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.

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 Tome Infinity And Beyond TBR!

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The Tome Infinity and Beyond is a Science Fiction (yay!!!) Readathon created by Brushing Bookends

(I’ll leave all  other links at the end of this post).

According to the Tome Infinity And Beyond Mission Log our journey  has already started on the 7th September and it will last until the 21th, leaving us with two weeks to find our new home planet.

This is my traveling itinerary:

I’m leaving Earth with Ship D reading a new to me Author: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers #1) by Becky Chambers.

Once I’m in the Asteroid Belt where my goal is to Read A Space Opera Adventure, I’ll read Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1) by James S.A. Corey, a series that has been in my radar for a year already.

 

In Saturn I’ll Read A Book With Circles On The Cover: 
The Grey Moon by Timothy P. Callahan

 

Uranus, Hahaha – Read A Book Featuring Some Comic Relief:
I’ll read Armada, by Ernest Cline.

 

Neptune, Read A Science Fiction W/ Fantasy Themes Or Vice Versa, I’ll read the Clean Sweep series by Ilona Andrews,

 

And finally I’ll arrive in my new home planet, Pluto, where the goal is to Read A Vintage Science Fiction Book (25+ Years Old):
The Inheritors of Earth by Gordon Eklund, Poul Anderson.

 

I’ll be posting my wrap-up in as soon as I finish my space journey!

 

Tome Infinity and Beyond Readathon**CREATED BY**

My 5 favourite books of 2017

So, I’m a bit late, but I got a cold between Christmas and New Year, so I just had time to wrap up the last reading year now. So here are my conclusions:

  • I was reading a lot in 2017. — 153 books — although…

Half of these were comics or graphic novels that I usually read much faster than a normal book.

  • 60 were science fiction, fantasy, or a combination of young adult and other genres.

I rarely read outside my favourite genres, only one contemporary thriller and a couple of historical fictions. I know people advise you to do that, but “je ne regrette rien” 😉

  • My favourite books of 2017 are mostly quite well known.
  • 6 were non-fiction books, all about writing techniques. I started many books on writing but finished few of them, I take a long time to read non-fiction because I don’t only read them, but mostly study them.

In this year it often happened that a hyped book had the right reasons to be loved by all Booktubers, although there were also cases where they would fail to impress me in the same manner.

I discovered new favourite authors and a few “never-to-read-again” and “how-can-people-actually-like-this?” books. Let me know if you would like me to go all ranty here on the blog.

But overall it was a very nice reading year.

So, here are my (kind of) 5 favourites of 2017!

1) The Saga series (Single Issues #1 – #43)
I read all single issues of this amazing series, I just couldn’t stop. It was amazing! Brian K. Vaughan now appears as number one in my Goodreads list of most read authors due to all the Saga single issues I read. I consider him now an auto-buy and read asap author.

2) The Grisha Verse Trilogy
Leigh Bardugo is a queen! (as I heard on booktube). I really liked this trilogy, and can’t wait to read “The language of Thorns” by the same author, now one of my favourites too.

3) The Night Circus.
Magical, awesome, and special. I was looking for more books from Erin Morgenstern and couldn’t find it. I guess I have to break my rule of no-rereading while the TBR tsunami isn’t tamed and reread this book.

4) Artemis
Andy Weir’s books make you laugh (a lot), while you visit extremely well-built and possible, on-the-near-future corner of (thankfully) not-dystopian sci-fi worlds. I like dystopia, but I read this book on my cell phone while my Kindle was recharging. This is saying something about how great I found this book.

5) The Illuminae Files (#1 and #2)
I’m absolutely spoiled for boring sci-fi after this series. These books were page-turners, full of action, great characters (my favourite is AIDAN), and all the graphic elements, for this reason, I would recommend the books even if people liked the Audiobooks too. All the hype around these books is well deserved, I can totally understand why people freak about these books, lol.

My favorite movies

After writing about my favorite villains, I’ll continue with the list making exercise from the book “Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II” by Alexandra Sokoloff.

This time I’ll list my favorite movies, dividing them by genre:

Science Fiction

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1. Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back
 

And only those first two, after all, the other films were made mostly for children. After being extremely underwhelmed by the Return of the Jedi (silly Ewoks) and the Prequel Trilogy, I’m still considering whether “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is worth watching. But I can’t deny that I saw “The Empire Strikes Back” so many times I caught Han Solo’s cowboy accent to spice my English. 🙂

2. Blade Runner
Awesome director, actors, and screenplay in one of the best science-fiction cult films of all times. The future setting is awesome, the story the best ever, and all characters make this film nothing less than Legendary!

Fantasy

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3. Ladyhawke

I saw this film still as a teenager, but it stayed with me forever. Special stories are never forgotten. Rutger Hauer gives a show here, like in Blade Runner. He’s the kind of actor you could watch forever.

4.The Dark Crystal

Together with the Wizard of Oz, this was a childhood favorite. The whole world and the characters were just magical and for years I pulled up my ears so they would look like Kira’s.

 

Comedy

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5. Tampopo

This is a cult Japanese comedy about love and food. I saw it as a child and never forgot it. I just wish I could have a bowl of Tampopo’s noodles after watching the film.

6. The Little Shop of Horrors.

This has been a favorite since I was fourteen. I watched both versions, though I prefer the one with Rick Moranis and Steve Martin who will make you roll on the floor laughing as Orin Scrivello, the crazy dentist. I also loved it as a theater musical.

7. What’s new Pussycat

The first produced screenplay from Woody Allen and IMO one of the best comedies of all time.  Petter Sellers and all other actors make you laugh non-stop in this awesome comedy.

8. Some like it hot

I’m a fan of Marilyn Monroe and most of her films, and this is the funniest of them. A classic is a classic and this film belongs among the best ones.

 

ROAD FILM

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9. Thelma & Louise

Another awesome cult film from director Ridley Scott and the actresses Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon. Pure art, with an original story.

ROMANCE

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10. Shakespeare in Love

Romantic setting with the story playing in 1593 London, and Joseph Fiennes as Shakespeare in one of his best roles.  I’m usually not a huge fan of romance, but this film was way too good to miss.

11. The English Patient

An awesome film based on the novel of the same name from Michael Ondaatje. All the actors are great, and Ralph Fiennes as Count László Almásy is unforgettable. He and Juliette Binoche are wonderful together as in the film 12. Wuthering Heights which is also one of my favorite romantic films.

And finally, a romantic film where things end up well:

13. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

To explain why this film is one of my favorites I just need to say two words:  Audrey Hepburn. But the underlying theme of a girl pretending to be superficial and mercenary while she’s lost is a deeply touching story. The song “Moon River” helps too.

After this list, the following warning is advisable
Some films will mean something greater to you than just two hours sitting on a movie chair. Those you will not forget. And they will remain with you and be part of you forever.

 

The second anniversary issue of Far Horizons, with my story: “The Exchange”

 

Far Horizons Magazine republished my sci-fi, time-travel story “The Exchange” in it’s second anniversary edition.

Check it out!

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Click to access april-2016-issue1.pdf

 

My top 10 books of 2015

Top Fiction Books

 

1Death

 1. Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

I would surely recommend this book to anyone who has read Pride and Prejudice, even if you aren’t into the Mystery genre. P.D. James is an awesome writer. This book is what I would call a “modern classic”. It is also a fun, surprising book. The kind you won’t manage to stop reading and you will feel sad when you finish because you can’t dwell longer in its world with its great characters.

2Martian

 2. The Martian by Andy Weir

This book is lots of fun, its main character is one of the funniest I ever met while reading. It deserved to be the 2014 Goodreads Choice Winner.
 
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 3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

If you lived during the 80’s and liked games this is the golden book for you. Back then I wasn’t the geekiest around, but even though this book brought back a world of memories while having a page turning story.

 

4Magic

4.  Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews

This great series gets better with each new book. Kate is a kick-ass heroine and the plot is surprising, with great characters and settings. In my case it made me to stay awake until  midnight to read it. A totally fun read that hooks the reader until the end. I found this one of the best books of this great urban fantasy series.

 

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5. The Spirit of a Witch (The Briley Witch Chronicles #1) by Sarah Jane Avory

I found this book lots of fun. The protagonist reminded me a bit of detective Monk. Briley is a different kind of hero, refreshing and fun due to being most of the time humanly uncertain, almost until the last minute, when her ingenuity saves the day. I also loved Smokey because he really sounded like a cat. I recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy stories with witches. And to anyone who understands how great is to befriend a cat.

Top writing Books

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6. Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne, Dave King

This is an objective, goal oriented book for revising your manuscript. The checklists are quite useful and the explanations surely helpful. I recommend it as revision reference.

 

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7. Mastering Showing and Telling in Your Fiction (Busy Writer’s Guides #4) by Marcy Kennedy

This book is very helpful, with direct and goal oriented tips for finding balance between showing and telling in your writing. I will use it while revising my first draft and I definitely recommend it.

 

8Dialogue

8. How to Write Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides #3)  by Marcy Kennedy

A great guide on writing and revising your manuscript’s dialogues. The “take to the page” sections are a great resource while revising.

 

9characters
 

9. Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint: Techniques and Exercises for Crafting Dynamic Characters and Effective Viewpoints(Write Great Fiction) by Nancy Kress

This book is part of a great series on how to write a fiction book. It has detailed information on Point of View and Characters, two important aspects of fiction writing.

 

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10. She Sat He Stood: What Do Your Characters Do While They Talk? by Ginger Hanson 

This book is a good solution against the talking-heads problem on dialogue. I enjoyed it. Writers can benefit from thinking like settings-designers and prop masters while creating their settings.