Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Upcoming Releases for 2020

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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.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (expected May 5, 2020) – This is the next novel in the Holly Gibney series.  I haven’t even really read the blurb- but like all new Stephen King books, I’m super excited for it.

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The Girl and the Stars by Mark Lawrence (expected April 21, 2020) – Ugh – This year is going to be my year to catch up on all things Mark Lawrence.  I might even reread Prince of Thorns.  I’m super excited for this one, even if I likely won’t get to it right away.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (expect May 19, 2020) – This prequel feels like it is finally my chance to join in with everyone’s love for The Hunger Games.  I never read the books because I loved the movie so much.  I’m sure this book will get a movie too, but I plan to read the book first this time.

A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass

A Conjuring of Assassins by Cate Glass (expected February 4, 2020) – This is the sequel to last year’s An Illusion of Thieves.  I loved that one and I’m confident I’ll love this one too.

Eden by Tim Lebbon

Eden by Tim Lebbon (expected April 7, 2020) – I’d tell you what this is about but I stopped reading after it said eco-thriller.  It made me think of another favorite author, Michael Crichton.

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell

The Kingdom of Liars by Nick Martell (expected May 5, 2020) – This book is set in a world where magic is paid for in memories.  I’m both curious and hesitant about this one.  I can see it being really fantastic, but I can also see the premise setting the book up for trouble. Are there armies of people who remember nothing?  How does that work?  Is magic used sparingly?  I’m remaining cautiously optimistic.

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin (expected March 24, 2020) – This novel is based on a short story that was included in Jemisin’s How Long Til Black Future Month? which released last year.  While I wasn’t sure I quite liked that particular story, I loved the concept and I’m hopeful that with a full length novel she can answer some of the questions I had about it.

 

These last three I’ve all mentioned in previous posts, which I’ve linked to below in case you missed them or would like to check them out again.

The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso (expected February 18, 2020)

The Book of Koli by M.R. Carey (expected April 14, 2020)

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (expected May 19, 2020)

What are your most anticipated releases for the first half of the year?  Leave me a link below so I can check them out!

Book Review: Limited Wish (Impossible Times #2) by Mark Lawrence

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

Rating:  ★★★

I think these books are just too smart for me.  I have zero understanding of the science behind it, and on occasion this just felt way too technical.  I’ve never taken a physics class and thinking about time travel makes my brain hurt.

It didn’t help that I was expecting a direct continuation of the previous book One Word Kill.  While this is another chapter in Nick’s story, it branches off on it’s own tangent, with other possible character’s from Nick’s future coming into play.  While it isn’t totally out of left field, it just seemed weird not to be given more of Demus’s story and mission, and instead be fed this whole other separate side story.  I was looking forward to getting more of that, seeing Nick and Mia finally together, and within the first chapter or two I realized that wasn’t going to happen.

There’s plenty of action and life or death moments, so the pacing isn’t slow, but my inability to connect with Nick as a character (and honestly just the 80s in general) left me feeling cold about them.  I think the action scenes lose some of their impact while the threat of cancer looms large.  These scenes also lost some of their impact for me with the introduction of the new characters.  I was already invested in the old ones, and being given more to care about just felt like too much across a grand total of 400 pages.  I almost wonder if they both wouldn’t have benefitted from more pages and more time for character development.

I did like the ending (although if I’m being honest, I didn’t understand parts of it, wtf is a time hammer?!).  What I enjoyed was the choices Nick made and what ultimately happens to our villains.

I think I will finish the series out when Dispel Illusion comes out later this year. It’d be a shame not to find out what happens in the end.  I did have some of the same struggles with book one though, so if you enjoyed that one, you might enjoy this more than I did.

Limited Wish can be found on GoodReads or ordered on Amazon.

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.

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….).

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)

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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.

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!)

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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: Summer TBR 2019

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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Since I jumped the gun on this week’s post for childhood favorites, (which can be found here, in case you want to compare and contrast) I figured I’d play catch up a little and talk about my summer TBR.  I don’t know how many of these I’ll get to-  I’m way over committed and feeling totally overwhelmed, but I’m going to give it the good old college try.

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington – I’ve already started this, and am actually mostly enjoying it even though my progress is slow.  Hoping to have a review up before it releases toward the end of the month!

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass – I’ve already started this one too (because when you get hung up on The Queens of Innis Lear, you just read everything else until you beat the slog) and it is such a breath of fresh air!  It feels like the first fantasy I’ve enjoyed all year.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig – I’ve had this on hold at the library for three months (at least).  I wasn’t lucky enough to snag an ARC but it’s okay.  It releases tomorrow and I’m fully expecting it to take precedence over everything else.  I just hope I enjoy it more than I enjoyed its comp title, The Stand, which I read earlier this year and wasn’t a big fan of.  I’m reasonably confident that Wanderers pulls the things I liked about The Stand and leaves out what I didn’t love about it, so my excitement level remains high.

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Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – I forget why I added it, but it’s a buddy read for my virtual book club right now so I’m reading a story before bed every night.  The stories themselves are super inventive but also depressing.  Not sure how I feel about it yet.

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville

The Last Days of New Paris by China Mieville – Buddy read scheduled for July 9th.  I have one week to read 4 books.  This is going well.  (Send. Help.)  I’m finally ready for another Mieville.  The only book of his I’ve read so far is Kraken, and it was really weird (weird is good, I like weird), but I’m hoping this will be easier to digest at 200 something pages.  I think it’s also one of his higher rated books.

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

The Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova – This is an odd one for me.  It has a lot of buzz words that usually make me pass: dragons, clockwork, magic, organ market… (what can I say, I guess I prefer low fantasy) but it also has a lot of buzz words that make me scream yes: thief, assassin, lowest rungs of society… It was 99 cents not too long ago on Kindle, the reviews are pretty good, and a buddy read was proposed, so I guess only time will tell.

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte – I’ve read the first chapter of this.  It looks and sounds like a straightforward fantasy, but it’s actually more like science-fantasy, and I sort of love it.  I’m looking forward to reading more.

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess – This book has probably one of the most intriguing blurbs I’ve ever read.  One world is destroyed and a lucky few are invited to hop into an alternate reality created from a schism circa 1924.  The MC has trouble adjusting to this new New York, where a science fiction author died young and never wrote his masterpiece.  I’m worried that there isn’t enough plot here to keep the book going, but I read the first chapter and it sucked me in right away so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa – A translated Japanese classic reminiscent of 1984, I’m really looking forward to this. I just hope the translator is up to snuff.

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden

The Hive by Barry Lyga and Morgan Baden – Another Big Brother-esque novel about the dangers of Social Media.  I feel like I’ve been waiting for this book FOREVER.  Since the advent of the selfie and Facebook, I’ve been wondering when someone would get around to writing this.  I absolutely can’t wait to read it.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – A book for book lovers about the magic of books.  Plus the cover is really pretty.

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence

Limited Wish by Mark Lawrence – This is the sequel to One Word Kill.  I won it in a GoodReads giveaway but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  I’m curious to see where the mystery goes (and also hope the ending is better than the ending I inferred from One Word Kill).

The Institute by Stephen King

The Institute by Stephen King – Happy birthday to me!  I had to end it here.  The Institute comes out on my birthday and is the book I’m most excited about.

This is way more than 10, and still only a fraction of what I’m hoping to get read, but that covers most of the major ones.  Are any of these on your summer TBR?

Book Review: One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

I did it!  I finally read something else by Mark Lawrence!  Don’t ask why it took so long.  I don’t have a good answer for you.

One Word Kill by Mark Lawrence

Rating:  ★★★1/2

Blurb (from GoodReads): In January 1986, fifteen-year-old boy-genius Nick Hayes discovers he’s dying. And it isn’t even the strangest thing to happen to him that week.

Nick and his Dungeons & Dragons-playing friends are used to living in their imaginations. But when a new girl, Mia, joins the group and reality becomes weirder than the fantasy world they visit in their weekly games, none of them are prepared for what comes next. A strange—yet curiously familiar—man is following Nick, with abilities that just shouldn’t exist. And this man bears a cryptic message: Mia’s in grave danger, though she doesn’t know it yet. She needs Nick’s help—now.

He finds himself in a race against time to unravel an impossible mystery and save the girl. And all that stands in his way is a probably terminal disease, a knife-wielding maniac and the laws of physics.

Challenge accepted.

I don’t know how I feel about this blurb… I picked this up free as part of Kindle’s First Reads program.  The selling point for me was the author.  For some authors, it just doesn’t matter what they write, you’ll read it anyway.  And despite the lack of Lawrence books in my read pile- I admire him as an author and as a person.  He was one of the first authors I followed on both GoodReads and Twitter.  He’s always helping out other self pub’d authors, and just generally seems like a good guy.

Anyway- onto the book.  I’ll start by saying I have no idea how D&D is played.  I (now) know it involves dice and a game master and the occasional prop, but I had a hard time picturing everything else. Is there a game board?  Who writes the snippets everyone reads?  It was kind of neat but I spent a lot of time going: huh? what? why?  I think D&D fans will get a lot more out of this book than I did.

Onto the science- anytime quantum mechanics/physics/mathematics was brought up, I tuned out.  It’s so far beyond anything I’m able to twist my head around, I couldn’t even begin to fathom it.  Much like the D&D stuff, I think people who have some understanding of it, will get more out of this than I did.

One Word Kill is super dark.  Do not mistake the protagonists being teenagers to mean that this is a YA book.  I think it’s anything but, and a lot of the topics here are things I tend to avoid in my reading when the setting is not historical or fantastical (drugs, terminal illness, gangs).  The antagonist is deranged and any time he came up I found myself cringing/shivering/shuddering.

I adored the characters and their relationships with each other.  They feel like real (smart) every day teens, just trying to get through their day without losing their lunch money or embarrassing themselves.  I think I found Simon the most relatable- he’s introverted, smart and straightforward in his dealings, but there was something to love about the whole gang.  They all had their own struggles, and one refreshing thing was that the parents are all pretty supportive of their kids.

The plot is twisting and turning, amping up the crazy with every chapter.  I’m not going to say much about it- because it’s better experienced first hand.  But I will say I did feel like there were some plot holes here and there.  The book is super quick (200 pages) so it’s possible I needed to be reading more between the lines than I was, but I’m not entirely sure that was the case.  I almost wonder if the book could have used a few more pages to make everything really come together and feel complete.

That being said I was totally shattered by the ending, and it’s always good when a book can make me feel something.  I am curious to see what this is all leading toward, so I will definitely be continuing with the series!

One Word Kill can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books of the past decade

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

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?

 

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 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!)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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!