Today’s theme is ten books from [x] genre I’ve added to my TBR. Given that today is my human biology exam (wish me luck!), non-fiction/pop-science seems appropriate here!
- Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology, by Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden. Quantum biology sounds slightly terrifying, if I’m honest. I understand biology, in general; I don’t understand quantum. But hopefully this book will help, right?
- The Philadelphia Chromosome, by Jessica Wapner. This is about a particular defect found in people in Philadelphia (shocking, I know) which causes cancer, and how it’s contributed to understanding cancer and how to cure it.
- Endless Forms Most Beautiful, by Sean B. Carroll. This has been recommended to me as a good book on “evo-devo”, which is a term I suddenly find cropping up everywhere.
- A Crack in Creation, by Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg. This is about the gene editing technology CRISPR, which is really fascinating stuff, and apparently this examines some of the ethics of using CRISPR, too. I have high hopes!
- Brain Washing, by Kathleen Taylor. This is one of the Oxford Landmark Science series, which I’m finding a fascinating way of exploring topics I haven’t always read about before.
- The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert. It’s about, well, extinction. I’ve just managed to find this in the library near my parents’ house, so hopefully I’ll be able to read it before I go back to Belgium!
- Vanished Ocean: How Tethys Shaped the World, by Dorrik Stowe. More in the geology/earth science line, but it was recommended in another book I read.
- Shadows of the Mind, by Roger Penrose. I don’t think I’ve read anything by Penrose, so it’s time to fill in a gap. And it’s about brain science!
- Mutants: On the Forms, Varieties and Errors of the Human Body, by Armand Marie Leroi. Right up my street, obviously!
- Personality, by Daniel Nettle. Another one of the Oxford Landmark Science series. How do our brains create personality? Gotta know.
Oh dear, the theme this week is books you’re looking forward to in the second half of 2017, and I’ve no idea. But here’s some 2017 books I don’t have yet and really really want.
- Our Dark Duet, by V.E. Schwab. I got an ARC of the first book and read it instantly, so I have been waiting far too long now. Gimme!
- Shattered Minds, by Laura Lam. I have an ARC of this one and I’ve started it, but I can tell already that I’m going to want to talk about it. Get thee to a preorder, friends.
- The Thorn of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch. I don’t know if this is even scheduled for 2017. All I know is, I want it badly.
- Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh. Hyperbole and a Half is the best. Okay, Amazon says 2017, but the publisher says 2050 (i.e. delayed indefinitely). But I can dream.
- The Stone Sky, by N.K. Jemisin. I should catch up with this series. The new book coming out is probably going to make sure I do.
- Provenance, by Ann Leckie. I didn’t even know this was coming before a week or two ago, but now I am definitely excited.
- The Witchwood Crown, by Tad Williams. Yessss. The original series were great epic fantasy, so I have high hopes.
- The Tiger’s Daughter, by K. Arsenault Rivera. This sounds awesome and has queer heroines. Gimme! (I’m making eyes at Tor on Netgalley, here; I haven’t been accepted or rejected for the ARC yet.)
- Taste of Marrow, by Sarah Gailey. Gimme, gimme, gimme! I loved River of Teeth a lot more than I expected.
- Lightning in the Blood, by Marie Brennan. Wait. This is out today…
That’s me disappearing off to read, folks! But do comment and let me know what you’re looking forward to. I always try and return comments!
This week is an [International] Mother’s Day freebie. Now the UK Mother’s Day was quite a while ago, but never mind. The thing with me and my mum is that we’ve always shared books, ever since I finally learnt to read — I went from children’s books to her shelves within a year or two. Rare is the letter or conversation that doesn’t involve books somehow, so here are ten books I’d like my mother to read already.
- My Real Children, by Jo Walton. You might cry, Mum, sorry. Motherhood is quite important in this one, and it also handles dementia and how it effects families.
- City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett. I’m sorry I took my copy back; I’ll get you the ebook or something. It’s a great series, and it’s finished now, too!
- A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan. I think you’d enjoy this Victorian pastiche. It’s not as heavy-going as something like Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and the lead character is a lot of fun. Plus, dragons!
- Stories of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang. Mostly for ‘Stories of Your Life’, which the movie Arrival was based on. (I think you’d like the movie, too.) Warning, this will almost definitely make you cry, knowing you.
- Behind the Shock Machine, by Gina Perry. I’ve bought you this, so you have no excuse! It’s a fascinating exploration of Stanley Milgram’s experiments and conclusions, and very relevant to about two dozen conversations we’ve had in the last few years.
- Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Mostly to find out if you do enjoy it. I’ve been on the fence for years about whether you will. I think it’s very clever and very funny.
- The Carpet Makers, by Andreas Eschbach. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this one to you, but it’s a fascinating set of linked short stories. I have a copy, but I’m not sure if Lisa will let me lend it to you indefinitely. Maybe I’ll get you a copy.
- Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie. Rereading it recently, I enjoyed it a lot. People have emphasised the gender aspects of it, but there’s also a fascinating story about AI and individuality.
- The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin. I haven’t got round to reading it either, but we really should.
- Children of Earth and Sky, by Guy Gavriel Kay. We have the same opinions on most of his books, so you can tell me if I should be shuffling this to the front of my list instead of letting it languish!
And for those who are not my mother, well, those are all good books anyway.
I love the kind of mother-child relationship I have with my mother, where we can discuss books and psychology experiments and space opera and the accuracy of portrayals of mental illness in books, and just about everything else under the sun. She always treated me as an adult in terms of my formed opinions, and that has undoubtedly enriched our relationship and conversation options greatly. I can recommend it as a mode of parenting pretty unreservedly.
Good morning, everyone! This week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “things you want to see more of”, which sounds easy enough…
- Asexual and aromantic characters. I have no idea how many asexual/aromantic folks there are in the population, so it’s hard to gauge how much representation we “should” have. But I think we could do with fewer books with love triangles and more with complex platonic relationships, and exploring the way aces and aros negotiate relationships could be fuel for some pretty fascinating stories. Also just casual inclusion of people who aren’t interested in sex or romance.
- No dead/absent parents. You get portal fantasy where kids just disappear for ages and nobody cares much, because they don’t have parents or their parents don’t care or whatever. Take the parents with! Have a mum who has to deal with the fact that her kid is the chosen one and she can’t just write them a note excusing them from it.
- Boundary setting. We’ve all got to learn it: when we say no. Let’s have some characters turning round and saying, “No. This is where I stop.” Whether it’s relationship drama or the Chosen One trope, let’s have way more acknowledgement that people can say no.
- Diverse characters in general (especially on covers). Here is my confession: I have ghostwritten romance books. The plot, characters, all of that was my choice; I just had to produce and then turn in a manuscript with which my employer could do what they wanted. So I had some diverse leads — about whom I’d best not say too much because of an NDA — and, guess what? They were white on the covers. Let’s utterly trash this, guys. I want to see diverse characters being impossible to ignore.
- One volume fantasy. You don’t all have to do The Lord of the Rings, guys. There are epic stories which don’t need trilogies. (And they especially don’t need trilogies of trilogies.)
- Disabled detectives. This one goes out to the lecturer at my university who was going through the list of diverse detectives you might see now: “Gay detectives, cat detectives, dog detectives… Really scraping the barrel here, disabled detectives…” Here’s to scraping the barrel.
- Nuanced depictions of mental illness. There’s as many ways to be mentally unwell as there are people, I think. Let’s skip the guy who turns serial killer after a host of obvious signposts, stereotyped because we see it play out in fiction all the time.
- Fully fleshed out worlds. Do you know what your character’s first memory was? It might never be relevant to the story, but if you know, it shows — knowing exactly how your world and characters are built gives them depth even when those details don’t make it into the story.
- Surprise me. Turn the tropes upside down. The court mage is a lady. The senior advisor is a female knight. The biker guy runs a bakery.
- Practicalities. Okay, sometimes it just doesn’t fit — I can’t imagine and don’t want to know what Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas did about going to the loo while running across Rohan. But what are the arrangements if your astronaut needs to pee? What is your character eating while lost in the woods — you know berries don’t keep body and soul together in the long term, right? These little details make your world.
Whoops, got all rambly. Looking forward to seeing what other people post for this!
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.