This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is a freebie week, so I mined the past topics for something interesting, and grabbed “Top Ten Books I Was ‘Forced’ To Read”. Which I shall interpret as meaning books read for class, rather than books people pressed upon me in a friendly manner…
- The Decameron, Boccaccio. Technically I don’t think I had to read this, but doing so definitely helps to understand the context of stuff like Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. And it is, in fact, a darn good read; some of the stories get repetitive, but there’s a lot of fascinating stuff going on.
- The Annotated Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien and Douglas A. Anderson. Normally I probably wouldn’t be interested in an annotated edition, but this has some really fascinating stuff.
- Cwmardy, Lewis Jones. Or basically all the Welsh literature I read for class, because it was all pretty eye-opening for me.
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. My love affair with this poem didn’t really begin until I read it in the original, at a painstakingly slow speed, with a really intelligent tutor at the helm.
- Njal’s Saga. I just love that you can sum it up as “John Grisham for ancient Iceland”.
- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Agatha Christie. No, really! It was a class on crime fiction and it was awesome, and while Christie’s writing could get formulaic, reading this one alone was pretty awesome.
- Country Dance, Margiad Evans. Or was it Turf or Stone? Either way, this deserves a special mention alongside Cwmardy because the introduction just hit me in the gut with oh, I recognise this… I forget who it was, but someone wrote about not knowing anything about Welsh literature as they grew up, and thinking there was none, and yeah, I’ve been there.
- The Mabinogion. Else what kind of Welsh person would I be? But I didn’t really ‘get’ it or dig into it until I had to read it and relate it to other texts and dig into research and scholarship.
- Postcolonialism Revisited, Kirsti Bohata. The birth of my understanding of Wales as a colony, and our literature as postcolonial. Not that non-Welsh classmates tended to appreciate this point of view.
- Richard III, William Shakespeare. I honestly did not ‘get’ Shakespeare at first, so never bothered to read the history plays. Which turned out to be my favourites.
English Lit degree: useful for something, at least.
This week’s theme is “Top Ten 2016 Releases So Far”. And I’m not sure I’ve read ten yet… But let’s have a shot.
- This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab. I had this as an ARC and it’s finally out; it’s awesome, and possibly my favourite of her books so far.
- The Sudden Appearance of Hope, by Claire North. Fascinating core idea and well-executed. I think I like it more than Touch or The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and I did like those too.
- The Raven and the Reindeer, by T. Kingfisher. Fun lesbian retelling of ‘The Snow Queen’. No, I’m not kidding.
- In the Labyrinth of Drakes, by Marie Brennan. Enormously satisfying for fans of the series, and it keeps on bringing the awesome.
- Every Heart a Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. For a novella, this was very satisfying, and it’s definitely encouraged me to get on and read more of McGuire’s work.
- The Winner’s Kiss, by Marie Rutkoski. Picked right back up again after I disliked some things about the second book, and gave us an excellent end.
- The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All The Way Home, by Catherynne M. Valente. A lovely end to the series, and avoided the trope I was really scared of.
- City of Blades, by Robert Jackson Bennett. Give me mooooooore…
- Kingfisher, by Patricia A. McKillip. I suspect I’ll appreciate this more if I ever come back and reread it. It has her usual magic all the same.
- The Girl From Everywhere, by Heidi Heilig. Fascinating setting (Hawaii, 1884) and some awesome characters. By which I mostly mean Kash.
Well, that was surprisingly easy! I guess I’m keeping up better than I thought.
This week’s theme is “Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year”, which is always a difficult topic for me as I have no real clue what’s upcoming. I know, I’m rubbish. So here’s a bunch of books that I don’t think are out yet, which I want to get.
- Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I’ve been in love with the cover since it was announced, and I’ve enjoyed Kowal’s previous books.
- This Savage Song, by Victoria Schwab. I’ve actually read this already, but I love it and I want more people to read it. You can check out my review here!
- Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor. I might not have got round to reading Dreams of Gods and Monsters yet, but that’s definitely not Taylor’s fault. I’m excited for her next book!
- The Reader, by Traci Chee. I can’t remember where I first saw this, but I know it’s been in my mind as something to check out for a while now.
- Den of Wolves, by Juliet Marillier. I haven’t actually read the second book yet, but I enjoyed Dreamer’s Pool a lot, so I’m looking forward to this.
- The Burning Page, by Genevieve Cogman. I found the second book really entertaining and better than I expected, so I’m actually quite impatient for this one!
- Necessity, by Jo Walton. It’s Jo, ’nuff said.
- The Obelisk Gate, by N.K. Jemisin. Hopefully it’ll give me the kick in the butt to read The Fifth Season, ahaha…
- City of Miracles, by Robert Jackson Bennett. Okay, technically I think it’s January of 2017, but shush, I want it noooow.
- Ruined, by Amy Tintera. Because Cait @ Paper Fury made it sound awesome.
I’m surprised — quite a few of these actually leaped to mind! What’s everyone else looking forward to? Have I forgotten something obvious?
This week’s theme is “Ten Reasons I Love X”, and for a minute I couldn’t think of a thing I wanted to gush about — or I could, but nothing I thought I could come up with a whole list for, or which might be interesting to anyone else.
Then it struck me. So here are ten reasons I love fairytales (and fairytale retellings)!
- Something about them has spoken to people for a long, long time. These are really old stories that have been told by consensus, basically — by people deciding on the bits they like and adding new parts and ditching things which don’t make sense anymore. They’re like a well-worn shirt.
- They’re still variable. We can still change them. Every day, if we want to. We can tell the same story with different characters (and even read the same stories with different characters) and explore all the little ways we can tweak the meanings, the messages.
- They contain all kinds of magic. It doesn’t matter what magic you need, you can probably find it in fairytales. Alchemy? Ask Rumpelstiltskin. Fairy Godmothers? True love’s kiss?
- We can use them to ask questions. Like, why would you love a Beast? What’s going on with this story?
- They’re suitable for any age. These stories are timeless, and it’s because they contain stuff that appeals to children and adults alike. The child wonders about what’s there to find in the wood, other than the Big Bad Wolf. The adult knows the anxiety of Red Riding Hood’s mother, or the patience of the grandmother, or the hunger of the Wolf…
- They can be universal. We could go around collecting dozens of variations on a fairytale, or collect them together and call it an archetype. There’s versions of these stories in so many cultures — doesn’t that say something?
- They can be specific. Robin Hood lives in Sherwood Forest, and you can go there and walk where he walked. Or walk past a lake where a fairy came out of the water to marry a human man. This or that glade or grotto, somewhere you know and can visit and touch, has a secret magic.
- You always know what’s coming. Once upon a time. A wicked witch. True love’s kiss. Happily ever after.
- But they can surprise you all the same. It doesn’t have to happen the same way every time. Sleeping Beauty can fall in love with the Wicked Witch or a stableboy or serving maid. The important part is the kiss, the happy ever after. Cinderella can be an android.
- We can make new fairytales with the old formulae. We know how it goes: sets of three, a stepmother, a tiny house in the forest…
For two writers who do really good takes on fairytales, try T. Kingfisher and Robin McKinley… Sarah Pinborough’s retellings are also interesting. And there’s a lot more out there.
This week’s theme is “beach reads”. Now, I kind of… don’t do beach reads. I’ll read whatever books whether I’m on the beach or not, and I don’t really go with ‘themes’ for the time of year or anything… I know, I know, I’m boring.
And to top it off, I’m not likely to go to the beach. So I’m at a loss for how to handle this theme and will go for “books I am planning to read soon”, in that it is beach weather here.
- Hex, Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I’ve heard conflicting stories on whether this is scary or not, but either way, I’m a wuss. So summer might be the best time to read it, when the days are long and bright…
- A Court of Mist and Fury, Sarah J. Maas. Once I’ve reread A Court of Thorns and Roses, anyway. Just picked up my copy.
- The King of Attolia, Megan Whalen Turner. This is a reread, but it’s been aaaages. I just finished rereading Queen of Attolia, though. [And because I wrote this post a ways in advance, now I have read it!
- A Local Habitation, Seanan McGuire. Before I end up forgetting details of Rosemary and Rue.
- The Girl with All the Gifts, M.R. Carey. I really have to get round to reading this, don’t I?
- Little, Big, John Crowley. Since I recently picked up a second copy…
- Hammered, Elizabeth Bear. My partner’s been poking me to read these for, uh, a while.
- Uprooted, Naomi Novik. It’s been waiting long enough for me to get round to it, and it sounds great. And it’s on the Hugo ballot.
- The Long Way to A Small Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. I really really want to get round to this one, from all I’ve heard.
- Midnight Never Come, Marie Brennan. I really love her Lady Trent books — it’s time I read this. [Read this one now, too!]
Somewhat random selection, I know…
This week’s theme is an interesting one: ten books I feel differently about now time has passed. There’s a lot of books I feel that way about from when I was a kid, of course, but I’ll try to go for more recent stuff.
- Cocaine Blues, Kerry Greenwood. I reaaaally changed my opinion on this one, and ended up devouring the whole series. But the first time I tried it, I hated it.
- The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve always liked reading it, but I’ve gone through periods of being more or less critical. There was one point where I didn’t dare reread it, because I thought I’d find it too racist, sexist, simplistic… But thanks to Ursula Le Guin’s writing on Tolkien’s work, and then studying it during my MA, I’ve come to appreciate it a lot more. A lot of the things people complain about post-Tolkien fantasy really are post-Tolkien — he didn’t bring them in. Derivativeness, lack of thought about the implications of this choice or that on the world — I’ve come to see that lack of thought was never Tolkien’s problem, though it has been a problem for people after him.
- The Diamond Throne, David Eddings. I’ve had a long succession of feelings about this too; loved it and thought it really romantic as a kid, grew up and thought it was crappy and derivative, but recently I reread a bit and thought it was kind of funny anyway. (Even if Sparhawk and Ehlana is actually a creepy relationship.)
- Chalice, Robin McKinley. I think I originally gave this one three stars, but I keep thinking about it and I’ve read it again since and I just… I love it.
- Tooth and Claw, Jo Walton. Didn’t love this the first time, fell right into it on a reread. The right book at the right time, I guess.
- The Farthest Shore, Ursula Le Guin. This is less one that I’ve got to like more, and more one I appreciate more. I’m still not a big fan of it and wouldn’t idly pick it up the way I would, say, The Tombs of Atuan. But I see its purpose and beauty.
- Across the Nightingale Floor, Lian Hearn. I loved this at the time, but I don’t know if it’d stand up to that now. I’m a little afraid to try, so I think that counts for the list?
- Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden. I know in how many ways this is exploitative and so on, but I did love this at one point. Another one I don’t think I’ll try again.
- Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country, Rosalind Miles. I might like this more now that I read more romance, I don’t know, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. My opinion got worse and worse as I read more of her books.
- The Crystal Cave, Mary Stewart. The misogyny drove me mad the first time, but I actually appreciated parts of it more the second time.
That was… harder than I expected. Although I was also distracted by being a backseat driver to my partner playing Assassin’s Creed.
I missed last week’s post because of travelling and busy, and neither last week’s theme or this week’s theme is really speaking to me. So! Instead, just have “Ten Bookish Things I Have Had Feelings About Recently”.
- That moment when you realise you want to read a book that you’ve left behind somewhere else. Accio my copy of Heyer’s The Talisman Ring?
- Trying to figure out if I liked Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin. So much going on, complex structure. I got to 85% and wasn’t sure what I thought, and then it went and dealt with most of my concerns in the last 15%. What’s with that, book?
- When I need all of Seanan McGuire’s books, stat. I just finally read Rosemary and Rue and yep, I need the rest. Everyone who recced me these books totally owes me Amazon vouchers so I can get some… Whaddya mean, no?
- When the paperback is really pretty and handier but you have the hardback and the ebook already. Lookin’ at you, Uprooted by Naomi Novik! It’s there and it’s taunting me, in all the shops. But I own it so…
- Dinner is ready and you just want to read. I’m getting better at this; I’ve even been stopping mid-page when my partner has dinner ready. But.
- Gotta love a comfort read. Contemplating digging into some of my old favourites while I struggle through the hell known as my final math assignment.
- But gotta love the new ones too. I’m finally reading Juliet Marillier’s Dreamer’s Pool, for example, and I really want to know what happens and if everything turns out okay in the end for Flidais.
- When you can’t find a comfortable position to read. At this rate, I’m thinking upside down in some kind of harness might be what my body is looking for, because all the usual ways of getting comfy are noooot working.
- The joy of giving people books. Okay, so my partner already had China Miéville’s latest as an ebook, but the print version is pretty.
- The joy of bookshops. I went to my favourite bookshop in Brussels last week (Sterling Books, Wolvengracht 23). It’s moved locations and downsized a bit since I was last year, but I still got a really good haul. And I have five euro off my next purchase…
And now to get on with queueing up some more posts so last week’s standstill doesn’t repeat the next time I’m stressed!
This week’s theme from The Broke and The Bookish is “top ten bookworm delights”, and guys, I don’t know how I’m going to narrow it down to ten.
- The smell of books. When conditions conspire for that perfect new book smell… apparently it involves vanillin? Which makes sense, since that’s vanilla-like and vanilla is my favourite scent.
- When your favourite author has a new book coming out. Extra bonus points if you can get hold of the ARC.
- Finding the right book for someone else. My sister is tearing her way through David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, for example. I got her the first couple and it is so exciting to watch her gnawing through the whole series.
- The taste of words. The sound and mouth-feel of words triggers my synaesthesia, so yep, I get to taste books. And that tends to come together into an overall impression for me. The Hobbit is Werther’s Originals, for example. Robin Hobb’s Royal Assassin is dark chocolate.
- Finding a bookshop with unexpected stock. Whether that’s range or just a shelf with a couple of surprises, I love it. That’s part of why I hit most of the bookshops in Calgary in my rather brief visit there.
- Wind and rain outside, me and book inside. Especially if I can curl up in bed or under my patchwork blanket.
- Finding a new favourite. That moment when you read a book and know it’s going to stay with you. Most recent for me? Every Heart A Doorway, which I just reviewed yesterday.
- Readathons. Official or otherwise. Just that awesome feeling of a stack of books and plenty of time to read them, serially, for as long as you can.
- Books that make you stay up past bedtime. Just one more page… just one more page…
- “Meeting” a character who is just like you. Mori from Among Others is my first choice, but there are so many out there. Kindred spirits, as Anne Shirley would say…
The lists this week should be fun! And I will probably realise I’ve forgotten a super obvious one.
This week’s theme is books that make you laugh, and I am… notoriously humour-challenged. I have a sense of humour, but sometimes it goes AWOL or hides up a tree or something, and I’m very particular about my humour. All in all, books generally do not make me laugh.
So instead, here are books which elicited a “khee!” sound from me, which is known to be my noise of utter delight.
- Carry On, Rainbow Rowell. Probably not a surprise, considering how much I’ve been talking about this lately. And the narration is often clever and funny.
- In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Marie Brennan. Fans of Isabella have plenty to love about this book… and, you know, we get to find out about certain things that have been hinted at for ages.
- Clean Sweep, Ilona Andrews. I don’t know why Ilona Andrews’ writing so reliably pushes my buttons, but yep.
- The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home, Catherynne M. Valente. Blunderbuss. <3
- City of Blades, Robert Jackson Bennett. These books are just so stunningly awesomely crammed with worldbuilding, of course I make fannish noises.
- The Midnight Queen, Sylvia Izzo Hunter. Must get round to the second book soon!
- This Savage Song, Victoria Schwab. Lots of awesome. No romance.
- The Masked City, Genevieve Cogman. A great follow-up to The Invisible Library.
- Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie. I have not the words. But cuddles!
- The Seventh Bride, T. Kingfisher. HEDGEHOG! Fairytale retelling, also.
I just got back from moving, so I can’t be more coherent, but hey, luckily these are all recent reads and I’ve linked to my reviews! Except for In the Labyrinth of Drakes, which is so recent I haven’t reviewed it yet. Oops.
This week’s theme is “Ten Books Every X Should Read”… and I’m having a hard time picking what “X” is. I’m going to go a little off-script for me and talk about romances, I think! Unfortunately, I have just a few authors I tend to come back to, rather than reading a lot of romance, so you might want to take it with a pinch of salt… Oh, and I am using the modern version of romance, not the fantasy-romance of medieval times! So I guess “X” is “people reluctant to read pure romance”, since some of these books nudged me into trying it.
- Camelot’s Shadow, Sarah Zettel. This is an interesting take on the Arthurian world, and features Gawain being decidedly-not-perfect but not being the murderous asshole from Malory or even Mary Stewart’s The Wicked Day. This is proooobably one of the books that really got me interested in Gawain, and especially his relationship with Dame Ragnelle.
- A Dangerous Thing, Josh Lanyon. Technically, this is the second book of the series, and I think you should read the first book in order. I just think the second book is objectively better. This will not be your thing if you don’t like gay relationships, though, and I’m told that’s a thing that one is supposed to make clear about romance? So yes, gay romance!
- Boy Meets Boy, David Levithan. Super cute and 90% positive. More YA-ish, and also gay.
- The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern. Also fantasy. If it doesn’t stir your heart, it’s probably made of stone. Your heart, not the book.
- Attachments, Rainbow Rowell. This completely won me over so I was willing to try everything of Rowell’s. Sweetly nostalgic, and not too bad about the “communicate, damn it!” issue.
- The Talisman Ring, Georgette Heyer. Lots and lots of fun, and features two couples to root for.
- Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers. Okay, the romance between Peter and Harriet is more of a slow burn thing and probably needs the build-up, but any book with the line “if I should once give way to [him], I would go up like straw” has to count.
- The Second Mango, Shira Glassman. Want sweet and silly in a lesbian fantasy love story? Tahdah!
- The Ivy Tree, Mary Stewart. I was torn over which of Stewart’s novels to include here, but this is the one that’s probably stuck with me the most. Heavy on the mystery, too!
- Season of Storms, Susanna Kearsley. The side characters in this are actually pretty much the amazing thing that gets it onto this list. They feel real too, and feature a gay couple basically having raised a daughter (but It’s Complicated). The main romance is straight, though.
I am a little irritated by the fact that I could only find one lesbian romance I wanted to include, but Sarah Diemer/Elora Bishop has some good ones, too!