Reading Challenge: 20 in ’20

I love me a reading challenge.  I rarely finish them but it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying.  And sometimes they do help motivate me.

I’m borrowing this challenge from the Captain at The Captain’s Quarters.  I’m using it to help me catch up on books and authors I should have already read a very, very long time ago.  I listed the number of ratings each book has on GoodReads after the title and author.  I thought it would be fun to see how many others have read them before me.  Spoiler: Eight of them have more than 100,000 ratings, and all but one have more than 10,000 ratings.

Simpsons Shame

These are books that seem destined (or maybe already are) considered to be classics of the genre.  Books that for some reason or other I keep putting off.  Maybe the blurb doesn’t speak to me the way I want it to or I already attempted them multiple times (I’m looking at you The Name of the Wind) and just never finished, but didn’t dislike enough to officially DNF.

11-22-63 Stephen King

11/22/63 by Stephen King : 386,635 – This is the oldest book on my TBR.  I own it.  It was one of the first I added to GoodReads back in 2015.  I think it’s the time travel that’s putting me off.  I realized a couple years ago time travel and all it’s wonderfully mind bending paradoxes sort of puts me off.

The Name of the Wind Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss : 642,245 – I’ve started listening to this multiple times.  I even made it like halfway through on a road trip to Ohio once.  It’s just so long.  Also- I’m putting it back on Rothfuss since there’s no third book in sight.

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Spakowski Witcher 3

Blood of Elves (The Witcher #3) by Andrzej Sapkowski : 62,301 – I was reading these before the show was a thing.  Right after I sank like 500 hours into the very wonderful Witcher 3: Wild Hunt video game.  I don’t know why I keep putting it off.  I was excited for this too since it’s the first full length novel set in the Witcherverse.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson : 83,654 – This one is just intimidating because of it’s length.  And the fact that it’s hard science fiction.  Which always goes over my head.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells : 45,161 – There’s a lot of Murderbot love circulating out there.  But I heard that Murderbot likes to watch TV (who doesn’t?) and I became a little concerned it wasn’t going to be what I wanted it to be.  My expectations have been reset, which is a good thing, but also caused me to drag my feet in picking it up.

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

The Winter King (The Warlord Chronicles #1) by Bernard Cornwell : 34,056 – I don’t even have a good reason for not having read this one.  Favorite author.  Favorite subject.  Good reviews.  It was actually pretty hard to find (I wanted to purchase it and no bookstore ever seemed to have it).  I did finally track down a copy, I just need to make the time.

Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey : 142,112 – Why are there so many books in this series?  The thought of reading all nine is a little daunting, but I know this is well loved by several readers I trust.  And hey- maybe by the time I finish the series will be complete.

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson 1

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson : 82,296 – I’ve heard this book comes with a steep learning curve, which is why I’ve put it off for so long. But now that I’m thinking of it, the same could be and has been said of two of my other favorites: Too Like the Lightning and Ninefox Gambit.  So who knows.  Maybe it’ll be a surprise favorite.

The Shining and Doctor Sleep by Stephen King : 1,027,773  & 165,444 – I wanted to read both before seeing the new Doctor Sleep movie (and maybe The Shining).  I’ve started The Shining at least twice that I remember.  It’s just so darn slow.  But it’s hard to feel like a real Stephen King fan when I haven’t read it.  So.  2020 will be the year.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky : 43,448 – I started this during a bad reading slump and just never finished.  Not because it wasn’t good, I got further with this than I did any other book during that reading slump.  But somehow it’s always harder to go back to something you’ve started previously.  Anyway- this book gets lots of love in my virtual book club so it’s becoming a priority.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood.jpg

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood : 207,217 – Here’s a super shameful secret.  I’ve never read a single thing Margaret Atwood.  A lot of it has to do with her attitude toward genre fiction and her insistence that she doesn’t write it.  It just feels really disrespectful to her readers, not to mention seriously out of touch.  Anyway- I don’t have much interest in The Handmaid’s Tale though I would like to check it out someday so I’m going with this one.

Malice by John Gwynne

Malice (The Faithful and the Fallen #1) by John Gwynne : 13,583 – After coming to the sad conclusion the Abercrombie is not quite what I’m looking for, I’m hoping Gwynne will fill the void.

Brian McLellan Sins of Empire

Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1) by Brian McClellan : 9,573 – Military Fantasy.  I realize it’s not something that everyone gets excited about, but when the action scenes are written well I think it’s probably one of my favorite subgenres.  I have high hopes for this.

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Assassin’s Apprentice (Farseer Trilogy #1) by Robin Hobb : 212,259 – She has written so much that I think I really just didn’t know where to start with Hobb.  This might not be the best place, but I already own it, so…

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson : 255,777 – I’ve never read Sanderson.  And honestly just the blurb has me cringing away in fear.  But it has all these awards and a super high rating and like everyone has read it except me… So I’m obligated, right?

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

Blood Song (Raven’s Shadow #1) by Anthony Ryan : 66,267 – Ryan has been on my radar a long time.  I finally read something by him last year, A Pilgrimage of Swords.  It was a quick novella and not necessarily one of my favorites, but it was because I wanted more of what I’d read.  Hoping this scratches that itch.

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance Trilogy #1) by N.K. Jemisin : 46,482 – This series isn’t nearly as popular as Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, but I tried The Fifth Season and it just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.  I think the abused children sucked a lot of the joy out of it for me.  But I do like her style and I think this one might be more my speed.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency #1) by John Scalzi : 30,774 – Nope.  Haven’t read Scalzi either.  This is likely to be a group read for February, so I might as well read him in a group setting and see what all the fuss is about.

The Word For World Is Forest by Ursula K Le Guin

The Word for World is Forest (Hainish Cycle #5) by Ursula K. Le Guin : 14,121 – I actually have read Le Guin before.  I wasn’t a huge fan of A Wizard of Earthsea – but it was a middle grade book and I don’t have a great history with YA or children’s books anyway, so I’m willing to give her another shot.  Especially knowing how well loved she is.  I picked this one to continue with because I love a good forest setting.

And there it is!  My 20 in ’20.  I’m really excited for some of these and feeling pretty hesitant on others, but either way, I hope to be more educated in my two favorite genres come 2021.  Many thanks again to the Captain for letting me tag along with my own Ports for Plunder.

Have you read any of these?  Are there any super popular books out there you haven’t read yet?

Book Review: Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Rating:  ★★★1/2

I’m a little depressed after finishing this.  I just realized I have to wait at least another year for a new Uhtred book.  Also – I think the tone of these books is getting darker.

In Sword of Kings, Uhtred is called upon for help from Edward’s queen, Eadigfu.  She believes Aethelhem and her step-son Aelfweard are plotting against her and her children.  She sends for Uhtred, seeking his protection against their mutual enemies.  And Uhtred, feeling restless, and also suspicious of a plot against him, against his better judgement and the advice of friends, comes to rescue her.  At which point, of course, things go terribly, horribly wrong.

Edward dies, leaving Mercia and East Anglia to Aethelstan, his true heir, and Wessex to Aelfweard, the recognized heir.  There’s also the matter of the oath Uhtred has sworn to kill Aethelhelm, and others.  (I mean really, is there any oath he hasn’t sworn at this point?)

We say goodbye to a couple old friends.  I was a little upset by the way those character deaths were handled, which seemed almost thoughtless.  It happens off page toward the end, and while Uhtred seems upset by one, he admits that he was relieved about the other, and it bothered me quite a bit.

He’s often painted as a sort of Knight in Shining Chain Mail (he literally saves like 13 orphans in London from misery in this book), and to have that line thrown in so carelessly toward the end felt like a disservice to his character.  I didn’t feel like it reflected who he really was or his past actions.  It’s hard to really say what it was without spoilers, but it wasn’t a good way to end.

Anyway- I did like some of the new characters (Beneditta).  And Finan received a lot of spotlight here, and his friendship with Uhtred is one of my favorite things about the Saxon Stories.  The battle scene at the end was fantastic.

Overall – well worth reading if you are a fellow Uhtred fan.  My hangups with this one were more personal than anything else.  Thank you to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the eARC for review.

Sword of Kings releases on November 26, 2019 and can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.

Book Review: War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

WotW_BC

Rating:  ★★★★

I realize I’ve been talking about this series a lot lately (I’m sorry!) but it’s only because I’m so excited for the next book, Sword of Kings, due out in November.  I had put off reading this one, scared it was finally going to be over, but with another book scheduled for release it felt like it was finally time to put my fears aside.

I read a handful of other reviews on GoodReads when I finished, and multiple times I saw this series accused of being formulaic, and perhaps it is, but I’m not one to mind formulaic when the formula works.  What I love about these books is the characters.  This late in the game I do find myself missing some of the older characters, Alfred, Brida, Ragnar… and Aethelflaed, but aside from being Uhtred’s story, this is really the story about the making of England, and in a story that epic the characters will inevitably change.

Uhtred is in his 60s for this book.  He’s more cautious, superstitious, he’s less impulsive, less confident, anger doesn’t control him the way it used to.  I found myself missing some of his other qualities as a younger man, but his wit is still fully intact and there were several parts of this book that made me laugh out loud.

I found myself tripped up again and again by the names.  Specifically the Aethelhelms, Older and Younger, (or was it the Aethelweards? seriously I can’t remember).  Then there seems to be a whole slew of other Aethel-somethings..  sigh.  I remember Svein of the White Horse and Ubbe Lothbrok, and the Ivars and Haesten and Odda… I can’t remember where the heck the Aethelhelms came in.

Anyway- this book actually felt less formulaic than the previous 10.  I think it had a lot to do with Uhtred’s character development, but also, this is the weakest he has ever been physically.  His victory in this book never feels guaranteed.  There are no last minute, evil genius save-the-day plans (like bee-bombs, although there is a hysterical smiting).  A looming dread blankets the whole book, from beginning to end.

The other elements of a Saxon Story are all there: the fun action scenes, the witty comebacks, the general disdain towards Christianity from Uhtred.  Most of all – the laughs.  It’s what generally what keeps me coming back, so I’ll end this review with a little pagan humor:

“You’ve got dirt on your forehead,” I said, “so has he,” I pointed to the other priest.
“Because it’s Good Friday, lord.  The day our Lord died.”
“Is that why they call it good?”

War of the Wolf can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Fall TBR

TTT-NEW

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’s topic is books on my Fall 2019 TBR!  Although fall is not my favorite season, it does have a certain charm, pumpkins, farmer’s markets, arts festivals, and halloween!  So my plan, of course, is to cram as many scary, spooky and dark reads into fall as I can.

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

People of the Lake by Nick Scorza – A girl named Clara receives a note written in a secret language she once shared with her dead twin sister Zoe, regarding the suspicious death of a local boy in a very strange and suspicious town.  I’ve never heard of this author before- but I have high hopes for the book, which should make a great October read!

I will make you pay by teresa driscoll

I Will Make You Pay by Teresa Driscoll – This was a NetGalley Read Now (not sure if it still is) that I picked up on impulse.  The title is pretty self explanatory.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a fast paced thrill ride with lots of twists and turns.

Sword of Kings by Bernard Corwnell

Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell – With the release of this looming on the horizon, I finally sucked up my fear of reading the last book.  I’m excited to read them back-to-back, but also scared, because we seem to be getting closer to the end of Uhtred’s life and I don’t think my heart could take it.

INTO_THE_CROOKED_PLACE6

Into the Crooked Place by Alexandra Christo – I don’t often read YA anymore, but the description reminds me of a magical Six of Crows.  I’m trying not to be too hyped about it.

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski – This is my designated Halloween read.  Honestly I have no business adding backlist titles to my TBR right now, I am already behind and have way too much to catch up with, but I need at least one solid horror novel on the list.

 

The First Law Trilogy and A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie – I’m not being delusional about my ability to cram all three First Law books in before my planned buddy read of A Little Hatred on October 22.  Nope.  That’s not me.  This is all a totally reasonable plan.

The Menace From Farside by Ian McDonald

The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald – Another planned buddy read for when it releases on November 12.  This is a novella and it’s one of my favorite series and I’m pretty much dying to get my hands on it.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia.jpg

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia – Tuesday Mooney embarks on an epic treasure hunt left behind by an eccentric billionaire!  I’m not really sure where the ghosts come in to play, but with a title like Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, how could I turn it down?!

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys – I requested this way back in summer when I thought I had plenty of time to read it.  I’m actually hoping to cram it in before the end of September, but who knows.  I’m excited to be getting more Historical Fiction on the list, since it was really kind of my first love in the reading world and the amount of it I’ve read this year is abysmal.

perf5.000x8.000.indd

Fortuna Sworn by K.J. Sutton – The author was kind enough to send this to me in exchange for a review, which is long overdue.  However- with a cover like that and a tale of the Fae I feel like it will make another great fall read and I’m really looking forward to it!

That’s it!  I’m seriously excited for absolutely every one of these books, but also terribly overwhelmed looking at them all.  What about you?  What’s on your list?

Book Haul

Last week I had a super hectic week with a couple late weekdays.  I had to travel to a job fair in the small, but quaint town of Westerly, RI.  After work I wandered High Street for a bit looking for my favorite… a used book shop.

Westerly RI High St

The above photo is probably 60 years old at this point, but the truth is, High Street doesn’t look much different today.  Anyway- in my wandering I discovered Rereads Book Shop!

ReReads Book Shop Westerly, RI

I think this place is every book lovers dream.  Between the historic building and the shelves literally overflowing with books- I could not have been happier.

Rereads Book Shop 2At one point I thought I was sitting on an ottoman and looked down and realized half of my seat was actually a stack of books.  I realize that may not appeal to everyone- but as someone who lives with a lot of clutter in her life already, a shop with furniture made of books suits me just fine.  Anyway, the owner, Jill was great, and even took some time out of her day to chat with me about my favorite topic, Science Fiction and Fantasy.  She let me know most paperbacks were buy 2 get 1 (my favorite kind of sale) and showed me where to find everything I was looking for.

I took 6 books off her hands with no problem at all, ReReads Book Shop 3and the truth is I could easily spend an entire Sunday there on a treasure hunt.  If you ever happen to find yourself in Westerly, stop in and say hi to Jill.  Word on the street (by which I mean her fabulous Yelp reviews) is that she stays open late to cater to all us late night, have to get out of work first book worms.

 

So without further adieu, here are the six books I finally decided on:

First – can I just say I’ve been looking for this set FOREVER.  No book store I’ve been to, new or used, ever seems to have the whole set.  Needless to say I took all three: The Winter King, Enemy of God, and Excalibur.

And I grabbed these two- because I haven’t read them yet: Insomnia and Skeleton Crew.

The Liar's Key by Mark Lawrence

And I stumbled across a copy of The Liar’s Key as I was sitting on a stack of books, which I grabbed, because even though I haven’t started this series yet, I already own the first book and I’m sure I’ll want it in the future.

My Book Bucket List

There are quite a few books on my TBR that I am not in any rush to read, but that I’d like to attempt to tackle some day.  At the rate I’m going I don’t know that I’ll ever finish this list, but #ReadingGoals, am I right?

Read all the Stephen King books.  (23 completed, that I remember reading/61 works I am counting- since some of his stuff was published multiple times or in magazines and the like).  On another note: I watched the movie Pet Sematary this weekend.. It’s actually terrifying.

Read through Amazon’s list of 100 SFF Books to Read in a Lifetime (25/100 read).  I realize “Best Of” lists are totally arbitrary, but at the same time I just like checking stuff off lists, and sometimes they help push me outside my comfort zone.

Read all the Bernard Cornwell books (14/46 completed – not including his non-fiction work Waterloo)

Little House in the Big Woods Book Cover

Reread Little Women or Little House on the Prairie. The reason this is on this list is because I thought I had read one of these when I was young. As I was writing it down, it finally clicked. Little House in the Big Woods was the one I actually read. I want to re-read it because I can’t remember a single thing about it.

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Read Fight Club. Finally.  I am a huge fan of this movie.  I’m worried it won’t translate as well to paper, but I feel like I owe it to the movie to try.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Read The Hunger Games. Finally.  Again- huge fan of the movie.  I think it’s probably great on paper, but I’m concerned it’s going to lessen my enjoyment of the movie.  Which is why I haven’t read it yet.

War and Peace

Read War and Peace.  Because it’s a classic and… 

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

Just kidding. I don’t actually want to read War and Peace.

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Read The Three Musketeers.  One of my favorite fantasy series: The Greatcoats by Sebastien de Castell, is a sort of retelling of The Three Musketeers, so I’d like to read the original someday.

Find something to appreciate about Dickens.  Really, anything will do.  I have attempted and failed to appreciate A Tale of Two Cities.  Suggestions are welcome.

Read all the Sherlock Holmes books.  I love the banter between Watson and Holmes.  And really I just love Holmes.  I’ve only read A Study in Scarlet thus far.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Give Les Miserables a second chance…. Maybe.  UGH.  LES MISERABLES.  I’ve always wondered if it was called that precisely because it makes the reader so miserable when reading.  (I kid… a little.)

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

Read A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I somehow was never asked to read this in middle school- but Cornwell wrote a historical fiction book, Fools and Mortals, about the writing/production of this play, which I loved and made me want to read this.

House of Danger Choose Your Own Adventure

Read another Choose Your Own Adventure book.  There was a Top Ten Tuesday awhile back about childhood favorites, and the Choose Your Own Adventure books were on that list.  It made me a little nostalgic for them and I’d like to find a new one to try.

 

And that’s it for now!  Do you have a book bucket list?  What’s on it?

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Sword of Kings by Bernard Cornwell

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Title: Sword of Kings Sword of Kings by Bernard Corwnell

Author:  Bernard Cornwell

Publisher: Harper Collins

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 336 Pages

Release Date: November 26, 2019

Blurb: His blood is Saxon.

His heart is Viking.

His battleground is England.

Why I’m Excited for It:  ….

IT’S UHTRED.

Okay so I know that blurb is lacking… but honestly I’m just assuming it’s because Cornwell and Harper Collins don’t need to write them anymore to sell these books.

I’ll confess I haven’t read the last book in The Saxon Stories, War of the Wolf, despite the fact that it’s sitting on my shelf and has been since it released, because I was so scared Uhtred was going to die and I was going to be an emotional wreck.  But with a new book on the horizon it’s finally time to pick up War of the Wolf I think.  (And maybe re-read the rest of the series too.)

Sword of Kings can be found on GoodReads or preordered on Amazon.

What new books are you looking forward to?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-read Authors

TTT-NEW

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’s topic is auto-buy authors, and truth be told, I don’t have any…  For starters I don’t have a lot of disposable income, and secondly, I have a fabulous library system.  If I’m diligent about getting my holds in, I really don’t have to wait long for books I want to read, and I’m usually able to pick stuff up right around release.  So instead I’ll talk about authors whose new release books are automatically added to my TBR.

Circe_MM

Madeline Miller – I still need to read Song of Achilles, (and I already own it, I just haven’t gotten to it yet), but I’d love to see where she goes next.

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Sebastien de Castell – I adore his Spellslinger books, and I still need to finish them, but I’m also eagerly waiting for him to get back to adult stuff, because when he writes for an adult audience, stuff gets pretty tense. (Next Release: Crownbreaker (Spellslinger #6), Dec 2019; Our Lady of Blades, ?? – low key freaking out about this one, hadn’t heard of it before right now, I’m okay….).

Borne by Jeff Vandermeer

Jeff VanderMeer – I don’t talk about VanderMeer very often, and weirdly, I wouldn’t qualify him as one of my favorite authors, but his stuff is so unique and so bizarre, that I add everything he writes to my TBR. (Next Release: Dead Astronauts, Jan 2020; A Peculiar Peril, July 2020)

trt_al

Ann Leckie – She’s another one that I wouldn’t say is a favorite, but she’s also pretty inventive so I’ll keep reading.

Gnomon by Nick Harkaway

Nick Harkaway – Again, I have some catching up to do with Harkaway, but much like Leckie and VanderMeer, Gnomon had such a unique voice, that whenever he gets around to putting out something new, I’ll be there.

Infomocracy

Malka Ann Older – I’ve got State Tectonics still on my TBR, and I’m working on the last episodes of Ninth Step Station now, but I love how her world building all feels futuristic, without feeling like I’ll never see it in my lifetime.  (PSA: There is now a second season of Ninth Step, AND The Centenal Cycle books are all on a monthly Kindle deal right now!)

TBGD

P. Djeli Clark – I’d really love for him to write something longer than a novella!  Something that I could get lost in for a weekend.  Either way- whatever he writes, it’s going on the TBR.

aw_no

Nnedi Okorafor – Still working my way through her backlist, but at this point anything/everything she writes is going on the TBR. (Next release: LaGuardia, July 30, 2019; Antar: The Black Knight, Nov 2019; Remote Control, Jan 2020)

So that’s eight- and then of course, I have the following obligatory authors that worm their way onto every list:

Ian McDonald, Ada Palmer, Mark Lawrence, Stephen King, Joe Hill and Bernard Cornwell.

Who are your auto-buy/auto-read authors?  Leave me a link below so I can check it out!

 

2019 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Well- I’m a little late to the party on this one.  I wasn’t tagged by anyone on this and don’t plan to tag anyone else but I wanted to do it anyway because it looks like fun.

But first some mid-year stats because I love stats of any sort.

Pages read: 16,149

Novels or Novellas read: 37
Graphic Novels read: 6
Short Stories (not as part of a larger collection): 6
Short Story collections: 3

Genre Breakdown:
20 Fantasy
16 Science Fiction
6 Science Fantasy
3 Thrillers
3 Classics
2 Historical Fiction
1 Western
1 Horror

25 “not men” (women and non-binary authors), 27 men (6 of these are Brian K. Vaughan from reading the Saga series, so I’m not doing too bad here).

12 featuring LGBT+ characters

9 authors of color

32 New-to-me authors (which is fantastic for me because I have a tendency to read the same authors over and over again)

Challenges:  I’m not really participating in any challenges this year.  But I’ve been randomly filling in a list of Pop Sugar prompts and I think I’ve been able to fill in about 28 prompts.

Best book I’ve read so far:

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky is the only book I can put here without an asterisk next to it.  A close second is:

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley.  The only thing holding this back from being a full 5 star read for me is the ending, which felt a little too abrupt for me.

Best sequel I’ve read so far:

Luna Moon Rising Ian McDonald

Moon Rising (Luna #3) by Ian McDonald.  Technically not a sequel.. but a next-in-series.  My other options were Saga Vol. 2, and Mahimata (Asiana #2) by Rati Mehrotra, which were both solid reads.

New release I haven’t read yet but want to:

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

All of them?  Does that count?

The Menace from Farside by Ian McDonald (novella set in world of Luna)

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marhsall

The Institute by Stephen King

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

Biggest disappointment:

TheStand_SK

The Stand by Stephen King.  I’ve had several disappointments this year- but there really isn’t anything more disappointing than a favorite author’s well-loved book not living up to the hype for you personally.  It’s my own fault for expecting too much, because I know King is hit or miss, but I really wanted to love this and couldn’t.

Biggest surprise:

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.  It was such a surprise I didn’t even know I wanted to read it until it was in my hands.

Favorite new author (debut or new to me):

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass.  I didn’t rate this 5 stars, but it’s probably at the top of my 4 star reads.  I would have put Headly (The Mere Wife) here, but I ended up DNF’ing her Queen of Kings, and I loved Brodsky’s The Wolf in the Whale but I am not overly interested in reading her others.  So I’m going with Cate Glass, because I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel to this one.

Newest fictional crush:

I don’t have one so far this year!

Newest favorite character:

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

Omat & Brandr from The Wolf in the Whale.  I don’t know if either of them individually are new favorite characters but they are definitely a new favorite couple.

Book that (almost) made me cry:

blrw_mj

Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. So if I’m being honest I think the only book that made me cry this year is once again The Wolf in the Whale.  But I really would hate to use that book for all of these prompts.  So the runner up, which almost made me cry, was Black Leopard, Red Wolf.

Book that made me happy laugh:

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky.  This book is really funny- and it needed to be because it’s also really dark.

Honorable mention to Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers, which I’ve only read a little of so far but has given me a few laugh out loud moments.

Favorite book to film adaptation I saw this year:

The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell

The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell.  I don’t know if this is cheating, since I actually read the book in 2017.  The Last Kingdom which is a Netflix show is one of my favorite shows.  I saw season three earlier in the year and enjoyed that (although I do think it deviated a lot from the books).

Favorite review I’ve written this year:

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley.  Mostly because it gave me so many fabulous quotes to include.

Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy

Honorable mention to Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West because the review kept evolving after I had written it.  It started as a rant, and then when I went to edit the rant I had thought about the book some more and I had to add a whole slew of new stuff.  And later when I edited that, I had even more thoughts to add.

Most beautiful book I’ve bought so far this year (or received):

Inland by Tea Obreht

Inland by Tea Obreht.  I recently received an ARC of this in the mail and even though it’s an ARC there’s a cover with some promotional blurbs and behind that the front cover is just really pretty with all the colors.

Books I need to read by the end of the year:

SO MANY.  I feel so far behind right now.  But a few that I already own that I really want to get to are:

Micro by Michael Crichton

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

And that’s it!  I’m a little disappointed I don’t have more titles to freak out over.  Hopefully the second half of 2019 will be a little better!

Recommended Reading From Favorite Authors

While I’m working my way through the 1,400 page monstrosity that is The Stand, I figured I’d post some recommended reading from people who should know what a great read really looks like.  I’ve pulled these recommendations mostly from Google, but I’m thinking maybe I’ll make a few GoodReads shelves to keep them around.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett.jpg

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, recommended by Stephen King.  The only book I’ve read by Patchett is Bel Canto, but it was a 5 star read for me.  This is a dark sounding tale set in the Amazon, and I already know Patchett has the talent to play with my emotions, so I’m looking forward to checking this out.

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft

Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft, recommended by Mark Lawrence.  I follow Lawrence on GoodReads.  He’s sometimes active in the SFF book club I enjoy reading with, and in general he just seems like a cool, down-to-earth guy.  When I looked up what he recommended from his reads last year, his best book of 2018 was The Hod King.  Since it’s book three, I figured I should probably start with book one, which he also recommends.  He says: “Don’t read this book because you like mine. It’s not like mine. It is, however, excellent.”  No worries Mark.  I trust you.

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett.jpg

The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett, recommended by Bernard Cornwell.  Looking up Cornwell’s recommended reading list was surprising, though in retrospect I suppose it shouldn’t have been.  I was expecting to find some great historical fiction on the list, and instead I found a lot of historical, military non-fiction, with a handful of others.  Terry Pratchett happened to be one of the authors he mentioned, so it seems like a good reason to finally give Discworld a go.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, recommended by Sebastien de Castell.  I stole this rec from Castell’s author page/books list in GoodReads.  I was originally going to give it to The Alice Network by Kate Quinn, but in that review he states that Code Name Verity “was one of [his] favourite books of the past ten years,” so I changed it to this.

The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuin

The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin, recommended by Jo Walton.  My first experience with Le Guin wasn’t great.  I read A Wizard of EarthSea, and was just bored senseless.  There were a few great scenes, but the storytelling seemed passive, and the amount of words dedicated to describing scenery was unnecessary.  On the one hand, I probably picked the wrong place to start.  Wizards and magic aren’t my favorite subjects.  On the other hand, I know Le Guin was a socially conscious author, and I really want to love her stuff.

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff, recommended by Megan Whalen Turner.  Turner is an author I probably don’t mention enough on this blog- but I really adore her Queen’s Thief series.  She has a recommended reading list on her blog of older books, since book stores seem to always be pushing the newest stuff.  The Eagle of the Ninth was on there, and as soon as I read the description I couldn’t believe that I’d not only never read it before, but I’ve never even heard of it before.  Needless to say I’ll be checking it out soon.  Missing Roman legions?  Sign me up!

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, recommended by Mary Robinette Kowal.  Every time I blog, I’m reminded at least once what a shitty SFF book blogger I am.  Between this, Discworld, and The Dispossessed, I am clearly a failure.  Anyway- Kowal’s not the only one that recommends this (in fact, it comes so highly recommended that it’s been sitting on my dusty bookshelf for at least two years).  Maybe 2019 will finally be the year.

This was pretty surprising for me!  I got contemporary fiction from a horror author, historical fiction from fantasy authors, fantasy from historical fiction authors… If I had to pull a lesson from all this it would definitely be that I need to do better at diversifying my reading.  What about your favorite authors?  Do any of them have good recommendations?