My Book Bucket List

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

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

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

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

Little House in the Big Woods Book Cover

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

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

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

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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

War and Peace

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

Ain't Nobody Got Time For That

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

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

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

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

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

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

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

A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare

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

House of Danger Choose Your Own Adventure

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

 

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

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!

 

2019 Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

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

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

Pages read: 16,149

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

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

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

12 featuring LGBT+ characters

9 authors of color

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

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

Best book I’ve read so far:

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

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

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

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

Best sequel I’ve read so far:

Luna Moon Rising Ian McDonald

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

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

Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

The Haunting of Tram Car 015 by P. Djeli Clark

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

All of them?  Does that count?

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

Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marhsall

The Institute by Stephen King

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht

Biggest disappointment:

TheStand_SK

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

Biggest surprise:

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

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

Favorite new author (debut or new to me):

An Illusion of Thieves by Cate Glass

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

Newest fictional crush:

I don’t have one so far this year!

Newest favorite character:

The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky

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

Book that (almost) made me cry:

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

Book that made me happy laugh:

Walking to Aldebaran by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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

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

Favorite book to film adaptation I saw this year:

The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell

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

Favorite review I’ve written this year:

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

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

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

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

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

Inland by Tea Obreht

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

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

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

Micro by Michael Crichton

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski

The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell

The Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy

War of the Wolf by Bernard Cornwell

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

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: Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Rating:  ★★★

Lord of the Flies is an example of what might happen when boys are isolated without adult supervision for an extended period of time.  I read the deluxe edition in which Stephen King wrote a wonderful intro.  The book’s influence on King, one of my favorite authors, was obvious right from the beginning.  Their styles and the element of supernatural happenings all felt incredibly familiar (in a good way).

I can also see how this book inspired the many other fantasy dystopians that came later.  It felt like a prototype for The Hunger Games and Red Rising.  What happens when we are reduced to our basest selves?  Who do we become?  What is necessary for group survival?  Would you change yourself to become a part of that group and what does it say about you?

There is a lot of ominous foreshadowing, and the symbolism goes on for days, but in the end, I just wasn’t all that entertained or even shocked by it.  It gets off to a very slow start, with nothing really terrible happening until halfway through.  And then when things start happening, they really aren’t all that shocking.

I’m sure it was shocking in 1954.  But that’s where the book dates itself.  If you’ve read anything by Stephen King.. there’s really not much to see here.  I don’t want to say it’s not graphic, because it is, but Golding also manages to dance wonderfully around specific actions.  There’s no doubt in your mind about what’s happening, but the how of it is vague.  For example the scene with the mother pig… I had to read in one of the essays at the back what Golding was trying to tell me.  I knew what was happening- the boys were killing her with their spears- but not where the spears were going.

I just think scenes like that are more powerful when they’re direct.  Make me cringe, make me look away, force me to put the book down for a few minutes because I need a break.  Instead, I kind of shrugged, said “poor momma piggie” and moved on with my day.  The essay at that back?  Yeah, that made me cringe.

Anyway- I’m glad I read it, and I didn’t find it to be a difficult read at all (which I always worry about with classics).  But if Lord of the Flies is not something that interests you for its literary importance, it’s pretty safe to skip.  It’s been done better in more recent years.  If you do decide to pick it up- I highly recommend the deluxe edition.  I got a lot more out of it with the intros and extra texts.

Lord of the Flies can be found on GoodReads and Amazon.

Book Review: The Stand by Stephen King

TheStand_SK

Rating:  ★★1/2

“In America even scummy douchebags like you should be able to catch a cold.”

M-O-O-N, that spells unpopular opinion. I do have oh so many of those. Laws, yes.

I don’t want to write this review. Really I don’t. I don’t want to say that this is far and away my least favorite King book ever. I don’t want to tell you that the Satan versus God war was total bullshit, or that King does much better when he writes general Good Vs. Evil stories.

I don’t want to tell you that Randall Flagg is totally lame. That Brady Hartsfield would bend Flagg over his knee and give him a fucking spanking and send him off to his room without supper.

“To be polite, she sipped a little more of the dreadful Kool-Aid.”

But I have to say these things you see, because The Stand is 1,400 pages of boredom. I did not drink the dreadful Kool-Aid.

I have been thinking long and hard about this. Pretty much ever since the book started. (That was on April 15. Laws, yes, almost two weeks ago.) And I can’t precisely articulate what exactly it is that I find so boring about it.

“That was the whole world, after all, nothing but thoughts and plots.”

Maybe because so much time was spent on the opening, on the beginning of the flu. Was the flu horrifying? Yeah, in a “Oh God what if this happened for real?” sort of way… Could King have done more with it? Why, Laws yes, I think he could have. I would have liked to see the panic overtake the cities, the mass exodus, the cars crashing, the people stomping each other into the dirt and turning ugly in a fight for survival, the panic power of a single sneeze in a crowded room.

King, your Constant Reader knows you are capable of this. Instead I was given passing references to the military blocking off roads and shooting people down, a code name for a super secret evil government plan that didn’t seem like it ever manifested. It was all hinted at. I don’t like you when you’re subtle Steve. I much prefer when you take all the ugly people are capable of and slap me across the face with it. That’s just the kind of girl I am. Maybe I’ve got a little R.F. on my shoulder.

“But no one knows how long five minutes is in the dark; it might be fair to say that, in the dark, five minutes does not exist.”

But that’s not all. I was more than a little annoyed at the hints of brilliance, being reminded of what was to come. I saw the beginnings of Cujo in there, The Kid trapped in a hot car surrounded by evil wolves. I might have glimpsed pieces of Dreamcatcher. The beginnings of Under the Dome, little ideas sprinkled all around.  All these quotes I’ve included?  I highlighted 30 others, and will cherish them all.  But a 1,400 page book has to be more than a string of good quotes.  Maybe it’s a matter of not aging well, I don’t know. Might I have liked this if I had read it 30 years ago, when it was first released? Yeah, maybe. As it stands, I was disappointed, and maybe that isn’t fair, but it is what it is.

All my favorite things about King’s work are there. The characters being real people, average Joes and Janes. The underdogs. The minute details, the Baby, Can You Dig Your Man’s? The pure nostalgia of his work. And somehow they didn’t come together in a way that made me love any of it. Did I love Glen? Sure. Nick? Sure. Tom Cullen? Yes. Kojak? You can bet on it. But Larry, Stu, Ralph, Joe, Lucy, Abagail? I really didn’t care. They were, to quote the book, No Great Loss.

“The flu didn’t just leave survivor types, why the hell should it?”

I think my problem, in the end, was the distance between the good and the evil here. There’s something wildly impersonal about this story. Randall Flagg wants to be evil just for the sake of being evil. Brady Hartsfield is the same, but he’s not afraid to do his own dirty work. In fact, he wouldn’t have it any other way. Mind-fucking people into being bad for you just doesn’t carry the same weight as Brady throttling a car into a crowd of people in need, just because he can. Just because he wants the world to suffer with him.

There were some high points. That chapter that glimpses the second wave? The non-survivor types the world left behind? Absolute gold. As far as I’m concerned, it was the best chapter in the book. That, was what I wanted more of. If we’re going to use third person omnipotent, we should be using it for exactly this. The Kid? From what I understand, he wasn’t in the original, which baffles me, because he too, was one of the highlights. Like a Junior Rennie with his brain fully intact.

“That was an act of pure human fuckery.”

There were consistency/continuity errors. The ending was hugely unsatisfying. Many character ARCs are never given legitimate conclusions.  I now understand why people thought King couldn’t write women.  At one point Stu offers to get Frannie a washing machine.  A washing machine, for when the electricity comes back on so she won’t have to break her back doing all the laundry.  And what does she do?  She throws her arms around him and kisses him.  Uh-uh.  Not in my house Stu Redman.  You better get yourself a goddamn washing machine or you better find a fucking time machine and travel back to 1958.

Beyond all that, it was incredibly messy for a King book.  There were the bizarre alternating timelines spliced into the middle, sudden in their appearance and just as sudden in their disappearance.

“After all, the only practical compensation for having a nightmare is waking up and realizing it was all just a dream.”

The foreshadowing and the supernatural didn’t jive with the ending we were given. Minor spoiler: at first it seems like the people who are immune to the flu are the ones who dream, and people who aren’t regular dreamers, die.  Kojak, one of the world’s only surviving dogs, is a dreamer.  Later, it’s explained that children who are the product of two immune parents are also immune.  Well which of these is the determining survivor factor, genetics or dreams?  I’ll accept either answer but I won’t accept both.  Either the dreams make them safe or they don’t.  If it’s not the dreams, those shouldn’t have been happening until after the plague had done its work.  If it’s genetics, then in theory wouldn’t any survivors also have to have surviving family members?  The whole premise fell apart because the book couldn’t decide if it wanted to be fantasy or science fiction.

I just can’t express it any clearer than to say I was disappointed. When society caves in on itself, and King writes books about it, I expect the worst of his characters. I expect there to be Johnny-do-good types with questionable pasts. I expect there to be charming, cunning, wolves in sheep’s clothing, who mostly win, until they don’t. Instead I got a world full of mostly decent people who do bad things with one oddly levitating demon pulling their strings.

“‘The Lord is my shepherd,” he recited softly. “I shall not want for nothing. He makes me lie down in the green pastures. He greases up my head with oil. He gives me kung-fu in the face of my enemies. Amen.'”

God bless Tom Cullen, Laws yes.  That’s all I have to say about that.

In case you don’t trust me (why the hell should you? wtf do I know?) The Stand can be found on GoodReads here, and Amazon here.

Top Ten Tuesday: My First Ten Reviews

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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 was an interesting trip down memory lane for me.  Apparently 2016 was the year of the kindle freebie and bad romance.  On the upside- I realized my reviews have come pretty far!  I’ve gotten better at discussing elements I liked or didn’t like without necessarily talking about plot (although I still do that sometimes).  I’m significantly more aware of spoilers and content warnings and try to leave information that is actually helpful to others whether it’s positive or negative.

Most of these books are not relevant to my blog, so instead of talking about them I’m linking to their GoodReads page and reviewing them in stars and gifs.

The Warrior’s Wife by Denise Domning – Feb 27, 2015 – 3 stars

November 9 by Colleen Hoover – January 1, 2016 – 4 stars

Fifty Shades of Gray by E.L. James – May 1, 2016 – 1 star

The King’s Curse by Phillippa Gregory – May 7, 2016 – 3 stars

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – May 15, 2016 – 5 stars

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – May 16, 2016 – 3 stars

Burns So Bad by Anne Marsh – May 26, 2016 – 2 stars

Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs – June 6, 2016 – 4 stars

Ash by Jason Brant – June 7, 2016 – 4 stars

Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King – June 9, 2016 – 4 stars

What about you?  Which ten books did you review first?  Leave a link in the comments below!

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?

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Rainy Day Reads

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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’m just going to be honest and say that I have no idea what a rainy day read is.  Like- on a rainy day do you, for some reason, read something different than you would read on any other day?  Like- “Oh, I’m really enjoying this lovely space opera, but it’s raining out so let me pick up Pride & Prejudice instead.”

Okay, moving on.  If I had to guess I’d go with something comforting- easy to digest, familiar.  And comforting to me basically means lots of Stephen King.

Cujo by Stephen King

Cujo by Stephen King – Since we’re being honest, I am absolutely never going to read this book again.  I’ll never see the film.  It completely ruined the movie Beethoven for me.  It’s one of King’s more tragic works.  But some of the images in this book, and the story itself, have stuck with me for so long, as good books should.  Read at your own risk.

The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Dead Zone by Stephen King – This is what King would look like if he wrote for PG-13 crowds.  It gives off more of an eerie/creepy vibe than a horror vibe.  It’s an entertaining book, and I’m happy to say that I loved the show too.

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Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King – Another one that I think falls on the PG-13 side of things for King.  More eerie than scary.  Honestly I think this is one of his better works and I don’t think it gets enough attention.  Maybe because the gore level was so turned down?

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Mr. Mercedes (and the whole Bill Hodges trilogy) by Stephen King – True story: the day I finished this book I walked out of my house and saw that exact same smiley face that appears on this book jacket, painted on my neighbor’s address sign.  I had never seen it there before, and at the time my neighbors really sucked.  It seemed like a sign I should move.  Lucky for my lazy ass, they moved first.

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

Skeleton Crew by Stephen King – Confession time: I don’t think I ever actually finished this book.  It contains a story you may or may not know called “Survivor Type”.  It’s legitimately horrifying.  Stephen King has said: “As far as short stories are concerned, I like the grisly ones the best. However the story “Survivor Type” goes a little bit too far, even for me.”  He’s not lying.  I’m pretty sure I read that one, put the book down for good, and let it haunt me for years.  It still haunts me, actually.  At least sixteen years after the fact.

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill – Like father like son, as the saying goes.  NOS4A2 captures all of the things I love about King’s work, the nostalgia, the simplicity, the theme of good vs. evil.  If I had to compare it to something I’d compare it to IT, but I enjoyed this a lot more, because I actually read all of this the first time I tried it, while my record with IT stands at about 50% still unread.  Also- I’m pretty thrilled for the AMC series, which filmed right here in Rhode Island, and airs on June 2, 2019.

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Strange Weather by Joe Hill – One of the things that stuck out to me about this story collection, was how very modern and relevant it all felt. Reading this was what really helped me distinguish Hill from his dear old dad.  His story, “Loaded,” was brilliant and something I think everyone should read.

Locke & Key (starts with Welcome to Lovecraft) by Joe Hill – I know a lot of people either love graphic novels or hate them.  I’m somewhere in between?  I won’t turn my nose up at them but I’m pretty picky about what I’ll read.  Locke & Key snuck under my guard because it was Joe Hill, and I’m so glad it did.  These are probably some of the most literary graphic novels out there. I was absolutely attached to these characters, and there were a few times in this series where I sobbed like a baby.

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The Green Mile by Stephen King – So this is the book that originally sparked my love for King, and it’s largely because of the movie.  The movie is one of the few that manages to do a King book justice, somehow.  I have a harder time both reading the book and watching the movie now that I’m older, because they both reduce me to a blubbering mess (it’s the damn mouse, I’m telling you).  When people ask me where to start with King (or even if they don’t) I usually recommend that they read one of his classics and one newer book, and this is the ‘newer’ book I recommend.  It’s less gory than his other works and more relatable.  (You know, for all us immortals with circus mouse friends).

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Under the Dome by Stephen King – What I’m about to say is blasphemy to many, but Under the Dome is not only my favorite King book, it’s my favorite book ever.  I’ve read it three times, usually in the span of two days because I can’t put it down.  I’ve purchased it twice and need to purchase it again (because the others, unfortunately, met their ends as a result of being loved too hard).

I know a lot of you are probably wondering where all the classic King novels are, and the truth is, I probably haven’t read them.  It isn’t for lack of trying.  I’ve attempted IT like, eight times in two or three different formats.  I’ve attempted The Shining three or four times.  I’ve never attempted Carrie, it just doesn’t appeal to me. I blame it on what others call “the slow burn”.  The slow burn is not my thing (I’m looking at you, Gunslinger).  I’ll conquer them someday (I’m reading The Stand now!) but I haven’t yet.

What about you?  What are your favorite rainy day reads?  Leave me a link below because clearly, I need to diversify.

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on my Spring 2019 TBR

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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 pretty straight forward.  I’m pulling most of these from a list of buddy reads I’ve already agreed to join.  I swore this year I wasn’t going to do this to myself… but my March reading is already behind and April is pretty much booked solid.  You see the trouble is I commit to buddy reads and then I find all this other great stuff to read along the way.  So while three or four buddy reads is totally reasonable in a month- I’ll probably end up reading twice that and cramming eight or nine reads into a month.  #INeedToPlanBetter.

Luna Moon Rising Ian McDonald

Moon Rising, Luna #3 by Ian McDonald – I am SO EXCITED for this book.  It releases today!!  Plus I learned that CBS has picked up the TV rights on it.  I’m not sure they can do it justice (probably not like HBO could anyway) but I’ll give it a try if it ever manifests.  I’m so in love with this world and all it’s drama.

Beowulf Seamus Heaney

Beowulf, Seamus Heaney translation – So this is super embarrassing to admit, lover of vikings that I am, but I’ve never read this.  And I need more classics on my roster this year because last year I read none.

The Mere Wife Maria Dahvana Headley

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – If you aren’t familiar with this one, it’s a modern, suburban house wife, retelling of Beowulf.  To me there’s something contemporarily vicious about modern housewives and keeping up with the Joneses, so as odd as it sounds I think the setting will fit a Beowulf retelling perfectly.

Servant of the Underworld Aliette de Bodard

Servant of the Underworld by Aliette de Bodard – I actually have no idea who Aliette de Bodard is, I just know her name keeps coming up everywhere.  Tenochtitlan, Aztecs, high priests and priestesses… No idea what it’s about, but I’m sold.

Time Was Ian McDonald

Time Was by Ian McDonald – I’m pretty convinced at this point that Ian McDonald is one of the more underrated science fiction authors out there right now.  Again- no idea what this one is about, but for some authors, it really doesn’t matter.  I’m hoping for a sweeping science fictional LGBT+ love story.  And that cover is gorgeous.

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Alien Virus Love Disaster by Abbey Mei Otis – This book, along with Time Was (above) is nominated for the Phillip K. Dick award.  I fell in love with this book based on the title alone (you know, because 400 years in the future, I am totally a walking Alien Virus Love Disaster).  It’s a collection of short stories and looks like it will be pretty quick.

Wicked Saints Emily Duncan

Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan – Somehow I was lucky enough to be approved for an ARC on this one (St. Martin’s Press has always been kind to me).  To be honest, early reviews have me a little nervous, but with a title like: Wicked Saints and a series called: Something Dark and Holy… what’s not to love?! (Please be good.)

City of Stairs Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – The number of books this man has on my TBR list is seriously out of control.  Everything he puts out I feel like I need to read and I’ve yet to actually read any of them.  Worse still- the omnibus for The Divine Cities was on sale for $2.99 a couple months back (a steal) so I own all three and still haven’t read them.  Spring 2019, it is time.

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The Stand by Stephen King – I have to work really hard not to read Stephen King all the time.  Even on his worst days, he still offers me more than a lot of what I feel like I’ve been reading lately.  And I still have SO MANY of his books on my TBR.  Lately I’ve been wanting to read the stand, because I feel like it will be epic on the scale of Under the Dome.  (At least that’s what I’m hoping for.  Please don’t let me down.)

Witchmark C.L. Polk

Witchmark by C.L. Polk – I realize this is a bizarre follow up to The Stand, but reading The Wolf in the Whale last month, I was reminded that romance really is a favorite genre of mine, when it’s done well.  So I suppose it’s not a coincidence that both Time Was and Witchmark landed on my Spring TBR.  It’s nominated for the Lambda award and seems to have great reviews so I’m very excited for it.

That’s it!  I probably will end up reading ten totally different things, but I’m hopeful I’ll at least make it through the six buddy reads I have planned.  What about you?  What’s on your Spring TBR?