Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme with a bookish (what else?) inclination: each week the prompt encourages us to look through our books to find those who fulfill its specifications – or to give our results an unexpected spin. Previously created by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where you will also find the list of future topics.
This week’s prompt is: LOVE FREEBIE
Well, it stands to reason that being so near Valentine’s Day the subject of this week’s meme would be about love, so I’m going to list the ten book series that hold a special place in my heart: it was not an easy choice because once I made that list the number went way past ten and I was forced to determine what would stay and what would have to go. So, after a heart-wrenching inner debate I assigned numbers to each of them and let chance pick the ten winners: here they are, in the same order in which they came out.
THE EXPANSE, by James S.A. Corey
I’m glad this one made it because to me it is THE space opera series, one that combines adventure and though-provoking issues, excellent characterization and suspenseful drama, not to mention a cast of characters I’ve come to care about quite deeply. In recent times it also reached the small screen thanks to a TV series now in its fourth season – and I hope that it will go on to cover all the books of this wonderful saga.
THE ILLUMINAE FILES, bu Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
Space opera again, and with YA protagonists at its center: I don’t make a mystery of my wariness about YA themes and characters, given that so many of them seem to come from the same cookie-cutter mold, but in this case there is a huge difference – the young people portrayed in this series are drawn with such skill and depth that even my inner curmudgeon has no qualms about them. Strong, resourceful and gifted with great courage, the teenagers here manage to give YA a very good name.
GENERATION V, by M.L. Brennan
The vampire theme is one that always fascinated me, but with this series I found a very different take on this myth, mostly thanks to its main character, Fortitude Scott, who is very reluctant in giving in to his blood-sucking instinct and tries to live like a normal human. Better still, Fort is lucky enough to find a helpful partner in Suzume Hollis, a Kitsune shapeshifter who literally stole my heart while making me laugh with her antics.
THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, by Daniel Abraham
This is “classical” fantasy, but set in a world where many different races coexist – more or less peaceably – and where the destinies of the people are not ruled only by war and conquest (the dagger) but also, and sometimes more actively, by the power of a banking consortium (the coin) able to influence politics and destinies. The final book still waits for me to read it, but I’m certain I will soon see how the story wraps up.
POWDER MAGE/GODS OF BLOOD AND POWDER, by Brian McClellan
Here I cheated a bit, bundling two series into one, but since they are closely linked in narrative and times I can easily consider them a six-books series rather than two connected trilogies. This fantasy world is ruled by magic – the more “canonic” kind exerted by Privileged, and that wielded by Powder Mages, whose affinity with gunpowder gifts them with extraordinary abilities. The story starts with a revolution and moves on from here, showcasing fascinating characters and a breath-taking narrative I hope might be continued in future books.
BLACKTHORN AND GRIM, by Juliet Marillier
This was a case of instant love from the very first chapters of book 1: the characters of Blackthorn – a woman unjustly imprisoned and burning with the desire to avenge her murdered family – and Grim – a taciturn man with a dark, mysterious past – are linked in a complex, amazing story that is at times heartbreaking and uplifting, moving through a fascinating world that left its mark on me. And made me a huge fan of this author…
THE MURDERBOT DIARIES, by Martha Wells
Do you believe it would be possible to feel a deep connection to an emotionless cyborg tasked with security, whose free time is spent watching the equivalent of TV serials? If your answer is ‘no’, think again, because Murderbot will steal your soul and fire your imagination, its denials about feelings and its outspoken dislike for humanity nothing more than a cover for an evolving personality that has no equal in the genre. And I can’t wait for the first (hopefully of many) full book that will soon follow this series of novellas.
SWORDS AND FIRE, by Melissa Caruso
Sometimes, accidental discoveries turn out to be the best ones: when I had the luck of encountering this fantasy series, set in a realm that reminds me of 18th Century Venice, I was thrilled to find a world in which magic is wielded in a different way and to meet complex characters who undergo a series of changes that are both interesting and believable, while the story moves at a fast pace through many riveting events. The kind of series one is sorry to see wrapped up.
THE WOUNDED KINGDOM, by R.J. Barker
Another chance discovery, and another of those stories that took hold of my imagination from the very start: a world ravaged by the misuse of magic, a world where the mere suspicion of being able to wield it means a death sentence – and a main character in training to be an assassin, who discovers that magic lies within his grasp. Girton Clubfoot and his teacher Merela are among the best fictional creatures I have ever encountered and following their exploits was one of the most breath-taking adventures I can recall.
DONOVAN, by W. Michael Gear
Exploring new worlds, finding an Earth-like one and establishing a colony there: what could be more fascinating and adventurous? There is a little problem though: this beautiful, promising world is set on killing you – some plants can move and will try to choke you at the first opportunity; there are savage animals who find you very tasty; and the soil and water contain trace mineral that can poison you. I always loved colonization stories, but the Donovan series is much more than this: there is an adventure element, granted, but the characters and their interactions are even better – and the saga is still ongoing, to my unending joy.