Reviews

THE BOOK PREDICTIONS TAG

 

Thanks to Way Too Fantasy here is another fun, book-oriented tag post, originally created by @bookprincessreviews 

What this tag needs is for me to dust off my crystal ball and share the predictions for my…

 

NEXT READ

This is an easy one: author Phil Williams – whose Sunken City novels I had the pleasure of reviewing – contacted me with the news of his next book, whose publication is slated for the second half of September.  Kept From Cages is, in Mr. Williams’ own words, a “fast-paced supernatural action-thriller” peopled with new characters but still tied to the Ordshaw world. My curiosity was quite piqued by his mention of “criminal jazz musicians” and I will start reading as soon as I finish my current book, which means in the next handful of days…

 

NEXT 5 STAR READ

Another easy prediction: I was overjoyed in receiving the bi-monthly Orbit newsletter and learning that the new Age of Madness book from Joe Abercrombie, The Trouble with Peace, is included in the September/October NetGalley releases. There is absolutely no doubt that this will turn into a 5-star read as have all the previous Abercrombie novels I have enjoyed in the past.

 

NEXT 1 STAR READ

Well… No one would pick a book with the foreknowledge that it will turn out into such a disappointing read – and picking up a book with so little promise, to say the least, would sound like an exercise in masochism, so I’m going to focus on my unwavering optimism and predict that there will be no such black marks on the next books I will pick up.

 

NEXT LOVE INTEREST OR CHARACTER THAT SEEMS REALLY COOL

I will go with “character that seems really cool” and name Circe, from the protagonist of Madeline Miller’s novel with the same title: the book promises to deliver an new and interesting angle on the mythical figure who, according to legend, imprisoned men transforming them into pigs. My love of mythology goes back to my school days, so it will certainly be a fascinating experience to revisit this story from a different point of view.

 

NEXT BOOK I WILL BE BUYING

To Be Taught, if Fortunate, by Becky Chambers: I have already acquire the first book from this author, The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet thanks to the enthusiastic reviews from many of my fellow bloggers, but on a recent post I learned about this novella, that can be read on its own, and I decided to start the… experiment with a shorter work, so that my curiosity will be satisfied sooner.

 

It’s your turn now: wave your magic wands, peer into your enchanted mirrors, and let us know what your bookish future looks like!

 

Reviews

THE TBR TAG

If there is a Taggers Anonymous association I might need to go their meetings, because I seem to be addicted to tag posts lately 😀    I recently saw this one on Bookforager’s blog and I decided to give it a spin, so here is my take in this new bookish tag…

 

How do you keep track on your TBR list?

That’s easy – sort of… I do practically all of my reading in e-book format, so the books I still have to read are stored in a folder on my computer, and from there they are copied on the e-reader when the mood strikes me to read them. After that, they are saved on a dedicated USB drive that also works as a backup for the as-yet-unread books. Neat and dust-free! 😉

I have been thinking lately about listing my TBR books in an excel file, complete with the date they were added, so I can have a better idea of their “age”, but for now it’s still an idea…

 

Is your TBR mostly print or e-book?

See above. Ebooks all the way!

 

 

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

Mood determines what I read next, I have no say in the decision process… 😀

Jokes aside, and unless I have a NetGalley ARC lined up (in which case I have to be mindful of the 54 days expiry date for the book), I take a virtual “stroll” through my stored files and choose the book that most appeals to me in that moment.

 

 

Name a book that has been on your TBR the longest.

Iain Banks’ CONSIDER PHLEBAS, his first Culture novel: the date of the file tells me it was saved there in 2013, the year before I started blogging. Shame on me!

 

 

Name a book that you recently added to your TBR list.

THE CITY OF BRASS, by S.A. Chakraborty: all of my fellow bloggers who have read the trilogy that starts with this volume speak highly of it, and I thought it was high time for me to see for myself. I have high expectations for this one…

 

 

Is there a book that’s on your TBR list strictly because of its beautiful cover?

Not really. A particularly intriguing cover might attract my attention, but it’s the synopsis that really closes the deal for me.

 

 

Is there a book on your TBR that you never plan on actually reading?

Well, a wise person taught me that “always” and “never” are words far too binding to be used lightly, so I will admit that, right now, I don’t feel strongly motivated to read GRR Martin’s FIRE AND BLOOD: my disappointment at the way the ASOIAF saga was wrapped up in the tv series, and my lack of faith in Martin’s willingness to conclude the book series have cooled the initial enthusiasm in a considerable way.

 

 

Name an unpublished book on your TBR that you’re excited for.

I have no ARCs on my TBR as I’m writing this, but I’m looking with interest at Joe Abercrombie’s THE TROUBLE WITH PEACE, the second volume in his new series The Age of Madness. I enjoyed the first book so much that it finally drove me to read The First Law trilogy.

 

 

Is there a book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you?

THE WAY OF KINGS, by Brandon Sanderson: it would seem that I am the only person on Earth (and probably in the rest of the Solar System as well) who has not read a Sanderson novel. Please don’t shoot me!!!!

 

 

Is there a book on your TBR that everyone recommends you read?

Becky Chambers THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET: all of my fellow bloggers who read it are very enthusiastic about both this book and the others in the series, so I will have to start it one of these days, possibly sooner rather than later.

 

 

A book on your TBR you’re very excited to read.

James Islington’s THE SHADOW OF WHAT WAS LOST: other bloggers’ reviews hint at a very layered, very immersive story, and I’m waiting for the right moment to start it – since it’s a very hefty volume, I know I will need a distraction-free moment, so for now I’m biding my time, but still keep looking at this book with great anticipation.

 

 

The number of books on your TBR shelf.

Don’t make me count them, please! I might fall into an abyss of despair…

 

 

If you found this tag intriguing, jump in and share your TBR goodies!!!
Reviews

THE MID-YEAR FREAK OUT TAG

In my newly-discovered enjoyment of book-blogging tags, I’ve seen this one pop up on several blogs I follow so I decided to thy my hand at it. After all, every opportunity to talk about books must be enjoyed, right?  😉

 

BEST BOOKS YOU’VE READ SO FAR THIS YEAR

Looking at my five-star ratings, I would have to give this prize to Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy: I’ve come somewhat late to the party with this series, but I’m glad that the publication of the first book in his new saga inspired me to go backwards and enjoy learning about the “roots” of this world and the back story of its characters.

 

BEST SEQUEL YOU’VE READ SO FAR THIS YEAR

 

Since I mostly read SF and Fantasy, I’m going to nominate a best sequel in both genres, and the Oscar goes to…

Gareth Powell’s Fleet of Knives, second volume in his Embers of War saga

John Gwynne’s A Time of Courage, third and final volume in his Of Blood and Bone series

 

NEW RELEASE YOU HAVEN’T READ YET BUT WANT TO

There are several of course – you all know the book lover’s lamentation about too many books, too little time, don’t you?  Anyway, just to mention one, I’m looking forward to Jade War, the second book in Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga.  It’s been sitting on my TBR for a while now, and it’s starting to look at me with some impatience…

 

MOST ANTICIPATED RELEASE FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THE YEAR

Given my answer to the first question, I’m more than looking forward to Joe Abercrombie’s The Trouble with Peace, the second volume in his new series Age of Madness. Can you blame me?  😉

 

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

This dubious prize goes to Andrew Maine’s The Naturalist: from my fellow bloggers’ review I had come to expect an intriguing thriller but it’s clear that this book was not meant for me – once I started finding some inconsistencies in the story and the characterization I knew that the “magic” was lost and that this book and yours truly were destined to part ways…

 

BIGGEST SURPRISE

The Institute, by Stephen King. I used to be a huge fan of the Master of Horror, but in later years I had been disappointed by some of his works and stopped reading them. When I decided to give this one a chance, on the strength of a very intriguing review from a fellow blogger (what would I do without you guys??), I discovered that the Master still has several aces up his sleeve, and that this book brought back the old enjoyment in his stories.

 

FAVORITE NEW AUTHOR

Vivian Shaw.  I read two of her books in the UF series focused on Dr. Greta Helsing, physician to London’s supernatural creatures, and I enjoyed them immensely: I would never have thought that an author would make me feel sympathy for mummies or ghouls, but Ms. Shaw managed that with very little effort!  🙂

 

NEWEST FICTIONAL CRUSH

Sorry, I’m too old and crusty for crushes of any kind…

 

NEWEST FAVORITE CHARACTER

Sand dan Glokta, from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law, which gains the third mention in this meme and shows that I might be just a tiny bit obsessed with this world…. Glokta is the opposite of the inspirational character: he’s crippled, embittered and earns his living by being the master torturer for the King’s inquisition, but he’s also gifted with a sarcastic sense of humor and a strong sense of self-mockery that went a long way toward endearing him to me.

 

BOOK THAT MADE YOU CRY

I don’t cry easily, so it would be hard to fill this bookish slot, but I can mention a book that held a big – and somewhat unwelcome – surprise for me concerning a particular character: John Scalzi The Last Emperox, the final volume in his Interdepency saga. And no, I was not expecting THAT Mr. Scalzi, not at all…

 

BOOK THAT MADE YOU HAPPY

Network Effect, by Martha Wells, the fifth installment in her Murderbot Diaries: it made me happy because every new story about Murderbot is a joy, and because it was a full-length novel instead of the previous novella-sized works – and of course more Murderbot always gives me a chance to celebrate.

 

FAVORITE BOOK-TO-FILM ADAPTATION

None so far, but hope keeps me going…

 

MOST BEAUTIFUL BOOK YOU’VE BOUGHT THIS YEAR

   

Since I read ebooks, I have a chance to look at the actual covers only when search for them online: my e-reader does not do colors… so far, the covers I found more intriguing have been those for Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet and for Moontangled by Stephanie Burgis.  I love the first because that background fire against the darkness in the foreground is very dramatic, and the second because those gorgeous dresses and the color combination are a feast for the eyes.

 

WHAT BOOKS DO YOU NEED TO READ BY THE END OF THE YEAR?

Far too many for the time I have, far too many…

 

Join the fun, let’s freak out together! 😀

Reviews

THE ANIMAL CROSSING NEW HORIZON BOOK TAG

I’ve become addicted to these book tags recently, so once I saw this one at Suzy’s Cozy World I decided to try my hand at it: bookish fun is the best kind of fun after all!

Let’s dive in…

 

PAST VILLAGER: Who is a character you found when you were younger that still has a place in your heart?

That might very well be the lady Jessica, from Frank Herbert’s DUNE: where I was always captivated by the concept of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood, I loved how she would defy her training and the Sisterhood’s goals out of love for her mate and her son. Given the time in which the original Dune was written, Jessica represents a breakthrough in the depiction of female characters.

This art concept of Lady Jessica comes from Mindofka at Deviantart.

BLATHER’S BLATHERINGS: Recommend a historical fiction book that you think everybody should read.

For this I will need to go back several decades in my reading history and mention the amazing books from Finnish author Mika Waltari, starting with The Egyptian and moving on to The Etruscan and The Roman: although the details of those stories have become quite blurred by time, I remember them as very engrossing reads and as fascinating windows on the depicted cultures.

CELESTE’S WISH: What is a future book release you wish you could read now?

That would be, without doubt, the ninth and final book of The Expanse, by James S.A. Corey: this book has no title yet, nor a publication date, but I’m beyond curious to see how the authors will wrap up this amazing space opera series, although I will be very, very, very sad to bid my farewells to the characters I have come to appreciate and love.

TIMMY & TOMMY: What is your favorite sibling relationship in a book?

Even though they are not related by blood, Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen, as the only two surviving members of the thieves’ family built by Father Chains, are as close as brothers, not just in spite of their differences but because of them, given that their personalities compensate for each other’s faults. Their ties of brotherhood and the rarely expressed but very strong bond of love between them is one of the best features of their story.

THE EASTER BUNNY: A popular book character that you’re not a big fan of.

I will have to risk the ire of many of my fellow bloggers here but I have to point my finger at Mark Watney from Andy Weir’s The Martian: I found the overall tone in the chronicle of his survival on Mars to be too cheeky and frivolous to really endear the character to me, and while I could understand the need to keep his spirits up in a very dire situation, there was not enough introspection to balance out the flippancy. For once, I found out that the movie was better than the book in this respect…

NOOK’S LOANS: An author you’d give all your money to.

There are several authors on my “automatic buy” list and there are too many of them for me to choose from, so I would find it very difficult to have to play the game of favorites here…

THE SISTERS ABLE: What is your favorite fictional family (found or otherwise)?

This is an easy one: for me THE fictional family is represented by the Fellowship of the Ring – a group of people united by a common goal and becoming closer than family through shared dangers. It’s a theme I encountered often in my reading, but the Fellowship was my very first example and they will always be at the top of my preferences.

IT’S A C+: What is a book trope you don’t like that keeps popping up?

Insta-love and love triangles rate very high in my catalog of tropes that tend to make me run for the hills at high speed, but there is one that annoys me to no end: a main character who looks unassuming and is shortly revealed as gifted with incredible powers, or who transforms from wallflower to hero/heroine practically overnight. What is otherwise labeled as “Mary Sue”…

THE WANDERING CAMEL: What is your favorite book set in a land far away from yours?

I will have to mention Dune again: what could be more fascinating than a world covered in endless deserts and scoured by killer winds, where you have to wear a specially designed suit to reclaim drinking water from your body and where giant worms roam the sands? Dune fired my imagination from the first time I read it, and it still holds a special place in it.

WHAT WOULD DODOS DO?: A fictional land you wish you could fly away to at any moment?

Middle Earth, of course! And the beauty of it is that I actually could do that, since we all know that it’s located in New Zealand… 😉

Reviews

BOOK TAGS: MY FANTASY BUCKET LIST for WYRD & WONDER 2020

Image by Tanantachai Sirival @ 123RF.com

 

We can always count on our fellow bloggers for inspiration on tags and memes to spice up our posts for this yearly fantasy extravaganza, and this one felt just perfect for me: it was originally posted by Imyril, who in turn was inspired by Dragons and Zombies and Little Book Owl.  Thank you all!

And now for the delightful prompts: I’ve decided to keep to the fantasy world that was my first love and is still the place where I left my heart – JRR Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Every time I re-read the LOTR, The Hobbit or The Silmarillion, it feels like coming home, so I guess that a part of me still dwells there…

 

A fictional world that you would like to tour

One of the joys of reading Tolkien’s works is to look at the maps and follow the characters’ journeys across the land, so a tour of Middle Earth’s most famous locations sounds perfect – well, maybe I would leave Mordor out of the itinerary…. From the Lonely Mountain to the plains of Rohan, with a side visit to Lothlorien; from the ancient realm of Gondor to the safe haven of Rivendell and finally to the Shire, where my long travels would end in the comfortable (and well provided!) Hobbit villages.  I would not mind a visit to the mines of Moria as well, but I would need to be sure that it was not in the middle of the Orc season….

A specific place that you would like to visit

Given that the Elves are famous for their love of knowledge and music and everything gifted with beauty, a sojourn in Rivendell would be perfect: just think, from a book-lover point of view, what Elrond’s library might look like, and what cultural and historical treasures one might find there!

A character that you would like to meet

Gandalf, no doubt about it. The old wizard’s character is such an intriguing mix of wisdom, humor, cunning and gentleness, that a conversation with him would be nothing short of fascinating. And given that with him there is more, much more than meets the eye, I would like to try and inquire about his past and the events, both terrible and wondrous, that he witnessed.

An event you would like to witness

This was a difficult choice: there are so many amazing moments in Tolkien’s legendarium that would be worth a visit, but after some thought I decided for the riddle game between Bilbo and Gollum, because with hindsight it’s clear this is one of the pivotal moments in the history of Middle Earth, and one whose consequences would be far-reaching.

A sport/activity you would like to try

Not being very much sports-inclined, this answer might present some problems, particularly because I can’t recall any kind of sport activity ever being mentioned for Middle Earth – that is, unless one takes into consideration the “ramparts shield surfing” we saw a certain Elf practice at Helm’s Deep… 😉

(Although I’m not certain the Professor would have approved)

A weapon you would like to wield

Gandalf’s staff. It’s not exactly a weapon, but it turns out to be very useful in many circumstances as a powerful light or a fire starter, but particularly in Moria when our beloved wizard faces the Balrog with that oh-so-powerful “You cannot pass!!”.

An item you would like to use

The leaf-shaped pins Galadriel gives the Fellowship to tie their cloaks: as with all Elven-made objects they are a thing of beauty and carry with them the gracefulness of those who crafted them.

 

 

Your turn now… 😀

Reviews

The Finished Book Tag

Thanks to Bookforager for tagging me for this interesting meme: much as I love these “get to know us better” tags, I rarely manage to fulfill my role due to a chronical lack of time. These days, however, I am enjoying a brief holiday respite, so what better occasion than to finally get around to enjoy a book tag?  And here we go…

 

Do you keep a list of the books you have read?

Oh, indeed! Being cursed with a sieve-like memory, I need to keep track of what I’ve read so I don’t overtax my struggling memory banks. For some time I kept the list of my yearly readings on GoodReads, but for the past year of so, due to something annoying that happened there, I moved to Library Thing, which looks a bit more efficient, at least from my point of view.

 

 

If you record stats, what stats do you record?

Stats are not something that I take active interest in: the only exception might be at the end of each year, when I list the books I read to see how they are divided between genres and to get an overall score of my ratings, but that’s all.

 

 

Do you give star ratings for books and if so, what do you score books out of and how do you come about this score?

Star ratings are indeed a way to show how much we liked (or disliked) a book, but I’ve always thought that being a graphic representation of a complex set of parameters they are not as flexible as I would like. I’ve been thinking for some time about adding a sort of… recap of my evaluation to the star ratings I place at the bottom of reviews, and will try it out soon to see how that works.

 

 

Do you review books?

Indeed!  😀

 

 

Where do you put your finished books?

Interesting question! I’m glad you asked… 😉
Since I choose to read only ebooks (for a lot of practical reasons), I have also transformed my… well, shelving habits: there is a folder on my computer where I store the current books (my TBR, so to speak) waiting to be downloaded to my e-reader, and there is a dedicated USB drive where I back them up regularly and where, in a separate folder, I place the read books. All in their own folders with the author’s name. Neat, isn’t it?
Granted, if I want to take a peek at a much-loved book, it’s not as easy as taking it out of the book-case, but it’s not all that difficult either, and I also have far less problems with accumulating dust!

 

 

How do you pick your next book?

Mmmm… Much depends on my current mood and/or the level of concentration I can put in a story, so I pick the less demanding ones when I feel tired or I know I will be distracted by other things. Of course any plan can be subverted by the appearance of a much-awaited book on the horizon. In that case I’m totally unable to resist but… who would?

 

 

Do you have any other rituals for when you have finished a book?

Most of my reading happens during the long commute to and from work, so the most likely scenario is that I move from one finished book to the next in line, much as a chain-smoker lights a cigarette with the stub of the old one. With the difference that chain-reading is NOT harmful to our health!

 

And since I firmly believe in… sharing the wonders, I’m tagging a few more fellow bloggers – no pressure, no obligation, but if you can participate I hope you have as much fun as I did with this tag. The lucky winners are (in alphabetical order):

 

the folks at Bilbliosanctum

Tammy at Books, Bones and Buffy

Bookstoge

Sarah at Brainfluff

the Tattoed Book Geek