Top Ten Tuesday: A Selection of Favorite Fantasy Books and Series

tulips-65036_1280

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books From My Favorite Genre. I bounce between genres quite a bit, but thought I’d focus here on fantasy. My list includes stand-alones as well as series, and because I’m sticking to just 10, I ended up not including three that pretty much go without saying: of course I love the Narnia, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Lord of the Rings books! (See? I managed to mention them after all!)

My top ten, in no particular order:

  • The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
  • Codex Alera (series) by Jim Butcher
  • The Immortals (series) (standing in for ALL Tortall books) by Tamora Pierce (review)
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik (review)
  • The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series) by Patricia C. Wrede (review)
  • Wayward Children (series) by Seanan McGuire (review)
  • The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King (review)
  • The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner (review)
  • His Dark Materials (series) by Philip Pullman
  • Stardust by Neil Gaiman

What genre did you pick this week? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten books (or series) I can count on to lift my spirits

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Books to Pull You Out of a Reading Slump. I’m not sure I actually have reading slumps — I mean, I can ALWAYS find something that gives me a reading energy boost! So, twisting the theme just a bit, here are ten books that make me happy (even though their stories are not only rainbows and kitties.)

1) The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon: Sure, terrible things happen to the characters throughout the series, but there’s just something so wonderful about spending time with them all, no matter how dire the circumstances.

2) The Parasol Protectorate books by Gail Carriger: Supernatural shenanigans plus Victorian manners — definitely a winning combination.

3) Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs: I love the Mercy Thompson series as well as the Alpha & Omega series by Patricia Briggs. This novella in particular is one that I love reading and re-reading. It’s short and sharp and just so perfect.

4) Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling — need I say more?

5) Pretty much anything by Jane Austen: I love them all, and they always make me smile. The audiobooks are sheer delight!

6) And also, anything by Georgette Heyer! I’ve read 6 or 7 of her books so far, but plan to read lots more! Just happy, fun reading experiences.

7) The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley: It’s been a while since I last read this one, but I know it always makes me happy.

8) Fables by Bill Willingham: Such an amazing graphic novel series. I’m definitely looking forward to starting again from the beginning one of these days.

9) The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams: Such silly fun.

10) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins: Not necessarily this book specifically, but sweet YA romances in general are sometimes the perfect solution to a gray and cloudy mood.

 

What books made your list this week? Please share your TTT link!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Wishlist Wednesday

Welcome to Wishlist Wednesday!

The concept is to post about one book from our wish lists that we can’t wait to read. Want to play? Here’s how:

  • Follow Pen to Paper as host of the meme.
  • Do a post about one book from your wishlist and why you want to read it.
  • Add your blog to the linky at the bottom of the post at Pen to Paper.
  • Put a link back to Pen to Paper somewhere in your post.
  • Visit the other blogs and enjoy!

My Wishlist Wednesday book is:

 Shadows

Shadows by Robin McKinley
(to be released September 2013)

From Amazon:

A compelling and inventive novel set in a world where science and magic are at odds, by Robin McKinley, the Newbery-winning author of The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword, as well as the classic titles Beauty, Chalice, Spindle’s End, Pegasus and Sunshine.

Maggie knows something’s off about Val, her mom’s new husband. Val is from Oldworld, where they still use magic, and he won’t have any tech in his office-shed behind the house. But—more importantly—what are the huge, horrible, jagged, jumpy shadows following him around? Magic is illegal in Newworld, which is all about science. The magic-carrying gene was disabled two generations ago, back when Maggie’s great-grandmother was a notable magician. But that was a long time ago.

Then Maggie meets Casimir, the most beautiful boy she has ever seen. He’s from Oldworld too—and he’s heard of Maggie’s stepfather, and has a guess about Val’s shadows. Maggie doesn’t want to know . . . until earth-shattering events force her to depend on Val and his shadows. And perhaps on her own heritage.

In this dangerously unstable world, neither science nor magic has the necessary answers, but a truce between them is impossible. And although the two are supposed to be incompatible, Maggie’s discovering the world will need both to survive.

Why do I want to read this?

Robin McKinley is the author of some of my very favorite books, among them The Blue Sword, Deerskin, Sunshine, and Beauty. She’s absolutely one of the tops when it comes to world-building, particularly when magic and mystery are involved. I love the sound of Shadows — the idea of a truce between science and magic is so intriguing! I really can’t wait to read this book.

Meanwhile, if magic, fairy tale retellings, and mythology appeal to you, then I definitely recommend checking out any or all of Robin McKinley’s books.

Quick note to Wishlist Wednesday bloggers: Come on back to Bookshelf Fantasies for Flashback Friday! Join me in celebrating the older gems hidden away on our bookshelves. See the introductory post for more details, and come back this Friday to add your flashback favorites!

Flashback Friday: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

It’s time, once again, for Flashback Friday…

Flashback Friday is a chance to dig deep in the darkest nooks of our bookshelves and pull out the good stuff from way back. As a reader, a blogger, and a consumer, I tend to focus on new, new, new… but what about the old favorites, the hidden gems? On Flashback Fridays, I want to hit the pause button for a moment and concentrate on older books that are deserving of attention.

If you’d like to join in, here are the Flashback Friday book selection guidelines:

  1. Has to be something you’ve read yourself
  2. Has to still be available, preferably still in print
  3. Must have been originally published 5 or more years ago

Other than that, the sky’s the limit! Join me, please, and let us all know: what are the books you’ve read that you always rave about? What books from your past do you wish EVERYONE would read? Pick something from five years ago, or go all the way back to the Canterbury Tales if you want. It’s Flashback Friday time!

My pick for this week’s Flashback Friday:

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

(published 2003)

Robin McKinley is perhaps best known for her fairy tale retellings (such as Beauty, Rose Daughter, and Spindle’s End) and her heroic adventures (such as The Blue Sword and the Newbery winner The Hero and the Crown), all geared toward young adult readers. I’ve read and loved all of these, but my two favorite Robin McKinley books happen to be her two books written for adults, Deerskin and Sunshine. It’s actually hard to decide which of these to focus on — and I’ll probably come back to Deerskin in the near future for another Flashback Friday pick — but for this week, let me tell you about Sunshine and why it’s such a phenomenal piece of fiction.

From the author’s website:

Rae, nicknamed Sunshine by her stepfather, is the baker at her family’s coffeehouse. She’s happy getting up at 4 am to make cinnamon rolls for the breakfast rush, and dealing with people and food all day. But one evening she needed somewhere she could be alone for a little while, and there hadn’t been any trouble out at the lake for years.

She never thought of vampires.

Until they found her.

Yes, it’s a vampire book. No, it’s not like Twilight or any other vampire book you’ve read. Rae is a strong lead character with a mind — and powers — of her own, who must call upon her inherited magic to save herself and the imprisoned, starving vampire Constantine from a deadly trap. Constantine is not the romantic, angst-ridden, broody vampire of today’s pop culture. Dynamic and entrancing, yes, but also clearly dangerous, inhuman, disturbing, and deadly. Definitely not boyfriend material.

Robin McKinley’s website is nice enough to treat us to a quote from Neil Gaiman regarding Sunshine, and if you need any convincing to give this mesmerizing book a try, this should do it:

I woke up too early, so started reading Robin McKinley’s forthcoming novel Sunshine, in the bath. It’s an astonishing piece of work. A gripping, funny, page-turning pretty much perfect work of magical literature that exists more or less at the unlikely crossroads of Chocolat, Interview With a Vampire, Misery and the tale of Beauty and the Beast. It’s not quite SF, and it’s not really horror, and only kind of a love story, and it’s all three while still being solidly Fantastique. It also does that nice thing where the author assumes the readers are smart, and she treats us like we’re smart, and we purr and get smarter and work harder for all that. It’ll be nominated for awards, and win them; in the meantime I really hope it finds its audience, which is, potentially, huge. — Neil Gaiman

The initial set-piece of the book involves heroine Rae chained up in an abandoned mansion next to (and within reach of) a vampire who’s also been chained up and forced into starvation. This section of the book is so suspenseful and chilling that I was immediately hooked, and from there the book just swept me up into its spell and didn’t let go until the end. In Sunshine, Robin McKinley has created an entire world in which ordinary bakers and other regular people live side by side with supernatural beings, both of the extremely dangerous and the neighborly variety, and where courage and devotion count as much as magical powers and superhuman strength. The plot is fantastic, the writing entrancing, and the characters unforgettable.

The more I write about Sunshine, the more I realize that this one belongs on my must-reread-as-soon-as-I-can pile. It’s that good. Give it a try! And if you’ve read Sunshine, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

So, what’s your favorite blast from the past? Leave a tip for your fellow booklovers, and share the wealth. It’s time to dust off our old favorites and get them back into circulation! 

Note from your friendly Bookshelf Fantasies host: To join in the Flashback Friday bloghop, post about a book you love on your blog, and share your link below. Don’t have a blog post to share? Then share your favorite oldie-but-goodie in the comments section. Jump in!