Reviews

THE GOOD INTENTIONS TAG

Bookish tags are one of my guilty pleasures, and I’ve always found it impossible to resist their lure: in this particular case, instead of finding an intriguing challenge while browsing, I’ve been directly tagged by fellow blogger Lynn: how could I resist such an invitation? 😉

So here it goes – let’s start with the questions!

Exercise more : This is a book that is a real chunkster, in fact you will need help to even pick this book up:

BOOKBURNERS – Volume 1 (Various Authors)

From the first time I’ve seen the synopsis for this collection of stories from various authors I’ve been curious to read it: a series of novels about a Vatican-backed black-ops anti-magic squad, defined as a cross between Supernatural and The Da Vinci Code, does sound like a good premise, doesn’t it?  What kept me from starting it, so far, has been the page count which amounts to 700, give or take a few, and that always made me think twice before committing. But maybe 2022 will be the year I finally take the plunge…

Lose weight : A book that is not a chunkster; a short story or novella.  A book you could probably read in one sitting:

PENRIC AND THE SHAMAN (Penric and Desdemona #2), by Lois McMaster Bujold

I’ve read only the first novella in this series by one of my favorite authors (probably I mentioned her Vorkosigan Saga once of twice in recent times… 😀 ), but never moved beyond that: it’s high time I do something about it, before Miles sends some ImpSec operatives after me!

Eat healthy : A book that is good for you.  This is a book that made you feel so happy that you wanted to give it a big hug:

THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET (Wayfarers #1), by Becky Chambers

It’s no mystery that I prefer stories where conflicts spice up the plot, but now and then we all need a breath of fresh air, a ray of hope – particularly when troubled times are upon us – and the first Wayfarers novel from Becky Chambers provided exactly that, a sense of family and deep caring for each other that made the crew of the titular ship and their interactions a real joy to behold.

Fulfill your ambitions : A book that has a lot going on.  Plenty of different threads, points of views and action but everything eventually comes together in a very satisfactory fashion:

THE ILLUMINAE FILES trilogy, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

ILLUMINAE, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

This space opera series combines a great number of intriguing elements: nasty corporations that don’t flinch at genocide to further their goals; a ship filled with refugees on the run for their lives; a very advanced A.I. whose decisions can have horrible consequences and whose personality is a mix of high intelligence and childish naiveté; and a group of young protagonists whose courage and inventiveness made me change my attitude toward YA characters. And much, much more – all combined into an electrifying story…

Spend more time with the family : A series of books that you love and that has developed more than you ever anticipated:

THE EXPANSE, by James S.A. Corey

I stumbled on the first volume of this series, Leviathan Wakes, by accident and now, some 10 years later, this amazing space opera saga reached its end with book 9: this is one of the cases in which I’ve waited with increasing expectations the publishing of each new book, while the crew of the Rocinante transformed from “mere” characters into people I perceived as real and three-dimensional. And now that the TV show inspired by the series has also reached its final season, I know I will miss this story and and its protagonists, but I also know it’s been a fantastic journey.

Tick off an item from your bucket list : Reduce the tbr.  Choose a book from Mount TBR that you would like to read this year:

Not one, but rather two:

RUIN and WRATH, books #3 and #4 in John Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen

I discovered John Gwynne’s works through the first volume of his second saga Of Blood and Bone, and after enjoying it immensely I decided to backtrack to his previous series, The Faithful and the Fallen, but there has been a long hiatus between the second book and the next one in line – my fault, I am far too easily distracted! – and I need to complete the task because there is a new series out and it deserves my undivided attention.

Save money : A book that was an absolute bargain – you would have to be crazy in fact not to have bought this book:

To be truthful, I cannot think of any book to mention since to me books don’t represent an expense, but rather an investment – and one whose value often increases with time…

Get Organised : A book with a glossary, maps, useful words, lists of people – this book is one helpful book, it wants you to know ALL the things and it’s not afraid to use footnotes and other devices to help you do so:

The best example would (of course!) be Tolkien’s THE LORD of THE RINGS – one book to rule them all…

Enough said 😉

Start a new hobby : A book that is outside your comfort zone.  Perhaps everyone was raving about this book, maybe it was over-hyped, you hesitated to pick it up in fact, but when you did – you loved it:

BECOMING SUPERMAN, by J.M. Strackzynski

As I wrote in my review, I rarely read biographies, but I was intrigued by this one because of my admiration for the writing skills of the author, the creator of the SF series Babylon 5 (for me, the best EVER) and wanted to know more about him: what I discovered was the tale of a terrible childhood and the way in which stories and imagination kept JMS sane throughout it all, turning him into one of the best creative minds I ever encountered.

What are your good intentions for 2022? Don’t be shy, let us know! 😉

Reviews

2021 Best Reads

The new year just started, but that’s no reason to forget what I read last year and see how well my bookish choices fared: in my case, 2021 was indeed a very good year (to quote an old Sinatra song only an ancient crone like me remembers… 😀 ), with a preponderance of high ratings for the books I picked up. 

Focusing on the best of the best – i.e. the 5-star ratings – I divided them between SF, Fantasy and New Discoveries, where I listed authors I read for the very first time and whose books I greatly enjoyed, prompting me to look for their other works in the future.

SCIENCE FICTION

FANTASY

BEST NEW DISCOVERIES

An amazing list, indeed… And that only for titles that earned a 5-star rating, because there are equally worthy ones in my 4- and 4,5-star reads, but in that case the list would have been far too long.

What about you? What were your best and most engaging reads last year?

Reviews

THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING BOOK TAG

When I see an interesting bookish tag I can’t resist, and this particular one – which I borrowed from fellow blogger Susy – had the additional attraction of featuring LOTR characters as inspiration for the tag’s questions. And as a big Tolkien admirer I certainly could not let this “challenge” go unanswered! 🙂

So here we go…

GANDALF – A BOOK THAT TAUGHT YOU SOMETHING

 

It taught me not to give up too easily on a series which looks interesting but does not grab my entire attention with the first book: sometimes it’s just a matter of “right book, wrong time”, and perseverance often pays off handsomely. I did not move forward immediately with this saga and my interest in it was only rekindled through the author’s sequel trilogy, which led me to retrace my steps and acknowledge that the Powder Mage series is indeed an amazing read.

FRODO – A BOOK THAT LEFT A MARK ON YOU

When I discovered Martin’s ASOIAF saga, in 2002, I had not been reading fantasy for a very, very long time: after reading and enjoying Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings I looked for similar stories and had the misfortune of settling on Terry Brook’s first Shannara book, which proved quite disappointing, to be diplomatic about it, so I decided to stay off the genre. That is, until I kept finding mentions of Martin’s series on the Usenet groups I frequented and decided to give it a spin: this story was so different, so deeply involving, that my faith in fantasy was completely restored.

LEGOLAS – A BOOK YOU FINISHED IN ONE SITTING

A story about nuns in space was intriguing enough, but once I started this very unusual novella where the “convent” is nothing less than a living ship – one of my favorite themes in SF – I could not put it down until I reached the end, knowing that I would have loved to read much more about these courageous nuns and their mission.

GIMLI – A BOOK THAT FEATURES AN UNLIKELY FRIENDSHIP

The friendship portrayed in this novel from the Vorkosigan saga is more than unlikely: Miles Vorkosigan discovers that his father’s enemies have created a clone of him for some dastardly plot and that the clone – who ends up getting the name of Mark – hates him because the poor guy was subjected to painful modifications to turn him into the exact copy of Miles. And yet Miles being Miles – and the product of his mother Cordelia’s teachings – feels compelled to extend the hand of friendship to Mark and show him that there is a family ready to accept him. It’s a long, hard road, but a very emotionally satisfying one.

MERRY – A BOOK THAT PLEASANTLY SURPRISED YOU

Who would expect that the story of a siege would turn into an amusing, tongue-in-cheek chronicle told by a somewhat unreliable character who manages to fend off attack upon attack through sheer inventiveness? Well, that’s exactly the surprise that awaited me when I opened this… impulse choice that turned out to be a fantastic read.

PIPPIN – A BOOK THAT MADE YOU LAUGH

Any book by John Scalzi is bound to contain a measure of his trademark humor, but this collection of short stories offers a distillation of his quirky way of making you laugh through the most unexpected narrative choices, like – for example – a mock interview with ex-planet Pluto, quite peeved at being demoted from planetary status.

BOROMIR – A BOOK/SERIES THAT YOU THINK ENDED TOO SOON

This series about the reluctant vampire Fortitude Scott and his sidekick, the kitsune Suzume Hollis, did not move beyond the fourth book for the “simple” reason that the author did not seem able to find a publisher interested in the books, even though there were a few more already planned. Which made me wonder if publishers looks at online reviews by readers before making such scatter-brained decisions… 😦

SAM – A BOOK WITH MEMORABLE SIDE CHARACTERS WHO STOLE THE SHOW

Where thief Kinch is the undisputed protagonist of this first foray into fantasy by horror author Christopher Buehlman, I found that his traveling companion Galva, a skilled warrior on a mission of rescue, was not given enough room to expand as she deserved, and I hope that this situation might change in the next book(s) because she’s too intriguing a character and should be explored in greater depth. 

ARAGORN – A GOOD BOOK WITH A BAD/AVERAGE COVER

The cover for this breathless thriller does not give any indication about its story, and I’m painfully aware I might have missed it completely if not for the review of fellow blogger Mogsy who – as it often happens in our bookish community – pointed me toward a very engaging read, the first book in a quite promising series.

GOLLUM – A BOOK THAT HAD GREAT POTENTIAL BUT DISAPPOINTED YOU IN THE END

Having enjoyed my previous encounters with McCammon’s works – particularly with Swan Song – I had great hopes for this story of an alien invasion and of the humans’ struggles to survive and, if possible, fight back, but for a number of reasons the narrative and characterization felt flat and uninspiring, with some sadly cringe-worthy dialogues. A huge disappointment indeed… 

Reviews

INTERGALACTIC BOOK TAG

Time for another of my beloved tags, taken from THIS very useful list: this one probably intended to use the space inspiration only as an inspirational guideline, but since SciFi Month is quickly approaching and I want to remind everyone that it’s one of the most intriguing events in the blogosphere, I will focus my answers on SF books only. Take it as an “appetizer” for the great SF “meal” that will start on November 1st.

SPACE: NAME A BOOK THAT IS OUT OF THIS WORLD – THAT TAKES PLACE IN A WORLD DIFFERENT FROM OUR OWN.

That’s an easy one for a dedicated SF reader, since a great number of stories takes place away from Earth, but if I had to choose one particular extra-terrestrial world I would pick Donovan, one of the most dangerous, scary and awe-inspiring places I ever read about.

BLACK HOLE: NAME A BOOK THAT COMPLETELY SUCKED YOU IN.

Again, there is a long list of books that fulfill this requirement, and among them there is certainly the Red Rising trilogy, one of the most gripping, hair-raising stories I remember reading.

LIGHTSPEED: NAME A BOOK YOU ARE ANTICIPATING SO MUCH THAT YOU WISH YOU COULD TRAVEL AT LIGHTSPEED TO GET TO IT.

No need to think it over on this one: the final installment in The Expanse, my favorite space opera series. Leviathan Falls will come out next month, but it seems far too long a wait all the same…

NEBULA: NAME A BOOK WITH A BEAUTIFUL COVER.

Too many of these to be able to pick only one, but I have to say that among those that stand out there is The Doors of Eden, a multi-layered adventure from the very prolific mind of Adrian Tchaikovski.

GRAVITY: NAME YOUR FAVORITE ROMANTIC PAIRING THAT SEEMS TO HAVE GRAVITATIONAL PULL TO EACH OTHER.

*OUCH* this is a difficult one, since I’m somewhat allergic to romance in my reading, but if I have to mention a couple I enjoy reading about it could be Cordelia and Aral Vorkosigan, created by Lois McMaster’s Bujold: their story is devoid of the usual trappings of romantic involvement and for that reason it feels real and believable. And to top it all, they are the parents of the incomparable Miles!

THE BIG BANG: NAME THE BOOK THAT GOT YOU STARTED ON READING.

Oh my! That’s an impossible question: from what I’ve been told, I’ve always had my nose in a book as soon as I learned reading, so I have no idea where I started. But it must have been a good one, since I never stopped 😀

ASTEROID: NAME A SHORT STORY OR NOVELLA THAT YOU LOVE.

Any one from the Murderbot Diaries. To know Murderbot is to fall in love with this series-loving, grumpy sec-unit learning what it means to be a person.

GALAXY: NAME A BOOK WITH MULTIPLE POVS.

One of the best series I recently read dividing its focus on various characters (one of them a delightful sentient spaceship) is Gareth Powell’s Embers of War: if you have not read it yet, I can highly recommend it 🙂

SPACESHIP: NAME A BOOK TITLE THAT WOULD BE A GREAT NAME FOR A SPACESHIP.

Megan O’Keefe’s The First Omega: it sounds both intriguing and ominous and it somehow reminds me of the spaceship names found in Iain Banks’ Culture novels…

And now it’s your turn: sounds like a good way to summon the right mood for SciFi Month, doesn’t it? 😉

Reviews

THE SERIAL READER TAG

A good tag is always a powerful lure I’m unable to resist, and once I saw this one on fellow blogger Imyril’s site, I knew I had to post my own list as soon as possible. Series, as I said in my comment to Imyril, are our blessing and curse: blessing because they offer continuing stories we love to get lost into, particularly when we form strong attachments to characters; and curse because there are far too many of them around!  Seriously, who can successfully manage all the intriguing series that keep being published? Still, we keep trying to do our best so… keep them coming, dear authors! 😀

From which series are you reading or did you read the spin-off series?

The first one that come to mind are Rooks and Ruin (on the heels of the very successful Swords and Fire) by Melissa Caruso: I enjoyed book 1, The Obsidian Tower, very much, and look forward to learning more about the very intriguing main character.  Then there is Six of Crows (a spinoff of Shadow and Bone) by Leigh Bardugo: I recently read it after watching the first season of the main trilogy on Netflix, and I have to say that both story and characters of this spinoff are far more interesting than the ones of the main work.  And then there is  Gods of Blood and Powder (the continuation of the Powder Mage trilogy) by Brian McClellan: the first book in this series convinced me to go back to the original trilogy, which I had not continued after book 1, and to enjoy both – and I hope the author will choose to write more stories set in this world…

With which series did the first book not sell you from the start?

Promise of Blood (book 1 of Powder Mage), by Brian McClennan: as I said above, the first book in this trilogy, although I did like it, did not compel me to keep on reading, but once I started the new series, set a few years after the previous one, I felt the need to… feel the blanks, and discovered that my lukewarm reaction to Promise of Blood must have been a matter of passing mood, because once I returned to it I was completely sold, and very happy to have returned to a compelling narrative.  Giving books a second chance is always a good reading policy 😉

Which series hooked you from the start?

A Time of Dread (book 1 of Of Blood and Bone), by John Gwynne: this was my very first book by John Gwynne and it was the one that instantly turned me into a fan of the author, one who really knows how to write compelling epic fantasy and to bring you back asking for more.  That first book led me to start reading the “prequel” series The Faithful and the Fallen (I’m terribly behind, I know, but I will get there one of these days…) and to grab the new work, The Shadow of the Gods, without even looking at the synopsis.  Hook, line and sinker…

Which series do you have completed on your shelves?

The Vorkosigan series, by Lois McMaster Bujold: if you are a fan of Miles Vorkosigan, you will understand how this is one of my most prized possessions.

The Dagger and the Coin, by Daniel Abraham: recently finished (which makes me feel quite accomplished), and just in time before the arrival of a new fantasy trilogy whose first book, Age of Ash, has already been announced. Can’t wait!

Blackthorn and Grim, by Juliet Marillier: another bookish love-at-first-sight. Since then I have not managed yet to read other works by the talented Juliet Marillier, but I certainly will soon, because I love how she weaves there stories.

The Illuminae Files, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff: adrenaline-infused space opera focused on young characters who never, ever, fall into the dreaded “YA traps”. What’s not to love? 😉

Which series have you read completely?

The ones mentioned above, plus a few others like Gareth Powell’s Embers of War; Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight Chronicle; Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War, and so on…

Which series do you not own completely but would like to?

The Tide Child, by RJ Barker: the reason I don’t own it  – yet – is that it’s not complete and so far I’ve read the first two books as ARCs kindly provided by Orbit. As soon as the series is complete (and I guess it will not be long…) the books will go join my other “possessions”.

Which series do you not want to own completely but still read?

Well, if I keep reading a series it means I enjoy it, so why would I not want to own it? And call it “mine, my own, my Preciousssss…”?

Which series are you not continuing?

Sadly, it’s Seanan McGuire’s October Daye:  much as I enjoyed this UF series in the past, once I reached book 13 I fell prey to the dreaded reader fatigue, mostly because it seemed to me that the continuing story had become somewhat formulaic and had nothing new to say about the characters and their journey. Book 13 ended up as a DNF and I had to bid a bittersweet farewell to Toby & Co., although who knows? I might change my mind in the future…

Which series did others love and you did not?

The first one that comes to mind is Andrew Maine’s The Naturalist: I read the first book and did not enjoy many of its over-the-top narrative choices or the sudden changes in the main character – and here I’m quoting from my own review – who turns from a once-reclusive professor into a killer-stalking Rambo. I can suspend my disbelief quite easily, but in that case the effort was a little too much…

Which series you haven’t started yet are you curious about?

In recent times I’ve been looking with increased interest at Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon cycle: it has been recommended to me by a few fellow bloggers in the past, and now that I’ve started watching The Last Kingdom on Netflix, a series drawn from Cornwell’s works, I feel compelled to read the books. There are 13 of them, and I have to ignore the pained cries from TBR, but I really want to read them!

Which series would you like to re-read?

Re-reading is a luxury I can’t seem to afford: you all know the sad mantra of the book lover, of course, about “too many books, too little time”, so I doubt I will be able to indulge in any kind of re-read. Should I find that possible (a girl can dream, can’t she?) I would certainly start with James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, and then revisit the Dune saga by Frank Herbert, particularly the last two books that I remember as somewhat confusing…

And so, dear Serial Readers: what is your usual M.O.? 😉

Reviews

THE GAME OF THRONES BOOK TAG – #Wyrdandwonder

image by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

I found this delightful tag on this treasure trove of ideas, and immediately thought that it would be perfect for Wyrd & Wonder: listing fantasy books with a connection to the ruling families of another fantasy saga sounded like the kind of challenge I enjoy, so here we go…

HOUSE LANNISTER: “HEAR ME ROAR!”

Name a book you were certain you would love, but later realized that it wasn’t so great after all.

Besieged by Rowena Cory Daniells

There were many details in this book that I fond intriguing – the complex world divided into three races which gave rise to a layered society, the complex politics and the foreshadowing of a possible bloody conflict on the horizon – but at some point the writing became somewhat sloppy and despite my curiosity to see where the story would lead, I never felt compelled to move forward with the series.

HOUSE STARK: “WINTER IS COMING”

Name your most anticipated book release for 2021

The Wisdom of Crowds (Age of Madness #3) by Joe Abercrombie

Take the First Law world, add a layer of industrial revolution and a number of new players vying for power and concocting complex plots, and you have a winning combination: if I were not already a staunch fan of Joe Abercrombie, this series would have turned me into one, and the final book in this series cannot be published soon enough for me…

HOUSE TARGARYEN: “FIRE AND BLOOD”

Name a book that you felt completely slayed with fantastic characters, plot, pacing, etc.

The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne

It took only one book to appreciate John Gwynne’s amazing storytelling, but with this first book in his new series he managed to surpass himself – and that’s no mean feat from where I stand. A world inspired by Norse myths and peopled with strong, intriguing characters embroiled in a multi-layered quest that held my spellbound attention from start to finish. Probably one of the best books I’ve read this year, and we’re not at the midpoint of it yet!

HOUSE BARATHEON: “OURS IS THE FURY”

Name a book that ended with a cliffhanger ending that genuinely pissed you off

The Wicked King by Holly Black

Much as I enjoyed Holly Black’s series The Folk of the Air, the way she closed this second book in the saga, playing a terrible “prank” on her main character and leaving me – as well as other readers, I’m sure, stranded and unsure of what would happen next, was NOT appreciated at all. The trilogy ended in a satisfactory way, granted, but still, the sting of this cliffhanger has left its mark…

HOUSE MARTELL: “UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN”

Name a book, or book series, that’s been on your TBR since the dawn of time

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

Yes, ok, sue me: I must be one of the two or three people who still has to read anything by the highly acclaimed Brandon Sanderson. Should I hire a defense lawyer? 😉

HOUSE BOLTON: “OUR BLADES ARE SHARP”

Name the most graphic or disturbing book that you’ve ever read

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

This book was my introduction to the tragedy of the Donner Party: despite the horror of what happened to the colonists headed toward California and stranded in the Sierra Nevada during a particularly harsh winter, what I found most distressing was the way in which events drove people to forget much of their moral behavior, showing that civilization is indeed a very thin, easily removed veneer.

HOUSE TYRELL: GROWING STRONG

Name a book, or book series, that gets better and better with every re-read (or by simple recollection of its story…)

Well, Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings would be the obvious answer for me, so I chose to look elsewhere – if nothing else because I’ve mentioned this book far too often… Once upon a time I would have named GRR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, but the ever-lengthening waits between books has considerably cooled my enthusiasm for this series so, after long consideration – there is a LOT of great book/series I recall with great fondness – I’ve decided to name

Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn and Grim

a story that will always hold a special place in my heart. 

ASOIAF fans, what are the Game of Thrones books in your bookcase? 😉

Reviews

Wyrd & Wonder TAG: Authors/Books/Series on my TBR that I have to read yet – #Wyrdandwonder

image by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

Talking about the road not taken – or rather the book(s) not yet read – is never easy for us book lovers, because we are all painfully aware of the sad differential between the huge number of books out there we want to read and the limited time we have at our disposal.

Here are some of the books that have been gathering virtual dust on my TBR for some time: I was drawn to most of them thanks to the reviews of my fellow bloggers, but other titles came along that got precedence, and these “poor darlings” ended up as… well, wallflowers, never called to the next dance because some dazzling passing beauty 😀 managed to distracted me.

At least I can make some amends by listing a number of the fantasy titles that have patiently waiting to be picked up – and renewing my promise to read them as soon as I can…

GIDEON THE NINTH

by Tamsin Muir – on my TBR since November 2020

DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST

by Juliet Marillier – on my TBR since March 2019

SIX OF CROWS

by Leigh Bardugo – on my TBR since October 2017 (and now that I have seen the first season of Shadow and Bone on Netflix, and enjoyed the segments focused on the Crows, this one must take precedence!)

THE EMBER BLADE

by Chris Wooding – on my TBR since January 2020

FARLANDER

by Col Buchanan – on my TBR since November 2018

THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST

by James Islington – on my TBR since December 2019

ASSASSIN’S APPRENTICE

by Robin Hobb – on my TBR since November 2012 (I actually read this one but have totally forgotten it and will have to re-read it if I want to move forward with the series…)

TRAITOR’S BLADE

by Sebastien de Castell – on my TBR since August 2018

What about you, fellow bloggers and book lovers? What’s on your… Hall of Shame? 😉

Reviews

THE NEVER HAVE I EVER TAG

Thanks to fellow blogger Bookforager, who tagged me with this amusing list of question, here is a new bookish “challenge”, created by Madame Writer and lastly passed down the line by Bookforager: I encourage you to read her answers as well!

The rules for this tag require to link back to the original creator and to the person who tagged you, and to add one more prompt of your own devising. Also to tag five more people, but in this, as it’s my usual habit, I’d love to extend the invitation to anyone who would like to join the fun.

And now, let’s face the… dragon! 😀

Never have I ever… read a later book in a series before reading the first book.

Well, it happened with Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Warrior Apprentice, which was my introduction to her Vorkosigan Saga: thankfully enough, the author always gives some background to her stories, so I never felt truly lost in there. 

Never have I ever… burned a book.

Book burning carries such a bad vibe, not just for book lovers, but in a more general sense: in fiction it happens on stories like Fahrenheit 451 and in reality it happened in many historical instances, and in both cases it’s bad, just BAD.

Never have I ever… Read a book I knew I would hate.

Of course not! Life’s too short and there are too many books I know I would love, so why waste my time on one I would loathe?

Never have I ever… written fanfiction about my favorite books.

Not about books, no. But I have indulged, once upon a time, with a SF tv show I particularly enjoyed… 😉

Never have I ever… loved a book when I was young that I hated when I got older.

It would be next to impossible to go from passionate love for a story to outright hate: worst case scenario, I might not find the same depth of enjoyment I experienced way back when, but if a book left a mark on my heart, it stays there forever.

Never have I ever… dressed up as one of my favorite literary characters.

I’m far, far too old for that now, and when I was young enough to enjoy cosplay it was not a “thing” as it is now – and besides I was far too shy to even take it into consideration! 😀

Never have I ever… hated a book by an author I love.

If an author earned a special place in my reading preferences, it’s difficult – if not impossible – that they would write a book I might hate. Maybe I could end up slightly disappointed, but that’s all.

Never have I ever… gone into a bookstore to buy one book and come out with many more.

Come on! Be serious! What true book lover would come out of a bookstore with just ONE book? Books are gregarious creatures and they love company, so it’s a moral imperative to avoid making them feel lonely on your bookshelves… 😛

Never have I ever… read the end of a book before reading the beginning.

I passionately HATE spoilers, so no – of this at least I am not guilty!

Never have I ever… read a book without the dust cover.

Dust covers are useful, granted, but they are a real pain while you’re reading the book so no cover, thank you very much!

Never have I ever… skim-read nearly half a book.

More times than I care to remember! This is usually a bad sign because it means the book fails to keep my attention, and it usuallly means it’s going to end in the DNF pile. 

Never have I ever… pretended to have read a book I haven’t read.

I’m a bad liar. Enough said…

Never have I ever… watched the movie before reading the book.

Well, sometimes one discovers great stories thanks to their filmed version, so there’s no shame in that. My latest discovery have been the Harry Bosch books by Michael Connelly: if I had not been captivated by the TV series, I might not have found out that Connelly writes very intriguing crime stories.

Never have I ever… had a book boyfriend.

What’s that, Preciousssss?

Never have I ever… read a history or anthropology book for fun.

Maybe not as far as those two subjects are concerned, but I still have very fond memories of my Greek myths encyclopedia from high school…

Never have I ever… picked up a book based on the cover alone.

Of course not! Who does? TSK!  😛

Never have I ever… bought multiple books in a series without having started it.

Hello, my name is Maddalena and I am a series hoarder…

(Also a book hoarder, but series come in bulk!)

Never have I ever… kept reading a series even though I didn’t love the first book.

This looks like a trick question connected to number 3, and the only answer is: why should I?

Never have I ever… read a book so quickly that I don’t remember what happened by the end.

All right, my memory might not be what it used to when I was younger, but I still have some working neurons, you know?

And my addition to this tag:

Never have I ever… “forgotten” to return a borrowed book.

That’s something I’m really proud of: I always return borrowed books – I just would be happier if other people behaved the same way… (((SIGH)))

So here we go: take the plunge and share your answers!

Reviews

CREATURES OF THE NIGHT BOOK TAG

Always in search of interesting bookish tags to explore, I found this one that’s part of a collection of very useful prompts: besides being intriguing, thanks to its focus on weird creatures, it has the added value of having been shared by fellow blogger Lisa at WayTooFantasy – be sure to visit her link for more book tag fun!

And now, let’s go with the critters! 😀

VAMPIRE

FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART by Ben Tripp: this is one of the best vampire books I ever read, where nasty, brutal bloodsuckers (no languorous sparklies here!) are pitted against a group of vampire hunters sponsored by no other than the Church. A blood chilling and breath stopping story, indeed.

WEREWOLF

THE SKIN TRADE by GRR Martin: a tense, dark novella from Martin’s collection Dreamsongs, and an interesting take on the myth of the werewolf, focused on the investigation of a weird chain of murders. Besides enjoying the written story, I had the pleasure of listening to its audio version read by amazing Claudia Black, which added great value to the tale.

ZOMBIE

FEED by Mira Grant: the first volume in her Newsflesh series, which takes a new approach to the zombie apocalypse, showing how the world deals with the roaming, flesh-eating undead once the worst of the horror has passed. Well, sort of… And there are bloggers as central figures, which made it even more interesting to me.

GHOST

THE SHINING by Stephen King: we are all familiar with this King classic, set in an isolated mountain hotel haunted by terrifying ghosts that can prey on the mind of the unwary. Among the less fearsome, but still scary, are the two little girls that keep appearing to young Danny…

WITCH/WARLOCK/SPELLCASTER

SNOWSPELLED by Stephanie Burgis: first story in the Harwood Spellbook series, a continuing saga about an alternate England in which men possess magical powers and the women deal with politics and the running of the country. That is, except for magically gifted Cassandra Harwood! The covers for these novellas are as delightful as the tales they tell 🙂

FAIRY/FAE

THE CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black: again a first volume in a saga, one where the fae are showed for the nasty, merciless, callous creatures they are, although there are some humans that can stand up to them and play at the same game with equal levels of ruthlessness.

DEMON

PENRIC’S DEMON by Lois McMaster Bujold: a fantasy tale from one of my favorite SF authors, and a series I still have to explore past this first offering. The demon in question is Desdemona, and she end up inhabiting young Penric’s body, gifting him with some special powers and changing his life forever. The usual Bujold humor applies delightfully here.

ANGEL

BLUE ANGEL by Phil Williams: there is no true angel here as we think of them, but the titular Blue Angel is a weird manifestation among the even weirder happenings in the city of Ordshaw, where magic and strangeness walk hand in hand with the more mundane aspects of life.

ALIEN

OUTPOST by W. Michael Gear: I can’t imagine anything more alien (and dangerous!) than the colony world of Donovan, where everything is out to maim, kill and/or devour the unwary humans that venture outside the fence of their main settlement. Lizard-like predators, flocks of killer birds, flesh-eating plants and so on: survival on Donovan is not exactly a given, but this world makes for a very thrilling exploration.

SUPERPOWERED HUMAN

JADE CITY by Fonda Lee: in this alternate Earth, and particularly on the far eastern island of Kekon, the wearing and wielding of jade confers great strength and resistance, and allows the wearer great physical and mental feats. The strife to amass as much jade as possible is at the center of this compelling story that sees warring families fight for supremacy in a beautiful and immersive background.

And what are your favorite beings that go bump in the night?

Reviews

BOOK BUYING HABITS TAG

Here we go again with another tag post: this one I saw some time time ago on the blog of fellow book lover Bookforager, to whom go my thanks for the inspiration. Reading the questions I realized that they are directed more toward a reader of physical books rather than a convinced used of e-readers as I am, but still I found the way to answer them all the same.

Where do you buy your books?

Online, of course: there is much to be said for the instant gratification of seeing a book I’m interested in, going to my usual online store, buying and downloading my choice, all in a matter of minutes.   I have to admit I sometimes miss the sheer joy of browsing the aisles of the bookstores I used to frequent way back when, and finding something delightfully unexpected, but on the other hand these days I have a list of “wanted” titles that goes from here to Alpha Centauri, so I hardly need to add the unexpected to that oh-so-long queue… 😉

Do you ever pre-order books? If so, do you do this in store or online?

I don’t pre-order but prefer to create alerts on my computer warning me of the publication date of books I’m interested in, particularly when it’s a matter of series I’m following. And on that day I visit the e-store and come away with my prize(s).

On average, how many books do you buy a month?

I’m much better off not knowing! 😱 Jokes aside, between the books I own and the e-ARCs I get from NetGalley (or much more rarely from Edelweiss) I often find myself with more books than I can deal with. And NetGalley’s ARCs tend to take precedence because they have an expiry date, so I tend to read them first.

Do you use your local library? If so, how many books can/do you borrow at a time?

I have not visited my local library in very long time, not since I was a teenager (dinosaurs still roamed the Earth…), but I have very fond memories of the “treasures” I found there. Back then, however, I did not read so much speculative fiction as I do now and I wonder if today’s library offerings would be suited to my changed tastes – probably not, since, as I remember, the library was stocked mostly with mainstream books.  If memory serves me, I could borrow up to three books at a time, but sometimes I took a few more using my mom’s card as well as mine.

What is your opinion on library books?

As I said, I remember my trips to the library with great affection: I can still see those rows of books, most of them bound with fake-leather covers in deep green or blue or red and gold lettering, and how I used to go for the bigger tomes…

How do you feel about second-hand books?

If they are kept in good condition I have nothing against them, but I still prefer new books. And given my years-long relationship with e-books the question has now become somewhat redundant.

Do you keep your read and to-read piles together/on the same bookshelf?

What physical books I own from the past have all been read – with the exception of C. J. Cherryh’s Cyteen, but where my e-books are concerned I have a folder for the unread ones on my computer, regularly backed-up on a pen drive, where I also save the read ones, in a separate folder. And in both cases I have sub-folders divided by author. Neat, isn’t it? 😉

Do you plan to read all the books you own?

In a perfect world, yes. But… is this a perfect world? Inquiring minds want to know…

What do you do with books you own that you feel you’ll never read/felt you didn’t enjoy?

I keep them all the same: they don’t take much space on that pen drive anyway, and I might change my mind one of these days, who knows?

Have you ever been on a book-buying ban?

More times than I care to remember. It didn’t work, though, not for long…

Do you feel that you buy too many books?

Is water wet?

Is summer hot?

Is chocolate delicious?

Ok, you get the meaning… 😀

If you enjoyed this tag, take the plunge and let us know more about your books buying habits!!