I had a revelation last week. It is November, people. November! It’s almost time for Thanksgiving, and the holidays, and therefore the time to look back at 2015 and figure out what books were the best of the year, and which disappointing duds didn’t make the cut.

It’s also the time of year that I go into a panic because I realize that I have almost run out of time. The approximately 50 or so big SF/F books I’ve been saving for the “right moment” this year are now mocking me from the crowded heights of my TBR shelf.

So this is my annual tradition, my late year wake up call, my mea culpa to those books—a list of the best SF/F books of 2015...that I haven’t read. Yet. (You bet that I will, in a desperate flurry before the end of the year, attempt to read and review many of these books. I will not be very successful—because these are almost all bonafide door-stoppers.)

Black Wolves by Kate Elliott. It has been a HUGE year for Kate Elliott, who happens to be one of my favorite authors, with the release of a collection of short stories, a new first-in-a-series YA novel, and this first-in-a-series adult novel. Black Wolves is a new fantasy epic in which an elite guard of soldiers fails to protect its king, and the dead king’s sister makes a desperate gamble to unite the Black Wolves to save her nephew from a similar fate. Page count: 832 pages.

Continue reading >


The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani. The third and final book in Chainani’s enormously awesome middle grade School for Good and Evil series, The Last Ever After has been high on my list of priorities since I discovered the series at the end of 2014. This incredibly nuanced and subversive series, following two best friends who have come a very long way from their initial placement in schools for “evLastSongofNightil” and “good,” is, I repeat, awesome. Page count: 672 pages.

A Crown for Cold Silver by Alex Marshall. Another highly buzzed-about first-in-a-series fantasy novel, A Crown for Cold Silver has been on my TBR since late last year when I was lucky enough to snag an early ARC. A book about an aging general who tried to get out of the game only to have everything she loves ripped away from her, and who then goes all John Wick on everyone? Yes, please. Page count: 656 pages.

Last Song Before Night by Ilana C. Myer. In a fantasy world where magic has unleashed a great plague and has been lost, where women are prohibited from answering the call of music and lyric, one young woman undertakes a quest to reclaim her legacy. I haven’t seen that many reviews for Myer’s debut, but I’m eager to read it before the year is out. Page count: 416 pages.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow. Set in the fuSilverRoadture, an AI has taken over and implemented a new system for peace that involves holding every government’s heir as hostage—should a country step out of line, their child will be killed. This young adult novel from Book Smuggler favorite author Erin Bow has already landed on several best-of-the-year lists, and both Ana and I are extremely eager to read it. Page count: 384 pages.

Six of Crows by Leah Bardugo. I very much enjoyed the first book in Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy and regret not diving further into that world. Luckily, Six of Crows is the companion novel I’ve been waiting for in order to make up for that deficit. Billed as a teenage, fantastical Ocean’s Eleven, Six of Crows is another YA novel landing on several Best of 2015 lists. I must read it SOON. Page count: 480 pages.

Silver on the Road by Laura Ann Gilman. A 16-year old chooses to work for the Devil in the Wild West. Do I need to say more? This is one of two as-yet unread books from Saga Press on my list, and the only Western I have on this list. Page count: 400 pages.

Updraft by Fran Wilde. Another debut novel, this time from prolific SF/F short story author Fran Wilde, Updraft tells the tale of a young woman who breaks thTwelveKingse law and is forced into training for one of the most dangerous jobs for the City’s shadowy government. Secrets, betrayals, and hard truths ensue. Page count: 368 pages.

Twelve Kings in Sharakhai by Bradley P. Beaulieu. Twelve immortal, cruel kings rule the desert city of Sharakhai unchallenged and unfettered—until a young woman defies their laws and discovers the truth of their power. Got this book at San Diego Comic Con this year (one of the few!) and very much hope I’ll get to it before the year is up. Page count: 592 pages.

The Toymaker’s Apprentice by Sherri S. Smith. The author of gems Orleans and Flygirl, Smith’s The Toymaker’s Apprentice has been on my TBR ever since I learned of its existence—and this one I actually have been saving for the holidays as it is a middle grade retelling of The Nutcracker. Page count: 400 pages.

Our Lady of the Ice by Cassandra Rose Clark. The second Saga Press novel on this list, Our Lady of the Ice is a mystery set in an Antarctic City, involving robots, detectives, socialites, scientists, and revolutionaries. Starring a female gumshoe at the bottom of the world, how could I resist this? Page count: 432 pages.LadyofIce

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu. Last but certainly not least, and the one book I would say that I absolutely WILL finish reviewing before 2015 is up, is The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu. The second book in the highly thought-provoking, bizarre, hard science-fiction Three Body Problem series, The Dark Forest continues the catastrophic events of The Three-Body Problem as Earth prepares for sophonic intervention and Trisolaris attack. Page count: 512 pages.

So there you have it, the list of 2015 books I desperately want to read before the clock runs out on this year. Just over 6,000 pages. No sweat, right?

What books do you have left on your end of the year TBRs?

Thea James and Ana Grilo are The Book Smugglers, a website for speculative fiction and YA. You can also find them on Twitter.