Top Five Wednesday: Books to give my husband as gifts (#T5W)

It’s Wednesday! Time for another Top Five Wednesday post! This week the topic is¬†“Books to Give _____ as Gifts.” I’m filling in the blank with my husband. I feel pretty safe doing this because 1) I’m not actually getting him any books for Christmas, and 2) should I decide to change my mind about that, he probably won’t read this blog post anyway.

Doing a top five list on books I would buy for my husband may seem incredibly specific. But, this list would also work for any incredibly difficult people to buy for on your shopping list. Particularly, ones that prefer to read only non-fiction or hard sci-fi. If the person you’re trying to find the perfect book for is really into learning new things and following their curiosity, but prefers all the world-building in the novels they read to be grounded in reality, this list may give you some gift-giving ideas.

And, as an added bonus for anyone who knows my husband and is inclined to buy him a present for Christmas, you are free to take any of these ideas. I know he’s particularly difficult to buy things for. So, consider this my gift to you. You’re welcome. ūüôā

To give you a sense of my husband’s taste in books, most recently, he read and enjoyed the first two books in the Expanse series (Leviathan Wakes¬†and Caliban’s War), as well as Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill. He also reads a lot of non-fiction, but I’m keeping this list focused on sci-fi novels that I think he would enjoy, based on ones I know he’s read and liked (recent and past), plus his favorite sci-fi authors (like Neal Stephenson).

Here are my selections for the top five books I think my husband (or anyone who loves hard sci-fi) would enjoy:

  1. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers — Technically, this is the third book in a series of loosely connected books. I’ve read the first two in this series, and I think my husband would enjoy both of those books (the second maybe more than the first). But, I already have those books. So, I’d recommend this one for him, especially because I’ve heard this one is slightly different and possibly the best, yet. One of the things I love about these books is how they wrestle with tough questions and meaty themes, but are ultimately optimistic about humanity. He really likes meaty themes, and sometimes he could use a dose of optimism in light of the state of “general world suck.”
  2. Moon of the Crusted Snow by¬†Waubgeshig Rice — I love finding new takes (especially from under-represented authors) on “the same old” sci-fi and fantasy novels. In this case, a crumbling post-apocalyptic society. My husband is a fan of post-apocalyptic books, especially when they have plausible apocalypses and deal with the gritty reality of survival. For example, he really liked The Dog Stars and also The Water Knife. This one sounds like another that he would enjoy.
  3. Walkaway by Cory Doctorow — My husband has read, and really enjoyed, several other books by Cory Doctorow, and I’ve been hearing that this one, Cory’s latest, is maybe his best yet. This is another spin on the post-apocalyptic novel, but likely to be unique because Cory Doctorow is kind of known for spending a lot of time thinking about the intersection between the future of technology and society. And since he knows a thing or two about technology, and the culture surrounding technology, he usually comes up with some pretty plausible stuff.
  4. I Still Dream by James Smythe — I found this on The Guardian’s best of 2018 list. Their lists have, in the past, been a good source for finding books that my husband might like. This one is about artificial intelligence, which is something I know he’s interested in. I also got a lot of Diamond Age¬†(by Neal Stephenson) vibes from the blurb. It may be because of the young and brilliant, female protagonist. I’m not sure how available this book is in the U.S., but I think there is a high probability that he would like it.
  5. Gnomon by¬†Nick Harkaway — I wonder if this one isn’t a little too “on the nose” to be a hit with my husband, but I’m including it anyway because it’s got all the markers of being a book he would really enjoy. It sounds like it’s kind of a 1984¬†-type story of government surveillance, but the blurb also reminds me of The Circle (another book my husband liked), and it appears to maybe have a sort of code for the reader to uncover along with the main character. So, while it appears to have a lot of themes that I feel are maybe getting a bit overdone at this point, I think it has unique enough aspects to be something he’d find interesting.

If you have other suggestions that you think he might like, let me know in the comments. I’d love to know what else might be a good choice, just in case I do decide to buy him a book or two for Christmas. ūüôā

Top Five Wednesday: Book Wish List (#T5W)

I think we’ve established that I have more than enough books on my Kindle, on my bedside table, and on my TBR shelf. I probably have enough to keep me reading for years without ever buying another book. Yet somehow that does not seem to stop me from buying more, or putting more on my wish list.

This week’s “Top 5 Wednesday” topic, inspired by the holiday season, is asking about the top five books on your wish list. Narrowing my list down to just five was challenging. Luckily, a lot of the books on my list don’t release until 2019. So, I excluded those (for now…they’ll probably show up in a future T5W post…). Since the spirit of this list is about gift giving, and giving print books is usually more fun than giving/receiving ebooks, I decided to keep my top five focused on the books I wouldn’t mind having in print.

Given that, right now the top five books on my wish list this year are (in no particular order):

  1. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson — I’m super curious about this book. It sounds like something I would love. But I’m skeptical. No offense to an author who is clearly a beloved fantasy writer, but I’ve been a little unsure about white male writers writing young female main characters of late. I’ve been burned before. So, I’m hesitant to spend money on this when I might not like it. Also, I don’t love the cover, which is kind of a maker or break it print buy thing for me. My solution to this is that I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback, be available at the library, or for someone to get it for me.
  2. The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi — I loved the first book in this series and am really excited to find out what happens next, just not $13.99 on Kindle worth of excited. Especially not when I have a pile of other great stuff to read. So, like Skyward, I’m waiting for it to be available in paperback, or at my library, or to go on sale, or for someone to get it for me.
  3. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle¬†— Somehow I never read this book. I was reading a blog post recently on Tor’s website talking about how it’s the 50 year anniversary of this book and how well it’s held up. The article really made me want to read this book. Unfortunately, because it’s an older book, it appears you can only get it in print. No digital options are available. So, I added this to my wish list.
  4. Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The rise and reign of the unruly woman by Anne Helen Petersen¬†— I recently listened to a Smart Bitches podcast interview with the author of this book and immediately added it to my wish list. Non-fiction is an automatic print read for me, unless I can get it on audiobook from the library. Reading non-fiction in a digital format annoys me. I think it’s because I’m a very visual reader who can flip back to find a passage in print a book super fast because I remember where it was physically on the page and in the text. I can’t do that as well in digital, and its something that I find useful when reading (or referencing) non-fiction.
  5. The Bullet Journal Method by¬†Ryder Carroll — I’m a bullet journal nerd and this book looks great. I’m always looking for inspiration and ideas for how to organize and track things better. This would make an excellent present for any paper-planner person in your life. I put it on the wish list I sent to my “The Broke and The Bookish” secret Santa. But, if I don’t get it from them, I may just have to buy myself a copy.

If you happen to be someone I exchange gifts with, and you don’t know what to buy me, you can always check what books are on my “want to read” list over on Goodreads. Those are the books I don’t own yet, but that I’ve marked as ones I want to read. Some more than others. Conversely, if you’re looking to rule out something I may already own,¬†just have a look at my tbr-Kindle or tbr-paper shelves. If it’s on one of those, then I already own it.

What books are on your wish list? Definitely let me know, especially if we exchange presents. Also, let me know if you’ve added Eve of the Fae or Vivian’s Promise to your wish list this year, or if you’re planning to give a copy as a gift, because that would be awesome, and I would love to know about it! ūüôā

Top 5 books I almost forgot I want to finish before the end of 2018 (#Top5Wednesday)

It’s Wednesday again and time for another Top 5 Wednesday post. This week, we’re supposed to be talking about books we want to read before the end of the year.

I was going to skip this one because I sort of already did this with my end of year TBR. Then I sort of did it again with my Tome Topple TBR. But several other books have popped back up on my radar due to podcasts, end of year best of lists, Goodreads choice awards, etc. So, in an effort to not repeat myself, and because my TBR is insane right now, I thought I’d make this list about five books that I almost forgot about, but really want to read before the end of the year.

Here are the top five books I almost forgot that I want to read this year:

I’ve been really enjoying the “Lady Sherlock” series by Sherry Thomas. So, when I realized that I had the first book in her YA fantasy, The Burning Sky, on my Kindle, I boosted it to the top of my TBR. That was sometime earlier this year, and I haven’t had a chance to read it, yet. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to squeeze this in before the end of the year.

I’d almost forgotten about¬†Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne. I bought this when it was on sale because I try to read any YA sci-fi that sounds like it might be a space opera. Recently, I’ve been watching Alexa’s YouTube videos on writing and publishing, and now I’m even more curious about how I’ll like her book. I have to say, based on her writing advice and how she talks about her books, I’m sure it will be romantic and melodramatic, but I’m skeptical about her world building skills. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised?

In contrast, the YA sci-fi that I’m most excited about right now is Light Years by Kass Morgan. I’m a big fan of the TV show The 100, but never read the books. So, when I saw that the author had a new series coming out, also sci-fi, I was all over it. I’ve got this book queued up on my hold list at the library, just waiting for me to release it so it can land on my Kindle.

Then, I just saw the trailer for Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, and it looks amazing. I happen to have a signed copy of this book sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me to dive into it. Maybe I’ll grab that today after I finish Seafire. Seems like a good pairing because I know Natalie and Julie are friends.

Another book that I was recently reminded of is Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone. This book is not like anything that normally makes it onto my TBR. However, I’ve been hearing so many people gush about this book that I snatched up a copy months ago, when it was on sale. Then, over the weekend, I listened to an interview with the author on one of my favorite podcasts, and that conversation bounced this back up to the top of my TBR. Or at least to the top five, anyway.

Now, I better get back to finishing my NaNoWriMo novel, or I’m never going to have time to read all these books! Which reminds me… If you’re looking for a fun, fast, winter-themed fantasy read to add to your end of year TBR, you should check out Eve of the Fae. ūüôā

 

Top 5 Wednesday: Largest Books on my TBR

It’s Wednesday! Time for a Top 5 Wednesday List! This week’s topic is “Longest books on your TBR” because there’s going to be a #TomeToppleReadathon later this month. Yay!

For this list, I’m only counting books that I actually own, and I’m excluding any multi-book compilations (like The Inheritance Trilogy, or the Southern Reach Trilogy) that I purchased in one ebook bundle or bound set. The individual books within these multi-book bundles may or may not all be over 500 pages.

That leaves these as the top five longest books on my TBR:

The funny thing is, I have no plans to read any of these anytime soon. It’s not that I don’t want to read them…well, most of them, anyway. I just don’t want to read them right now. I’m still excited about the Neal Stephenson books (Reamde and Anathem), but I’m just not in the mood for his writing style right now.

I really want to read The Wise Man’s Fear, but what’s the point when I don’t even know when book three will be available? I’m just going to have to re-read the entire series, anyway. So, I’m saving that.

I also really want to read Kushiel’s Dart, but not enough to bump it ahead of the rest of my end-of-year TBR. I’m going to save it for a different Tome Topple event.

And then there’s City on Fire… I got this in my Indiespensible subscription box. Unlike the others, this one I actually have on paper, and not just paper, but hardcover special edition in a sleeve and everything. It may even be signed. I really should just un-haul this or give it as a gift. I’m probably never going to read this book. But, who knows.

Sad to say, but none of these would make it onto my Tome Topple TBR. Not that I really have time to participate… This month’s¬†Tome Topple Readathon starts at midnight (in your time zone) on November 16th and ends at 11:59pm (in your time zone) on the 29th of November.

If you read my blog, you know my November is already pretty booked up with NaNoWriMo. I think I’m going to participate by reading at least one of the “tomes” on my end-of-year TBR (see previous post), specifically Our Dark Duet and/or Muse of Nightmares. I probably won’t finish one, let alone both, of these 500+ page books during Tome Topple. But, I thought I’d make a Tome Topple TBR anyway…

If I had more time to read, this would be my full Tome Topple TBR:

As you can see, I’m a little bit behind on the Throne of Glass series. Looking through the books over 500 pages on my Kindle reminded me of that. So I added Empire of Storms and Tower of Dawn. At this point, I really need a refresher on what happened in the first four books, because I’m not sure I remember where things left off. How sad is that? This was once one of my favorite series… Since the last book in the series (Kingdom of Ash) just came out, it’s probably time to get caught up.

I also added Jade City to my pretend Tome Topple TBR because I’ve been meaning to read this book all year and haven’t gotten around to it. This was one of the Hugo/Nebula nominees that I wanted to try to read before the awards were announced. At this point, it’s not likely I’ll get around to reading it until next year. But, it would definitely be in my top five for Tome Topple.

Are you planning on participating in Tome Topple this month or are you too busy with NaNoWriMo? Are any of these books on your TBR? Let me know in the comments…

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Books Featuring Witches

It’s another Wednesday in October. Last Wednesday we talked about monsters. Since I love top 5 lists, and Top 5 Wednesday is awesome, I decided to it again. This week’s topic is about favorite books featuring a paranormal creature of your choice. So, let’s talk witches!

You thought I was going to pick Fae, huh? I considered it. But it’s nearly Halloween, and I have witches on my mind (possibly for costume-related reason but maybe also for book-related reasons…). So, I’ll save Fae for later. Today let’s talk about humans who use magic.

First, I feel like I need to draw a fine line between witches and magicians. Both are magic wielding humans. But to me, magician magic feels more like a showy thing, something that maybe someone has an aptitude for, but has to learn and study to figure out how to do it. I love magician magic, especially schools for magicians, warring magicians, and evil magicians. All excellent fantasy tropes that will most often result in me clicking “add to shelf” on Goodreads. But I associate magicians with classic fantasy. They’re not “paranormal” to me.

Witch magic, on the other hand, seems more primal. Like you’re born with the ability and you just figure it out. Or you have a family tradition that’s passed down with a spell book or something. Witch magic feels more like a practical thing for some reason. It also always seems to involve a lot of blood.

I’d also like to point out, most of the so-called magicians we see in fantasy are men. Which is a bummer. If a woman wields magic in a fantasy world, she’s usually a witch. I refuse to buy into this gendered nonsense. This is why I’m drawing my fine line between magic as a discipline and magic as a primal skill (I feel like The Magicians series, books and show, come the closest I’ve seen to a similar distinction).

In general, I want more¬†female magicians in fantasy, especially of the evil magician and warring magician varieties. So if you have good recommendations (aside from Uprooted and The¬†Night Circus, both of which I’ve read and enjoyed), let me know in the comments. And, similarly, I’d also like more male witches. Maybe as love interests for paranormal heroines (that may or may not be a hint for a future Modern Fae book…).

I think as a kid I read more “witch magic” books, especially ones where you find out you’re a witch on your sixteenth birthday (loved those). But, as an adult, I seem to find myself more often reading “magician magic” books for some reason. I like both types of magic. Honestly, I like all magic. But, I’m going to drop some of my favorite witchy books below, and then you can tell me in the comments if you have any recommendations for me based on my witch/magician rant and my faves. Deal? Cool.

When I think of witches, here are the top 5 books I think of:

  1. The Queens of Innis Lear by Tessa Gratton — This is the witchiest book I’ve read since…I don’t know when. It’s great. Only a handful of characters in this book are dabbling in witchcraft, but the entire book feels witchy. That’s why I’m giving it the number one slot on my list. If you like witches, you should definitely check this one out.
  2. Signal to Noise by¬†Silvia Moreno-Garcia — Mixtape witches! This book is told in alternating sections between past and present. The witchy bits are mostly in the flashback sections, but if you ever imagined that you and a group of your friends stumbled on a way to do magic, and if you also happen to really like High Fidelity (source of my love of top five lists) you should check out this book.
  3. Harry Potter (series) by J. K. Rowling — The fundamental witches and wizards series for the modern age. Books one through seven, that is. I’m less invested in all the various spin-offs and side-stories.
  4. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell — The thing I like best about this book is how the magic works. I love that their spells are song lyrics. I also love that this is basically a Harry Potter / chosen one spoof and that it grew out of a side story in possibly my favorite Rainbow Rowell book (Fangirl).
  5. Dune (series) by Frank Herbert — You may be asking yourself why I’ve included a sci-fi book on a list about witches. Fair question. But, if you’re asking that, then you probably haven’t read this book. The¬†Bene Gesserit, a group of females with special spice-enhanced powers, are called witches throughout the book for the sort-of magic they practice. There are good ones and evil ones and they are all highly political. Basically, they’re space witches, and I love them.

That’s what I’ve got. What do you think? What did I miss? Let me know in the comments.

A Top Five for my Five Year Blogiversary

Happy blogiversary to me! I’ve been blogging here for five years… that’s maybe longer than I’ve managed to keep any of my previous blogs going.

In honor of this achievement, I thought I might do one of my favorite things: make a “top five” list!

So, in no particular order, here are my top five books I’ve read so far this year:

  1. The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth, #2) by N. K. Jemisin — This series keeps getting better and better. The last book just came out in August and is next up on my TBR…
  2. Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2) by Seanan McGuire — This would make for some very good Halloween reading, and can be read even if you haven’t read the first in the series, yet.
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas — You don’t need to take my word for it, this one’s been #1 on the NYT best seller list since it came out in February. Instant classic. They’re making it into a movie.
  4. Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer, #1) by Laini Taylor — I love the mythology in this book. I love the characters. I love everything about it, except that it had to end. But apparently there’s more coming…
  5. The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency, #1) by John Scalzi — I didn’t expect to love this one as much as I did, but it’s easily the best sci-fi I’ve read this year. The characters are excellent, and I am now impatiently awaiting the next book.

This was a very hard list to make. So far this year, I’ve given five stars to at least 9 books and 5 other book-like things (two novellas, a trade edition of a comic, a collection of essays/stories, and a book on writing). But these were the ones that I most want to re-read. So, that’s why they made my short list.

Huge thank you to everyone who reads, comments, and likes my posts! The fact that anyone reads my rambling always amazes me and never fails to make me smile. Thank you. You’re awesome.

Top 5 Most Recent Additions to Your #Reading Wishlist

Sorry I haven’t been posting much this month, blog fans. I was out of town and I’ve been swamped with work and PitchWars prep. But, I have two posts planned for next week that you can look forward to… one is my usual¬†month-end summary post for July, and the other is a summary of my PitchWars prep process for anyone out there who’s curious about my writing process and/or how much work goes into preparing for a contest like PitchWars.

In the meantime, I thought I’d do a fun “top five” list from the “Top 5 Wednesday” prompts for this month.

I’ve been doing a lot of book browsing lately. While I was “back East,” I got to visit an amazing bookstore in Ann Arbor that is owned by a swimmer and his wife (Literati). I highly recommend stopping in if you’re in the area. It’s super cute and they have an excellent¬†selection¬†of books. Plus they have a sweet espresso bar upstairs. I could have spent the entire day there.

I’ve also been getting quite a few recommendations from friends–especially my best two reader friends who¬†I got to spend time with recently. And, in my prep for PitchWars, I’ve been introduced to a ton of really great looking books written by the PitchWars mentors.

Since it seems like all I’ve been doing lately is adding books to my wishlist, I thought I’d do the “Top 5¬†Most Recent Additions to Your Wishlist” prompt. I’ve limited this to books that I currently do not own, but would really like to buy (or borrow from the library). Here are my five picks:

Top5-Wishlist

  1. Gena/Finn by¬†Hannah Moskowitz – This one came highly recommended by my two best bookish friends and I’ve learned that if they both like something, I better add it to my TBR immediately and reserve a copy at the library because there is a high likelihood that I will love it.
  2. Zero K by Don DeLillo – I think that one of my very first ever purchases from Amazon was his book Americana. Or maybe it was¬†White Noise. I can’t remember. I could look this up, but I’m too lazy to log in to Amazon. It doesn’t really matter. I only bring it up to point out that I really like his writing style and when I saw he had a new book, I freaked out. The only problem is, something about his writing makes me want to read this in paper instead of on my Kindle. So, I may have to wait for it to come out in paperback…
  3. Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness¬†by Peter Godfrey-Smith – I heard one of the Book Riot folks talking about this book on their podcast and I started bouncing in my seat. My first intended major was marine biology (later changed to something much more practical and boring: operations management). But, ever since reading The Arm of the Starfish in my formative years, I REALLY wanted to be a marine biologist like Mr. Murray (aka Calvin from A Wrinkle in Time, aka Polly’s dad). This one doesn’t come out until December. I may have to pre-order the hardcover. That’s how badly I want to read this book.
  4. Girl Underwater by Claire Kells – This one came recommended from a PitchWars mentor who found out about my love of swimming / swimmers. The blurb reads a little like a cross between a high school “swimcest” novel and the TV show Lost. Of course, I’ve never watched Lost, but there’s a plane crash and survival at stake, so that’s immediately what I thought of…
  5. Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation and Time Travel¬†by Michio Kaku — This was one I saw¬†someone I follow on Twitter talking about. Maybe another PitchWars mentor? It’s pop science that sounds like it would really help me with world building for a novel I’ve wanted to write but is more sci-fi than fantasy. But again, this is one of those books that I think I might enjoy more in paperback. Lucky for me, there appear to be many reasonably priced used copies available.

So, how about you? What’s on your wishlist? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Top Five List: books I most want to buy right now

It’s #FridayReads / #WeekendReads time, and I’ve managed to go the whole week without purchasing or borrowing any¬†new books. I’m in the middle of two books that are not holding my attention very well. And there’s nothing available on ebook right now from either of my local libraries¬†that I really want to read.

So… I started looking longingly at my wish list and decided to make a¬†list of¬†the top five books that I most want to purchase right now. And here it is… the top five books, in order of preference, that I would buy right now if I could bring myself to pay full price for a new book when I have a ton of stuff I haven’t read yet that I already own:

  1. Uprooted¬†by Naomi Novi — this one just came out in May and I have heard so many good things that I’m tempted to drop everything and pay the $9.99 just to read it right now.
  2. Vicious¬†by V. E. Schwab — why does my library have Darker Shade of Magic¬†(the sequel) on ebook, but not Vicious? What crazy nonsense is that? I’ve had this on my list since December 2013,¬†and it’s only recently (finally) dropped in price to $9.99
  3. Slow Bullets¬†by Alastair Reynolds — this is a novella, and I can’t understand why Amazon is charging $8.69 for a < 200 page book¬†on Kindle
  4. The Library at Mount Char¬†by Scott Hawkins — this just came out on Tuesday and they want $12.99. For an ebook. Seriously?
  5. The Book Riot “Surprise Beach Reads”¬†box — this one is the major splurge… but the last thing I need is a box of four mystery books (in print, no less), and a bunch of bookish swag for $100… or is it?

 

Note: This list is limited to only books that are available to buy right now. No pre-order books allowed. And no books that I could otherwise borrow from the library on ebook.