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:

next-2017

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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