My Favorite Things with Tez Miller

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, the weekly column where we grab someone in speculative circles to gab about the greatest in geek. This week we sit down with book blogger and occasional Speculative Chic contributor Tez Miller. Tez is such an avid reader that she couldn’t resist giving you a list of last year’s favorite reads, but what are they about? Spoiler alert: a planet at war, futuristic Brazil, deadly viruses, life on the moon, and edge-of-your-seat thrillers. Curious? Read on for more!

My 2017 reading was mostly backlist, rather than new releases. They were mostly library books, so I didn’t make a dent in my to-be-read shelves of hundreds of unread titles. I’m sure you can relate.

Here are some of the best I read throughout the year:

Melissa Landers, Starfall: I read four Melissa Landers novels in 2017, but this was my favorite. Book 2 in the Starflight duology, Starfall focuses on Cassia and Kane this time, though of course Solara and Doran are around. After years on the run, Cassia has been apprehended and dragged back to her home planet. Now the queen, she may lose the planet to war unless she can stop an uprising. Meanwhile, Kane’s mother is ill and it seems like a plague could be spreading. Kane plans a rescue effort and uncovers a massive secret. But one wrong decision could damn him for good.

Starfall genuinely surprised me, and the plot twist enriches the story tremendously. It’s a risky topic, but Melissa Landers writes it with respect and empathy. This could probably be read as a stand-alone, but you may want to read Starflight first.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince: June lives in futuristic Brazil, where she creates amazing art, including installing lights under her skin. But her best work is a secret project she’s collaborating on with Enki. They’ve known from the start that their time together is fleeting, so their deadline is tight. Like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is scheduled to be sacrificed.

The vivid lights and imagery should inspire some awesome fan-art by readers. Art, life, death, and the future combine in this memorable setting, as their society grapples with deciding how far they should take technology…and how much they should pare it back.

Alaya Dawn Johnson, Love Is the Drug: Emily Bird is a scholarship student in a prestigious DC school, but her future is uncertain when she awakes in the hospital unable to remember why she’s there. But there’s more trouble to come: a deadly virus is spreading, putting the school in lockdown, and a Homeland Security agent is far too close for comfort. Bird’s only solace is the school’s conspiracy theorist and resident drug-dealer as they investigate what’s happening around them. But there are those who’d rather Bird NOT remember what she knows…

Love Is the Drug is like Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Fixer meets Malinda Lo’s Adaptation. I so hope Alaya Dawn Johnson writes more young adult novels, because this one and The Summer Prince are great reads. I particularly like her use of settings, which are thoroughly explored.

Andy Weir, Artemis: This was one of my few new reads of the year. Fans of Mark Watney will love meeting Jazz Bashara and encountering life on the moon. In the domes of the city Artemis, Jazz dreams of getting rich, and a wealthy investor gives her an opportunity to make it happen. At first the plan seems to be going along swimmingly. But soon it’s not only Jazz’s life on the line.

Jazz’s vibrant personality may seem over the top at times, but it covers a deep pain. She’s a smart, skilled, and sassy heroine to cheer for, and the perfect person to form a team to tackle a major task. From mobsters to politicians to the problems of living on the moon itself, Artemis is always engaging with plenty of science and high stakes afoot.

Megan Abbott: Not speculative fiction, but you might know Megan Abbott as part of the writing room for the TV series The Deuce, or her old-Hollywood noir novels, or my favorites — her psychological thrillers. She traveled to Australia for the Melbourne Writers Festival, where I was fortunate to meet her at an event in St. Kilda. I’m already impatiently waiting for her next novel, Give Me Your Hand. But in the meantime, and ideal to read during the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast, check out the gymnastics-themed You Will Know Me. Small-town heroism, child prodigies, and desperate parents are under pressure when a member of their close-knit gymnastics community is found dead.

Tez Miller started book blogging in 2007, and has continued ever since. Based in Melbourne, Australia, her current favourite subgenre is futuristic.

You can find her at

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