Wyrd and Wonder: Let’s talk about series (+ favourite completed series)

As a fantasy and romance reader, my reading is often series heavy – and when I enjoy a series this is one of my favourite parts of reading. I love the depth possible when many books are set in the same world, I love how invested I can become in characters when I have multiple books to spend time with them, and I also like being able to be reasonably sure I will love a book.

I have said in the past that I am not good at reading series – this is not actually quite true I have realized over the last few years (and about 20 books in the Psy-Changeling series later). I am admittedly not that great at finishing trilogies but longer series I enjoy I often inhale – especially if they are romance heavy or adjacent.

I have not been able to post as many non-review posts as I would like this last year- and I have especially not been able to shout my love from the rooftops as much (it feels like I read more disappointing books lately than earlier in my blogging journey, although this does not seem to actually have been the case). I am currently writing this series of posts on series (still to come are “Series I Love and Want to Keep Reading”, “Series I Read the First Book of and want to continue on with”, and “Series on my TBR”) in the hopes of bringing more positivity to my blog again. These posts are partly inspired by Caitlin’s brilliant The Great Series Read Project which you should check out if you haven’t done so.

To start that positivity with a bang, here are some of my favourite completed series.

Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews (review and review)
This comes as no news to anybody as this series re-invigorated my love for Urban Fantasy a couple of years ago. I binge-read the first four books in a breathless (and sleepless) rush over the span of less than a week. It took me a bit longer to read the next five and then I still had to wait a few weeks for the publication of the last book. Ilona Andrews takes what is a fairly typical UF premise: loner, detective-type person solves crimes involving magic and/ or creatures, while falling in love with one of the suspects, and makes it incredibly readable. The world-building is inpeccable, Kate Daniels is a perfect main character, the voice is wonderful, and I ship the main couple a little bit too much. I am currently making my way through all the novellas set in this world and then maybe I will re-read the series. It is just that good. (I still do not love the covers.)

Psy-Changeling by Nalini Singh
The first arc of this still ongoing series finished with book 15 (plus novellas) – and what a satisfying first arc this was! You get the feeling that Singh knows exactly where she wants her story to go and the little hints she plants early on for later books is just brilliant. This paranormal romance series is set in the future and features both Psy and shapeshifters. Each book focusses on another couple but the overall story is what keeps me hooked even if I do not love each individual couple. Incredibly, the series does not show any signs of becoming weaker and I do not foresee myself ever disliking any book Singh writes.

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin is my favourite author and this is her masterpiece. She won three consecutive Hugo Awards for these books – and rightfully so. The trilogy is near perfect, the first book especially was something close to otherworldly for me (review here). I do not know if there is another book that is this perfectly suited to my reading tastes. If you have not gotten around to this series, I really cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

While not as perfect as the Broken Earth trilogy, this is also an incredible series. It does something I particularly love in fantasy: feature gods. I don’t think Jemisin quite stuck the landing with this one but the first two books were so great. I especially love how distinctly not-human the gods are and I love how the later books recontextualize what happened before. (review for the first book here)

The Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett

Another series featuring Gods (I love it so!), this is set in a world where after a huge war, some gods are missing and/or dead and everything they have built is still there but malfunctioning without the entities that cancelled out certain natural laws powering them. The first book is a murder mystery kind of character heavy secondary world urban fantasy and absolutely brilliant (review here) – but the two other books in the series are also pretty damn amazing. The books feature some of my favourite characters and some of the imagery will stay with me forever, I am certain.

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

In what should be obvious by now, this is also a series featuring gods. Set in the North of Russia with its seemingly neverending winter, drawing both on fairy tales and real life history, I adored this. I inhaled the first book (review here) and have been a fan of Katherine Arden’s writing ever since. I didn’t quite love the second book but thought the third book really stuck the landing (review here).

What are some of your favourite series? I am particularly always looking for good urban fantasy, preferably written by women and I also am never unhappy to see a heavy romance focus.

Favourite Books of the Decade

I am in constant awe of the fact that soon we will be living in the 20s. These last ten years were eventful ones for me, mostly because this is the case for most people in their twenties, I reckon. I am not going to reminisce about that though because let’s talk about what really counts: my favourite books published between January 2010 and December 2019. I tried for weeks to narrow it down to ten but I just couldn’t, so here are be eleven absolutely incredible books in chronological order by publication year.

9214995The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch (2011)

The memoir against which I judge all other memoirs, Lidia Yuknavitch’s raw and honest and breathtakingly beautiful account of her life is a book I cannot recommend highly enough. Her sentences are stunning and this book is painful in its brilliance.

23593321Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014)

I found this post-apocalyptic story hauntingly beautiful and impeccably structured. Told in vignettes of before, during, and after a world-altering outbreak of a disease, the story is a rummination of what makes us human as much as it is just a brilliant piece of story-telling. I didn’t love the other book by Emily St. John Mandel I read but I have an ARC for her upcoming novel and I could not be more excited.

20174424City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (2014)

This first in an urban kind of Epic Fantasy trilogy combines many things I adore in books: incredible worldbuilding, stories about gods, sharp characterisations, and main characters I could not help but root for even if they weren’t always perfect. I am not quite as invested in his newest trilogy, the first book of which I read last year, but this whole trilogy is among the best things written in the last decade.

23398763._sy475_Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (2014)

This short, little, perfect book made Celeste Ng an auto-buy author within a few pages. I loved everything about this – but especially the nuanced characterisations of people who seem too real to have come from somebody’s imagination. I found this book a lot stronger than Little Fires Everywhere and it is one I keep recommending to people in real life. (it also started my tradition of gifting my incredible stepmother sad books for Christmas)

23995336The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (2015)

It seems like I never talk about this book which is a shame because I love it so. This novel is more a set of interconnected short stories set in Chechnya but they built to something more than just the sum of its parts. I do not think I have read any author who is better at characterisation with just a sentence or two. Marra’s prose is near painfully beautiful and his stories are incredibly well-structured.

19161852The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin (2015)

Of course this book made the list. I have not stopped shouting its praise since reading it and N. K. Jemisin is probably my favourite author of all time. This book is near perfect for me. Jemisin’s brand of fantasy with its political core and incredibly structured narrative is just everything to me. I also love books told at least in part in second person – so yes, perfect book is perfect. (If I had to name an absolute favourite of this list, this would be it.)

25622828The Unfinished World and Other Stories by Amber Sparks (2016)

My all-time favourite short story collection by my favourite short story author. Sparks’ prose in connection with her exuberant imagination, made this a near perfect reading experience for me. Amber Sparks’ language is neither too flowery nor too sparse but hits that sweet spot of being evocative without being too much, and of being precise without being boring.

27313170All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders (2016)

This book sits comfortably in smack in the middle of my reading preferences, combining fantasy and sci-fi, chronicling in an interesting way a friendship slash love story, this firmly established Charlie Jane Anders as an auto-buy author for me. I love the weirdness and the emotional core of this book and have not stopped thinking about the ending in the years since I read it.

32187419._sy475_Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (2017)

At this point, I feel like I find a way to talk about this book constantly – but damn, do I love this. Rooney has written the perfect book for me. Her characterizations are so sharp they cut deep, I felt so very much for Frances and even Nick (and I never feel for the older man having an affair with a younger women!). I like the understatedness of her prose which does nothing to hide the clear and precise picture she draws of human interactions.

37590570The Pisces by Melissa Broder (2018)

Another one of those books that I constantly bring up, The Pisces in unforgettable for me. Broder has written an incredibly sharp and honest portrayal of a woman who keeps hitting rock bottom and still manages to always choose the most damaging course of action – while also making her, at least for me, deeply relatable (and seriously hilarious). This is not a book for everybody but it is very much a book for me.

35840657Heart Berries by Marie Terese Mailhot (2018)

I adored this and have had troubles ever since articulating exactly what worked for me. Terese Mailhot packs an unbelievable punch into a book this short. I could not stop reading it: her language is hypnotic, her turn of phrase impressive, her emotional rawness painful. This book does not follow conventions, Terese Mailhot tells her story the way she wants to and needs to. She is unapologetically herself. She bares her soul and hides it at the same time.

Most anticipated books of the first half of 2020

There will be so many incredible sounding books released next year that I have been thinking about this post for weeks. As usual, I will for now concentrate on the first half of the year and hopefully write another post some time around June when more books will have been announced. I have tried to no go totally over-board and only include books I am sure I want to get to. You can find more books on my radar on my Goodreads.

I will mostly focus on books that aren’t part of ongoing series but there are plenty of those I am excited about; for example: Headliners (London Celebrities #5) by Lucy Parker, Dirty Martini Running Club #2 by Claire Kingsley, Shorefall (Founder #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett, Alpha Night (Psy-Changeling Trinity #4) by Nalini Singh (hands down my most anticipated release of the entire year).

Topics of Conversation by Miranda Popkey (Knopf/ January 7th, 2020)

45754997Miranda Popkey’s first novel is about desire, disgust, motherhood, loneliness, art, pain, feminism, anger, envy, guilt–written in language that sizzles with intelligence and eroticism. The novel is composed almost exclusively of conversations between women–the stories they tell each other, and the stories they tell themselves, about shame and love, infidelity and self-sabotage–and careens through twenty years in the life of an unnamed narrator hungry for experience and bent on upending her life. Edgy, wry, shot through with rage and despair, Topics of Conversation introduces an audacious and immensely gifted new novelist.

Everything about that blurb appeals to me – that it has been praised as similar to Sally Rooney alone would have been enough to make me excited though. Continue reading “Most anticipated books of the first half of 2020”

My Favourite Authors

Instead of writing all the reviews I still have to write, I found this tag on Jennifer’s channel Insert Literary Pun Here and could not stop thinking about it. The tag, created by Steve Donoghue, works like this: you name six authors that aren’t quite your favourite, four authors that maybe are your favourite and then you rank your five favourite authors.

This was pretty hard; as always, I find it easier to name my favourite author, singular, than naming my favourite authors, plural (I have the same issue with favourite book vs. favourite books, favourite movie vs. favourite movies): naming more than one makes me want to definite criteria. What makes an author a favourite? Can somebody be a favourite if I have only read one book? Can an author whose books I haven’t read in years still be considered a favourite? But it was fun thinking about this and even if I am sure that the list would be completely different had I done it half a year ago and will surely change in the coming years (at least I would hope so, I am eternally looking for new favourite authors), I want to have this post on my blog to be able to look back to it.

Not Quite

Ilona Andrews

There is something safe and wonderful about Ilona Andrews’ writing. I haven’t read everything the duo has written (this will become a running theme here) but I adored, adored the Kate Daniels’ series and the first trilogy in their Hidden Legacy series got me through a particularly grueling time last year. They will always have a soft spot in my heart. The books are snarky, the banter between the love interests is brilliant (and I ship them more than is healthy), and the world building is excellent. In a genre I often struggle with, these books are a definite highlight for me.

Robert Jackson Bennett 

Again, I haven’t read everything he has written but his The Divine Cities trilogy is one of my all time favourite series. I am also super excited to see where he is taking his current series next (the second book will be published early 2020). I love what he has to say about fate and gods and the interaction between these two things. His characterizations are brilliant and his language sharp.

Maggie Nelson

Maggie Nelson is just so very clever. She is arguably currently the best at what she does: creative non-fiction that centers herself unashamedly while combining it with social and gender theory. I adore the way her mind works and her books are always a joy to read. I haven’t read her poetry and don’t plan on doing so, but I will surely read everything else she ever publishes.

Neil Gaiman

This is an odd one – because Gaiman started out in my favourites pile until I filled the spots in and realized he isn’t quite there for me anymore and then I kept bumping him lower and lower. I love his writing and I have read nearly every book he has published – but somehow his writing doesn’t feel like a favourite for me anymore.

Amber Sparks

She is my absolute favourite short story writer and I cannot wait to read her new collection next year – but for some reason or other I cannot think of her as a favourite writer. She’s brilliant on twitter though and I want more people to read her work, so if you like short stories with a speculative slant, you really should check her out!

Katherine Arden

The Winternight trilogy has a special spot in my heart: it is the first series I completely read as review copies before each book released. My most successful review on Goodreads is for one of her books I haven’t read yet and all I said was “I would read Katherine Arden’s shopping list if she published it” (I am not at all bemused by that fact and not at all bitter that this is the review that gets noticed when I put so much more effort into others I have written). Her writing feels custom-made for me: lush language with an immersive world-building, set in Russia in its endless winter, combining fairy tales with original stories, with a love story that work for me in a way it should not have. I really hope she’ll publish another adult book soon – although I will eventually pick up her middle grade.

Maybe

Nalini Singh

I adore Singh’s writing – but the whole is greater than its parts. I have read nearly every book in the Psy-Changeling series, plus the novellas, and while not every book worked for me, overall I find her world incredible. The world-building is impeccable and exciting, her characters are recognizable over long stretches of time, and I love her approach to romance. It is a shame her worldbuilding is not discussed more often in the fantasy community, as it really is brilliant, but I guess that is part of writing romance. I love her though and am currently making my way through her backlist (which is thankfully extensive!).

Lauren Groff

Groff feels like a favourite author without her books being absolute favourites of mine. I really like the way her language flows and find her prose so very soothing in the best possible way. Her short stories are brilliant but I also adored Fates and Furies which is pretentious in the best possible way. I own her other two novels but for some reason never pick them up. I really need to change that.

Melissa Broder

Even if she only ever wrote one book, The Pisces would be strong enough for her to feature on this list. It was my absolute favourite book of last year and my favourite to win this year’s Women’s Prize (I am sad it didn’t even make the short list). Lucy is such an endlessly compelling character and Broder’s observations and the way she describes the awful normality of sadness really resonated with me. Her memoir was not quite as strong but a really interesting framework for her novel. I cannot WAIT for her next book – my expectations could not be higher.

David Mitchell

My favourite male author, hands down. I adore David Mitchell’s writing. He is so good at conjuring awful characters and making them feel real in an instant. His command of narrative voice is incredibly impressive and his novels that are often closer to collections of very interconnected short stories, stay with me long after I finish them. I have two of his books left on my shelves and I am saving them for a figuratively rainy day. I was informed today that his new novel is coming out next summer and I could NOT be more excited.

Favourites

5) Sally Rooney

The newest addition to this list, Sally Rooney blew me away with her debut Conversations With Friends when I read it earlier this year. There was never any doubt in my mind that her book would top my best of the year list, it spoke to me so deeply. I loved everything about it, from her sharp language, to her flawed but sympathetic main character, to the way she made me feel for Nick, to her wonderful way with dialogue. Everything about the book just worked for me. Her second novel Normal People is brilliant but I am unsure if anything can ever top Conversations With Friends for me.

4) Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing works best for me in short stories. I don’t even think she is capable of writing a bad story. Her essays are brilliant as well and her non fiction regularly rips my heart out. I haven’t read her novel because I am scared it will scar me, but I follow what she does online very closely. She is an incredibly editor who chooses incredible voices and manages to make them even better, I think. She is such a hero.

3) Lidia Yuknavitch

The Chronology of Water is my alltime favourite non fiction book. Yuknavitch forever defined what I think of as possible in memoirs. The book is, on a sentence-by-sentence basis, incredible. Her turn of phrases are so sharp, so raw, so honest, they cut me to the bone. Her prose is definitely her biggest strength for me, but her way of connecting the real with the fictional (as done so in The Small Backs of Children) is a close second. Again, I need to read her other books but I am also scared to get to the end of her work and to have to wait. She will publish a collection of short stories later this year and I am ecstatic to get to read those.

2) Christa Wolf

I have read nowhere near her complete works, but Kassandra is, as most of you will know, my favourite book of all time. I also really loved Medea and Kindheitsmuster and I am planning on eventually reading everything she has ever written. She should have won the Nobel Prize for Literature but it wasn’t meant to be. Her writing still is incredible and I wish more people would read her.

1) N. K. Jemisin

Like I said, Favourite Author is easy for me: N. K. Jemisin is the best. I adore her brand of socially critical fantasy, I love the way she writes her characters, I adore her on twitter and in speeches, I think The Fifth Season is the best fantasy book written, possibly ever, I adore what she does with perspective and framing, and I think she deserves all the acolades she gets. She isn’t only an outstanding fantasy author, she is outstanding, full stop. I still haven’t read her collection of short stories nor her first duology but that does not detract from the fact how very brilliant I think she is.

Who are your favourite authors? How do you define who makes that list and who doesn’t? Do you find the singular or the plural easier to decide?

Recommendations: fantasy books featuring gods

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI love books that ruminate on humanity by way of talking about gods. Love, love, love it. So I figured, I should write about my favourite books that deal with this. I am writing this post as part of Wyrd & Wonder – a month-long celebration of the fantastic hosted by imyril @ There’s Always Room for One More, Lisa @ Dear Geek Place and Jorie @ Jorie Loves a Story. You can sign up here!

The Inheritance trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

It is no secret that I adore N. K. Jemisin’s writing – and her lesser known trilogy is no exception to this. Set in a world where after a war between the gods some of those gods are enslaved by humans and one is revered, her world building is as impeccable as ever and her characters are brilliant. Some of the main characters gods, some aren’t, all are compelling. She does not shy away from how otherworldly and often awful beings with near endless power could be and the books are better for it.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

4407

This is my favourite of Neil Gaiman’s books (although the Sandman graphic novels are a close second); I love everything about its sprawling plot and its integration of countless belief-systems. Shadow Moon is a brilliant main character to anchor the story and his acceptance of the strangeness around him worked exceedingly well for me.

 

The Divine Cities trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett

This series is set in a world formerly ruled by Divinities and their whims – where even the laws of nature have been bent. Bulikov is far from its former glory as the centre of the world and the seat of the Gods – most of it was destroyed together with its Gods. It is now ruled by the very people it used to enslave.

I adored the mythology Bennet sets up here: what happens to all the things created by gods if they die? Especially when they ignored all natural laws to create those things? I find his world very well thought out and mesmerizing in its implications. Just thinking about these books make me giddy. I didn’t quite love the first book in his current trilogy but the ending made me VERY excited to see where the story goes next.

The Library of Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

26892110This stand-alone is a lot darker than most books I usually read, but with impeccable world-building and enough of a sense of the bizarre to be just my type of book. I adored how cleverly Hawkins sets up his readers and at least for me caught me totally unawares by the ending. I didn’t whole-heartedly love it – but I will still read anything he published next, if he ever does so, that is.

 

The Sixth World by Rebecca Roanhorse

I think I have been sufficently gushing about this series as of late – but I cannot help it, it is just perfect for the type of reader I am. I am very excited to see where it goes next and I love the glimpses of what I am assuming will be major themes going forward: the idea of agency in a world ruled by the whims of gods. That is just catnip for me.

I need to read more books like these; do you have any recommendations for me?

 

A to Z Book Tag – Fantasy Edition

ww-2019-dragon-banner-all-capsI was tagged for this ages ago and cannot even remember by whom (I am SO sorry!), but figured this would be a good way to talk more about fantasy given that I am trying to participate in Wyrd and Wonder, a month long fantasy readalong, this year. You can find the sign-up post with all the necessary information here.

Author you’ve read the most books from

Terry Pratchett for sure. I have read 23 or so books in the DiscWorld  series and plan on reading all of them in my lifetime. I am taking my time because the thought of not having any left to read is making me too sad – I love these books and everything they do.

Best sequel ever

23909755While it might not be THE best sequel ever, I thought the second book in Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy, City of Blades was awesome – and I didn’t even mind (and actually actively enjoyed) the change in main characters, something that hardly ever works for me.

 

 

Currently reading

29774026

I am currently reading Samantha Shannon’s feminist dragon high fantasy novel The Priory of the Orange Tree. I am enjoying it immensely but I also think that maybe it is indeed a bit too long. I am a bit more than one third into the book and it feels surprisingly low stakes for a book featuring the possibility of a world-ending war. But, the worldbuilding is exquisite and the focus on female voices is obviously something I adore. Continue reading “A to Z Book Tag – Fantasy Edition”

Have I read my most anticipated releases of 2018?

I have written about my most anticipated releases twice this year, for the first and for the second half of the year. Let’s see how many of those I have actually read (and which I have enjoyed).

In my first post, I named 13 books that I was super excited to get to.

  1. Brave by Rose McGowan. I have neither read nor bought this book because before I could, she started showing TERFy tendencies, which I just cannot support. I have since seen some reviews that make me think not reading this was the right decision.
  2. Heart Berries by Terese Mailhot. I loved this book so very much.
  3. Folk by Zoe Gilbert. I read this before it came out and it was ok. And now I cannot really remember much of it, to be perfectly honest.
  4. Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. Again, I loved this book. I knew from the very first chapter that I was in for something extraordinary.
  5. The Sea Beast Takes A Lover by Michael Andreasen. This collection of short stories did not quite work for me, but I did enjoy some stories.
  6. Not That Bad ed. by Roxane Gay. Of course I loved this.
  7. The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh. This has possibly my favourite cover of the year and I really enjoyed this interesting book.
  8. Florida by Lauren Groff. She is becoming one of my favourite authors and this collections was no exception.
  9. Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch. I have not yet read it but will definitely do so before the end of the year. I have waited too long for this book to not pick it up soon.
  10. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik. I loved this just as much as I thought I would. Slow-paced, wintery fairy-tales are my jam.
  11. Sick by Porochista Khakpour. Biggest disappointment of my reading year.
  12. The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden. The release date was moved to January but I have an ARC and want to get lost in this wonderful world, possibly during my (short) winter break.
  13. Vengeful by V. E. Schwab. I had so much fun reading this and it made me excited again for Schwab’s writing in a way I hadn’t been in a while.

I actually did okay here. There are only three books I haven’t read yet (and one of those is no longer on my TBR), I also enjoyed the majority of the books on my list, with four of them getting five stars.

Let’s take a look at my second list, with only eight titles on it.

  1. Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennet. I enjoyed this a lot but it did not reach the heights of his Divine Cities trilogy yet. Still, I am excited to see where he takes the story next.
  2. Heavy by Kiese Laymon. I am embarrassingly enough still reading this. I started it at a really bad moment and while I think it is brilliant, it also deeply sad and I cannot quite get myself to pick it up.
  3. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung. I am still super excited about this but the book is only out in hardback and still very expensive. It will be one of the next books I buy though.
  4. Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Another book that isn’t out in paperback yet and a bit too expensive.
  5. Rosewater by Tade Thompson. I really enjoyed this even if it confused me.
  6. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss. I did not love this and I am unsure whether Moss’ writing is quite for me.
  7. Trail of Lightening by Rebecca Roanhorse. I loved this and it started my binge-reading of Urban Fantasy. I cannot wait for the next one!
  8. Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri. I got an ARC of this the day it released and I am super excited still. But I am also drowning in arcs at the moment. Hopefully I’ll get to it before the end of the year though.

Again, around three books I have not got to which isn’t too bad considering how absolutely abysmal I am at setting myself TBRs.

How did you do with your most anticipated releases of this year? Did you manage to get to them?

Wrap Up: August 2018

I had a good reading month but a quite difficult work month. I struggled a whole lot with my PhD the second half of the month and buried myself in quick and easy reads to avoid thinking about it. But I had a meeting with my thesis supervisor last week and now I am feeling like I am on the right track again (for the first time in months, I might add).

Books read in July:

  1. Foundryside (The Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett: 4 out of 5 stars
  2. Monstress Vol. 2: The Blood by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda: 5 out of 5 stars
  3. Can You Tolerate This? by Ashleigh Young: 3 out of 5 stars
  4. The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner: 4 out of 5 stars
  5. I Hate Fairyland Vol. 2: Fluff My Life by Skottie Young: 3 out of 5 stars
  6. There There by Tommy Orange: 5 out of 5 stars
  7. Dark Lover (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1) by J. R. Ward: 2,5 out of 5 stars
  8. Lover Eternal (Black Dagger Brotherhood #2) by J. R. Ward: 2 out of 5 stars
  9. Everything Under by Daisy Johnson: 4,5 out of 5 stars

Continue reading “Wrap Up: August 2018”

Review: Foundryside (The Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett

9781786487865 (4)Verdict: Slow to start, brilliant second half.

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Genre: Fantasy

Published by Jo Fletcher Books, August 23rd 2018

Find it on Goodreads.

The city of Tevanne runs on scrivings, industrialised magical inscriptions that make inanimate objects sentient; they power everything, from walls to wheels to weapons. Scrivings have brought enormous progress and enormous wealth – but only to the four merchant Houses who control them. Everyone else is a servant or slave, or they eke a precarious living in the hellhole called the Commons.

There’s not much in the way of work for an escaped slave like Sancia Grado, but she has an unnatural talent that makes her one of the best thieves in the city. When she’s offered a lucrative job to steal an ancient artefact from a heavily guarded warehouse, Sancia agrees, dreaming of leaving the Commons – but instead, she finds herself the target of a murderous conspiracy. Someone powerful in Tevanne wants the artefact, and Sancia dead – and whoever it is already wields power beyond imagining.

Sancia will need every ally, and every ounce of wits at her disposal, if she is to survive – because if her enemy gets the artefact and unlocks its secrets, thousands will die, and, even worse, it will allow ancient evils back into the world and turn their city into a devastated battleground.

I am such a huge fan of Robert Jackson Bennett’s style of fantasy, I practically jumped when I realized he has a new series starting this year. This book featured prominently on my most anticipated releases list and I am happy to report that I enjoyed it a whole lot, for the most part. I have spent the better part of two weeks trying to come up with a way to review this book. I am such a huge fan of Bennett’s work and his ideas and there is in fact a lot to adore here, but I also need to be honest. It took me more than half of this book to really find my groove. It’s not like the first have is bad but my expectations were so very high. And if I didn’t have this much trust in his imagination I might have given up. I am glad I persevered because the pay off really is worth it.

What Bennett does best is creating these really unique worlds that feel lived in and plausible and very very well thought out. Here he gives us a spin on industrialized (and monopolized) magic with just the right amount of mysticism to be exciting and new. He does set up his world a little too well though in the beginning, the info-dump did start to grate and I am not sure I need to be reminded of the magic system’s rules as often as I was here (this is something that bores me in a lot of very descriptive high fantasy though, so you probably should take my opinion with a grain of salt). When everything came together though, I was very glad for him to have taken his time establishing the world because those last 50 pages? They were pure perfection. I cannot wait where this goes next.

Another thing I appreciate about Bennett’s writing is the way his female character feel properly realized and wonderfully easy to root for. I wanted Sancia to be happy so bad and I love how authentic she felt. I like that she her behaviour always made sense in relation to what we as readers know of her. Gregor on the other hand did feel for too long like a cartoon character but again, the pay off here was really worth it in the end. Bennett has really interesting things to say about agency and fate and I am so here for this.

I received this arc courtesy of NetGalley and Quercus Publishing/ Jo Fletcher Books in exchange for an honest review.

Blog Tour

 

This Is My Genre Tag

I was tagged by Rachel for this wonderful tag and even though her favourite genre is one I struggle with (historical fiction), her reviews are always my favourite, so you should all go and check her blog out.

What is your favourite genre?

This is not quite as easy for me to answer as it used to be but it’s definitely fantasy in all its subgenres. I used to read A LOT more fantasy than I do now but it is the one genre I could not live without.

Runner-ups were memoirs and short stories (which, you know, is not really a genre), and I also read a lot of general fiction and literary fiction.

Who is your favourite author from that genre?

This is such a difficult question… But I think I am going with N. K. Jemisin because her writing excites me to no end. I have not quite read all her backlist (I have not yet read her Dreamblood duology) but that is only because I am pacing myself. N. K. Jemisin is on top of her game and for me the most exciting writer today (not just in fantasy but in general actually). I cannot wait for her collection of shorter works coming out later this year and then for everything else she might ever decide to write.

What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?

Fantasy, when done right, can be escapist fun while also being so much more. It is super varied, so depending on my mood I can read something slow and whimsical or something fast-paced and heart pounding.

Fantasy can be hard-hitting in a way that is still fun to read – sometimes I need a little escapism in my reading while still being mentally stimulated and fantasy does that for me.

What is the book that started your love for that genre?

I don’t actually remember as I have been reading fantasy since I was a child. And yes, I loved Harry Potter when I was younger but those books occupy a different space than other fantasy books in my mind. I think the first “proper” fantasy book I read and remember was Märchenmond by Wolfgang & Heike Hohlbein (Magic Moon in English apparently). I also needed to read Lord of the Rings after watching the first movie because I could not wait a whole year before knowing what’ll happen next. So, those two probably.

PS: I got the Folio Society edition of Lord of the Rings for Christmas last year and that is THE most beautiful thing I own.

If you had to recommend at least one book from your favourite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

I am stealing Rachel’s idea and recommending books based on other genres. Because I could not narrow it down to one book.

25452717If you like mystery novels, you should read Robert Jackson Bennett’s The Divine Cities trilogy. The first book in particular is a murder mystery set in a fantasy world and it was just a wonder to read and more people should pick it up.

If you like fairy tales or historical fiction I would wholeheartedly 33797941recommend Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale. Set in the north of Russia with its seemingly never-ending winter, this book is evocative and creative, the spins she puts on familiar fairy tales while adding something original is just something I really adore in fantasy. The fantasy elements are also not too much in your face, which might help people who are not the biggest fans of super technical worldbuilding.

If you are into classics, then Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke might 14201be right up your alley – the book is written in a snarky Austen style, complete with footnotes and non-sequitors, and I found it so very brilliant and clever.

27313170If you like more experimental fiction you should pick up All The Birds In The Sky by Charlie Jane Anders which combines the best of Sci-Fi and Fantasy to something wholly original.

If you are looking for something political and sociological you really should pick up N. K. Jemisin’s The Broken Earth trilogy – to be fair, I do think you should pick those up anyways, because Jemisin is a genius and her work is the best there is (for me at least).

Why do you read?

Because I don’t know how not to.

I am tagging KaleenaNadine and Ashleigh and everybody else who wants to do this! (Please let me know if you decide to do this tag because I want to read everyone’s answers!).