I am so incredibly thankful to have made some wonderful book friends, and to be able to blog with those friends about the books we read. Whether we love the book or hate it, we’re going to share our opinions with each other. Often we polish up our opinion and make it as tactful as possible before sharing it with the world through our reviews, but behind the scenes we get to share exactly how we feel with each other, no matter how raw our viewpoint. Because of these backstage experiences, I know when a book truly blows one of my friends away, what book makes them struggle for words strong enough to express the love they have for it. The Sword of Kaigen is one of the best examples of this, and not one but three of my co-bloggers absolutely adored it with their entire being, so much so that they had trouble finding the words. I can’t think of a stronger endorsement than that. And I’m thrilled that their love for this book is now one more thing that we share.
“Better to die sharp in war than rust through a time of peace.”
Published: 20th anniversary edition, 2016 by Ballantine Books (first published in 1996)
“Matthew ten, verse twenty-nine: Not one sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.”
“But the sparrow still falls.”
The Sparrow is a multi-award-winning science fiction novel about first contact. After reading it, I could understand why. I came across this title over two separate occasions. First was when a friend recommended it to me many years ago, but I’ve forgotten about it. And then it was mentioned in the Great Course audiobook for How Great Science Fiction Works, which I’ve recently finished, under the sub-topic of ‘Religion in Science Fiction’. The context in which The Sparrow was discussed in that Course finally tipped me over to pick it up. …
“I think we’re very similar, Nessa,” he whispers. “From the way you write, I can tell you’re a dark romantic like me. You like dark things.”
Vanessa Wye is a teacher’s pet. Or a ‘classroom pet’ as Mr. Noyes remarks when he catches 15 year old Vanessa and 45 year old Jacob Strane together. The comment given with laugh that might as well have been a nudge and a wink. In her first term at a new prep school, away from home, and without anyone to talk to, Vanessa is struggling to keep up. And she’s just lost her best friend to a boy, of all things. But her English teacher really gets her. He gives her books to read. Books that seem to hold special relevance, that resonate with the way she’s feeling, that give her new ways of thinking about herself. Books like Nabokov’s Lolita, an immediate favourite. He makes her feel special. And if sometimes she’s not entirely certain about the things that happen between them, if they maybe go a bit further than she was expecting…well, that’s ok because afterwards she’s almost definitely sure she wanted it to happen. That’s what he tells her anyway. And she believes him, because they’re in love…
“Time only blunts the pain of loss. It doesn’t erase it.”
I wasn’t immediately charmed by Eleanor Oliphant, but she completely won me over. Eleanor is a woman on her own, and she does just fine living her life alone, thank you very much. She comes across as awkward and prickly, but beneath the surface she longs for relationships more than she’ll let herself believe. But it’s hard to let anyone in when, beneath your hard exterior, you’re battling against a plethora of issues, from childhood trauma to suppressed grief to raging pain. As long as she adheres to her rigid schedule and keeps everyone at arms length, she can ignore the emotions churning within her. And if she keeps herself mildly drunk over the weekends, she can pretend that she’s completely fine. …
First English translation published: Oct 2008 (Gollancz), May 2009 (Orbit)
Blood of Elves expands beyond the introduction of Geralt of Rivia and brings forth a different level of worldbuilding into the story in a character-driven narrative.
While this book is technically the start of the main series, I wholeheartedly recommend reading the prequel short stories in The Last Wish and Sword of Destiny first. A lot of references to past events in Blood of Elves were covered in those two books – important past events. I even found myself doing a quick read of some of those short stories to jog my memory since I had read them a year ago. …
I can’t emphasize this highly enough: if you enjoyed reading Planetside, you will most likely enjoy Spaceside too.
Spaceside is the second book in Michael Mammay’s Planetside series. Although the first book worked totally well as a standalone, I’m glad there’s a continuation because I was left wanting more after the ending of the first book. More than a year has passed, Colonel Butler is trying his best to live with the burden of the life-changing action he did at the end of Planetside. Even though Butler has been forced into retirement because of it, this doesn’t mean that he can take a break. In this installment, Butler’s task to investigate a hacking ended up escalating much bigger than he expected.
“A wise man once told me that hope is not a great planning tool.”
First English translation published: May 2015 (Gollancz), Dec 2015 (Orbit)
The compelling characterisation of Geralt and imaginative world of Slavic lore and fairy-tale retellings continue in Sword of Destiny, the second collection of prequel short stories in The Witcher series.
Sword of Destiny was published after the first three full-length novels of The Witcher series. As a new reader to the series, however, I was able to read the books in chronological order which is quite essential as this instalment served as the bridge between The Last Wish and Blood of Elves. …
I remember when A Man Called Ove first took the book world by storm as a book in translation that everyone should read. Judging from the cover and synopsis, it didn’t at all seem like it would interest me. I’m not normally a lover of contemporary slice-of-life fiction. Give me dragons and magical libraries and quests to save the world from imminent doom any day of the week. As with everything, there have been notable exceptions, but A Man Called Ove didn’t strike me as a contender for that role. I can’t believe how wrong I was. This is a book that I loved so fervently that I honestly don’t have much to say about it. My words won’t be able to do it justice.
“Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say.”
Published: 23rd February, 2017 by Orbit (UK) & 21st February, 2017 by Orbit (US)
Every avid fantasy reader, pay attention and let me do you a favor. Make sure you read this book no matter what. As of now, I’m calling Kings of the Wyld one of the best fantasy debuts of all time.
Imagine this: legendary rock bands that have disbanded—such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or Nirvana—coming back for one more tour. Now, replace the rock bands and concerts with mercenary bands and killing monsters. I won’t go into the details on the music allusions, but it’s ubiquitous throughout the whole book, and you should experience it yourself; in my opinion, they’re a Joy To the World of fantasy.
First English translation published: 2007 (Gollancz), 2008 (Orbit)
The Last Wish was more than up to task in satisfying my burning curiosity about The Witcher with its compelling eponymous protagonist, Geralt of Rivia.
I abandoned my gaming self a long time ago and as such, have not heard about The Witcher until someone mentioned that the Anomander Rake reminded her of Geralt of Rivia from the video game. That piqued my interest immediately, for Anomander Rake from the Malazan Book of the Fallen series is one of my favourite grimdark characters of all time. And thus, I promptly checked out the cinematic game trailers – the ones for The Witcher III were exceptionally good. I subsequently found out that the game was adapted from a book series by a Polish author and that The Witcher is also soon to be a new series on Netflix. Ah, this is indeed a marvellous time to be a fan of the fantasy genre. …