TTT: Impulsive Cover Buys (That Paid Off)

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jamie @ The Broke and the Bookish.

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday, and this week is a cover freebie. Below are ten books that I impulse bought based solely (or mostly) on their covers. I think the saying ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ does a terrible disservice to the folks who spend their time designing and illustrating book covers.

When I have the disposable income to do so, I’ll cover buy a few books and see how it goes. The books that made the list this week are cover buys that ended up being favourites of mine.

abhorsen-1a certain slant of lightHawkeye

Sabriel: This first instalment in a series of fantastic heroines, necromancy, and insidious magic set me on a path to seeking out more cool and unique fantasy contests.

A Certain Slant of Light: This beautiful and slightly creepy cover conceals a unique story of the afterlife that I’ve never seen replicated before or since.

Hawkeye: The colour choice and bold graphics drew me in, and this turned out to be one of the funniest comics I’ve picked up in ages.

annihilationSunshineSaga

Annihilation: This gorgeous graphic cover is the first in a creepy and slow-moving speculative sci-fi trilogy that is absolutely unforgettable.

Sunshine: In a world where magical gifts manifest and creatures roam, the titular character is trapped with a vampire in an incredibly interesting story. The sparkly cover is rather different from the content matter, but it was certainly eye-catching.

Saga: I had no idea of the epic tale of family and space that waited for me within the pages of this excellently illustrated comic. Fiona Staples is a master.

kaptaradeathlessgentlemen's alliance

Kaptara: This brilliantly coloured and rendered cover conceals a hilarious story set in deep space with a distinctly 80’s vibe.

Deathless: The stark and beautiful graphic cover still doesn’t quite convey the tale of love, death, and magic that lays within the pages of this book. The story stayed with me for years.

The Gentlemen’s Alliance Cross: Arina’s Tanemura’s striking manga illustrations are densely detailed and convey her story lines wonderfully. The first in a series that I absolutely adore.

Fionavar Tapestry Omnibus

The Fionavar Tapestry: This beautiful cover introduced me to my favourite author via a series that would go on to influence both my reading and writing forever more.

That’s all for today! Have you read any of my cover picks? What theme did you choose this week? Let me know in the comments below!

 

TTT: Books I’d Love to See Under the Tree

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Hey y’all. It’s Tuesday, which means another Top Ten Tuesday! TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I’m currently suffering either a nasty stomach bug or food poisoning, so this post will be rather shorter than usual and possibly a little incoherent.

Still, I want to try my best to keep things going!

The theme this week is ‘Top Ten Books I’d Love to See Under the Christmas Tree’. I don’t actually have a tree this year, which I’m sad about as I love the smell of fresh pine. In any case, here are ten books that I would love to receive as gifts! Honestly, any book as a gift is wonderful, especially when you’re gifting a personal favourite to someone.

But sometimes you just want to get your hands on something specific!

In no particular order, here’s my wishlist:

goldenhandthe-girl-who-drank-the-moonsleeping-giantsthe-dark-days-clubluna-new-moon

– Goldenhand, by Garth Nix

– The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill

– Sleeping Giants, by Sylvain Neuvel

– The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman

– Luna: New Moon, by Ian McDonald

– The Paper Menagerie, by Ken Liu

– Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

– Six-Gun Snow White, by Catherynne M. Valente

– And I Darken, by Kiersten White

– The Trees, by Ali Shaw

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So there they are, books that I was unable to pick up myself for one reason or another, but that I’ve really wanted to read. Getting them as gifts would be really cool.

Gifts aren’t everything during the holidays – seeing your family and friends is the best part of the season. But there’s no denying that presents are a delight!

I hope you all have a great end of the year, and receive some cool books as well!

What are some books you’d love to receive as gifts? Have you read any of my wishlist – and how were they? Let me know in the comments below!

T5W: Books to Re-Read

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It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means – time for another Top 5 Wednesday! T5W is a weekly book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating!

This week we’re talking about books that we want to re-read! A topic that’s certainly near and dear to me, as I re-read books fairly consistently. While reading a book once is very rewarding, reading it again can bring so much more to the story. With each re-read, I believe a deeper understanding of the text can be achieved – of the characters, their motives, the subtle nuances the author worked in – and even of error and offenses that you never noticed the first time around.

Plus, it’s always wonderful to return to a world and characters that you love. Like sinking into a warm bath, or under soft flannel sheets, it’s a feeling of comfort that warms you.

So what are my top five books to re-read? In no particular order, lets begin!

Watership Down

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I first read this when I was fairly young – maybe about 11 or 12 years old. While I loved it as a kid, I’m sure there are things that I never quite understood about it. I think I’ll definitely benefit from reading it again as an adult. Plus, I’ve since learned that it was the author’s least favourite of his own works which is interesting and may lend a more critical eye during the re-read.

Inheritance Cycle

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A series that I loved as a teen, I nevertheless recognised at the time that the writing in the first few books was a rather poor emulation of fantasy novels that had come before. Despite that, I enjoyed the fast pacing and characterisations set in this new-ish fantasy setting. I’m curious to see if I’ll like these less in a re-read as an adult, considering that I used to do fast re-reads of them and would skip the parts I enjoyed less.

Amos Daragon

The only French titles on the list, these were favourites of mine as a kid. I’m fairly sure you can also get them in English (the series title would be ‘The Mask Wearer’) but a beautiful omnibus set came into my work in the original French and I’m making sure to snatch it up quickly. Amos Daragon’s adventures were thrilling, and the cast of characters were super interesting and included a young gorgon and a kid who could turn into a bear. Honestly, I think I’ll love these even more with a re-read, and they’ll help me become more comfortable with my French again.

The Fionavar Tapestry

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These books changed my life. They changed my perspective of fantasy, of the concept of alternate universes, and of how complex characters could be. I read them when I was about 14, and I’m far overdue on a re-read. Kay is a singularly gifted author. His beautiful prose builds his worlds with an effortless grace that I believe to be honestly unmatched by anyone else. (My love of this series only increased when I met Guy Gavriel Kay and he was kind enough to take a picture with me.)

The Gemma Doyle Trilogy

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I really enjoyed these books as a teen. Portraying a magical world that was more insidious than most I had previously encountered, I found them very compelling. Even as a teen though, I wasn’t a fan of the romance in these books. However, the mysterious nature of the settings, and many of the characters kept me guessing and wanting more. I also found the tragedies of some characters pretty unique among a whole lot of ‘feel good happy ending’ stories at the time. I’m eager to see how these books hold up on a re-read.

So there you have it! Five books (or series) that I’m eager to re-read.

Are any of these on your to-read list? Have you read any of them before? Did you love them, hate them, or forget about them? What are you planning on re-reading? Let me know in the comments below!

T5W: Publishers That Fill My Shelves

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It’s been ages since I’ve participated in a Top 5 Wednesday, and this week’s topic is a cool one. Top 5 Wednesday is a book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating!

This week we were urged to check out what we have on our shelves in order to determine our favourite publishers.

Determining favourite publishers is also insanely difficult because when I looked them up, they’re all basically imprints of the ‘Big Five’ – publishing companies that have a huge monopoly on the market. So figuring out how to divide this list was ridiculous. All the different imprints are essentially divided by genre so I didn’t learn anything about my preferences that I didn’t already know. I like fantasy, sci-fi, YA, and the occasional historical fiction or classic.

So with that disclaimer, here are the publishers I seem to have the most of.

1)HarperCollins

Largely because of my love of YA, my shelves are filled with HarperTeen and HarperCollins titles. They tend to stick with easily readable books in quartets or trilogies that all seem to sell very well – including some classics. Some of my favourites are the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr, Kenneth Oppel’s Silverwing series, and my beautiful Chronicles of Narnia boxset.

2)Simon & Schuster

Another high-scoring publisher on my shelf purely due to YA titles, I have quite a few Simon Pulse books. Again, easily digestible titles, these tend to have eye-catching covers. According to their website they publish books “with a focus on high-concept commercial fiction”. Favourites include Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books, the Night World series, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King.

3)ChiZine Publications

The first (and only) publisher on the list not an imprint of the ‘Big Five’, this is a local Toronto enterprise that publishes some weird and wonderful stuff. Deliberately publishing the dark and the strange, their tagline ‘Embrace the Odd’ is apt for each of their titles that I’ve read. Some of my favourites are Katja from the Punk Band, The Inner City, and Chasing the Dragon.

4)Ace

Next on the list is Ace, who are now an imprint of Penguin Random House. They’re a science fiction/fantasy publisher that has put out very influential books since their inception, such as Phillip K. Dick, the Dune series, and Robert Heinlein. My favourites include the Sookie Stackhouse books, and Sharon Shinn’s Samaria books.

5)Tor Books

Last, but certainly not least, is Tor. Now owned by one of the ‘Big Five’, Holtzbrinck, Tor is known for publishing science fiction and fantasy, and also for their excellent online sci-fi magazine Tor.com. It’s virtually impossible to look at a shelf containing those genres and not find a book published by Tor. Some of my favourite authors they publish include Charles De Lint, Jeff VanderMeer, and Catherynne M. Valente.

While those were the publishers and imprints that held the most of the books that I currently own, I found it impossible not to notice that lots of smaller imprints and independent publishers had a few titles on my shelves as well. It’s virtually impossible to escape the ‘Big Five’, nor will I seek to do so as I think that quality reading material can be found pretty much everywhere if you’re willing to look.

What were your top 5 publishers? Are there smaller presses or imprints that you’d like to recommend? Please so in the comments below!

TTT: Favourite Villains in Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Top Ten Tuesday is basically exactly as it sounds: participants list their ‘top ten’ of whatever the subject is every week.

This week was ‘all about villains’ and participants were challenged to come up with their own list about villains. My top ten (or rather, my top nine) this week is a list of villains that I found compelling, terrifying, or both. Everyone on this list added a necessary evil to the books they were in.

Now, in no particular order, here we go!

Count Olaf

An arsonist with a deep desire to create orphans and acquire their inheritances, Olaf insinuates himself into their lives using murder, strange plots, and lots of disguises. Extremely creepy, he’s interesting because the reader never learns very much about him. However when his motivations become clearer (in The End) he becomes a more believably complex character and a masterful villain.

King Leck

A more unsettling villain is hard to find in any other books. Leck is unquestionably a psychopath and a sadist. But the worst part about him is his insanely insidious gift that holds even after his death. Making people believe something is scary, but that belief passing unquestionably from person to person like a virus is next level terrifying.

Black Jack Randall

A sadist of the most disgusting kind, he derives a deep pleasure from torturing and hurting other people. He can’t perform sexually unless his (unwilling) partner is afraid or he is hurting them. He is obsessive and once fixated on someone will do everything he can to get what he wants from them.

Irial

While I’m absolutely positive that Irial doesn’t see himself as a villain, there is no question that he is one. Though granted he’s trying to strengthen his people, he forges a disgustingly perverse connection with a teenager. Sucking all of the negative emotion from her to keep himself strong, he commits unspeakable atrocities in front of her to gain them. Dark fae have always unnerved me, but this pushed me to absolute fear.

Skinner Sweet

Skinner Sweet is the kind of character that you love to hate. Sometimes he’s just kind of a dick, and sometimes his actions are so completely reprehensible that you don’t want to believe them of him. He’s on this list because reading about him is always extremely enjoyable despite his awful actions.

Wanderer

Though some may disagree, Wanda is unquestionably the villain of this book for me (fight me). Part of a colonization after an invading force has taken over the Earth, she does her best to subsume the consciousness in the body that she’s stolen. She then proceeds to seek out that body’s lover, because through memories she also fancies herself in love with him. While there’s no doubt that she’s a likeable and sympathetic villain, she belongs on this list.

Lord Voldemort

I’m sure you knew this one was coming. But really the man split his goddamned soul in the pursuit of immortality. In addition he basically enslaves the very people that seek utopia under his regime while using them to persecute all other groups of people. He has intense intelligence and magical power at his disposal, and those become more unstable as time goes on – making him unpredictable and thus even more dangerous.

Galbatorix

Megalomania and insanity are not a good mix. No nation should have an immortal king who has committed genocide and murdered the entire order of people keeping the peace. While he’s kept a semblance of order, he destroyed a golden age and quickly halted all progress. Also he twisted a dragon to be his slave. Not cool, man.

Opal Koboi

A villain that becomes more terrifying in each book in which she appears, she’s the epitome of evil genius. She uses her intelligence to construct plots that become increasingly elaborate and which are meticulously planned. She’s also emotionally unstable and sometimes flies into rages. You never know when she’s going to pop up because she has a million failsafes in place for her own death.

Did any of my villains make their way to your list? What are some of your favourite villains in books?

T5W: Gateway Books to Young Adult

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Top 5 Wednesday is a book meme created by Gingerreadslainey, and hosted here if you’re interested in participating!

This week’s theme is ‘gateway books to your favourite genre’, and I really had to think about it. I’m a fairly eclectic reader, enjoying everything from memoirs, to scifi, to a great contemporary read. I took a good look at my shelf and my favourites, and I had to conclude that I do seem to read and enjoy a lot of young adult reads.

So today I present to you, 5 gateway books to young adult reads! Just as complex and intelligent as books aimed at adults, I find they’re too often overlooked. I’ve mentioned some of these in other posts, but that’s because they’re fantastic and should be read!

The barometer I’ve used here is my dad. Some of these are books that I’ve gotten him to read and some of them are books that I think he would read. He now sometimes pursues YA on his own! If my dad can get behind Young Adult books, so can you.

eragonEragon, by Christopher Paolini

While this first book was made into an absolutely terrible film, and is quite honestly a bit of a simplistic Tolkien mirror, it’s the first of a quartet that is honestly worth your time. They contain a protagonist that grows in mind and spirit, a fantasy storyline that is fairly fast-paced, and a cast of interesting characters. I sped through them, and so did my dad.

For fans of classic fantasy, a la Tolkien and Eddings, just in an ‘easy reading’ sort of way.

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Cardenders-game

A science fiction novel that’s been adapted into a well-received movie, this book is actually the beginning of an excellent series, and the jumping-off point for a second. While this book wasn’t written with the intention of being YA, it has been marketed as such for a while, and has certainly been enjoyed by children of all ages. I read it for the first time at 12, and then again at 16.

Definitely for fans of science fiction interested in exploring complex moral issues.

stolen-coverStolen, by Lucy Christopher

A very intense novel, the entire thing is a letter from a captive to her kidnapper. You’ll either love this book or you’ll hate it. The author is very gifted with storytelling, and basically explores Stockholm Syndrome from the inside. A book I haven’t read in ages but that has stayed with me for years.

For fans of contemporary thrillers and psychologically challenging books.

Sabriel, by Garth Nixabhorsen-1

The first book in a series, it has incredibly extensive world building. With different types of magic systems, and a protagonist who must learn a legacy of binding the dead, it’s certainly a page turner. It involves very interesting necromancy, and an antagonist who moves the story along at a rapid pace.

For fans of high fantasy and cool magic systems.

white-catWhite Cat, by Holly Black

One of my favourite teen authors, this is another book that you’ll either love or hate. The protagonist is an ungifted guy in a family of curse workers – people with various magical gifts. He starts having bizarre dreams about a white cat trying to tell him something, and must try to figure it out while navigating strange family secrets.

For fans of the paranormal, this is Supernatural meets the mafia.

There were other books that I would add to this list, but most of them speak for themselves, so I’ll add them here as honourable mentions. Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, His Dark Materials, and anything written by Tamora Pierce are all well known and worth reading.

I hope that if you’re not familiar with Young Adult novels, I’ve helped to open a new door for you!

Have you read any YA novels that have convinced you that it’s a genre to look for? What is your favourite genre of books, and a gateway book you’d recommend for it?

Fall TBR List – Top Ten Tuesday

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I’ve discovered yet another book meme, this one hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Top Ten Tuesday is basically exactly as it sounds: participants list their ‘top ten’ of whatever the subject is every week. I thought I’d start this week since the topic is your Fall TBR list!

Generally I don’t ever have a coherent TBR, but this upcoming season seems to be the exception for me.

I don’t know that I’ll be able to read all of these, or if I’ll be adding in other reads here and there, but these are the books that I’m looking forward to getting to this season!

Goldenhand, by Garth Nix

The highly anticipated continuation of The Old Kingdom series, I cannot wait to get my hands on this and throw myself back into the fantastic world that Nix has created.

The Night Wanderer, by Drew Hayden Taylor

Chosen because I want to do some spooky reading in October, and I’m excited to read something billed as ‘A Native Gothic Novel’.

The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, by Cassandra Rose Clarke

A book I’ve been curious about since it came out, I finally came across a copy at my bookstore.  Apparently dealing with sentient rights, I’m looking forward to reading it.

My Real Children, by Jo Walton

A book about one woman’s life, and the two distinct paths it takes after a choice is made.

Invisible Planets: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese SF in Translation, translated by Ken Liu

It’s always thrilling to read more diverse authors, and I’m so excited to take a look at the worlds created by these authors.

Children of Icarus, by Caighlan Smith

An ARC I got through NetGalley, there isn’t a lot of information about this book save that it’s based in mythology about Icarus.

The Dhow House, by Jean McNeil

Another NetGalley find, this time from Legend Press – who also published The Blackbird Singularity.

The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

A protagonist who stops eating meat and the surprising consequences of her choice.

Spider’s Song, by Anita Daher

Another spooky October read, this time not supernatural but instead dealing with more human terrors.

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M.R. Carey

Possibly another October read, I saw the movie trailer based on this book and am super intrigued about the concept.

Do we share any of the same books? What’s on your Fall TBR list?