To celebrate International Women’s Day, I reviewed the books I read in 2015 by women (I admit to a gender imbalance that I am well on my way to correcting this year!). I present to you my top three and note that I rated no book by a man higher last year.

A word of warning about my reviews on Goodreads. I am a pretty tough critic: of the 141 books for which I have posted reviews, only 12 received 5/5 stars, two of which I shamelessly note are MINE! Of the other 10, two are by the (English) bard, Shakespeare! The only book that I added to the list of 5 star earners from last year’s reading was a compilation work that makes me pine for the land where I formerly lived! For me, a good read that I truly enjoyed ranks a 3. I hope that puts what follows into context:

Another caveat: You’ll note that I have been trying to re-acquaint myself with where speculative fiction has evolved, so most of what follow fall into that genre, so I present you that caveat in advance. First up, though, is one that falls outside of the speculative!

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Caroline Doherty de Novoa’s Dancing with Statues took me back and forth between my ancestral homeland and the beautiful country in which I was living last year, Colombia. This work was a lovely, well-crafted piece of novel writing, made all the more relevant to me because of the beautifully described settings, intriguing characters, and hidden secret at the heart of the story. It is well worth exploring.

You can find out more about Caroline Doherty de Novoa’s writing here:

http://carolinedohertydenovoa.com

The sum of my thoughts can be seen here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1178179452


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Next up is K. V. Johansen’s Blackdog. This book also had intriguing characters and I very much enjoyed the narrative. What really made this book interesting for me was that there were some elements that I hadn’t encountered before in fantasy. In particular, the notion of gods who are anything but omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, as well as the portrayal of the inner thoughts, ambitions, and fears of the antagonist.

You can find out more about K. V. Johansen’s writing here:

http://www.pippin.ca/kvj/

The sum of my thoughts can be seen here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1349173967


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This next book, Ilana Myer’s Last Song Before Night likewise broke free of some tropes that I find re-occur too much in fantasy, and thus was a very rewarding read. Often in fantasy, antagonists are cut-out caricatures, but what about injecting feelings of regret to temper some of their ambitions and to readjust their trajectory? Can characters grow and evolve beyond in their capability to overcome the antagonist? Can they learn enough to overcome themselves? This novel explored those themes, all the while plunking us down in a world filled with song and verse.

You can find out more about Ilana Myer’s writing here: https://ilanacmyer.com

The sum of my thoughts can be seen here:

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1449973492


ian at ianmckinley dot com (written this way to guard against spam … you know how to interpret it) © Ian McKinley 2016