Top Ten Tuesday: Books I own and have thus far ignored.

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: Books On My TBR I’m Avoiding Reading and Why, comes to us from Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea and I think it’s a great topic because I have SO MANY OF THEM.

The Name of the Wind Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles #1) by Patrick Rothfuss – Full disclosure: I’ve started the audiobook of this at least two times that I remember.  I think I need to eye read it, but honestly I made it halfway the second time and I still wasn’t seeing the appeal.  I think it’s incredibly slow paced and it didn’t feel like there was a lot of plot.  Also – someone tell me again why this trilogy isn’t finished yet?  What is Rothfuss waiting for?

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch 1

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentlemen Bastards #1) by Scott Lynch – I’m avoiding this for two reasons. 1) I have the paperback, and it’s 700 pages long with tiny text and it’s going to hurt my hands to keep holding this open for extended periods of time. 2) I’m terrified I won’t love it, because everything I know about it says it should be a home run.

The Wish Granter Ravenspire 2 by CJ Redwine

The Wish Granter (Ravenspire #2) by C.J. Redwine – I bought this without ever reading the first book because it’s a Rumpelstiltsken retelling- and it’s one of my favorite (grim) fairy tales. Then the first one came available through my library, and I decided maybe I should just begin at the beginning.  The Shadow Queen turned out to be full of tropes I hate and flat characters with corny dialogue that made my skin crawl (I’m sorry).  Anyway, I still want to read it, because I own it, but it might take me a year… or 10.

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

The Once and Future King by T.H. White – I really, really, want to read, what is not the original King Arthur, but certainly a King Arthur classic.  But it was written in the 50s and I’m really nervous the pacing will be slow, or the language dense… ugh.  I need to get over it.

Half a King by Joe Abercrombie

Half A King (Shattered Sea #1) by Joe Abercrombie – I bought this before I really knew who Joe Abercrombie was (I was just starting to get into SFF and learning about GoodReads okay?!).  By the time I realized Abercrombie was really well known for his First Law series… I was a little nervous about why I never saw anyone mentioning Shattered Sea…

Wonder Woman Warbringer DC Icons 1 by Leigh Bardugo

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1) by Leigh Bardugo – I love Six of Crows as much as any regular devourer of YA.  However, when I later tracked back to read the Grisha trilogy, I was sort of baffled it was written by the same author.  It’s not that they are bad books, they just feel so… generic.  And it’s made me drag my feet on reading this.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson – Have you seen it?!  It’s like 900 pages long!  Also – I’ve come to the conclusion that Stephenson is a lot smarter than I am.. and that makes me nervous.

The Drawing of Three by Stephen King

The Drawing of the Three (The Dark Tower #2) by Stephen King – I love King.. so I feel qualified to say… The Gunslinger was kind of boring.  I’ve heard these books get better with time, and I already own this one… but I haven’t been in any rush to get to it.

A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire #2) by George R.R. Martin – I read A Game of Thrones about 1.5 years ago.  And I actually did enjoy it, but I’m nervous that with the time that’s passed and the complexity of these books and this world.. that I won’t remember enough to enjoy it…

Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erickson 1

Gardens of the Moon (Malazan Book of the Fallen #1) by Steven Erikson – Another read that’s been classified as “difficult.”  But I want to love it so bad!  But what if I can’t figure it out?!

I have probably a hundred others I could add to this list, but that’s ten!  What about you?  What books have you been avoiding?

 

 

 

Pride Month: Favorite LGBT+ Couples & Characters in Fiction

In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to do a post celebrating my favorite LGBT+ characters and coupes in fiction.  Some of these books were not my favorite (and some of them are)- but if there was one thing that stood out about them, it was the characters.

The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt

Captain Callie & Dr. Elena Oh – The Wrong Stars by Tim Pratt: I do remember the beginning of this relationship felt a little forced, but by the end I was rooting for this couple all the way.  I’m more fond of this book for the fun level than the romantic factor- but The Wrong Stars is such a rollicking good space romp I don’t think it matters.

The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang Tensorate 1

Akeha – The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1) by J.Y. Yang:  It’s been awhile since I read this, but one thing that stands out to me when I think of it, is that I remember how heartbroken I was for Akeha throughout. IIRC, in this world, children are brought up genderless until they choose the gender they want to be.  Akeha struggles with the choice, because not only does he not want to choose, but when he thinks about choosing, he realizes he’s not leaning the way everyone expect’s him to.  This is a quick novella, and well worth reading.

The Priory of the Orange Tree

Niclays & Jannart – The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon: I wanted to put Ead and Sabran here, but one of my complaints about this book was that Ead and Sabran never felt like they had chemistry together, while it was very obvious how much Niclays cared about Jannart.  I won’t get too spoilery- but Niclays reminiscing about Jannart was one of the highlights of this book.

blrw_mj

Tracker & Mossi – Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James: Admittedly, the romance between Tracker and Mossi is a very, very small piece of this book.  This couple works because Mossi provides so much balance to Tracker.  He breaks up Tracker’s icy exterior and makes the reader realize that yes, Tracker does have a heart somewhere behind his violent shell.  If James ever wrote a novel/novella exploring this relationship in more depth- I’d 100% read it, despite the issues I had with this book.

Mycroft & Saladin – Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer: Someday I’ll make a list Terra Ignota isn’t on.  Today is not that day.  Mycroft and Saladin are one of the more twisted couples I have on this list… and I’m not telling you why because it’s a huge spoiler.  We don’t often get to see them together (Mycroft’s Servicer duties and general genius keep him busy) but their relationship feels very Shakespearean.

SoC_LB

Jesper & Wylan – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo: Like Mossi & Tracker above- I feel like these two balance each other out.  Jesper’s a loud, in your face, hot mess and Wylan is quiet and cool headed.  I loved every scene they were in.

Ariel Corta – Luna series by Ian McDonald: Ariel Corta is one of my favorite female characters in literature ever.  She’s ambitious and cunning, and she prints a killer wardrobe.  She’s on this list because she’s one of the first ace characters I encountered in fiction.

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

Omat & Brandr – The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky: I love Omat & Brandr because neither one of them is your typical protagonist.  Omat is dealing with his own identity issues.  His gender doesn’t match his physical body, and internally he struggles to come to terms with that.  Brandr is a Viking with a soft side. Between the two of them, Omat takes the lead, and Brandr is perfectly happy with that.  He never questions Omat’s choices, never challenges them. He accepts Omat as he is and that’s what I loved about them.

Guilty Pleasures Anita Blake by Laurell K Hamilton

Jean Claude & Asher – Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton: I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I have read these books, considering the direction Hamilton took them in, but please know that the first ten(?) books are actually pretty good (and everything after that would make E.L.James blush).  From the moment I met Jean Claude & Asher I adored them as a couple.  Asher is physically scarred and a thoroughly damaged character because of it, and JC is the only person who’s ever really able to make him feel better about it.

Ninth Step Station by Malka Older Fran Wilde Jacqueline Koyanagi Curtis Chen

Detective Miyako – Ninth Step Station from Serial Box: I haven’t actually finished this season of Ninth Step Station, but Detective Miyako has grown on me so much.  She’s smart but grounded.  I find her much more relatable than Emma.  Her relationships don’t come into play so much- but I wanted to mention her anyway.

Do you have any favorite characters or couples on the list?  Anything else you can recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books of the past decade

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.

First- a belated Happy Memorial Day weekend to all my American friends!  I hope you enjoyed it!  I’m sorry to kick this week off with a T10T when I haven’t posted a single review in weeks, but it was a hectic weekend for my family, filled with grilling, guacamole, sunshine and sprinklers.  My huge library book haul seems to be doing the trick as I will have a couple reviews for you all later this week.

Anyway, I’m looking at this topic and relieved because it seems easier than some of the last topics we’ve had this month, but I’m also wondering if I have a favorite for each year of the past ten.  I guess we’ll find out!

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

2019: The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  I’ve read significantly less 2019 releases than probably most other book bloggers- but I don’t foresee this changing.  I read this all in mostly one sitting. Not bad for a 500+ page novel! Honorable mentions to: The Test by Sylvain Neuvel, and Luna: Moon Rising by Ian McDonald.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

2018: The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley.  I also haven’t read that many 2018 releases apparently.  In my review, I only gave this 4.5 stars because the ending disappointed me, but months later I find myself craving more fierce, unapologetic fiction like this book, and wishing for ANYTHING with a similar voice. It really does deserve five stars. Honorable mentions: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, and The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark.

tmato_jk

2017: The Moon and the Other by John Kessel.  I think this is another that I gave 4.5 stars to instead of 5.  My reason for including this and The Mere Wife (above), is that in the end, I’ve held these novels to a higher standard.  If we’re going by literary accomplishment, I have more respect for them than I do for some of my 5 star reads for 2017.  The Moon and the Other is beautifully written, metaphoric, entertaining, and manages to give lots of food for thought. Honorable mentions: The Will to Battle and Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer, and Tyrant’s Throne by Sebastien de Castell.

TLtL

2016: Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer.  This is a weird one for me.  I absolutely will not recommend it to anyone to read, but it remains as a favorite.  I think if you can read it with buddies who can help you understand the intricacies of the plot and the world building, you’ll get more out of it.  If you are patient, this is one of the most rewarding books I’ve ever read. Honorable Mentions: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo and The Flame Bearer by Bernard Cornwell.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

2015: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.  I suspect I’m not the only person to slot this for their 2015 favorite.  SoC is the reason I will still occasionally pick up a YA novel despite being disappointed with most other YA offerings (it’s not them, it’s me).  It’s dark and gritty with just the right touch of romance. Honorable mentions: The Just City by Jo Walton and Warriors of the Storm by Bernard Cornwell.

tb_sdc

2014: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell. These books are fast paced and the characters and their banter are fabulous.  There’s not a lot of magic- but a little, and I’m more than okay with that.  Fun fact: the author is an actual fencer, and his dueling scenes are better for it. Honorable mentions: Revival and Mr. Mercedes both by Stephen King.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

2013: NOS4A2 by Joe Hill.  This is about a vampire from Christmasland.  I know that’s odd.  Don’t question it.  Just go with it.  Honorable mention: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker.

Gone Girl Gillian Flynn

2012: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  I know Amy Dunne is a sociopath, but she’s a disciplined and brilliant sociopath.  For some reason- along the with The Mere Wife, I’ve been thinking a lot about Gone Girl and wishing there were more stories like this available.  Honorable Mention: Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson and The Rook by Daniel O’Malley.

PoT_ML

2011: Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence. Much like Amy Dunne, I find Jorg to be a very compelling as a character.  Also- this is just a delightfully wicked book. Honorable mention: Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor.

Sh*t my dad says by Justin Halpern

2010: Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern.  So this is a weird place to end up.  Anyway- apparently I didn’t read much and definitely wasn’t tracking my reading in 2010.  Don’t let that stop you from checking out this hilarious book. Justin’s dad is definitely a guy I wouldn’t mind drinking a beer with.  Here’s one of my favorite quotes from the book:

“On [Justin’s] Response to Having [His] Tires Slashed ‘Oh, don’t go to the goddamned cops. They’re busy with real shit. I don’t want my tax dollars going to figuring out who thinks you’re an asshole.'”

And that’s it!  What about you?  What are your favorite books of the past ten years?

 

 

Can’t Wait Wednesday: Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

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.

Ninth House Alex Stern 1 by Leigh Bardugo

Title: Ninth House

Series: Alex Stern

By: Leigh Bardugo

Pages: 480

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Blurb from GoodReads: Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. By age twenty, in fact, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most elite universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers to this herself, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. These eight windowless “tombs” are well-known to be haunts of the future rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street and Hollywood’s biggest players. But their occult activities are revealed to be more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive.

Why I’m excited for it: Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are two of my favorite books.  I devoured them both in just a couple days.  I loved the characters, their banter was witty and fun, the plot was action packed, the pacing was perfect, the world was gritty, and the cast was diverse.  When I later tried to read the Grisha trilogy, I was less enthralled.  Maybe if I had read them first, I would have liked them more, but at the time they felt fairly generic.

From Leigh’s tumblr page book announcement: “I should mention that [Ninth House] is adult, not YA and will be published as such. It goes some very dark places and it is meant to disturb.”  Being an adult novel won’t make it inherently better, but I feel like Bardugo excels with dark and gritty.  If she’s going full adult I’m super excited to see what she can do with it.

I’ve also seen the words thriller, supernatural, and occult kicked around in relation to Ninth House, and there’s no better place to do that than New England!  It does seem like a vast departure from her usual fare, but I’m hoping that’s a good thing.  I can’t wait to see what she’ll do with it.

What about you?  What new releases are you excited for?

Top Ten Tuesdays: Favorite Villains

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.

With Halloween just around the corner- favorite villains is a perfect topic for Top Ten Tuesday!  Villains also happen to be one of my favorite things to talk about.  Villains can make or break a book.  A sympathetic villain might leave you questioning your own feelings about the grayer spaces of morality.  Some villains bring unexpected charm and leave you delighted with their every move.  And the evilest of villains will make you speed through a thousand page tome just to see justice served.  Just a note about some of my villains- a few of them fall more into the realm of anti-hero, but I promise I can justify their place here!  (Also – possible spoilers ahead!)

TQP_JW

10.  King Severn Argentine – The Queen’s Poisoner by Jeff Wheeler – I don’t see this series talked about much, and I really think it’s a shame.  This book is my favorite in the series and it’s largely due to King Severn.  This series imagines what might have happened if King Richard had never died on Bosworth field (and if he had some magical powers to help him along).  What I loved about King Severn- is the way your opinion of him changes through out the book.  He starts very clearly as the bad guy, and before it ends you’re not sure if he’s really a villain, or just a really unfortunate hero.

TPotE_KF

9.  William Hamleigh – The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett – Lord Hamleigh is the second most evil villain on this list.  He will absolutely make your skin crawl.  Every time he thwarts our heroes plan you’ll want to scream and throw your book across the room.  The guy is pure evil.  He’s the villain you absolutely love to hate.  If I recall correctly – the revenge was cold and the justice was poetic.  The only villains that can compete with this guy- are other villains from Follett’s world.

SoC_LB

8.  Kaz Brekker and crew – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – This duology is one example of YA done right.  I don’t know why it took my reading sixty seven bad YA books last year to figure out that I don’t actually like them.. but Six of Crows is the exception.  I love Kaz because he’s sort of a genius, he’s completely unreliable, and Bardugo never once handed him anything on a silver platter.  Despite it all- he always comes out on top.

TRex

7.  T-Rex – Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton – She’s a T-Rex!  How could I not include her?  My only regret is that Crichton didn’t write like eight more Jurassic Park novels.

TPH_BC

6.  Haesten – The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell (First appearance: The Pale Horseman) – Full disclosure: the name I really, really wanted to put here was King Alfred and/or King Ecbert from Vikings.  The problem was both kings were more frenemies than villains.  So I went with Haesten.  Haesten is a slippery little fellow.  Uhtred finds him and sets him free.  Haesten swears him an oath.  Haesten betrays him.  Uhtred spanks him.  Haesten swears another oath.  Haesten betrays him.  And so it goes on.  This goes on for like seven books.  He’s the only enemy that I think has ever made Uhtred look stupid.  So his place here is well deserved. (And he’s quite charming when he wants to be- hence his repeated oaths to Uhtred.)

5.  Brady Hartsfield – Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King – So if I had to give an award to the most evil villain- it would probably be Brady Hartsfield.  Much like Big Jim Rennie- he’s a walking cliche.  He’s got mommy issues, he’s got daddy issues, he picks on innocent little animals, he’s an uber nerd with like 7 computer monitors.  Reading Brady’s parts are a lot like what I imagine Heath Ledger went through when he played the Joker.  He is straight up disturbing.  Don’t let the label of “Mystery/Thriller” on Mr. Mercedes fool you- it’s definitely horror.

4.  Mycroft Canner – Terra Ignota series by Ada Palmer – Mycroft Canner is more of an antihero than a villain, but I feel justified adding him to this list because (spoiler alert) he’s a homicidal maniac (now reformed).  Of all the characters I have here- it’s Mycroft I love the most.  You know he’s a little cuckoo.  You know he’s sneaky and unreliable.  You know he’s a murderer.  And none of it stops you from wanting to tuck him under your wing like a tiny baby bird.

3.  Big Jim Rennie – Under the Dome by Stephen King – You’re probably sick of reading this- but Under the Dome is one of my favorite books.  And it wasn’t because of Lt. Baaarrrbie and his journalist girlfriend.  It’s largely in thanks to: Used Car Salesman and City Council 2nd Selectman, Big Jim Rennie.  I don’t care that the guy was probably one of the worst cliches out there.  The first time I read that- I was in solid disbelief at just how evil the guy was.  Those pages just kept turning to see how low he would go.  (Also- the TV show was an abomination- skip it and read the book.)

JA_ML

2.  Jörg Ancrath – Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – I’m not entirely sure Jorg is the most evil villain on my list.  I’m not even sure he’s really a villain.  The thing that makes Jorg so very fascinating to read is that he is a sympathetic villain.  The way he turned out, isn’t entirely his fault.  Between witnessing his mother and brother’s murder, and being stuck with a crap father, it’s not surprising the kid can’t stop stabbing his friends.

1. Time – The Green Mile by Stephen King – Now before you go whining and telling me it was Wild Bill who was the villain- hear me out.  The entire book is about time.  The prisoner’s on death row have months, weeks, days before they run out of time to reconcile their sins with their higher power.  John Coffey has the ability to grant people more time in the world by curing their sicknesses (in some cases, their deaths).  Finally, when we get to the end of the novel, Paul Edgecomb is talking to his friend Elaine, and he says:

“And you, Elaine. You’ll die, too. And my curse… is knowing that I’ll be there to see it. It’s my torment, you see. It’s my punishment for lettin’ John Coffey ride the lightnin’… You’ll be gone like all the others, and I’ll have to stay. Oh, I’ll die eventually — of that I’m sure. I have no illusions of immortality. But I will have wished for death… long before death finds me.”

It was the first time I’d seen a book portray “immortality” as a bad thing.  And not just a bad thing- but a really, horrible, terrible, no good, very bad thing.  Usually we see it portrayed as eternal youth, stay young and beautiful, never die!  But The Green Mile couldn’t imagine anything worse than an extraordinarily long life span.

The burning question I never could answer? What the hell happens to Paul when Mr. Jingles dies?  Please- someone- imagine me a happy ending for Paul.  I’m begging you.  It still haunts me!