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Recommended Reading by Professionals…with Kristen from Fantasy Cafe

In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.

Today’s recommendations are by Kristen, who blogs at Fantasy Cafe. I’ve been a huge fan of her site since before her amazing Women in SF & F Month in April of 2012.  The reception for the series was so good she repeated it in 2013 and has just announced that she’ll be doing it again this year.   If you’re interested in seeing all the wonderful posts she gathered for her series, here are the link lists for 2012: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5 and final thoughts; 2013: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5 and final thoughts. She also did a round-up of book lists featuring female authors. Her ‘Leaning Pile of Books’ feature is a great place to learn about new titles and she’s constantly posting new book reviews. She also does author interviews and hosts guest posts.

It was difficult to choose only three books that do not receive the amount of recognition I believe they deserve—there are so many to choose from! In the end, I went with three of my favorites that are not exactly unknown but are not read and discussed as much as I think they deserve. I also liked that this worked out to include one fantasy, one science fiction, and one young adult speculative fiction book.

  1. Transformation by Carol Berg is one of those rare books that captivated me from the very first sentence and kept me riveted until the very end. The magical aspects are unique, and I found the way they were expanded upon over the course of the trilogy well developed and surprising—but the first book remains my favorite because the slowly developing friendship between arrogant Prince Aleksander and his slave Seyonne was so gripping. This was my first experience reading one of Carol Berg’s books, and all of her books I’ve read have wonderfully developed characters, but Aleksander and Seyonne are the two I remember most fondly.
  2. Warchild by Karin Lowachee is another one of those extraordinary books that made me care from the very beginning and left me truly sad when I reached the end and had no more pages left to read. The powerful second person account of the pirate attack on eight-year-old Jos’s spaceship is personal and terrifying and is one of the best openings I have ever read, both action-packed and intensely emotional. Jos came to life as a character, and I actually missed him once I finished reading the book. This book is a fairly recent discovery for me—I haven’t even read the next two yet!—but it is one of my favorite books in the world.
  3. I was thrilled to see Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone well-received, but I still do not see her previous books mentioned that often. That’s a shame because they are also wonderful, and I particularly love Lips Touch: Three Times, a book containing three exquisitely written stories. Laini Taylor writes like nobody else, and her prose particularly sparkles in this collection. “Spicy Little Curses Such As These” is a beautifully written feat of storytelling, but my favorite story is “Hatchling.” It drew me in with its creepy opening, in which Esme awakens to discover that she has both an eye and memories that are not her own. It’s delightfully dark, and if I hadn’t already been convinced that Laini Taylor was a master storyteller and wordsmith by that point, this story would have done just that.

Stay tuned for the next post where we get more reading recommendations!

If you’re a book professional and you’d like to participate in this column, email jessica at jessica.strider [at]

About Jessica Strider (102 Articles)
Jessica Strider worked at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto for 10 years before it closed in 2014. Now she's got more time to read books, so check out her <a href="//">blog</a> for SF/F book reviews, movie reviews, posts about the middle ages, and more.

2 Comments on Recommended Reading by Professionals…with Kristen from Fantasy Cafe

  1. Steve O // March 7, 2014 at 3:57 pm //

    Three godawful covers.

  2. Maddalena // March 10, 2014 at 1:18 pm //

    “Warchild” was a recent discovery for me as well, and I agree with your point of view: the story is quite poignant and the characters (especially Jos) stay with you for a long time after the book is over.

    “Transformation” looks like a very interesting new angle on the fantasy genre: it’s already on my “buy soon” list.

    Thanks for sharing!

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