Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Most Inspiring Fantasy Covers

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 Cover Freebie, so I choose to list the most inspiring Fantasy covers.

We keep telling ourselves that we should never judge a book from its cover, but we also acknowledge that more often than not it’s the cover that draws us to a given book, in the hope of discovering that beauty is not just skin-deep, or rather, cover-deep…

Here are some of the books whose covers, together with their promise for a wonderful story, enhanced my reading experience:

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms – N. K. Jemisin

Red Seas Under Red Skies – Scott Lynch

Half a War – Joe Abercrombie

The Last Stormlord – Glenda Larke

Dreamer’s Pool – Juliet Marillier

Promise of Blood – Brian McClellan

A Time of Dread – John Gwynne

Godsgrave – Jay Kristoff

Foundryside – Robert Jackson Bennett

The Spider’s War – Daniel Abraham

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books that should be adapted into Netflix shows/movies

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.  

In one of my more recent posts I complained about Hollywood’s apparent inability to come up with enough original stories and the studios’ tendency of focusing on sequels, prequels and reboots when there is a TON of amazing books from which to draw inspiration. Maybe those studios executives don’t read enough…?

Anyway, the appearance – and success – of streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon and their brethren gives us much hope about the possibility of seeing our favorite stories translated for the small screen (which, given the average size of new television sets, is not so small anymore…).

In the aforementioned post, I expressed my hope that Megan O’Keefe’s Protectorate novels would be picked up for a TV series, but there is a long list of other books I would love to see developed with the same level of care and skill as is happening, for example, with James S.A. Corey’s The Expanse, stories that are not solely confined to the Science Fiction realm, but also come from Fantasy or Horror. And there is a great deal more than just ten, listed in no particular order, so apologies for ignoring the rules this time! 🙂

 

EMBERS OF WAR by Gareth Powell
DONOVAN by W. Michael Gear
THE MURDERBOT DIARIES by Martha Wells
OF BLOOD AND BONE by John Gwynne
THE FIRST LAW by Joe Abercrombie
THE POWDER MAGE by Brian McClellan
THE NEWSFLESH by Mira Grant
THE ILLUMINAE FILES by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff
OLD MAN’S WAR by John Scalzi
BLACKTHORN AND GRIM by Juliet Marillier
THE WOUNDED KINGDOM by R.J. Barker
RED RISING by Pierce Brown
REVELATION SPACE by Alastair Reynolds
GENERATION V by M.L. Brennan
THE PLAYER OF GAMES or USE OF WEAPONS by Iain Banks

 

 

I hope that some streaming platform executives are listening right now…

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY:  Books I Loved but Never Reviewed

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.  

 

 

Since I started blogging in 2014 there is a huge amount of books I read, enjoyed but never had the chance to review, and I’m very happy of this Top Ten Tuesday prompt that will give me the opportunity of talking a little about them.

 

Of course the pride of place goes to J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, which I often mentioned but never examined in depth – and here is a thought for the future, when I might decide to finally write down my considerations, after a thorough reread of course. So, ladies and gentlemen, here are THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT, by JRR Tolkien

 

Another constant feature of my exchanges with fellow bloggers is of course DUNE, by Frank Herbert, that for me is the SF equivalent of Tolkien’s works as far as the impact on my imagination goes.

 

Moving to a different genre, there is THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, by Frederick Forsyth, one of my “blasts from the past, the high adrenaline story (probably fictional, but who knows?) of a skilled marksman and killer-for-hire whose target is nothing else but Charles de Gaulle. The man is a shadow, and as elusive as smoke, and the story of the hunt for this man is one of the best thrillers I ever read.

 

EYE OF THE NEEDLE, by Ken Follett is another novel that took my breath away: it follows a German spy working undercover in England during WWII and collecting information on the Allies’ defenses and troops deployment. He is called The Needle because of his penchant for a stiletto as a weapon of choice.  This novel is a successful blend of thriller and historical fiction, and a compulsive read as well.

 

THE HUNGER GAMES, by Suzanne Collins: I read this one on the recommendation of a friend and I enjoyed the dystopian setting as well as the main character, who shortly became a sort of template for many YA heroines – not always as successful in characterization as Katniss was.

 

HEROES DIE, by Matthew Woodring Stover is a very peculiar novel, because it starts as epic fantasy, following the adventures of Caine, the Blade of Tyshalle, a fearless hero, only to reveal at some point that the fantasy setting is an alternate world in which actors like Caine are sent to playact their exploits as a form of entertainment for the viewers of our modern world. It’s a weirdly hybrid premise, but it works very well…

 

WARCHILD, by Karin Lowachee is one of the most poignant stories I ever read: young Jos is enslaved by pirates who capture the ship he was traveling on, killing all the adults. To survive in such an abusive world he will have to go to horrible extremes and suffer the anguish of torn loyalties. A highly emotional story and one that literally tore at my soul.

 

Vampires are among my favorite supernatural creatures, and the main reason I’m so fascinated by them is that SALEM’S LOT, by Stephen King, is the first book I read focusing on them, and one I still consider a fundamental story in the genre. And that scene of the young, freshly turned boy, calling to his friend from beyond the window, is one that I will never forget.

 

CHASM CITY, by Alastair Reynolds, was my introduction to the author’s Revelation Space saga: it introduced me to his rich universe and to the horrifying concept fo the Melding Plague, a virus attacking nanotechnology and from there infecting the organic material in human bodies with implants. A city so ravaged by the Plague is the background for a nightmarish search for vengeance…

 

Are there some… unsung favorites in your bookcases?

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

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.