Top Ten Tuesday (7): Top Ten All Time Favorite Fantasy Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are talking about our Top Ten Favorite Books in a Genre of our choice, and I pick fantasy.  This list will be a mix of adult and YA books.  It will also probably lean toward books I’ve read more recently because if I didn’t review it on Goodreads, I might as well never have read it.

Top 10 All Time Favorite Fantasy Books

1. The Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – This is the beginning of a series of a bunch of interrelated trilogies, but it’s the first one that really grabbed my heart.  Fitz is one of my favorite characters in all of fantasy. If you like communicating animals, dragons, a great underdog tale, and court intrigue, you will love this one. 

asassins apprentice

2.  The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I feel like this is a popular one, but if you haven’t read it, I think it’s a great entry point into epic fantasy.  This book follows a guy named Kvothe telling his life story over the course of three days, and each book in the trilogy represents a day of the story. It’s so great and an excellent entry point into epic fantasy, even though it’s a chunker.

name of the wind

3. Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – This is taking a little bit of a risk because only the first book in the trilogy is out, but I instantly fell in love with this book as soon as I read it.  It is slightly reminiscent of The Name of the Wind in that it is a scribe telling the story of a guy known as The Hope Killer, but in many ways I actually loved this book even more. Shocking, I know, but you REALLY need to try this one if you like fantasy at all.

blood song

4.  The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavirel Kay – This is actually just a  placeholder for all of Guy Gavriel Kay’s stuff (except, oddly enough, the Fionavar trilogy, which I personally didn’t like).  But this one, A Song for ArbonneSailing to Sarantium, or Tigana… basically the list goes on and on. His writing is this gorgeous historical, magical prose with characters that you just must love. Lions is one of the only books that I have ever read, closed, and then immediately re-opened because I wasn’t ready to let go.

lions

5.  Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier – This is kind of also a Marilliet placeholder because I totally love her works, but also this is such an excellent entry point to fairy tale retellings and fantasy.  This is a retelling of the Wild Swans fairy tale, but it completely stands on its own.  The romance is pitch-perfect, Sorcha is an amazing female protagonist, and man I just love love love this book.

Daughter of the Forest

6. The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson – This is definitely a Sanderson placeholder.  I am an absolute Fanderson – he basically can do no wrong in my eyes.  I absolutely adore the Mistborn trilogy, I love Warbreaker, I love Way of Kings, I love Steelheart, and you KNOW I love The Emperor’s Soul…. ugh, I just love them all. I think this one is probably the best entry point to Sanderson.  That said, The Emperor’s Soul would also be a great starting place since it’s a short story that I feel like gives a really good test to see if you like his writing style.

final empire

7.  Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – This is where the YA fantasy recommendations start.  I love Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and I actually think it would be a great cross over into adult fantasy. The world-building is just freaking amazing, the realistic writing of Prague makes you feel like you are right there, and it’s one of my absolute favorite story that incorporates angels.

smoke and bone

8.  The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente – This is just so different than anything else I’ve ever read.  The language is so fantastical, the world is immersive, and the characters just stick right with you.  I get totally transported to this world when I read these books, and I highly recommend them.

fairyland

9.  The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner – This is a freaking amazing series that focuses on Eugenidies, who (as you might guess) is a thief.  He gets caught in a nearby kingdom and ends up being asked to go on a journey in order to help the king.  Gen is one of my favorite male protagonists for sure.  And for those of you who like The Winner’s Curse, the author of that said in a recent Twitter chat that this series was one of her inspirations.

theif

10. The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley – This is a throwback recommendation – it was a Newberry honor winner in 1983! It follows the story of Harry Crewe, an orphan girl, who has just moved to a border town that basically is the last defense against a tribe of people known as the Hillfolk.  For reasons that are not immediately apparent, Harry is kidnapped by the Hillfolk King and ends up learning a lot about herself.  The book was so enjoyable and I highly recommend it.

blue sword

11. The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher – This is a bonus choice and is really representative of one of my favorite sub-genres in fantasy, which is urban fantasy.  I love the Dresden File series (though for me they get great starting at around book 4), and I also love the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs.  These are great reading slump busters for me because they are characters I love in realistic settings with excellent magic and supernatural characters.  They also generally read as standalones, even though they are all related in one big series.  Just excellent.

So how about you?  Do you like fantasy as much as I do?  What are some of your favorites?  I had to leave off SO MANY that I really love, and chose to lean a bit more toward adult stuff since I think the YA stuff gets pretty good coverage in the blogosphere (at least the corner I hang out in).  Are any of these on your TBR?

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Top Ten Tuesday (6): Top Ten Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are talking about our Top Ten Popular Authors We’ve Never Read.

Top 10 Popular Authors I’ve Never Read

Ok, this is tough because I feel like I have at least read one book from many authors that come to mind.  That being said, there is always more to read, so here are the authors that stand out.

Young Adult Authors

1. Cassandra Clare – I know, I know. Everyone has read and seems to have enjoyed her Mortal Instruments series, but I read like 50 pages and could NOT get into it. I keep meaning to give it another try, but haven’t been able to bring myself to yet!

2.  Sarah J. Maas – I KNOW! I haven’t read Throne of Glass yet and I really really mean to.  I even had it out from the library at one point, but the back made it sound like it was a love triangle-y book and I just wasn’t in the mood at the time. That said, I’ve since heard that’s not really the case and really want to try again soon.

3. Tahereh Mafi – Confession time. I even own the entire Shatter Me trilogy. Signed. So what is my problem! The prose in these books is divisive from what I have heard, but if you love it you REALLY love it.  Because of that, I want to give these books a fair shot.  And come on, I OWN THEM ALL!

4.  Ransom Riggs – I also own both of the Miss Peregrine’s books, also signed.  I am a huge fan of Ransom Riggs the person, and I hear this set of books just keeps getting better.  I am annoyed by this one and will be trying these books out ASAP.

5.  Paullina Simons – I keep hearing such excellent things about The Bronze Horseman trilogy, and that sucker has been on my TBR for-freaking-ever.

Classics and Classic Adult Fantasy Authors

6. Charlotte Bronte – I keep meaning to read Jane Eyre. Everyone seems to really love and enjoy it, but I am not the biggest fan of that era of British literature and I keep avoiding it.  I need to make this happen at some point, though.

7.  Terry Pratchett – I’m not sure how I call myself a fantasy fan without ever having even TRIED Discworld, but there it is.  Hopefully soon – this one is on my definite to read in 2014 list.

8.  David Eddings – Similar to my feelings about Discworld, I feel like I truly must give The Belgariad series a try.  I think I own them all in two different forms – both standalones and a bind-up. I hear this is a really defining series in fantasy and I just need to get going!

9.  Ilona Andrews – I am a really big fan of urban fantasy — particularly Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files and Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series.  With this being the case, I KNOW I need to get some Kate Daniels in my life ASAP, but I just haven’t gotten around to it!

10. Mercedes Lackey – With this author, I admit I just don’t know where to start. There are so freaking many books in the Valdemar world and there seems to be debate as to which order to read them in.  But a well-known, female fantasy author who I haven’t read… I’m embarrassed.

So that’s my list! Which ones of these do I need to shoot to the top of my TBR? And which authors do YOU wish you had made time for already?  I can’t wait to hear!

Top Ten Tuesday (5): Top Ten Rewind!!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are all doing a Top Ten Rewind, which is basically picking a theme that you missed in the past.  I am going to go with Top Ten Books I’d Hand to Someone Who Says They Don’t Like to Read. This one was originally done February 7, 2012 and you can see the original post here.

Top 10 Books for “Non Readers”

Finding the perfect book for someone who says they don’t like to read is basically my personal mission in life. I think that there are so many reasons that people THINK they don’t like to read — forced to read material in high school that they couldn’t connect with, buying into the feeling of there being things you “should” read, not reading genre fiction widely enough, and so forth.

I am a really firm believer that there is a book out there for ANYONE but that there is no perfect first book for EVERYONE.  So much depends on the person and what he or she likes or is interested in.  So I hope that this list is a great starting off point, but I know it’s not the end of the discussion! Anyone else have some must reads? Let me know – I’d love to hear them!

If you like ANIME or DISNEY MOVIES, then try…

Lots of people who do not like reading are actually really visual people.  Reading, for some, is not quite visual enough, at least at first.  I think that part of what can help this is reading the right kind of book. I’d suggest one or two of the following:

1.  Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones.  This book actually inspired a 2004 anime of the same name by well-known Studio Ghibli and director Hiyao Miyazaki.  It is a super visual book, with beautiful writing and a fun story about a girl who (no shocker) discovers a floating castle. There are witches and wizards and magic and a tiny hint of love.  Plus, as an added bonus, you could watch the movie (before or after) you read the book!

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2 (and 3 and 4).  Read a graphic novel!  I think a graphic novel is a really excellent entry point into reading, especially for people who are more visual than text based.  There are so many, and I am no expert, so I’d hate to leave anything amazing out.  But I personally have enjoyed Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, an autobiographical retelling of a girl’s life growing up in Tehran; Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff, a swashbuckling adventure tale; and the series Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya, a manga series about a girl and her very interesting new friends that (I think) serves as many people’s formal introduction to reading manga.

persepolis  delilah dirk fruits basket

If you like spending lots of time ONLINE, then try…

5. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  If you are a fan of Internet culture, you cannot help but love Fangirl. This awesome book sits right on the cusp of YA, exploring a girl’s first year at college.  It turns out this girl has a really amazing online presence, but when it comes to so-called “real life,” she is not as invested. Fangirl is the perfect book for anyone, but particularly someone born in the Internet era.

fangirl

6. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This book is basically a must-read manifesto for anyone who grew up in the 1980s. There are so many amazing pop-culture references and some super-cool worldbuilding for an evolved society that spends more time online as they do in the “real world.”  This entire story is basically told through a video game and if you grew up in the 1980s, enjoyed Wreck-It Ralph or love gaming, I promise you will love this book.

ready player one

7. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I think this is a great entry-level science fiction trilogy about a world that is literally spend entirely plugged in — all members of this society are issued a patch to go over their eye that helps them stay in these involved virtual-reality realms at all times. It’s not real, it’s Better Than Real! This isn’t so science-y that it will turn off non-science loving readers, and there is a healthy dose of romance, but there’s a super-strong heroine, a gorgeously rendered world, and some fun science stuff along the way that will keep even the most disengaged reader wondering what is going to happen next.

never sky

If you like BLOCKBUSTER MOVIES like The Hobbit or Spiderman, then try…

8. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce.  This book begins an amazing adventure series wherein a young girl trades places with her twin brothers and goes off to school to learn to become a knight. She has lots of adventures on the road to knighthood and these books just read like an adventure movie.  Even better, the books introduce you to the realm of Tortall, and if you end up loving them, there are many more series in this land waiting for you.

alanna

9. Vicious by Victoria Schwab. This book just reads like a superhero movie.  In this novel, there are people with special powers called EOs (Extra-Ordinaries).  Two of these EOs used to be college roommates and best friends.  But if you know anything about origin stories, that is a perfect recipe for future mortal enemies.  So how did it go so wrong? And who’s the good guy here?! Vicious raises as many questions as it answers about what it means to be good and evil, and whether anything like that even exists.  This is a fun, action-packed read for fans of blockbuster superhero movies.

vicious

10. Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson.  Another super-visual book about superheroes gone totally wrong.  In this novel, superheroes, here called Epics, are real and they are using their powers for evil.  They have taken over cities, terrorize “normal” people, and are basically just a force to be seriously reckoned with.  Enter The Reckoners, a band of non-super people who are trying to take back their world and destroy the Epics.  This book is action packed and a must-read for any fan of superhero movies, especially as it turns the superhero ethos on its head – does great responsibility REALLY come with great power?  As a sidenote, I’ve tried to keep most of these recommendations relatively short, since people who don’t like to read can often be turned off by large books. But if that’s not the case, I would definitely also recommend the slightly longer (but slightly better) Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson here.

steelheart

Ok! Those are my recommendations – how about you?  Any go-to books that you push on people who claim not to enjoy reading?  Have you had any successes?  I’d love to know!

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