In 500 Words or Less: End of 2022 Round-Up!

In 500 Words or Less: End of 2022 Round-Up!

The Bone Shard Emperor, Finish, and The Kaiju Preservation Society (Orbit, Portfolio, and Tor Books)

Oh man, what a year, people. I won’t bore you with the details, but you already got a glimpse of my debut novel Catalyst, and there was additional coolness on top of that. See my bio below for the title of my first games writing publication, and some of the recent spots for my short fiction.

We’re here to talk books, though, and I’ll freely admit that I didn’t read quite as much in this back half of 2022, for reasons of being busy and sometimes very stressed. Because I figured out quickly that I was going through a period of “less reading, more Steam” I was choosy with what I read. The silver lining of which was that the books I stuck with turned out to be excellent, and I’m excited to share them below with you.

In alphabetical order…

The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
Orbit (592 pages, $17.99 paperback, $9.99 eBook, April 2022)

Yep, we’re starting with a sequel! I’ve fallen out of epic fantasy a bit lately for various reasons, but I’m absolutely hooked on this trilogy. Andrea does a phenomenal job with Lin and Jovis balancing their secrets and conflicting interests but obvious chemistry and connection to each other, and on raising the stakes involving the Alanga and Lin’s tenuous hold on the throne. Can’t wait for the final instalment later this year.

Cover art by Haley Rose

Finish by Jon Acuff
Portfolio (208 pages, $17.75 hardcover, $9.99 eBook, September 2017)

Not sure that I’ve ever thrown non-fiction into my reviews, but here we are. Partly because I was hitting a stalling point with my latest novel WIP, I picked this up on Marie Bilodeau’s recommendation and absolutely devoured it. Acuff provides a ton of useful tips to tackle all kinds of procrastination on finishing a project, especially a creative one, and does it in a direct and funny way that never feels preachy.

The Heretic’s Guide to Homecoming: Part Two – Practice by Sienna Tristen
Molewhale Press (636 pages, $22.99 paperback, $5.99 eBook, October 2022)

I’ve crowed about this book in a few places online already, and I’m pretty sure it’s my favorite of the entire year. It will punch you right in the solar plexus with its gripping emotional moments. It will challenge you to consider everything you know about a fantasy adventure. Read this book (and obviously Part One, Theory).

The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
Macmillan (272 pages, $17.99 paperback, $13.99 eBook, March 2022)

This is exactly the book I needed for late December 2022. If you’ve read Scalzi, you know how he works a narrative through pointed dialogue and non-stop pacing. Anyone with an understanding of bureaucracy, activism, kaiju, and dealing with horrible rich people will probably adore this story. Plus even though it opens smack in 2020, COVID and all, it is a remarkably fun book.

Cover design by Alan Dingman

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Revenant by Alex White
Pocket Books (320 pages, $14.99 paperback, $0.99 eBook, December 2021)

I’ve been very hit or miss on Star Trek tie-in novels in recent years, and honestly don’t read anywhere near as many as I used to. Right from page one, Alex perfectly captures the voice and mannerisms of the Deep Space Nine crew, and then doubles down by challenging several of them (Dax, Kira and Bashir especially) with an adventure steeped in Trill culture and Dax’s own history as a Joined with the Symbiosis Commission. Couldn’t put it down, and I hope Alex gets the chance to write more Trek.

*Honorable Mentions

  • Antimatter Blues by Edward Ashton (science fiction – St. Martin’s Press, 2022)
  • David Mogo Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa (fantasy – Abaddon, 2019)
  • Tomorrow’s Parties: Life in the Antropocene, edited by Jonathan Strahan (anthology – 2022)
  • Under Fortunate Stars by Ren Hutchings (science fiction – Solaris, 2022)

An Ottawa teacher by day, Brandon Crilly has been previously published by Daily Science Fiction, Apex Magazine, Fusion Fragment, Haven Spec, and other markets. His debut fantasy novel Catalyst was published by Atthis Arts in October 2022, followed shortly by his first games publication, Bestiarium Vocabulum, from Fat Goblin Games. In 2021, he co-founded Bag of Giving, a monthly Twitch series where authors play TTRPGs for charity. He’s also an Aurora Award-winning podcaster, conference organizer for Can*Con, a reviewer, and regularly has too many D&D campaign ideas than he could ever fit into his schedule.

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