Heist Fantasy: Magic, Action & Adventure

I have realized that some of my favorite recent fantasy reads have featured an elaborate heist adventure at the center of the story. Heist fantasies offer the magic, action and adventure that will keep you turning pages while they also feature characters on the margins of society, grifters and scrappy survivors whose struggles and high-stakes schemes and scrapes propel the narrative. While these fantasies offer characters you will root for, they present the thrill and danger of life lived on a knife’s edge. Here are some examples of heist fantasies I enjoyed:

image of book cover for Six of CrowsLeigh Bardugo’s teen fantasy duology Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom introduce a motley cast of characters led by Kaz, a mysterious young man known as Dirtyhands who masterminds a den of thieves in Ketterdam’s Dregs. While the characters are teens, this is a dark fantasy world of deep class distinctions and the youth in Kaz’s crew have all encountered very adult, traumatic events in their lives. Their mistreatment by the world bonds them as they undergo a suicide mission trying to break out a man with valuable secrets from the most heavily guarded stronghold in the land. Continue reading “Heist Fantasy: Magic, Action & Adventure”

John Wyndham’s Work Remains Scary and Thought-provoking

I love discovering authors that were impactful in their era and whose work still holds up today. Wyndham is the kind of writer I truly enjoy–he writes the kind of unfussy, competent prose that is underrated and more supple than it first appears. His writing reminds me of the work of Walter Tevis, Theodore Sturgeon, and James Tiptree, Jr. where the first lines draw you in, and the characters are drawn swiftly in compelling details without overdoing it.

Wyndham wrote short, chilling novels that he called “logical fantasy” and what were alternately and perhaps dismissively called “cosy catastrophes.” He also knew how to draw you in from the first sentence and paragraph.

Here is the first sentence in The Day of the Triffids (1951): “When a day that you happen to know is Wednesday starts off by sounding like a Sunday, there is something seriously wrong somewhere.” Continue reading “John Wyndham’s Work Remains Scary and Thought-provoking”

New African American Fiction

February is Black History Month, so the Reader Services department created a list of recently published African American fiction that we are loving — and we think you will, too. Here is a sampling of some of the books on the list which includes general fiction, mystery, fantasy and romance. Definitely something for every reader!

Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union is a romance set in the Civil War that centers on a young black woman and freewoman, Elle Burns, who goes undercover as a pro-Union Loyalty League spy. Things get complicated for Elle when she falls for another spy of a different race. Library Journal said: “Courageous, passionate protagonists fight for justice, freedom, and the right to love in an exceptional story that both educates and entertains and beautifully launches a unique series.”

Naima Coster’s debut Halsey Street looks at how gentrification impacts one family in Brooklyn, Continue reading “New African American Fiction”

Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin

From l to r: Michael Wallenfells, Ursula K. Le Guin, Misha Stone, Duane Wilkins, May 2013, Central Library

Ursula K. Le Guin died in her home in Portland, Oregon on January 22nd at the age of 88. There have been so many marvelous essays and remembrances of her from Margaret Atwood, Karen Joy Fowler, Nisi Shawl, Nicola Griffith, Margaret Killjoy, John Scalzi and more. I don’t feel as though I can add anything new to the chorus, other than to share what Ursula K. Le Guin meant to me.

I encountered Le Guin on my father’s bookshelves, where Continue reading “Remembering Ursula K. Le Guin”

My Favorite 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy

Every year I set reading goals for myself. One of those goals is to read as much as possible. I also try to get to a few older books I have been meaning to read. But trying to read the latest releases in literary fiction, nonfiction and science fiction and fantasy is an evergreen reading goal. Here are some of my favorite science fiction and fantasy released in 2017: Continue reading “My Favorite 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy”