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: Fandoms

Hah. Fandoms. I don’t even know how many fandoms I’m in, because I love practically many things. A lot. I suppose I could list a bunch down off the top of my head, and for the most part, they are video-game related. Some book and anime stuff, too!

Top Ten Fandoms I Constantly Squee Over

One Piece – Honestly, it’s still one of my favorite animes to date. I don’t know why that is, because so far there’s been a standstill in really good episodes, but I just can’t stop loving this anime. Also, the Pirate Warriors video games are pretty fun. Repetitive, but fun.

Ouran High School Host Club – BEST SHOUJO EVER. Honestly, it was hard limiting the amount of anime I fangirl over, there’s definitely a lot more out there that I love, but Ouran is the sole representative for shojo type anime.

Fullmetal Alchemist – YAAAAS. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood has got to be one of the best things that came out a couple years back. I mean, I did love the original anime as well, but Brotherhood kind of knocked the series out of the ballpark.

Bioware – Yeah, I started this list with just adding a series, then realized I’ve loved every single Bioware game I’ve played so far. So, um, yeah, Bioware just gets a lot of love for its Dragon Age and Mass Effect series. And honestly, the fandom for DA and ME is ridiculously talented. I get jealous from all the artistic work.

Bethesda – Also similar to Bioware in the fact that I loved all of the games I’ve played of theirs. So this includes OblivionSkyrimFallout 3, Fallout 4Dishonored, and Dishonored 2. Yeah. I totally play a ton of video games…

BioShock – This was probably my first entry into the modern Western-created game. Prior to this, I was often an Eastern gamer, and often I gravitated toward Japanese RPGs. When my sister recommended BioShock, I was skeptical, considering I was not very keen on first-person shooters. Hell, once I played it, though, I was absolutely hooked, and I’ve loved all three games in the franchise. Yes, even BioShock 2.

Final Fantasy – I am picky about which FF games I’ve played over and over, but old-school has always been the best. I must have played from Final Fantasy VI to Final Fantasy X with great enjoyment. I did play FFXII and enjoy that, too, though I suppose the appeal kind of stopped from there, up until FFXV came along.

Tortall series – No words can describe how much I love the world Tamora Pierce has created in her Tortallan series. It’s hands down one of my favorite fantasies.

Shades of Magic trilogy – Schwab has an awesome fandom, but there’s still not enough fanfiction dammit! This needs to be remedied.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – One of my favorite TV fandoms ever. EVER. I should have put this up near anime, but it’s a whole cartoon series that deserves to be set apart. I could say I don’t know why I love this series so much, but let’s all face it. I love it because elemental magic, Asian-inspired culture, a cast of fabulous characters, and martial arts bending all around.

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: Books Read in One Sitting

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I used to read books in one sitting often when I was younger, mostly because I liked staying up late at night to finish a book. Nowadays, it hits 11 o’clock and I’m dozing off whether or not the book is super-interesting. However! There are definitely times when I will sit down on my bed and then refuse to get off until I have finished a story. Normally this happens on books that aren’t massive, and it’s almost always the case when I pick up a graphic novel to read. That said, I’m discounting manga, children’s picture books, and graphic novels, only because yes, they do take faster to get through than a regular book.

Top Ten Books I’ve Read In One Sitting

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – Hah, remember when we had to wait an actual year for the next installment of the Harry Potter series? Well, my wait wasn’t so bad. Books 1-4 were already out by the time I got on the bandwagon, though when OotP finally came out, I was one of the nerds lined up in front of a bookstore just to get myself a copy. Which I then proceeded to read without interruptions for an entire day. Gone went breakfast and lunch, and when I emerged during dinnertime…well, I sulked in the corner. Lawd, this book took me places.

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier – Oh, this book was lovely. And so was its spinoff. I also cried by the end of this, though I’m not sure if it was because I was sad that the book ended or super-happy at the result. In any case, I’m pretty sure someone found me curled up reading in the basement at 4 am and wondered why the hell I was still up. Oops?

Sorcery and Cecelia by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermere – I’m pretty sure I had a Computer Science exam the next day. I ended up reading this and pulling an all-nighter to finish reading the story of Cecelia and Kate. So worth it! (But double oops?)

Iron Kissed, Silver Borne, River Marked, and Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs – Hah, and just about every other Mercy Thompson book out there. Honestly, I’m pretty sure I marathon-read the first four books over one weekend, and then subsequently read its sequels within a day. Not necessarily one sitting, but they really were just so addicting!

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause – One of my first introductions to YA supernatural fiction. I’m not sure I’d actually have enjoyed this book now if I read it again, but I did spend an entire day arguing about this with a friend because she and I were on different ships. That said! It was far better than the silly movie that was loosely based off it.

Cress by Marissa Meyer – Alright, strictly speaking, Cress took me at most two days with breaks. However, that was mostly due to me starting the first ten pages, and then going to work. But then the weekend happened and I lay in bed reading all of Cress until I’d finished. So. Damn. Good.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – I would not recommend reading this at night. I say this out of experience. The funny thing about Ocean is that it is a story of a child, though I don’t believe it is a children’s book in any sense. I suppose the best way to describe it will always be that it’s a children’s book written for adults, and that’s why I added this on the list. It was such a great read, and Gaiman has always been a wizard. So there.

Do you often read books in one sitting? What books kept you up all night?

TTT: Unexpected Loves and Loathes

ttt

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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?