Mid Year Book Freakout Tag! (2020)

 

I’m probably the last person in the internet to post The Mid Year Book Freak Out tag this year. Things have been busy and when I eventually found this blog post half done in my scrivener Blog Posts file, I decided it wouldn’t be a bad idea to finish what I had started more than a month ago.  😉

So here it goes:

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

This is a very difficult question because I have read so many 5 star books this first half year. So I’ll name two favorite ones:

Falling Free (Vorkosigan Saga (Publication Order) #4) by Lois McMaster Bujold – This book proved that a story with important themes can be an entertaining page-turner too. And now I understand why so many people recommend the Vorkosigan Saga which I intend to go on reading for sure!

Skyward (Skyward #1) by Brandon Sanderson – This was awesome, and I’ll be continuing this series.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020.

Network Effect (The Murderbot Diaries #5) by Martha Wells – This was awesome and I could not put it down. Perhaps I’ll have to reread all Murderbot books to make up for having to wait for the next book in the series.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates #1) by A.K. Larkwood – This seems to be a very original fantasy book and I’m looking forward to it.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

The Nemesis (The Diabolic #3) by S.J. Kincaid – I’m waiting for this book since I read The Empress (The Diabolic #2) in April 2018 and the book finished with a plot twist I wasn’t expecting. So let’s see how this story will go on.

5. Biggest disappointment.

I had two:

Spin (Spin Saga #1) by Robert Charles Wilson.

and

The Outside (The Outside #1) by Ada Hoffmann.

Both disappointments had to do with the fact that those books took way too long to give answers to my reader’s questions. I’m not the most patient of readers, and if the book doesn’t get me hooked I won’t read it indefinitely. I set both books aside and maybe one day I’ll finish them, or not.

6. Biggest surprise.

The Raven and the Dove (The Raven and the Dove #1) by Kaitlyn Davis
I started this book not knowing much about it, but it completely surpassed my initial expectations. It is an extremely clever retelling of Tristan and Isolde with multi-layered, interesting and relatable characters, and a story world I want to read more about. I’ll be continuing this series for sure!

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Libba Bray is my new favorite author of 2020. I am reading her entire Gemma Doyle series this year.

8. Newest fictional crush.

I’m too old to have fictional crushes. 🙂

9. Newest favorite character.

Gemma Doyle surely, because she is always taking care of other people and trying her best.

10. Book that made you cry.

I wasn’t crying, but a book that has all the feels was Leave Me by Gayle Forman, because it talks about an overworked and unappreciated mother and this is a very important and not talked about enough theme nowadays.

11. Book that made you happy.

The Tea Dragon Society (Tea Dragon #1) by Katie O’Neill. This graphic novel series has such sweet illustrations and important themes that you feel like framing all pages and putting them on your walls for coziness sake. 🙂

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

I received an arc from NetGalley of The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon #3) by Katie O’Neill and this was so beautiful I might buy a physical copy for me eventually.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Oh, so many! To answer this properly I would have to post at least thirty books that I still would like to read for this or that yearly challenge, but this year I’ll try not to get stressed about it and I won’t care (much) if I don’t complete my challenges at all.

Meanwhile I am mostly mood-reading and looking for hope-filled books while steering away from anything Dystopian. I think that after this year we all deserve patience and endurance hero medals right?

Take care and read good books.

OWLs Readathon 2020 #magicalreadathon2020 – My April TBR

My social distancing April has now started and with it the entertaining OWLs Magical Readathon created by  Book Roast

So I thought, why not? My days are now more busy than when schools were open, since at the moment I’m replacing the teachers of my two boys (and this makes me think that teachers deserve our eternal gratitude and respect), but, at the same time, this only makes reading fiction even more important for me right now, as a way of relaxing and escaping the new reality for an hour every night.

All that said, in this Readathon you can choose different careers in the magical world. The two careers I would go for would be Journalist/Writer, Rita Skeeter being my heroine 😉 or Seer, due to the snazzy robes they get to wear, crystal balls being also such cool decoration objects too.

If I decide to be a Journalist/Writer, My OWLs would be:

History of Magic

Book featuring witches and wizards: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (The Physick Book #1) by Katherine Howe.

Muggle Studies

Contemporary: Midnight in Austenland (Austenland #2) by Shannon Hale

1 other subject of your picking:

Which could be Care of Magical Creatures– Hippogriffs: a creature with a beak (e.g. birds) on the cover – This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar (Goodreads Author), Max Gladstone

Or Herbology – Mimbulus Mimbletonia: title starts with an M- Mirage(Mirage #1) by Somaiya Daud

Or, if I decide to be a Seer, my OWLs would be:

Ancient Runes:

Heart Rune: Heart on the cover or in the title
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston

Astronomy:

Night Class: read a majority of a book when it’s dark outside
Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan

Divination:

Third Eye: pick a book randomly from your TBR
I will be reading a book chosen by #bookspin on Litsy. In the second of April, the Litsy user @TheAromaofBooks makes a draw of a number between 1 and 20 and the book number chosen on my 1-20 list gets to be ‘The Chosen One’. Since this looks like something that Professor Trewlaney would do, I’m all for it.

Regardless of my career path I will try to make an

Animagus Training, OWLs:
Arithmancy

Read a Book Outside of Your Favorite Genre- I’ll be reading Historical Fantasy for this prompt: Rebel Angels (Gemma Doyle #2) by Libba Bray

Potions

Books Under 150 Pages- I’ll be hearing one of the Novellas of the Tor.com Collection: Season 1, that I have as an Audiobook.

Transfiguration

Book/Series that has Shapeshifting
Shadow of the Fox (Shadow of the Fox #1) by Julie Kagawa

 

Are you participating in the Magical or any other Readathons this month? If yes, leave your link below.

Entertaining Books For Your Social Distancing Days

 

Since my daily routine has been changed to most of the time staying at home and homeschooling, I have been drawn, among other hobbies, to lighter reading.

Here are some of the most light, fun and humorous books I have read in the last decade. And these I would recommend anyone who would like a bit of page-turning escapism:

 

The Martian (The Martian #1) by Andy Weir

If you have not read this book yet, try it. It is science fiction, but the main character is so funny you will end up laughing too. Another by the same author that I would like to recommend is Artemis, since I could not put both books down or stop laughing.

 

Belgravia (Belgravia #1-11) by Julian Fellowes

If you like historical fiction, or even if you are like me and read 2 to 3 books of historical fiction per year, you will like this. It has the same atmosphere as Downtown Abbey.

 

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

This is an extremely entertaining and light story with Greek Gods.

 

Bridget Jones’s Diary (Bridget Jones #1) by Helen Fielding

This is an oldie, but so, so funny, that I consider it a modern classic.

 

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1) by Jasper Fforde

I cannot think of another word right now for this book but “Precious!” It is so incredibly original and witty, that I think of it as a not at all hyped-enough jewel.

 

Star Nomad (Fallen Empire #1) by Lindsay Buroker

I read the whole series in my last summer vacations and could not put it down. The series was full of action, and included a captain full of jokes, a moody cyborg, a pessimistic engineer and space pirates!

 

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) (Bobiverse #1) by Dennis E. Taylor

This is an entertaining, page-turner series. I also liked the audiobook version of this book, narrated by Ray Porter.

 

Ready Player One (Ready Player One #1) by Ernest Cline

Full of gamer 80’s nostalgia, this is a delight to read.

 

Finally:

Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #1) by Ilona Andrews

This series is packed with action and well-done romance in an Urban-fantasy, paranormal world, but it is incredibly entertaining to read. If you enjoy this series, I would also recommend the Hidden Legacy and the Innkeeper Chronicles series by the same authors who know how to keep a reader happily turning pages.

Best & Worst Books of 2019

The Worst Books

Last year was a year of transition for me when it comes to my taste in books. If nothing, it proved to me that I am really tired of Paranormal Fantasy and my reading tastes are now turned towards Science Fiction, more specifically Space Opera. More than that, it also showed that if a book is well written or not makes a huge difference for me. If your book and characters are well written I will even rate a zombie post-apocalyptic book five stars, and I don’t usually like books with zombies, but I digress…

Six of the eight Paranormal Fantasy books I read in 2019 didn’t impress me, to a point that I stopped reading four series after the first, second or tenth book because they were mostly a repetition of previous books or other books in the genre. I just started to feel that, if a book series doesn’t bring anything new to a genre which I have now read for many years, than that series isn’t worth following.

In the same way, an author that constantly rehashes the same plot and characters; who always keeps the character and story development you wish it would happen above your head, only as a hook to make you buy the next book in the series; isn’t an author I want to keep on reading. Sorry, but if every book of a series isn’t good enough on its own, I’m out for good. I’m not going for the fan club excuse that the series will eventually become better, not anymore.

My boredom with three stars or lower Paranormal Fantasy books has become so strong that next year I plan to stop buying new books on the genre altogether. Since I don’t like getting rid of unread books I will still keep one or two Paranormal Fantasy unread books by new to me authors on my shelves, but I will donate many others away.

The exception will be books by my favorite author in the genre, Ilona Andrews, because she has innovated her new plots with the inclusion of space opera elements. Apart from that, when it comes to light reading, I’ll mainly substitute Paranormal Fantasy for space opera, young adult, or short stories.

In addition, the whole concept of “light reading” has lost much of its allure. I need stories with more content and that aren’t a repetition of old tropes, with new fresh story worlds, and original characters. The rehashed kick ass hot girl/hot guy, who jumps from one rehashed plot point to another without adding anything new, aren’t working for me anymore. And that is great, it’s time I challenge my mind with new stories, because the old ones bring no more surprises.

Let me know if you would like a detailed list of my worst books of 2019. Meanwhile, let’s move to more positive considerations:

The Best Books

This is a list of books that I, not only rated five stars on Goodreads, but also that brought new story elements on board. All but one were by authors I haven’t read before 2019, and all are by authors I will be following more closely in the next decade.

1.The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

A magnificent retelling of Frankenstein. And the Audiobook Performance of Katharine McEwan was five stars too.

2. An Unkindness of Magicians (An Unkindness of Magicians #1) by Kat Howard

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.

3. Children of the Nameless (Magic: The Gathering #72) by Brandon Sanderson

I read this for the r/fantasy Bingo Challenge. This was awesomely well written. Brandon Sanderson is one of the best fantasy authors at the moment. And you can read this story for free at the Magic The Gathering Website

4. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

I rarely read mystery and even more rarely contemporary, but even though I could not stop reading this well written book, so it took me a day to read it entirely.
It is… Quite surprising and I like that in books, I won’t say more not to spoil it.

5. Rebel of the Sands (Rebel of the Sands #1) by Alwyn Hamilton

This was a wonderfully written tale of the desert, with so many important underlying themes and a compelling story with awesomely developed characters.
I will surely be following this series and Alwyn Hamilton is a new favorite author to watch for. The “Goodreads Choice Winner of 2016” prize this book has won is completely deserved.

I also read the second book in this series:

Traitor to the Throne (Rebel of the Sands #2)

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. 😉
I’ll be picking the series third book in the library soon, so stay tuned.

6. Circe by Madeline Miller

A well written and inspiring story. I’ll be surely reading more books from this author. Perdita Weeks is a great Audiobook narrator too.

7. Killing Gravity (Voidwitch Saga #1) by Corey J. White

An entertaining, page-turner novella, with great world, characters and a nice twist in the space opera sub-genre. After reading the first book in just one sitting, I will surely go on reading this series. I also read the next novellas, #2 and #3, and I’m looking forward to more books in this amazing space opera series!

8. Empire of Silence (Sun Eater #1) by Christopher Ruocchio

This is extremely well written. I see it more as epic fantasy with space opera elements than the other way around, but what matters is that once you start reading this, you won’t be able to put it down.

Note: The Blurb gives way too much of the story away, so I would not read it.

9. Snow White Learns Witchcraft: Stories and Poems by Theodora Goss, Jane Yolen (Introduction)

This is a beautifully written collection of short stories and poems, not only inspired, but also composed of “fairy tales fractured, reinvented, re-imagined, retold” as Jane Yolen describes in her Introduction “A Welcome to the Coven.”
Poetic, feminist and literary, the stories and poems are at times obscure, rich with symbols, and at times convey relatable women’s experiences and feelings in a deeply touching way. It also discusses women’s life experiences, and themes like women’s love, desire, marriage, motherhood, artistic expression, freedom, aspirations. It’s rich in themes deeply embedded in all its ‘tales’.

My favorite stories were:
“Blanchefleur”, with a beautiful quote about empathy.
“The Other Thea”, about a witch and her passional shadow.
“The Bear’s Daughter” about a girl who dreams of the south.
“Diamonds and Toads” about the interpretation of morality in fairy tales.
“The Princess and the Frog” with a nice twist on the outcome of the tale.
“Conversations with the Sea Witch” with the “old women sitting together in the sunshine”.
and finally “The Nightingale and the Rose” that was so touching it made me cry.

I consider this book a modern classic. I read it slowly because its richness of themes and meanings requires time to absorb and think over. I’ll probably reread this later on and also also check other books by this awesome author.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Mythic Delirium Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

10. A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1) by Arkady Martine

It did take me a while to hear this because I didn’t want to loose any detail of this book full of political intrigue and twists. I will following this series for sure. The audiobook narrator, Amy Landon, was quite good too.

11. Planetfall (Planetfall #1)by Emma Newman

This was a very suspenseful, and character-driven science fiction. I’ll be following this series.

12. The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo (Author), Sara Kipin (Illustrator)

This book was very nicely illustrated, and the ‘rewritten’ fairy tales were so original. It is a book I’m happy to have bought a hardcover physical copy of, because it is such a beautiful book.

My favorite stories were the last two, but the whole collection was five stars.

 

And you, have your reader preferences changed in 2019? Which were your favorite books from last year?

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

new-years-eve-3882231_1920

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.

Captain’s Log: Tome Infinity & Beyond Wrap Up #TomeInfinityAndBeyond

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This is my wrap-up, a month late since I was without time to write a blog post when the Readathon finished. Better late than never, so here are my reviews:

My Traveling Itinerary

 

I was leaving Earth with Ship D reading a new to me Author

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. Rating: 4 Stars

 

On the Asteroid Belt I was reading a Space Opera

Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey.  Even if the premise and world were interestingI set it aside after forty pages because I was bored with its slow pace and new character introductions. I’ll perhaps pick this one later again, right now I’m in doubt if I want to commit to such a long series. Rating: No Rating since I DNF it.

 

In Saturn I was reading A Book With Circles On The Cover

The Grey Moon by Timothy P. Callahan. The story was quite centered in the characters and their relationship, almost in a slice-of-life sort of story. I would have liked if it would have been less focused on the relationship details and more on the science fiction itself, or if the pace would have been a bit faster. I found the kind of relationship depicted interesting though, it is seldom that you read a story where the effects of one of the partners working too much is talked about, therefore Rating: 3 stars.

Uranus, Hahaha – Reading A Book Featuring Some Comic Relief

Armada, by Ernest Cline. I liked this even if I still prefer “Ready Player One”. I would love a next book where Zack Lightman would meet the aliens and try to find out what they are plotting, LOL. Rating: 4 Stars

Neptune, Reading A Science Fiction W/ Fantasy Themes Or Vice Versa

I read the Innkeeper Chronicles series, which now has three books and liked it a lot. It’s a mixture of Paranormal Fantasy and Science Fiction. Here are my reviews of the three books:

Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #1)

There ain’t no real vacations without an Ilona Andrews book… 🙂
I liked this book, just missed a bit more description and focus on the main character herself, especially when all side characters, even the dead dogs, got good descriptions.
The sci-fi and fantasy story world felt a bit rushed at times too, but I hope to get to know more about it in the next books of this series that I’ll be following for sure. Rating: 4 Stars

Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles #2) 
This was awesome, an entertaining series in any case. Rating: 5 Stars

One Fell Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles #3)
When it’s the next book in the series here? Rating: 5 Stars

And finally I’ll arrive in my new home planet,

Pluto, where the goal was to Read A Vintage Science Fiction Book (25+ Years Old)

The Inheritors of Earth by Gordon Eklund, Poul Anderson.

This was vintage original sci-fi at it’s best. Rating: 5 Stars

And after setting camp in Pluto, I decided to go on reading…

 

Other Sci-fi books I would recommend

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

This book was very interesting, romantic and a real page-turner. I recommend this for anyone who likes their sci-fi with a lot of action and unpredictable quantum physics twists. Rating: 5 Stars

Prime Meridian by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This book is not standard new-adult science fiction, but a well-written, and touching story in a, quite possible to happen, dystopian future.
Amelia is a heart-warming, relatable and real heroine. The theme of a woman giving her best and even tough being taken for granted is shown in detail (I found the symbolism with the rat very clever) and the heroine arc is lovely.
I hope there are more books with Amelia’s life on Mars and will be checking out future books by this author.
I would like to thank NetGalley and Innsmouth Free Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Rating: 5 Stars.

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.  Rating: 5 Stars.

And you? Have you read any great sci-fi or any other book you would recommend?

 

Tome Infinity and Beyond Readathon**CREATED BY**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Authors Part One – Literary Fiction.

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I intend to make a series of posts on my favorite authors here in the blog.
This blog post series will be divided into Literary Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Graphic Novels, Young Adult and Children’s books. I hope with this to call attention to authors outside the media hyped and most talked about, although some hyped authors will also be listed.

I will also include Brazilian authors and other non-English speaking authors who are sometimes translated and sometimes, unfortunately, not available in English. Perhaps someone will in the future see my message in a bottle and consider translating them. I’m sure their books would be a contribution to the world and deserve to be read not only in Portuguese or their original language but in many other languages. So, regardless of their nationality or language, authors who impressed me with their writing style and awesome stories will be listed here.

I also didn’t list the authors here with a ranking. I like all authors in different ways, and would be hardly pressed to choose among them as my most/least favorite author.

So, without further considerations, here are my favorite authors on

Literary Fiction

1 and 2. Emily Brontë and Jane Austen

If you ask me to name one the two books: Wuthering Heights or Pride and Prejudice, as the best, I would be as paralized as a robot ordered to break one of the laws of robotics. Both books are masterpieces, even if very different from each other. Wuthering Heights has passion and tragedy. Pride and Prejudice has wit, female wisdom and feminism, written in a time probably no one though of it. Both books are must reads. I repeat: Must. Reads.

3. And 4. Charlotte and Anne Brontë

I wished I had three daughters and they would be as talented and leave such legacy to the world as the three Brontë sisters. Probably this would be too much to ask of girls or boys in any case.
Jane Eyre is Gothic and it shows the true importance of female grit in an oppressive society. Let’s reinforce this, Jane Eyre’s bravery and strength of character is a lesson to every girl/woman out there.
The other books of Charlotte and Anne Brontë are also classics, talking about female issues in a time women had no voice. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë for example, talks about a disastrous marriage and all the problems a woman had to go through at that time when she choose to leave her husband. This makes this book important.

5. And 6. Machado de Assis and Gabriel García Marquez

The Goodreads description of Machado de Assis says he is “widely regarded as the most important writer of Brazilian literature” and “the supreme black literary artist to date”. With plenty of reason, I would say. My favorite book from him, Dom Casmurro, was the first one that impressed me first due to its outstanding writing style. In the same way, the writing style of Gabriel García Marquez is so immersive it can transport you into a daydreaming state while reading it. My favorite book from him is Love in the Time of Cholera.

7. And 8. Federico Garcia Lorca and Victor Hugo

My favorite poet and my favorite French author have a theme in common in my favorite books by them: Gypsies. The Romancero gitano and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame are masterpieces with, as Lorca says, a lot of “Duende”.

The theory of “Duende” is in any case interesting . I understand it as the search for that quintessential wild magic capable ot turning artistic work into an immortal masterpiece, like the Opera Carmen, for example.

So here they are, my favorite literary authors. I’m sure I’ve left a lot of awesome authors out of this post, a commented list with 100 or more being too long to be manageable. Besides, I haven’t read everything out there yet even if I did read my share of classic and adult books.

My next posts will continue with my most favorite authors in other genres.

And you? Which are your favorite authors, those you would recommend anyone without blinking?

Let me know in the comments.

Winter Writing/Reading Wrap Up

Now it’s Easter, time for my Winter Writing/Reading Wrap Up!
I’ve terribly neglected this blog the last three months, writing short stories instead. On the plus side I am going forward with my short story anthology, which has now 32k of well revised words. I’ll publish my anthology this year, unless I pick some of the short stories to turn into novellas or even novels. I’ve been thinking on listening to my awesome and inspiring beta-readers who often ask me for 50k words in the world and characters of the short story I sent them, so I’m still considering my options carefully.
Now that I talked about my writing, let’s move to the best books I’ve read in winter.

1. Winter Theme: Faeries

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I must confess to being into books with a new paranormal creature this year: Faeries. Because Shapeshifters were so last year. (Only joking, I still like Shapeshifters).

So far I have found only a couple of five star series reads and a couple of somehow meh, 3 star reads from series I’m not going to pursue further. It’s been a challenge to find books with Faeries, the Political Intrigue and less clichéd romance that I prefer, so I would appreciate any Faerie book recommendation on the comments.I won’t dwell in the 3 star books I read, but praise the 5 star ones, which were:

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

I’ll be looking for more Holly Black books in the future. When it comes to this book the hype is deserved, I loved the world building and the ‘cruel prince’ is a very interesting character. It remains to be seen how this story will develop in the next books. I am, in any case, on board.

A Court of Thorns and Roses series (A Court of Thorns and Roses #1 – #3) by Sarah J. Maas

This series turned into a favorite of mine from book 2 onwards. I even reread #1 and #2 after reading #3 to be able come back to the its awesome Faerie World while I wait for the next book in the series.

2. Winter Theme: Dystopia

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I’ve been reading loads of Dystopia lately. I don’t have a reasonable explanation for it, it’s one of those things that just happen, you reading series after series of pessimistic future scenarios to a point where the series blur.
In the sea of Dystopia most books qualify as four stars for me. They are entertaining, and so quick to read I can binge read the whole series in one or two weeks. From the series I’ve been reading I would give honorable mention to:

Shatter Me series (Shatter Me #1 – #5) by Tahereh Mafi 

This series improved with every new book, with very interesting character arcs, and

The Diabolic (The Diabolic #1) by S.J. Kincaid

A very special book. I was listening it as an audiobook that managed to be my favorite so far in 2018; Awesome writing, characters and an original, page-turner plot, in my case I could not stop hearing the audiobook until the last sentence of this story. This was my first book by this author but I’ll surely take a look at her other books and go on following this series. I found the reading performance of Candace Thaxton in the Audiobook quite awesome too. This book is also interesting if you want an entryway from YA Dystopia into Space Opera, another awesome sub-genre of Science Fiction.

I also read the next book in this series The Empress (The Diabolic #2) and was surprised at all the twists. I have no idea about how the next book in this series will be, but taking from another great series from Kincaid (Insignia #1 -#3) which was awesome I can only think that it will be equally original and outstanding, so naturally I can’t wait until Fall to read The Diabolic #3.

Have you read these books and liked them too? I am looking for more Faerie themed or Space Opera books recommendations so feel free to suggest any you liked.