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text 2017-01-06 13:04
7 "Gotta-Get" Books
The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies - John Langan
Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay
Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb
The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman
Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared - Christopher Fowler
The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune - Stuart Galbraith,Stuart Galbraith IV
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith

Thus far, I've been talking about books I already own that I need to read. As much as I want to focus on that, there are quite a few books out there that I very much want to get and read this year. These aren't new releases, rather books I just haven't gotten to yet. Some are from legends in their respective fields, some are from fave authors, and some just seem nifty.


1.The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies - John Langan  The Wide, Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies - John Langan  


    Just recently, I read Langan's The Fisherman, and was quite fond. Though I liked the book as a whole, the centerpiece story-within-a-story just floored me. As well, Langan's "Red Death" riff that I read in a Poe-inspired anthology was fantastic. As such,I want to get into more of his shorter works.


2. Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay  Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay  


    I read two of Kay's novels last year, and adored them. So I'm going to pick up at least this one in '17, possibly another as well.


3. Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb  Assassin's Apprentice - Robin Hobb  


    Hobb is well-known and loved in the fantasy scene, and this is the first book in the trilogy that launched her over-arching world. I have a love-hate relationship with high fantasy, but this just sounds fun.


4. The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman  The View from the Cheap Seats: Selected Nonfiction - Neil Gaiman  


I am a massive fan of Gaiman, have been since reading American Gods far too many years ago. Also, I dig pop-cult essays a la Hornby and Vowell. So this is a no-brainer.


5. Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared - Christopher Fowler  Invisible Ink: How 100 Great Authors Disappeared - Christopher Fowler  


    I dig books about books, and stories of near-success are often more fascinating than either pure success or failure. And, I like history.


6. The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune - Stuart Galbraith,Stuart Galbraith IV  The Emperor and the Wolf: The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune - Stuart Galbraith,Stuart Galbraith IV  


    I love movies, how they're made, who makes them, the whole shebang. Also, I like exploring unfamiliar cultures. Mix two strong personalities with long, interesting careers, post-war economics and fears, and various technical and creative challenges... Dude, I am so there.


7. The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith  The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith  


    Like many people, I read and loved the Harry Potter series. Combine that with the fact that I am a long-time mystery fan, especially P.I. novels, as well as the general praise heaped upon this series, and it's surprising I haven't read  this yet. That changes this year.

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text 2016-06-02 18:17
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay
Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay

I've been waiting to read Guy Gavriel Kay for a number of years. I am most attracted to his Fionavar Tapestry series, starting with The Summer Tree, but that is a trilogy, so I decided to give Tigana, a stand-alone, a try first. Tigana also has the distinction of seemingly being Kay's most acclaimed novel, at least from what I've read.


The book was an interesting amalgam of fantasy that felt almost like history. The Palm, the setting for the book, is based at least in part on the warring city-states of medieval Italy - the Italy of the Medici family and Machiavelli - but, of course, because it is high fantasy there must be wizards. It is immersive, but still sometimes a bit dry. Kay doesn't really info-dump, he just tosses the reader into the deep end, and explains very little, trusting that we will figure it out, which means that I was sometimes confused, but still impressed.


There is a lot of ambiguity built into the book - the villains have noble characteristics, and the heroes are sometimes brutal, venal and self-serving. No one possesses unalloyed heroism. and the fight is sometimes over trivial things. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy reading fantasy.


20 Books of Summer: Book 1

Summer book bingo: fantasy

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text 2016-05-30 00:13
Reading progress update: I've read 203 out of 816 pages.
Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay

Over the winter holidays, my daughter and I took my son to the mall to hang out with a friend. He pretended we didn't exist. We went to Barnes and Noble and spent a lovely 3 hours browsing books and drinking coffee.


We brought this one home, and it's been waiting on the shelf since then.

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review 2016-01-24 01:23
Review: Tigana
Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay

Tigana is an epic fantasy story told within a single book. It’s full of political maneuvering and schemes, blind devotion to causes, touching friendships, and a bit of magic.


There was enough world-building in this one book to sustain a longer series, and I would have happily read more books featuring this world and these characters. The characters were where Tigana really shone for me. Several of them were very likeable, and I thought the friendships between them were especially well-written. There was a little bit of humor sprinkled throughout, mostly through interactions between the characters, and that helped lighten the mood of what was otherwise a relatively serious book. There was also some romance in the book, although only one was explored in any major detail throughout the book and that one had a major impact on the plot. Aside from that important one, the others felt too forced. It seemed like every female character who showed up in the book had to get paired off with somebody. I think their participation in the story would have been more meaningful without that.


The book did have its slow parts. There was a lot of world-building crammed into a single, 676-page book. It was interesting, and the depth it added is a large part of why I enjoyed the book so much, but small chunks of historical information were often inserted at a point when I was anxious to find out what was going on with various characters. When that happened, I often had to put the book down and come back to it later when my desire to get back to the characters had faded a little bit and I was more prepared to sit and focus on what the author wanted me to know next. I sometimes had a similar reaction when we switched from the characters I enjoyed reading about the most over to another character who was less interesting to me.


Although there weren’t a lot of point-of-view characters, there were definitely a lot of characters in the book who played small but important roles. I was very glad to be reading on my Kindle so I could quickly search for the original mention of various names that I knew looked familiar but couldn't place. Sometimes a character that had been briefly introduced a couple of hundred pages ago would suddenly crop back up in a different setting. It was nice to be able to clearly make the connections, although I’m sure I would have still enjoyed the story if I had just glossed over those occurrences. There were a lot of little intricacies with how everything tied together.


Things definitely weren’t cut-and-dry in this book. It wasn’t always easy to decide which outcome to root for, because I could see points on both sides of the main conflict and really I wasn’t sure that I agreed with either side. At one point early on in the book I decided there was no way things were going to end well for everybody and, without spoiling anything, the ending really was pretty bittersweet. Everything was pretty well answered and tied up by the end, but it was tied up very loosely in that we don’t know exactly what’s in store for the characters beyond the end of the book. I would have enjoyed a little more closure. Or, better yet, a sequel. There was one thing that happened at the very end of the epilogue that exasperated me. If the author had for some very odd reason been strolling past my couch at that moment, I likely would have thrown my Kindle directly at his head.


Despite a few complaints here and there, I did really enjoy this one and I definitely plan to try more books by the author in the future.

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text 2016-01-01 18:49
Happy 2016!
The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy) - Marie Rutkoski
Flawed - Cecelia Ahern
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy,John Bayley,Larissa Volokhonsky,Richard Pevear
Fortune's Pawn - Rachel Bach
Illuminae - Jay Kristoff,Amie Kaufman
Cress - Marissa Meyer
Tigana - Guy Gavriel Kay
Ruin and Rising - Leigh Bardugo
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton

I hope everyone is having a happy and safe New Year's Day!  I'm looking forward to discovering what 2016 will bring to the world and excited to set some (realistic) bookish goals for myself.  Rather than focusing on quantity of books, I'd like to seek out balance in my reading endeavors.  Here are some of the books that I'd like to read in the upcoming year:


Most Anticipated 2016 Book Release: March cannot come soon enough!  I'm dying to know how Kestrel and Arin's journey concludes in The Winner's Kiss.  I'm trying not to get my hopes too high so I can enjoy the book regardless of what happens in the story.


New Book Series: Flawed by Cecilia Ahern is supposed to be released in April and is marketed as The Scarlet Letter meets Divergent.  The comparison seems a bit odd to me, but my interest is peaked nonetheless.


Unfinished Book Series to Revisit: There are several book series that I enjoyed reading but due to a busy schedule I put them aside. I'm not as enamored by the Lunar Chronicles books as some other readers, but the series is certainly entertaining and I'd like to read Cress by Marissa Meyer and if I have time, possibly Winter (it's over 800 pages long so we'll see).  I also want to try finishing The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, which are books that for some reason didn't hold my attention like I anticipated.


Sci-Fi/Fantasy: There are SO MANY books that I cannot wait to get my hands on and it is impossible to pick just one. I just started reading Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.  It's so different from other YA sci-fi books I've read....but in a really good way.  I purchased Fortune's Pawn and Steelheart on my Kindle over a year ago but neither made it into my book rotation, so I'd like to include them in my reading list.  I also picked up Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay at a bookstore a while back so I'd like to give it try.


The Classics: I told myself last year that I would be more inclusive in my reading material and failed miserably. I made the mistake of reading Anna Karenina and watching the 2012 film before I finished the book. I liked the book....the movie not so much. I'd really like to finish it, as well as incorporate a few other literary classics into the mix such as As I Lay Dying, The Age of Innocence and In Cold Blood.


Books to Read Again: I read The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende when I was a junior in high school and remember being absolutely captivated by the story. It's been more than ten years since I read it, but I would like to see whether or not my impression of the book will change.  I also want to read all seven Harry Potter books again - but make it more of a challenge by reading the series in French. I've basically lost all ability to speak the language, but I think this would be a fun way to improve my reading skills so I can tackle more challenging French language works in the future.







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