Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-read Authors

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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’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.

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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….).

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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!

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Audiobook Narrators I wish I Had

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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 might not make it to ten this week- but I’ll try.  This week’s topic was an Audio freebie.  To be honest, I’m a terrible listener.  Typically I save audiobooks for nonfiction or short stories.  That way if I miss a few things it’s not detracting from my enjoyment.  That’s all a very long way of saying: I struggled with this.

Before I figured out what a terrible listener I was, I considered an Audible membership.  As I was checking out what they had on offer, I discovered Sean Bean’s name as a narrator for an abridged version of one of the Richard Sharpe novels.  I would have been all over that book… if it had been the full version.  But it got me to thinking about how enhancing the audiobook experience would be if there was an honest to goodness actor behind the voices. Thus my topic: Actors I wish were readers.

Sean Bean Richard Sharpe

Sean Bean.  He narrated that first Richard Sharpe novel because he actually played Richard Sharpe in a miniseries (above).  I’ve yet to read or watch either.  But I would really, really love if he would narrate Cornwell’s other series- The Saxon Stories.

Roger Clark.  If you haven’t played Red Dead Redemption 2 yet: A) go play it! (what’s wrong with you?) and B) the voice acting is phenomenal.  Imagine my surprise when the cowboy extraordinaire got up to accept the award for best voice acting and his accent was… Irish.  (What?!)  I’ve never read Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, but RDR2 made me want to read it.  Even better if it was narrated by Arthur Morgan himself.

Nolan North. Anytime I pop a new game into my PS4, fire it up, and hear North’s voice, it immediately puts a smile on my face.  I would recognize his voice pretty much anywhere.  To me, he will always, always be Nathan Drake, but I’d love for him to extend his talents elsewhere.  I think he’d make a fantastic Jackal of The Grey Bastards, even though it wasn’t my favorite book.  Otherwise I’d love him for him to read any book with Drake-esque characters.

Roger Craig Smith. If this name is not familiar, don’t feel too bad.  I had to look it up.  He is the voice actor for Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio Auditore da Firenze.  Revelations wasn’t even a good game, but it still managed to make me ugly cry.  If someone could go ahead and hire Smith to read the entire Greatcoats series to me… That’d be great.  Thanks.

Claudia Black.  She plays both Morrigan in Dragon Age 1 and 3, as well as Chloe Frazer in Uncharted, and her voice is heavenly.  It’s soothing and sultry and leant itself to two of my favorite female video game characters of all time.  As for books I’d like her to read, really anything, but I think she might be good for Circe by Madeline Miller or The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker.

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Joaquin Phoenix.  There are too many reasons to list here as to why I adore Joaquin so much.  Of course, my favorite performance will forever be: Emperor Commodus from Gladiator.  I’d love for him to read The Iliad or The Odyssey, or any of Shakespeare’s tragedies.  Hey- I can dream right?

Honorable mentions: Idris Elba (I wanted to add him, but I couldn’t think of a good book to pair him with, something punchy and hard hitting and set in London), Matthew McConaughey (probably any John Grisham novel ever written but I’ve never read Grisham), James Earl Jones because why not?, and Gideon Emery (the voice of Fenrir in Dragon Age 2).

What about you?  Do you have the perfect narrator for a book?

 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me 2018 Authors

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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.

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10. Elizabeth Bear – In 2018 I read my first Elizabeth Bear book.  She’s a fairly prolific author, dabbling in both sci-fi and fantasy, and every book description I have read of her’s sound incredibly original and creative.  The book I read was Carnival (review here).  Carnival was pretty complex and very confusing at times, but I really loved the world building and I’m looking forward to reading more from her.

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9. Nick Harkaway – I read Harkaway’s Gnomon last year and I’m still not sure what to make of it.  I will say that I think Harkaway is really, truly, incredibly brilliant.  He does not spoon feed his readers.  It’s sink or swim.  But Gnomon puts a very different feel on the tried and true dystopian genre.  It felt a lot like a 1984 retelling wrapped up in a murder mystery plot.  I am both excited and dreading reading another book from this author. (Review for Gnomon here.)

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8. Pat Barker – I’d never heard of Pat Barker until I heard about The Silence of the Girls.  This book, though it wasn’t quite a five star read, has haunted me the past few months. I can’t get it out of my head, and I feel like that’s the true marker of a great book, one that stays with you.  I do hope I can check out some of Barker’s other work.  Unfortunately, I might be waiting a while because so far all I’ve really seen from her is WWI fiction, and that’s a period of time I tend to avoid when reading.

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7.  P. Djeli Clark – I read the novella The Black God’s Drums in the fall, and absolutely fell in love with the characters, the world building, and the setting.  Clark is releasing a new novella in February called The Haunting of Tram Car 015 and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.  I would love to see what he can do with a full length novel.

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6.  John Kessel – Kessel is the author of The Moon and the Other which I read last spring.  I think this would make an excellent book club read because there was just so much to dissect and discuss.  I am planning to read Frankenstein this year (for the first time!) and it looks like he has written a Frankenstein retelling called Pride and Prometheus.  I hope I get a chance to check it out (especially since Pride and Prejudice is one of my all time favorites.

5. Nnedi Okorafor – I read Okorafor’s Akata Witch last year and I think it was a great way to be introduced to her.  The content wasn’t too dark (and I understand that her adult novels feature some trigger heavy content) and yet the novel didn’t feel too young for me to enjoy.  The world building was phenomenal and the characters likable.  I have added Akata Warrior to my TBR and also went on to read Lagoon last year and enjoyed that one also.

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4.  Madeline Miller – My review of Circe is fairly recent so I won’t rehash all the details, but I did love Miller’s writing, will heartily recommend her, and definitely be reading her other work.

3. Mary Robinette Kowal – One of my favorite reads of the year was Kowal’s The Calculating Stars.  It’s a science fiction story that I think could be enjoyed by almost everyone.  Although I didn’t enjoy The Fated Sky as much, I’m still eagerly looking forward to reading more about The Lady Astronaut of Mars.

2. Ian McDonald – Two of my favorite reads last year were written by Ian McDonald: New Moon and Wolf Moon.  I rated them both four stars, but I’d give the series as a whole five stars.  (Don’t ask I’m strange.)  The series is so incredibly epic, with a huge cast of characters, political intrigue, sexual and racial diversity, I recommend it to everyone I can.  Book three is due out this year and I can’t wait!

1. Jo Walton – She is the only new-to-me author with three books on my read list.  I read her Thessaly series this year and devoured all three of them within a month.  It’s a genre bender, containing aspects of mythology, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction and philosophy.  I’ve been nervous to try some of her other work because I’m not sure anything else could live up to the expectations set by this series, but I’ll get there. (Reviews for books one, two and three.)

Honorable mentions (in no particular order) to: Malka Ann Older, Carrie Vaughn, Brian K. Vaughan, Jeff VanderMeer, Ann Leckie, Mira Grant/Seanan Mcguire, and Susanna Kearsley, whose work was also outstanding.

What about you?  Who made your list? Leave me a comment below and I’ll be sure to come check them out!

Circe by Madeline Miller

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Rating:  ★★★★★

Blurb (from GoodReads): In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus….To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

 

This may very well be the last book I have time to finish this year, and I am not sad for it. This book deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it, and I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical.

There aren’t any words I could say to do it justice. The blurb doesn’t do it any justice at all because it was the blurb that put me off it for so long. Truthfully- it just seemed boring.

It’s not. This isn’t so much a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey, (though in some ways it is) but a saga of Circe, the least loved of all the gods, the least powerful, the least pretty, the least wanted. Time and time again she is thrown low and overcomes it. That is not to say she is without faults- she is far from perfect. But by the end of it, regardless of what she may have done, you can’t help but cheer for her.

The writing is lush and beautiful.  It is everything I would have wanted from a Greek retelling.  It has a sweep-you-away quality that just makes you feel like you’re sitting by a roaring fire on a cold winter night listen to your grandmother tell stories of her childhood.

The characters were also fantastic.  Circe was my favorite and a lot of that is due to the time we spend with her.  Other characters flit in and out of Circe’s life, and they all have their own voices and characterizations, but it is harder to connect with them since they might have only a few chapters they were involved in.

Aside from Circe, there is plenty of other greek mythology to go around. There is the birth of the minotaur, Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, Jason and the Argonauts and the golden fleece and his wife, the witch, Medea. There is story upon story upon story, all beautifully and carefully told. Many of them were easily recognizable and they all brought a smile to my face.

I have been hesitant to try Miller’s The Song of Achilles because I enjoyed The Silence of the Girls so much, but now it’s become a must-read.  If you have ever enjoyed any Greek tale at all- pick this up. You will not be disappointed.