Top 10


Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays is Best books I’ve read so far this year.

2017 reads are into a good start. Except for the rather disappointing Star Trek: TNG series, I’ve like pretty much everything I’ve read and I’ve gotten some awesome books:

1, Becky Chambers: A Closed and Common Orbit is a great continuation to The Long Way to the Small and Angry Planet even though/because it’s not a direct sequel. It’s also nominated for a Hugo this year!

2, Genevieve Cogman: The Burning Page is another great continuation to the series where magical librarians hop into various alternate timelines.

3, Lois McMaster Bujold: Penric and the Shaman is part of the wonderful, feel-good fantasy Penric series. It’s also nominated for a Hugo this year!

4, Ada Palmer: Too Like the Lighting is an awesome read from a new-to-me author. A great ideas science fiction with very good characters and extremely interesting setting. It’s also nominated for a Hugo this year!

5, Robert Jackson Bennett: City of Stairs: great and different fantasy with complex world-building and gripping characters.

6, Jim C. Hines: Revisionary is a wonderful ending to fun and funny series about magical librarians who can use (magical) objects from books.

7, Robert Jackson Bennett: City of Blades is a great, if somewhat depressing, continuation to City of Stairs set in a different city and with mostly different characters than in the first book.

8, Seanan McGuire: Indexing is a blend of police procedural and urban fantasy where a team from an US government agency tries to stop fairy tales from happening in modern world.

9, Mercedes Lackey: The Fairy Godmother also retells fairy tales but this time in a secondary world fantasy setting. Fun with a side order of romance.

10, N. K. Jemisin: The Fifth Season is set into a planet which is irregularly ravaged by volcanos and earthquakes so people try to survive as best they can.

I also read comics I quite liked, such as Mockingbird vol. 1: I can explain, X-Men: Inferno: Warzones, and Star Wars: Skywalker strikes vol. 1.

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Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays is All About Dads.

There are plenty of horrible or absent fathers in media, so I decided to concentrate on the good dads:

Aral Vorkosigan by Lois McMaster Bujold
When Miles was little, Aral was the Regent of a whole planet so he had his hands full. Still, he apparently made time for little Miles. He also parented both Ivan and the young Emperor Gregor.

Cutter (and quite a few of the other Elfquest elves)
Since Elfquest follows the characters for hundreds of years most of them will become parents at some point. The elves are good parents: teaching and protecting the kids but also letting them learn themselves.

Jonathan Kent from DC comics
Martha and Johnathan Kent are the reason we have a Superman.

Ben Parker from DC comics
May and Ben raised Peter to believe that with great power comes great responsibility.

From tv:
Ruper Giles (Buffy)
We only see Buffy’s biological father a couple of times because he’s divorced and lives in another city. But Giles is the real father figure in Buffy’s life.

Benjamin Sisko (Star Trek: Deep Space 9)
Sisko and his son Jake go through some pretty terrible times in the show but also good times.

Rick Castle (Castle)
Rick and Alexis’ relationship is reversed from the way fathers and daughters usually behave. Alexis is the responsible, reliable one while Rick is the one who has strange adventures, plays poker, and stays out all night. They clearly love and support each other and I love their shared geekiness.

Jack Bristow (Alias)
Jack also supports her daughter, especially because they both work as spies and in the same organization. But sometimes he lies and keeps secrets from her.

Walter Bishop (Fringe)
Despite being a, well, not quite right in his mind, Walter, too, loves and supports his son.

Today, the topic for Top Ten Tuesdays is Top Ten Things That Will Make Me Instantly Want To Read A Book.

I’m a picky reader. 🙂 Indeed, it’s easier to make a list of things that will instantly make me not want to read a book. But below are some of my favorite things to read about:

1, Superheroes.
I’m a fan of superhero comics but I’d also like to get them in book format. But not superhero romance, no.

2, Female action heroes
When I started reading sf and fantasy, female main characters were rare. Even in a group (sometimes a large group) of characters females then to be rare, say, four or five males for one female. And the few women tended to be healers. So, now I tend to gravitate towards female action heroes, like Buffy, Xena, and Modesty Blaise. Unfortunately, most action heroines come with toxic romance so I’m careful to read the blurbs. If the dreaded R-word is present, the book needs very good reviews for me to touch it. And she can be a secondary character. In fact, some of the best female action heroes are sidekicks, such as Lena Greenwood in Jim C. Hines’ Libriomancer series.

3, Dragons
Like with female action heroes, I’ve learned to be cautious with dragons. Maybe too cautious. Now that the wonderful Temeraire series (from Naomi Novik) has ended, I need more dragons.

4, Elves
That’s right, I like elves! Although I’m more partial to Elfquest like elves than Tolkien, I’ll happily try any elf.

5, Author
Yup, names Lois McMaster Bujold, Steven Brust, Elizabeth Bear, and a few others always get me to pick up their book.

6, Part of a series
When I enjoy the characters, I want to read about them more than once.

7, Genres
I don’t read everything in these genres but in order to get me to look at a book it’s usually a fantasy, science fiction, historical mystery, or mystery. Or a historical non-fiction book.

8, Two enemies forced to work together
It’s especially good in a series where we’ve seen the two are fighting before. The situation could make them a grudgingly friends or hate each other more, either way, I’m enjoying it. An obvious example is Magneto working with X-Men.

9, Heist stories
There aren’t enough of these around, especially set in a fantasy or science fiction world.

10, Ancient civilizations
Be they Egypt, Greece, or a fantasy counterpart, something just draws me to them.

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 times 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.

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