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The Books We’re Thankful For in 2021

It’s the last day of the year and we’re looking back at the chaotic, indescribable year that was 2021 the only way we know howthrough books. Check out the books that helped our staff get through 2021 here!


Image Placeholder of - 77Lizzy Hosty, Marketing Intern (she/her)

A book that I’m definitely thankful for this year is All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman. I was so delightfully surprised by how impressive the world building was, and how immersed into the setting I felt. The cliffhanger at the end was absolutely wild, and I won’t be able to sit still until the second book comes out!

Poster Placeholder of - 76Desirae Friesan, Publicist (she/her)

There are so many books I loved this year, but one I keep coming back to is Katherine Addison’s The Witness for the DeadSince The Goblin Emperor is one of my favorite books I was so delighted for more of Katherine Addison’s beautiful writing, and to be back in the world of The Goblin Emperor following Celehar as he drinks tea, listens to people’s problems, and tries to help . I cannot express how much I need this book this year, a book about grief, about daily strugglies, about justice, but most of all a book about healing and finding connection. Beyond the satisfaction of a mystery solved, when I put down this book I felt hopeful and uplifted, both for Celehar and for myself.

Image Place holder  of - 98Samantha Friedlander, Marketing Assistant (she/her)

Comfort Me With Apples – This book was absolutely mind-blowing! For such a short novella, it packs a powerful punch and leaves you hungry for more.
For the Wolf – I loved the atmosphere of this book: dark, haunted, woodsy, and romantic. The romance was sweet and reminded me of so many other characters that I’ve loved over the years.
A Spindle Splintered – I loved the way that Sleeping Beauty was reframed in this novella. I loved the main character right from the very first line.
A Marvellous Light – The grumpy one falls for the sunshine one, plus magic and a murder mystery? How could I resist? This was another book with an amazing atmosphere that I sank right into.
Cemetery Boys – This book didn’t come out in 2021, but it was one of my favorite spooky season reads this year! There’s a beautiful romance, amazing characters, and magic that leaps off of the page.

Place holder  of - 97a cat, Marketing Coordinator (he/him)

This year I’m thankful for flying magical islands, winged shapeshifting lions, and young adult books with adrenaline-fueled action and adventure that unfolds so addictingly fast you won’t put down the book until you’ve turned the final page. I’m talking about Shannon Price’s magnificent The Endless Skies, of course. This novel rocked. I loved it. So will you.

Placeholder of  -1Julia Bergen, Marketing Manager (she/her)

I’m thankful that Under the Whispering Door by TJ Klune exists! Really, I’m thankful to be in a world where TJ Klune exists and is writing such beautiful stories. The idea that I get to keep reading more books by him is a luxury I do not take lightly.

image-37917Yvonne Ye, Ad/Promo Assistant (she/her)

SORCERER OF THE WILDEEPS by Kai Ashante Wilson
Kai Ashante Wilson’s novella is so lyrically haunting and generically wall-breaking that I did a double take when I found out it had been published Six Whole Years Ago. The way Wilson slides effortlessly between registers of language to craft a gorgeous story of love and survival of mythic proportions is absolutely incomparable. Also, I challenge anyone to name another spear-and-sandal novella that casually drops “the exigencies of FTL travel” in the middle of a conversation. I’ll wait.
INTERIOR CHINATOWN by Charles Yu
Never have I ever met a diaspora book that was so poignantly incisive and utterly unhinged. I spent all 288 pages yelling about the way Charles Yu toys with (and gleefully manipulates) the formal elements of screenwriting to write a blistering critique of Asian portrayals in Hollywood and cinema that also managed to be a rollicking good ride all the way down. I lost my absolute mind when I realized the title itself was a play on “INT. CHINATOWN,” and this quote haunts me to this day:
“…If you didn’t know it already, now you do: old dudes from rural Taiwan are comfortable with their karaoke and when they do karaoke for some reason they love no one like they love John Denver.
 
Maybe it’s the dream of the open highway. The romantic myth of the West. A reminder that these funny little Orientals have actually been Americans longer than you have. Know something about this country that you haven’t yet figured out. If you don’t believe it, go down to your local karaoke bar on a busy night. Wait until the third hour, when the drunk frat boys and gastropub waitresses with headshots are all done with Backstreet Boys and Alicia Keys and locate the slightly older Asian businessman standing patiently in line for his turn, his face warmly rouged on Crown or Japanese lager, and when he steps up and starts slaying ‘Country Roads,’ try not to laugh, or wink knowingly or clap a little too hard, because by the time he gets to ‘West Virginia, mountain mama,’ you’re going to be singing along, and by the time he’s done, you might understand why a seventy-seven year-old guy from a tiny island in the Taiwan Strait who’s been in a foreign country for two-thirds of his life can nail a song, note perfect, about wanting to go home.”

SHE WHO BECAME THE SUN by Shelley Parker-Chan

Speaking of books that made me lose my absolute mind, Shelley Parker-Chan’s debut novel smashed every expectation I had for it and more. With every page of bilingual excellence and imaginative historical reclamation, I became cemented in my belief that Shelley Parker-Chan is the mad diaspora genius we didn’t know we could have and desperately needed. I try not to foist books on my friends because we all have guilt-inducing TBR piles, but I definitely shoved this one in everyone’s face approximately thirty seconds into casual conversation.

image-39355Rachel Taylor, Marketing Manager (she/her)

I am very lucky that I got to read A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows early and wow, what a treat. It has basically everything I could ever want from a booka queer romance, mutual pining, and lush prose that left me longing for more. I can’t wait for everyone to read this one in 2022!

gif-master-of-denimKaleb Russell, Marketing Assistant (he/him)

  1. The temerity of Luster by Raven Leilani is absolutely awe-inspiring. This stupendous debut was a tumultuous journey consisting of countless painful, cringe-worthy moments and I relished every second of it. The novel gives an earnest portrayal of a 23-year-old black woman named Edie trying to find her way… and falling flat on her face several times throughout the process. And *that’s* what makes this book so stunning; it’s willingness to be messy! It’s not often you get this sort of portrayal of Black women in fiction, one where they’re not held up to this absurd standard of Black Exceptionalism™.

Here, Edie gets to be this flawed person who makes some *extremely* misguided decisions and isn’t derided for it. She’s a hot mess like the rest of us, but that doesn’t mean she’s any less deserving of love and contentment. Leilani’s precise characterization and sumptuous prose makes Luster a life-affirming narrative about the growing pains of your 20s and all the beauty and anguish it entails.

  1. Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee – The final book in Fonda Lee’s perilous Green Bone Saga left me in tears. Lee’s ability to write a compelling family drama is exemplary. Conversations and arguments between characters are more gripping, more pulse pounding  than any jade duel. Words cut deeper than talon knives. This is easily one of the most remarkable trilogy endings I’ve had the honor of reading.

  2. A Master of Djinn by P. Djèlí Clark – After reading A Dead Djinn In Cairo (and just about everything else Clark has penned) I knew his debut novel would be nothing short of spectacular. And I was correct! Clark’s version of Cairo (like all of his worlds) is one rife with wondrous magic and infinite possibility. Fatma el-Sha’arawi remains a compelling main character who is as charismatic and wise as she is dapper. And best believe this woman’s fashion sense is impeccable! I hope we see more books in this universe.

What books helped you get through 2021? Let us know in the comments! 

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#ICYMI- A Recap of TorCon 2021

A big THANK YOU to all our amazing friends and fans who joined us for TorCon 2021. We hope you had an amazing time and hope to see you again for our next virtual event!

If you’re bummed you couldn’t make it to all of the activities, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. You can see the recordings of almost all of TorCon PLUS some short recaps here!

Gillian Flynn and Catriona Ward, in conversation

Catriona Ward’s twisty and terrifying The Last House on Needless Street is one of the most anticipated books of the fall–and who better to join her to discuss all things thrilling and chilling than #1 New York Times bestselling author Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl, Dark Places, Sharp Objects)? Check out this powerhouse duo here! Thank you to Den of Geek for co-hosting.

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Chaotic Storytelling–Take 2!

It’s time for Chaotic Storytelling: 2 Chaotic, 2 Furious! Christopher Buehlman (The Blacktongue Thief), J.S. Dewes (The Last Watch), Andrea Hairston (Master of Poisons), Jenn Lyons (The House of Always), and Neil Sharpson (When the Sparrow Falls) incorporated writing prompts from the audience to create a brand new story—and talk about their craft and inspirations along the way. This panel was co-hosted by LitHub and moderated by Drew Broussard.

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Nightfire Family *Blood* Feud

Our new horror imprint, Nightfire, brought together some of your favorite horror and gothic authors as they went head-to-head in a horror-inspired version of the favorite game show… What tropes are fan favorites? Which movie franchise is the scariest? Check out Gretchen Felker-Martin (Manhunt), Cassandra Khaw (Nothing But Blackened Teeth), Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Hex, Echo), Silvia Moreno Garcia (Certain Dark Things), and host Lee Mandelo (Summer Sons) as they found out during Nightfire’s Horror Feud!

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Holly Black & James Rollins in conversation

Holly Black joined James Rollins to discuss his new epic novel, The Starless Crown–plus an exclusive announcement for Holly’s fans! Check out these two #1 New York Times bestsellers as they talked bringing the thrills to fantasy, fighting the moon, stealing a god, new projects…and even a sneak peek at some of their latest work. Holly announced her adult debut from Tor, coming next summer, Book of Night. This panel was co-hosted by Den of Geek.

Rewatch below via Facebook:

All the Feels: Emotional Storytelling in SFF

SFF has the coolest story elements, but the *real* reason we love these books is that they hit us right in the feels. Becky Chambers (A Psalm for the Wild-Built), Kerstin Hall (Star Eater), T.L. Huchu (The Library of the Dead), Alex Pheby (Mordew), Lucinda Roy (The Freedom Race), and moderator TJ Klune (Under the Whispering Door) joined us to discuss making stories more than just words on a page, and mastermind an evil plot to make us have FEELINGS!

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Ethereal & Eerie: A Glimpse at Captivating Fall Reads

Catch a glimpse of fall’s most ethereal and eerie reads from authors Alix E. Harrow (A Spindle Splintered), Freya Marske (A Marvellous Light), Lee Mandelo (Summer Sons), Zin E. Rocklyn (Flowers for the Sea), and Catherynne M. Valente (Comfort Me With Apples). Moderated by Seanan McGuire (Where the Drowned Girls Go).

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Charlie Jane Anders & TJ Klune in conversation

Check out internationally bestselling author Charlie Jane Anders (Victories Greater than Death, Never Say You Can’t Survive) in conversation with New York Times and USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune (The House in the Cerulean Sea, Flash Fire) as they discussed writing SFF for adults and teens, crafting authentic queer narratives, and everlasting fictional characters that stay with readers long after they’ve finished the book. This panel was co-hosted by Den of Geek.

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Space is Gay!

Only two things are infinite: Space and Gay. Check out Charlie Jane Anders (Victories Greater than Death), Ryka Aoki (Light From Uncommon Stars), A.K. Larkwood (The Unspoken Name), Everina Maxwell (Winter’s Orbit), and moderator K.M. Szpara (First, Become Ashes) as they discussed queer science fiction spaces, extraterrestrial OTPs, and how in space, no one can hear your gay pining. Attendees were able to enter for a chance to win one of Tor’s limited edition Space is Gay pins.

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Conjuring the Diaspora: Myths, Legends, and Classics Reimagined

Check out authors Ryka Aoki (Light From Uncommon Stars), Aliette de Bodard (Fireheart Tiger), Shelley Parker-Chan (She Who Became the Sun), and Nghi Vo (The Chosen and the Beautiful) for a discussion of how the Asian diaspora intersects with storytelling in the speculative fiction space. This panel was co-hosted with the Bronx Book Festival.

Rewatch below via Facebook:

Jo Firestone & Joe Pera in conversation

Joe Pera, from the Adult Swim show Joe Pera Talks With You, has been lauded for his warmhearted comedic stylings. Now, check out him and Jo Firestone to present a preview of his first book! A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape is a funny and sincere guide to regaining calm and confidence when you’re hiding in the bathroom from life’s stresses. This panel was co-hosted by Den of Geek. It is not available for rewatch.

TorCon 2021 Presents: Cooking the Books!

As a special treat, we asked three of our authors to share some of their favorite food-related tidbits. Check out their choices below!


Becky Chambers, author of A Psalm for the Wild-Built, shared some of her favorite teas with the audience, DRAMATIC READING STYLE.

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J. S. Dewes, author of The Last Watch, shared her quest to find the best gum! Do you agree with her choices?

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Aliette de Bodard, author of Fireheart Tiger, made a strong cup of tea to give a ‘cheers’ to the final day of the convention.

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