by Natalie C. Parker

This was a swashbuckling post-apocalyptic young adult pirate novel. Kind of like Waterworld, but with an attack yacht full of young women pirates instead of Kevin Costner on a catamaran with a tomato plant. It started a bit slow, got good, and ended with a bit of a whimper.

PS, you don’t use oars in a canoe. Not sure I can forgive the author for that.

The Serpent of Venice

by Christopher Moore

A comic smushing-together of “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Merchant of Venice,” and “Othello.” Plus Marco Polo and a dragon, because why not. Quite bawdy.

As an English major with well-thumbed copies of all the source materials on my bookshelf, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Eisenhorn: the Omnibus Edition

by Dan Abnett

This is a massive collection of 4 novels and 4 short stories about Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

  • “Regia Occulta”
  • Xenos
  • “Missing in Action”
  • Malleus
  • “Backcloth for a Crown Additional”
  • Hereticus
  • “The Keeler Image”
  • The Magos

I’ve never played Warhammer and this was my first encounter with the universe. The gist is that in the 41st century human scientific and social progress have ceased, humanity is united under a god-emperor, and humankind is fighting for survival against alien and occult forces.

It’s a pretty great setting, and these stories are a good read.

Of the novels, I thought The Magos was far and away the best. Although it is also the odd one out—the only story not told primarily from Eisenhorn’s first-person perspective. If you wanted to just dip your toe into this series to see if you like it, I would start with The Magos, and if you enjoy it, get the omnibus and start at the beginning. (Even though The Magos comes last in the timeline, I don’t think it spoils anything about the other stories.)

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

by David Mitchell

The page-turner-ness of this book is a bell curve. The first half is a slow-moving introduction. The next third or so is a riveting samurai movie in novel form. The rest is predictable but satisfying.

I was ready to give up in the first half, but I’m mostly glad I stuck with it to the end.

Gunmetal Gods

by Zamil Akhtar

An epic fantasy twist on the Crusades, with masked magi, angels right out of Revelation (think lots of extra eyes and wings), and a healthy dose of Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.

I didn’t devour it, but I really enjoyed it and I’m starting the second book in the series right … now.

The Golden Enclaves

by Naomi Novik

El is basically goth Harry Potter, and in the third Scholomance book she has to solve the mystery of her boyfriend, the Scholomance itself, and the wizards’ enclaves in the void. Meanwhile, someone is destroying enclaves …

I still love these books. I don’t know if there will be a fourth one, but if there is I’ll read it!