Sunday, December 26, 2010

SFR Holiday Blitz: Marcella Burnard's 2010 Book List

I’m Marcella Burnard and as part of the Holiday Blitz over at The Galaxy Express, I’m stepping in to bribe you into giving up your 2010 top pick SFR reads. No taking without giving, however!

This is the bribe for two winners.
Below you’ll find my 2010 reading list and the few books I consider the top options. When I ran through my list, I realized the number of books I’d read was pathetic. I’ll attribute it to the fact that I was desperately trying to get my own book finished and to the editor in something resembling a timely fashion. E-books are noticeably absent from my reading list. There’s not a one. Yes. Even though I claim to be a geek, I resisted buying into the e-reader market because I wanted access to loads and loads of nonfiction science books. The first e-reader incarnations didn’t have much of a nonfiction list. That’s changed and I did finally buy a Kindle recently. Granted, I have yet to download a single book – danged deadlines.

The real shocker? There are exactly three actual scifi romance novels on my list. Maybe four. Depends on how you classify Steampunk. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to turn in my SFR fangirl card…

Here, in no particular order is my 2010 book list:
Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (Steampunk)
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (Hugo winner)
Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny (Hugo winner)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (Steampunk)   
The Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry (Thriller)
Sparks by Laura Bickle (Urban Fantasy)
• Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair (SFR)
Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch (SFR)
Dauntless by Jack Campbell (Military SF)
Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides (Nonfiction, WWII History)
After Dark by Jayne Castle (SFR)
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (Hugo winner)
The Rising Sea by Orrin H. Pilkey (Nonfiction, Environmental Science)
Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger by Jeff Wise (Nonfiction, Psychology, Physiology)

Turns out, I’m one of those authors who cannot read in my genre while working on a book of my own. It’s too easy for me to pick up someone else’s voice. If I read scifi romance while I’m writing, I end up sounding like whoever I’m reading. So I read books outside the genre. That’s where the nonfiction books, the thriller, and the urban fantasy stories come in. Of those, I can enthusiastically recommend Laura Bickle’s book, Sparks. Of the nonfiction, my favorite was Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger by Jeff Wise.

A friend loaned my husband her copy of Old Man’s War by John Scalzi. I saw the book, spotted “Hugo Award Winner” emblazoned on the front and, curious as to what sort of stories the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America thought were the best examples of the genre, I picked up the book to read the back cover copy. Several hours later, I’d finished reading the book. It was that good. I began wondering if I could read my way through the complete list of Hugo winners. It seemed like the sort of thing a fledgling science fiction writer ought to do – learn from the award winners. Scalzi’s book was definitely my favorite of the three I read this year. Roger Zelazny’s book, Lord of Light, was fascinating and compelling. It didn’t feel at all like a science fiction novel – no one ever talked about the science. Yet the story being told wasn’t possible without the technology placed in the background of the world. I read the book, closed it, blinked, and shook my head. No way could I have conceived of that story, much less written anything like it. But I certainly could (and did) enjoy it.

This brings us around to the steampunk and SFR novels I managed to consume in the latter half of the year. (After I’d turned in book two of my SFR series and before the first book, Enemy Within, hit shelves in early November.) Soulless by Gail Carrington was a fun read. The book qualifies more as paranormal than as science fiction, in my opinion, because what science is present isn’t integral to the story. The paranormal elements are stronger – vampires, werewolves and zombies, oh my. I’d even argue that the book is set in a steampunk-like world, but that the book is a comedy of manners more than anything – a *very* good comedy of manners, mind you, but if you prefer to read SFR and SFR only, this one won’t do. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook, on the other hand, is very much an alternate history science fiction romance story and a pretty spectacular one, at that. The world has been thought through in detail. The blend of science and adventure is a kick. It’s another I strongly recommend. Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch was another fast, fun read. The only caution I issue is that if you object to religion in your fiction, this book may annoy you. I found it relatively unobtrusive and the humor showed through it all, but I have run into a few readers who stumbled on that one point. Jayne Castle’s book, After Dark, while technically a futuristic romance, read more like a paranormal to me. Sure, it’s another planet and the species is adapting in strange ways to living on this world, but science was light on the ground in this story. (I should mention, too, that this book was published some years ago in 2000 – I just happened to have picked it up and read it this year when someone put it on the book trading shelf at the marina where we live.) This brings us around to one of my all time favorite authors: Linnea Sinclair and her book Rebels and Lovers. First, can I say I love the cover of that book? A geek hero in glasses? This book was definitely another of my favorites.

What about you? What did you read this year that stands out? After all, I have to build a reading list for 2011 and I don’t want to miss out.

I have two signed copies of Enemy Within to give away.

Leave your favorite reads of 2010 in comments and on 12/21, I’ll draw names and ask your lovely Alien Romance hostesses to post the winners!


Owning up from Rowena Cherry.
If there are any errors with the links, the blame is mine. I had a bit of fun looking up the authors and the books that Marcella mentioned, and discovered some exceptionally cool stuff.

I also avoided providing a buy-the-book link to Amazon, if another one made more sense to me.... for instance if no one has posted a review on Powells, or Barnes and Noble. Or if the Google book site seemed cooler.

PS  Via Love Romance Passion in connection with the global SFR Holiday Blitz, Rowena Cherry is giving away one mailer containing one print copy each of Insufficient Mating Material and Knight's Fork . The one winner chosen by Love Romance Passion can be anywhere in the world.

Linnea Sinclair has donated Rebels and Lovers
REBELS AND LOVERS will go to one winner on the Geek Mom blog 
Gini Koch's TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN will go to the winner on : Lisa Paitz Spindler's Blog


  1. I love your golden cover, Marcella.

    As for the SFR that I've read this year, Jack Vance's Demon Princes springs to mind.

    I also love Lisa Shearin's books, and cannot wait for the Con and Conjure! (Not that it is SFR)

  2. So happy to have made your list!

    I'm like you - I don't read in whatever genre I'm writing in while I'm writing. I don't eread, either - I do all my writing, editing & critiquing on a screen. When I read for pleasure I want anything BUT a screen.

    So, since I've been working in SFR nonstop this year, I didn't read any. (Other than the SFR Anthology, Love and Rockets, but that was a) yesterday and b) because I have a story in there under my Anita Ensal pen name. Since I'm in it, don't feel I can count it in my faves list).

    My fave reads were:
    A Legacy of Wolves by Marsheila Rockwell (fantasy)
    The October Daye Series (Books 1-3) by Seanan McGuire (paranormal noir)
    Mind Games by Carolyn Crane (paranormal romance/urban fantasy)
    Empire of Salt by Weston Ochse (SF Zombie)

  3. I've read two out of three of your scifi novels and while I loved touched by an alien. I'd not have thought to classify After Dark as a scifi romance. I'd say it's more of an alternate universe type story. I read so many books that it's hard to remember what I've read when lol. But I love Stacia Kane's Ghost series. Lots of old favorites came out with new book in their series. way too many to list. but some new to me authors are
    Gini Kock Touched by an alien whch was a favorite scifi and I've been told Judy Mays is working on her next alien romance. And I for one cannot wait.

  4. My 2010 favorite reads, which also weren't all SFR, are:

    1. Hope's Folly by Linnea Sinclair (SFR)
    2. Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt (post-apocalyptic)
    3. Moonstruck by Susan Grant (SFR)
    4. Simply Sinful by Kat Pearce (Erotica)
    5. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey (urban fantasy)
    6. Don't Look Back by Josh Lanyon (M/M romance)
    7. Feed by M.T. Anderson (YA futuristic sci-fi)
    8. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown (contemporary)
    9. Day of the Vipers, Terok Nor book 1 by James Swallow (ST sci-fi)
    10. The Double by Jose Saramago (contemporary)

    If this list makes me look like I'm all over the place, well, I am! You could say I'm well-rounded I guess LOL.

  5. Here are some of my SFR favorites from 2010.

    Girl Gone Nova and Tangled in Time by Pauline Baird Jones
    In Enemy Hands by K.D. Augustine
    Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
    Beyond the Shadows by Jess Granger
    Close Contact by Katherine Allred
    Borelasi I: A Space Anthology by Gail Delaney
    Enemy Within by Marcella Barnard
    The Iron Duke by Meljean Brooks
    Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair.
    Alien Tango and Touched by An Alien by Gini Koch
    Strange Little Band by Nancy Brauer

    I am also including a list of books I am waiting for in 2011. Most are not all SFR..

    Rising Tides: Destroyermen by Taylor Anderson
    Betrayer: Foreigner # 12 by C.J. Cherry
    Haven (A Trial of Blood and Steel) by Joel Shepherd
    Where Shadows Dance: A Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery by C. S. Harris
    Kiss of Snow: Psy-Changeling by Nalini Singh
    Alien in th Family by Gini Koch
    Heartless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel by Gail Carriger
    Heart of Steel: The Iron Seas by Meljean Brook
    Enemy Games by Marcella Burnard

    I don't think I will be running out of things to read but just in case all of you keep writing so I can keep reading.

  6. I haven't read much literally science fiction romance, since I read more paranormal and fantasy. I've read too many books over the course of the year to list; however, as a vampire specialist, I pick A TAINT IN THE BLOOD, by S. M. Stirling, as the year's top vampire novel. It's an SF treatment of vampires with a romance subplot. THE GREYFRIAR (Book 1 of the Vampire Empire), by Clay and Susan Griffith, is also excellent.

    Naturally, I was delighted with J.D. Robb's INDULGENCE IN DEATH, futuristic mystery, of course, not romance.

    TOUCHED BY AN ALIEN is a great title; I'll have to look up that one.

    An SF and fantasy author friend of mine, Jean Lorrah, Jacqueline's collaborator, has just had several books released in Kindle format. One is a collection of 6 stories not currently available anywhere else, with an introductory essay about writing in general and the origins of the stories.

  7. Anonymous5:57 PM EST

    Hi, read your post Marcella and wrote down your list. Haven't read any of them, so will do so in 2011. The only speculative fiction I read this year was 'Sacred Honor.' Set in parallel worlds of 2076 and 1776, the colonies never united cause a scientist sold them out to the British. Great book. Should read it when you get a chance. Also love your cover. It gives me goose bumps.

  8. Anonymous7:14 PM EST

    I'm fascinated to see what other people choose. Way to go Marcella!

  9. I have been catching up on some paranormals.

    Masques - Patricia Briggs
    Wolfsbane - Patricia Briggs
    The Grimrose Path - Rob Thurman
    Assassin's Honor - Monica Burns

    Always looking for good science fiction romance.

  10. My favorite SFR reads this year:
    Dark Slayer
    Pleasure of a Dark Prince
    Demon From the Dark
    Lover Avenged
    Sea Storm

    I weave mystery/thrillers and horror in between my SFR so I don't get burned out on one genre.

  11. 1. Demon from the Dark
    2. Play of Passion
    3. The Iron Duke
    4. Demon Blood
    These are some of my favorites of the year.

  12. Hi I read your list and found it fascinating. I too am very interested to see what others have been reading. I admit that I'm a bit behind on my own reading for this past year since it has been a busy one for me but I hope to get caught up in the coming year and will certainly use your list for a very helpful reference.

  13. What the Night Knows by Dean Koontz

    Twisted, Convoluted and Intriguing...Excellent Read

    This book is one I recommend reading in the daylight and with other people around. Dean Koontz, with his usual panache, has delivered a spell-binding, spine-tingling book that defies the imagination. The horror of it is…it could happen. Who knows? The unexplained remains out there in the dark, creepy, crawly and so very nameless. This is an unbelievably spooky read! If you like to be scared out of your wits, this book will do it for you.


    Born of Ice

    Sherilyn Kenyon

    A Superb, Action filled read! The heroine of this story, Alix Garran, is not just beautiful and athletic—she's intelligent and knows it. She's sassy, brassy and sweet, all rolled into one. But she has issues, deep-seated, soul-scaring issues. Devyn Kell is the ultimate alpha hero. He's a take-charge kind of guy who brooks no insolence, always champions the underdog, and runs a taut ship. The characters in this story include a parentally-activated computer called Vic—installed and controlled by Devyn's over-protective parents. Vic, though programmed loyal only to Devyn, finds a certain liking for Alix, and brings some interesting challenges to this fast-paced, highly entertaining tale.


    So Cold the River

    By Michael Koryta

    Wow! I thought this might be just another mundane so-so story, but after a few pages I began to realize how cleverly the author snaked his way into this story. Mystical, thrilling, and definitely chilling—this is a read you won't want to do after dark. No kidding! I was reading away the other night, in the middle of a very intense scene when I heard my front door fly open. After a few minutes of cowering with a baseball bat in my closet, I ventured forth to find the door solidly closed and not a sign of anyone about. Needless to say, I put the book away until daylight. This, then, is a gripping tale that will have you shivering and reaching for the light switch at every creak in the floor, every knock in the wall. if it wants an email address.

  14. Enemy Within looks GREAT! I'm going give it a read asap. Thanks also for the laughs on your blog entry. I always wondered how authors keep from borrowing other authors' ideas/voice/thoughts. And all the time it was a simple answer: avoidance. *alughing*

    Here's my must read for (hopefully Q1) of 2011

    1. Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair. (yes, I'm behind. oy...)
    2. Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle--whenever it arrives in print
    3. The-Next_Lara-Leigh-Breed book, whose title I've forgotten
    4. Forgotten Sea by Virginia Kantra
    5. In the Dark of Dreams by Marjorie Liu.

    so many titles; so little time

    Keep up the good work, Rowena! We Wuvs You!

  15. Enemy Within looks GREAT! I'm going give it a read asap. Thanks also for the laughs on your blog entry. I always wondered how authors keep from borrowing other authors' ideas/voice/thoughts. And all the time it was a simple answer: avoidance. *alughing*

    Here's my must read for (hopefully Q1) of 2011

    1. Rebels and Lovers by Linnea Sinclair. (yes, I'm behind. oy...)
    2. Midnight Crystal by Jayne Castle--whenever it arrives in print
    3. The-Next_Lara-Leigh-Breed book, whose title I've forgotten
    4. Forgotten Sea by Virginia Kantra
    5. In the Dark of Dreams by Marjorie Liu.

    so many titles; so little time

    Keep up the good work, Rowena! We Wuvs You!

  16. Some of my favorite books this year included:
    The Native Star
    The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
    Jellicoe Road
    The Hunger Games
    The Beekeeper's Apprentice

  17. My favorite series of the year would have to be Sherilyn Kenyon's League novels. There's just no beating straight up the great science fiction romance that she brings to the table. Her worlds are so rich as well. As for individual titles I would probably have to say CL Wilson's epic fantasy conclusion to her Song series with Crown of Crystal Flame (although that has nothing to do with science fiction).

    As for next year, I'm eagerly awaited my signed copy of Shadowfever (Karen Marie Moning) January 18th. That'll be an all nighter for me.


  18. Hey, Marcella! Thanks for the shout-out! Love your list...I'm adding the entries to my ever-growing TBR pile!

  19. Okay, I'm late, but I was intrigued by your list of books, esp. the non-fiction one because I mostly read non-fiction. I will definitely check out some of these books. The only alien book I can think of is a recent one by Janet Evanovich but I can't remember the title. Or the protagonists. Hmmm It was a fun read but very light. Oh, his name was Diesel and she made cupcakes for a living. I'll be back to this post when I get home.

  20. My list would be:
    - Touched by an Alien and Alien Tango by Gini Koch
    - Anya/Sparky series by Laura Bickle
    - Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams
    - Mind games/ Double cross by Carolyn Crane
    - Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines

    SF favourite reads:
    Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
    Enemy Within (got me to read more sf I must confess)

  21. I have read some fantastic books in 2010: Embers by Laura Bickle, Mind Games by Carolyn Crane, Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch, Promise by Kristie Cook and Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James all blew me away! Dark Oracle by Alayna Williams and Hunted by the Others by Jess Haines is on my TBR list because I have only heard amazing things about them!

    Happy New Year in advance! :-)

    stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com