Colleen is Associate Director of Marketing, Social Media & Reader Experience for Penguin’s Berkley and NAL Publishing Groups. She has been a professional nerd since 1984.
Daughter of the Sword is a debut novel that doesn’t fit neatly into any category, but it’s exactly that originality that made this one of my favorite novels of last year. A skillful blend of Japanese historical fantasy, urban fantasy, and contemporary police procedural, and Bein’s protagonist Mariko Oshiro – the only female detective in Tokyo’s most elite police unit – is a wonderful addition to the ranks of urban fantasy heroes.
Neuromancer is a classic science fiction title now celebrating its 30th anniversary. It won the Hugo, the Nebula, and the Philip K. Dick Award, and was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award the same year. Gibson invented an entire genre with Neuromancer; its influence still reverberates throughout current pop culture. I read this when it first came out (yes, I’m that old!) and have never been able to get Gibson’s vision of the future out of my head.
I read this just a few weeks ago, while prepping for a panel I’ll be moderating with the author next month, and I absolutely loved it! Imagine a town very much like Shakespeare’s Verona, run by a hierarchy of thieves, spies, rogues, and assassins, throw in some magic with sensible rules, a little ribald good humor, a quest for a forbidden object, and a lot of excellent swordplay, and, well, basically you’ve got Among Thieves. Hulick is a wonderful world-builder and his characters will stay with you long after you finish the book. Enjoy!
An utterly compelling military-themed epic fantasy with characters that become more complex and more believable the deeper you delve into the novel. Wexler sets his story in Khandar, an arid land reminiscent of nineteenth-century Sudan, where unrest is brewing against the foreigners who long-ago colonized their country, and the desolate Colonial soldiers left behind to police the citizens. Wexler brilliantly melds the horror of combat with the politics of colonialism, giving the reader reasons to care for characters on both sides of the conflict. An exceptional debut novel!
I love urban fantasy, and Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series is one of my favorites in this genre. Jane Yellowrock is a skinwalker of Cherokee descent, and the last of her kind. Jane shares her body with the soul of a mountain lion she calls Beast, and the conversations between Jane and Beast – conversations that take place inside Jane’s head! – are some of the best and most human parts of these books. There’s also a cast of vampires, weres, and bad-boy love interests, but the true heart of these books is the relationship between Jane and Beast. Start with Skinwalker and work your way through the whole series. Just trust me on this!
Charlaine Harris leaves Bon Temps and Sookie Stackhouse behind in Midnight Crossroad, the first in a brand-new series set in the town of Midnight, Texas. At its heart, Midnight Crossroad is a murder mystery, and Harris draws heavily on her roots as a mystery writer here, mixing small-town eccentricities with darker paranormal elements to create a quirky town where most of the residents have something to hide. I confess to tearing through this book in about a day, missing several subway stops on the way to work (sorry boss!) to read the last chapter. I can’t wait to see what the fine folks of Midnight get up to next!
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