1st up, a novella, "Hammers on Bone", by Cassandra Khaw. The copyright page gives copyright to Zoe Khaw Joo Ee. I wonder why she went with the anglicized name? I suspect I got this story from the tor.com blog. I liked the title.
Anyway, the story is set in London. The protagonist is a film noir cheap detective who is also an Ancient One, the last of a race of - demons, maybe? So we've got Sam Spade meets H.P. Lovecraft. The plotting seems to be off in the 1st half, where our detective is nosing around on the case. The film noir dialogue is a bit too campy for my taste at times, but, that's not completely unexpected. This definitely reads like a new author, getting her feet under her. I'm glad it was only novella length.
Next up, "Company Town", by Madeline Ashby. Set 20-40 years in the future on a community of towers grown up around an oil rig off the coast of Nova Scotia. It was interesting how the book pretty much completely inhabits this single locale. We are told next to nothing about the rest of the world, except that nanotech and implants are now the norm.
The protagonist is a bodyguard and is a well-developed character. Overall, the book wasn't strongly plotted. At times it was like, "OK, so maybe that's where the plot is heading now?" The ending reminded me of a James Ellroy serial killer novel where at the end the killer is some random person we have not met before. Ellroy's mother was murdered, possibly by a serial killer, and her murderer was never found. So the ending is a bit out of left field. It also involves some hard sci-fi concepts that could have used more exposition. Still, this was an enjoyable read.
Finally, "The Grace of Kings", by Ken Liu. Kind of Game of Thrones-ish, with a feudal setting where an emperor has conquered the other 6 kingdoms. Similar to GOT, the emperor's death sends the empire on a race to the bottom. There are also squabbling Olympic type gods sticking their fingers in. So, I was kind of like, yawn, yeah, whatever - but then one of characters kind of tries to start The Enlightment, FTW!
“Do you think we are words written on a page by the gods, and that there will always be rich and poor, the powerful and the powerless, noble and commoner? Do you think that all our dreams are doomed to forever fail?”I definitely poured through this one. Battles and tricks across the world. A plot that twists and turns enjoyably. A very good cast of characters - I liked that the super-warrior was literally over 8' tall. I've got the 2nd in the series on my iPad, I think I'm going to go on and forge ahead. I guess I approved of his world building.
Also, something important, I learned that the plural of "emphasis" is "emphases". I don't think I've ever used that word.