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Top Ten Books 2014, January – June

Good news on the writing front! Tainted Blood copy edits came back, and I went through them line by line. If you happen to follow my Twitter feed, believe me, that involved a whole lot of profanity. Plus some appeals to the Twitter hive mind, and the ever-popular “too gross?” checks. (those have left me with the following conclusion: there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who find poop jokes hilarious, and those who lack all sense of humor. Just a warning – there are poop jokes in Tainted Blood. AWESOME poop jokes.) Now the manuscript passes to the typesetter, and the next time I see it will be when I get the page proofs. So it’s making steady progress toward that November release date!

I’m in the process of re-organizing my office space. I’ve finally decided that I have outgrown the Walmart special desk (that is actually not a joke – I bought it when I was in grad school, and the budget was TIGHT back then) that I wrote the first three Fort Scott books on, and I’m upgrading to an L-desk that will offer about 2/3rds more room. Best of all, there will be room to not only type at the keyboard, but also slide my chair over and work longhand. While I’m at it, I’m also painting the office and finally putting up some pictures. Once this is done, I’ll start breaking ground on Fort Scott #4, which I am now officially contracted for. (the contract arrived yesterday with all the signatures! There is now no escape possible for Roc! Mwa ha ha ha!)

On to actual content.

According to my Goodreads account (which, can I just say how much I love that thing? Statistics make me happy – it’s why when I’m working on a book, I keep track of my daily wordcount), I’ve read 47 books so far this year. Let me tell you – it’s been a lot of fun. But as I stand here (or, rather, sit here) at the midpoint of the year, I have to admit – some of those books stunk, a lot were fantastic, but a few were ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD READ THEM NOW.

Shadow Throne 1. The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler

This comes out July 1, but I got an ARC from Django. You might be asking yourself – wait, she got an ARC from the author, who she is also referring to by first name? Is this a case of that rampant authorial nepotism that I hear about?

I will neither confirm nor deny this.

BUT, seriously, I love this series to death. The first book was one of my favorites last year, and I was really looking forward to the sequel. It’s pretty fabulous – imagine a Victor Hugo novel (yes, THAT one – with the musical), but flintlock-fantasy style. Oh, and for those of you who are looking for a fantasy book with a great range of female characters – look no further. It’s here.







Three Parts Dead 2. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

I was at VeriCon this year with Max Gladstone, and here’s the thing about being on multiple panels with other authors – you hear the elevator pitch for their novel about 50,000 times. (Max could probably mention all the bullet-point selling items for Generation V from memory) Now, if you’re highly susceptible to advertising, like I am, this usually means that you have to buy the damn thing. However, I’m really glad that I did this, because this book is INCREDIBLE. It’s actually as good as the cover – how often does that happen?

I also read the sequel, which equally rocked my world (book moral: bros before hos, fathers, bosses, and gods), but I made the executive decision that there would be no double entries.









3. Dust by Elizabeth Bear


Angels, a generation ship, a basilisk named Gavin who is also a laser-cutter, medievalism meeting high tech, and copious incest. Very, very cool.








vicious 4. Vicious by V. E. Schwab

Every superhero/supervillain trope ever is beautifully and mind-blowingly subverted in this book. Great characterization and a great out-of-order construction that gives this a great puzzle feeling. Fabulous payoff, too. I picked this up because everyone on my Twitter feed was going crazy over it, and THEY WERE RIGHT.









fun home



5. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

The textbook I was using for one of my classes in the spring semester had a really neat section on the graphic novel, and while I didn’t quite figure out a way to shoe-horn it into the official syllabus I did read an excerpt from FUN HOME, and I had to immediately order the whole book. It’s a fascinating and beautifully presented memoir of the author’s childhood and family, really considering the ideas of identity and sexuality. So worth checking out if you haven’t read it yet.






murder of crows



6. Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Sequels are tough when you really loved the original. Hopes get really high, and it’s unlikely for the sequel to live up to it. I’m really enjoying Anne Bishop’s foray into alternate-world urban fantasy, and the sequel really worked for me. I’ve had a pretty good six months with sequels, actually. Obviously, there’s my own sequel (REQUISITE PLUG AND SELF-BRAG), but I read a bunch that I really liked. I think the only one that just didn’t really do much for me was Sharon Shinn’s Royal Airs – though I still think that the first in that series, Troubled Waters, was utterly perfect.






tenant of wildfell hall7. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

No, seriously.

I’ve done my time in the English Department gulag, so I thought that I’d really had my fill of Brontes. I mean, not that I don’t like them. Wuthering Heights is pretty delightfully fucked up, and Jane Eyre is basically requisite reading given how often writers feel compelled to either rip it off or give it an homage (fact: best Jane Eyre homage EVER is Jenna Starborn by Sharon Shinn – it’s not just a copy & paste of basic story elements, but actually pays attention to the goddamn themes). But I didn’t really feel the need to complete my Bronte trifecta, feeling that I’d pretty much gotten the idea.

I was wrong. Anne is the badass Bronte sister. She’s all gritty realism! Feminism! Belief in redemption! I mean, her sister Charlotte outright refused to let Tenant of Wildfell Hall be republished during her lifetime because of how controversial her sister’s book is. Yes, the book is told in epistolary form, which normally makes me shudder, but it’s worth it.

Okay, and I also watched the BBC film version before I read it, which got my interest going. But – worth it!


radiant seas8. The Radiant Seas by Catherine Asaro

Plus the other 12 books in this series that I read since January. I really love this series, and now I’m suffering withdrawal – the bummer of tearing through a series in three months that have taken the author just under twenty years to write. Plus side, according to Asaro’s website, she’s got Plans.

Most of the books in the series can be read individually – there is only one cliffhangered book, and that one is pretty overtly labeled Part One. If you read them in publication order there’s also this neat thing where Asaro skips all around in her own timeline. In some books they’ll refer to this big war that occurred years ago, and in later books the setting IS that war.

Now, I read the series in publication order, which begins with Primary Inversion. But if you’re interested in reading it in chronological order, start with Skyfall. What I’d love to be able to do is dump my memories of this series and try it in chronological order, then get my other memories back and compare.


dead things




9. Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

LA noir with necromancy. It’s pretty awesome. The sequel comes out in August, too, so you won’t have to wait too long to find out what’s next for Eric Carter.








beggars in spain10. Beggars In Spain by Nancy Kress

This is one of those sci-fi books that utterly blows you away with the setup, the payout, and the insight into humanity. It’s also one of those books that will leave you completely depressed because of its insights – but it’s so good that you have to read more. Kress reminds me of Sherri S. Tepper in that way. Well worth checking out.




So that’s my Top Ten since January. What’s yours?

Iron Night Page Proofs

My page proofs, in all their glory!

My page proofs, in all their glory!

The page proofs for Iron Night have arrived! This is pretty exciting, and a little nerve-wracking, since this is the last chance I have to catch any screw-ups before the whole book goes off to print. Let me tell you – pressure is on.

But the book looks really fantastic (admittedly right now it is a pile of pages I carry around in an old file folder, but still), and I really can’t wait to see what people think of it! I’ve gotten fantastic feedback from so many people on Generation V that I’m a little (okay, a LOT) anxious to see how readers respond to the return of Fort and Suzume. Plus there are some new characters, some bigger roles for returning characters, and a few deaths. (not telling who, but yes – I kill. *maniacal laugh*)

In other news – some great new reviews of Generation V since the last time I posted. Here’s what people are saying:

Bastard at Bastard Books wrote:

Generation V is a refreshingly unique novel that all urban fantasy enthusiast should read, and a book capable of encouraging even the most ardent critics of the genre. Very much a page turner, a story that has a lot of heart and much to offer. With an extremely fun novel full of charm, Brennan has written a winner.

Justin at Staffer’s Book Review wrote:

…it’s a vampire novel that surprised me with its originality. What begins as a typical vampire urban fantasy, ends up with a lot in common with Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London. It’s a delightful novel that would strongly recommend to lovers of urban fantasy or urban fantasy doubters (like me) looking to stick a toe in the water.

Kathy F. at Stellar Four wrote:

First of all, my thought through many parts was, “This is effed up.” And it is, wonderfully, magnificently effed up. Horrible things happen, the whole way vampires are created in this world is nightmare fuel, and we have a MC who realizes how messed up his world is but feels powerless.

I also had the pleasure of doing an interview with Matt at 52 Reviews and I really encourage people to check it out – it was definitely the most in-depth interview I’ve ever done, and the result was one of my favorites!

Here’s a sample:

52 Reviews: To take the discussion of vampiric family values a bit further, I found it interesting that Fort and his siblings fall into somewhat predictable models of abnormal psychology while their mother seems to be a completely different model all together. What can you tell us about your processes in creating the matriarch of this family of vampires?

M.L. Brennan: Primarily, I think of her as an adult crocodile. Crocodiles are a pretty interesting species — when they are born, they are around ten inches long, and are preyed on by mammals, birds, and even big fish. They eat bugs, and spend most of their time hiding and trying to avoid being eaten. But you take that little creature, and (if nothing eats it) it is going to grow into this massive, tough, absolute apex predator that has pretty much no natural predators except other crocodiles.

If you could sit crocodiles down on a therapist’s couch, and assuming a few factors, namely, a) The crocodiles didn’t eat the therapist, b) The therapist had somehow found a way to communicate with the crocodiles, and c) That the crocodiles actually had a complex interior landscape, I think that would be pretty interesting. Because here’s a creature that goes from pretty much being everything’s dinner — and not just for one or two seasons, but for a very serious number of years, and the mommy crocodile stops responding to its distress peeps after the first few weeks — and in fear of everything to this absolute boss of the river with just about nothing being a real danger to it. That’s kind of neat when you think about it. To me, it would suggest that as little as I think I would really be able to understand or empathize with a crocodile, even with a helpful translating therapist (mostly because of the reptile thing, to be honest), I think that it would be almost equally difficult for its offspring to understand or empathize with the adults of the species.

That is admittedly kind of a weird genesis for a character’s psychology, but that’s how I picture Madeline, the vampire matriarch, and it helps me write her.

Pretty neat, right?

Regarding the writing, I just delivered the manuscript of Book 3 to my editor, so I have a little time before the response to that gets back. Iron Night page proofs are due back on September 24, so after that I’ll probably be seeing about lining up some publicity, maybe scheduling a blog tour. I definitely have a slightly larger rolodex than last time, and I really can’t wait until I get my hot little hands on some ARCs, because I am so looking forward to handing a few copies off to a few bloggers who I made friends with last time around.

Oh, and by the by – if you love RPG games with a strong sci-fi storytelling base? You really need to check out this kickstarter for Ambrov X – I’ve already donated money!

The author’s cat proudly surveys the page proofs. “Yes,” she thinks. “Right here is where I will vomit tonight.”

The author’s cat proudly surveys the page proofs. “Yes,” she thinks. “Right here is where I will vomit tonight.”


I am ML Brennan and I stand by this picture decision. Just as that cat likely stood by his yarn consumption.

I am ML Brennan and I stand by this picture decision. Just as that cat likely stood by his yarn consumption.

August has been flying by, which means that in just over a week, I will be flying to San Antonio with my long-suffering spouse and will be attending my first WorldCon! *Very* exciting, let me assure you! For anyone attending who is interested, here are my confirmed activities for the weekend! (confirmed but unmentioned include eating, sleeping, and pooping. Because, really – everyone poops)

Right now there’s a lot of blank space on Friday – I have one connection to get to San Antonio, so right now I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I arrive in time to get my badge and hit my one scheduled commitment for the day. Oh, and if I make my connection, I wanted a chance to get to walk around and actually see the booths.

Saturday has some really fun stuff scheduled, including my one panel! Please attend my panel, and if you want to pitch me some softball questions about horror, give in to the urge! I also have two autographing sessions, one of which I am delighted to say will be with several very fine writers. But thanks to the good folks at Penguin, I am the proud owner of a full box of copies of Generation V – which I will be handing out for free at those sessions! First come, first served! (also, seriously, I don’t want to have to check this box for the flight home — *please* come take a book from me!)

On Sunday I will be staffing the SFWA table for a little bit, but I’m sure by then I’ll have heard about at least fifty things I’ll want to do before I catch my flight home. Here’s the breakdown:

WorldCon Schedule

Friday 8/30

1:36pm — Flight arrives

8pm – 11pm — Private

Saturday 8/31

10am – 10:45am – Interview with Patrick Hester for The SF Signal Podcast

1pm – 1:45pm – Autographing at the SFWA table (C-13 in the Dealer’s Room) I will have free copies of Generation V with me! Nothing would make me happier than to sign one of them for you!

2pm – 3pm – Panel, How To Scare Your Reader (Moderator- Vylar Kaftan, John Hornor Jacobs, Amanda Downum, Alastair Reynolds)

4pm – 5pm – Autographing Session (with David Hartwell, Kathleen Goonan, and Cat Rambo) I will have free copies of Generation V with me! If you want a copy, please just come over and I will gladly sign one for you!

7:00 PM – (I have no idea) — Drinks With Authors (this will be held at Ernie’s, which Justin from Staffer’s Book Review *swears* is only a block away from the con hotel) There are going to be a lot of awesome writers here, so definitely put this one down on your list!

Sunday 9/1

11am – 1pm — Staffing SFWA Table (C-13 in the Dealer’s Room – come say hi!)

5:14pm – Flight departs

In other news, here’s what some reviewers are saying about Generation V!

Dawn Nikithser at Bookshelf Bombshells says:

Yeah, I am sick of vampires too. But being sick of vampires is kind of like being sick of cupcakes—when someone comes up with a delicious new flavor, you gotta eat it. You’ll devour this one whole.

Matt Gilliard at 52 Reviews says:

Taken as a whole, Generation V is a fresh take on an old saw that benefits from Brennan’s excellent world building and the authenticity of its cast. Fans of urban fantasy who are weary of the same old, same old shouldn’t miss this engaging mix of action, humor, and coming of age tale. I’ll definitely be around for round two.

Oh, and if you’ll be at WorldCon, drop a note in the comments! What are you planning to do at WorldCon? Any good suggestions for things I should add to my itinerary?



Five days to go!

Only five days to go, and things are incredibly exciting and busy for me! The very nice publicity rep at Penguin gave me a list of every blog that he’d sent an advance copy of Generation V to, and I contacted a bunch to ask if it would be possible to do an interview, or a giveaway, or some kind of guest post, and everyone has been hugely supportive and wonderful. So I have a lot of stuff coming up the pipeline (including some really fantastic interviews that were so much fun to do) over the next week or so.

Exciting stuff for today:

Check out the Top Ten list I did over at All Things Urban Fantasy. They are also hosting a giveaway, so if you would like to win a free signed copy of Generation V, check it out there!

Everyone should also check out Kirsten’s review of Generation V over at A Book Obsession. Four out of five butterflies can’t be wrong!

I’ll be posting again tomorrow, but for now — wouldn’t you like to pre-order Generation V? You know that you would!

Cross-dressing Data wants you to pre-order Generation V.  And you should.  Because he's cross-dressing Data.

Cross-dressing Data wants you to pre-order Generation V.
And you should.
Because he’s cross-dressing Data.