Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Surprising Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point, ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic was a freebie…

 

Strange as it might sound, having to choose a topic instead of following the one listed for this week proved to be more difficult than I had imagined, until I decided to showcase books that were surprising reads, for many different reasons.

 

THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS, by M.R. Carey

I added this novel, my first but not the last by this author, to my TBR expecting a horror story focused on a zombie-like worldwide epidemic, but what I found was a deeply emotional coming-of-age tale centered on a compelling character balanced between childish innocence and world-wise maturity.

 

SOULLESS, by Gail Carriger

Where I enjoy Urban Fantasy and – in lesser measure – steampunk, I’m aware that these genres leave little space for humor, especially of the tongue-in-cheek kind, so I was delighted to find this element present in spades in Gail Carriger’s saga about Alexia Tarabotti, weird heroine that sat firmly in my preferences from the moment in which, attacked by a ravenous vampire, she protested about not having been “properly introduced” first…

 

SEA OF RUST, by C. Robert Cargill

A novel about robots inheriting the Earth after humanity’s downfall might sound like a very dry story, but that’s not the case of this book, chronicling the journeys of Brittle, an artificial being traveling the desolate lands left after the disappearance of mankind and trying to survive against its own predatory kind. A deeply emotional story, no matter how strange this might sound with this kind of protagonists.

 

OUTPOST,  by W. Michael Gear

Stories centered on the colonization of alien worlds are among my favorite kind of read, but the ones with a fresh approach to the theme are rare: such is the case of the Donovan series, where the intriguing – and very, very deadly – alien world offers a fascinating background to strong, engaging characters and their struggles for survival and expansion. An ongoing series that four books into its run is still able to offer many surprises.

 

EMBERS OF WAR, by Gareth Powell

Again, a strong beginning to a brilliant space opera series – but the best and more remarkable element here comes from Trouble Dog, a sentient spaceship that is not just the product of an advanced A.I., but integrates actual human neurons and a very definite personality, capable of a wide range of emotions. The interactions of Trouble Dog’s avatar with its human crew are without doubt one of the best features of this story.

 

KILL CREEK, by Scott Thomas

A haunted house; a disparate group of people settling there for a fateful night; things that go bump into the night. If this sounds like deja vu, think again, because nothing in this novel is what you might expect from the premise. Not even the house…

 

CHILDREN OF TIME, by Adrian Tchaikowsky

I hate and fear spiders – and all manners of creepy-crawlies you could name – so one would think that I would reel in horror from a story in which evolved spiders come to create a civilization that ultimately moves into space. And yet, Mr. Tchaikowsky managed to make me root for these spiders, to take active interest in their evolution and to enjoy this novel very much.

 

TRAIL OF LIGHTINING, byRebecca Roanhorse

A new concept for Urban Fantasy lies at the core of this book, because if focuses on the culture and traditions of Native Americans, and in particular of the Diné – or Navajo. It was therefore a double journey, both narrative and cultural, and it compelled me to learn more about a civilization I knew next to nothing about.

 

BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL, by R.S. Belcher

There are two elements that proved surprising here: the concept that the Knight Templars of old would morph into an organization, drawn from people traveling the roads like truckers or patrolmen, dedicated to the protection of travelers; and the fact that the main character is so outwardly different from the concept of hero as humanly possible, and yet he gained my affection in no time at all.

 

HOW RORY THORNE DESTROYED THE MULTIVERSE, by K. Eason

A fairy tale retelling of Sleeping Beauty, complete with gifts – and curses – from the fairies, set on a science fiction background? It sounds quite weird and not something that would meet my tastes, but this story is quite deceptive in its premise and it turned out to be a delightful read, complete with a very unexpected, very relatable heroine.

 

 

And what are the books that surprised you? 🙂

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books that make me smile

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point, ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

BOOKS THAT MAKE ME SMILE

Because we all need some lightness in our lives…

Gail Carriger: Parasol Protectorate series

Where Urban Fantasy novels, and series, tend to be dark and broody, Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate sports a delightful tongue-in-cheek humor that adds value to this alternate Victorian England where vampires, werewolves and so forth walk among humans and are productive – and often respected – members of society.

 

M.L. Brennan: Generation V series

A young, still not fully developed vampire who hates the idea of becoming a blood-sucker and even flirts with vegetarianism? That certainly makes me smile, and there is the added value of his sidekick Suzume Hollis, a kitsune with a very, very mischievous sense of humor.

 

John Scalzi: Old Man’s War series (or anything by Scalzi, really…)

Scalzi’s sense of humor permeates all his works, with varying degrees of intensity: the premise for this series is that people, once they reach the age of 75 can get a new lease on life by signing up with the Colonial Defense forces: if you wonder how old geezers can be turned into alien-fighting soldiers… well, all you have to do is read the books!

 

Scott Lynch: Gentlemen Bastards series

My constant source of joy in this series is the friendship – or rather brotherhood – between Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen (and their comrades from the Gentlemen Bastards, sadly gone too soon from the scene…) and the way they are able to always present a united front against anyone who wants to hurt them, or worse.

 

Lois McMaster Bujold: Vorkosigan saga

I already bored everyone  😀  with my ramblings about the adventures of Miles Vorkosigan, so I can only confirm that here you will find plenty of adventure and plenty of smiles, and laughs.

 

Patrick Weekes: Rogues of the Republic series

Daring heists, a death priestess and a bumbling apprentice magician, a shape-shifting unicorn and a talking weapon (well, “talking” might be a stretch, to say the truth…) and other intriguing and totally entertaining characters are the main reason I loved the first two books in this series and look forward to reading book 3.

 

Nicholas Eames: The Band series

More than smile, the first two books of this series made me often laugh out loud for the enjoyable silliness of the characters’ antics and their crazy adventures. There is some sadness mixed in, granted, but it only serves to balance out what is ultimately a very engaging, very unforgettable read.

 

Stephanie Burgis: The Harwood Spellbook series

This alternate vision of Regency England revolves around the concept that men are gifted with magical skills while women attend to the more practical business of ruling the country, and there are many opportunities to poke fun at gender-bound roles here…

 

Martha Wells: The Murderbot Diaries series

Is it really necessary to say why Murderbot’s adventures make me – and all who read them – smile?

 

Phil Williams: The Ordshaw series

If a few centimeters tall, gun-toting, foul-mouthed and very aggressive fairy does not make you smile, I really don’t know what will. As for me, I’m Team Letty all the way!  😉

And you? Which books make you smile?

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

The “WOULD YOU RATHER…” Tag

I saw this meme on Bookstoge’s blog and promptly chose to borrow it: these kinds of posts are quite fun to do and after a while they become addictive. Sort of…

1) Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?

Not an easy choice… Being a vampire does have certain advantages, like immortality and the ability to bewitch their victims and therefore not having to really work for their supper, if you know what I mean; but on the other hand a steady diet of blood sounds boring – not to say gross – and I would miss being able to spend the days of summer on a beach.  A werewolf, on the other hand, does not suffer from this limitation, but the monthly transformation at each full moon sounds painful and… my goodness, all that hair! What about a third choice? Something like this…?

Much more glamorous! 😉

2) Would you rather use magic or technology for an easier life?

Well, as Arthur Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, so I’m certain that any manifestation that looks like magic is nothing more than very clever technology.

3) Would you rather be invisible or able to fly?

I’d rather fly: after all this has been mankind’s dream since time immemorial….

4) Would you rather have gas or electricity?

Electricity is the winner! It lights and warms our homes, it cooks our food, it can power our cars (ok, we’re still working on that one, but we’ll get there…). There is no downside to it that I can see…

Well, ok, maybe this one…

 

5) Would you rather read fiction or non fiction?

I’m a Fantasy & SF book blogger. What do you think?  😉

6) Would you rather have sweet or savory snacks?

Savory, without doubt. Sweets tire my taste buds after a while, but I never get tired of salty snacks!

7) Would you rather have Indian or Italian food?

Since I’m Italian, and well accustomed with the plentiful array of foods our cuisine can offer, I can be easily tempted to try something exotic. And the food in Indian recipes is as varied and enticing as in Italian ones, so it would be an interesting journey!

8) Would you rather have a beachside house or a riverside cabin in the woods?

The beach of course! I love the sea, I love spending time on the beach or swimming so that the idea of a beachside house is something I’ve always found appealing.

9) Would you rather visit Asia or Africa?

Both. There are places in both continents that I’d like to visit, so a girl can dream, can’t she?

10) If you could only read one genre for a year, what would it be?

Science Fantasy – so I could have the best of both the worlds I love!

 

Adopt this tag! Join the fun!

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where every Tuesday we look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point, ten) bookish examples to demonstrate that particular topic.  Top Ten Tuesday (created and hosted by  The Broke and Bookish) is now being hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl and future week’s topics can be found here.  This week’s topic is:

BOOKS ON MY SUMMER 2020 TBR

This summer I would like to finish some of the series that have resided long on my TBR: these are all series I enjoy, but I tend to get distracted by the “new entries” I find for myself or, more often, thanks to the reviews of my fellow bloggers, so that at times long months elapse between one book in a series and the next one.

So the first part of this TTT dedicated to my summer reading plans is dedicated those series. Starting with:

 

Daniel Abraham: The Spider’s War (The Dagger and the Coin #5)

I have enjoyed this fantasy saga very much, and this is the final book, where the various narrative threads will come to their conclusion. While it’s possible to label this series as classic fantasy, there are a few interesting angles here, most notably the political influence of banks and the pressures they can exert on the power plays.

 

John Gwynne: Ruin (The Faithful and the Fallen #4)
John Gwynne: Wrath (The Faithful and the Fallen #5)

I discovered John Gwynne’s work when I read the first book of his new saga Of Blood and Bone, and I was immediately enthralled by his world where demonic and angelic creatures fight a long-standing, bitter conflict, so that I felt compelled to learn more about the story’s background through the previous series set some time before the current one. The titles of the two remaining books promise an engaging read, indeed…

 

Joe Abercrombie: Best Served Cold (First Law World #4)
Joe Abercrombie: Red Country (First Law World #5)
Joe Abercrombie: The Heroes (First Law World #6)

Another case of ex post facto back-tracking: the First Law trilogy had been languishing on my TBR for a long time, and it took the publication of his new novel, A Little Hatred, to finally drive me to read the series that brought him to fame. Now that I have finished the first three books I intend to continue with the volumes that are set in this same harsh and brutal, but totally fascinating world.  Best Served Cold will be a re-read, but it’s been so long since I discovered it, that I’m certain it will feel like something new.

 

Alongside the series that I want to finish, there are those that are still ongoing and whose new books I need to read as soon as I can because they portray engrossing stories that caught my attention from page one. And for these I’m changing genre from Fantasy to Science Fiction:

 

Gareth Powell: Light of Impossible Stars (Embers of War #3)

The adventures of sentient ship Trouble Dog and its crew should come to a close with this third novel in a series that rapidly gained a high place in my preferences. The previous book ended with a cliffhanger showing the galaxy on the brink of another devastating war, this time not between opposing factions but against a fleet of ships bent on eradicating all conflicts by extermination. To say that I’m impatient to learn what will happen would be a massive understatement…

 

W. Michael Gear: Unreconciled (Donovan #4)

This amazing series focusing on the colonization of a very hostile alien world is one of the best space operas I remember reading, and I’m very happy that the originally predicted 3 books have now gained a fourth installment and – hopefully – a few more after this one. There is so much to explore about Donovan and its colonists, not to mention the dreadful consequences of the space-translation technology that often results in ships being completely lost or facing nightmarish journeys.

 

And last but not least two new entries:

 

Harry Turtledove: Bombs Away (The Hot War #1)

I have wanted to read one of Harry Turtledove’s alternate history works for a long time, and when I saw the mention of this one I was immediately intrigued: the premise is that of the dreadful consequences of a nuclear war between the superpowers emerging at the end of World War II.  Probably not the most uplifting kind of story I could have picked, but still it’s worth taking a look at.

 

Michael Connelly: The Black Echo (Harry Bosch #1)

A definite change from my usual stomping grounds…

I have been thinking for a while about exploring new territory, and mystery is indeed the genre that most appeals to me besides fantasy and SF. By happy coincidence I have discovered on Amazon Video the TV show Bosch, inspired by the long-standing series written by Michael Connelly, widely acclaimed as one of the best authors of crime fiction: my enthusiasm for the TV show – so far the best procedural I have encountered in my “travels” – compelled me to buy Connelly’s first novel portraying his character, an unconventional, headstrong detective with a dark past. I’m curious to see where this foray away from dragons and aliens will lead me 🙂

 

And what are you planning to read this summer?

Reviews

The Book Character Quarantine Tag

 

With many thanks to Ola from Re-enchantment of the World for tagging me, I have decided to sprinkle some much-needed humor on the health crisis still gripping our world on the heels of the Covid-19 spread. It’s been a harrowing time for us all, and for many it’s still a heavy concern, so if these memes help bringing a little smile to brighten the darkness, they are very welcome indeed…

And here we go: the tag requires me to name 5 or more of my favorite book characters and imagine what they would be doing if they were quarantined with us in the real world. I chose three characters from fantasy and three from science fiction. Perfect balance 😉

 

TYRION LANNISTER (from George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire)

Oh, he’s one of the people who would suffer less from being locked down at home, provided he had enough wine and enough ladies willing to share his bedchamber – at the start of the story, at least, Tyrion used to be quite the ladies’ man after all!

 

FIELD MARSHAL TAMAS (from Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage)

I think he would pace back and forth like a caged lion, perusing maps and devising strategies so as not to be caught  off-guard once the quarantine was lifted. And of course driving his aides-de-camp crazy, with the sole exception of Colonel Olem, who would observe the Field Marshal’s antics through the smoke of his endless cigarettes.

 

SAND DAN GLOKTA (from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy)

Here is another character who would enjoy being cooped up at home and therefore not having to submit himself to the daily torture of stairs: as he observed more than once, the people of power he had to visit in the course of his duties always lived far above ground, and with his crippling infirmities, poor Glokta’s hate of stairs became quite legendary.

 

   

KIVA LAGOS (from John Scalzi’s Interdependency)

No doubt: she would swear, profusely and with great richness of expletives, about home lockdown, upset at the idea of the new dastardly schemes concocted by House Nohamapetan, which would certainly find a way to circumvent the rules and broker alliances behind her back.

 

MURDERBOT (from Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries)

Probably Murderbot would be exempt from self-isolation, since its organic parts would not suffer from contact with the virus. Just as probably it would be recruited by its human not-friends for the daily errands they would not be able to perform, and be deprived of some of its series-watching time. Which would be profoundly irritating, no doubt about it.

 

MILES VORKOSIGAN (from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga)

A confined Miles is a dangerous Miles, because his hyperactive mind needs to be applied to active duties, and being unable to move around he would certainly find new and more insane ideas to relieve his boredom. Someone should find some convoluted puzzle to unravel to keep him occupied and out of mischief…

 

 

So, who would you choose to observe during lockdown? Everyone’s invited: share the fun!

Reviews

REAL NEAT BLOG AWARD

While I love tag posts, particularly those that help me know my fellow bloggers better, my record in fulfilling them once I am tagged is far from stellar. I hoped to be able to fit this one into my Wyrd and Wonder 2020 schedule, but as usual I’m traveling on the path of good intentions – and we all know where that leads…

Anyway, with many thanks to Lashaan at Bookidote for calling me to task 😉 , here are the answers to the questions he posed:

 

1. IF YOU COULD DO SOMETHING BETTER THAN YOU’RE ALREADY DOING RIGHT NOW, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

That’s a tough one for a first question, when I still need to warm up… 😀

Jokes aside, I would like to be able to be more productive in my blogging activities, so that I could prepare some non-review posts in advance and participate in more book-related memes as many of my fellow bloggers do. For now, I will keep on enjoying theirs…

 

2. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE THIS NEW DECADE (2020-2029) TO BRING TO YOUR LIFE?

Some traveling to new places – which right now sounds more like a fanciful wish than anything else: there are a few destinations that I’ve been thinking about along with my friends, like touring Australia (and New Zealand as well, why not? The Tolkien fan in me would like to see the place that became Middle Earth in our collective imagination). Hopefully one of these dream holidays might turn into reality.    

 

3. IS THERE A SEQUEL TO SOMETHING THAT YOU LOOK FORWARD TO?

**Looking meaningfully in the direction of Mister George R. R. Martin**

Enough said…

 

4. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE STORIES IN ANY MEDIUM (COMICS, BOOKS, SHOWS, MOVIES, VIDEO GAMES, ETC.)?

This might call for a long list, so I will try to keep it down to a maximum of three in any category – except for comics, which I don’t read, and video games, that are well beyond any ability of mine. And of course I will stay within the confines of SFF, otherwise this would turn into a *massive* list…

SF Books: The Expanse, The Vorkosigan Saga, Dune

Fantasy Books: The Lord of the Rings (of course… 😉 ), The First Law trilogy, anything by John Gwynne

Tv Shows: Babylon 5 (which I love to quote at the drop of a hat), Farscape, Firefly

Movies (the ones I always rewatch when the opportunity arises): Alien(s), the LOTR Trilogy, Galaxy Quest.

 

5. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR LEAST FAVOURITES STORIES IN ANY MEDIUM (COMICS, BOOKS, SHOWS, MOVIES, VIDEO GAMES, ETC.)?

Well, let’s say that I don’t enjoy reading or watching stories where characters are cardboard cutouts, plots cliché and predictable and where the readers’ or watchers’ intelligence is insulted.

 

6. WHAT DOES BLOGGING BRING TO YOUR LIFE?

The opportunity of sharing thoughts and recommendations with like-minded people, to see unexplored angles in the stories I’ve read – either those I loved and those I didn’t, because a widely different point of view can be as illuminating as one which agrees with mine. Oh, and of course an ever-growing, totally unmanageable TBR – but who’s complaining?

 

7. IF THERE’S SOMETHING YOU COULD CHANGE OF THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would like to do away with the extreme polarization that seems to affect every field of social interaction nowadays, and to poison any kind of discussion, no matter the subject at hand.

 

8. WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU COULD EAT RIGHT NOW?

Mango-flavored ice cream.

 

9. IF THERE WAS ONE MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURE THAT COULD EVER EXIST IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I’ve always been fascinated by the fabled inhabitant of Loch Ness…

 

10. DO YOU THINK THERE’S A CURE FOR STUPIDITY?

Sadly, while I enjoy speculative fiction, I know there are limits to what I’m able believe… 😉

 

 

Ok, that was fun! If you enjoyed this tag, please feel free to join in – the more the merrier!

Reviews

GET TO KNOW THE FANTASY READER TAG – Wyrd & Wonder 2020

Image by Tanantachai Sirival @ 123RF.com

 

Always in search of ideas to share my love of all things fantasy, I encountered this tag on the  blog of JESSTICULATES and immediately saw that it was very intriguing, so I borrowed it: thank you so much Jess!

I made some small changes from the original set of questions, to adapt it to my own personality, but I hope to have kept close enough to the overall spirit of the tag.

If you find this interesting, dive in and enjoy! I will be thrilled to read your answers. 🙂

 

1. What is the first fantasy novel you read?

Unsurprisingly, it was J.R.R. Tolkien’s THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and despite the long time elapsed since then (I read it in the late ‘70s) I still remember vividly how engrossing it was, how it opened my mind to the perception of this amazing world and its various peoples.  Since then I have re-read it several times, finding new details and new shades of meaning as the years passed, but still every time I renew my acquaintance with the story I feel as if I’m going back to a familiar place and well-loved friends.

 

2. If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

I guess I’m a bit too… seasoned to imagine myself as the heroine of a story, but if I had to choose, I would ask  G.R.R. Martin to depict me as an enigmatic character whose actions leave everyone puzzled about her plans and goals. Maybe with a touch of darkness… 😉

 

 

3. What is a fantasy you’ve read this year, that turned into a huge revelation?

Joe Abercrombie’s FIRST LAW TRILOGY: I started it a long time after its appearance, but it totally won me over, especially because of its amazing characterization and the perfect blend of drama and humor that keeps the story engaging despite its connotation of ‘grimdark fantasy’.

 

4. What is your favourite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?

This question compelled me to look online and see how many fantasy sub-genres are listed, and I was amazed at what I found, including some sub-genres I did not even know existed, some of them quite outlandish, like Bangsian Fantasy. One of the realms I have been wanting to explore for some time is that of Arthurian Fantasy, and one of these days I will start on that particular quest…

 

 

5. Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?

That’s an interesting question, because until a short time ago I would have said George Martin: his Song of Ice and Fire caught my attention in 2002 and marked my return to the genre after a long period in which I read only SF, but the long dry years between books have eroded both my patience and my enthusiasm and I moved to greener – and more dependable – pastures. There is not a single author whose books I acquire as soon as they come out, but having to choose only one I must mention my most recent discovery, John Gwynne: his epic fantasy series won me over from the first book I read.

 

6. How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..)

None of the above: my best… pushers  😀  are my fellow bloggers. Just by blog-hopping and reading their reviews I immediately see which books might work for me and pile on top of my already unmanageable TBR.

 

 

7. What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?

That’s an easy one: Melissa Caruso’s THE OBSIDIAN TOWER. Her Swords and Fire trilogy was an instant hit and it became a favorite from the very first book.  This new start to a different trilogy is set in the same world, but with different characters, and I look forward to learning more about this universe and its peculiar brand of magic.

 

8. What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?

That fantasy readers (and speculative fiction readers at large) are people with no connections to the world, that their minds dwell in a different reality and are therefore unable to deal with everyday issues. These detractors don’t seem to understand that our minds can dwell on both sides of the ‘fence’, that we might escape for a few hours into these imagined realms, but we are still firmly rooted in the ‘here and now’ and that the possibility of being elsewhere for a short while is a healthy exercise for our minds and souls.

 

 

9. If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

Oh, I would recommend Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier; Promise of Blood, by Brian McClellan, and Kings of the Wyld, by Nicholas Eames. They are very different from each other, in concept and mood and might offer a good starting point to understand what kind of fantasy one might enjoy – a classical story, one with a peculiar brand of magic, and one where humor plays an important part.

 

10. What’s the site that you like to visit for reviews, author interviews and all things fantasy?

My latest discovery was The Fantasy Hive: a site where you can find, besides information on books and authors, interesting short stories you can read online. I can certainly recommend a visit…

 

What about you?  Let us know what kind of fantasy reader you are!

Reviews

WYRD and WONDER 2020: 5-Star Books in 5 Words

Image by Tanantachai Sirival @ 123RF.com

 

In previous Wyrd and Wonder iterations there were many prompts and challenges that I could not fulfill for lack of time, so this year I decided to go back to some of them and try my hand at the… roads not taken.  One of the most interesting ones required to list five favored books and to describe them in five words: it proved far more challenging than I could have imagined, but it helped me focus on what I truly loved in those stories and that’s one of the reasons I chose series openers that introduced me to authors who became my favorites after one single book.

 

1) Dreamer’s Pool (Blackthorn & Grim #1), by Juliet Marillier

Spellbinding tale: adversity and renewal

 

2) Age of Assassins (The Wounded Kingdom #1), by R.J. Barker

Damaging magic, knives and shadows

 

3) A Time of Dread (Of Blood and Bone #1), by John Gwynne

Darkness falls: Truth and Courage

 

4) Sins of Empire (Gods of Blood and Powder #1), by Brian McClellan

Vlora Flint, Mad Ben Styke

 

5) The Tethered Mage (Swords and Fire #1), by Melissa Caruso

New magic: Falcons, Falconers, jesses

 

 

And now it’s your turn: I challenge you all to describe five of your beloved books in five words!  😉