TOP TEN TUESDAY: Best (so far) of 2017

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme thing hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is best reads (so far) of 2017! As of writing this post, I’ve read 65 books this year, and here are the ten that I think absolutely shone. Some were released this year, but not all of them! These are also not in any kind of order!

  1. The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher. I think, like a lot of people, I regret not having read any of Carrie Fisher’s writing before her death. This memoir is one of the funniest memoirs I’ve read in a while, and she writes with an openness and a frankness I someday aspire to have.
  2. Norse Mythology, by Neil Gaiman. It’s Gaiman. It’s Norse mythology.
  3. The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden. A really lovely, atmospheric fairy tale with bits of Russian and Western fairy tale essences woven in. I’m really excited for the followup because so much excitement of the story seemed to happen in the last third.
  4. Moby-Dick; or The Whale, by Herman Melville. Uh, if you would have told me a couple of years ago that Moby-Dick would become one of my top favorite novels of all time, I might have laughed in your face. But seriously, my dudes. This is a classic case of learning about the history surrounding a novel and then diving into it, because it makes the experience all the richer. I devoured this monstrous beast of a novel in mere days. DAYS.
  5. The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas. So heartbreaking, so touching, so relevant. I’ve been telling everyone to read this book.
  6. The Stars are Legion, by Kameron Hurley. I pitch this to people who are looking for new science fiction to read like this: Do you like military-esque, dramatic sci-fi? Do you like weird sci-fi? Do you like gross sci-fi? How do you feel about womb-punk? (What? they often ask.) I respond with a: this book is like a birth-is-war and war-is-birth kind of thing. I generally get one of two responses: I’M SOLD OMG and YOU READ SOME WEIRD SHIT, MEG. Read it, now.
  7. The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories, by Ken Liu. THIS JUST WON A LOCUS AWARD and has a lot of other accolades. The stories range from fantasy to sci-fi and are all well written and full of life. It’s just a good anthology, period.
  8. The Whole Art of Detection, by Lyndsay Faye. I don’t think I can stop babbling about this or thinking about this collection of Sherlock Holmes pastiches. They’re just so well done and evoke Doyle’s atmosphere so well while at the same time being fresh and modern. I’ll read anything Faye writes, and she’ll always be at the top of my recommendations lists.
  9. Borne, by Jeff VanderMeer. Flying bears? A blobby, morphing person-thing? Examinations on what it means to be a person? Yes, yes, yes. This feels like an Atwood extension that’s thoroughly VanderMeer’s stuff. If you’ve read his Southern Reach trilogy and liked it, why haven’t you picked this up yet? It’s dystopian, but it’s not an in-your-face one. Everything is centralized, and the characters are so well developed.
  10. Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen. THIS ONE CAME OUT OF NOWHERE?? I’ve seen lots of writers I like mention this and blurb for it, so when it was a Kindle daily deal, I bought it. I didn’t start reading it until a bit later, and it was everything I needed at that moment: a protagonist dealing with gender identity and expression, the old west, MONSTERS and creepy things, AH so many things that I’ll get into in a proper review soon.

THIS CONCLUDES THE TEN. I’m thinking I’ll do a ten best for the second half of the year and then do a final post narrowing those twenty down to the overall best ten of 2017!

Have you read any of these?

TOP TEN TUESDAY :: WHAT MAKES A MUST-READ?

Every week, The Broke and the Bookish hosts a top ten list with a bookish theme, and this week’s theme is Ten Things That Make You Instantly Want to Read a Book! I feel like I read across a variety of genres and reading levels, but I am also always drawn to specific things, too.

  1. An amazing cover. This probably is a no-brainer for me because I’m always attracted to shiny things. For the most part, a really fantastic looking cover is often the first and major initial draw to a book. With so many books out there to read, I am more likely to reach for an amazing cover before anything else. I also tend to buy editions with prettier covers even if it’s a little bit more money because I know it’ll look nice on my shelves and I’ll enjoy reading it a little bit more with a nicer cover!
  2. Complex, well-written villains. I don’t like my villains to be evil for evil’s sake. I want them to have as much depth as the “hero,” and I want to feel for them. Characters that toe the line between good and bad and live in that morally grey area are my favorite.
  3. Complex, well-written characters in general. I want for female, male, and non-binary characters to be well developed and as well rounded and not forced into a stereotypical, list-checked box.
  4. Space travel and alien cultures. If I’m reading a story about characters in space, I want the main characters to be at least slightly alien, and I want the main characters to explore alien cultures. Give me all of the weird stuff!
  5. Fairy tale, folklore, and mythological retellings. Especially Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast retellings, and I wish there were more retellings of Rapunzel and the Little Mermaid, too. I like retellings even more if they subvert the familiar stories, too.
  6. Historical fiction. I feel like I grew up on historical fiction. After reading series like Dear America and The Royal Diaries, I just consumed whatever the local libraries had. I’m really partial stories set in the Regency era, Wars of the Roses, Victorian + Edwardian eras, WWI, early America, ancient Egypt, and ancient Greece.
  7. London. Honestly, if it’s set in London, I’ll most likely gobble it up. It’s one of my favorite cities, and I miss it so much.
  8. Castles and the Gothic. Give me all the things set in ancient, spooky castles, and throw a few thunderstorms, a full moon, a lot of rain, subversion, and a woman out of her time, and I’ll be the happiest.
  9. Epistolary. I love stories and narratives created entirely through letters sent between characters. Even if it’s more modern with text messages and emails and social media posts.
  10. Libraries and author histories. Lately, I feel like there are a lot of books out being released that are set in libraries or revolving around libraries, or even about the (fictional) histories of books and authors. I love fictional accounts of famous authors’ lives, and I feel like it better fits this subheading than historical fiction!

What things make you want to read a book?

TOP TEN TUESDAY: 10 Books I’d Buy if Given a Fully-Loaded Gift Card

Top Ten Tuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is all about those books you’d buy immediately if someone gave you a massive gift card to your favorite book store. This is barely touching the tip of the iceberg, but the following are the ones I’d buy today!

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The Sympathizer – Viet Thanh Nguyen: This has been featured on tables at work even before it won the Pulitzer, and I keep seeing it around Twitter and Goodreads, and because I try to read award-winners, this one’s on the list.

The Romantic Egoists – Matthew J. Bruccoli: I’m entirely fascinated by the Fitzgeralds’s lives and photographs of eras gone by are one of my favorite things, so why wouldn’t I want a photo scrapbook of their lives!? I also want it for research purposes.

My Best Friend’s Excorcism – Grady Hendrix: It’s set in the 80s, all of the chapter titles are 80s songs, and it was recently featured on a “What to Read After Stranger Things” list so yes, please, I need this in my life.

Penguin’s Little Black Classics: I have the box set of the first 80, but I’m a collector and a completionist, so I’d get the rest and this totally counts as one.

The Truth According to Us – Annie Barrows: Family secrets that a writer uncovers while on a project for the New Deal’s job in the Federal Writer’s Project? That sounds like something right up my alley. Plus I rarely see anything in historical fiction set in West Virginia.

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Amy Snow – Tracy Rees: Someone on Goodreads called this a mix between Dickens and suffragette, and it’s historical about the relationship between two women with letters and secrets. And it’s a debut novel that apparently won some search for the next big novel in the UK? I forget what it’s called, but all of it sounds interesting and I need it now.

The Dark Forest – Liu Cixin: I read the first of this trilogy for my science fiction book group (which got rescheduled and I couldn’t attend the rescheduled meeting), and I really enjoyed it. It’s Chinese sci/fi, and I really enjoyed reading about traditionally sci/fi topics and tropes from an entirely different perspective and history. I think the third is being released in hardcover later this year!

The Beast Within – Emile Zola: Honestly, this is just the first in the Pocket Penguins series Penguin’s released this year (and will be releasing in the weeks and months to come). I’ve already ordered one (oops), but this will probably be the next on my list of things to-buy (and the rest, like the Little Black Classics. Why must Penguin release all of the things I want??).

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Illustrated Edition) – J.K. Rowling: I don’t know why I don’t have this yet…

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo: So, I’ll admit, I’ve had the ARC of this for a long time. But I want the hardcover because the black edged pages are  so pretty. I also didn’t want to read this until I read the Grisha trilogy, and now that I’ve read the trilogy, I can give myself the go ahead on this, right?

What’s on your list?

Top Ten Tuesday; Spring 2016 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) features our Spring 2016 TBR! I chose the five books I have left to read from Netgalley and five books I chose out of my TBR tin! The first five are from my Netgalley dashboard. I want to get to that 80% threshold, and I’m going to do it this spring!

  1. The Swans of Fifth Avenue – Melanie Benjamin
  2. Love, Lies and Spies – Cindy Anstey
  3. Once Upon a Dream – Liz Braswell
  4. Grayling’s Song – Karen Cushman
  5. A Stolen Kiss – Kelsey Keating
  6. The Great Mortality – John Kelly
  7. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  8. Blameless – Gail Carriger
  9. A Secret Atlas – Michael A. Stackpole
  10. Flappers – Judith MacKrell

I’m actually really pleased with the five I picked from my TBR tin! I have the Penguin Drop Caps copy of Jane Eyre to read (even if I’ve already read it, it’s time to read it again!), and I’m in the planning stages of writing something involving a young girl from the Twenties, so Flappers will fall into some of my research! I tried reading the first in Disney’s Twisted Tale series but didn’t like it, so I’m hoping I like Once Upon a Dream based on Sleeping Beauty!

What’s on your Spring 2016 TBR? Have you read any of these?

Top Ten Tuesday; My Favorite Settings

Top Ten Tuesday

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) features our favorite settings we like to see in the books we read! Here I’ve listed my favorite settings, and I tend to gravitate toward books with these themes, too. I love reading about day-to-day experiences of characters, right down to the nitty gritty, so the more “realistic” it is, the more I’m engaged with it. In essence, if it’s set in New York City, Paris, or London, I’m immediately drawn to it no matter what the time period, but these are my absolute favorites.

  1. England, and especially London, before, during, and after World War I. Even before Downton Abbey’s cultural popularity, I’ve loved this period. Edwardian Era? Check. WWI? Check. The Lost Generation? Check.
  2. The Tudor Era. Or basically anything to do with the kings and queens of England from The Wars of the Roses until Elizabeth I.
  3. Victorian England. If it’s got prostitutes and/or detectives, even better. Gothic themes and ghosts? Hell yes.
  4. The Middle Ages, anything from the Medieval times to the Renaissance. The influx of knowledge we gained over those hundred years is astounding, and old medical practices gross me out and intrigue me at the same time.
  5. Space, the final frontier. I love a good space opera or a space western, especially those that go to strange new worlds and engage with new, alien cultures.
  6. 19th century France. Something about Paris and the French countryside before the industrial revolution seems so romantic.
  7. Classical Greece, Rome, Ancient Egypt, and Biblical eras. I’m not religious, but the mythologies surrounding ancient cultures and religions are fascinating. I especially love reading about women in these times.
  8. Late 19th-early 20th century New York, right as the city begins to come to life during the industrial revolution.
  9. Time travel. I haven’t really come across many books lately that delve into traveling through time, but I’m so excited to read Passenger!
  10. Fairy tales, especially ones with princesses, princes, kings, queens, fairies, magic, and sprawling, lush kingdoms.

Which are your favorite settings?