My favorite books from 3 Read-a-thons: A Starry Wrap-Up

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Hello everybody!

These last months I was participating in diverse Read-a-thons and reading a lot of books. In May I was participating in the Bookémon Badgathon, in July in The Reading Rush, and finally in September I participated in Space Opera September.

I enjoyed many of the books I choose for my TBRs while discovering new favorite authors. At the same time I did not like or finish a couple of others too. Today tough I’ll be talking only about the books I did enjoy and that got at least a 4 stars rating from me.

In this post I listed the favorites for each Read-a-thon, also with the prompt I read them for, so here they are:

Bookémon Badgathon

My favorite for this Readathon was “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart. I read this Thriller for “The Chiller Badge- Read a book that is in the Crime / Thriller / Mystery / Suspense Genre”.

I rarely read mystery and even more rarely contemporary and young adult thrillers, but even though I could not stop reading this well written book. It took me a day to read it entirely. The end is… Quite surprising, and I like that in books, I won’t say more not to spoil it, only that it has a lot of ‘feels’. I almost never have tears for stories, but this was an exception.

For “The Fantastical Badge – Read a book that is in the Fantasy Genre”, I read “Children of the Nameless (Magic: The Gathering #72)” by Brandon Sanderson. This Novella can be found for free on the Magic: The Gathering internet page. It is extremely well written and interesting and Brandon Sanderson is a new favorite author.

The Reading Rush:

I was reading three books for this week long challenge, but of these I can only recommend “Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)” by Alwyn Hamilton, which I read for the “Read a book with purple on the cover” challenge prompt.

This is the second book on this awesome YA trilogy with desert setting and Arabic mythology. It reminds me of City of Brass, but imo this is even better.
The writing style, the story world and the characters, everything is masterly written in a page-turner, edge of your seat way, until the very last phrase. If I could give this book more than five stars, I would. 😉

Space Opera September

One of the prompts of this very interesting Readathon was to read a space opera novella. For this, I read “Killing Gravity (Voidwitch Saga #1)” by Corey J. White and enjoyed the first book so much that I went on and read the next two books of the Voidwitch Saga; “Void Black Shadow” and “Static Ruin”. I hope this series is not yet finished because I’m looking forward to more books in this amazing space opera series!

I also went on reading the whole eight book series that started with “Star Nomad (Fallen Empire #1)” by Lindsay Buroker. The spicy humor and funny situations made the page-turner series the perfect summer beach read for me.

For the prompt of “Read a space opera 500 pages or longer” I read “Empire of Silence  (Sun Eater #1)” by Christopher Ruocchio. This was extremely well written. It seemed to me more epic fantasy with space opera elements than the other way around, but what matters is that once I started reading it, I wasn’t able to put it down. The only thing I didn’t like was the blurb, because it gives away too much and it doesn’t, at least in this first book, have much to do with the actual story, so I would recommend not to read it before diving into this awesome book.

Two Last Notes:

The picture on this blog post is by me. It’s sci-fiye and weird, therefore it fits. 😉

Now in October I’ll concentrate on the Gothic or Horror eerie books that are still lurking in the dark corners of my e-reader otherworldly dimension.

So, stay tuned for more recommendations!

 

 

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R/fantasy 2019 Bingo: TBR and First Impressions Wrap-Up

r/fantasy 2019 TBR

In the picture above:

Titles in blue: Books I read for that square prompt, and included a mini-review here.

Titles in black: The books I chose for the challenge prompts and haven’t read yet.

This year I started the R/fantasy 2019 Bingo challenge with enthusiasm and already read books for seven of the prompts in the bingo card.

I decided to post the Bingo Challenge Wrap-Ups (with the mini-reviews on the finished prompts) quarterly, instead of writing a long, with 25 books or more, Wrap-Up in April 2020.

So here is my TBR with the finished prompts. If you are mainly interested in the mini-reviews and not so much on my planned TBR, just jump to where I put “(Done!)” before the prompt. I also put the already read book titles in bold. And a last warning, sometimes it was difficult to be completely spoiler free on my review, so if you don’t want to know too much about the story, skip the parts with *spoiler alert*.

Slice of Life / Small Scale Fantasy – The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

A SFF Novel Featuring a Character With a Disability– Planetfall-E.Newman

(Done!) SFF NovellaEnvy of Angels (Sin du Jour #1) by Matt Wallace
Rating 3 stars: This was very different and entertaining. The reasons I’m not giving it more stars is that for me, the plot didn’t have much structure, being a constant run of crazy and bizarre events on top of each other. For a novella, it also had many characters, to a point where I wasn’t following who was who and not caring much either because *spoiler alert* zombie clowns were attacking. I hope though that the next books of the series may deepen their story arcs.

Self-Published SFF Novel – It’s a though decision, since I have many writer friends. I will probably start five different books and read the one that I like best entirely. One I might try is Lady of the Veils by M.L. John.

(Done!) SFF Novel Featuring TwinsThe Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1) by J.Y. Yang  Rating: 3 stars *spoiler alert*

This was the first book I read with the pronouns they and them for a character and I considered this new and interesting. The writing style though sounded almost like a fairy tale and now and then I felt that important things were told too quickly, like for example, *spoiler alert*, when one of the characters went to a mountain to get phoenix feathers and came back with them almost in the next phrase. I was so surprised that such a thing that could have been a book on its own was just thrown in like that.

*spoiler alert* I also could not really connect with the main character as most of the time Akeha seemed to only react to what happened in the plot, the action being carried by other secondary characters that should have been main characters instead of him, since they were the ones who moved the plot. Even the so feared (for unexplained reasons btw) ‘Mother’ would have been a more interesting POV. The passive way how Akeha mainly reacted dragged the story so much I wished other character had been chosen to be the main POV of the book, because any other character would have done more. I considered the situation with the mother of the twins very superficially told, in a way I didn’t understand why everybody was so extremely afraid of facing her. This was the kind of book that could have been much improved from rewriting and more active POVs.

(Done!)  Novel Featuring VampiresDead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris–  Rating: 3 stars
This was funny. *spoiler alert* The end was a bit rushed up and out of the blue, but I’ll probably go on reading this series.

(Done!) Format: Graphic Novel (at least 1 vol.) OR Audiobook / Audio drama

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor (Author), Ray Porter (Narrator) Format: Audiobook – I enjoyed this book a lot, it made me laugh and the writing style reminded me of The Martian by Andy Weir.

I just wished that when authors would put Brazilians in a story, that they would use Brazilian names and not use Portuguese words (even curse words) out of context. Brazilians don’t use Mexican or Spanish curses.

I’m not saying this because I’m upset about the role of the Brazilian ships in the story. I’m happy that Brazil was portrayed in this book as a powerful country. (I hope one day it gets there but definitely not as a military empire.)

I will surely go on reading this funny and entertaining, page-turner series. The Audiobook performance of Ray Porter was five stars too.

SFF Novel by a Local to You Author – Dream a little dream (Silber #1) – Kerstin Gier

SFF Novel Featuring an Ocean Setting -The Priory of The Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.

(Done!) CyberpunkAltered Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs #1) by Richard K. Morgan
Rating: 2 stars. The story world/mystery was interesting and I really tried to like this, reading until around 30% of the book, but it wasn’t for me.

I didn’t like the pacing, writing style, and the visceral/gory details didn’t help.

2nd Chance– I’ll give a second chance to an author I didn’t like the previous books so much, so I might read the Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa for this prompt, even if the first books in the The Iron Fey series were three stars for me and I didn’t go on reading the series.

Afrofuturism – Brown Girl in the Ring – Nalo Hopkinson.
One of my continuing goals is to read more POC Authors, so I intend to read not only this, but many other books of Afrofuturism. Probably still this year if I manage, so stay tunned. 😉

SFF Novel Published in 2019 – The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi

Middle Grade SFF Novel – The School for Good and Evil (The School for Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani

A Personal Recommendation from r/Fantasy – The Cloud Roads (The Books of the Raksura #1) by Martha Wells

(Done!) Any r/fantasy Book Club Book of the Month OR r/fantasy Read-along BookFoundryside (Founders #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett

This is long and full of action. I could not really get immersed in this book so I’ll set it aside it for now and pick it up again eventually.

(Done!) Media Tie-In Novel – I read three books that can fit this prompt!

1)Children of the Nameless (Magic:The Gathering)by Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 Stars! This novella that Sanderson has written for Magic: The Gathering was awesomely well written. Brandon Sanderson is one of my favorite new authors!

2)Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines Quartet #1) by Philip Reeve
This was one of the most interesting books I came across for a long time; with an extremely well built story world and every single one of the characters had many layers and something unique and special about them. The movie is on my asap list to watch.

3) The Circle by Dave Eggers
This book, that warns about the dangers of Social Media, may seem exaggerated and therefore ridiculous, but is it really so exaggerated? I look at the world around me and don’t think it is.
I see how a lot of people are looking at their smartphones for hours and hours, sending pictures of everything, nearly showing everyday reports of their lives. I receive messages of people upset because I was a couple of hours offline and didn’t send them an immediate answer, I do look around me and encounter similarities to the Circle world in an uncomfortable and unpleasant way. So I wonder how much the uncomfortable truths of this book can be dismissed.
My opinion is that the film based on this book had a *spoiler alert* very happy ending that seemed forced and not faithful to the tone and message of the book .

Novel Featuring an AI Character– Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M. Valente.

(Done!) SFF Novel That Has a Title of Four or More Words
An Unkindness of Magicians (An Unkindness of Magicians #1) by Kat Howard – Rating: 5 stars!
This is a masterpiece, it has magic but even though it managed to have an extremely original plot of fantasy filled up with so many important themes and written in such an awesome style that I can’t believe it doesn’t has a higher rating and it isn’t all that hyped. Quality food-for-thought that everybody interested (or not) in stories with magic should read.

I might still read A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) by Arkady Martine for this prompt, in any case this book is on my asap radar.

Retelling! – Deathless (Leningrad Diptych #1) by Catherynne M. Valente.

SFF Novel by an Australian Author – Nevernight (The Nevernight Chronicle #1) by Jay Kristoff.

The Final Book of a Series– It will come up eventually, when I decide to follow up on a series. Lately I have had many reasons not to follow book series, but this will be the topic for one of my next blog posts.

#OwnVoices – Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1) by Rebecca Roanhorse. I also want to read the anthology New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color by Nisi Shawl for this prompt.

LitRPG – Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension #1) by Andrew Rowe. I didn’t manage to read this book last year so I want to do this in 2019. I am an ocean of good intentions, really. 😉

Five SFF Short Stories – The Science Fiction Hall of Fame: Volume One, 1929-1964 (Science Fiction Hall of Fame #1). (I love me old sci-fi tales from even before the time Spock was our most loved alien.)

I am also hearing the anthology “Tor.com Collection: Season 1” so I’ll post all reviews when I have achieved this year’s goal of hearing and reading-a-ton (this sound funnily the same as Readathon) of these short stories/novellas.

And you? Are you doing reading challenges this year or are you just picking up the next book on the shelf? Have you find any of my picks interesting ? Or not?

Let me know in the comments.

 

Wrap-Up: r/Fantasy Reading Bingo 2018

FantasyBingo_Leticia_12_2018I must confess that at a certain point in the year I lost track of the Bingo Challenge and my reading went to other directions. I think that one of the reasons was that I wasn’t always lucky with my picks for the different prompts, so eventually I distanced myself and started prioritizing shorter Readathons with the idea that I still had enough time to finish the Bingo later, but April came and the last four remaining books to complete the card remained unread. I completed only one of the rows entirely, even if I managed to read four prompts in all five rows.

Since I like no stress attached to my reading goals, I decided to post my final results in this Wrap-Up even though. And the unread books I chose for the last year’s challenge will be read, eventually. Not all books I chose for the challenge were for me, but I still liked going out of my favourite authors scope and trying new ones.

In addition, certain prompts were very interesting so I also read more than one book for them, I will be adding the additional books when I consider them special enough to mention.

 

1st Row:

Novel that was Reviewed on r/Fantasy

I chose Nice Dragons Finish Last by (Heartstrikers #1) by Rachel Aaron for this challenge and even started reading it, but somehow got distracted by other books, so I still didn’t finish reading this.

 

Novel Featuring a Non-Western Setting

The Killing Moon (Dreamblood #1) by N.K. Jemisin

I liked this book even if I considered it quite slow-paced (even for epic fantasy). The relationships, magic system and world could have been much more fleshed out too. I’m yet in doubt whether I will go on reading this Duology or not.

Additional Book:

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Awesome story world with Ifrits, Ghouls, Marids, Peri, Djinn and multi-layered characters. I’m following this series for sure.

 

Five Short Stories

I chose to read the anthology “The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories” by Mahvesh Murad (Editor)

I set it aside after reading five stories, mainly because I expected mainly a fantasy anthology when I started reading this and, true, all stories there have fantastic elements, but apart from this they are a mixture of genres. Therefore, I’ll finish reading this when I feel like reading literary, slice-of-life, or magical realism short stories.

 

Novel Adapted by Stage, Screen, or Game

For this prompt I read the whole trilogy of Ruby Red (Edelstein-Trilogie #1) by Kerstin Gier,  Anthea Bell (Translator)

Kerstin Gier is my new favorite fantasy and young adult author even if I don’t read her books in their original language, German. I may try it though sometime with “Die Mütter-Mafia” books. The whole trilogy was told in a light and humorous way that makes it a real treat for a relaxing afternoon. I also like the tension created by the time-travel plot and multi-layered characters. This was an entertaining, page-turner trilogy. The Audiobooks, narrated by Marisa Calin, were also very good.

 

Hopeful Spec-Fic

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers

This was a different kind of science-fiction, quite enjoyable and focused on the characters and human interactions.

 

2nd Row:

Fantasy Novel that Takes Place Entirely Within One City

Beautiful Creatures (Beautiful Creatures #1) by Kami Garcia,  Margaret Stohl.

This was entertaining, very romantic and full of magic atmosphere. I watched the film based on this book, and will eventually go on reading this series.

 

Self-Published Novel

I had chosen Sufficiently Advanced Magic (Arcane Ascension #1) by Andrew Rowe for this, but unfortunately lost track of it. This remains in my TBR though.

 

Novel Published Before You Were Born (1973, GenXer here!)

The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester (first published 1955)

This book was a trip, you will want to jaunt yourself after reading it, LOL. Some allowances have to be made since this was written in the 50s, but I can fully understand why this is in a science fiction masterworks list. All the settings this book goes through, often in a disturbing, and very possible dystopian way, make it the revered classic that it is.

 

Any r/Fantasy Goodreads Group Book of the Month

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells.

Murderbot is a very original character, you can see why this novella has won the 2018 Hugo Award. I’ll be following this series.

 

Novel Featuring a Library

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

Sometimes I read outside my favorite genres and with that I discover a great read. This wasn’t unfortunately the case here, but it could be due to Horror not really being a genre I enjoy. I started this book due to all good reviews on Booktube, but found it too confusing and at a certain point I stopped caring about the characters and plot and DNFed the book.

 

 

3rd Row:

Subgenre: Historical Fantasy OR Alternate History

Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood #1) by Aliette de Bodard

I mainly picked up this book because it is extremely rare to find books with an Aztec setting. I liked the original world building/story elements in this book. I can imagine that for someone who likes the blend of mystery/historical fiction this is a four/five star read.

** spoiler alert ** One of the reasons I rated it three stars is that for me alone the main character’s arc was very slow paced dragging the plot with it. I couldn’t understand why Acatl acted the way he did most times, always in doubt whether he should act, blending aloofness and insecurity with resourcefulness. It was part of the story, but it was also shocking how Acatl and others sacrificed animals all the time without a second thought on the waste and cruelty of their way of life, and how quickly they dismissed people’s deaths as every moment occurrence. I wonder if the Aztecs were really like that or if they were more like us, willingly ignorant of the brutality of our world most of the time? An original, thought-provoking and interesting read in any case.

 

Novel Published in 2018

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

This book was an entertaining page-turner. I liked especially the original characters, and the well-constructed fantasy world with historic background. I’ll be checking out the next books by this author.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Thomas Nelson–FICTION for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Novel Featuring a Protagonist Who is a Writer, Artist or Musician (NOT: Kingkiller Chronicles)

Wintersong (Wintersong #1) by S. Jae-Jones

Were it for the writing style and the original premise and setting alone I would have given this book five stars, but the main relationship in this book is so… ** spoiler alert ** I’m not really sure of how to finish this phrase, perhaps: “hopeless-through-the-whole- book-until-the-end-when-I-was-happy-that-it-was-finished”?

I’m tired of stories were the heroine is unnaturally and endlessly humble, selfless and self-sacrificing and the (anti) ‘hero’ is cruel, blase, cold and treats other women badly because supposedly they were not as great as the heroine is.

Perhaps this is how fairy tales are supposed to be, but to me it feels really outdated and even unfair as gender roles go? I’m tired of the trope of “there isn’t a bad man, only a man who has not found the perfect woman to change him for the better,” because for teenage girls this is not the best thing to believe in. Perhaps the purpose of the story was to show that the heroine was better off without that troublesome relationship, but it didn’t feel as if she made the decision of finishing the relationship herself. No, she was freed by the cruel ‘hero’ because ‘she was better than the other girls.’

I cringed every time Liesl said ‘Mein Herr’ to her husband, always so subservient and meek. Again, this was only another of the story elements but it made everything sound so old fashioned. True, the Goblin King helped her to grow up enough to express her music, but did she really need him to become a composer or to be happy at all? Perhaps the next book in the series will answer this question

 

Novel Featuring a Mountain Setting

A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas.

It’s with the same characters from the trilogy, that I liked well enough to reread, but extremely little really happens. I hope the next books have more plot to them.

My pet-peeve with novellas is that they are mostly too short to introduce as many new and interesting things as a novel, and this one felt like a long epilogue of the third book. I would rather have a spin-off based on any other character than the main ones, or a collection of different POVs from side characters.

 

2017 r/Fantasy Top Novels List

The Goblin Emperor (The Goblin Emperor #1) by Katherine Addison.

This is so hyped but I can’t see what’s that all about…

The story reminds me of “The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen. However, the stakes, the tension and the action of the mentioned book aren’t present at all. The main character has a lot of time to think, meditate and complain about life… I’ve already read 110 pages and not much happened. I don’t manage to care enough to read everything. This book isn’t for me.

 

4th Row:

Novel with Fewer than 2500 Goodreads Ratings

Blood of Wonderland (Queen of Hearts Saga #2) by Colleen Oakes.

I expected more from this sequel after enjoying the first book so much. It felt flat and rushed up, I was just wondering why characters were acting into certain directions, it felt forced with the main character, Cheshire and Wardley.

The story world just went by, interesting but not being really explored in detail, although this seems to happen often in YA.

 

Novel with a One Word Title

Armada by Ernest Cline.

I liked this even if I still prefer “Ready Player One” by this author. I would love a next book where Zack Lightman would meet the aliens and try to find out what they are plotting 😉

 

Novel Featuring a God as a Character

I chose The Curse of Chalion (World of the Five Gods #1) by Lois McMaster Bujold for this prompt, but haven’t read it yet. However, all Bujold books are on my TBR!

 

Novel by an Author Writing Under a Pseudonym.

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey

I started this but stopped because I could not bring myself to go on reading. I’ll perhaps pick this one later again, right now I find it too slow-paced and I don’t fell like committing to a very long series when the first book isn’t for me.The world is interesting though and it left me curious enough to watch the first season episodes based on the books. **spoiler alert**  Sigh… I’m really tired of zombies whether they come from ice or space, and I think they spoil every story they appear in. To me zombies always seem like a cheap and cliché plot device to add action to a plot the author has no other stakes for.

Subgenre: Space Opera

The Empress (The Diabolic #2) by S.J. Kincaid

I’m in doubt how to rate this book, it was quite original and full of really unexpected plot twists.  I wonder how the story is going to continue and can’t wait for the next book.
Audiobook: The reading of Candace Thaxton was as five stars good as in the first book.

 

5th Row:

Stand Alone Fantasy Novel

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.

This was an original take on vampire stories and the world building was awesome.

I found it somehow slow paced and thought that a couple of flashbacks were placed too late in the story, but I was happy to find similarities between this book and The Cruel Prince.

This book should be getting a sequel.

 

Novel by a RAWRR Author OR Keeping Up With the Classics

I chose The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1) by Glen Cook but couldn’t get to it.

 

Novel from the r/Fantasy LGBTQ+ Database

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo.

I liked more this sequel than the first book in the Duology due to all the feels and the depth of the character stories.

Additional Book:

China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

This was very well written, a literary, slice-of-life, dystopia. At the beginning I thought Zhang aloof and could not relate to him, but as the story progressed I understood that it isn’t easy to survive in a world that condemns most things about you. I considered the chapters with the other characters really great too and loved the story set in Mars.
A beautiful book, to be read without hurry, as the awesome food-for-thought about human condition that it is.

 

Format: Graphic Novel (at least 1 vol.) OR Audiobook

Paper Girls, Vol. 1 (Paper Girls #1- #4)

#1- I like it but the story is all over the place. I’ll go on reading and see where is going.

#4- Finally we start to get some answers after three volumes of saying “Um, what just happened” like one of the robots in the series and we go on reading this page turner.

Additional Graphic Novels:

Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine – (Bitch Planet (Collected Editions) #1) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Goodreads Author) (Writer),  Taki Soma (Illustrator), Valentine De Landro (Artist), Robert Wilson IV (Artist)

This is awesome, I would recommend it to anyone, especially with how politics is going nowadays in the world.

Bitch Planet, Vol. 2: President Bitch (Bitch Planet (Collected Editions) #2) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Goodreads Author) (writer),  Taki Soma (artist), Valentine De Landro (artist). –    This is awesome and everybody should read it. 😉

 

Novel Featuring the Fae

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

This book has nice descriptions, a really nice cover, premise, and so much hype that I was completely underwhelmed by it.

It could have been better but the pace was terribly slow and at a certain point I wasn’t caring anymore about the story or the characters. I dropped it on several occasions because nothing interesting was happening. Even the romance was insta-love, and it also dragged. For me this was only an over hyped book where the hype had not real reasons to be there.

And you, do you agree/disagree with my opinions on the books I picked? And have you already committed to a year-long reading challenge?

2019 r/Fantasy Book Bingo Reading Challenge

I’m doing this challenge again this year.

Way Too Fantasy

Some of you have probably noticed me talking about book bingo  around here and were wondering what exactly I was going on about. Well, now that it’s after April 1st (the start of the new bingo period) I thought I’d do a post about it.

r/Fantasy Book Bingo is something I initially started on kind of a whim. Several years ago, after I’d been skulking about reddit’s r/fantasy community for a bit, I found myself engaged in thread about book challenges. In the discussion I mentioned having done a book bingo before and then said ‘I should make a fantasy one for the subreddit’ and a couple of people were like ‘yeah, you totally should’ and thus r/Fantasy Book Bingo was born.

So, what is r/Fantasy Book Bingo? It’s a year long reading challenge with the aim of getting readers to branch out, look at books they may have otherwise…

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My favorite books of 2018 (only now, but rich in content like a Lungo)

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Now it’s already 2019. It took me long enough to write this post, after Christmas cookies, a lot of shopping for presents, and the family reunion when all those presents were exchanged and a harmonious meal was shared. January also went up quite quickly while I participated in a science fiction Readathon I’ll be soon wrapping up here, but now finally I’ll post my 2018 favorite books.

And I have a lot of books to chose from. I read 130 books, mainly Fantasy, Science-Fiction and a surprisingly great amount of Young Adult and Graphic Novels. I didn’t expect it, but many of my YA reads were 5 stars.

I had a lot of fun reading all the books by S.J. Kincaid I could find, marathoning through eight Deluxe Editions of Fables by Bill Willingham and thankfully discovering new authors, since the favorites I already follow and auto-buy don’t write new books as fast as I read them.

I also had a fair amount of unfinished book and books which hype didn’t hold as I read them. And a couple of series sequels that failed to impress me, with the result that I’ll be abandoning them. I wonder if I should write about about the last year’s let-downs or about series I won’t be following anymore? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

For now, I’ll talk about the five star books and a couple of honored four stars. Here they are:

 

5 Star Champion Series I already finished or that I’ll be continuing next year

1) The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

When it comes to this book the hype is deserved. I loved the world building and the ‘cruel prince’ is a very interesting character. I’m curious to be seen how this story will develop in the next books. I am, in any case, on board. Now in January I also started listening to The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) Audiobook and I’m loving it.

 

2) “The Bone Season” and “The Mime Order” (The Bone Season #1 and #2) by Samantha Shannon.

In both books the world building is quite extensive and that alone was already worth at least 4,5 to 5 stars. There is even a spin-off called “On the Merits of Unnaturalness” which further explains it’s rules, but, although I haven’t read it, I could follow the various ‘voyants’ classes that appear in the book.
I also liked Paige because, although she was likable, she wasn’t exactly a standard romantic heroine. She could be contradictory, seemed to be too cynical and suspicious sometimes and only at the end of the book, you could see all her layers. Perhaps she’s not everybody’s favorite type of main female character, but I found that really refreshing after so many perfect fictional girls out there. I also liked the flaws in all other characters, I think this contributed to give depth to the story.
I also read The Mime Order (The Bone Season #2) and I loved the sequel development, the world building is still awesome and the characters so greatly multi-layered. This is a not hyped, but extremely interesting series. I can’t wait to read the next book.

 

3) The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) by S.A. Chakraborty

Awesome story world with Ifrits, Ghouls, Marids, Peri, Djinn and multi-layered characters. I’m following this series for sure.

 

4) “A Shadow Bright and Burning”, “A Poison Dark and Drowning” and “A Sorrow Fierce and Falling” (Kingdom on Fire #1, #2 and #3) by Jessica Cluess

This series isn’t nearly as much hyped as it should be. It is an awesome series, with unique and unforgettable multi-layered characters, and so many surprising plot twists.
Like the Bone Season series, it is also original and many levels above most fantasy YA series I’ve read. It has a rich fantasy and historical world and one of the best heroines I’ve found since ever. 😉
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy with a strong female character and complex side characters as well.
I heard this whole series as Audiobooks and the performance from Fiona Hardingham was awesome too.

 

5) “The Diabolic” and “The Empress” (The Diabolic #1 and #2) by S.J. Kincaid

Awesome writing, characters and an original, page-turner plot. I could not stop hearing the Audiobook until the last sentence of this story. This was the best book I read (“heard”) in the first six months of 2018, and this is saying something about how perfectly written this story is.
This is my first book by this author but I’ll surely take a look at all her other books. and go on following this series.
The Empress was quite original and full of really unexpected plot twists. I wonder how the story is going to continue and can’t wait for the next book in this series. This book goes connects to the universe of the other trilogy of Kincaid, Insignia, so I would read that trilogy before reading this second book.

The reading performance of Candace Thaxton in both Audiobooks was quite awesome too.

 

6) “Insignia”, “Vortex” and “Catalyst” (Insignia #1, #2 and #3) by S.J. Kincaid

I picked the first book after reading Diabolic from the same author and liked it too, even if Diabolic is still my favorite. Tom goes through so much, you can’t help but sympathize and feel super worried for him. The themes of this series are quite important in the present light of things, this trilogy stands above the usual YA Dystopia. All the feels and themes in this series! If you have to choose only one Dystopian YA trilogy to read in your whole life choose this one.

 

7) “The Queen of the Tearling”, “The Invasion of the Tearling” and “The Fate of the Tearling” (The Queen of the Tearling #1, #2 and #3) by Erika Johansen

This trilogy is an awesome mix of fantasy, and dystopia, a real page-turner with great characters, story and oh, all the politics! It isn’t exactly YA as it contains strong scenes of domestic abuse that may be a trigger for some people, but in my opinion the portraying of all the injustice added to the value of the trilogy.
I recommend this trilogy if you like original books with unexpected plot twists, well-written POVs (you end up caring a lot for secondary characters like a jailer with a disability and a gate guard!), and multi-layered characters. Erika Johansen is an author I’ll keep in my radar for sure!

 

8) “Bitch Planet Vol. 1” and “Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch” (Bitch Planet (Collected Editions) #1 and #2) by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Taki Soma (Illustrator), Valentine De Landro (Artist), Robert Wilson IV (Artist)

This is an awesome graphic novel series. Everybody should read it, especially with how politics is going nowadays in the world. 😉

 

9) The Golem and the Jinni (The Golem and the Jinni #1) by Helene Wecker.

A jewel, I loved everything about this book; the writing style, the story, the theme, the characters, the setting and the ending. It’s a new classic and going towards literary fiction, but it has tension until the last page.
I also liked the Audiobook narrator: George Guidall. I’m waiting for The Iron Season by the same author.

 

10)Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo

I won’t talk long about this book because it it hyped with great reason and everybody raves in detail about this. 😉 I liked more this sequel than the first book in the duology due to all the feels and the characters stories depth. I’m surely waiting for King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo to meet her characters and the Grishaverse again.

 

11) Children of Time (Children of Time #1) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Really good, original Sci-fi! This book was so well written, the story world so rich and the characters so likable! I found a new favorite author. I’ll be waiting for Children of Ruin (Children of Time #2).

 

And a Standalone: 12) China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

Nowadays standalones have turned to be rather the exception. This was very well written, a literary, slice-of-life, dystopia. At the beginning I considered Zhang aloof and could not relate to him, but as the story progressed I understood that it isn’t easy to survive in a world that condemns most things about you and could sympathize. I considered the chapters with the other characters really great too and loved the story set in Mars.
A beautiful book, to be read without hurry, as the awesome food-for-thought about human condition that it is.

 

Wow, this was a long post, I could still rave about my four star reads of last year, but then this would end up with two thousand words LOL.

Let me know if I should follow up with four stars, three and disappointing set asides and DNFs.

And at last, which were your favorite books from last year? Let me know in the comments.

Wrap-Up: The One Readathon To Rule Them All Round 2 #theonereadathon

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This is my wrap-up of the second round of The One Readathon, a fantasy Readathon that happened from November 17 to December 1. The original announcement video from Don’t Have a Degree in Reading with all challenges and rules is linked here. And if you want to see, this is my previous TBR for this Round 2

I took a bit longer through the “Route 4” which was “Nomadic Traveler”. In which, as it says in the original video, “you may pick as many (or as little) of the challenges from below as you want. You are in charge of this route but remember…you must get the Ring to Mordor!”

I did most of the challenges without using any book for more than one challenge, so it took me a while to go through my long TBR pile. I was gladly taking my time because I consider two weeks way too short for so many awesome challenges. I think that “The One Readathon” would fit really well in a three months reading challenge, so I went someplace in between and took a whole month.

I also decided to choose other books for a couple of challenges along the way. Therefore, the books from my previously planned list that are yet unread will be postponed to 2019.

Fortunately, most books I picked were 5 star reads for me. I am lately enjoying young adult books very often when I’m looking for a lighter read after a long day. And many of the books, for example, The Tearling Trilogy, that I initially considered young adult went far beyond that genre to plunge into an original fantasy, dystopia and science fiction blend that I really cherished and became one of my favorite reads of this year.

As it always happens when you read a bunch of books, a couple of the books I chose were not really for me, not due to them being essentially bad, but because I considered their writing style tiring or they weren’t what I expected when I started reading them. I’m often too tired to go on reading a book that can’t hold my interest, so I didn’t finish or skipped pages of three of the books in this list.

The only challenges I didn’t have time to complete were the Shire, Moria, and Lorien, but this was all right since you didn’t have to do all the challenges for the readathon and I managed to complete the rest of them.

So, without further considerations, here are the challenges I completed and the books I’ve read:

BREE

Read a fantasy book set in a non-European influenced setting.
I decided to read The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty for this challenge.
Review – 5 Stars!
Awesome story world with Ifrits, Ghouls, Marids, Peri, Djinn and multi-layered characters. I’m following this series for sure.

FANGORN FOREST

Read a fantasy book with magical/supernatural creatures
For this I read The Djinn Falls in Love & Other Stories by Mahvesh Murad (Editor), Jared Shurin & others
Review – No rating, because I set this anthology aside for now, after reading around five stories, mainly because I expected a fantasy anthology when I started reading this and, true, all stories have fantastic elements, but apart from this they are a mixture of genres. Therefore, I’ll read this when I feel like reading literary, slice-of-life, or magical realism short stories.

RIVENDELL

Read a fantasy book with LGBTQIA+ rep (author/MC/POV)
I changed my mind an picked Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill, for this challenge.
Review – 5 Stars! This graphic novel has a heart warming story with cute illustrations and an environmental message. It deals with so many important themes; loss, sustainable use of natural resources, different ways of being feminine and strong… All in a way a child can understand and relate with. Light, lovely and powerful.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Oni Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ISENGARD

Read a fantasy book with a villain MC/POV (morally grey MC/POV is acceptable!).
The villain MC/POV book I chose was Grendel by John Gardner.
Review – 2 stars. This is original and well-written, therefore the two stars. Subjectively, I considered the monologue quite long, and skipped some pages in between, but the tragic character had an interesting voice.

HELM’S DEEP

Read a fantasy book that is a standalone.
I read The Goblin Emperor (The Goblin Emperor #1) by Katherine Addison
Review: 1 star. This is so hyped but I really can’t see what’s that all about… The story reminded me faintly of “The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen. However, the stakes and the tension of the previously mentioned book were not present at all. The main character had way too long time to think, meditate and especially complain about life, to a point that I stopped caring completely. After reading 110 pages without much happening I read the end only to see that few concrete things had really happened and the story would continue on a next book.
Apart from this, the writing style with the pronouns and the words exclusive to the story were extremely jarring.

ROHAN

Read a fantasy book w/ a female MC.
I decided to finish a young adult fantasy series, by hearing the audiobook of A Sorrow Fierce and Falling (Kingdom on Fire #3) by Jessica Cluess (Author), Fiona Hardingham (Narrator).
Review: 5 Stars!
This series isn’t nearly as much hyped as it should be. It is an awesome series, with multi-layered characters that are unique and has so many awesome plot twists.
It is also original and many levels above most YA series I’ve read. It has a rich fantasy and historical world and one of the best heroines I’ve found since… Ever. I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy with a strong female character and complex side characters as well.
I heard this whole series as Audiobooks and the performance from Fiona Hardingham was awesome too.

GONDOR

Read a fantasy book w/ POC rep (author/MC/POV)
I changed my mind and, instead of the book I had chosen before, I decided to read two graphic novels with POC characters for this challenge:

1) Afar by Leila del Duca, Kit Seaton (Illustrator)
Review – 5 Stars!
Very interesting, a graphic novel with astral travelling? I’m all for it!

2) Sleepless, Vol. 1 (Sleepless #1-6) by Sarah Vaughn, Leila del Duca (Artist), Alissa Sallah (Colorist), Deron Bennett (Letterer)
Review – 4 Stars.
*Spoiler Alert* This was very interesting even if a bit slow-paced, you will probably get answers only in the next books, but this happens often in graphic novel series. On a personal note, the whole sleepless thing didn’t make much sense for me, if the sleepless defenders would get some magical abilities for all the lack of sleep, it would have made sense, but as it was it looked only like a silly idea (perhaps I just didn’t understand it well enough). In any case I’ll be following this series further on.

MINAS TIRITH

Read a fantasy book
I picked Sapphire Blue “Saphirblau (Edelstein-Trilogie #2)” by Kerstin Gier for this challenge.
Review – 5 Stars! Kerstin Gier is my new favorite young adult author even if I don’t read her books in their original language, German. I may try it though sometime with “Die Mütter-Mafia” books.
The story is told in a light and humorous way that makes it a real treat for a relaxing afternoon. I also like the tension created by the time-travel plot and multi-layered characters.

MORDOR

Read the conclusion to a fantasy series (standalones count) or the most recent installment of a series.
For this final challenge, I read the last book of the Queen of the Tearling series,
The Fate of the Tearling (The Tearling Trilogy) by Erika Johansen
Review – 5 Stars! This was original and awesome fantasy/sci-fi!
I recommend this book if you like books with amazing plot twists, well-written POVs (you end up caring so much for secondary characters like a jailer with a disability and a gate guard!), and multi-layered characters. The whole trilogy was awesome and Erika Johansen is an author I’ll keep in my radar for sure!

The One Readathon To Rule Them All Round 2 #theonereadation

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Don’t Have a Degree in Reading and other Booktubers listed in her video have now launched a second round from this awesome fantasy Readathon.
I was gladly participating of Round One in April this year. If you would like to see what I was reading then, here’s are the posts from the first’s round TBR and Wrap-Up
I’ll also participate now in the second round, which goes from November 17 to December 1, but I plan to post my wrap-up only when most of the books in my long TBR have been read.
Now, without further ado, here are my choices for each challenge.

The Shire

Reread a favorite fantasy book
This is the only challenge I haven’t yet a book for. It could happen that I pass on it too, since I rarely reread books.

Bree

Read a fantasy book set in a non-European influenced setting
I’m undecided between Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orïsha, #1)  or The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1).

Have you read any of them? Which would you recommend me?

Fangorn Forest

Read a fantasy book with magical/supernatural creatures

Have you read any of them? Which would you recommend me?

Rivendell

Read a fantasy book with LGBTQIA+ rep (author/MC/POV)
The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate #1)

Moria

Read a grimdark fantasy book or a fantasy book w/ spooky elements.
The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1) 

Lorien

Read a fantasy book published by an indie press
Sufficiently Advanced Magic
I found this list quite helpful.

Isengard

Read a fantasy book with a villain MC/POV (morally grey MC/POV is acceptable!)

Grendel

Helm’s Deep

Read a fantasy book that is a standalone
The Goblin Emperor

Rohan

Read a fantasy book w/ a female MC. Here is a very interesting  list for this challenge.

The Curse of Chalion

Gondor

Read a fantasy book w/ POC rep (author/MC/POV)

Partials (Partials Sequence, #1) 

Minas Tirith

Read a fantasy book
I’ll still pick a book for this, probably any book of fantasy I read in the meantime that it isn’t yet on this list.

Mordor

Read the conclusion to a fantasy series (standalones count) or the most recent installment of a series.
For this final challenge, I’ll pick the last book of the Queen of the Tearling series,

The Fate of the Tearling.

For more book recommendations check the original video and the other creators and co-host videos.