1. Fantasy: The Best of the Year, 2006, ed. Rich Horton
Genre of book: SFF, short stories
I especially liked "Three Urban Folk Tales," by Eric Schaller; "Five Ways Jane Austen Never Died," by Samantha Henderson; and "By the Light of Tomorrow's Sun," by Holly Phillips.
2. The Plot Thickens: 8 Ways to Bring Fiction to Life, by Noah Lukeman
Genre of book: Non-fiction, writing
Lots of really useful ideas about improving characterization, especially, as well as other big-deal aspects of fiction like suspense and conflict. I will be keeping this book close to me and returning to it often.
3. Lamentation, by Ken Scholes
Genre of book: SFF, science fantasy with steampunk
I'm not usually a reader of epic fantasy with tons of political intrigue, but this one pulled me into the story and kept me interested despite my typical reading inclinations, so that says a lot. The characters plot and scheme about secrets within secrets all the way through.
4. Fathom, by Cherie Priest
Genre of book: SFF, urban fantasy
This was the first time I read any of Priest's fiction, and it made me want to read lots more. Her prose is excellent, and I love the crazy characters and this book's setting in Florida in the 1930s.
5. A College of Magics, by Caroline Stevermer
Genre of book: SFF, alternate historical fantasy
I want to go and study magic at Greenlaw! It's a real place, and I won't listen if you say it isn't! Great characters, lovely settings.
1. The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon.
My rule is that if I'm not into a book by page 50, I move along. I tried with this one, because there were cool ideas on every page, but the plot was too random.
(This category only includes published stories read a la carte from magazines and websites; it does not include anthologies, collections, or slush).
1. "Lucky Day" - Elizabeth Bear and Emma Bull; Shadow Unit
2. "The Loyalty of Birds" - Rachel Sobel; Clarkesworld #30
3. "Herding Vegetable Sheep" Ekaterina Sedia; Clarkesworld #30