Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite couples!

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I am so excited for this week’s topic.  The only thing better than one awesome character is two characters with chemistry.  Fair warning- I went way beyond ten with this, and they aren’t all romantic couples.

 

15. Eric & Jenny from S. by Doug Dorst and J.J. Abrams – I didn’t love S.  The meat of the book (Ship of Theseus) was boring and didn’t make a lot of sense.  It was only saved by Jenny and Eric and their notes all over the margins.  It’s a slow burn sort of romance and took some time to build.  I love this couple because they fell in love over a book!

14. Thaniel & Mori from The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley – I love these two because you’re never quite sure where they stand with each other.  It’s a will they/won’t they, but if you love nothing else about this book, you’ll be dying for a Happily Ever After by the end.

13. Claire & Jamie from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – Ugh.  These two.  Listen- Outlander is a phenomenal book, and I absolutely love how much Jamie loves Claire.  I included them despite the fact that I only ever read the first book through to completion. Why are they so damn long?  (And no I haven’t watched the show.)

12. Caris & Merethin from World Without End by Ken Follett – The Pillars of the Earth series are some of my favorite historical fiction books of all time, and World Without End  remains my favorite of the trilogy.  If you aren’t ugly crying by the time Caris’s face is revealed on the angel overlooking Kingsbridge, there’s something wrong with you.

11. Eugenides & Irene from The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner – This is some of the best YA Fantasy Fiction out there.  I’ll admit that when Eugenides revealed his love for Irene, it came as a little bit of a shock, but I really just wanted him to be happy.  I love that Turner left so much to the imagination about their relationship.

 

10. Anita Blake & Jean Claude from the Anita Blake novels by Laurell K. Hamilton – I know Hamilton drove this series into the dirt after all of 8 books or so.  Honestly I don’t care.  Of all her lovers- Jean Claude remains as one of the ones who loved her first, loved her best, and loved her most.

9. Ken & Mishima from Infomocracy/Null States by Malka Ann Older – This was another slowly, but lovingly built romance.  The best part?  Aside from an odd scene where Mishima physically attacks Ken, it seemed like a totally normal relationship.  No over the top expectations, no premature confessions of love, no waiting until they were ready to get married for sex.  Honestly- they are probably one of the realest couples I’ve seen portrayed in literature.

8. Mira & Carey from The Moon and the Other by John Kessel – Mira and Carey are interesting because their relationship is already somewhat established by the time we join in on their story.  Also- this book will rip your guts out, douse them in kerosene and light them on fire.  It’s that good.

7. Falcio val Mond & Ethalia from The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell – There are better romantic couples on this list- but in these books Ethalia was badly needed.  Poor Falcio just doesn’t ever seem to catch a break, so his stolen moments with Ethalia always put a smile on my face.

6. Apollo & Simmea from Thessaly by Jo Walton – (MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THIS SERIES) I don’t even know how to label these two.  I think they are platonic friends officially.  But I think Simmea tends more towards romantic love for all of book one, and Apollo completely loses his shit when he loses Simmea.  This is far and away the most complex couple on this list.

 

5. Uhtred & Gisla from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – (You didn’t honestly think we’d get through this list without Uhtred making an appearance did you?  Brace yourselves- he’s got two more spots on this list.)  I loved when Uhtred and Gisla were together.  She was like the voice of reason in his life.  The only person he genuinely listened to, and one only woman he sleeps with that he seems to truly respect.  This was not a HEA and it ripped my heart out.

4. Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen – Yes it’s terribly cliched.  No I won’t take them off.  It doesn’t require more explanation than that, does it?

3. Kaz Brekker & Inej Ghafa from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – If I’m being honest- the entire SoC crew and their significant others belong up here.  None of the relationships in this book suffered needless angst and I feel like that’s pretty rare in a YA novel.

2. Elma & Nathaniel York from The Lady Astronaut series by Mary Robinette Kowal – Instead of explaining this one I’ll leave you with this very short story available free on Tor.com.  You’re welcome. https://www.tor.com/2018/07/02/read-mary-robinette-kowals-the-lady-astronaut-of-mars/

1. Mac & Barrons from the Darkfever series by Karen Marie Moning – No- I don’t care that Barrons suffered a total character assassination in the past couple books.  I don’t care that Moning has run out of ways to pit them against each other.  They remain my favorite book couple of all time, and when I thought about my list they were the first two to come to mind.

But I promised more than romantic couples right?  So here we go:

My favorite frenemies:

 

4. Ballister Blackheart & Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin from Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – From the moment I first saw these two on the same page I was shipping them.

3. Dolores Claiborne & Vera Donovan from Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King – This probably takes second place as one of the more complex relationships on this list.  They love-hate each other, but they have each other’s backs.  Stephen King sort of killed it (okay he actually killed it).

2. Jorg & Rikey from Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – I don’t know if the term frenemies actually applies to these two, but poor little Rikey sure can’t catch a break from Jorg.

1. Uhtred & Alfred from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – I told you he’d be back.  These two are honestly one of the most entertaining pairs I’ve ever read in literature.  They need each other, but they hate each other, but they love each other.

But wait!  There’s more!

My favorite bromances:

 

4. Geralt & Dandelion from The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski – These two.  There’s nothing I love more than Dandelion getting into trouble and Geralt coming to save his ass.

3. Jackal & Oats from The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French – That moment when Oats shows up at the Betrayer Moon to fight the centaurs but really it’s just to see Jackal?  Perfection.

2. Kest & Brasti & Falcio from The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell – This is probably the penultimate bromance.  These guys are literally the three musketeers… rewritten.  And their banter is the highlight of all the books.

1. Uhtred & Finan from the Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell – Uhtred and Finan to me are like the book version of Ragnar and Floki.  It’s pretty obvious there’s nothing Finan wouldn’t do for his pal, and I’m happy Cornwell had the good sense to keep him around for more than a single book.

Whew- sorry that was long.  Book couples are one of my favorite things.  But you know what’s painfully, sorely, obviously missing from this list?  Female friendships. (Sistermances- is that a thing? Can we make it a thing?)  If you have one on your list please link to it so I can check it out!

 

Throwback Thursday: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

I’m sorry  I’m giving you one of my old reviews when I haven’t given you a new one yet this week.  I do have some new ones coming though (and I’m super excited to share them with you!) I just have to finish reading the books first.

Last Throwback Thursday I reviewed Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade, and while nothing would please me more than to share the reviews of the other three books I think they start to get spoilery and include information from the first book.  If you’d like to read them, you can check out my GoodReads reviews here: (Knight’s Shadow, Saint’s Blood, and Tyrant’s Throne).

This week, I’ve been in a grimdark sort of mood, so it seemed only fitting that I share my review of Mark Lawrence’s Prince of Thorns.  I am planning on reading King of Thorns sometime this year so it makes sense.

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Rating:  ★★★★★

So on to the review. I’m giving it 4.5 stars rounded up to 5. This is not going to be a book for everyone. It just isn’t. The protagonist, is a murderous, traitorous, self serving, evil genius. Nothing is sacred to Jorg but vengeance and victory. Vengeance and victory can come at any cost, and Jorg is willing to pay that price. Loyalty and brotherhood are meaningless to him.

I am okay with this. As to what that says for my own mental state, well, let’s not look at that too closely. The thing is, a character like Jorg is just so damn rare. You’ll cringe every time he throws someone off a cliff. Or knifes a brother for looking at him the wrong way. He’s smug. He’s arrogant. He’s a bastard. If you’re like me, you’ll be rooting for him in the end.

Because his father, the real villain of the story, is somehow worse. I think. Minor spoiler: I don’t know if Jorg would ever stab his own son. Maybe he would. Maybe they are equally evil. For now, the father is worse.

The writing was excellent. This is a story about murder and the destruction of kingdoms and a rise to power and Lawrence makes it poetic somehow. Jorg’s inner monologue is fascinating. He’s evil and he knows it, but he still questions it on occasion. Sometimes he questions if he’s evil enough. Sometimes he mourns the loss of his childhood. Sometimes he seems perfectly happy to be rid of his innocence.

The plot is very action driven, with plenty of blood, gore and battle to go around. The action is also extremely well written, never a dull moment. Jorg always has an ace up his sleeve or a pawn to sacrifice.

There are some plot holes that I’m not sure how to fill. I’m hoping they are explained in later series. Namely, why this marauding band of brothers follows around a fourteen year old boy. It has nothing to do with his Princedom (excepting Makin- maybe). Of what I’ve seen of Jorg in this book I just didn’t get it. I understood a little why the one called the Nuban followed Jorg. And maybe it’s as simple as the brothers were sheep who needed a wolf to lead them. I don’t know. Little Rikey’s situation certainly isn’t explainable.

All in all it was great. I am SO excited to read the next in the series and check out some of Lawrence’s other series as well. I’d recommend this to anyone who likes dark fantasy and doesn’t mind a less than respectable protagonist.

Top Ten Tuesday: Upcoming releases that haven’t convinced me yet

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week topic is new releases that you aren’t sure you should add to your TBR.  I have a whole shelf of these books on GoodReads called “Read Me Maybe”.  It’s an exclusive shelf so they really don’t go onto my TBR, but I also have some I haven’t even bothered to add to that.  The thing is- although I’m a book blogger, I really don’t have the time or the patience to be a guinea pig.  I prefer to read stuff at least one of my GoodReads buddies has already read, so I can gauge whether or not a book is worth the time to invest.  I don’t want to go around DNFing every 3 star book that comes my way but I’d prefer to read 4 and 5 star books… so… yeah.

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Shadowblade by Anna Kashina – A fantasy about a sword wielding woman who must assume the identity of a lost princess because… reasons.  Here’s the thing- I love dark, gritty fantasy with kick-ass women.  But the lost princess/switch places trope has been done so many times.  Furthermore- I can’t list you a single book that used that trope that I’d read again (or even recommend).

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Dahlia Black by Keith Thomas – Described as “World War Z” meets “The Southern Reach”, this an oral history of the Pulse, the alien code that hacked human DNA.  First- I didn’t love the Southern Reach trilogy, but I have a lot of respect for VanderMeer as a writer. He writes really bizarre science fiction and finds a way to make it sound literary.  So if you’re going to compare yourself to him, you have some big shoes to fill.  Second, I didn’t really like World War Z.  I listened to the full cast audio, which was great.  But the celebrity appearances and only a handful of those chapters had me really excited.  Most of them were boring.  You already know the ending- if they are telling you how they survived the zombie apocalypse- they survived didn’t they?  I’m worried Dahlia Black will be the same way.

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The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson – This one I can tell you is probably most definitely not going on my TBR.  In 2017, long before I started this blog, I went through a really bad year of YA fantasy novels, and it sort of soured me on the genre (age group?).  Let me first say- that I don’t think all YA is bad.  Most of those novels were a solid three stars (please refer back to paragraph two). Sebastien de Castell writes the Shadowblack series which I love.  SJ Kincaid wrote The Diabolic and The Empress, and I will totally read book three when it is released.  I added The Storm Crow because the idea seemed pretty fresh, but I’m still pretty skeptical.

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The Farm by Joanne Ramos – Would you like to live in total luxury for nine months?  Would you like to get rich quick?  All you have to do, is agree to go to the Farm, which you cannot leave and know that everything you do is being monitored and watched while you produce the perfect baby for uber-rich clients.  It sounds like a modern twist on The Handmaid’s Tale, and I’m totally sold on the hook, but also concerned that the contemporary setting will totally bore me.

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Storm of Locusts by Rebecca Roanhorse – This is the sequel to last year’s Trail of Lightning (review here). To sum it up- Trail of Lightning wasn’t bad, but it had some issues, plot threads that went nowhere, a romance with a quintessential bad boy… But- Roanhorse’s world was imaginative and new.  I’ve since read her short story, “Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience” and was really impressed.  When I finished I remembered thinking, how in the hell did the same author write Trail of Lightning?  Now that I know she can do better, I’m leaning much closer to giving book two a shot.

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Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller – This is another YA novel that has me on the fence. Warrior-girl has her coming-of-age trial sabotaged and is exiled to the wild.  I kept seeing the term Vikings stamped everywhere in relation to this book so it was an instant add.  Then I saw something from the author making very clear that it was “Vikings inspired”.  Which to me is saying she took her characters, made them warlike and gave them axes (i.e. not vikings anything).  So I moved it from my TBR to Read-me-maybe.  Also- thank you to the author for clarifying.

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The Redemption of Time by Baoshu – This is a “fan-written” tie in to Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem.  Which is really sort of cool?  I loved The Three Body Problem.  I loved it’s weirdness, I loved it’s humor, I loved the suspense.  I didn’t love the next two entries in the series: The Dark Forest and Death’s End.  They were too long.  They were not humorous.  Death’s End in particular was incredibly sexist.  And in the end I felt like they didn’t have a point and I just sort of wanted the time I spent reading them back.  Needless to say- I’m a little skeptical here.  I am curious if this new author will manage to bring back some of the things I loved about The Three Body Problem.

I didn’t quite make it up to ten this week.  I haven’t done a great job keeping track of the up-and-coming beyond January/February.  Leave a link below with your list so I can come check it out!  Maybe you’ve got something on yours that I didn’t know I was dying to read.