award nomination, a New York Times Notable Book, two Sunburst Awards, a Gaylactic Spectrum Award, and a Prix Aurora Award. This collection also contains a foreword explaining the title’s origins and a brief introduction for each story, also written by the author.

My first—and only, before this book—experience with Nalo Hopkinson’s writing was her most recent novel, Sister Mine. I very much enjoyed this story about formerly conjoined twins with a demigod father, and I’ve wanted to read more of her work ever since. In general, I prefer longer fiction to short stories since I like to be able to spend time learning about the world and characters, and I did prefer Sister Mine to this collection; however, there were a few individual stories I liked every bit as much or even more than this novel. Falling in Love with Hominids contains an impressive assortment of tales with a variety of writing styles, character voices, and influences, ranging from lighthearted in tone to disturbingly dark. Many were strange and whimsical, and even if I didn’t love a story, I usually found it memorable due to its uniqueness.

Two of my favorites were the creepiest stories. The basic premise of “Blushing” is familiar: a husband tells his new bride that she may have a key to every room in the house, except one. Of course, his wife then embarks on a quest to discover a way to get into this forbidden chamber, and it seems like a fairly conventional plot until suddenly it isn’t. The ending was far more horrific than I’d imagined, and as unsettling as it was, I loved how it veered into unexpected territory. “The Easthound” starts with a bunch of children playing a simple game and shows their fear: not just of the mysterious easthound but of eating too much, leading to growing too quickly. By the end of the story, the whole picture—and again, an even more terrifying danger than I’d been expecting—are revealed.

The only other story I enjoyed as much as these two especially unnerving ones was actually one of the lighter ones, “Emily Breakfast.” It’s a perfectly ordinary start to the weekend when Cranston makes a trip to the garden and chicken coop to collect spinach and eggs for breakfast with his flying cat, Rose of Sharon, in tow. However, when he calls the hens only two of them appear and he discovers Emily Breakfast is missing. There’s no sign of a tussle with a predatory animal, and Cranston rushes back to the house to tell his husband, Ser Maracle, that he thinks she was stolen, leading to a search by the two men, their cat, and the rest of the neighborhood. The characters, both human and animal, were vividly drawn, and I would love to read either a novel or more short stories about the misadventures of Cranston, Ser Maracle, their cat, and their fierce fire-breathing chickens.

Although those three are easily the ones I liked best, there are other highlights as well: “Message in a Bottle,” about a man’s encounter with a friend’s adopted child who is not what she seems; “The Smile on the Face,””Shift,” a tale inspired by The Tempest with riveting alternating narratives; and “Delicious Monster,” in which a man visits his father and his partner to end up witnessing a mythical, life-altering event. Although I felt this three page story was underdeveloped, “Men Sell Not Such in Any Town” was a fascinating story that left me wanting to read a longer, more detailed version.

In general, the stories that included exploration of characters or their personal relationships worked the best for me, which may be why most of the shortest stories didn’t leave as much of an impression on me. “Soul Case,” the tale of a group of escaped slaves facing those from whom they fled, was decent but didn’t stick with me since it was an account of events that didn’t have much focus on individual characters. “Flying Lessons” and “Whose Upward Flight I Love,” the two shortest at less than two pages each, were the only two stories I didn’t find at all compelling. (It is entirely possible I missed key information on the first of those two having never read The Little Prince.)

As is always the case with short story collections, not all of the stories worked for me, but even most of those that I didn’t particularly enjoy were notable because of the depth of imagination that went into them. However, those that did work for me shone very brightly indeed, and I found Falling in Love with Hominids to be a book well worth reading for its uniqueness and engaging variety of characters, narrative voices, and types of stories.

My Rating: 7/10

Where I got my reading copy: ARC from the publisher.

This book is February’s selection from a poll on Patreon.

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

It’s been a quiet week here due to working on other projects, but I finished Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson earlier this weekend and am now working on a review.

On to last week’s new books!

Supernova by C. A. Higgins

Supernova (Lightless #2) by C. A. Higgins

The second book in the Lightless trilogy, which began with C. A. Higgins’ debut novel by the same name, will be released on July 26 (hardcover, ebook). Entertainment Weekly has an excerpt from Supernova as well as an excerpt from Lightless.


C. A. Higgins’s acclaimed novel Lightless fused suspenseful storytelling, high-caliber scientific speculation, and richly developed characters into a stunning science fiction epic. Now the dazzling Supernova heightens the thrills and deepens the haunting exploration of technology and humanity—and the consequences that await when the two intersect.

Once Ananke was an experimental military spacecraft. But a rogue computer virus transformed it—her—into something much more: a fully sentient artificial intelligence, with all the power of a god—and all the unstable emotions of a teenager.

Althea, the ship’s engineer and the last living human aboard, nearly gave her life to save Ananke from dangerous saboteurs, forging a bond as powerful as that between mother and daughter. Now she devotes herself completely to Ananke’s care. But teaching a thinking, feeling machine—perhaps the most dangerous force in the galaxy—to be human proves a monumental challenge. When Ananke decides to seek out Matthew Gale, the terrorist she regards as her father, Althea learns that some bonds are stronger than mortal minds can understand—or control.

Drawn back toward Earth by the quest, Althea and Ananke will find themselves in the thick of a violent revolution led by Matthew’s sister, the charismatic leader Constance, who will stop at nothing to bring down a tyrannical surveillance state. As the currents of past decisions and present desires come into stark collision, a new and fiery future is about to be born.

In yhe Shadow of the Gods by Rachel Dunne

In the Shadow of the Gods (Bound Gods #1) by Rachel Dunne

Rachel Dunne’s debut, one of five science fiction and fantasy novels to win Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award in 2014, has been revised for publication by Harper Voyager. This edition will be released on June 21 (paperback, ebook).


A breathtaking talent makes her debut with this first book in a dark epic fantasy trilogy, in which a mismatched band of mortals, led by violent, secretive man, must stand against a pair of resentful gods to save their world.

Eons ago, a pair of gods known as the “Twins” grew powerful in the world of Fiatera, until the Divine Mother and Almighty Father exiled them, binding them deep in the earth. But the price of keeping the fire-lands safe is steep. To prevent these young gods from rising again, all twins in the land must be killed at birth, a safeguard that has worked, until now.

Trapped for centuries, the Twins are gathering their latent powers to break free and destroy the Parents for their tyranny—a fight between two generations of gods for control of the world and the mortals who dwell in it.

When the gods make war, only one side can be victorious. Joros, a mysterious and cunning priest, has devised a dangerous plan to win. Over eight years, he gathers a team of disparate fighters—Scal, a lost and damaged swordsman from the North; Vatri, a scarred priestess who claims to see the future in her fires; Anddyr, a drug-addled mage wandering between sanity and madness; and Rora and Aro, a pair of twins who have secretly survived beyond the reach of the law.

These warriors must learn to stand together against the unfathomable power of vengeful gods, to stop them from tearing down the sun . . . and plunging their world into darkness.

Additional Books:

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

This post covers the last couple of weeks since I got the cold that won’t go away and felt even worse last weekend than I did the week before. Unfortunately, my brain hasn’t been up to review writing whenever I’ve tried in the last week, but after the last one of these posts went up, there were two more that followed:

Now, on to the new books…

Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip

Dreams of Distant Shores by Patricia A. McKillip

Dreams of Distant Shores will be released on June 14 (paperback, ebook). It features seven short stories, including three previously unpublished, an essay on writing high fantasy, and an afterword by Peter S. Beagle. The complete table of contents is on the publisher’s website.

My introduction to Patricia A. McKillip’s work was her wonderful collection Wonders of the Invisible World so I’m quite excited about this one! I also love the cover of Dreams of Distant Shores.


A youthful artist is possessed by both his painting and his muse. Seductive travelers from the sea enrapture distant lovers. The statue of a mermaid comes suddenly to life. Two friends are transfixed by a haunted estate.

Bestselling author Patricia A. McKillip (The Riddle-Master of Hed) is one of the most lyrical writers gracing the fantasy genre. With the debut of three brand-new stories, Dreams of Distant Shores is a true ode to her many talents. Fans of McKillip’s ethereal fiction will delight in these previously-uncollected tales; those new to her work will find much to enchant them.

The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Immortals (Olympus Bound #1) by Jordanna Max Brodsky

This debut novel was released last week (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). The first chapter of The Immortals is on the Olympus Bound website.


Manhattan has many secrets. Some are older than the city itself.

The city sleeps. Selene DiSilva walks her dog along the banks of the Hudson. She is alone — just the way she likes it. She doesn’t believe in friends, and she doesn’t speak to her family. Most of them are simply too dangerous.

In the predawn calm, Selene finds the body of a young woman washed ashore, gruesomely mutilated and wreathed in laurel. Her ancient rage returns. And so does the memory of a promise she made long ago — when her name was Artemis.

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Calamity (Reckoners #3) by Brandon Sanderson

The conclusion to the Reckoners trilogy, following Steelheart and Firefight, was released last week (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). There is an excerpt from Calamity on io9.com, but if you haven’t read the series from the beginning and want to avoid potential spoilers, there’s an excerpt from Steelheart on A.V. Club.


When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.

David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when Prof struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Once the Reckoners’ leader, Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back…

But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.

Additional Books:

In November, the Fantasy Café Patreon account, which has a reward tier that allows voting on blog content for a post during the next month, was launched. Last month’s book was The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip, a wonderful stand alone fantasy nominated for the Mythopoeic Award. The February theme was a book not published by a large publisher, and the winner is…

Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

Falling in Love with Hominids by Nalo Hopkinson

An alluring new collection from the author of the New York Times Notable Book, Midnight Robber

Nalo Hopkinson (Brown Girl in the Ring, The Salt Roads, Sister Mine) is an internationally-beloved storyteller. Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as having “an imagination that most of us would kill for,” her Afro-Caribbean, Canadian, and American influences shine in truly unique stories that are filled with striking imagery, unlikely beauty, and delightful strangeness.

In this long-awaited collection, Hopkinson continues to expand the boundaries of culture and imagination. Whether she is retelling The Tempest as a new Caribbean myth, filling a shopping mall with unfulfilled ghosts, or herding chickens that occasionally breathe fire, Hopkinson continues to create bold fiction that transcends boundaries and borders.

I’ve wanted to read more by Nalo Hopkinson since reading Sister Mine so I’m looking forward to reading this collection! It will be read and reviewed later this month, and next month I’ll announce the March winner, a recent SFF debut (“recent” being a book published within the last four years) by a new-to-me author.

Ash and Silver
by Carol Berg
496pp (Trade Paperback)
My Rating: 8/10
Amazon Rating: 4.7/5
LibraryThing Rating: 4.5/5
Goodreads Rating: 4.26/5

Book Description from Goodreads:

In Dust and Light, national bestselling author Carol Berg returned to the world of the award-winning Flesh and Spirit. Now she continues the saga of a man whose past is veiled in shadows….

Ever since the Order of the Equites Cineré stole his memory, his name, and his heart, thinking about the past makes Greenshank’s head ache. After two years of rigorous training, he is almost ready to embrace the mission of the Order—to use selfless magic to heal the troubles of Navronne. But on his first assignment alone, the past comes racing back, threatening to drown him in conspiracy, grief, and murder.

He is Lucian de Remeni—a sorcerer whose magical bents for portraiture and history threaten the safety of the earth and the future of the war-riven kingdom of Navronne. He just can’t remember how or why.

Fighting to unravel the mysteries of his power, Lucian must trace threads of corruption that reach from the Pureblood Registry into the Order itself, the truth hidden two centuries in the past and beyond the boundaries of the world…

Carol Berg is one of my favorite fantasy authors, mainly because of her rich worlds and memorable characters. Those were both reasons I very much enjoyed Dust and Light, the story of a sorcerer with mysterious gifts that’s epic in scope yet personal. After reading this excellent novel, I was very much looking forward to Ash and Silver, the second half of the Sanctuary Duet—and despite a slow start, I ended up enjoying it very much indeed.

It did take longer for Ash and Silver to pull me in than the previous novel, or at least it took longer for it to consistently make me want to keep reading. Though life with the Order and some of the new characters were quite compelling, there was a lot of focus on Lucian trying to regain some of his memories. At times, this included learning some new information, but it seemed like there was a lot of time spent discussing knowledge Lucian used to have. It didn’t exactly keep me on the edge of my seat to read about his rediscovery of basic information about himself, his family, and his magic that had already been covered in the first book!

Once it got further into the story and Lucian was knee deep in mysteries that hadn’t been answered in the previous book, such as who in the Order could be trusted, I couldn’t put it down. I also enjoyed that it explored how a lack of memory of key events in one’s life might affect them and that this was woven into the story naturally. Of course, Lucian struggles with missing various parts of his own memory, but it also examines how not remembering certain information about one’s own past might influence aspects of their personality.

Though it is quite different from the first book since Lucian’s been uprooted from his former life, Ash and Silver is a satisfying conclusion to the story begun in Dust and Light. I wasn’t quite as fond of it as the previous book since it did take longer for it to continue to hold my interest, but once it did get to that point, it was nearly impossible to stop reading! Its excellent characters, world, and reflection on memory made it a highlight of the 2015 releases I read.

My Rating: 8/10

Where I got my reading copy: Review copy from the publisher.

Reviews of Other Book(s) in This Series:

  1. Dust and Light

The Leaning Pile of Books is a feature where I talk about books I got over the last week–old or new, bought or received for review consideration (usually unsolicited). Since I hope you will find new books you’re interested in reading in these posts, I try to be as informative as possible. If I can find them, links to excerpts, author’s websites, and places where you can find more information on the book are included.

There are some books that sound quite interesting this week! I started working on a review of Ash and Silver by Carol Berg last week (which was really good!), but due to being sick all week long, I was having trouble writing coherently. I’m hoping to finish it up this week.

Now, for the new books!

Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Morning Star (Red Rising #3) by Pierce Brown

Morning Star, the conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Red Rising trilogy, will be released on February 9 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook). As mentioned on Suvudu, the first three chapters can be read online.

The first two books in the series are Red Rising and Golden Son.

Although I had some issues with it, I did enjoy Red Rising. Golden Son is one of the books I really wanted to read last year that I haven’t yet, but I might end up being glad I didn’t read it until I had the next one. I heard there is a huge cliffhanger at the end!


Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied – and too glorious to surrender.

A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows (A Darker Shade of Magic #2) by V. E. Schwab

A Gathering of Shadows, the sequel to A Darker Shade of Magic, will be released on February 23 (hardcover, ebook). An excerpt from it is available on Tor.com.

Victoria Schwab recently announced that A Darker Shade of Magic television series is in development, and she is writing the script for the pilot.

I haven’t read the first book, but I’ve heard it’s excellent so I may have to acquire a copy of it!


Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

This short story collection was released in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook last year and will be available in paperback on February 9.


The first new collection in almost a decade from a bewitchingly original writer hailed by Michael Chabon as “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.”

One of today’s most celebrated short story writers, Kelly Link creates brilliantly detailed, layered fictional worlds pulsing with their own energy and life. The situations are at first glance fantastical, but the emotional insights are piercing and the characters vividly real. In “The Summer People,” a young girl in rural Florida serves as uneasy caretaker to the mysterious, never-quite-glimpsed visitors who inhabit the cottage behind her house. In “I Can See Right Through You,” a one-time teen idol movie vampire takes a disturbing trip to the set where his former on- and off-screen love interest is shooting a bizarre new reality show; in “The New Boyfriend,” a suburban slumber party takes an unusual turn when the spoiled birthday girl opens her big present, a new animated doll. Funny, uncanny, always deeply moving, these stories demonstrate a writer of wondrous gifts operating at the height of her powers.

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

This debut YA fantasy will be released on February 16 (hardcover, ebook, audiobook).


It was the kind of August day that hinted at monsoons, and the year was 1774, though not for very much longer.

Sixteen-year-old Nix Song is a time-traveller. She, her father and their crew of time refugees travel the world aboard The Temptation, a glorious pirate ship stuffed with treasures both typical and mythical. Old maps allow Nix and her father to navigate not just to distant lands, but distant times – although a map will only take you somewhere once. And Nix’s father is only interested in one time, and one place: Honolulu 1868. A time before Nix was born, and her mother was alive. Something that puts Nix’s existence rather dangerously in question…

Nix has grown used to her father’s obsession, but only because she’s convinced it can’t work. But then a map falls into her father’s lap that changes everything. And when Nix refuses to help, her father threatens to maroon Kashmir, her only friend (and perhaps, only love) in a time where Nix will never be able to find him. And if Nix has learned one thing, it’s that losing the person you love is a torment that no one can withstand. Nix must work out what she wants, who she is, and where she really belongs before time runs out on her forever.

Additional Books: