Top 10


Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays is All about Romance.

I’m not a romance reader. Rather I have a soft spot for established couples, especially ones who adventure together and stay together. Unfortunately, that seems to be rare.

1, Nightfall and Redlance from Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini
Elfquest has lots of cute couples (and a couple of triads, too). I could fill the whole list with just them.  In this couple, the woman Nightfall is the fierce warrior and hunter while her (male) lifemate Redlance is a gentle plant-shaper. I love some other couples, too, such as Wolfriders’ hotheaded young (male) chief Cutter and the far older, gentle (female) healer Leetah. Moonshade and Strongbow are both hunters and warriors.

2, Prince Valiant and Queen Aleta from Prince Valiant by Hal Foster
Another comic book couple. I actually found their courtship somewhat disturbing and far prefer their adventurous life together where they can always rely on each other.

3, Robin Hood and Maid Marian/Marion
Surprising number of stories, especially those aimed at the young readers, leave out their romance completely. My favorite version comes from the 1980s Robin of Sherwood TV-show from BBC. They marry in the pilot episode and Marion becomes an integral part of the group.

4, Phédre and Jocelyn from Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series.
Another couple where I didn’t really care for the courtship but really enjoyed them as a solid couple who can rely on each other no matter what. Phédre is a diplomat and a courtesan while Jocelyn is a warrior priest.

5, Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan by Lois McMaster Bujold
I just love how Aral and Cordelia work together, supporting each other.

6, Raine Benares and Mychael (or Tam) by Lisa Shearin
I usually loath love triangles: they manage to bring the worst out of everyone involved and it’s often obvious who the contested person is going to end with. For some reason this triangle really worked for me. Both Mychael and Tam are actually pretty interesting characters (I’d love to read a book or novella or anything with just one of them as the main character) and I enjoyed the other characters, too. I didn’t really care whom Raine ended up with because either way it would be interesting. Sadly, she didn’t choose until the penultimate book (IIRC) so I didn’t really get to see the couple in action. Fighting demons, I mean, obviously.

7, Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson by Elizabeth Peters
Amelia and Emerson often snark at each other and sometimes have even a bet going on about whom will solve the case first. They are archeologists in the late Victorian era who stumble upon murder mysteries with alarming frequency.

8, Willow and Tara from Buffy the Vampire Slayer
My favorite couple on the show

9, Apollo and the Midnighter from the Authority comics
No matter how much the writers try to break them apart, they’ve come back. So far.

10, Reed and Susan Richards from Fantastic Four
Superhero comics have lots of romances but unfortunately, they usually end when the writer leaves or until the company decides to separate the characters or kills off one of them. Or retcons the romance away (why yes I’m still bitter about Peter and Mary Jane, Marvel). Reed and Susan is the only exception I know. But even with them both have been “dead” and come back a couple of time and often Reed hides things from Susan and the rest of the team. Still, generally they can rely on each other.

Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays is Top 10 comics/graphic novels.

I read a lot of comics, from tie-in (Star Trek, Star Wars) to superheroes (mostly Marvel, some from others) and more. Today I’m going to leave out the superheroes.

1, Elfquest by Wendy and Richard Pini
Cutter is the young chief of the small Wolfrider tribe. When humans burn down the forest where the elves live, they have to look for another place to stay. This comic has very interesting characters who evolve and change. Great art. Wonderful stories. Most of the older comics are available for free at http://www.elfquest.com

2, Sandman by Neil Gaiman and various artists
Ah, Sandman! I don’t think I can say anything others haven’t already said. If you love mythology, fairy tales, and some horror, check it out.

3, Prince Valiant by Hal Foster
This comic is set during the days of King Arthur but Valiant (and later his family) is often adventuring and just visits the court from time to time. Valiant is the prince of Thule, a northern kingdom, but his father, along with the family, was exiled to northern parts of Britain. Val wanted adventure and left the desolate swamp at a young age. He adventures around the world with his friends.

4, Bone by Jeff Smith
Another fantasy comic which follows the adventures of three Bone cousins. They’re not human but small, white creatures. Another series where the characters grow and the story twists and turns unexpectedly.

5, Girl Genius by Kaja and Phil Foglio
Mad science! Steampunk! Alternate history! Adventures! Talking cats! Available for free at http://www.girlgeniusonline.com

6, Tintin by Herge
One of the first comics I ever read. Tintin is an intrepid journalist who travels all over the world following stories. However, I personally prefer the albums which have the whole wacky supporting cast of characters, such as Captain Haddock and professor Calculus. In the first few albums, such as Tintin in Congo, Herge is just starting to find his voice and they’re outdated by modern standards. I’d suggest starting with a later album, such as The Secret of the Unicorn.

7, Asterix by Rene Goscinny and Albert Uderzo, later others
Asterix and his best friend Obelix live in a small Gallic village. Together with their fellow villagers, and magic potion which makes them really strong, they resist the Romans who have conquered the rest of the world around them. They have many wacky adventures.

8, Modesty Blaise by Peter O’Donnell and various artists
Modesty is a former criminal but now she and her best friend Willie Garwin take occasional jobs from Sir Gerald Tarrant, the head of British intelligence. However, often enough one or both of them just get into trouble. Willie and Modesty are extremely competent in many martial arts and weapons. Also, they have strong moral compass which makes them enemies of the nastiest criminals, like slavers and drug dealers, and also makes them willing to aid people in difficult circumstances.

9, Gaston by Andre Franquin
Another French comic (they’re really popular here in Finland). Gaston works in a publishing house but that’s incidental. Where ever he goes, hilarious trouble, or even disasters, follow. He’s also an inventor but most of his inventions either don’t work or are highly impractical or are only practical when you work in an office and try to avoid actually working. He cooks and keeps pets (a cat, a seagull) in his office. Whenever the whole block is without electricity or weird smog obscures everything, his long-suffering co-workers march to his door.

10, Spirou and Fantasio by Andre Franquin (later others)
Another humorous adventure comic. Spirou and Fantasio (Piko ja Fantasio in Finnish) are journalists who get into all sorts of trouble. Fantasio has an evil brother who also gets into lots of mischief. Spirou’s pet squirrel Spip and the count Champignac, who is an inventor, help them out. The count’s inventions often revolve around various mushrooms. I don’t know if they’re available in English.

Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays isTop 10 books I read this year.

I read a lot of books which received 4 stars (out of five), so it was difficult to choose. Many of them are part of a series, so I’m including the parts I read this year.

1, Seanan McGuire: Once Broken Faith
2, Terry Pratchett: Hogfather
3, Lois McMaster Bujold: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen
4, Judith Tarr: Queen of the Amazons
5, Jim C. Hines: Libriomancer and its sequel Jim C. Hines: Codex Born
6, Catherynne M. Valente: The Habitation of the Blessed and its sequel the Folded World
7, Becky Chambers: The Long Way to the Small, Angry Planet
8, Leigh Brackett: Eric John Stark: An Outlaw of Mars
9, Karl K. Gallagher: Torchship and its sequel Torchship Pilot
10, Genevieve Cogman: The Invisible Library

Honorable mentions to Karen A. Wyle: Who: a novel of the near future and Jordanna Max Brodsky: The Immortals.

Today the topic of Top Ten Tuesday is Top 10 new to me authors I read this year

This year I concentrated on read books I already own and thought that I wouldn’t read many new to me authors at all. However, I ended up reading 24 new authors, most of them in audio format but some from my own book shelves.

Four of them clicked with me so well that I’m going to read more from them:

Karl K. Gallagher: Torchship
Torchship was an impressive debut book. It’s science fiction but more hard than space opera. In fact, I’ve already read the sequel, Torchship Pilot.

Becky Chambers: The Long Way to the Small, Angry Planet
This debut book was more warm-hearted science fiction than most SF. It focuses on characters rather than plot. I’ve already ordered the second book, which isn’t a direct sequel.

Leigh Brackett: Eric John Stark: An Outlaw of Mars
I have hard time resisting books set in Mars. Brackett wrote in the science fantasy or planetary romance style I really enjoy. I already have a handful of Eric John Stark books.

Genevieve Cogman: The Invisible Library
Librarians traveling to other dimensions!

Writers I will most likely continue to read:

China Miéville: The City and the City
I’m told that this isn’t actually a typical Miéville book but I’m definitely intrigued.

Rachel Aaron: The Spirit Thief
Charming rogues all the way!

Steve Turnbull: Maliha Anderson Mysteries volume 1
Steampunk alternate history!

Sebastien de Castell: Traitor’s Blade
The three musketeers in a fantasy setting is always a good way to lure me in and the next books are available at the library.

Today the topic of Top ten Tuesdays is Top 10 books to read if your book club likes X.

I’m not in a book club but gathered a list of recommendations for science fiction books which are first in a series, in honor of Sci-Fi Month which starts today at Rinn Reads.

1, Cordelia’s Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

2, Pride of Chanur by C. J. Cherryh
Pryanfar Chanur is the captain of a cargo space ship but gets mixed up in interspecies intrigue.

3, Diving into the Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The main character investigates old space ships.

4, Retrieval Artist by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

5, Hyperion by Dan Simmons

6, Annihiliation by Jeff VanderMeer
Mixes horror and science fiction.

7, Black and white by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge
A superhero story.

8, In the Garden of Iden by Kage Baker
Time traveling cyborgs.

9, Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines
Superhero story in a post-Apocalyptic world with zombies.

10, Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi
Has lots of interesting science fiction concepts.

Today the topic of Top ten Tuesdays is Character Names that I love.

I like a lot of names so it was hard to restric myself to just ten. For example, Pratchett has lots of great names.

1, Robin, from Robin Hood.
2, Aeryn Sun from the Farscape tv-show is a very impressive warrior woman and my current computer’s name.
3, Aliera e’Kieron from Steven Brust’s fantasy series. She’s also a very impressive warrior woman and my previous computer’s name.
4, October Daye is a half-fae detective and a knight. From Seanan McGuire’s fantasy series.
5, Thursday Next is a literary detective in Jasper Fforde’s funny books.
6, Esmeralda “Granny” Weatherwax, one of the three witches in Pratchett’s Discworld books.
7, Alexander the Great.
8, Victor von Doom. If I ever have to change my last name, I will be von Doom.
9, Temeraire the dragon by Naomi Novik.
10, Modesty Blaise, from O’Connell’s comics and books. She’s one of the best spies and martial artists in her world.

Today the topic of Top 10 Tuesdays is Ten Of The Best Books I’ve Read that Have Less than 2,000 ratings on GoodReads.

I didn’t realize just how many of the books I’ve reviewed have really small amount of ratings on GoodReads. They include new books, older books, short story collections, non-fiction books, comics, and self-published books.

So it turned out quite difficult to round it down to ten but here are some of the best of them:

1, Fiction River: Moonscapes
The Fiction River short story collections have some marvelous stories. In this one, they all are set on a moon, either our own or another planet’s moon.

2, Karen Wyle: Playback Effect
Karen Wyle writes wonderful, thoughtful science fiction books. This one is a stand-alone set in the near future where people have invented a way to record other people’s experiences. Wyle explores how that technology affect people and the society.

3, John Yeoman: Dream of Darkness
A historical mystery set in Elizabethan England. Yeoman also includes notes for aspiring writers.

4, Scott E. Tabert: A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk
Heavily inspired by Midsummer Night’s Dream but set in a steampunk world. It’s funny and fun.

5, Joss Llewlyn: The Razor’s Edge
Alternate history book. Zelda Price is a security consultant who uses arcane science to create devices which look like magic to the untrained people. Fun and fast paced book.

6, Steve Turnbull: Maliha Anderson Mysteries volume 1
Three novellas set in a steampunk world during the reign of Edward II. The main character Maliha is a biracial woman who needs a walking stick to go around.

7, Kirsten Imani Kasai: Ice Song
Wonderfully evocative fantasy about a woman who can change into a man.

8, Martha Miller: The Retirement Plan
Mystery about two elderly women whose pension just isn’t enough. So, they decide to shoot terrible people for money.

9, Anne Logston: Shadow
I love Logston’s books. They’re fun, lighthearted, and have women as real people. Shadow is the first book I read from her. The main character Shadow is a female elf thief.

10, K.A. Stewart: Devil in the Details
Jesse Dawson is a modern day samurai. When someone has sold his or her soul to a demon in exchange for something, Jesse can fight that demon and get the soul back. Yes, it’s urban fantasy but Jesse is a happily married man, so some tropes aren’t used here (yay).

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