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!!

Reviews

READING HABITS BOOK TAG

Time for another tag! I have been delighted by the discovery of this blog post containing a list of 100 intriguing bookish tags, which I mean to explore in the coming months: there are many interesting topics and I encourage you to take a look. Many thanks to Book Reviews and More for this very comprehensive list!

So this time around it’s…. reading habits!

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading? 

Well, a comfortable couch is always the best option, even better with my feet propped up on an equally comfortable footrest, but I also do a good deal of my reading in bed, because I can’t go to sleep if I have not “consumed” a few chapters of my current book.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Since I turned digital the question has become moot: e-readers remember the place where you stopped reading, and also allow for specific bookmarks and even virtual, non-damaging earmarks, but when I pick up a physical book, a bookmark is the only way to go, because earmarking pages is anathema for me. Lacking anything better I can always use a random piece of paper, but I own a good number of bookmarks, either proper ones or cards advertising my favorite tv shows.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

In a perfect world I would try to stop at the end of any given chapter, but there are always things like phone calls or other interruptions that steal me away from a book, so it’s always a matter of good intentions meeting real life… 🙂

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

Both. A cup of tea while reading is always good company, but I have been known for reading while eating as well: while I was still working, the lunch break was the perfect opportunity to move forward with my current book if I was eating by myself instead of going out with co-workers. Now that I am retired, well, the sky’s the limit!

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

Music yes, it can offer a good background while reading, provided that it’s just music and not songs with lyrics that tend to be distracting: classical music is just perfect for reading. No TV though: I either watch it or read a book.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

One at a time, indeed, even though there are times when I think that if I had two heads I could read double the number of books…

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Any place is good for reading! I am in the habit of bringing my trusty e-reader with me when I know I might face some long wait like a doctor’s appointment or a queue in some public office. During last spring’s lockdown I used to bring the reader with me when going grocery shopping, to help pass the time while queueing outside the supermarket. Books can make time fly, indeed!

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?

Silently of course. Can you imagine the utter madness if we all took up the habit of reading aloud?  😀

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages? 

No reading ahead, I don’t like spoilers, even self-inflicted ones, while I do sometimes skip pages when I encounter long descriptions of battles, for examples, (unless they are very well written), or when any given section fails to hold my attention and I want to get to the more interesting parts.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

Much as I try to treat my physical books with the care and respect they deserve, it might happen – particularly with well-loved and much-read books – that the spine gets marred with vertical creases (my copy of the LOTR being a case in point), but it’s more a matter of a book being handled often rather than mistreated…

11. Do you write in your books?

On physical books I do sometimes underline more significant sections with pencil (taking care not to press the pencil point too heavily on the page), while with e-books underlining is a risk- and harm-free option of course 😉

Now it’s your turn: what are your reading habits? Jump in and share them!

Reviews

THE CONFESSIONS TAG

As my first tag of the new year, I’ve chosen this one from the handful of topics I’ve collected over time from my fellow bloggers. And I’ll start with a momentous confession: yes, I’m addicted to books, I hoard them and gloat over them like Gollum over the Ring. So what? 😀

Ok, now to the real questions of the tag…

Which book, most recently, did you not finish?

I had high expectations for this SF story, but in the end it did not work for me as much as it did for the majority of my fellow bloggers who read it, so we had to part our ways a little past the halfway mark.

Which book is your guilty pleasure?

Guilty? Why should there be any kind of guilt attached to reading? Tsk! 😀

Which book do you love to hate?

It’s possible that the DIVERGENT fans here will in turn hate me for this, but this is one of the novels that started my uneasy relationship with YA and ended up giving the genre a bad name from my point of view. The world depicted here made little sense to me and I felt a strong antipathy for the main character, while the story felt too imbued with clichés to be enjoyable.

Which book would you throw into the sea?

No book deserves this fate, and the fact that I don’t like a book does not mean someone else could not enjoy it, so instead of committing a book I don’t like to the sea depths, I would prefer gifting it to someone who could appreciate it.

Which book have you read the most?

That would be either Tolkien’s LORD OF THE RINGS or Herbert’s DUNE: in the past (before book blogging compelled me to keep moving forward) I re-read both several times, always enjoying their different, but equally compelling, stories.

Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Mmmm… that’s a difficult one: people who would give me books as a present know my tastes, so it’s highly improbable that they would choose a book not in line with them. Putting hate aside, let’s say I would not be pleased to receive a book I already own.

Which book could you not live without?

All of them?

Which book made you the angriest?

I guess it would be A GAME OF THRONES: back when I started reading the series, in 2002, I knew nothing of GRR Martin’s penchant for killing off his characters with gleeful abandon, and a certain death by execution toward the end of the book left me angry, stunned and incredulous for quite some time. By now, I’ve learned not to grow too attached to characters…

Which book made you cry the most?

I don’t cry easily over stories, so I will have to mention instead one of the books that elicited the strongest emotional response in me, and I think it must be A BOY AND HIS DOG AT THE END OF THE WORLD, centered around the powerful bond between humans and these four-legged companions who “always walked closest” to us in the long ages of the world.

Which book cover do you hate the most?

Again, hate looks like too strong a word: if I must point the finger at a cover that doesn’t do justice to the contents, I have to mention a few illustration choices for Lois McMaster’s Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga, like the one below, where Miles Vorkosigan is made to look like a child wearing grown-up clothes…

As usual, I’m not tagging anyone but if you have some confessions to make, here is your chance 😀

Reviews

THE HALLOWEEN BOOK TAG

Thanks to Lisa at Way Too Fantasy I discovered this fun, Halloween-styled bookish tag, originally created by Naomi the Book Lover on YouTube. 

And now, let’s grab a few pumpkins and start with the questions!

1. Carving pumpkins – what book would you carve up and light on fire?

No matter how far from my tastes a book could be, I would never subject it to such a destructive treatment, so I will take the question as merely allegorical: no book need fear bodily harm from me!  One of the novels I deeply disliked was Veronica Roth’s Divergent: this was one of the books that fueled my distrust for YA, because it touches on all the tropes that give the genre a bad name – a sort of Mary Sue main character who fails to garner my sympathy; her instant attraction toward a mysterious, brooding guy; a world-building with some contradictions. Thanks, but no thanks…

2. Trick or treat – what character is a treat, what character is a trick? 

Speaking of treats, the first fictional name that comes to mind is that of Miles Vorkosigan, from the acclaimed Vor Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I revisited for last year’s SciFi Month. I love the series and I greatly enjoy Ms. Bujold’s style, but Miles is a character whose mention never fails to bring a smile to my face.   As for the tricky character, I really love to hate Dan Wirth, the evil mastermind behind every dark deed in the Donovan series by W. Michael Gear: he’s a downright psychopath, but he’s also craftily intelligent, which makes him both dangerous and intriguing…

3. Candy corn – what book is always sweet?

That’s an easy one: Mary Robinette Kowal’s Glamourist Histories series never failed to deliver a delightful, immersive story where magic and and alternate version of Regency England mixed quite well with just that touch of romance that even a grumpy old crone like me 😀 cannot object to, since it’s handled unobtrusively and with skill into the main narrative.

4. Ghosts – what character would you love to visit you as a ghost?

I hope that does not mean a bona fide, bedsheet-covered and chain-rattling ghost!  That said, I would not mind having a good chat with Jean Tannen, from Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series: I would offer him tea and cake (pumpkin cake, at that, since it’s Halloween!) and ask him about his adventures – especially those not featured in the books, because I’m sure there are many more that the author did not share with us…

Drawing by Kejablank (Camorr Wiki)

5. Dressing up in costume- what character would you want to be for a day?

No need to think about that: Chrisjen Avasarala, from the magnificent space opera series The Expanse, written by James S. A. Corey. Avasarala is a formidable lady, a shrewd politician and a veritable force of nature who can handle difficult situations with flair and cuss like a veteran dockworker. The latter side of her character has been downplayed a little in the TV series, but she nevertheless came across as the ass-kicking force of nature I admired from page one.

6. Wizards and witches – what is your favorite Harry Potter moment?

The descriptions of Hogwarths: they were always so vivid, so cinematic, that once they were translated into the big screen it felt as if the film-makers had been reading my mind for the creation of such a truly magical, atmosphere-rich place.

7. Blood and gore – what book was so creepy that you had to take a break from it for awhile?

Stephen King’s IT: I’ve always read horror and never had any… adverse effects from any situation portrayed in the books, no matter how ghastly, but the brand of horror displayed in this book, evil’s choice to visit it on children, the claustrophobic feeling of many passages, did leave a deep mark on my mind. As I’m fond of saying, since then I’ve never, ever, looked at a storm drain in the same way as before, or with the blessed lack of unease I had enjoyed until my encounter with King’s novel.

There is still time until Halloween! Pick this tag and share your pumpkin-flavored book musings!