Summer Reading Essentials: Highlights and Must-Reads for July

Summer Reading Essentials: Highlights and Must-Reads for July

Welcome to the first week of July at WordFire Press! As summer hits its stride, we're thrilled to bring you a fresh batch of literary delights. This week, we're diving into book reviews, sharing this week's bargain deals, and offering an exclusive look at our upcoming releases. Whether you're lounging by the pool or finding a cozy spot indoors, we have the perfect reads to keep you company. Stay tuned for all the literary goodness we have in store!


This week’s 99 Cent Deals

We: The 100th Anniversary Edition by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Before Huxley. Before Orwell. There was Zamyatin.

When society has programmed you to sleep . . .

How do you wake yourself up?

The One State is a world where people are merely numbers, and free will itself is a disease. Most are happy in their role as cogs in a huge machine, controlled by the ever-watchful Benefactor.

However, on the eve of the launch of the Integral—the spacecraft that will impose the One State’s way of life everywhere—starship architect D-503 meets I-330, a female number as irreverent as she is beautiful.

The Benefactor has quantified human experience, circumscribe edit, reduced it to nothing but a series of mathematical equations—that is, until one man tries to factor in the ultimate unknown: love.

We is the groundbreaking novel that inspired 1984 and Brave New World, the two towering dystopian works of the twentieth century.

Discover it for yourself today.

Bonus: includes Zamyatin’s famous “Death Sentence Appeal” letter to Stalin, and “Love Is the Function of Death” a bold new essay by noted science fiction author, reviewer, and scholar Paul Di Filippo.


Guardians of the Keep: Bridge of D’Arnath 2 by Carol Berg

A child with secrets

A sorcerer Prince with a broken mind

And a woman armed only with courage and wit ...

The idyllic world of Avonar reels under the assaults of its ancient foes, two-thirds of its territory a wasteland, its failing magic embodied in the last weak, dissolute prince of its royal bloodline. But a brash mage has taken it upon himself to repair his liege lord’s soul. Unfortunately, the Prince of Avonar is left with no memory of himself, much less his homeland or his desperate war.

Abandoned in her mundane world, waiting for news of the Prince’s recovery, Seri keeps her promise to relay her brother's dying words to his son. But something is clearly wrong with her ten-year-old nephew. Secretive, isolated, angry, the boy shows an inordinate terror of Seri’s past connections with sorcerers. Though determined not to care for a child whose life she resents, she finds herself intrigued, and when the boy is abducted by her longtime nemesis, Seri’s frenzied pursuit plunges her straight into Avonar’s war—and horrors she could never have imagined.

All are ensnared by the Lords of Zhev’Na in their plot to destroy D’Arnath's Bridge and plunge two worlds into chaos.

"Berg's latest ...keeps one turning pages; meanwhile, the characterizations are altogether superior."—Booklist

"Guardians of the Keep is not just a place-keeper in the middle of a trilogy; it can stand on its own, although it will be a richer experience to read both volumes while waiting for whatever surprises the next book will deliver."—Fred Cleaver, The Denver Post

Locus Bestseller, December 2004


Reefs: The Journeys of McGill Feighan 2 by Kevin O'Donnell, Jr.

The second book in the rollicking, galaxy-spanning SF adventure series that will make your imagination spin!

McGill Feighan is able to “fling”—teleport—himself or anything else as far away as he can imagine. He embarked on a quest across the universe in search of the Far Being, who has meddled in his life since birth.

But it’s not so simple to find an elusive supreme being, especially when McGill is pursued by the dread Organization, which has a contract out on his life.

McGill’s journeys take him to the seaworld Delurc, whose inhabitants combine the sociability of sharks with the compassion of piranhas. This is not exactly a perfect place for a nineteen-year-old with healthy hormones...

It looks like McGill Feighan is in some hot water…but fortunately, he’s unsinkable!


New Releases

Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women by George MacDonald and edited by Joshua Smyser 

Released on July 2nd, 2024

About the book:

 “Whatever the book you are reading now, you simply must get this at once.” —C. S. Lewis 

Shun the Ash and the Alder… 

Sing to the Marble Lady… 

Enter the door of the Timeless… 

After Anodos is visited by a fairy on his 21st birthday, his bedroom transforms into a forest, leading him to Fairy Land. With the guidance of fairies and knights, he must navigate ethereal and fantastical landscapes, face threats of evil trees and giants, search for a lost love, and conquer his own haunting shadow. 

One of the earliest works of portal fantasy and an inspiration to the great fantasy authors of the twentieth century! Transport yourself into a tale of love and self-discovery with this fine new edition of Phantastes by George MacDonald, with an additional foreword by author Paul Di Filippo. 


About the author:

George MacDonald was a Scottish writer and minister who lived from 1824 to 1905. He wrote sermons, poems, and works of Christian theology, but his most influential work has been his pioneering fantasy literature and fairy tales.  

These seminal works laid the foundation for fantasy authors such as C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll. He was a friend and mentor to Carroll and urged the writer to pursue publication for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

With his theological upbringing, MacDonald explored themes of faith, imagination, and the human spirit. His allegorical tales such as Phantastes and Lilith delved between the spiritual and the fantastical.  

MacDonald's writings continue to enchant and captivate readers, marking him as a visionary in the genre.


About the editor:

Joshua Smyser is a teacher, writer, and editor. He holds a BA in English Education from Colorado State University and teaches English literature and composition at the high school level. His current studies at Western Colorado University will earn an MA in Creative Writing and Publishing. Working with Wordfire Press, he has concurrently released two books as editor in 2024. The first is a brand-new edition of Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women by George MacDonald. As part of an editorial team, the second is the short story anthology Feisty Felines and Other Fantastical Familiars. 

Coming Soon

The Food of the Gods by H.G. Wells and edited by Emilie Thiessen 

Set to be released on July 9th, 2024

About the book:

The groundbreaking science fiction classic by H.G. Wells 

Imagine a food…that could change the course of human history.  

In The Food of The Gods and How it Came to Earth, legendary science fiction author H.G. Wells provocatively chronicles this very idea: a food so powerful it transforms society as we know it. 

Two young scientists, Mr. Bensington and Professor Redwood, begin their study of “growth” on a whim, then proceed to develop Herakleophorbia IV, a growth serum quickly named “The Food of the Gods.” The serum is tested on chickens, who quickly grow to six times their size. It’s deemed a success, but after the serum makes its way into the local food chain, the gigantism spreads—giant plants, earwigs, wasps, and even rats. English villages are terrorized and ransacked.  

But the scientists have yet to learn their lesson, administering the serum to numerous young children. “Boomfood” has now taken the entire country by storm, forcing all of England to reckon with the recklessness of the scientists. Will the giants find peace among the common citizens, or will they be forced to shed blood to ensure their own survival? 

“If any writer could overcome the hurdles inherent in humanizing giants, that writer would be H. G. Wells, the fellow who practically pioneered all the major tropes of science fiction.”—Paul Di Filippo, Hugo-nominated author of The Steampunk Trilogy


About the author:

H.G. (Herbert George) Wells has long been considered the father of science fiction. Born in England in 1866, Wells authored more than 50 novels and dozens of short stories before his death in 1946.  

His earlier work included some of his most famous science fiction novels, including The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), and The War of the Worlds (1898). Later in life, Wells shifted from science fiction to cross-genre work, including the comedy The History of Mr. Polly (1910) and the politically charged, antifascist warning The Shape of Things to Come (1933), which was soon made into a film heralded for its pioneering special effects.  

As World War II broke out, Wells’ pessimistic worldview became increasingly apparent in his book Mind at the End of its Tether (1945), in which he outlined his speculation that an advanced species would soon replace humanity. By the end of his life, Wells was a worldwide celebrity for his outspoken views on science, politics, and social equality. Wells died in 1946 at the age of 79 in his London flat.


About the editor:

Emilie Thiessen graduated from St. Cloud State University with a bachelor's degree in French language and literature and print journalism before becoming a full-time writer, editor, photographer, and layout artist for various local newspapers in central Minnesota. 

Emilie has since honed her editing skills with multiple prestigious certifications, including Aces Certificate in Editing and Knowadays Becoming a Proofreader.  

In the spring of 2023, Emilie self-published her first picture book, inspiring her to enter academia again. Soon thereafter, Emilie started working toward her master's degree in creative writing and publishing at Western Colorado University, where she is currently operating on the editorial board for the upcoming anthology Feisty Felines and Other Fantastical Familiars. Emilie is scheduled to graduate in the summer of 2024.


Take it from them! Here are some of our favorite reviews

Madrenga by Alan Dean Foster

"Rip-roaring action sequences and the mystery of Madrenga’s curious powers propel the story through a series of consistently surprising twists and turns."—Publishers Weekly


“Alan Dean Foster is the modern day Renaissance writer, as his abilities seem to have no genre boundaries."– Bookbrowser 


"One of the most consistently inventive and fertile writers of science-fiction and fantasy."—The Times (London)


"Foster's brisk and eventful novel should please any reader looking for a quick and diverting adventure."—Booklist


Neodymium Exodus: The Neodymium Chronicles 1 by Jen Finelli, MD

"Snappy teen protagonists (Lem is sixteen, Bereens a handful of years older), an epic conflict over the very structure of society, and battles both stealthy and dramatic combine to make an entertaining, quick read set in a lightly sketched but intriguing world."—Booklist


“The fascinating characters matched with inventive biological details makes this an adventure that’s sure to enthrall.”—Publishers Weekly


The Serial Killer’s Son Takes a Wife by Michael Libling

"The Serial Killer’s Son Takes a Wife is sharp, funny, thrilling, and endlessly original. Michael Libling gives Riley Sager a run for his money!"—Nicholas Kaufmann, bestselling author of THE HUNGRY EARTH and THE STONE SERPENT 


“Michael Libling is a brilliant writer. Anyone who’s read his first novel, Hollywood North, knows this already. His second, The Serial Killer’s Son Takes A Wife, is just as brilliant, giving us, as it does, the same breathtaking mix of riveting ideas and heartfelt humanity that makes all of Libling’s work so memorable.”—Bruce McAllister, author of Dream Baby and The Village Sang to the Sea 


“Michael Libling writes like that affable stranger on the next barstool buying you drinks as he charms you with his stories. Next thing you know, you’ve woken up in a bathtub full of ice with your kidney missing. Once you start reading this dangerous, slippery novel, watch yourself. You won’t be able to stop, as much as you will sometimes want to.” —William Shunn, author of The Accidental Terrorist 


“The Serial Killer’s Son Takes A Wife is a remarkable novel … a sequence of trapdoors which plunge the reader from serial killer mystery to visionary horror … from its protagonist, the son of that serial killer, who fears family history will repeat … to his enigmatic wife, Cori … and on through the crumbling partitions of his past. Libling’s debut novel, Hollywood North, along with his short stories and novellas over the previous decade have occupied their own undiscovered country, bordered by continents of horror and mystery. This novel, in its electric shocks and transgressive force, fulfills all the promise of that earlier work. The Serial Killer’s Son Takes A Wife raises and answers central questions of anxiety and existence. Libling, a major writer, takes chance after chance and surmounts them all.”—Barry N. Malzberg, author of The Lone Wolf crime series, Bend at the End of the Road, and many others 



Thank you for joining us for this exciting week at WordFire Press! We hope you’re as eager as we are to explore the fantastic reads and special deals we’ve lined up. Be sure to check back every Wednesday week for in-depth reviews, exclusive insights, and the latest updates on our new releases. Here's to a summer filled with captivating stories and endless adventures. Happy reading!

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