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

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Titles That Would Make Good Band Names

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 turned out to be one of the funniest TTT memes I engaged in: first I had no idea that so many of the books I read would be perfect for this week’s theme; second it was fun to try and match the books’ titles with the music genre of each imaginary band.

On this subject I must admit that my knowledge is very, very limited, so I went searching for the definitions of the various musical genres, which means I might have incurred in some big mistake and that’s why I prefer to apologize in advance for them: any correction from my better informed fellow bloggers will be much appreciated 🙂

And now, let’s the fun begin!

 

Half Off Ragnarok

(from Incryptid #3), by Seanan Mc Guire

For this one I found the term Epic Metal, a ‘classic’ metal bonded with epic-inspired lyrics and mentions of heroic battles. It sounded perfect!

 

Tainted Blood

(from Generation V #3), by M.L. Brennan

Given the inspiring book’s focus on vampires, this band might play Disco Underground: I really have no idea what kind of music this is, but the ‘underground’ bit sounds perfect for a light-allergic bloodsucker…

 

Mayhem

by Sarah Pinborough

If there is a word that evokes thoughts of Hard Rock it’s ‘mayhem’: what better term to define the aggressiveness and harshness of this genre’s typical sound?

 

Fortune’s Pawn

(from Paradox #1), by Rachel Bach

For some reason, this name makes me think of Country music: no real reason for it, only it sounds like they belong together.

 

Kings of the Wyld

(from The Band #1), by Nicholas Eames

Given that this book tells of a daring adventure in a savage land, I think my band would play Celtic music, so very evocative of heroic feats, wide plains and rolling hills.

 

Strange Dogs

(from The Expanse #6.5), by James S.A. Corey

With a name like this, I can only imagine a Punk Rock band, whose outlandish stage costume should of course include metal-studded dog collars…

 

Night and Silence

(from October Daye #12), by Seanan McGuire

This title could easily belong to a song from Enya, therefore making it perfect for a New Age group playing restful and inspiring music.

 

Pariah

(from Donovan #3), by Michael W. Gear

Considering that the definition I found for Gothic Rock speaks of elements like “horror, romanticism, existential philosophy, and nihilism”, a group who chose such a name as ‘Pariah’ would fit perfectly there.

 

In an Absent Dream

(from Wayward Children #4), by Seanan McGuire 

Well, what else would they play but Trance Music? Repeating rhythms and sounds that would lead the listeners to enter a sort of dreamy state, maybe reaching for some inner peace.

 

Tiamat’s Wrath

(from The Expanse #9), by James S.A. Corey

With a name like this I immediately think of ensembles like Two Steps from Hell, or Audiomachine: their music is largely defined as ‘epic’, by I prefer to label them as Neo-Classical Orchestral. Given that their work is often used for movie trailers, I also found the definition Cinematic Rock.

 

Should any one of these start a concert tour, I will let you know…. 😉

 

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Ten Signs I’m a Book Lover

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:

 

TEN SIGNS YOU’RE A BOOK LOVER

 

This was an easy one… 🙂

 

1) I’m a book blogger! Enough said…

2) I never leave the house without the e-reader in my handbag

3) I look at pictures of wall-to-wall bookshelves as I would look at works of art

4) I have a file listing the books I want to read and keep updating it with new items

Which means I have an actual TBR made of books I already own, plus a “virtual” TBR made of books I would like to own, and certainly will in the near future. Sometimes I think about counting them, then give up because on that path lies madness… 😀

 

5) I set alerts on my computer for the publication date of books I’m eager to read

And there goes another reason I love ebooks: instant gratification. See, shop, download, read.  😉

 

6) I spend more on books than on anything not related to actual survival, like food

7) When I see people marking their place in a book by folding a corner of the page, I shudder in horror

8) My book-hoarding habit has become unmanageable since I turned digital and stopped having problems with space

(space, the final frontier…)

9) When I visit someone’s house I always take a peek at the bookshelves

10) When thinking about a gift, I always think about books first

 

What about you? What are your signs?

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY – SFF Series starters that were instant hits

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 a genre freebie, so I decided to showcase my favorite first books in a series.

 

 

The vast majority of stories being published these days consists of series: a minimum of three books in most cases, while some run for a longer span, and sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of them all or manage to finish them because – let’s face it – how many of us are able to resist the lure of a new saga, especially when the core concept calls us with a siren song?

So, instead of dissuading you from adding any more sagas to your already busy TBRs, I will share the series openers that caused me to get embroiled into more long-term commitments. Trust me, they were worth it…

(The titles are numbered on a casual basis, just as they came to my attention when I looked at my virtual shelves – I loved them all with the same level of intensity)

 

The Blade Itself – Joe Abercrombie (1st Law Trilogy)

This first book in the series that probably started the “grimdark” trend in fantasy languished for a long time on my TBR and finally found its way on my e-reader after I had the opportunity to read Abercrombie’s new series starter, A Little Hatred, whose story was an ideal continuation of this one.  This world, and its amazing characters, took hold of my imagination in no time at all: it’s an ugly, dirty and nasty world, but also a compelling one…

 

The Tethered Mage – Melissa Caruso (Swords and Fire)

What a discovery this was, indeed! It’s rare for a debut work to turn me into an instant fan, but that’s exactly what happened with this book, set in a context reminiscent of 17th Century Venice, where cut-throat politics, winds of war and magic (in a very unusual declination) shape an intriguing story peopled by remarkable characters. Even the slight touches of romance turned out to be an agreeable element in the story, and for me that means a great deal.

 

Age of Assassins – R.J. Barker (The Wounded Kingdom)

Here goes another book that became a favorite, and a compelling read, from the very first chapters – and like the previous one it was a debut work, which makes it even more exceptional.  The Wounded Kingdom has been ravaged by the misuse of magic in the past, so that now everyone suspected of wielding it is instantly put to death: the main character is not only one of those magic-marked people, he’s in training to become an assassin for hire. If this does not pique your curiosity, I don’t know what would, indeed.

 

Kings of the Wyld – Nicholas Eames (The Band)

Also a debut novel like the two previous novels, and an instant success not only for me but for every other fellow book blogger who reviewed this title. A delightful balance between adventure, drama and humor carried by a group of former comrades in arms who get together once more to help one of them rescue his daughter from a city under siege. This novel made me laugh and also kept me on the edge of my seat, but above all it held me in thrall from start to finish, because it had everything I like to find in a book.

 

Embers of War – Gareth Powell (Embers of War)

From Fantasy to Science Fiction: I picked this one up because the synopsis spoke of a sentient ship and that’s one of the themes that never fail to get my attention. What I found here was much more than I bargained for, because the ship Trouble Dog does not only enjoy sentience but is also one of the narrative’s points of view, and we are made privy to its past story and feelings, the massive burden of guilt it carries for its past actions in a bloody war and its desire to atone for them by helping those in need. What’s not to love?

 

Outpost – Michael W. Gear (Donovan)

Another of my favorite SF themes is that of the colonization of alien planets, and few get to be as alien as Donovan, a lush, promising world that has all the numbers to be a new home for humanity – besides being rich in precious metals, that is. But there is a catch, and it’s a deadly one, because everything on Donovan, flora and fauna alike, is out for blood and will kill the unwary at the slightest opportunity.  The battle of the colonists for their survival first, and then against the corporation that wants to gain from its investment, makes for most of the action here, while the descriptions of this beautiful but cruel planet fire the imagination in a delightful way.

 

Dreamer’s Pool – Juliet Marillier (Blackthorn & Grim)

To say that this book bewitched me would only be the truth. In my review I called it “a book with many souls” and it’s true that while presenting a captivating story of injustice, revenge and redemption, it also offers an in-depth look on two amazing characters trying to rebuild their life by helping each other while being quite unlikely friends and allies on the surface. I loved both crusty Blackthorn and silent Grim and they still hold a special place in my heart, and they helped in making Juliet Marillier a favorite author from this very first book I read.

 

A Time of Dread – John Gwynne (Of Blood and Bone)

Epic fantasy can sometimes be overwhelming with its scope and huge number of characters, but John Gwynne has a way of drawing his readers in a little at a time, revealing his world with an unhurried pace – and once you start to see the bigger picture, you discover you’re committed to it, and have started to care for the people inhabiting it.  In my reviews of his works I have often likened this author to a storyteller of old, recounting his sagas around a campfire, and that’s what happened to me with this first (but certainly not the last!) book in his sweeping series: for me there is nothing I enjoy as much as sitting close to that “fire” and keep listening…

 

Illuminae – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman (The Illuminae Files)

Who would have thought that I would fall so hard for a story featuring mainly YA characters? Before this book I would have scoffed at the notion, but Kristoff and Kaufman have created such believable, relatable young people that my heart went out to them as I read of their hardships and desperate endurance after a brutal attack on their colony left few survivors on a handful of ships. What’s more, this novel is presented in a peculiar form, adding found footage, messages and memos to the story, and enhancing it in a very unusual way.

 

Velocity Weapon – Megan O’Keefe (The Protectorate)

An interstellar war; two old enemies bent on mutual annihilation; sentient AIs running ships that elude human control. These elements alone would turn this into a compelling read, but there is much more in Velocity Weapon, because the story follows different timelines and also hides many surprises and unexpected twists, not to mention a female main character who is both strong and compassionate, determined and playful and managed to engage my sympathy in no time at all – just as the ship’s AI did.

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: The ten book series closest to my heart

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme with a bookish (what else?) inclination: each week the prompt encourages us to look through our books to find those who fulfill its specifications – or to give our results an unexpected spin.  Previously created by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where you will also find the list of future topics.

This week’s prompt is: LOVE FREEBIE

Well, it stands to reason that being so near Valentine’s Day the subject of this week’s meme would be about love, so I’m going to list the ten book series that hold a special place in my heart: it was not an easy choice because once I made that list the number went way past ten and I was forced to determine what would stay and what would have to go. So, after a heart-wrenching inner debate I assigned numbers to each of them and let chance pick the ten winners: here they are, in the same order in which they came out.

 

THE EXPANSE, by James S.A. Corey

I’m glad this one made it because to me it is THE space opera series, one that combines adventure and though-provoking issues, excellent characterization and suspenseful drama, not to mention a cast of characters I’ve come to care about quite deeply.  In recent times it also reached the small screen thanks to a TV series now in its fourth season – and I hope that it will go on to cover all the books of this wonderful saga.

 

THE ILLUMINAE FILES, bu Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Space opera again, and with YA protagonists at its center: I don’t make a mystery of my wariness about YA themes and characters, given that so many of them seem to come from the same cookie-cutter mold, but in this case there is a huge difference – the young people portrayed in this series are drawn with such skill and depth that even my inner curmudgeon has no qualms about them. Strong, resourceful and gifted with great courage, the teenagers here manage to give YA a very good name.

 

GENERATION V, by M.L. Brennan

The vampire theme is one that always fascinated me, but with this series I found a very different take on this myth, mostly thanks to its main character, Fortitude Scott, who is very reluctant in giving in to his blood-sucking instinct and tries to live like a normal human.  Better still, Fort is lucky enough to find a helpful partner in Suzume Hollis, a Kitsune shapeshifter who literally stole my heart while making me laugh with her antics.

 

THE DAGGER AND THE COIN, by Daniel Abraham

This is “classical” fantasy, but set in a world where many different races coexist – more or less peaceably – and where the destinies of the people are not ruled only by war and conquest (the dagger) but also, and sometimes more actively, by the power of a banking consortium (the coin) able to influence politics and destinies.  The final book still waits for me to read it, but I’m certain I will soon see how the story wraps up.

 

POWDER MAGE/GODS OF BLOOD AND POWDER, by Brian McClellan

Here I cheated a bit, bundling two series into one, but since they are closely linked in narrative and times I can easily consider them a six-books series rather than two connected trilogies.  This fantasy world is ruled by magic – the more “canonic” kind exerted by Privileged, and that wielded by Powder Mages, whose affinity with gunpowder gifts them with extraordinary abilities. The story starts with a revolution and moves on from here, showcasing fascinating characters and a breath-taking narrative I hope might be continued in future books.

 

BLACKTHORN AND GRIM, by Juliet Marillier

This was a case of instant love from the very first chapters of book 1: the characters of Blackthorn – a woman unjustly imprisoned and burning with the desire to avenge her murdered family – and Grim – a taciturn man with a dark, mysterious past – are linked in a complex, amazing story that is at times heartbreaking and uplifting, moving through a fascinating world that left its mark on me. And made me a huge fan of this author…

 

THE MURDERBOT DIARIES, by Martha Wells

Do you believe it would be possible to feel a deep connection to an emotionless cyborg tasked with security, whose free time is spent watching the equivalent of TV serials? If your answer is ‘no’, think again, because Murderbot will steal your soul and fire your imagination, its denials about feelings and its outspoken dislike for humanity nothing more than a cover for an evolving personality that has no equal in the genre. And I can’t wait for the first (hopefully of many) full book that will soon follow this series of novellas.

 

SWORDS AND FIRE, by Melissa Caruso

Sometimes, accidental discoveries turn out to be the best ones: when I had the luck of encountering this fantasy series, set in a realm that reminds me of 18th Century Venice, I was thrilled to find a world in which magic is wielded in a different way and to meet complex characters who undergo a series of changes that are both interesting and believable, while the story moves at a fast pace through many riveting events. The kind of series one is sorry to see wrapped up.

 

THE WOUNDED KINGDOM, by R.J. Barker

Another chance discovery, and another of those stories that took hold of my imagination from the very start: a world ravaged by the misuse of magic, a world where the mere suspicion of being able to wield it means a death sentence – and a main character in training to be an assassin, who discovers that magic lies within his grasp. Girton Clubfoot and his teacher Merela are among the best fictional creatures I have ever encountered and following their exploits was one of the most breath-taking adventures I can recall.

 

DONOVAN, by W. Michael Gear

Exploring new worlds, finding an Earth-like one and establishing a colony there: what could be more fascinating and adventurous? There is a little problem though: this beautiful, promising world is set on killing you – some plants can move and will try to choke you at the first opportunity; there are savage animals who find you very tasty; and the soil and water contain trace mineral that can poison you.  I always loved colonization stories, but the Donovan series is much more than this: there is an adventure element, granted, but the characters and their interactions are even better – and the saga is still ongoing, to my unending joy.

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Book Titles with Numbers

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme with a bookish (what else?) inclination: each week the prompt encourages us to look through our books to find those who fulfill its specifications – or to give our results an unexpected spin.  Previously created by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where you will also find the list of future topics.

This week’s prompt is….

 

Book Titles with Numbers In Them

 

This TTT was a deceptively easy one once I decided not to take the second part of the challenge which required, where possible, to find titles numbered from 1 to 10 – the real problem surfaced once I looked at my list of past books and found that the ones with a number in the title where not so abundant as I thought. Anyway, here is my Top Ten:

 

 

1) THE TWO TOWERS, by JRR Tolkien

Pride of place goes to the second book in the LOTR, because… well… Tolkien. Enough said 🙂

The cover I chose is one designed by Alan Lee, one of the best – if not THE best – among Tolkien illustrators, and it portrays the tower of Isengard after the flood caused by Treeebeard and the angry Ents after their discovery of Saruman’s treachery, a very powerful image indeed.

 

 

2) 13 MINUTES, by Sarah Pinborough

A mystery coupled with a look into intriguing social dynamics in a school environment and a chilling account of social interactions between teenagers that never fails to inspire relief that I went past all of that quite unscathed…

 

 

3) ONE OF US, by Craig DiLouie

A dystopian novel about the aftermath of a virulent plague that caused the birth of peculiarly gifted individuals in the following generations: these children are segregated from an ignorantly intolerant world, while the more talented ones are exploited by merciless government agencies. A story showing that the definition of “monster” can take many meanings…

 

 

4) THE FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART, by Ben Tripp

Much as I always enjoy vampire-centered novels, this one literally blew me away – not only because of its unexpected, peculiar take on the theme, but because of its intense, breath-stopping pace. One of my best discoveries in the genre.

 

 

5) A SECOND CHANCE AT EDEN, by Peter Hamilton

This is a collection of short stories set in the Night’s Dawn trilogy’s universe and working as a sort of prequel for the main narrative body. An interesting way of seeing how the various factions like Edenists and Adamists came to be and to find themselves at odds with each other.

 

 

6) TWELVE KINGS IN SHARAKHAI, by Bradley Beaulieau

The opening novel in the Shattered Sands series, a story of revenge and discovery featuring Ceda, one of the strongest heroines I ever remember encountering. The setting is also a fascinating one: a harsh environment whose cities are separated by huge stretches of desert navigated by ships that sail on the sands propelled by wind.

 

 

7) THE SIX-GUN TAROT, by R.S. Belcher

A delightfully weird story that mixes, with great success, a Western background and Urban Fantasy themes: the city of Golgotha, on the edges of a vast, pitiless desert, is the place where you could find a sheriff rumored to be a walking dead, a housewife with the skills of an assassin or a native who can morph into a coyote. And much more…

 

 

8) PORTAL OF A THOUSAND WORLDS, by Dave Duncan

This is a very unusual fantasy set in nineteenth century China, a tale of convoluted plots and long-reaching plans, of sweeping rebellions and personal agendas. Maybe not the best place to look for strong female characters, but interesting nonetheless.

 

 

9) 1984, by George Orwell

Another book that needs no introduction: it could very well be considered the progenitor of many dystopian novels and the one that is still quoted whenever limitations to freedom – of thought, of expression – are mentioned.

 

 

10) FAHRENHEIT 451, by Ray Bradbury

Another seminal dystopian landscape and a nightmare for book lovers, given that in this alternate future books are banned and firemen tasked with burning them every time a hidden cache is discovered. And the other narrative thread, about TV and so-called interactive reality shows being the only kind of entertainment, is just as terrifying…

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books On My Fall 2019 TBR

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme with a bookish (what else?) inclination: each week the prompt encourages us to look through our books to find those who fulfill its specifications – or to give our results an unexpected spin.  Previously created by The Broke and the Bookish, Top Ten Tuesday is now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, where you will also find the list of future topics.

This week’s prompt is….

BOOKS ON MY FALL 2019 TBR

Confession time: no matter how much I try to give myself a schedule of books to read, so that I can achieve some kind of balance between the new books being published and those that have been long languishing on my TBR, I’m painfully aware that I’m far too easily distracted…. Nonetheless, I want to give this a try, and see if I can manage to stick to my promise.

One of the fantasy series that has been accumulating dust on my virtual shelf is Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy, a grimdark saga which has received enthusiastic reviews. Now that the first book in the sequel trilogy Age of Madness is out, and now that I’ve read and enormously enjoyed it, I want – or rather need – to… go back in history, so the first three books of my Fall TBR are THE BLADE ITSELF, BEFORE THEY ARE HANGED and LAST ARGUMENT OF KINGS.

 

Then of course there is the third and final chapter of Jay Kristoff’s saga The Nevernight Chronicles, DARKDAWN: it’s already sitting on my e-reader and I’m eager to see how this story of bloody revenge will wrap up.

 

 

Series are going to feature heavily in this post, and one of my top favorites is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye: the thirteenth volume, THE UNKINDEST TIDE was published recently and I know this will be one of the first fall books I will read, because I’m a huge Toby fan…

 

 

Last year, one of my best new discoveries was Fonda Lee’s Jade City, first volume in her Green Bone Saga, an intriguing combination of magic and martial arts. Book 2, JADE WAR came out not long ago and I’ve been eyeing it with growing curiosity.

 

 

The same goes for R.F. Kuang’s THE DRAGON REPUBLIC, book 2 of The Poppy War: if you missed that one, I strongly encourage you to read it because of its powerful writing and intriguing characterization.

 

 

FLEET OF KNIVES is the second book in Gareth Powell’s Embers of War series, following the amazing first book with the same title: in this case it’s science fiction featuring intergalactic wars and sentient ships. What more could I ask for?

 

 

And last but not least, I need to start reading Mary Robinette Kowal’s new SF works, THE CALCULATING STARS (which just won the Hugo) and THE FATED SKY: her fantasy Glamourists Series was a delightful discovery, and I’m curious to sample Kowal’s writing in science fiction.

 

 

Will I be able to keep my promises to myself?  Only time will tell…. 🙂

 

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY #4

TOP TEN TUESDAY is a meme created at The Broke and The Bookish, with the aim of sharing Top Ten lists of our favorites – mostly book related.

toptentuesday

For this last week of the year, the topic is: Top Ten Best Books of 2016

When the time comes to draw up a list like this, I find myself faced with some hard choices, because most of the books I’ve reviewed – and for 2016 they amount to a round 60, which is something of a record for me, given the limited time I can devote to reading – are books I liked quite a bit.

I spoke of reviewed books, rather than simply read, because some of the titles I picked up ended in the DNF  pile, and of these I reviewed only a few – those for which I felt a very strong need to share the reasons  I didn’t like them, although I managed to soldier on past the 25% mark that for me is the “make or break” point.   Which means there are a few more that didn’t even make the list because I could not connect with either story or characters and moved on quite swiftly.

So, of these 60 books, only 3 were abandoned before the end, and I had to pick my favorite 10 out of the remaining 57: as I said, not an easy feat, and that’s the reason I’m not going to list my ten favorite titles in any particular order of preference, but rather in the order I read them. It’s the most Solomonic solution I could come up with…

 

THE FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART, by Ben Tripp

ILLUMINAE, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

DREAMER’S POOL, by Juliet Marillier

A RED ROSE CHAIN & ONCE BROKEN FAITH, by Seanan McGuire  (I could not pick just one of them…)

MORNING STAR, by Pierce Brown

THE LESSER DEAD, by Christopher Buehlman

DARK ASCENSIONS, by M.L. Brennan

THE DRAGON’S PATH, by Daniel Abraham

HOUSE OF SUNS, by Alastair Reynolds

BABYLON’S ASHES, by James S.A. Corey  (forthcoming review)

 

Ok, the count really goes to 11 titles, but I can bend the rules a little if I consider that the books in the October Daye series are all parts of the same whole. Can I?

And what about you?  What are your favorite reads for this year?

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY #3

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish with the aim of sharing Top Ten lists of our favorites – mostly book related.

toptentuesday

This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books I’m Looking Forward To For The First Half Of 2017

If reading is a pleasure and a joy, anticipating the arrival of books we set our sights on is just as fun, especially if they are new installments in our favorite series or stand-alone volumes from authors we particularly enjoy.  So here are some of the titles I can’t wait to add to my reading queue:

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1) John Scalzi: The Collapsing Empire

It’s no mystery that John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, and he’s the kind of writer whose books I buy sight unseen, knowing with absolute certainty that I will have a great time reading any kind of story he writes.  This new novel will be set in a different universe from the one of Scalzi’s greatly acclaimed Old Man’s War series and deals with the discovery of the Flow, a sort of extra-dimensional field that allows faster-than-light travel and the creation of a vast network of colony worlds. Then something threatens the stability of the Flow, and the communications between human outposts…  Intriguing, isn’t it?

2) Ian McDonald: Luna, Wolf Moon

Last year, the first volume in this series, Luna: New Moon, was the best book I read, no question about it.  This story of the colonization of our satellite and of the powerful families that ruled its economy was both fascinating and compelling, but it ended with a massive cliffhanger. Now this amazing saga is returning with the second book, and I’m beyond anxious to know what happened to the survivors of the bloody upheaval that closed the first chapter of the story, and to see if they will exact their vengeance, and how.  I you still have not read this magnificent story, I urge you to try it, it will be more than worth your time.

3) Bradley Beaulieu: With Blood upon the Sand

Another great discovery from last year, a fantasy novel rich in imagination and peopled with great characters, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai was both a revelation and an amazing beginning to a compelling saga. The main character Çeda started the first leg of her journey of vengeance in book 1 and now that she’s finally inside the enemy camp the true adventure will be about to begin.  I can hardly wait to go back to this well-crafted, vibrant world steeped in mystery, intrigue and peculiar magic, rich with fascinating characters and dreadful creatures.

4) Scott Lynch: The Thorn of Emberlain

The Gentlemen Bastards are back! This new chapter of the adventures of Locke Lamora and Jean Tannen promises to be a good one: in the course of the last book, The Republic of Thieves, there were some revelations about Locke’s past that will, with all probability, bear some weight on the story’s course, and I can’t forget the last chapter of that book and the dreadful menace that is approaching. To further escalate tension, there seems to be a war brewing on the horizon and it still remains to be seen how that will impact on the… activities of the two friends and comrades.  No matter what’s going to happen, it will be an engrossing read, as always…

5) Seanan McGuire: The Brightest Fell

Again, an author and a series that need no introduction: for this 11th installment in the successful October Daye series there are no hints about story development yet, but to me it hardly matters, since I’ve been a staunch Toby fan for a long time now. You keep rolling them out, Ms. McGuire, and I will keep reading them – and so will the ever-growing number of enthusiasts that have discovered one of the best UF series of the moment.

6) Seanan McGuire: Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Same author, different series: the first book in the Wayward Children saga, Every Heart a Doorway marked the beginning of a new narrative track for this extremely prolific writer. The wayward children are those who found special doorways that took them into strange, fantastic and more often than not scary worlds that nonetheless attracted them more than the one – the ‘real’ world – they lived in. And if by choice or accident they managed to stumble back home, they now feel out of place, and long to go back and recapture the magic.  Poignant and deep, and quite thought-provoking.

7) Sean Danker: Free Space

Admiral was a total surprise, both because it turned out to be much different than its beginning led to me expect, and because I’m more than curious to know more about the mysterious character that was at the center of the story. In this new installment he’s kidnapped and used as a bargaining chip in the far-from-stable political landscape where the Evagardian Empire holds sway… but only up to a certain point, it would seem.

8) M.R. Carey: The Boy on the Bridge

There is not much information about this book, apart from the fact that it’s a sort of prequel to the highly successful The Girl with All the Gifts, a poignant post-apocalyptic story that was able to take a well-used trope and turn it into a wonderful, meaningful story.  To say I’m curious would be the understatement of the year!

9) James S.A. Corey: Persepolis Rising

No information about this one either, but it’s more than enough to know that it will be the 7th book in the acclaimed The Expanse space-opera series, the same that was so very successfully translated on the small screen by the SyFy Channel, in a very welcome return to a SF production of quality and depth.  The sixth book, Babylon’s Ashes just came out, and the fact that I’m already keeping this one in my sights says a great dal about my appreciation of this story…

10) GRR Martin: The Winds of Winter

And a list about much-expected books would not be complete without the mention of the next installment of the most famous fantasy saga of our days: there is no clear indication about the possibility of reading the much-longed-for next book from A Song of Ice and Fire in 2017, but since hope springs eternal I’m adding it at the end of my list as a form of propitiatory ritual. Please, Mr. Martin, pretty please….

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Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY #2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish with the aim of sharing Top Ten lists of our favorites – mostly book related.

toptentuesday

This weeks’ theme is Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read For The First Time In 2016

new-2016

We all have our preferred authors, those whose works we buy sight unseen because we know with total certainty that we will love what they write, and the stories they will offer us. And yet the discovery of new writers is just as thrilling as opening a new book by a well-loved author: this year I have been particularly lucky with my findings, and it took some effort in deciding how to compile this list, because there were more than 10 names I could quote…

So here we go, in no particular order of preference – these were all amazing finds:

Michael Livingston: The Shards of Heaven

My first historical fiction book, and one I loved, dealing with the aftermath of Julius Caesar’s assassination and the political and military fallout on Egypt, with some added “spice” from the magical properties of some powerful, much sought-after objects.  I can’t wait to start on the second book of the series…

(my review)

Ben Tripp: The Fifth House of the Heart

Vampires at their worst and most terrifying are always a delight to read, especially when the “hero” facing them is anything but, and yet still manages to worm his way into your sympathies and make you root for him every step of the way. Sadly this is a standalone book: I would have loved to read more of these adventures!

(my review)

Amie Kaufman-Jay Kristoff: Illuminae

A true revelation: my usual aversion to YA themes and protagonists vanished into thin air thanks to the authors’ skill in picturing the teenaged main characters of this space-opera story, dealing with survival and the need to make the truth stand out, no matter what.  Another one whose sequel is already in my sights.

(my review)

Juliet Marillier: Dreamer’s Pool

The kind of story I fall for hard and fast, the kind of story that’s so immersive and totally gripping I can’t stop to think about it even when I’m not reading.  The main characters, the rough-mannered Blackthorn and the taciturn Grim had my soul from the very first pages, and their voices sounded loud and true in my mind. One of the best discoveries in this reading year, indeed.

(my review)

Stephanie Burgis: Masks and ShadowsCongress of Secrets

Two for the price of one, indeed. Another historical fantasy writer who not only afforded me two wonderful reads in the same year, but also compelled me to look further into the historical periods depicted in her novels and helped me learn details I did not know. Entertaining and instructive: who could wish for more?

(Mask and Shadows review)    (Congress of Secrets review)

Christopher Buehlman: The Lesser Dead

Vampires, again: this time living (more or less, of course, being undead…) in New York in the late ’70s and showing a new facet of these creatures, one that is as far from glamorous and fascinating as humanly, or inhumanly, possible, and yet they kept me glued to the pages as if under a spell. An amazing discovery.

(my review)

Sean Danker: Admiral

Space opera, a survival story and a mystery, all rolled into one: it took me a while to warm up to this book, because it, in turn, took a while before getting into proper gear, but once it started rolling it never lost speed for a moment.  To say I’m curious to see where the next installment will bring the “Admiral” would be a massive understatement…

(my review)

Julie Czerneda: A Thousand Words for Stranger

After waiting for quite some time before sampling this author, I’ve discovered that there is much more to her stories than it would seem at first sight, and that she can lead you to think you have figured it all out, only to turn the story (and the reader…) upside down without warning.  An interesting beginning that will certainly develop into an equally interesting journey.

(my review)

Erin Lindsey: The Bloodbound

A sword-wielding heroine who not only does not need to be saved, but instead does save life and hide of her king time and again? That’s what I call a (happy) bending of the rules, indeed.  And even though there is something of a love triangle in the story, it’s treated with such a light hand and with the well-crafted exploration of sincere feelings that for the first time in such a circumstance I never had to roll my eyes. Quite a feat…

(forthcoming review)

Rachel Caine: Ink and Bone

This is the perfect book for book lovers, starting from the premise that the Great Library of Alexandria was never destroyed.  “Wonderful!” many would say, thinking that the survival of so much knowledge would herald a more enlightened world. Well, they would be wrong because…  better discover that on your own, don’t you think?

(forthcoming review)

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