Smugglivus 2015 Guest Author: Nicole Kornher-Stace (+ Giveaway of Archivist Wasp)

Welcome to Smugglivus 2015! Throughout this month, we will have daily guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2015, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2016, and more.

Who: Our very first guest this year is Nicole Kornher-Stace, author of one of Ana’s top books of 2015, the AMAZING Archivist Wasp (and we have a signed copy to giveaway!).

Archivist Wasp

Nicole’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best American Fantasy, Clockwork Phoenix 3 & 4, The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women, Apex, and Fantasy Magazine. Her poem “The Changeling Always Wins” placed 2nd in the 2010 short form Rhysling Award, and her short fiction has been longlisted for the British Fantasy Awards and nominated for the Pushcart Prize.She is the author of Desideria, Demon Lovers and Other Difficulties, The Winter Triptych, and Archivist Wasp.

Hello and happy Smugglivus! Thank you so much for having me! This was really well-timed as I think I read more recent fiction in 2015 than I have in pretty much any year previous.

First, here are some books that I haven’t been seeing nearly enough buzz about.

The Towers trilogy by Karina Sumner-Smith (Radiant / Defiant / Towers Fall)


These were pointed out to me when I was looking for blurbs for Archivist Wasp. Somehow it’d escaped my notice that someone else was writing about a post-apocalyptic ghosthunter and the ghost that she comes to befriend. Towers centers on the very strong friendship between two women (the word “ladybromance”comes to mind) with NO STUPID OBLIGATORY ROMANCE GARBAGE. It’s awesome.

We Will All Go Down Together by Gemma Files

We Will All Go Down Together

Without spoiling all the cool stuff Files is doing here, this is a book that takes a whole teetering pile of well-worn, all-too-often-sugarcoated tropes and punches you directly in the face with it. Repeatedly. And if you like gorgeous, efficient, muscular prose, you can’t go wrong with pretty much anything Files has touched.

Way Down Dark by J.P. Smythe

Way Down Dark

This book is pretty much what you would get if you set Snowpiercer on a generation ship. Pitch-dark YA (yesss) with a flawed, desperate, believable girl protagonist (yessss) with a plot that just thunders along at breakneck speed. I can’t find much about the next two books in the projected trilogy, but I’m looking forward to them for sure.

Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee


Zero-gravity MMA in spaaaaace. Need I say more? It’s obvious from pretty much any fight scene in this book that Lee knows her MMA. I want this to be a movie.

Prophecies, Libels and Dreams by Ysabeau S. Wilce

Prophecies, Libels and Dreams

Ysabeau Wilce is that rare creature: a writer who writes character-based short fiction. And it’s awesome. Her Flora Segunda books are great, but for my money it’s in her short game where she really shines. I honestly can’t describe this book better than the paragraph I just borrowed off the backcover copy, so here: “These inter-connected stories are set in an opulent quasi-historical world of magick and high manners called the Republic of Califa. The Republic is a strangely familiar place—a baroque approximation of Gold Rush era-California with an overlay of Aztec ceremony—yet the characters who populate it are true originals: rockstar magicians, murderous gloves, bouncing boy terrors, blue tinted butlers, sentient squids, and a three-year-old Little Tiny Doom and her vengeful pink plush pig.”


All You Need Is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka

All You Need is Kill

Everybody knows by now that this is the book that the movie Edge of Tomorrow is based on (go watch it, I’ll wait), but it is so extremely different from the movie adaptation (different plot structure! different worldbuilding! 100% less whitewashing!) that whatever your thoughts were on the movie, the book is still well worth a read. My personal favorite scene from the book doesn’t even make it into the movie, booo.

There Is No Lovely End by Patty Templeton

There is no Lovely End

Alt-history of the Winchester Mystery House. Funny, sexy, clever. This might’ve been 2014 but I don’t even care, it’s on the list anyway, it’s awesome and has flown under way too many radars. I’m also super jealous of that title. I mean, aren’t you?

Archangel by Marguerite Reed


This book has some of the smartest, most comprehensive, most organic worldbuilding I’ve ever encountered in any medium. Add to that one of the most well-rounded female protagonists I’ve ever seen, a kickass story, and what is probably the most realistic depiction of a toddler in anything I’ve read in recent memory. Honestly just go read it.

Bone Swans by C.S.E. Cooney

Bone Swans

Full disclosure: I wrote a blurb for this. It’s still super good though. I hesitate to call these fairy-tale retellings, though some of these stories do a fair bit of that. It’s more like Cooney is making up a folklore of her own.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander

Okay, okay, so this is a novelette. Novella? Long short story thing. And it’s hands-down the piece of fiction I’ve been yelling my head off about most this year. I’m not even going to spoil it. Just go read it.

And here’s some stuff I read that everyone else in the world has already told you to read, and I’m here to tell you that they, dear reader, are correct.

The Imperial Radch trilogy by Ann Leckie (Ancillary Justice / Ancillary Sword / Ancillary Mercy)

Ancillary Mercy

I know, I know. But no. It really is that good. But you already know that, don’t you? The worldbuilding! The ideas! The Seivarden!

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Saga Volume 2

The most innovative thing I’ve maybe ever seen in comics. I love it so.

The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson

The Traitor Baru Cormorant

The entire Internet has been telling you to read this. Do you think the entire Internet is wrong? Actually, don’t answer that. Just read it.

I’m really bad at paying attention to what books are coming out in the year to come — why torment myself with stuff I can’t have yet? — so here’s some stuff from 2015 I’ve only recently gotten my greedy hands on, and a couple things from 2016 that I did manage to hear about in some way or another.

An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet

An Inheritance of Ashes

I heard her read from this at this past Readercon (my favorite con. You should totally go.) and it was bleak and atmospheric and hopeful and creepy in all the best ways.

The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

The Assimilated Cuban's Guide to Quantum Santeria by Carlos Hernandez

Another one I heard the author read from at Readercon. (Have I mentioned it’s the best con and you should totally go?) Genuinely funny — which almost nobody can pull off — and smart as hell. I mean, I would’ve been sold on this thing from the title alone.

Lament for the Afterlife by Lisa Hannett


Everything I’ve seen about this book sounds awesome. Top of my TBR pile right now. Exciting!

The Starlit Wood edited by Dominik Parisien and Navah Wolfe

The Starlit Wood

Diverse cross-genre fairy tale retellings written by extremely shiny people. Just look at this table of contents. Just LOOK AT IT.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older


I … heard him read from this at Readercon. (SERIOUSLY JUST GO.) If it’s anything like his other books, I’m gonna like it a whole heck of a lot and SO WILL YOU.

The Spider Tapestries by Mike Allen


Full disclosure: I wrote the introduction to this. But I’m a sucker for anything that smashes genre boundaries with a wrecking ball. If you’re more into horror, start with his first collection Unseaming while you wait. Trust me.

The Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone

Last First Snow

I finally wishlisted these after having about eleventybillion people yelling at me to read them. But I know they’re only yelling because they care.

I could go on for a while longer but I’ll stop for there! I’m always looking to add to my teetering TBR pile, though. Recommend away! Do your worst!

The Giveaway

Courtesy of the author, we have one signed copy of Archivist Wasp to giveaway. Use the form below to enter and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Jennifer T
    December 1, 2015 at 1:37 am

    I am not sure if I should thank you for making me add some books to my TBR or not because it’s already so long.
    My fave 2015 books are Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. The other books I liked better aren’t 2015 books.

  • Kate
    December 1, 2015 at 8:25 am

    You’ve already got The Traitor Baru Cormorant on the list, but my other favorite book of 2015 is Ken Liu’s The Grace of Kings. Thanks for expanding my To-Read list!

  • Andrea
    December 1, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I loved Archivist Wasp, and I’m adding a bunch of these books to my TBR pile right away!

  • Noelle
    December 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Great recommendations for the good ol’ TBR. My fave books of 2015 were Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Bone Gap by Laura Ruby and as always: SAGA. A non-2015 book that I finally read and treasured this year was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness.

  • Angie Jackson
    December 1, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I recommend Darker Shade of Magic, Bird Box, Six of Crows. I also enjoyed the Throne of Glass series so far.

  • Lexi
    December 1, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Most of the books I read this year were not from 2015. I tend to be slow. I did love Uprooted by Naomi Novik and Ilona Andrew’s newest.

  • Mary A
    December 1, 2015 at 10:09 am

    My favorite reads this year have been Robin Steven’s Murder Most Unladylike books, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories and wrapping up Anne Leckie’s trilogy.

  • Charles Payseur
    December 1, 2015 at 11:14 am

    So much to like in this list. I can heartily second Shadowshaper and “And You Shall Know Her By the Trail of Dead.” Both very good stories. Indeed!

  • Amanda Lee
    December 1, 2015 at 11:55 am

    So many great books this year- I’d pick Nimona, Bone Gap, League of Denial, and You Deserve a Drink as some of my favorites.

  • Lori
    December 1, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    I read the first volume of Saga last month and I love it! I also read The Lumberjanes which was FANTASTIC AMAZING and everyone should read it.

  • Sigoalenta
    December 1, 2015 at 2:36 pm

    For sheer enjoyment as the payoff to intense anticipation , I might have to say Ancillary Mercy, but I also loved Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, and maybe the sff novel that I thought *did* the most was N.K. Jemisin’s Fifth Season.

  • Mallori
    December 1, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Thanks for the recommendations!

  • Hebe
    December 1, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Like many of the commenters above, I LOVED Uprooted. My favourite non-2015 book of the year has probably been The Scar, by China Mieville.

  • Nicole
    December 1, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    So many great suggestions! Thanks! I should really check out Uprooted. Six of Crows is also on my “am intrigued by but doesn’t yet appear on my TBR” list.

    @Lori, if you dig Lumberjanes, have you tried Rat Queens?

  • Kit
    December 1, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Shadowshaper makes a stunning audiobook. So do the Imperial Radch novels. Does Archivist Wasp have an audiobook in its future?

  • Kate
    December 1, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Super excited about this list! The ones I’ve read (Baru Cormorant, Saga, Ancillary, etc) have been AMAZING, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the rest! Thanks so much!

  • Meredith G.
    December 1, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Just finished Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, and it was AMAZING!

  • Stephanie K.
    December 1, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    One of my favorite books of this year was Saga, Volume 5.

  • Sharry
    December 1, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I put the Starlit Wood and Prophecies Libels and Dreams on my to-read list. Yay Fairytales and outrageously creative stories 😀

  • C.N. Rowen
    December 1, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    I’ve always wanted to read Archivist Wasp since I first read the reviews on it! It sounds so intriguing. Also. those are a lot of fab recs in addition.

  • Hazel
    December 2, 2015 at 3:13 am

    Ahh, so many beautiful books that I’ve heard so much good about, and feel so guilty for not getting around to, yet. Or in the case of Baru Cormorant, not finishing yet.

  • Nikki Egerton
    December 2, 2015 at 7:01 am

    A few books added to my list here!
    My favorites of 2015 were A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz, Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sara J Maas.

  • Nicole
    December 2, 2015 at 8:30 am

    @Kit: I hope so!

  • Mieneke van der Salm
    December 2, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Well, I don’t want to give away all my recs for my own post, but some novella’s I read this year that I highly recommend are Zen Cho’s The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, Daniel Polansky’s The Builders, and T. Frohock’s In Midnight’s Silence 🙂

  • Margo
    December 2, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I really enjoyed Archivist Wasp, and many of the other books suggested in this interview. I have a copy of AW, but it isn’t signed, so…

  • Anita Yancey
    December 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    My favorite books of 2015 so far has been The Murder House by James Patterson, Cold Cold Heart by Tami Hoag, Playing With Fire by Tess Gerritsen and Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich.

  • Kate K.F.
    December 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    Okay, my top reads so far, I still have so many still to read; Uprooted, Nimona, Carry On, Not My Father’s Son, Shadows of Sherwood, The Wrath and the Dawn.

  • Lesley D
    December 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I’m looking forward to reading Archivist Wasp! My favorite reads of 2015 include Uprooted, Silver on the Road, and Magic Shifts.

  • Rachel
    December 2, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Top read: “Goblin Emperor”, as with everyone else, it seems. Also discovered the Lunar Chronicles this year, and they’re great fun. The two books of short stories edited by Ryan North, “The Machine of Death” and “This Is How You Die”, have some really fascinating stories in them, and were highlights for me.

  • Margo
    December 2, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I forgot to recommend The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. Anything by Jemisin, really. Also, Luminous, Retold and the sequel to the first story in Retold (memory fails).

  • Kelley
    December 3, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Loved The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin!

  • Kristen
    December 3, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    My favorites of 2015 (at least so far) were Uprooted by Naomi Novik, Archivist Wasp, and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo! I found a lot of other new favorites, but these are the only one I can think of that were published this year. Saga and Rat Queens are always good too, of course!

  • Patrick
    December 3, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    Oh wow, so many of these sound right up my alley–We Will All Go Down Together in particular. My to-read list is an ever-expanding possibly completely insurmountable thing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  • Bosstown
    December 4, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    The only book I’ve read on this list is Ancillary Mercy, which is absolutely great. I have Radiant, All You Need is Kill, and The Traitor Baru Cormorant on my TBR list, and I have the first Craft Sequence book, so I’ll likely end up reading Last First Snow sooner than later. I’m not a fan of fairy tale type stories but Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams looks interesting. Zeroboxer sounds awesome and I now have it on my list.

  • andrea
    December 4, 2015 at 6:56 pm

    y’all, I just finished The Fifth Season and it is one of the books that has absolutely set my head on fire this year. That and City of Stairs.

    A lot of these are on my TBR! Never enough time.

  • Justine S.
    December 4, 2015 at 11:21 pm

    Archivist Wasp was one of my top reads for 2015. Also on that list are Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge, Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Imperial Radch books by Anne Leckie, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and also Touch both by Claire North, and The Empress Game by Rhonda Mason. I could go on, but there were just so many. 🙂

  • slategrey
    December 5, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Nimona!! And Ancillary Mercy! Also currently reading and very much enjoying Carry On.

    P.S. Thanks for the novelette rec. I’ve bookmarked “And You Shall Know Her By The Trail Of Dead.”

  • Julie
    December 5, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Wonderful recommendations! Especially Shadowshaper! My top reads of 2015 include:
    -Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath and the Dawn
    -Khaled Hosseini’s And The Mountains Echoed
    -Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things

    amongst so many others!

  • Adrian Tchaikovsky
    December 5, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    Justine S. Thank you! I’m very glad you enjoyed Children of Time.
    I would throw into the mix Emma Newman’s “Planetfall” and Aliette de Bodard’s “House of Shattered Wings.”

  • Anonymous
    December 9, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Oh so many! I think my favorite reads of 2015 thus far have been Uprooted by Naomi Novak; Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby; A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab; Illuminae by Amie Kauffman and Jay Christoff; The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison; Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay

    I’m currently reading The Walls Around Us, by Nova Ren Suma, and I have a feeling it’s going to make it to the list.

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