Women in SFF Friday Favourites – Favourite Reads
Would it even be a month-long feature on the Fantasy Hive if we didn’t corral the team into creating lists of recommendations??
Of course not.
With that in mind, every Friday we’re going to follow along with our Women in SFF photo challenge, and bring you our Top Three of that Friday’s prompt.
This week, the team discusses their Top Three favourite (female) reads since last Women in SFF…
My first choice would be The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi, who’s sumptuous prose utterly captured me. It’s a dark, gothic, twisty fairytale and I devoured it.
My second choice is The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, this was one of the first cosy books I’d read and I adored it. There’s a fantastic mix of humour and cuteness which really worked for me.
My third choice is Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett, again this is another cosy read but what I loved most was how relatable Emily’s character is. She’s introverted and socially awkward and rather prefers her studies and reading to socialising—I’m much the same!
Library Unwritten – AJ Hackwith
I’ve always had quite a fascination for Death in my books, so a book that is about a library in hell sounded right up my alley!
Luckily it didn’t disappoint, it’s a really fun, quirky, weird and fast paced read, but manages to also have enough depth to not ever feel shallow.
The Jaguar Path – Anna Stephens
This sequel to The Stone Knife is just fantastic as the first one, and even a bit darker. Stephens does not coddle her characters, but lets them go through hell over and over. However it’s never gratuitously done, but shines new depths on character growth, and the trauma and long lasting repercussions are sensibly handled.
Burn Red Skies – Kerstin Espinosa Rosero
After languishing on my TBR for ages, I finally managed to get around to this gem of a book. I love how different the characters are! A mute female main character, her brother, the rather weak young man who can’t be in the sun, a rather badass female army leader and a band of misfit pirates, they all felt three dimensional and real to me. I also adored the world that has airships, magic and maybe even a dragon or two…
Talonsister by Jen Williams
I was very fortunate to read this just last month, as it isn’t coming out til September, and you can catch my review on the Hive this afternoon. It’s Jen’s glorious griffin and folklore-full return to fantasy.
The Bone Shard War by Andrea Stewart
Earlier this year Nils and I returned to Stewart’s Drowning Empire trilogy for the last instalment of the adventure and it was so bittersweet! I’ve loved exploring this world with my bestie, and saying goodbye to these characters was so hard, but it was a fantastic end to what will always be one of my favourite trilogies.
The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
Julia got to The Jaguar Path before me, so I’ll pick another favourite, and it has to be Captain Amina. Chakraborty’s middle-aged middle-eastern fearsome female pirate was an absolute joy to read. This story was chock full of the magical elements you’d expect from Chakraborty; a thoroughly exciting adventure!
Belladonna – Adalyn Grace
Like Julia, I have a fascination with Death as a character in my books, so this one definitely tickled my fancy. The dead talk to Signa, who is an orphan girl, and gets through more than her fair share of guardians. Each one is more despicable than the last and each meets a Very Natural demise, much to Signa’s confusion. She is convinced that Death is stalking her. When the (already) deceased matriarch of her current guardian family hints that she has been poisoned, Signa realises that the family is in danger and sets out to prevent further tragedy. She meets a mysterious groom, who knows more than he is letting on, and of course Death himself is no help at all.
It’s gothic, it’s engaging and I’m looking forward to book 2, Foxglove.
The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels – India Holton.
The most polite ladies in society are undoubtedly the ones who will pick your pockets, blackmail their enemies and fly away in your house, while delicately nibbling on a crustless cucumber sandwich. It’s all of the things you suspected Mary Poppins was really up to as she terrorised the Banks children. Definitely cozy, definitely cut-throat.Definitely read it.
The Singular & Extraordinary Tale of Mirror & Goliath – Ishbelle Bee.
This is the first in the series, following Mirror, a little girl who was changed forever when her grandfather locked her inside a clock that was decorated all over with ladybirds. She is at risk from the dastardly Mr Fingers, a demonlord from the underworld, who wants her soul. The story is a fae tale: of shapeshifters, promises, dancing princesses and impossible bargains.
The Carbon Diaries 2015 – Saci Lloyd
OK, of course I was going to go for climate change book. The scary thing is how prescient Lloyd’s well researched and candid view of the future is. Extreme weather events finally force a political consensus that carbon rationing is needed for a long overdue and therefore necessarily accelerated transition to a low/zero carbon economy. While Lloyd writes with humour in the voice of her diarist Laura Brown there is a grimness in the setting that – at the time of writing – was probably intended to shock readers into pushing for urgent action while there was time. Of course no matter what the fatalists or the doomsayers may say, it’s never too late to start doing something and the more you do the more effect it will have. Matthew Schneider-Mayerson has written that soon all fiction will be climate fiction.
Small Miracles – Olivia Attwater
So, from the stark reality of climate change, I swing to the cosy fantasy of Olivia Attwater’s SPFBO8 winning entry. Imaginative, charming and – in the fluidity of its angelic genders, comfortably modern. It also flags up the complexity of modern life (also identified in the TV show The Good Place) which can make being a completely good person so difficult – though still worth the effort. However, the realistic portrayal of school staffroom refrigerator politics was the part of this elegant story that resonated most clearly for me.
Hel’s Eight – Stark Holborn
And then, from a threatened earth and a cosy fantasy, my choices veer out across time time and space to where Holborn’s hero Ten Low continues her pursuit for redemption on the barren prison colony moon of Factus. The ‘Ifs’ – ephemeral monsters of possibility, that tweak and twist events for maximum chaos continue to haunt Ten Low in this sequel to the introductory novel that bore her name. Delightfully different in how the novel toys with and is toyed by chance and happenstance.