Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Wyrd & Wonder Edition – #Wyrdandwonder

image by Svetlana Alyuk on 123RF.com

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 concerned the ten most recent reads – possibly with a one-line comment about the story – and I decided to adapt it for Wyrd & Wonder, showcasing the ten fantasy books I most enjoyed in the past few months.

THE SHADOW OF THE GODS, by John Gwynne

A breath-taking story of loyalty and courage in a fascinating Norse setting.

THE FALL OF KOLI, by M.R. Carey

The poignant end to a coming of age story and journey of discovery in a post-apocalyptic world.

BEST SERVED COLD, by Joe Abercrombie

Revenge does not warm your heart and it steals your soul, but makes for a gripping story…

THE MASK OF MIRRORS, by M.A. Carrick

Adventure and treachery, conspiracies and politics – and a city steeped in magic.

CALL OF THE BONE SHIPS, by R.J. Barker

Sailing ships made of dragon bones, avian windcallers and crews you come to love and care for.

HOW TO RULE AND EMPIRE AND GET AWAY WITH IT, by K.J. Parker

From mediocre playwright to city ruler: sometimes destiny has a strange sense of humor…

THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, by Melissa Caruso

Her touch is death, but her heart is in the right place, and friends can make a huge difference.

FOUNDRYSIDE, by Robert Jackson Bennett

A ninja-like thief and a talking key for a once-in-a-lifetime heist.

MOONTANGLED, by Stephanie Burgis

Another adventure in the alternate England where women rule and man practice magic – but not always.

BLOOD OF EMPIRE, by Brian McClellan

The last (?) book about the Powder Mages: a bittersweet goodbye to a great saga.

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Book Titles That Sound Like They Could Be Crayola Colors

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 required some changes from my usual way of finding books to list, because I normally pick examples from the titles I blogged about since the start of my “adventure”. This time, however, there were not enough examples to fill the ten places required by the meme, so I decided to list books that I have not read or reviewed but that are either known to me because they are famous (and I might read them yet one of these days…) or because I know their author by fame of by having already read some of their works, only none with colors in the title. 😉

And I tried to offset my lack of actual knowledge of the the books themselves by doing something special…

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Spring Cleaning

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.  

My TBR does indeed need an energetic spring cleaning, because I tend to amass books as if there was no tomorrow – and the fact that they take up no space at all on the shelves, since they are ebooks, turns me into an irresponsible hoarder…

So I’ve looked at the books that have been on my TBR for a very long time and that I need to read before I forget why I added them to my TBR. In truth I DO know why I acquired them: some fellow blogger’s  review piqued my interest and showed me that I might very well enjoy that particular story, so why did I not jump straight in? Because I’m too easily distracted, that’s why! 

Let’s hope that I can soon make my amends to these poor “orphans” I neglected for so long – here are some of them, with the indication (barring any mistake on my part) of the date in which they were added to my TBR:

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo  (October 2015)

An intriguing magic system and a dangerous heist: now that Leigh Bardugo’s previous saga has been optioned for a Netflix series that will air soon, reading this book has become one of my priorities. Just the word ‘heist’ should be enough to make me dust off this one ASAP!

The Ember Blade by Chris Wooding (December 2018)

This looked like a classic fantasy quest and a very engrossing book, and probably one of the reasons I have not started it yet it’s because it’s a big tome – not that I have anything against big books, on the contrary, but I’m still on the fence about this one. For no reason at all…

The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell (April 2016)

I’ve been wanting to read something by Bernard Cornwell since forever, and his historical fiction series have always looked very intriguing, but so far I have not managed to pick up this one, although the story itself is very fascinating. Probably knowing that I might find myself enmeshed in another engrossing and time-intensive series is the main reason for my continued hesitation.

The Black Prism by Brent Weeks (January 2017)

Many of my fellow bloggers sang high praises for Brent Weeks, which of course made me curious: what prevented me from satisfying that curiosity so far? I have no idea….

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (March 2016)

This book’s main attraction for me resided in the fact that commenters described it as “genre-defying”, given its mix of SF, Fantasy and Dystopian, and I always enjoy stories with blurred borders between genres. Moreover, it might be a good addition for the next SciFi Month this November!

Farlander by Col Buchanan (November 2011)

Another mixed SF/Fantasy offering sporting one of my favorite themes: a guild of assassins and a young apprentice learning the “trade” during perilous times. Given that this is one of the oldest additions to my TBR I will have to hurry up and… dust it off, so to speak, as soon as possible.

The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman (May 2017)

Two or three years ago I read – and enjoyed – the first book in the Invisible Library series, but never moved further than that: my fellow bloggers agree on the series’ narrative value, so I must make an extra effort to keep up with the author’s production.

The Paladin Caper by Patrick Weekes (November 2015)

The final book in the Rogues of the Republic series I enjoyed very much: a mix of Fantasy and tongue-in-cheek humor that always amused me. Honestly I have no idea why I did not finish the series, but I will have to keep this one in mind when I am in need of something delightfully funny to amuse me.

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien de Castell (August 2018)

This author is one the most appreciated among my fellow bloggers, and I’ve been looking at this first book in the Greatcoats’ series for some time: the Four Musketeers’ vibe that I get from it should have proved irresistible, but so far I seem to have been able to ignore its siren song…

Firefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (June 2016)

The reviews I’ve read about this novel – and the others in the series – unanimously speak of a story that requires a tight focus from the reader, so I have kept procrastinating while waiting for the… perfect moment in which to let myself be carried away with it. I should keep this one in mind for the already mentioned SciFi Month this fall, as well.

It will be interesting to see, by the end of the year, how many of these books I have actually managed to read… 🙂

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Bookish Valentine’s Day

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. 

Even though romance is quite low on the list of themes I enjoy in my books, I wanted to find a way to follow the parameters of this week’s Love Freebie in honor of Valentine’s Day, and after some thought I decided that listing the book series that are closer to my reader’s heart would be a more than acceptable compromise.

So I picked up 5 each among my favorite Fantasy and Science Fiction series, to balance out the mix. For Fantasy the winners are:

Powder Mage – Brian McClellan

The Wounded Kingdom – RJ Barker

Blackthorn and Grim – Juliet Marillier

The First Law – Joe Abercrombie

Of Blood and Bone – John Gwynne

On the whole these are all quite… energetic series, with a good share of battles, duels and recklessly spilled blood, which might not look very fitting for a Valentine’s Day celebration, but they all managed to transport me in another time and place and made me care for their characters, which is reason enough to sustain my deep affection for these stories.

Moving over to Science Fiction, my choice fell on these:

The Expanse – James S.A. Corey

Donovan – W. Michael Gear

The Murderbot Diaries – Martha Wells

Embers of War – Gareth Powell

Vorkosigan Saga – Lois McMaster Bujold

There is a little more lightness here, mostly thanks to the tongue-in-cheek humor coming from Murderbot and to Miles Vorkosigan’s happy recklessness, but these series still delight me for their wonderful combination of drama and humor and I know they will always be at the top of my lists.

And now it’s your turn: where did you lose your bookish hearts? 😉

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: New-to-Me Authors I Read in 2020

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. 

Looking back on my 2020 reads, I saw that I added a good number of authors I never read before, and that some of them introduced me to series I either did not know about, or had not started yet.

So, without further ado, here are (in no particular order) the ten new authors who brightened my TBR in the past year:

Becky Chambers, Michael Connelly and Vivian Shaw get the lion’s share in this department, since the covers I listed are simply place-holders for the rest of their respective series, two of which still have several books to explore… But that’s for the (hopefully near) future! 😉

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

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. 

One of the most common (and enjoyable) activities for a book blogger is the compilation of a list of “wanted” books: just by reading the recommendations of our fellow bloggers we are able to add a considerable number of books to that list, further enlarged by the discoveries we make on our own.

But no matter how good we are in making inroads in our TBRs (and I’m afraid I’m not…), there is always a great number of titles that we are unable to get to, and more often than not contemplating the milestones of that “road not taken” makes us regret those missed opportunities.

In 2020 I posted a list of titles I wanted to read without fail, only to realize once again, not that he new year has started, that the road to Hell is, as I’m fond of saying, paved with unread books. Here are my missed chances:

Happily enough, since the start of 2021, I managed to read two of them: Best Served Cold and The Spider’s War: should I consider this a hopeful start for my list of missed 2020 books? Keeping my fingers crossed…

Reviews

MY TOP TEN FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2020

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. 

The end of the year is always the time to review our reading achievements, and before I go into some year-end statistics I’d like to showcase the 10 books that I most enjoyed, although this list proved something of a difficult choice, since the books that earned a well-deserved 5-star rating were much more than that.  So I decided to line up the ones from my two ever-favorite genres that truly shined, and here we go:

FANTASY:

This year, Joe Abercrombie earned the lion’s share of the 5-star ratings for Fantasy, which does not mean that the two other competitors – John Gwynne and RJ Barker – did not amaze me with their books: it’s just that I went on something of an “Abercrombie Rampage”, that’s all 😉

SCIENCE FICTION:

Here I can show more variety, author-wise, and this year saw the return of a couple of series I enjoyed and the appearance of an unexpected “outsider” in the form of a TV tie-in book that, surprising for its kind, turned out to be an amazing, quite enthralling read.

And now it’s your turn: which were your favorite books this year? Inquiring minds want to know… 😉

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY SciFi Month Edition: MyTop Ten Sci-Fi tv series – #SciFiMonth

ARTWORK by Tithi Luadthong from 123RF.com

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. 

When TV series dealing with SF are mentioned everyone, even people who are not interested in the genre, thinks about Star Trek, which is understandable since it’s the longest-running SF television show and the most known. But there are many other past and present TV shows that are just as good and this is my opportunity to shine the spotlights on them.

Here we go – click on the titles to be directed to the respective Wikipedia pages:

BABYLON 5

This is for me THE science fiction show, the one that set my standards for the genre and the one I will always mention when asked which is my favorite. Some might consider it dated – it ran from 1994 to 1998 – and yet it has weathered time very well: the CGI shows its age, granted, but B5 is not so much about space battles or weird aliens, but rather about people and the way they react to extraordinary events. Its main attraction to me, what keeps it fresh and enjoyable, no matter how many times I rewatch it, comes from the characters’ journeys and the depth of the dialogues. Here is an example, one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite characters:

FARSCAPE

I like to say that where Babylon5 appeals to my mind, Farscape appeals to my emotions: it is the often harrowing journey of a man thrown all the way across the galaxy who finds himself in the company of weird aliens that, slowly but surely, morph from uneasy traveling companions to friends and family.  Farscape is colorful and outlandish, crazy and deep at the same time, and it holds an added bonus: through its fandom I made many friends – some online, some in real life – who have become, like the crew of the living ship Moya, family. And it’s no mean thing…

THE EXPANSE

I came to know this series through the books that inspired it, one of the best space opera sagas I ever encountered: it translated very well to the screen and despite some “growing pains” (yes, SyFy, I’m pointing my accusing finger at you!) is has found a steady following and, hopefully, a spreading audience.  There are some very talented performers giving life to the books’ characters, and here is one amazing example, portraying a character who is not in the books but was created by combining the personalities of several – with great results…

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

I’m doing a series of rewatch posts for this one, so you might want to see what it’s about in my SciFi Month Sunday posts…

FIREFLY

Here is a sad example of the short-sightedness of network executives, who pulled the plug on this show before it had the barest chance of getting its feet wet. Since then, its fandom has remained steady, and the core story has become something of a well-loved theme in the genre, that of a crew of misfits trying to survive in a hostile galaxy. Here is the video for its famous intro theme…

STARGATE UNIVERSE

Another SyFy big mistake in my opinion: this offshoot of the Stargate franchise was darker and more moody than its “big brother” but I liked the theme of this group of people finding themselves on an ancient, but very advanced, ship on a mystery journey across the galaxy,  as personal problems and hidden agendas mingled with their efforts at survival. It also had one of the best soundtracks in the genre, one that was never offered for sale – the latest big oversight in a long series of them 😦   Here is the main theme:

FRINGE

Parallel universes, alternate realities, and a slow-evolving mystery that kept me glued to the screen from start to finish: Fringe is an intriguing mix of science fiction and crime investigation, with some (well, not so few…) touches of horror that make for a very fascinating mix, and supported by intriguing characters – on both universes… Here is a series I might not mind rewatching if I had the time 🙂

SPACE: 1999

This is an older series that ran for only two seasons from 1975 to 1977 (yes, prehistory, I know…) and while often cheesy and unsophisticated, it sported some great sets that were quite advanced for the time the series was shot, particularly where the interiors of the Moon Base were concerned. Granted, it required a huge suspension of disbelief (if, as the inciting incident shows, an explosion occurred on the hidden side of the Moon, our satellite would have been thrown toward Earth, not launched into deep space) but it was fun and, at the time I first watched it, it was the only SF show available, which makes me quite nostalgic…

DEFIANCE

This was an interesting story, showing a post-apocalyptic Earth in the wake of an alien invasion: the extra-terrestrial races looking for a new home on our planet started a terraforming project that wrought havoc on the environment and led to an uneasy coexistence between humans and aliens. The setting reminds me a little of the western frontier, and led to an interesting storyline, which was brought to a hurried close in the third season by the usual incomprehensible decision of SyFy’s executives. If this sounds like a Groundhog Day situation… well, it is, and if I sound not-so-slightly peeved, yes, I am (((SIGH)))

PERSON OF INTEREST

It might not seem that this show could be classified as SF, and the idea of an all-seeing Machine watching over humanity’s deeds is practically a reality – just look at the kind of ads you receive after your internet searches… And yet this Machine, though unseen and unheard, takes on a definite personality which becomes even more pronounced when its evil twin, called Samaritan, tries to take over the world.  Here is the chilling intro sequence where the voice-over warns us about being constantly watched…

Reviews

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them to Me

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.

It’s no secret that since I started book blogging most (if not all) of the recommendations I get come from my fellow bloggers, particularly those whose preferences are close to mine – although I have to admit that sometimes those very recommendations asked me to take a leap of faith and move away from my comfort zone, and when I did I was always rewarded with some amazing novel I would not have otherwise known.

So, besides listing a few of the books I read – and loved – thanks to other bloggers’ suggestions, I want to celebrate my fellow book lovers and their unending source of great advice 🙂

RED RISING, by Pierce Brown
DREAMER’S POOL, by Juliet Marillier
ILLUMINAE, by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
CERTAIN DARK THINGS, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
KILL CREEK, by Scott Thomas
THE HUNGER, by Alma Katsu
FIREFLY: BIG DAMN HERO, by James Lovegrove
THE WICKED KING, by Holly Black
RECURSION, by Blake Crouch
BROTHERHOOD OF THE WHEEL, by R.S. Belcher

And this is just a small sample of the books I encountered thanks to some very inspired reviews I read: what about you?

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