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.

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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: 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.

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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.

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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: Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell

It’s official. I’ve run out of Terra Ignota books to throw at you.  So I’m going with another cherished and favorite series- The Greatcoats!  Have you read them yet?  My hope in starting Throwback Thursday was to bring some love to some under-appreciated series.  Admittedly- The Greatcoats has about twice as many ratings, but still I feel like it’s not enough.

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Rating:  ★★★★

What a great book. I absolutely loved the three main characters, Brasti, Kest and Falcio (though I think Kest was my favorite) and the banter between them. It reminded me a lot of the game Dragon Age and I could just picture the “party” wondering around on their mission to find the King’s Charoites sniping at each other and kicking ass.

I loved the way the story unfolded. Falcio val Mond, the leader of the group and the Greatcoats (the King’s magistrates), has been trying his best to fulfill the mission his King, Paelis, gave him five years ago. The twist? Nobody knows what exactly the King’s Charoites are. The mission was given to him right before Falcio stood aside and allowed the treacherous dukes to murder the king who he loved. Now the land is ruled by the nobility, there is no king, and the Greatcoats have been disbanded and labeled traitors.

This story is told in both a present timeline, and flashbacks to the past. We learn how Falcio and his group came together, how the Greatcoats were reassembled by King Paelis, and how they were disbanded again. The flashbacks felt really natural and were inserted at appropriate times in the story. This kept them interesting and they never once felt like long boring bouts of complicated backstory. I enjoyed reading those parts as much as I enjoyed reading about what was happening in the present.

I did feel like the middle of the story was a bit slower than the rest. The action was ridiculously non stop, to the point where Falcio hasn’t slept in like 48 hours straight, at least. It was almost comedic how many fights he left only to stumble into another one. The action is told well and is in no way boring, and Falcio has enough tricks up his sleeve to keep it interesting, I just felt that the magic of the book was truly in the world building and the banter between characters. So when Falcio is on his own protecting Aline from the horrors of blood week, I was just kind of reading along hoping for him to get back on the road.

The ending was fantastic and I did not see the twist coming. Looking back there was some subtle foreshadowing but other than Feltock I loved how everyone’s story ended. Even though this book is part of a series it has a definite conclusion (with no massive cliffhangers).

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys snarky characters and gritty fantasy!

Shadowblack by Sebastien de Castell

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Rating: ★★★★

Review for book one: Spellslinger.  Another wonderful entry in this series. Sebastien de Castell is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.

We pick up where Kellen left off, on the run with Ferius Parfax and Reichis the squirrel cat, wandering the Seven Sands and just trying to keep his head on his shoulders. Out in the desert he meets another Argosi, The Path of Thorns and Roses, who has a girl in her care, Seneira. Seneira, not even a mage, is also suffering the Shadowblack.

The twists and turns in this book were excellent. A large part of the suspense is the mystery here, so there are fewer fight scenes than I am used to in a de Castell book, but the ones that are there are golden. You get this feeling when you read them, the author just has so much fun writing his stories, you can’t help but smile when reading his books.

I loved the western feel of this. It’s more pronounced in Shadowblack than in Spellslinger. They meet more wanderers on the road, trade what little the have for what little they can get. The battles are sort of quick draw, quick action which give the feeling of a frontier showdown.

The characters continue to delight, full of flaws and quirks. We meet a few new ones, that didn’t particularly stand out as anything especially great, but there are enough eyeball eating, thieving threats from Reichis to keep you entertained.

I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Spellslinger, and I can’t wait for Charmcaster.