Hal Spacejock, Simon Haynes [ info ]
This is a short, sharp book that, as I first thought, fits right in with the Phule's Company/Bil the Galactic Hero demographic. In other words, the cover marketed the book pretty much perfectly. If I'd read this when I was fifteen, I would have laughed myself sick. As a jaded middle-aged bon vivant, I still found it quite amusing. Unlike a lot of things I read, it stuck with me a while, becoming funnier in retrospect. Not one for the ages, but a great read for anyone who's still got an inner fifteen year old on the loose.
A Shadow in Summer, Daniel Abraham [ Clarkesworld | Amazon ]
Ok, go buy this if you care about fantasy at all. Because Abraham needs good numbers to get more contracts to write more books we can all read and by which he can advance the quality and direction of the field. The story is interesting, a well-plotted and fairly clever caper set against a strongly realized background of politics and economics. But the world-building...that knocked me back solid. Abraham's skill at sketching in a exotic setting that stands outside the default faux-European fantasy tropes is powerful, but especially his construction of the society and its mechanisms, including one of the most amazing and moving realizations I've ever read of the idea of magical power. His dynamic of the andat, and the character of Seedless, astonished me. Fresh, different, and strange in all the best ways. Go read.