TTT: Unique Books

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I can’t say with utter certainty whether these books are unique, but they were certainly different from the books I usually read. I chose these particular ten because not only were they different from my usual faire, they were also things I enjoyed. There are probably a bunch of other, more unique books that I’ve read (like The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) but wasn’t a fan, so I’ve just left them off my list entirely.

Top Ten Of The Most Unique Books I’ve Read

Inferno by Dante Alighieri – Actually, much of epic poetry probably goes in this category of uniqueness. I don’t often read epic poems these days, but they certainly do lend well to storytelling in a sense. I did enjoy Inferno (which I read in both Italian and English…though goodness knows why because I have very little grasp of Italian to begin with), though I still haven’t read the full Divine Comedy.

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti – Alright, I honestly put this here because the copy I have is lovely. Based on the original print, Goblin Market is a short story written in the form of a poem. The best part about this little book, however, is the fact that it’s fully illustrated by Arthur Rackham, who is renowned for his fairy tale art. So yeah, something unique, that’s for sure.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – Obviously the classics were bound to show up. I suppose it’s what makes them timeless, no? It’s probably not as strange as it seems, considering there’ve already been numerous books out there with animal main characters, but still. I’d bet not many of them tell the story of Communist pigs throwing out their human overlords.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer – I will admit that I’ve never read the full collection of this book, but I always found it an interesting story. It is, essentially, a collection of stories told by the campfire. Well, not literally a campfire, but it comes close. Chaucer sets his narrative through a situation–in this case, a journey–where each character tells a story while on their way to Canterbury.

Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino – This book and perhaps The Periodic Table by Primo Levi were probably my favorite books I had to read in college. And mostly because they are a collection of short stories that revolve around scientific ideas (or terms). Cosmicomics was just odd because I don’t think I’ve ever had to read a book where I couldn’t pronounce the main character’s name. Try saying Qfwfq out loud, I dare ya.

World War Z by Max Brooks – I’m finding a pattern about what I consider “different”, and most of them involve short stories/vignettes, heh. Again, World War Z was interesting for me because it was broken up into different accounts. No character was truly main, and the bigger picture of the zombie apocalypse was fleshed out through the interviews and written missives of the people who’d experienced it. It’s not the first time this has been done, and it’s certainly not the last (Sleeping Giants runs a similar format), but it was one of my favorites of this kind of narrative.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman – And back to straight-up story narrative! Only, not really, because Gaiman doesn’t necessarily stay within the confines of Shadow’s perspective. Which means several POVs. But! What was unique for me in the case of American Gods was that it was practically the story of a classic American road trip that somehow managed to involve ancient gods and their war against the new gods. It’s a beautiful mixture of old and new, something Gaiman could do effortlessly.

The Epic of Gilgamesh – I thank the divine beings above that I did not have to read this strictly in cuneiform. There’s an English translation that helped me understand the basic gist of the story, thank you very much. Even back 4,000 years, humans are still entertained by stories, and Gilgamesh is arguably the first epic hero. I added this into the mix because it was the kind of book I appreciated being translated and available to the masses.

Lysistrata by Aristophanes – Yes! Because of all the plays I’ve read, none made me laugh as hard as Lysistrata. I mean, Shakespeare came close, and Oscar Wilde often makes me giggle, but Lysistrata just kills me every time. It’s bawdy, it’s rude, it’s women having enough with men and their dick-measuring competitions. It’s quite literally a group of women withholding sex in order to end a pointless war. And they are successful. YAAAAS. I mean, you’d think this was written in a distant future, not thousands of years ago. But there it is.

Sorcery & Cecelia by Caroline Stevermere and Patricia C. Wrede – One of my favorite epistolary novels, hands down. I don’t often read stories that were written in letter-form, mostly  because I find that it gets rather dull and/or confusing, but I enjoyed Sorcery and Cecelia a lot! Kate and Cecy were hilarious characters, and their romantic interests were quite lovely. The story is part of a trilogy, though admittedly the first book was the best because of the format. Its sequels, The Grand Tour and The Mislaid Magician also follow suite in the same format, but I admit the magic was at its finest in the first book.

How about you? What kinds of unique books have you added to your Top Ten list?

TTT: Meeting Authors

The perks to living near and working in New York City is that it’s not very difficult to make your way to an author signing. For the most part, Books of Wonder does a fabulous job hosting authors I’ve always wanted to meet, and often I do head on over there to grab a book I’m interested in and get them signed. Not to mention the fact that if singular book signings are missed, there’s also NYC Comic Con, which hosts several publishing houses that tend to encapsulate numerous authors in a given day. And then, wonder of wonders, BookCon and BookExpo are back this year in New York! So yeah, lots of authors to meet, little time to do so!

I’ve been lucky, and I’ve met many authors I had been dying to meet. That said, there are still many other authors on my bucket list of authors, and it’s difficult enough to narrow them down, since I love meeting and seeing authors in a panel. That said, here’s my current top ten of authors I’d love to meet:

Top Ten Authors I Would Love To Meet

Laini Taylor (BlackbringerDaughter of Smoke and BoneLips Touch: Three Times)

Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson series, Alpha and Omega series)

Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere, StardustSandman series, American Gods)

Kristin Cashore (GracelingFireBitterblue)

Juliet Marillier (Wildwood DancingCybele’s SecretDaughter of the Forest)

Tamora Pierce (Song of the Lioness quartetImmortals series, just about everything from Tortall)

Robin McKinley (Hero and the Crown, Deerskin, Beauty, The Blue Sword)

Marissa Meyer (The Lunar Chronicles series)

Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn trilogy, Stormlight ArchiveSteelheart)

Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate series)

How about you? Are there authors you’d LOVE to meet but haven’t yet?

TTT: Unexpected Loves and Loathes

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Alright, so I couldn’t really decide whether to write my list in accordance to books I expected would be great but weren’t and books I ended up loving more than I thought I would. So for this TTT, I went with a divided split, though I did find that I had a bit of trouble narrowing things down to a 5/5 split. Which meant that this post got longer in the process, and I ultimately decided on 10 books I ended up loving more and 10 books I ended up loving less after having finished them.

Let’s start with the good stuff first.

Ten Books I Loved More Than I Thought I Would

These books were surprisingly good, even when the expectation I had was that I would like them, but not as much as I thought I would.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – I tend to watch more science fiction than read them, so occasionally I pick up books that I probably would have preferred to see on television to be able to visualize it better. In the case of Dark Matter, though, the audiobook sufficed, and I totally did love this book more than I thought I would.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – So this one grew on me after a while. Like Dark Matter, I eventually listened to the audiobook and found that I was loving this book. Of course, the television series helped tremendously, but there you have it.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – I hadn’t expected Rowell to be the best thing I’d ever read, considering she wasn’t really a fantasy author prior to Carry On. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the book jacket summary hinted at LGBT romance and the Harry Potter wizard trope, I probably would have just passed on this one. Thank goodness I didn’t!

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb – Yeah, normally I watch police procedurals. I don’t really read suspense stuff anymore, but I make occasional exception for Eve and Roarke, because well…they’re just a sexy couple, that’s all.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – I have raved over this book so many times by now that you’d think this was the type of book I would have loved from the very beginning. To be honest, I was hesitant to pick it up at first because I was not a big fan of TemeraireUprooted is, by all means, fantastic.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks – Another unusual read for me, since this type of book is out of my element. World War Z is an epistolary novel, with interviews and first-hand accounts being the primary narration of the book, which is about–surprise, surprise–zombies. It was highly interesting and I actually loved how the writing style worked for the narration.

Valiant by Sarah McGuire – This was one of my first NetGalley ARCs, and honestly, I didn’t expect much from it, considering. However, after having read it once, then twice, then several scenes a third time, it’s safe to say that I ended up loving this book.

Briar’s Book by Tamora Pierce – As a Tamora Pierce fan, it’s weird to put up one of her books on this list, only because I love all of what I’ve read from the author. That said, because I’ve been so engrossed in Pierce’s Tortallan world, I never really took to her Circle books. I must have read only the first four books from the Circle series, and it was only in Briar’s Book where I finally decided “Well, shit. I need more of this series in my life!”

Hounded by Kevin Hearne – Reminiscent of Jim Butcher’s Dresden FilesHounded follows in a similar urban fantasy light, focusing on a man with too much magical know-how yet is struggling to make ends meet in the real world. Humor and stuff. That sort of thing. My first impression of Dresden wasn’t much, but I did love Atticus for some reason.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – You’d think a repeat of another Hunger Games scenario would get old. NOPE. If anything, I think I loved that they upped the ante in the sequel of The Hunger Games, and the stakes risked were much bigger and grander, and focused on the bigger picture. This is probably why Catching Fire still stands as my favorite of the trilogy.

Ten Books I Loved Less Than I Thought I Would

To be fair, most–if not all–of the authors on this list have books that I absolutely love. But even so, there are the occasional blips where I thought “Eh, this book was a little disappointing.” And that’s probably due to my mood for the most part, though it’s probably also because I had put their previous works high up on the pedestal (a dangerous thing, but what can I say, I’m not infallible).

The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter – I really couldn’t take to this novel. When I read a Pratchett collaboration, I expect some of his sardonic, often hilarious humor to show through, and this was the case in Gaiman-Pratchett’s Good Omens book. In The Long Earth, I felt the essence of Pratchett to be lacking.

Rebel Genius by Michael Dante DiMartino – Rebel Genius wasn’t a bad read, let me just say that now. It was pretty good, and imaginative, and the pictures helped. However, I couldn’t help but see this as a shadow–maybe even an alternate reality world–of the Avatar universe, and the adventure in the book was drawn out a bit longer than I’d hoped.

Clariel by Garth Nix – I will admit that I had been waiting a while for a book on Chlorr of the Mask to be written. The result wasn’t as fabulous as I’d hoped, because at the end of the day, the story of Clariel doesn’t even explain why she became Chlorr in the first place. Clariel was a bit of a let-down compared to the first three of the Abhorsen books, and while I sometimes did relate to Clariel in a few things, I thought she made for a poor protagonist, even an anti-heroic one at that.

Magi by Shinobu Ohtaka – There are no words to how disappointed I was at this series, particularly because I was so eager to read manga that was inspired by the story of Scheherezade’s 1,001 Nights. And this was a major disappointment.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I find myself less and less inclined to pick up the second book, because honestly, I stopped being interested in the characters and the world the more I thought about the book. Don’t get me wrong, at the time I was reading Red Queen, I’d been riveted to the action sequences, which were undoubtedly the best parts of the book. But eh, it’s an overhyped series.

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston – I will admit this was a beautifully written novel, and on the strength of the prose alone, I probably wouldn’t have added this to the list at all. That said, I did feel a disconnect with the characters, and so found myself a little disappointed at how the plot went down.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Same as A Thousand Nights, really. The main characters and the main plot were not very interesting, and I found myself only enjoying this book when I started treating scenes as short stories. Nicely written, though.

Pegasus by Robin McKinley – Alright, Robin McKinley is an author I have long admired ever since I’d read The Hero and the Crown. Since then I’ve read a bunch of her books and loved them almost as equally (Deerskin was just…omgah amazing). Pegasus was a major exception, unfortunately. I will still read more McKinley, though, because one meh book doesn’t mean anything when I’ve loved most of her repertoire.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan – I put too much expectation off a short story, which I probably shouldn’t have. That all said, this book was pretty disappointing once I finally did get to it.

Servant of the Empire by Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts – Now. Let me tell you how much I loved Daughter of the Empire. I loved it so much that it constantly made my top ten lists for many different reasons. It was such a great novel, with a Japanese-inspired female as the protagonist, in a time period where this barely happened. But then it got followed up by Servant of the Empire, which drove me nuts, because then they threw in some basic Felicia (well, his name wasn’t actually Felicia…) who ends up wooing quite possibly the most calculatingly badass female of Tsuranuanni. And ugh, where was Arakasi the whole time. Yeah, I liked it, but I was loving the first book much better, really.

Anyway, enough about me. What was on your Top Ten Tuesday list this week?

TTT: Cheesy Pop Songs

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Now, my music taste can best be described as eclectic. I can go from a country pop song to a Japanese metal piece in a couple minutes and find no problem with it. But honestly, if you did ask me what types of music I like, I’m gonna go with my ’90s mainstream media roots and say those cheesy pop songs win out all the time. So for this week’s TTT, I’m going to match up some of my favorite pop songs to a few books I’ve read in the past few years. Yessss.

Ten Cheesy Pop Songs To Represent Books

“Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen – Cress by Marissa Meyer

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Because I can totally imagine Cress singing this in her head while reading romance novels up there alone in space. She’s clearly got an image of Thorne in her head, too…

“Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga – Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

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It certainly started out that way. Especially when the main character has the hots for a handsome billionaire who’s also the main suspect for a murder case.

“Can’t Take That Away” by Mariah Carey – Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

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Okay, I felt like I could have probably put something better here, book-wise, but I had Shadow and Bone in my head because of the imagery with the Darkling and Alina’s magical powers. Hem hem.

“Breathe” by Michelle Branch – Uprooted by Naomi Novik

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I feel like Nieshka and Sarkan could do with a little more talking in their relationship, and Nieshka is definitely the type of person who’d go out for a drive to clear the air and just breathe. Well, if there were cars involved anyway.

“Brave” by Sara Bareilles – Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier

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It took a lot of guts for Jenica to finally stand up to the people that needed standing up to in Wildwood Dancing, so I felt like this song was appropriate. Also, the Night People were pretty damn scary.

“This Kiss” by Faith Hill – The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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Oh come on. When the kisses in this book are described as “the promise of tomorrow” and some other flowery words, you know it’s a damn good one.

“Man! I Feel Like a Woman” by Shania Twain – The Woman Who Rides Like a Man by Tamora Pierce

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While it’s not my favorite book in the quartet, it’s still a good one, and it’s where Alanna lets loose. It’s a great time to feel like a woman, I’d have to say.

“My Happy Ending” by Avril Lavigne – Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

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Without going into any spoilers, this was totally fitting for the fact that the break in the forbidden relationship stemmed from a lack of memory on Karou’s part. I don’t blame her. I hope she and Akiva sort it out, though!

“Circus” by Britney Spears – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

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I feel like I could have done better with this comparison, but honestly, The Night Circus was the closest thing I’ve read to circus stuff. At least, it’s the most recent circus-y book I’ve read. (I do plan to read Caraval at some point, though!).

“Sit Still, Look Pretty” by Daya – Fire by Kristin Cashore

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Fire is a beautiful girl, but she’s definitely someone who doesn’t want to sit on her laurels. She makes herself useful, and thankfully, the guy she hooks up with doesn’t expect her to be his trophy wife by any means.

TTT: More Limelight Ladies Pls

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I saw the topic for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, and remembered that Jolien @ Fictional Reader did this topic in her previous TTT. I thought it was cool, so I’ve put my Limelight Ladies spin on this week’s TTT. I love having females in my fiction, and the more badass ones the better! Sometimes, though, a few of the books are missing those ladies, and while there’s occasionally one or two females that stick out, I would prefer to see many more in the story.

Top Ten Books I Wish Had More Limelight Ladies

The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks – The later books do a better job with adding more female presence in the story, but the fact of the matter is that the females in the trilogy were either prostitutes/former prostitutes or virgins, and I swear there had to be a better way to categorize these women, because they were so much more than their sexual partners (Viridiana and Elene and Kirena, anyone?!).

Vicious by V.E. Schwab – Alright, this book has a relatively small character list, but I kind of only liked the one girl in the story. Which is a shame, because I tend to love most of Schwab’s characters, protagonist and antagonist alike. In Vicious, not so much, so I wished there were more badass girls.

And I Darken by Kiersten White – There were a few secondary females in the harem, but not many that really stood out. Mehmed’s mother was one of the few who stood out, but other than Lada, I was pretty much missing other badass female characters. Especially when I had to deal with Radu being a whiny baby half the time.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard – I…did not like any of the females that were prominent in this book. They were all pretty much catty, petty, and angry for anger’s sake. Even the protag grated on my nerves every so often.

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – I suppose there’ll be more female presence in the next book, but there was a severe lack of them in the book. One of them occasionally showed up as a slightly crazy person, but most of Fitz’s role models were male.

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison – I was actually pretty happy that more badass females showed up in the later half of the book. I was less happy that they were limited to societal pressures, so some of the females I really wanted to know about got downplayed.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – Not gonna lie, I just really wanted more Devi in the first book. Yeah, that’s really it.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore – Other than Six, I wasn’t wowed by any of the females in this book. It’s probably why the series ranks super-low on my list and I never took to it. (I suppose there are other reasons, but I’ll leave it at that.)

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – I don’t remember too much about this book, just that there were a lot of monsters and Zoe. It was enjoyable, of course, though I do wish there were more memorable femmes in the book.

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta – I suppose there were a few other females in the book other than Evanjalin, but all I remember was her, and I found her absolutely obnoxious. That’s just me, though, I’m sure she’s somebody’s cup of tea.

What’s on your Top Ten list this week?