Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of July: Our Top 5 Picks



Best of the Month - Amazon Book ReviewOkay, I lied.

I'm going to spend this post telling you about seven titles that I enjoyed reading so much that I refuse to rein myself in and talk about only five. And if you check out the full list of top picks, which I normally limit to ten, you'll see that thirteen titles are on there.

What can I say? July is a pretty spectacular month.

 

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The Devourers by Indra Das - I'd been hearing about this book for months, and so I tossed myself into it with a lot of expectations. I admit, I wasn't initially wowed. The story starts at a simmer, and I didn't love jumping backward to another storyline. But Das's mesmerizing, poetic writing finally put me under an enchantment that took me a while to shake off even after I turned the final page. It's being billed as the werewolf version of Interview with a Vampire, and those who enjoy Anne Rice will quickly see the parallels.
 

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The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis - More wolves! Well, one wolf. But that's not why I'm recommending this book to anyone who will stand still for thirty seconds and let me jabber on about it. Imagine a postapocalyptic Western told from the perspective of a female Huckleberry Finn on the run from a serial killer. Now realize that this book is unlike any you've read before. A remarkable, ominous story starring a heroine that will grab at your guts and your heart. And you'll never think about jerky the same way again.
 

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Life Debt: Aftermath (Star Wars) by Chuck Wendig - Star Wars readers are still split on Wendig's first post-RoTJ-set book, Aftermath, but three words should encourage readers to give this trilogy another chance: "Han and Chewie." Wendig pulls back on the full-throttle guffaws and delivers a story with the lightspeed-paced action that Star Wars fans expect and the depth of character that Wendig's readers respect. And Mr. Bones, the killer droid that's the psychotic opposite of R2-D2 but somehow cuddles into your heart anyway, does his thing, too.
 

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The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - Ryan's new series-starter briskly drops readers into an exciting new world in which consuming dragon blood conveys super powers to those who are bloodborn. Tight action scenes interspersed with genuinely funny moments and a sardonic voice propelled me through this epic fantasy in just a few days.
 

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The Dark Side by Anthony O'Neill - A mash-up of 1950's Las Vegas and the Mos Eisley cantina (Mos Vegas?), Purgatory is an anything-goes colony on the dark side of the moon, where the convicts and ne'er-do-wells are outnumbered only by the vices available on demand. As newly-arrived Lieutenant Damien Justus tackles a challenging case involving the assassination of a local official, a homicidal android cuts a terrifying (and often hilarious) path of destruction toward Purgatory. The frenetic action and sublimely clever dialogue of The Dark Side build to a satisfying conclusion, even though you'll wish your time in Purgatory didn't have to end. (Review by Matt Fyffe)
 

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Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor - Originally published independently in 2013, Just One Damned Thing After Another is now available in print from Nightshade Books. I admit that I missed this book when it released in June, but it was so entertaining that I had to break the rules and put it on the list for July. Time-traveling historians with a weakness for tea suffer high casualty rates even though their visits to momentous events in the past require them to only observe and study them. Our heroine Miss Maxwell gets herself into and out of scrapes through a combination of impulsiveness and rock-steady nerves. When St. Mary's (which oversee the historians) finds itself under attack from the St. Mary's of the future, Max and her comrades have to defend against a changing timeline. This is book one of seven in the Chronicles of St. Mary's, so pick up the rest of them in Kindle format now or keep your eyes open in coming months for the rest of the paperback editions.
 

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Flying by Carrie Jones - As substantial and tasty as whipped cream, this urban fantasy tale of an alien-hunting, sparky-voiced cheerleader won't give you any after-consumption regrets. High-schooler Mana discovers that her loving mom might have more in common with Scully than June Cleaver and then hops (or backflips, as the occasion warrants) from disaster to disaster as she and her best friend, Lyle, try to rescue her mom after she goes missing. This romp is especially good for YA audience, but you know me—I wouldn't recommend anything here that adults (and in this case adults with a healthy sense of humor) wouldn't enjoy as well.
 

See the full list of my top picks for science fiction and fantasy in July.

 


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