This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is complementary to last week’s list, which was about the top ten things that will instantly make me want to read a book. This is about instant turn-offs. This is a little harder for me, actually, because I read so eclectically. Let’s have a go, though…
- “The X’s Y” titles. So often it’s stuff like The Mapmaker’s Daughter or The Sin-Eater’s Daughter, and I’m honestly tired of protagonists being defined in terms of other people. I have picked up some of these books and will probably continue to, but it does give me a moment’s pause.
- Fabio on the cover. It usually heralds a sort of romance fiction I’m not interested in.
- This Will Change Your Life. I don’t like feeling like you’re selling me something. Obviously you are, but if all of these books could change my life, I wouldn’t be the same person day to day. (And in another sense, every book will change your life for the period that you’re reading it, at the very least…)
- The new Tolkien. I liked the old one, actually. And the new ones just don’t seem to have J.R.R.’s attention to detail. Same goes for the new anyone, really. I don’t want to read the same books over and over again — or rather, if I do, I’ll go back and read that book.
- “Inspired by [x] culture.” Translation: “I took the stuff that interested me and ditched the rest.” This is rarely done well and with attention to detail, although some authors like Guy Gavriel Kay can produce something very satisfying from that starting point.
- White saviours. If your cover copy hints that your white character is going to save the poor and downtrodden through their special sympathy and understanding, I’m going to be very sceptical right from the word go.
- The real King Arthur revealed! Just stop it with that, please.
- The real Robin Hood revealed! That too.
- The real Sheriff of Nottingham revealed! Come on…
- The real Will Scarlet! Aren’t you reaching at this point?
So yeah, as you can see, I was running out of ideas toward the end of this… Doubtless I’ll think of a dozen more just as soon as this goes live.
This week’s theme is ten things that immediately make me want to read a book. I’m pretty eclectic, so there’s a lot…
- A really pretty cover. I was hooked by the idea of Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone just from that cover.
- A unique-sounding magic system. Or combinations of magic systems that feel different, like Robin Hobb’s the Wit and the Skill.
- Genetics. Mostly if we’re talking non-fiction, but a good fiction plot around the topic works too.
- Non-traditional heroes. Like Kamala Khan as Ms Marvel, or the Jewish gay Billy Kaplan as Wiccan (originally Asgardian). Same goes outside comics, but they were the examples that sprang to mind.
- Non-traditional family structures. Like in Jo Walton’s Lifelode, for example.
- Not entirely humanoid aliens. Like the people on Winter in Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, with their temporary genders and non-constant breeding cycles. I love it when aliens are genuinely alien in some way, even if it’s only a small twist.
- Found family. I’m thinking of Cherie Priest’s Bloodshot and Hellbent, but also the Phryne Fisher books and… goodness knows how many others. It just gets me, people making a family out of whatever they have, whoever they can find.
- Dead gods. Something about that concept just… intrigues. I’m reading Ben Peek’s The Godless at the moment, for example.
- Dragons. Because, uh, dragons!
- Mixing genres. A spec-fic spy thriller? Gimme! Noir robot detective? Yes please!
This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “unique books”. I’m not sure these books are unique, but they felt like a breath of fresh air when I read them.
- The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. A complete antidote to all the grimdark fantasy out there, this felt like a message of hope. It’s about building bridges rather than walls. Apt for the current political climate, I’d say.
- The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I’m not sure why, but this practically leapt off the page for me when I read it first.
- The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers. Character-focused, thoughtful, touching. Small scope, huge heart.
- The Bone Palace, by Amanda Downum. The first book didn’t blow me away, but this one did, particularly with the character of Savedra.
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N.K. Jemisin. I went in sceptical; I came out dazed.
- This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab. Or perhaps Vicious — either way, there’s some vital spark about Schwab’s work that made it feel genuinely exciting.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. I picked it up with quite a bit of scepticism, and then devoured it. Something felt new.
- City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett. One of those books that made me go, wow, you’ve gotta read this.
- Among Others, by Jo Walton. It’s set after the character’s great calamity — it’s about moving on (and the way life doesn’t stop throwing new stories at you).
- Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb. I read it when I was fourteen and was totally hooked. The magic systems were just fascinating.
Kinda dreading looking at other people’s lists today — as if I need to expand my TBR more! By which I mean: gimme.
This one is a “fandom freebie”, which I’m going to spin to being about asking which comics I follow (or try to follow), because I’m not so much into fandom, especially book fandom, lately.
- The Wicked + The Divine. It’s gorgeous, for one thing. And I’m kind of hooked on the story too, even if the third volume didn’t really advance it.
- Young Avengers. And any/all of the characters from that series — Hulkling, Wiccan, Speed, Ms. America, Hawkeye… I love that they’re starting to appear in the adult Avengers teams now.
- Captain Marvel. Because Carol’s pretty amazing and the series has had some gorgeous art. I wasn’t totally wowed by Rise of Alpha Flight, and Civil War II sounds like a nightmare of a crossover event, but I’m still here for Carol.
- Ms Marvel. Because Kamala Khan is badass.
- Captain America. Kind of… I love Cap, but mostly the MCU version.
- Spider-woman. Because who doesn’t love Jessica Drew and her, uh, sismance(?!) with Carol Danvers. Speaking of which, who noticed they stuck Jessica Drew’s wings on Spiderman in the trailer for the new one? Ugh.
- Silk. Because I love the starburst of spiderwomen we’ve had lately.
- Spider-Gwen. Ditto!
- Thor. Mostly the Jane Foster version, mind you.
- Avengers. Sort of. Mostly I love the MCU version, but I’m very much here for the new team-ups like A-Force in principle. I need to catch up, though…
So yeah. Fandom! Ish.
I’m in a tearing hurry and the theme for this week didn’t excite me madly, so instead, have a Top Ten of books I’ve pulled from the depths of my TBR to take back to Belgium with me to read. Some of them are more recent than others…
- Nova, by Samuel R. Delany. I haven’t read any Delany. I know, I know. I’ve just started reading this one, and I’m all at sea, but with how important a work it has been to the SF/F community, I have no doubt it’s going to be interesting.
- Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, by Christopher Moore. I was assured I would enjoy this, but heavily doubted it — while I’m not very religious and definitely not Christian, I still have a certain respect for stories as foundational to culture as the story of Christ. But, I’m 100 pages in and… yeah. I am actually really enjoying it.
- Her Smoke Rose Up Forever, by James Tiptree Jr. I keep meaning to read it, and I think I mentioned it in a recent TBR, so I loaded it in.
- Darkwalker, by E.L. Tettensor. I forget who I follow that read this and sold me on it, but I do recall that it went straight on my TBR after reading their review, so I grabbed it.
- The Godless, by Ben Peek. You’re going to groan at me, but this is another one I’ve picked up recently without finishing the others I’ve already started. I’m not in love with the characters, but I’m fascinated by the world-building.
- The Beacon at Alexandria, by Gillian Bradshaw. I still need to finish reading Cleopatra’s Heir, but I do love Bradshaw’s work. If you like Rosemary Sutcliff’s historical novels, it has a similar flavour, though it’s more adult and dense in style. The Beacon at Alexandria features a woman pretending to be a eunuch so she can learn medicine and become a doctor! How can that not appeal?
- Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond. I have realised that I never finished reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, recommended to me by a wise English teacher who just happened to be ten years too early to catch my interest in non-fiction reading. So I want to read this and then maybe I’ll revisit the other book!
- Reality 36, by Guy Haley. From the depths of my TBR, truly — I was given this copy when I visited Angry Robot way back just before I started this blog. I’m a little lost so far, but starting to catch on. (And yes. It is another one I’ve picked up and started recently, but not quite finished. That makes four in this post alone.)
- The Family Trade, by Charles Stross. I’ve never yet got on with a book by Charles Stross, but I keep on trying. Technically I have the omnibus containing the first two books of the series, which I think has some changes from the original separate novels.
- The Days of the Deer, by Liliana Bodoc. I don’t remember anything about this or why I picked it up, but it happened to be the right size to fill a corner of my suitcase. So in it goes!
Knowing me, I won’t manage to read any of these before I travel back again. It’s the thought that counts…?
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme is “Read in one sitting”, and given that I am a fast reader, this is not too rare for me. So I’ll do my best to pick the cream of the crop…
- Vicious, by V.E. Schwab. I expected to read 50 pages and put it down to do something else. I did not.
- The House of Shattered Wings, by Aliette de Bodard. When I started it, my wife had just handed me my dinner and gone out to class. When I finished it, she was heading home from class and my dinner was cold.
- On Basilisk Station, by David Weber. Whatever faults this series may have, I sat in a cooling bath to read the whole of the first one in one go. And the books aren’t that short.
- Liar, by Justine Larbalestier. Man, it’s been ages since I read this, but I really didn’t stop when I was reading it. So satisfying.
- The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. If you feel like getting your heart ripped out, this isn’t a bad way to go.
- Assassin’s Apprentice, by Robin Hobb. Or, more accurately, the first time I read it I tried to read it in one sitting, but I was 15 and my mother came and confiscated the book so I’d sleep.
- Among Others, by Jo Walton. And I never wanted it to end, either. I had the same experience with Farthing, but that felt less personal.
- Planetfall, by Emma Newman. I was even on my honeymoon at the time. Sorry, dear.
- The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer. Heyer’s books are just funny and sweet and perfect when you’re in the right mood.
- The Winter Prince, by Elizabeth Wein. I don’t remember the plot of this very well, but I know I read all the books of the series in the space of two days. Not bad.
I can’t wait to see everyone else’s picks!
Good morning, all! Looks like Top Ten Tuesday is back, and the official theme is what’s coming up on your spring TBR. Well… ten books is far too few, plus when I make these lists I never end up following them. But let’s just say there’s a good chance I’ll read some of these soon. And to spice things up, I’ll give you two books I’m planning to reread, two review copies I need to get to, two books from my backlog I want to read, two books that everyone else wants me to read, and two books I don’t own yet but would rather like to read.
- To reread: Guy Gavriel Kay’s The Lions of Al-Rassan. I’ve been meaning to reread this for a while, and it’s one of my mother’s favourites. I don’t even remember it that well, so this should be good.
- To reread: V.E. Schwab’s A Darker Shade of Magic. It’s time to read the whole trilogy!
- To review: John Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire. His books are always a good time, and this one’s been sat waiting for a while. Time to get to it.
- To review: Aliette de Bodard’s The House of Binding Thorns. Again, this one has been waiting for me a while. It’s high time, especially since the first book made me forget to eat my dinner.
- From the backlog: Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer. This is the Tor.com book club choice, which means it feels rather like a kick in the butt to actually go ahead and read these books… which have been waiting on my backlog for literally years.
- From the backlog: James Tiptree Jr.’s Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. It’s a classic, and I feel terrible that I haven’t read it — and now I’m here at my parents’ house for a while, there’s a copy staring me accusingly in the face…
- Please read it, Nikki: Scott Lynch’s Republic of Thieves. Um. I know. I have no excuse. I’m sorry.
- Please read it, Nikki: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. My sister really wants me to read this series sometime. Sometime.
- Wishlist: Melinda Salisbury’s The Scarecrow Queen. I haven’t uncritically loved this series, but I do want to know where it goes. There’s something very compulsive about it!
- Wishlist: Laini Taylor’s Strange the Dreamer. Give. It. To. Me.
So there y’go: the TBR I almost certainly won’t complete in the spring… Heh. What about all of you? Can you stick to a TBR?
Looks like Top Ten Tuesday isn’t back yet, so here’s another theme of my own. Cribbing from someone else’s choice last week, here are some series I want to finish (or at least continue, in the case of series which haven’t finished yet)!
- Lady Isabella Trent, by Marie Brennan. The last book is out soon. Okay, this is sad and depressing and I don’t want it, also, but I can’t wait to have the last book.
- October Daye, by Seanan McGuire. I don’t know if this actually has a projected end, at this point? But nonetheless, I’d like to get there someday.
- Newsflesh, by Mira Grant. I keep stalling on reading the other books, having read the first, but I definitely want to.
- Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas. I see plenty of people who don’t like the way the series has gone, and I haven’t read the latest three books (I think) yet, so I might change my mind. But for now, I’m definitely interested.
- Clockwork Century, by Cherie Priest. I didn’t love the first book, Boneshaker, but I do remember enjoying it and there’s a lot that intrigues me about the later books.
- Phryne Fisher, by Kerry Greenwood. …Again.
- Temeraire, by Naomi Novik. Someday! I’ve read the first book again recently, and I would like to read them all this time.
- The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman. There should be more books in the future, from what I hear, so gimme, gimme, gimme!
- Blackthorn and Grim, by Juliet Marillier. Even though I’m being terrible about getting round to it, even with a copy right here…
- Peter Grant, by Ben Aaronovitch. Someday! Not soon, I hope…
There isn’t an official theme this week, but I thought I’d treat it as a freebie and give you ten characters I have a squish on. What’s a squish? It’s a term used in the asexual community for a crush which doesn’t involve any desire for a sexual or perhaps even romantic relationship. And honestly, it really works for the way I feel about some characters — it’s not about them being pretty or handsome or whatever, but I’d still get all squeaky and flappy about meeting them in real life.
It’s not quite my favourite characters, but characters who’ve left some kind of deep impression on me — even if they’re not the main character, or if they’re not actually a favourite. Maybe another term would be “heroes”…
- Faramir, from The Lord of the Rings. The original squish, as far as I’m concerned. He doesn’t appear for long, but he’s such a noble person.
- Joscelin Verreuil, from Kushiel’s Dart. This is a fairly easy guess with me, too. I love the paladin types.
- Josua Lackhand, from The Dragonbone Chair. He was pretty much what I read these books for, the first time. And again, it’s that nobility and the way he cares for his people.
- Carol Danvers, aka Captain Marvel, from Marvel Comics. She’s just so awesome. Not always the best equipped to tackle a situation, but if she’s the only one, she’ll take that responsibility and just act and do whatever she has to.
- Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, from Marvel Comics. Depends on the writer somewhat, but there’s such a core of integrity and honesty to the character. They did really well translating this to the MCU without making him a sanctimonious prick, too — which is one of the ways which writers can fail with Steve.
- Phryne Fisher, from Cocaine Blues. She’s a rather atypical character for this list, and I think she’d be totally baffled by the whole idea of a squish. But she’s completely badass and she cares and she owns her faults as much as her successes.
- Harriet Vane, from Strong Poison. She can make clever, witty jokes while she’s in prison and on trial for murder. Her cleverness won me over instantly.
- Honor Harrington, from On Basilisk Station. How not? She’s smart and dedicated and determined, and she has a telepathic cat.
- Maia, from The Goblin Emperor. He’s mindful, earnest, and he tries so hard. I just want to hug him.
- Jo March, from Little Women. An early and formative one, though this one was probably because I wanted to be her.
How about you? Ever had a fictional crush/squish?
This week’s theme is books you loved less or more than you thought you would. I’ll do five of each!
Books I Liked Less Than I Hoped:
- The Children’s Hospital, by Chris Adrian. A notorious failure in one of my online book clubs. Like, I don’t think any of us liked it, and I’m not sure how many of us actually finished it. For a while it was a byword for terribleness.
- Hard to Be A God, by Boris & Arkady Strugatsky. I enjoyed Roadside Picnic a whole lot, and then found Hard to Be a God… completely impenetrable. I’m told it’s a hard one to translate.
- Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, by Kelly Sue DeConnick. It just felt so monumentally pointless. I normally enjoyed DeConnick’s run on Captain Marvel, but nope. Not this one.
- Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein. I know, what’s wrong with me, right?
- The Book of Atrix Wolfe, by Patricia McKillip. It wasn’t bad, but I just didn’t enjoy it the way I expected to, since I’ve come to appreciate McKillip’s work a lot.
Books I Liked More Than I Expected:
- Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates, by Kerry Greenwood. Once upon a time, I read this and hated it. Then I read it again and fell in love, and since devoured the whole series. Right time, I guess.
- The Wolf Hunt, by Gillian Bradshaw. I expected to be mad at how heteronormative this was set up to be, given I knew the original lai as something rather “homosocial” (as my tutor would’ve said, and did, often). But somehow it charmed me all the same.
- Attachments, by Rainbow Rowell. This is the first of Rowell’s books I read, and didn’t expect to be so drawn in by her warm style and her characters.
- The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer. I hadn’t yet admitted that I enjoyed some romance stories when I first read this. But Heyer won me over — not a bad person to convert one, I think.
- DNA: The Secret of Life, by James Watson. Having read his book on the discovery of DNA, I couldn’t picture getting on with another book of his. But he apparently aged well, and this book was interesting and decidedly less rage inducing.
What about you?