The Tiger Queens: The Women of Genghis Khan by Stephanie Thornton — okay, this is historical fiction, not spec-fic, but it is SO RICHLY WRITTEN that it feels like epic fantasy. The book is Thornton's finest work, and just so beautifully executed I am awed. If you love strong women in any genre, definitely read this book ASAP.
— Amalia Dillin author of Forged by Fate and the recently released Beyond Fate
My recommendation: Haven't heard of this title? I hadn't either, but as the official prequel to Peter Pan by the original author, it's a must read! The first story of Pan, beginning at age one week, is tucked within the overarching tale of an old bachelor who grudgingly saves a romance and befriends the resulting child. This child is the first to partake of the imaginary world of Pan, and is based on a boy who, along with his brothers, truly inspired Barrie in his vast imaginings. The tale is humorous, heart wrenching, candid and deliciously creative. The later story of Pan that we are most familiar with pales in comparison!
— Kristina Wojtaszek author of Opal and contributor to Fae and Specter Spectacular
Description, in my opinion, is where Harms shines brightest, and there were several times while reading Bewildered that I was reminded of Neil Gaiman and his 2013 award-winning The Ocean at the End of the Lane. . The books are different in meaningful ways — Gaiman's story is considerably darker and the author himself has stated that it wasn't intended for young readers— but they share an unmistakable richness of description in their imaginative, fantasyland settings. Harms is Gaiman Good with imagery!
Glamour by Andrea Janes. Janes's debut YA novel reads like a movie and I can totally see it as a big screen production some day. This modern story of the witching world set in the Cape Cod tourist town of Westervelt reminded me in some ways of Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic. Janes certainly knows her setting and I reveled in the "townie"/"summer people" dynamic of the area. I also enjoyed the distinct voice of Glamour's main character Christina. Not without faults, Christina is a girl whose humor and sarcasm ultimately endeared her to me. This coming-of-age story set against the wider backdrop of a contemporary fantasy is a fun read. It also has a gorgeous cover that was among my favorites for 2014!
Jesus Land isn't a book about religion, rather it's a book about what some people do in the name of religion, and it's a powerful one that I think everyone should read. It's sad and disturbing and won't be a book you can breeze through— there will be times you have to walk away from it just to be able to get through the next gut-wrenching chapter— but it's one of those rare stories that has the power to change you, and that makes it worth it.
— Michelle Lowery Combs author of Heir to the Lamp
— Rebecca Roland author of Shards of History and The King of Ash and Bones
— Elise Forier Edie author of The Devil in Midwinter and contributor to Krampusnacht
My favorite stories included:
Tanya Huff’s “I Knew a Guy Once.” A bartender is hired to improve morale and productivity in a mining station in Jupiter orbit. A wonderful and interesting romp that will leave you smiling. One of my favorite short stories I read this year.
Eric Choi’s “A Man’s Place.” A lonely cook on a lunar mining installation asks the right questions in an emergency. A really nice mix of technology and human interest. Even a cook’s job is highly technical in this environment.
Doranna Durgin’s “Feef’s House.” A space drifter struggles to adapt to the world of permanent residents and their exotic pets as she works to repay her medical expenses. Perfectly juxtaposes the duster’s creed and her vigorously-suppressed desire for permanency. Pleasantly poignant and uplifting.
I’m not going to tell you about the story line because mere description pales before the actual experience of reading these stories. I will, however, tell you that these are fun reads for anyone who likes detective novels, action-adventure, and well-considered mythological world-building.
Far Orbit: Speculative Space Adventures. OK, I admit it, I am unabashedly biased in when I recommend Far Orbit. But why not? The book does, after all, contain many of my favorite short stories for 2014. The stories are thoroughly modern science fiction tales, but the tone harkens back to the mid-century SF published by a variety of SF magazines. The hallmark of these mid-century Grand Tradition SF stories were that they were fun to read. Far Orbit stories deliver that in spades. The stories were also selected for their diversity in story styles, tropes, and protagonists. All-in-all, it’s a damn good read for SF lovers.
— Bascomb James editor of Far Orbit and the upcoming Far Orbit Apogee
This book is CAPTIVATING! I was totally charmed from the get go and that's so rare for me as a reader. I flew through this book at lightening speed (also rare) and wanted more when it was over. Andrea Janes writes with an amazing voice, and in first-person point of view, which is often the artistic choice for debut novelists, yet is actually rather difficult to pull off. Janes not only pulls it off, she does so with talent and skill. Her narrative voice reminds me of THE CATCHER IN THE RYE— one of my top ten favorite novels of all time — if Holden Caulfield were a teenaged witch named Christina. I also loved the stylistic choice of sprinkling in third-person point of view scenes throughout the book. This is another writing choice that can flop big time, but Janes makes it work quite wonderfully. Five broomsticks, er, stars, for GLAMOUR!
— Susan Abel Sullivan author of The Haunted Housewives of Allister Alabama and The Weredog Whisperer
For Annihilation, I loved the mystery and the dread-filled atmosphere, the internecine paranoia of the team, and the fumes of government conspiracy hanging over the whole thing. Plus the all-female team! I also dug the narrator, the Biologist, for lacking emotions in the expected places.
For My Struggle, it came down to the final, epic, cleaning scene in the last third of the book, wherein Knausgaard cleans his alcoholic grandmother's house following his father's death. It is harrowing, and has to be read to be believed.
"The Axe" is, without exaggeration, a perfect short story. Perfect. I won't say any more, just tell everyone to go read it now.
— Andrea Janes author of Glamour and contributor to Specter Spectacular
No surprise to anyone who's been following my blog, I'll also call out Grumbles the Novel by Karen Faris, which I have to recommend for being such an irreverent and tongue-in-cheek take on dystopian science-fiction — think Terry Pratchett crossed with Cory Doctorow. If James Bond were a woman (and worked for the post office in a world wallowing in environmental disaster,) this would be her story.
— Jenn Lyons author of Blood Chimera and the new release Blood Sin
An Everlasting Meal. You don't need to love cooking to enjoy this book. But the recipes and advice about cooking are incredibly useful. It's a highly practical book that encourages cooks to use what they have. The writing style is clear and readable.
— Kate Wolford editor of Krampusnacht and Beyond the Glass Slipper
The Purpose of Fantasy, by Philip Martin (Crispin Books, 2013), a succinct discussion of 12 great fantasy novels offering insights into the core values presented in each. A great exploration of fantasy writing and the depth of meaning that can be found in such works.
The Singular Adventure of Charles Goodfoote, a self-published novel by Thomas Hanratty. I was surprised how well done and polished this mystery was. Charles Goodfoote is a Pinkerton agent working in the western United States. A Blackfoot Native American by heritage, raised in Boston high society, Goodfoote is assigned to protecting the life of a teenage Sherlock Holmes in a western town as wild as can be imagined. A great page-turner. Hanratty is a retired forensics investigator.
— David J. Rank author of the forthcoming Alien Ways
I'll make my second pick The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin. I devoured this epic fantasy in one evening, from dinnertime to three in the morning. Big scope, neat magic, and compelling characters. Who can resist a holy assassin?
— Amanda C. Davis co-author of Wolves and Witches and contributor to Specter Spectacular
I really enjoyed Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood. It's a short story collection, not a novel, but it was a fantastic one with many of the stories interrelated. I devoured the stories in no time, and I'd like to re-read them all again sometime soon to find out what I missed the first time though.
The best book I read this year, though, was Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It was magical and replaced The Last Unicorn as my most favourite book ever. The Ocean at The End of the Lane is incredibly imaginative and creative, but so honest that it spoke to me on a very deep and personal level. It gave me nightmares, it made me laugh, and it made me sob. If you have to pick only one book to read in the coming months, make it this one.
— Rhonda Parrish editor of Fae and the forthcoming anthologies Corvidae and Scarecrow
I'd also like to recommend all WWP titles. Let me be completely honest here: if I didn't love these books then I wouldn't have published them.
— Eileen Wiedbrauk, Editor-in-Chief