Good heavens, it’s halfway through June. Also, after an extra month of spring, all of a sudden, it’s summer! Hot and humid, people, HOT AND HUMID, and am I ever glad I have air conditioning. I’m taking the dogs out at six in the morning now because after that it’s too hot for Dora, who agrees with me about the virtues of air conditioning unless she’s chasing dragonflies, in which case it can’t be too hot. (I do watch her for heat stroke when she gets into dragonfly mode.)
Anyway! I took a week off while waiting for a) Michelle at Random House to get back to me about KERI; b) Caitlin to get back to me about KEHERA, which btw she thinks has good commercial potential and she wants to try to place it with a traditional publisher; and c) Caitlin to get back to me about the 100 pp of WHITE ROAD, my other possibility for Random House.
I’m still waiting for all those comments, BUT I have had a quick unofficial note from Michelle that she hasn’t finished the KERI partial but loves it so far. So that looks good! And that means that my break is over. I wrote 1000 words of KERI this morning and need 1000 more tonight. That’s a pace that should get me to a finished work by the beginning of August, which is the goal. IF I don’t let myself get distracted by reading! I got three new cookbooks to help me avoid fiction (THAI FOOD and THAI STREET FOOD by David Thompson, and THE NEW BOOK OF MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD by Claudia Rhoden).
Meanwhile, I have actually managed to read a reasonable number of books this year so far. I don’t know, about 40? A good many have been re-reads, including all the Shadow Unit books in April, when I was working hard on KEHERA and didn’t read anything else. Anyway, here are my picks for this year so far. It’s a WAY more diverse list than it was last year — last year, the top ten list included only five authors (Martha Wells, Andrea K Host, NK Jemisin, Laura Florand, and one by Maggie Stiefvater). This year, no repeats in the actual list, though actually plenty of repeats from last year.
TOP TEN IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2014, in rough (very rough) order:
1. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie — an amazing, ambitious debut SF novel that you have probably already all read, right?
5. The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell, which ditto, and I really do not know which of these two MG works I would put first, but they are both definitely on my top ten list for the year. My comments.
7. Airs Above the Ground by Mary Stewart, which I have read many times, though not recently. This time, I really appreciated the structure of the story in ways I couldn’t when I first read it (in my teens).
8. Dolly and the Bird of Paradise by Dorothy Dunnett, another one which I first read many years ago (reissued as Tropical Issue btw). I will have to write a review eventually — these “Johnson Johnson” mysteries are thoroughly interesting from a writer’s perspective, as well as being great fun. Incidentally, this one was published sixth but is set slightly earlier than the other “Johnson Johnson” stories, so you can read it first or last if you want to try the series.
9. Kindred of Darkness by Barbara Hambly. An excellent addition the the Ysidro vampire historicals, though in my opinion, Ysidro himself is a less complex and less interesting character in this particular book. Lydia shines, though.
Let’s see, that’s one SF, one historical, one romance, two MG fantasy, two adult fantasy, one historical/UF, and two mysteries, every work by a different author. As I said, a more diverse group of titles this year than last year! Still fantasy-heavy, which is normal for me.
Okay, yes, I would like to write reviews for AIRS and BIRD OF PARADISE and KINDRED, but, hey, I just read (or re-read) these recently and I’m busy! There’s a lot to say about them, though, and for that matter I have recently read several books I enjoyed that aren’t on this list and there’s a lot to say about some of them, too. I’ll just have to see how it goes with KERI. Sometimes writing something quick and casual and above all short is a nice break from putting words in a row for the actual WIP.
Now, on the theory that one can never have too many books stacked up on the TBR pile, what if anything has particularly stood out for all of you so far this year? Any of these on your 2014 lists so far?