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

toptentuesday2

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?

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

toptentuesday2

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!!

toptentuesday2

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!

howl

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!

//

Top Ten Tuesday (4): Books That Will Make You Swoon

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are discussing our Top Ten Books That Will Make You Swoon.

I have to admit that I am not always a swoony kind of girl. I tend to be more matter-of-fact and don’t lean toward romantic readings most of the time.  But I’ve come up with five novels that are so swoony, I think they should each count twice.  🙂  

Five Romantic Books to Make You Swoon

1.       Crown of Embers by Rae Carson.  

I will admit to not being the hugest fan of the first book in this series (good, but not great), but man did Carson grab me with this second book.  I freaking love the love interest in this book.  I went to a reading of hers where she said that in order to get the tone of this series right she basically watched a ton of Spanish telenovelas while she was writing and it shows. And, hey, check it out – Hector and me are totally personal friends.  Be jealous.

Crown of Embers   Hector

2.      Kushiel’s Dart (and really the whole trilogy) by Jacqueline Carey.

These are definitely NOT YA books, please be aware, and the romance and physicality in these books can be gritty and tough to read.  But man oh man, the main relationship in this novel is just perfection.

Kushiel 

3.      Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers.

I really enjoyed the first book in this series as well, but to me there was something so redemptive about the love story in this installment.

Dark Triumph 

4.      Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.  

One of my absolute favorite books hands-down and with a pitch perfect slow-burn romance.  The end… oh the end… just absolutely wonderful.

 Daughter of the Forest

5.      Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman.

This historical fiction is set in the thirteenth century and tells the story of the marriage between Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, and Joanna, the illegitimate daughter of King John.  It is absolutely gorgeous, and one of the best historical fiction novels I have ever read.  And the best part is that the relationship is real, so we get to at least hope it was as good as Penman writes it.  If you’ve never read anything by Sharon Kay Penman and you enjoy historical fiction AT ALL you must give Penman a try.

Here Be Dragons

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday (3): Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are discussing our Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition.

I honestly feel so out of the loop on which authors are getting recognition these days and which aren’t. For some, I feel like I am way behind the curve (I’m looking at you Tahereh Mafi!) but for others I feel like I may be only slightly ahead.  But since this book blog – and I think Broke and the Bookish as well – leans toward having an audience who is more YA-focused, I’m going to recommend some of my favorite adult book authors in case you haven’t had a chance to veer into that section of the bookstore as often as you might like. 

That being said, along the theme of under-appreciated YA authors, if you haven’t read anything by Merrie Haskell, you really should.

If You Love These YA Books, Then Try…

1.       If you love The Name of the Star, then try Alan Bradley!

 Fans of Maureen Johnson’s Name of the Star series might also like the British flavor of Alan Bradley’s murder mystery novels.  Alan Bradley has written a number of mysteries, but the series I like best is his Flavia de Luce series, which starts with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.  The series is set in England in the 1950’s and its heroine, Flavia, is an 11-year-old amateur chemist and detective.  She’s basically Sherlock Holmes crossed with Harriet the Spy and I adore her.  With its 11-year-old protagonist, I’m not exactly sure why this series isn’t marketed as YA, to be honest with you.  Fans of Johnson will enjoy Flavia’s spunk and her hysterical relationship with her two sisters, and mystery fans will enjoy the excellently written who-done-it that will keep you guessing until the final page.

 sweetness 

2.      If you love Vampire Academy, then try Patricia Briggs!

Fans of the gritty Vampire Academy series might want to give some adult urban fantasy a try.  Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series is a good starting place, because unlike some other adult urban fantasy out there, there is not a great deal of language or physicality in the novels.  Much like Rose Hathaway, Mercy is a strong female character who feels completely self-sufficient and does not like relying on anyone to help her out.  She is fiercely loyal to her friends and is really a kick-butt protagonist.  There’s also a great slow-burn romance in this series as well that can’t be missed!  And from a fantasy perspective, this series truly has it all, from vampires to fae to werewolves to demons to, well – you name it, it’s probably in there somewhere.

 moon called

3.      If you love Grave Mercy, then try Guy Gavriel Kay!

Fans of Grave Mercy might enjoy the historical fantasy novels written by Guy Gavriel Kay.  Kay’s novels are set in various historical periods – medieval Spain, Constantinople, the Tang Dynasty – and are just epically gorgeous.  These novels are sweeping, with characters that will stay with you forever.  They are delicious to read and you want to just linger in the words on the page.  But they are also dark – you will find assassins, and plots, and betrayals, and intrigue in almost all of his books.  His book The Lions of al Rassan is perhaps the only book I’ve ever finished and then re-opened and started reading again just because I wasn’t ready to let go of the world and those words and those characters.  He explores brotherly love and true love and, yes, magic.  I recommend starting with Lions or A Song for Arbonne.

 lions

4.      If you love Little Women, then try Geraldine Brooks!

Geraldine Brooks is the Pulitzer Prize award-winning author of March, a novel that tells the story of Little Women from the perspective of the father, who is largely absent from that novel.  As you may recall, Mr. March was off serving as a chaplain in the Civil War.  This book is at once a great piece of historical fiction (Brooks referenced the various journals of Louisa May Alcott’s own father to help draw her character in this novel) and a beautiful revisiting of characters we all know and love.  I also love her novel Year of Wonders, which follows the life of a woman living during the plague outbreak in England.

 march

5.      If you love Code Name Verity, then try Irene Nemirovsky!

Irene Nemirovsky is best known for her beautiful, haunting novel Suite Française.  This novel follows the story of a number of families in Paris in 1940 on the eve of Nazi occupation.  The stories themselves are beautiful, but the book itself has a story worthy of its own novel.  Nemirovsky was a well-known author in Europe in the 1940s when she started work on this novel.  But she was also a Jew and in 1942, she was deported to Auschwitz, where she died.  This novel was not discovered for over sixty years, when it was found and translated.  It paints a horrifying picture of what life must truly have been like from someone we know witnessed the worst of it.  Fair warning – the novel is comprised of two parts of what was meant to be a five-part novel.  While it certainly stands on its own, you will feel a profound sadness, both for not knowing what happens in the characters’ lives, as well as for knowing what happened in Nemirovsky’s.  

If You Love These Television Shows, Then Try…

6.       If you love Sherlock, then try Laurie R. King!

Whether you love the BBC series or the original books (or both!) you might just love Laurie R. King’s take on Sherlock, which starts with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.  King’s series begins in the post-Watson, post-Doyle Sherlock years, admitting that those stories were written but starting with the presumption that they were somewhat exaggerated so that Doyle could obtain a greater readership.  You meet all of your old favorite Sherlock characters, with the excellent addition of Sherlock’s new sidekick and eventual partner, the American, Jewish female Mary Russell.  Where Watson was Sherlock’s sidekick, Mary is truly his equal and watching them verbally spar is a great joy to behold. 

 beekeeper

7.       If you love The Tudors, then try Sharon Kay Penman!

Fans of the historical fiction genre can’t help but love Sharon Kay Penman.  Her books are everything historical fiction should be – well researched, well written, and most of all absolutely compelling.  Her main characters are great and she realizes that the true story of what happened is often more compelling than any fiction.  While of course she does add characters and move timelines around where necessary to make the novel flow, she has excellent historical notes following all of her novels, making clear what’s fiction and what isn’t.  These novels really make history come alive and are so well written you might even forget you’re learning something as you go.  Her first novel, The Sunne in Splendour, is a standalone so that might be a good place to start, but I also really love her Here Be Dragons trilogy.  As an added bonus her blog, which I follow on Goodreads, offers a number of really timely and interesting tidbits about British history and its intersection with today’s world (for example, one recent post discusses the implications of Will & Kate’s child’s gender).

sunne

What Authors am I Missing?

I know, I could only come up with 7 to recommend this time around – BUT I also recommend the books and shows on the first half of the sentences up there, so really you got 15 killer recommendations from me this week (counting Haskell, of course!).  But who don’t I know about yet that I should really be reading?  Looking forward to hearing from you!

 

Top Ten Tuesday (1): Books That Intimidate Me

toptentuesday2

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week we are discussing books that intimidate us for one reason or another.

When I first read this topic, I wasn’t exactly sure where to take it.  I don’t think of books as intimidating per se, but rather there are just books I want to read and books I don’t want to read.  But then as I perused my TBR List on Goodreads, I noticed that there are at least a handful of books that have been languishing on that list for a long time now.  These picks each have better than 4 stars on Goodreads and are well-known reads, but all have been on my TBR list for a good long time.  Some have been there for years!  Why haven’t I picked them up yet?  No idea – I guess they intimiate me!

Probably Should Have Read These in High School

Half of my list is made up of books that I really should have read already – these are well-loved classics and there’s really no excuse.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: A well-loved classic with a strong female lead.  Just pick this one up already, Emily!

2. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Mila Kundera: Maybe it’s the fact that the publisher’s blurb claims that this one “illuminates all aspects of human existance,” but it stresses me out.

3. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace: Over 1000 pages and a notoriously dense read?  I’ve started this one more times than I can count and just haven’t gotten through it.  (See also, Finnegan’s Wake, by James Joyce.  I knew some people in college who had a weekly reading group during they got through ONE PAGE A WEEK! of this one.)

4. The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran: Now this one’s only 133 pages, so I really have no excuse.  People have called this one life-changing, but I just can’t work up the interest.

5. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Double confession time – I also haven’t seen the movie.

Groundbreaking Fantasy Novels

As you can see from perusing my blog or my Goodreads list, I lean heavily towards fantasy novels in my reading patterns.  But this didn’t start until I was older, so maybe that’s why I haven’t picked up some of these groundbreaking fantasy classics that everyone else seems to love?

6. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie: This one’s not as old and one of my favorite fantasy readers, Felicia Day, has recommended it numerous times.  But I just can’t get into it.  I’ve tried three times and even own it!

7. Anathem by Neal Stephenson: OK, OK – ANYTHING by Neal Stephenson.  They are long and dense and supposedly amazing, but I just can’t.

8. Nine Prices in Amber by Roger Zelazny: The first in what is supposedly a must-read for fantasy lovers, and only 175 pages.  What’s the deal!

You Have A Lot To Live Up To!

These last two novels are ones that are forthcoming, but they have so much to live up to that I am almost afraid to read them.  Almost…

9. Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor: The third in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, I just have to know what happens, but at the same time I don’t want the story to end!  Anxiously awaiting this one.

10. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein: For those of you who read Code Name Verity, you already know.  I don’t know if I can handle another one, but I also am positive I cannot stay away.

What Scares You?

Join up with us and share what books scare you.  Any on this list have you shaking in your boots?  Or is there one that you think I just need to power through and finally read already?