Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: College is out ... FOREVER

Yes, title's rather reminiscent of a certain Maximum Ride book (dang, I really liked those). BUT IT'S TRUE! I am officially a Scientist. *sets fire to notebooks gleefully*

I'm sure all who know me from other online spaces are painfully tired of hearing that I have FREE TIME, but guys. FREE. TIME. Hobbies! Interests! Reading! Writing! I can do these things now!

Thus, by the power of my total dominion over this blog, I declare the inauguration of a new weekly series on books I want to read--

Wait a sec.

*checks internet*

*internet whirrs and dispenses--


I've been scoooooped! *collapses on fainting couch dramatically*

Turns out this brilliant idea already exists. If it weren't for you meddling kids--!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly blog series about books run by The Broke and Bookish blog (a sentiment I can well identify with) which centers around, basically, making a List (whee!) of books which fit the theme for the week. About a million blogs participate in it so go and look at what everyone is reading!

This week's theme is Summer Reading. And never have I been more well-prepared to fill a list with this theme. Observe my Goodreads to-read list. Sadly, my library catalogue doesn't exactly overlap with it so it may be a while before I get to all of them. Picking ten books I really want to read?

This is like 10% of my to-read list! My recent to-read list!
I read a lot of SFF, mainly Fantasy, mainly Epic and Low Fantasy (I tend to gritty but not grimdark). Lately I've been interested in more spy novels, because SPIES. I've also been interested in getting into more science fiction (this is hard because I'm one of those annoying people who will focus on the impossibility of your laser-gun or robot-virus rather than just sitting back and enjoying the plot). The List is therefore quite varied (within my beloved genres), hoping I find more awesome authors through it.

And now (in no particular order) ...

1. Hit by Delilah S. Dawson

Okay, I'll admit it, you had me at female assassin MC. Who yarn-bombs. In a bank-controlled USA in which law enforcement is done by bounty hunters.

HIT is a futuristic dystopia where not reading the fine print can screw up your life--and, for the MC of HIT, force you to become an indentured assassin to pay off your mother's debt. It's a suspenseful thriller, and I'm desperate to read it. Which is rather unusual for me--I don't tend to read YA. But this looks too awesome to pass up. Assassins, guys! Assassins! Dystopia! Credit card scams! I want it now.  

2. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan

I've been meaning to read Blood Song for probably two years now. A self-pubbed book originally, Anthony Ryan is another of those great indie author success stories. Forums were absolutely raving over Blood Song so naturally I'm extremely curious to find out what's up.

Outwardly, it seems not terribly out-there: orphaned MC is left at the gates of the Brothers of the Sixth Order, a celibate order of warriors. He learns confusing secrets about his family and discovers a fate which will change not only him--but the world. Honestly, the summary isn't enough to make me pick it up. What's put it on my list are the reviews, the 4.5 (!) star rating on Goodreads, and the forum excitement. Book talk matters, guys!

3. Toll the Hounds by Steven Erikson

*guiltily puts book on list*

I won't say how long it's been since I last read Malazan. (It's been loooong).

This is Book #8 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen, a series that you either deeply love or violently hate. Toll the Hounds is similar: it's been called either the best book of the series, or the worst. Like all Malazan books it's incredibly difficult, overflowing with characters, and almost impossible to know WTH the plot even is until the last 10% of the book (I'm projecting here from my experiences with books 1-7). It's also got the best worldbuilding I've ever seen in fantasy, one of the most original magic systems, and superbly done military setting. Malazan really is incredible. And I usually need about a month to read each book, and a month's break in between.

I'm just hoping we've got more Kalam and Quick Ben in this one. Favorite fantasy friendship. 

4. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

I am SO EXCITED to read this book. Let me count the ways.


Brief overview before we get back to jumping up and down.

Three Parts Dead is Book #1 of the Craft series, a series that I can't believe I missed until now. Setting is Meso-America-inspired (!), with gods that can live and die (I do like defeatable gods) and a badass MC who I feel I'll like instantly. A god has died, and MC must go and bring him back to live before everything explodes (figuratively?) in the city of Alt Coulumb. We're talking steam-power tech, a chain-smoking priest of the dead god as a sidekick, firms of professional god-revivers (from what I can figure).

Basically there's nothing that's not awesome about this book. Non-European setting, with diverse badass characters, and non-omnipotent gods? Sign me UP. And if you look at the covers for the rest of the books you'll see this probably isn't just an incidental or token inclusion. The ENTIRE thing isn't default-fake-Europe with all default-fake-Europeans like so much of fantasy. I'll have to read the books first, of course, before I laud it overmuch. But I'm absolutely thrilled about this series. Cannot wait.

5. The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

This book came on the radar thanks to Twitter. Social Marketing sells books? Aah, I'm just another cog in the machine! *weeps for soul*

Frankly, Sam Sykes is so hilarious and weird on The Internet that I just have to check out his book. The few quotes tweeted by readers certainly haven't hurt. I, in fact, recommend this to authors promoting on social marketing spaces: give us a few of the best quotes! The jokes! The weird bits! Give us a sense of what your book's like then let us see for ourselves.

City Stained Red is about a city (duh) which lives off the products of GIANT SILK-SPINNING SPIDERS. MC is a dude who just wanted to beat his sword into a plowshare but actually has to save the city and fight monsters. There's armies inside and outside the city, and bunches of people who want to see each other dead basically everywhere. It looks a fun, amusing unapologetic monster-killing romp with a rather hilarious MC (quotes, guys!). Definitely want to read. I love it when it's clear the author just had buckets of fun with their novel.

6. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

#1 in the Glamorist Histories. Now this book is a bit of a departure from the rest of the mercenary-MC, dirt-and-grime, violent-world-saving fantasy I usually gravitate towards.

Shades and Milk and Honey is a tale about a young woman in an alternate Regency England, where magic (glamours) are necessary to one's social position. It's clearly a love story, Jane Austen-like, about a family's honor and an "invisible" sister who can't compete in the ballroom but is key to the family's (social) survival. I enjoy Regency-with-magic novels occasionally (see: Sorcery and Cecelia, one of my favorites), and I respect the author so I'm game to try the book. We'll see how irritating I find the love story (romance and I ... don't get along very well. Unless we're talking Kushiel.).

7. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

The Killing Moon is Book 1 of the Dreamblood series from N. K. Jemisin. And I'm excited.

I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and wow, was it a breath of fresh air. The MC! The well-done tribal societies! The strange (and very original) concept of gods as slaves to a human family! I loved the world, the SOCIETIES, the only issue I had was the plot (the ending left me rather unsatisfied) and I wasn't a fan of the love story (as usual ... >.>). Many of the issues I saw felt more like debut-author issues, rather than systemic characteristics I couldn't get along with. However, the world she built has me eager to read more of her stuff.

And thus, this book. Again, a strange and unusual setting beckons--the summary is rather short so I can't infer anything about the characters or plot but what I see has me intrigued:
In the ancient city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Upon its rooftops and amongst the shadows of its cobbled streets wait the Gatherers - the keepers of this peace. Priests of the dream-goddess, their duty is to harvest the magic of the sleeping mind and use it to heal, soothe - and kill those judged corrupt.
Every now and then I like a good bizarre priesthood and all-powerful theocratic society that must (inevitably) be overthrown. Enforced peace, murderous righteous priests, and a strange magic system--interesting. Very interesting. I want to see what the MC will do.

8. The Martian by Andy Weir

Pure scifi! Astronaut goes to Mars and gets stranded. How will he survive? More specifically, what kind of engineering skills will he use to make tools, acquire food/water/shelter, communication equipment, etc.? Engineering scifi space thriller! Furthermore, they're making a movie about it. Very curious.

Given my rather hardline approach to scifi (I read hard scifi and well ... not much else) this looks like a good book to get me reading more scifi, and perhaps discover another author. The premise is interesting and this xkcd pushed me off the edge--

So on the list it goes! For a while unfortunately--thanks to the movie, all copies have been snapped up from my library and so I wait, waaay down on the hold list.

9. A Shadow in Summer by Daniel Abraham

Book 1 of the Long Price Quartet, which I have been calling the Long Prince Quartet for an embarrassingly long time.

What am I looking forward to here? The city. Another non-fake-European setting, rich in trade, culture, and petty quarrels. A city which is dangerously close to destruction, while on the surface business proceeds as usual. Poet-sorcerers! Businesswomen! Rival cities with armies! Trade-politics! A complacent and confident society, with absolutely no idea that under the surface, everything is going to hell!

Yes, I'm mostly obsessed with the setting again, but I love fantasy novels about brilliantly-created cities (as should be rather obvious by now) and this is another one--but this one is not based on Europe. The plot sounds like it will execute on an EPIC scale, fulfilling another love of mine: widespread, rampant chaos. And finally, we have economic politics. WANT.

10. Lavinia by Ursula Le Guin

And finally, we have the classic. Ursula Le Guin writes in the setting of the Aeneid (check, and check. Instant want-to-read). We know about Aeneas, about the soldiers of Troy--we know about the Gods. But Ursula Le Guin asks: what about the women? What about Lavinia, daughter of a King, woman sought after by Aeneas to secure his hold on a kingdom? What does she feel, what does she want? Virgil never tells us, and Lavinia herself never speaks in the epic, a silent prize to a valiant warrior. Le Guin gives her a voice.

In the hands of a master such as Le Guin, the story is guaranteed to be a beautiful tale, epic and sensitive, bringing life to a a crucial--yet silent--player in the Aeneid. If you haven't read Earthsea, Le Guin's lauded fantasy series, I recommend you do so immediately. Still among my favorite books, and one of the most original in the genre, despite their age.

Books are awesome!
Thus ends my rather long and excitable review of books I want to read this summer. Most of my summaries are speculation, based on book blurbs, of course--hopefully I can be organized enough to actually write follow-up reviews of the books as I read them.

Shall we end this post with memes? I think we shall.

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